Category Archives: Chinese culture

The crossing of cultures

Red for Valentine’s Day; Red for Lunar New Year.

Many holidays occurred this week: Lunar New Year (ongoing celebration until the 20th), Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and tomorrow, Valentine’s Day.

I’m sure at an earlier point in my life, I celebrated all these holidays in one week. But this year is different for me: it is my first time to partake in Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, and the Lenten Season. I grew up in a Baptist church in my hometown; in my early 20s, I dabbled in nondenominational Christian churches. And this year, I found my way to the Episcopal Church.

In the Episcopal Church, I have found my family. I have found what I need to fulfill my religious needs. And, like a young child taking it all in for the first time, I am observing all that the church observes. It’s an exhilarating feeling…

…although, I also know, I must observe the holidays of my lineage: the Lunar New Year, the traditions through that, and the beliefs behind the Lunar New Year.

Maybe some think that my observance of Chinese and Christian holidays doesn’t add up; but I know I cannot forget where my ancestors came from. Both my Chinese heritage and the Christian tradition have resonated side by side throughout my whole life. I don’t see it as a conflict of religion/beliefs; I see it as my way (and my family’s way) of observing our mother heritage and our American upbringing in the Church.

It’s an interesting way of seeing life through two different lenses.

Relationships, Residual Trauma

Flowers in my hair, hoping to attract that perfect mate…(taken at the Swedish Midsummer’s Celebration, late June 2012)

This thought had been circling around my mind all day yesterday: how parents protect children so much….but in the end, they cannot protect us from heartache [in relationships].

I will go ahead and be transparent: I never had a boyfriend until the age of 25 (just two years ago). And that was a roller coaster trauma of a relationship: alcoholism, secrets, manipulation … I’ve torn the chains away from that relationship, yet residual pain still seeps through.

And all this time I think about how, well, if only my parents could have protected me from ever letting that happen. Yet, they couldn’t. I can seek comfort in them over things, but they cannot fix everything for me. After all, how old am I now? I can’t just go crying to my parents like a four-year-old with a booboo. I need to suck it up and learn from my mistakes, no matter how big or small.

Sometimes I wish that I could have an arranged marriage. Then I wouldn’t need to deal with this constant searching, seeking, “you’re not good enough”, etc. etc. I find myself these days trying to protect my feelings by telling others how I am all about “no attachments” for the time being. I find that I often fall too fast too quickly…only to be hurt. I care too much and then I … end up hurting myself.

Of course, by telling myself “You cannot get attached,” I still do. And it hurts; every time I fall for someone new, I see them walk away with another woman. Someone better than I am? I can’t say, but my mind twists the situation that way. I always hear the same, comforting words of “You’ll find someone better.” And I hype myself up with this thought, but it only lasts for a little bit. Then I’m back to feeling like I won’t find a nice guy. It’s a vicious cycle for me.

Children Growing Up in San Francisco

There were a couple of ABC (American-born Chinese) teens on the bus this afternoon, and I felt more than amused by their conversation:

Girl 1: Did you know that New Zealand is a part of Australia?
Girl 2: Everyone knew that except you.
Boy 1: May I sit here?
Girl 1: *rolls eyes* Sure, maybe…*sets her backpack down in the seat*
Boy 2: I have to go to my tutoring session today.
Girl 2: Tutoring, as in for what? Sylvan Learning Center?!
Boy 1: Hooked on Phonics? *laughs*
Girl 1: Here, sit down!
Boy 1: On your backpack? Okay, but it’s going to have some butt stains on it…*laughs*
Girl 1: Did you know that New Zealand is a part of Australia?
Boy 1: I think you already said that.
Girl 1: I thought it was all the way by Hawaii!

Eavesdropping and observing their behavior, I felt like I was seeing an image of what my life could have been like if I had grown up in San Francisco. These teenagers and their lives here in San Francisco are very different from what I experienced as a teenager. However, will they end up with different perspectives in adulthood as me, or will they end up with the same perspective somehow?

Clement.

Whenever I walk along Clement Street, I find myself peaking into the Asian bakeries and grocery stores there. I look inside to see the familiar yet foreign things I have grown up with–the Chinese baked goods of buns, egg tarts, red bean paste anything, etc.

Looking at the food, I feel nostalgic for some reason. Despite the fact that I didn’t grow up with these shops near my childhood home, for some reason, I feel “at home” with these shops anyway. They evoke an emotion within me, of the fact that yes, I am indeed a Chinese person.

"Take Out" feature film screening in NYC

Just read about this on Jennifer 8. Lee‘s blog: Apparently there’s a movie screening in NYC right now for “Take Out,” which is about a Chinese delivery man having to work to pay off immigrant smugglers. I’m curious to watch this, merely from the account that Lee wrote about in her blog. Some people mistaked the movie as a documentary, but it really isn’t; just a purely fictional film (although the situation/incident outlined is not fictional; it does occur, as I know from observations).

I’m curious to see if the film will be screening outside of NYC; will it make it to the big screen eventually? It’s an indies film, so I guess maybe there’s not such a big chance, but I’m hoping I am wrong.

Discovering new fruit: Loquats

My relatives had given me a bunch of orange coloured fruit before I came back to San Francisco; neither they or my parents knew what the English name of the fruit was, so I was stumped for a few days trying to figure out how to describe them. The fruit are orange coloured but are not part of the citrus family; they have big brown seeds in the middle, and the skin is easily peeled off when ripe. They came on branches, so I assume they grow on trees.

Well, today my curiosity on the fruit’s name got the best of me, and I finally looked the fruit up: loquats. At first it was hard for me to figure out how to describe them in a search engine, but by typing in “Chinese fruit” I was able to find them. I figured they were of Chinese origin since my relatives and my family friends gave the fruit to me–never before had I seen loquats at Safeway or any “American” grocery store.

I rather like loquats, after eating them for the past few days. Finally figuring out their English name has made me feel more motivated to find out more English names of other Chinese foods…after all, it would be nice to be able to tell others what my favorite authentic Chinese dishes are (without going into too much detail, haha).

ABCs (American-Born Chinese)

It’s almost always like this:

While being introduced to another Chinese person…

Chinese person: Oh, who are you?
Parents’ friends: Oh, she’s my friend’s daughter. She was born here [in the United States].
Chinese person: Oh, I see, you’re one of those American-Born Chinese.
Me: Uh..yeah? (Thinks to self “You got a problem with that?”)

I don’t like how the fact that I was born here in the US is always made into such a big deal when I’m with relatives or family friends. Can’t they just get over the fact and let us ABCs be?