Asian Girl Problem #???

Just a life update and thought evacuation. It paralyzes me to write here because I can’t remember how to do it. But what I lack in creative expression I make up for in dumb marketing copywriting. I’m pleased to announce that after four years of posing as a copywriter, I feel like I know how to do the job now. Hooray for professional competence.

But I forced myself to post something here because I can’t stand seeing my last embarrassing blog post at the top of the site. And I should make note that I’m moving to another job this month.

We all thought I wouldn’t leave my current agency for a while. Mostly because I said, “I’m not going to leave for a while.” And also, “If I can’t make it work here, I can’t make it anywhere. I’ll have to leave copywriting for good.”

But I sure tricked us. Took about two weeks before I started the hunt again. And two months later, I gave my notice for another job…that seems perfect…This time, I’ll be writing about food and humor for a “trendy” company and cool creative team. Ever since college, I’ve wanted to write for a website like Serious Eats, and this job is comes darn close. Maybe this is what I’ve been working towards all this time. Maybe other people are also starting to notice my aforementioned competence.

But like an aging bachelor who’s ceasing to see the difference between one skirt and the next, yet can’t stop chasing, I’m prepared to continue fall out of love with this job at any moment. I just hope I’ll get too lazy to keep looking, and stay put for a few years, out of complacency.

But anyway, we press on. New jobs and experiences ahead.

Funny story: I was buying a birthday gift at Papyrus for a friend who’s looking for his mojo. So I asked the saleswoman “Do you have any dating advice…gifts?” Apparently she didn’t catch the last word, so several moments of silence tick by until I finally realize the misunderstanding. “…Not personally!” I said. Every person in the shop burst into laughter, because apparently my voice carries and they were all waiting with bated breath to hear about my dilemma. “Keep an open mind?” she offered. “I met a nice fellow on Tinder…?” Lesson: Even elders and serious-looking business people are dying to hear a dating story, and active on Tinder. It’s easier to find a compassionate ear than you’d think.

Asian Girl Problem #:141 My Fantasy Boyfriend Is White

Before I stare at my navel for an hour, I have to acknowledge those greatly suffering from the violent events going on. I don’t say anything on other platforms except in person, but it feels wrong to go about life as if nothing happened. But it’s not about how I feel or process it. I will never know the kind of prejudice a black person in this country faces and all its nuances. I take extra care to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, mindful of people I encounter, and make it a daily habit instead of one spurred by events. We have to fight racism in ways big and small, and we have to play the long game instead of waking up only when tragedy happens. If nothing else, we have to do it for the ones who died.

And I am very grateful to have the luxury of blathering about white fever today.

So I haven’t been dating this year. Burned myself out in 2015. But I made one exception by going out twice with a guy who seemed to have a lot of the qualities i think i want in a partner. in other words, someone who would be a “good boyfriend” and thus someone I would never be that interested in. Yep I need help–my therapist is in the wings.

Anyway, this guy fell into the brother zone, despite my stubbornness to make it work. I tried to affirmative action him, but in the end he wasn’t quirky or challenging enough to keep me interested. It probably wasn’t solely because he was Asian, but it’s hard to ignore the patterns that develop with each new guy.

As I chewed over my decision for a week, I came to the disturbing realization that all my fantasy boyfriends are white.*dave-democracy

I don’t think the media and growing up in Ohio are the only factors here. Plenty of people who might identify with “bananas” for lack of a better term, imagine themselves living happily ever after with an Asian person. And plenty do it.

