My identity consists of concrete facts -- age, date of birth, hair color, eye color, ethnicity. These are things that are undisputed and invariable. And then there are those other parts.
This 2010 has been a challenging year. Sometimes, I would relish in the freedom that was rewarded to me at graduation. Sometimes, I would wonder if I was a manic depressive. Sometimes, I would enjoy my youthful zest for adventures. Sometimes, I was just confused about who I am.
I think my Hawaii work trip provided something so far away from anything familiar, that it allowed me the space to reflect anew. It allowed me to live in a foreign context -- a perfect environment for clear self discoveries and breakthroughs in my identity.
Who I am. How I see myself. How others see me. I think these are all interrelated, shared and working together.
Sometimes I don't see something that's there. Sometimes I see something that's not really there.
My identity is dynamic. Whether it is my own doing or the doing of my environment, I am constantly being shaped, moulded and revamped. I realized that as much as the identity is self-made and manipulated, so much of it is also out of our hands. There are some attributes that no matter what I try to do, will always be there or require time and experience to evolve. I will always be XYZ unless I painfully extract that part out. I don't think it was until really recently that I could accept that where I am is OK. That I don't have to be the ideal person and to just ... BE.
It's a good place to be :). And I hope to bring this outlook to the new places in life I will go...
Grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do. There's something about being in a place where the realm of possibilities for what I'll cook that week utterly delights me. When I go to the grocery store, I'm thankful that I can choose what I want out of thousands of choices, hundreds of brands and millions of tastes. Not everyone in the world has the same luxury as me, and yesterday, nothing struck me more to that reality than a book I stumbled upon at the Co-op -- Hungry Planet. This book is a photographic and journalistic documentary about what a family in every part of the world eats for a week, including cost and many other amazing facts.
Fascinating, surprising and upsetting. My reaction to the book was just a more tangible reminder that me choosing the organic apple over the conventional one, or trying out almond butter over peanut, or wanting curry and then pasta and then sushi in that particular order is a luxury! I felt it ironic that I was just in the middle of thinking about my week's menu when I stumbled upon the book, in which it first froze me in guilt (I contemplated eating rice and cabbage for the whole week after seeing the food pictures from Africa) and then left me in deep, contemplative gratitude.
It's eye-opening, but not surprising that the developed world spends some $200-$300+ on food a week and that the developing nations spend anywhere from $1.23 (in Chad) to under $100. It's also a little bit a conundrum that Americans have the greatest variety, but truly eat the greatest amount of crap. Packaged, processed, convenient.
Ecuador -- USA -- Mexico --
Now, it'll be tempting for me to cry out in fury and indignation and just eat crackers for the rest of my life, but what would that prove? I realized that yes, I am in a place of abundance and yes, I'll never truly know what it's like to be in want. I think I used to just feel guilty and spoiled for those things. But feeling that way does no one any good! I believe it's about being grateful and not wasting or complaining and just making sound choices that can honor being so blessed.
Today at my internship we made a dumpling soup. Except it was nothing like the kind my mom makes, where things are impeccably and delicately seasoned with the ubiquitous ginger, garlic, green onion and sesame found in chinese cooking. No, the recipe we used was an odd matching of east meets west -- the soup contained the loud pronounced flavors of things you'd find in western stews mixed in with the dark sassiness of chinese soysauce (I couldn't help but notice how much it tasted and smelled like Thanksgiving stuffing!). The dumpling filling was more like a stirfry, a cacophonous poem of chopped up leafy greens and carrots completely uncharacteristic of a true, chinese dumpling. It was... good, but definitely different.
Me with my metaphorical thinking couldn't help but draw the link between this soup and my identity. A chinese-american girl whose insides are familiar to the recipe of her heritage, but also have the influence of the western ingredients from the "stuffing-esque" soup I reside in. I'm reminiscent, but just not exactly what I'm "supposed" to be. Neither chinese or american, my generation is that of its own -- one where our spoken linguistics are predominately fluent in english but still a little funny, and one where we understand the choppy "chinglish" more than the quick-tongued rapidfire mandarin you hear on the chinese news.
It's nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, that culture doesn't follow the recipe of old and it's not always easy to fit in (native asians are too asian, whites can be too white), but I think something special lies in such harmony of flavors, perse. Even though language and mannerisms may be diluted throughout the generations once in another country, I think one thing is for sure -- food stays the same. My 4th generation chinese roommate is a testimony to that. She knows donggua soup and stir-fried mi-fen (stirfried ricenoodles) as normal family foodfare. Now, I may not make that dumpling soup everrr again, but I will definitely pass on what cooking wisdom my mom's given to me to my friends or nieces or potential adopted children (ha). And THAT, is a delicious fact.
Even a beautiful day like this, do the shadows creep inward like a parasitic infection. I am sick, infected with bouts of restlessness -- eyelids heavy, muscles weary, voice faint, spirit dry, soul longing. Where are you, where are you? You are supposed to bring peace to my madness, you are supposed to provide the refuge, the rest, the joy.
I don't want to live to just see the days pass, to watch the hours of the clock increase in number, for the sky to go dark, for time to eat, to sleep, to rise, to fall.
I try to flee. I try to flee the worry, the shame, the rage. I run for something -- far, and away. I run and flee. But how do you get away from yourself?
At first when I heard him, I was like "who is this annoying little prepubescent teenybopper?"
But I think I'm diggin' his jams. Yes, I endorse this young musician and as many people are like "dude he sounds like he's 12 what a n00b" I actually think he's a breath of fresh air amidst all the vulgar lyrics about "hotel motels" and how "she's all upon me screamin' yeahhhhh".
I mean I've had an up and down relationship w/ rap and hip hop. I love the beats, but the lyrics are just so gross these days it's not easy to listen to it seriously without shaking my head. It's an open-forum most of the time to degrade and oversexualize females.
But w/ Mr. Beiber, even the usual durrrtay-lyriced rap stars featured on his songs are singing very nice and respectful things about females.
You take my breathe away, with every thing You say. I just wanna be with you my baby, My baby, ohhh. My miss don’t play no games, Treats you no other way, that you deserve, Cause you’re the girl of my dreams.