Asian Girl Problem #135: Boys & Dads

This one goes out to M, whom some would call my “ex boyfriend” but always and forever a friend–a label that transcends time and change. And I know he be lurkin’ my blog.

I think one of the reasons two people like ourselves who are quite awful at traditional dating made it work is because we respected our friendship. Even when we were knee-deep in crap and crying to Alanis Morissette, we always knew our compatibility and love for each other as an individuals would be there, preserved, when we were ready.

Some people tell me it’s not common to be able to talk about new loves, sex, and the past with an ex without the slightest emotional baggage. Totally true, which is why I don’t often meet people I want to date. I don’t feel any pressure or self-righteousness in staying friends, but it’s just easy. Which I suppose is the case for every good relationship.

Anyways, this isn’t called Asian Girl Cupcaking. Today I remembered this time when we were dating when I had a really disappointed face on and M good-naturedly said he could imagine exactly what my dad looked like when I came home from school as a kid with an A-. And that that would also be the same face my dad would have if and when they DID meet (spoiler: they didn’t) and he discovered I was not dating a Chinese medical professional.

 

My dad dated one person in his life, ever. Doing more would’ve gotten in the way of his focus on his PhD so yeah he’s a real romantic. Never having introduced him to a boy, I don’t know how he would’ve acted if he met M–white, bearded, towering 10 inches above him. Would he crack the dad jokes I could barely understand under his thick accent, as he did with my girl friends, or would he have become a dad I’ve never seen, the dad of TV shows, who sits at the head of the table and grills the guy about his future goals and family history?

I hope I find out one day. I hope I get to introduce my parents to at least one Asian guy and one non-Asian guy at some point, just so I can compare their behaviors in a future post. Also for a future post: I’ve never seen him kiss my mom on the mouth, not even a peck, which I hear from friends is typical in Chinese families. Confucian propriety? Loveless marriage? Extreme hygiene?

 

Advertisements

Asian Girl Problem #133: Growing Apart

Hello! Bet you didn’t expect me to pop up today–I sure wasn’t planning on it. I’ve been feeling the itch to write and am trying everything to cultivate that. I’m sitting in a pile of goose feathers and cat fur and kiwi peels–that’s how committed I am to keeping this itch strong.

This post goes out to my very first boyfriend, who dropped into my ‘hood from the Philippines. Not surprisingly, he got the dates wrong and what was supposed to be a 24 hour stay is actually 48 hours. Which, I’m beginning to realize now on this 24th hour,  is 24 hours more than I’m happy with. (Does that math make sense?)

First I want to say he is a fine person and was a fine first boyfriend. He hasn’t asked me to change plans or required much entertaining, being the true embodiment of a cat and having lots of work to do on his laptop every day. (Although today its vital signs are failing–it better not croak on us before he leaves.)

Now I can bitch. This guy, who we’ll call E, has been living in Manila for the last year, and traveling all around before then. He’s an awkward introverted type–good for losing your virginity to but not someone I’d want to host a talkshow with. When you’re 21 and in the college bubble, it’s not hard to find things in common. Six years later, it’s apparent how different we really are, and unfortunate to discover that we are not compatible as friends. I’m not saying I regret agreeing to his visit, but I should’ve expected less from it.

I feel myself straying into the myriad reasons we don’t get along, but the main AGP pebble in my shoe that I can’t get over is that I can see him slipping away into gross white ex-pat land. He has no connections and very few friends in the Philippines, but intends to go back after the holidays, probably for many years. Now, he’s a highly educated kid from an upper middle class family, and smart enough to know what distinguishes him from a typical womanizing, culture-blind, retiree ex-pat (which makes for 90% of them, he tells me). He knows about the poverty there, the power imbalance, and the colonialist history mirrored in some of the modern-day relations between white men and local women.