To clarify, I may marry an Asian guy. I have chased and lusted over them. But they are not what I imagine as partners. When a real person or hot actor gets on my radar, I’m totally there. But in my daydreams? I’m afraid it hasn’t changed much since adolescence.
My fantasy boyfriend is kind of an indie nerd. Looks kind of like an alter boy and possibly harboring some religious baggage from childhood. Highly cultured and discusses books and news with his parents, who are very proper and probably know nothing about interracial dating. He is probably embarrassing on the dance floor, is not a “foodie”, nor overly close with his family. And I should have more social anxieties and identity crises than him.*
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My fantasy boyfriend is highly influenced by the crushes of my youth, and like all the gnarly preferences and habits we pick up as children, he is set in stone already. I have to accept it, and rise above it if I want to be more discerning when choosing a healthy partner.
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But am I that much different than guys with Asian fetishes? Put two guys with the same qualities in front of me–one white and one not–and I’ll probably resort to my ingrained preferences. When does it become more than personal penchant, but a larger problem to fight?
*Actually, another trend is that many guys I meet who fit this description are gay. Sometimes they are straight and non-white. And then I meet their white girlfriends.

Asian Girl Problem #140: Adulting Update

It feels wrong to update this when I’ve been so inactive, but also wrong not to, amidst all the changes that will affect future content. So this month:

I started going to therapy and confirmed that it is the biggest contribution of Western medicine. I don’t care how well-adjusted you are (except for hating you a little bit). Everyone can benefit from talking to an unbiased professional, and it’s like no other kind of human interaction.

Starting a new job this week. It will take a couple weeks to adjust to a real life, where I have responsibilities, need to put on pants, talk to people, and resist napping. I’ll be going back to an agency as a copywriter, but I still can’t believe I actually got this job. You know when you walk out of an interview feeling nauseous because you want the job so badly and can’t handle a rejection? That was me. I’ll be focusing on writing ads for an Asian-American audience, and applying all the nuances of Asian-Am values, history and media to advertising.

I also went on my first online date in several months. Since I came back from China, I’ve only been interested in people who might be very compatible with me. So I’d look through Tinder without making an effort to meet with anyone who didn’t meet my list of qualities. (Not recommended. Unless you’re burnt out from meeting 28 people in 6 months and spinsterhood sounds less like a threat and more like a reward —>me) It’s too early to elaborate on this guy, but suffice to say I’m definitely making my therapist work for his fees.

Asian Girl Problem #139: No Straight Arrows

The best fuel for a big ego: having someone you appreciate give compliment you, unexpectedly, on a personal virtue you’ve worked hard to achieve, and know to be true.

Imperfect example: One of my best friends told me she admires how I easily make up my own mind and go forth without asking for others to chime in their opinions. Imperfect, because this isn’t something I’ve worked at so much as a personality trait that comes with having hands-off parents and a strong gut reaction to all of life’s stimuli. Also, it can rear its head as a negative trait, as I expect the same self-sufficiency in others and can overlook useful life advice when it comes my way.

But at the time she told me, my ego was happy. I hoped she spoke some truth that would inspire me to be the person she saw. Since that day last week, I keep thinking of instances where I’ve been the complete opposite—weak and shallow and unsure of my next step. I’m in a confessional mood today.

  • I thought about this post on my morning run, when I do a lot of thinking. I’m embarrassed to admit that I chose the neighborhood I live in for its easy access a great running route. Endorphins are fine, but the main reason I run is to avoid gaining weight and the awful body image that brings up for me.
  • I’ve convinced myself that I’ve become a hot mess since China. Some days, I feel myself becoming my mother, who is the most shallow and vain person in my life. I still love her, which is why this is such a complicated issue for me. When I hear myself sounding like her, I check out lots of books at the library to remind myself I’m not just a shell.
  • I signed up for creative writing in college to impress a guy with whom I went on one date. I’m not sure I’d be in the same career if that hadn’t happened.
  • The only way I successfully quit biting my nails was to get a boyfriend and start taking better care of them.
  • I’m compelled to smile and nod at every black male that I pass on the sidewalk, because a guy once told me that he felt people avoided him and he felt invisible in a way he never did in other cities. My white guilt is real.

Asian Girl Problem #138: Never Been A ScarJo Fan

A lot is going on in the world. Prince died and everyone wants to tell their personal story of how the legend influenced their lives. As usual, I’m silent on social media (mostly because I’m over most platforms) and have no childhood memory of the musician. My parents played communist music from a cassette until I was old enough to commandeer the radio, and I stumbled across pop culture making arbitrary connections with whatever resonated.

As with Bowie, Prince appeared on my radar well into my 20s, through a combination of oldies radio, karaoke and movie soundtracks. Both seemed like artists in the purest definition—visionaries who made their fresh perspectives accessible to the masses through constant output of impeccably-honed skills and substance. It’s nice to see people sharing and reminiscing, even though I’m yet again a bystander. But honestly it’d be cool if no more famous people died for a while—it’s making me realize that 30 is just around the corner.

28 is supposed to be a big year of change for me. Yep, I decided that when I was 21 and in graduate school, because 28 was the average age of my classmates, and they were miles ahead of me in terms of accomplishments and maturity. The guy I had a crush on was also 28, and he would assure me that my anxieties would chill the fuck out once I got to my late 20s. So I’ve essentially been seeing the past several years as the last gasp of my youth and forgiving myself for all blunders and neuroses because there would be an end date to it all.

This sounds like the part where I debunk this whole philosophy and realize no one ever grows up and it’s ~just a number~ but actually, I do feel more mellow. I do have simpler pleasures, and I do have a stronger self-identity and values less prone to compromise. So yay for that. I’m starting a new job soon, which has been a priority since I got back from China. I hope to see the effects of this inner calm on a professional level.

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Now that it took me four paragraphs to clear my throat, I wanted to mention something in the media that I do feel compelled to sound off on, which is Scarlett Johansson’s leading role in a movie based on a Japanese manga. This happened a week ago, hence already a passé topic, but the fact that the story’s publishers recently strongly defended the casting decision and was proud to get the “chance for a Japanese property (the manga story—not ScarJo) to be seen around the world” makes me feel even more hopeless for cultures to represent themselves in mainstream media.

Essentially, his comment shows that a decision-maker is choosing Caucasians instead of reps from his own race under the assumption that a story resonates more when presented through someone who is more approachable, profitable, relatable, whatever to the people who matter in media. Way to keep the system chugging. If he doesn’t even have the faith to give badass Japanese roles to Japanese characters, how does that bode for all the “little people” who fight every day to get a modicum of realistic representation on the screen?

Up until I was 12, all I saw around me were white (and a few black) people. I wish I could say that race wasn’t a factor and I was colorblind, like we were taught to be (which was problematic but the best people could do at the time). But worse than that, I thought of myself as white, because that’s what I spent 95% of my day seeing. The other 5% was reserved for my two parents, and my own reflection, which I avoided because it jarred me out of the comfort of my white mindset.

Twenty years ago, and that message seems to be going strong—someone who looks white is going to elicit a deeper response than someone who looks like an other. Everyone else should get used to remarkable, laudable stories being told from a white mouthpiece because even a great story runs the risk of being looked over if told by a fresh (different) face. Keep the Asian actors for the uber-Asian stories and indie movies that only draw an Asian crowd, anyway.* Forget authenticity for a big budget films, even when an Asian actor just makes fucking sense. Instead, choose an actor who literally plays the same character in every movie.

*While I enjoyed all the movies I saw at CAAMfest, I walked away wishing there were more stories that didn’t solely focus on ~being Asian~ but rather on great characters and plots that could transcend culture. The kind of movies usually only reserved for white actors.

Asian Girl Problem #137: A Bit & A Bite of China

Did anyone expect the 10-day trip I was taking in China shortly after my last post to turn into a month-long immigration nightmare, and then a radically sweet vacation? Talk about an Asian Girl Problem.