But he isn’t worried about it enough to convince me he’s not gross. And it doesn’t sit well with me and I’m increasingly irked by him because of it, on top of all the little things that already annoy me. Sure, he is smart enough and spent enough time in America to realize he’s physically average, and it’s a race/power/demand issue that projects him to Ryan Gosling status in Asia. But I’m still annoyed when I listen to him describing all the Tinder dates he’s been on. Sure, he is helping out the local economy by hiring people to help him with his company and paying them ample wages. But I’m again annoyed by his new year plans to bring all the “luxuries of America” there, which includes hiring a personal chef. Sure, all wealthy Filipinos have personal cleaners and chefs, but there’s something still annoying about the fact he’s dropping into this country and immediately doing the same thing.

Annoying.

Because you didn’t earn your stripes. You didn’t learn the language, weren’t welcomed by a local friend or family member, and don’t need to struggle at all to get all the girls and Ubers and personal chefs in the country.

Maybe I wouldn’t care if my parents immigrated into the exact opposite climate, where they were mocked for not knowing the language, lived hand to mouth, are lost and derailed in a tangle of cultures daily, and will always be second-class even if they made a million. Where are their girls and Ubers and chefs?

I expressed this to E, in softer terms, this morning. Damn me for being a softie, but I let it drop when it became obvious we weren’t going to get deep into it. All he did was feebly defend himself a little bit and has since tried to share other ways he’s wanted to help the community and his employees. But again, he’s not worried enough. I want him to feel guilty constantly reevaluate his actions and desires. As much as I’ve grappled with being an Asian in America, I want him to struggle and lose sleep over being an American in the Philippines. Because I’m kinda selfish and expect a lot from people.

But no, he will continue to ramble on about his travels and screenplay ideas and dates…without reciprocating when I ask polite follow-up questions and try to find some thread of common interest and connection between us. But that time is over. College was dumb. And I don’t have to spend time with anyone who doesn’t interest me. So I’m off to go make soup with my best friends and he can fend for himself tonight.

Asian Girl Problem #126: More Research and Rationalization Of Yellow Fever

It’s about time! Remember when I used to have a bullshit job where I got paid to eat snacks, surf the www waves and blog? Now I have work that actually does the definition of the word justice, and I can’t bear using any free time to come here and check in. It’s dumb.

I’m still getting hundreds of visitors on this blog every day, thanks to that website’s mention of my article about nose straightening/narrowing, and desperate requests to share where one can find such an apparatus. Not the point, but it does give me more motivation to fuel this blog with a steadier flow of posts.

Well I’m back to continue the endless interracial dating conversation. The White male/Asian female thing that I see every day and am guilty of perpetuating. I’m not trying to change who people find attractive–I just want them admit it, understand how it makes half (according to my surveys) the population uncomfortable/upset, and attempt to analyze it deeper. Out of genuine interest or respect or whatever. If your preferences and actions represent a larger trend that upsets the objects of your affection, you should at least also put yourself in a difficult and awkward place, out of solidarity.

The documentary Seeking Asian Female tackles the problem in all its complexity pretty well

Two relevant experiences from the weekend.

The first was hearing from an Asian girl friend who gave her white guy friends kudos for finding a girlfriend when he taught English in Taiwan. When I expressed my disgust about guys who have an “Asian thing”, she couldn’t relate at all. She skeptically asked if I dated all races, and I had to again face my guilt of never having had a true relationship with an Asian guy. A guilt that hits particularly hard at the moment, when I’m casually getting to know a Chinese guy who has every. single. quality. I would like in a boyfriend. (e.g. He has a badass creative job, amazing style, physically hot, a good combo of dorky/sweet/edgy, knows Chinese, great at banter, is self-aware but not jaded, and denounces gender roles) But why am I not excited to see him each time, or eager to jump his bones? Ugh, shelving this stressful topic for now.

Speaking to a close friend (okay, a friend with benefits) with a self-diagnosed “Asian thing” who’s trying very hard to fight it by dating all kinds of women, I heard a new theory I haven’t considered before–that maybe he has the preference because he has grown up so inundated with white beauty, and has no gauge for beauty when it comes to other races. (Of course we know that Asians set their standards of beauty to the Western world, but let’s just consider the standards that are more dialed into commonly-occurring Asian features.) So basically, he thinks  he’s less discerning about what makes an Asian-looking person beautiful, so can more easily find them attractive. Put in the most offensive terms, the theory means that we get a handicap for looks.

I have no opinion on this, for once. Having grown up seeing and being told about the subtleties of physical Asian beauty and White beauty, I can’t draw from personal experience. I have my own preferences, based on a mystery cocktail of looks and style and poise and element X. Plus, I was taught to worship young Aryan-looking guys way more than anyone else, so it kind of makes sense if my gut and vagina respond more positively more immediately to them.

What do you think?

Asian Girl Problem #122: The Best Photo for Your Online Dating Profile

…is not one that invokes fear, pity or confusion in potential dates.

Now that I’m back in the pixel jungle of online dating, it’s become another heated topic of conversation between me and my girlfriends. Here are some basic, largely un-baiased tips on how to approach the most important aspect of your profile–your primary/default photo. Lezbehonest, a solid profile photo covers a multitude of sins. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Or play the game by increasing your chances.

In a nutshell, post a main photo in which you’re a reasonable distance from the camera, looking at the lens and smiling.

Most of the people I look twice at have this in common, although we all make our exceptions for personal weaknesses (mine would be glasses, creepy mustaches and long hair, to name a few). I’d say at least 60% of people don’t follow these simple rules when making their profile. I know it’s tempting to use your LinkedIn photo, crossing the finish line in the Spartan race, or that great night with friends on your Eurotrip, but I don’t want to procreate with the people in those photos. I don’t get hard for people I want to hire or run quickly away from, but if you do, I could point you to some other social sites where you’d get much more mileage.

So yeah! To anyone wondering how to make the most out of that prized profile photo real estate, avoid ones where you’re:

– wearing sunglasses
– looking into the distance
– skydiving/rock climbing
– with your entire soccer team
– chillin with the hottest female you know
– in front of the computer with your cat, in the dark
– playing with that niece who isn’t your daughter
– last minute mirror selfies
– showing parts of your body without your face

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 4.08.28 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 4.21.12 PM

Sidenote I saved these screenshots from last year when I was browsing this dating website that rhymes with Okay, Stupid. I promise that each guy is individual, of different ages and from different places, but somehow they all showed up on one page and I really thought they were the same person covering his bases. I’m the worst.

fdafd

Asian Girl Problem #121: A Top-Level Guide to Breakups

Subtitle: Sweet, sweet solitude.

The only details you need to know: My boyfriend broke up with me, it wasn’t a surprise because we’d been fighting for a couple months, and he did it in a very ungraceful, hurtful way.

Don’t want to put the wagon before the horse, but I think the worst is over–and the worst really wasn’t all that bad. Maybe that’s what happens when two people should break up–the aftermath is downright pleasant compared to the tumultuous shit storm before the separation.

Now it’s one week later, and we’re chillin’ platonically. I’m feeling quite pleased at how “maturely” I’m handling everything. Not ready to hear about his sex life, but I’m prepared for that day.

So here are some tips, more applicable to relationships that have ended with a mutual understanding, with both parties still wanting to be friends:

Problem: You’re mad at him, dog tired, not eating, sleeping, or working out.
Most of the pain is coming from the last three issues. Everyone says physical health precedes mental, for a good reason. It’s literally impossible for me to feel that bad when I’m getting good sleep, food and running/downward doggin’ all day. Yeah it takes a few days to get back in the swing of it, but then swing you shall. Not having a boyfriend frees up to do these things, thus helping you feel and look like a bag of money. Win-win.

Problem: You’re trying no contact, sad that things remind you of him, but also sad when you’re not reminded of him.
A favorite band might remind you of him (for us, it was Alt-J) but hey oh yeah, they are a fucking popular group, not you and your ex’s personal minstrels. Get excited about them with anyone else in the world. Alternately, take the time to bust out the breakup songs you never usually care for. Lykke Li and the XX were waiting in my computer for YEARS before I got to enjoy them again (aka I haven’t been through a breakup since 2011) and I count that as a win, too. Finally, I know everyone disagrees, but when I want contact, I contact. Sure, it might hinder the process, but it goes with the theory of learning from your own mistakes instead of listening to others. You’ll never believe the stove burns until you touch it yourself.