Over the course of February, I spent quiet days in the hospital with my grandma, slept through most of Chinese New Year due to jetlag, and felt isolated and uncomfortable. However, once I found out I’d be staying for another two weeks, my itinerary changed and I explored fabulous cities I’ve never been to before, found common ground with new friends, and grew closer than ever with my parents (my dad was with me most of the time, and my mom showed her love from afar.)

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Jet-lagged, but stoked to be trawling the malls with family. PSA: Asian Uniqlos continue to offer a great pants selection for a shawty.

My perspective on my culture and family have continued to change, inevitably also affecting my views toward work and life goals. Per the new year’s resolutions, I’d been consciously working on changes, but at the same time, I was very depressed and unmotivated all through January. It was only during the tail-end of my trip in China that I could feel my new intentions pick up steam. There was a distinctive “click” amidst the long, dreary grind of progress.

For example, I feel a newfound adoration for my family and Chinese culture, particularly traditional values, which is definitely going to affect my dating approach. But micro-changes, like my lack of interest in sugar after eating only Chinese food for a month, and improved ability to speak and read Chinese, are also good habits I plan to keep up. Fodder for many more AGP posts.

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Friends have noticed my changed attitude since I’ve been back, but motivation is a limited resource, so I’m not wasting any time getting back into a healthy routine and finding a new job.

Before I peace out, I gotta share that CAAMfest is happening around the Bay this week! I’m seeing at least a few films this year, one including a favorite blogger and actress. And also, I got hooked on this gorgeous food show in China. It’s on Youtube, in both English and original versions if you’re so inclined.

 

Asian Girl Problem #136: Fancy Feast

Today I’m fighting a cold and need some lighthearted reading and writing in my life. So I present to you this list of Chinese delicacies and their many applications, inspired by my friend who was thoroughly disgusted at my eating some mochi from a Korean store on our visit to NYC last year. (She’s the least adventurous eater I know.) She ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I enjoy all of these foods in the right context…which is generally once a decade.

When a food both looks a macabre and has a challenging texture, it’s never going to win a popularity award in America. But in Asia most of these are revered for their taste and nutrition while signifying wealth.

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First up is chicken feet. Battered and fried or made in a soup, these are terrifying in a fabulous way, especially the ones made from black chicken. One of my life goals is to throw a goth Thanksgiving, where I serve only black food, which is almost too easy to find in Chinese cooking.

Also topping the list of black, gelatinous and sinister-looking foods is century egg. I think I came around to this when I was 15 at my grandparents’ house, where it was diced and thrown into a rice porridge like this. It smells like sulfur and tastes like it met its maker a very long time ago–a bland jello egg “white” and a pungent yolk that carries an acidity and vague bite not unlike wasabi. Do you like soft cheeses? Then you can’t give me crap about century eggs.

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Seaweed in all its forms are glorious. Thick and meaty, thin like pasta, or crunchy curly like kale. When our planet reaches critical mass and have to resort to eating sea vegetables and bugs for survival, I’ll be first in line.

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Sea cucumber is a gelatinous blog that absorbs any flavor you put on it. It’s one of the highest protein, lowest fat foods around. At this point Asians have eaten so many that they’re going extinct. Way to miss the memo, western hemisphere.

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Moving away from black foods, we have pork (and other meat) floss. I mean, this is truly an engineering marvel. It smells like pork, feels like fur, and tastes like salty shredded hemp, but of the most addictive sort. It’s like jerky with a fun texture–do not be scared.

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Pig ear in spicy chili oil. Imagine a porky and delicious rubber band. This is way better than that. One of dozens of Awkward Pig Part + Spicy Chili Oil cold appetizers you can find in any Szechuan restaurant, and they’re all great.

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To round out the list is the only food I still have trouble with, bitter melon. I probably just need to try it prepared the right way, which is stir-fried with egg and a lot of seasonings. When it’s simply boiled and salted by my mom, this physically beautiful vegetable is vile. If this makes it to goth Thanksgiving, it will be for symbolic reasons.

Well, I feel a little nauseous right now. That’s all for today!