Problem: All advice says there’s absolutely no closure in meeting up to talk.
…unless the stove doesn’t burn you. I was angry and requested contact after one whole day of radio silence. Guess I just can’t stay quiet. We set up a time to meet up a week later, me hoping to get that mythological closure they speak of. By the time we actually met, I wasn’t upset anymore. Just wanted to tell him what he did was not cool, as a boyfriend or friend. The best case scenario I hoped for was an apology/acknowledgement. He understood and knows he has to build up some trust and make it up to me if he wants my friendship.

Problem: You want to forgive someone but it’s fun to be mad.
This is the revelation that helped me feel better within two days of the breakup–not forgiving sucks for everyone. He made a snafu and I want to afford him the understanding I would to any other friend. We talked, he got it, and I’m letting it go. The relationship wasn’t working and it wasn’t for lack of trying or love (possibly not the case for other breakups, in which case none of this applies). It’s not about the other person–forgiving is self-love. And it’s addictive. See http://www.raptitude.com/2011/11/two-methods-for-dealing-with-negative-people/

Problem: Yay, you are “friends” now! But sometimes you still want to suck on his lips.
Some people can handle the FWB zone, and others can’t. I know I draw the line at an arm around the shoulders and a platonic massage (because FREE MASSAGE). Anything more, and I’m setting myself back a few steps in the healing process. In short, the healing process means ogling and going out with every guy I find attractive, and giving in to physical comforts with an ex makes it harder to do said ogling with gusto. Also, keeping this boundary lets me be a way more pleasant, relaxed friend to everyone involved.

Problem: You don’t know when you’ll see him next, and don’t want to be alone.
I simply fought this feeling with a dose of reality. When I see him, I’m a little anxious, wanting our time to last forever. But not only is that impossible, I remember that being alone has its own joy (one huge advantage to being an introvert!) I exist for no one else and feel fully, 100% myself. This means facing myself–the good and bad. I’m scared of what I might discover as a free agent. But when I force myself to take the first step, the rest comes naturally. It feels right. See http://space2live.net/2013/03/08/my-introverted-love-creed-if-we-cant-be-magnificent-and-independent-together-im-ok-alone/

All this was right

Asian Girl Problem #109: Verbal vs. Tacit Love

Though I certainly know some exceptions, the majority of my Asian-American friends say “I love you” and hug their parents without giving it a second thought. It’s easy to love in America—I love donuts, strangers’ tattoos, a bookmark. I love at the end of phone conversations, to avoid awkward conversations, and when I’m trying to ingratiate myself with someone I pissed off. When I’m feeling sarcastic, I love things I actually hate.

When I was a kid and visited my dad at the university science lab where he worked, I yelled “Bye, I love you!” from down the hall every time I left. It became such a habit I’d often forget that sometimes he wasn’t in the lab when we went to look for him, so my declaration sounded like it was only meant for his grad student, Sean. I was only slightly embarrassed.

I never say “I love you” in Chinese, and hugs are few and far between when I visit my relatives in the motherland. I’ve never hugged any of my uncles or male cousins, and embracing my grandma whom I’m crazy about is reserved for the first and last time I see her of every visit. Instead, we say “like” for everything, including people we want to date. Or, in my case, “really like” for donuts and tattoos.

Rarely seen or used outside of tattoos on white people.

From a chapter in “Couples on the Fault Line” by Esther Perel:

Most cultures tend to gravitate toward one pole or the other in [the spectrum of “high-context” and “low-context” societies.] Another way to conceive of the spectrum is individualism versus collectivism. In low context societies such as Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, England, Australia, and the United States (often countries rooted in Protestant Calvanism) people compartmentalize personal relationships and work, and focus on short-term relationships. Factual information is stressed and is explicit verbal expression. The high-context societies are more rural and less industrialized than then low-context societies. In Latin America, Africa, the Mediterranean countries, the Arab world, India, China, and Indonesia extensive information networks exist among family, friends, and colleagues. This shared experience allows for a greater degree of tacit understanding. People are often involved in close and lasting personal relationships.

For the first time ever, I’ve been saying/writing the words (in English, or course) to a person I’m boning. When it first came up, it took me a month to reciprocate, and I still feel a jolt of confusion and hesitance every time I say it—although writing it feels easier? Sometimes I even have to rationalize in my head that the context I’m using it is no different than when I say it to a close girl friend.

Other times I’m just like, who the fuck cares. Spoken word are so easily made and easily broken. I want his time, energy, effort, thoughtfulness, touch—basically every other “love language” than words. That’s how I express my love, but sometimes I forget that my language goes unnoticed by people who didn’t grow up feeling the deep meaning behind the saving the last bite for someone else or going 30 minutes out of the way to see them for 5 minutes. (Not that I’m saying my dude doesn’t do either of these things.)* But how sad and drab not to notice and revel in those subtleties. Wouldn’t you say that the more we evolve, the more ways we should be able to express affection?

*Okay, there are definite drawbacks, i.e. how my family loves to whine about the sacrifices we make that go unappreciated by others.

Asian Girl Problem #107: The Aftermath

“Would your parents approve of me?” he asked around the time we decided not to swap fluids with other people.

“I don’t know. I tell them I wont be introducing them to anyone until they need to know. (aka, if i ever have the fortune of tying the knot, sometime after setting the date and before said date.) It’s easier that way. They’re crazy.”

“What would happen if they found out?”

“My mom would be anxious about me all the time, call every day asking what I was going, pop in for surprise visits (too late!), and turn everything into a heavily-veiled sex talk. My dad would probably pretend that you don’t exist.”


Since I ended up missing out on all the action, I can only summarize the event from pieces I’ve gathered from the boy and my roommate:

I popped into the shower, and he and his friend headed out for some coffee. Just as they opened the door, my mom walked up.

“Do you know [Asian Girl]? Are you her boyfriend?”

After an awkward stall, he confirmed. Small talk followed. (Which I can’t even imagine because my mom claims not to speak any English, which in reality means she only speaks English when no one else is there to talk for her and it’s absolutely necessary.)

“We’re going to get some coffee at Whole Foods. Can we get you anything?”

“No, our family is downstairs waiting. We are going to restaurant.”

My roommate came home around this time, and I came out of the bathroom in my towel, blind without my glasses. I said greeted her and looked right past my mother. I think I said “Hey!” mistaking her tiny, blurry silhouette for a friend of my roommate’s. I continued to my room to get dressed. The boys left, and she switching over to asking my roommate questions.

By the time I came out, the apartment was empty except for my roommate. After learning what happened, I went downstairs, and found no one, so I called my dad. Who pretended like nothing happened.

“How’s mom?”

“She’s fine. We were wondering if you wanted to get lunch with your aunt/uncle before they headed back to Santa Barabara. Since you weren’t picking up your phone, we thought we’d come and wake you up…”

“Is mom mad?”

“No, she’s fine!”

“Put her on the phone, then.”

I started explaining to her in vague terms what happened, why I wasn’t picking up, and how they’d crashed at my place because this guy was visiting from out of town.

“That’s fine. Be safe. Have a good day.”

—-

She calls me at lunch the next day, chipper as ever, updating me on life’s insignificances. I have to broach the topic.

“You mad at me?”

“No! if you’re happy, I’m happy. Just don’t want to see my kid tricked or taken advantage of.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ve dated before. I’m a rational person. I can take care of myself. I just like to keep some things private. I won’t do anything stupid.”

“I’m SO relieved! You know I like to worry. Hearing you say that makes me feel so much better.”

And on that vague note, the conversation ended. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

—-

“She was nice,” he told me later.

“NICE?!”

There are some assumptions to make if I’m to believe this gross exaggeration.

1. She is glad to finally have proof that I am attracted to males.
2. She thinks there’s a possibility I might escape spinsterhood.
3. Her dreams of my marrying a Chinese doctor die a little with each passing year.
4. She maybe possibly didn’t completely hate this sweet, adorable boy.

However.

1. I can’t get out of the shower now without stressing to find my mother standing there.
2. Thinking about her is an instant boner killer–and I’ve been thinking about her a lot.
3. He has a new joke of sticking his hands down my pants at times when I least expect it and yelling “What up, mom!”