Accessibility and Judgment at Broadway

Today, I want to talk about one of the reoccurring experiences I still struggle with accepting and going through, and that is first of all, how the lack of accessibility and modification of transportation in NYC is a huge detriment to many people who need it to get around and get opportunities.  Second of all, being strong enough to withstand judgment from others, whether friends or strangers, on your invisible needs, and probably getting judged for it.

One thing I constantly have to be conscious of is how quickly I use up my spoons for the day.   I modified some of my plans to tailor it to my needs, such as taking the train station in that is direct into the city.  Second of all, I decided in the cause of preserving my energy, I used the elevator once I got into Penn Station.  Third of all, even though I ran into a minor bump by trying to order a Lyft, and then ending up taking a taxi, I met up with my friends and got my taco as well.  The broadway show Cats was a little weird since I felt there was no plot, but nevertheless I enjoyed the experience.

I was a bit tired, but during intermission went to seek out the handicap bathroom in which I found myself in a line of mostly elderly people with bad hips and canes.  I knew I looked like I didn’t belong there, but I also knew in my mind and heart that I deserved to be there and it was my right to use that bathroom.  What wore me down a little was a few ushers swinging by, looking right at me and speaking mostly directly to me that they “highly encourage those who are capable of taking the stairs to do so with the one downstairs”… after the second time, I got a bit defensive and exhausted, and told them there was a reason why I was using that bathroom in particular.

It was also annoying that the old lady in front of me invited another older man to cut in front to use the bathroom…  I let him do so, but I wasn’t sure if it was out of kindness or guilt that I didn’t belong there.

Later on, we quickly racked up prices in using Uber to get around to the udon restaurant… It sucks that this is an extra price to pay as someone who has disability conditions, much like a woman having to pay for tampons and other needs just because she’s born with a vagina and menstruation cramps.

The world isn’t fair, and we have to try to find the courage to speak up for ourselves and for others.  Acceptance is key, and I’m on my way there before I can embrace it and fight for the rights that we are entitled to.

Advertisements

A Good Day- June 3, 2017

I don’t know if this is relatable to the general population, but for me as a person who struggles with disabled conditions, to experience and live a good day, is one of the rarest but most satisfying feelings in the world.  The days included among my happiest was such as the day I sat in a Venetian gondola, the day my study abroad friends celebrated meeting me on my last day in Taiwan, and a day at work where a bunch of little kids helped me plan a surprise party for my co-counselor.

Yesterday was a good day.  Even though I still struggled with my condition and the usual limitations, I still got to live and be with friends, and I felt that was one of the most important, gratifying feelings, just to have, and be present.

I woke up at Allison’s, went to Girl’s Group, ate delicious cookies, sandwiches, experienced my first cold brew coffee with french vanilla creamer, got mind-blown, went on a timed, spontaneous yard sale spree with Allison from 3-4pm where she hit the jack pot at another church with a $5 a bag deal! She got a beautiful entire tea set in addition to other glasses and miscellaneous things.  I finally did spend on a $3 bracelet that I thought looked very unique, it had 5 burgundy jewels and was elastic, so it was easy to slip on.  Satisfying good purchase and deal 8 )

I left her house to drive to Montclair and find Cuban Pete’s for Jon’s birthday.  It was a little rough as I didn’t know the area and realized parking was very difficult, but I heard the restaurant was very good.  I was the only one to get there at 5pm, another group arrived around 5:15 and the rest arrived closer to 5:40.  I found street parking by luck about a block away, found Glendyll and Amy inside the CHAOTIC restaurant.  It was so packed there wasn’t even room to comfortably stand… I was told the wait was 2 hours.  I went outside and sat on one of their chairs, and Jenn, Abby, Jordan and Nate came to find us.  This guy who seemed a little sketch came up and asked one of us to go with him to hook us up with a table, and he got us a table for 15 around 6pm!!  We were pretty excited, and the mango and pineapple sangrias and food was pretty great.  Afterwards, I was a bit annoyed as the group couldn’t make up their minds on what to do and just wanted to walk around.  We took pics outside and then after awhile, I was tired and decided to leave them to it and go find Allison, who was with Jeannie at Steve’s house.  Turns out, Sean and Sam were also there, so we just chilled, discussing VBS and talking.  Around 10:30pm, I gave up on waiting for Amy and was tired, so I decided to go say bye to them at the bar and drive home.

Even though I got borderline annoyed that they couldn’t make up their minds on a set plan and just wanted to wander around even though a couple knew that I tired easily, I guess I felt fulfilled and proud that I could do as much as I did on a beautiful day.  The day was perfect weather – about 74 degrees.

Thoughts n Questions to Ponder

  1.  What are the main differences between pity, sympathy, and empathy?  Are there two different levels of empathy?  A.  Having gone through the same, or very similar experience where you understand deeply B.  Can understand as explained to you, as you willingly strive to seek out understanding of another’s experiences
  2. What determines what is art and what is not?  Is it enough that it makes one feel an emotion, or an opinion?    What about if something is crudely done in controversy? Perhaps this is how famous celebrities (Kim K, Andy Warhol, Trump, the Pepsi commercial) garner publicity knowingly and manipulatively
  3. Everything in life mainly revolves around the goal of Efficiency, which will lead to Effectiveness.  Example: Why Marie Kondo’s book on tidying and organizing became a bestseller as we have so much waste and crap in our houses.  It is how I learned to memorize my music with intent and away from the piano, more intensely in less time, but more mentally draining regardless.  Creative design should also focus on minimize waste, energy, time.  Should the same concept be applied for empathy?
    1. Things that are wasteful but shouldn’t be… 40% groceries wasted away in the average American household- why??
    2. Taco Bell sauce packets
    3. Throwing away or not having anywhere to place reusable teabags…

What are my strengths and current goals? Curiosity, focus, and intense determination

  1.  Korean / Spanish language, teaching Mandarin to my friend daily and weekly
  2.  Coding for Python
  3. Looking into animation (create short) practicing piano again and writing music (create a great piece)
  4. Empathy, Pondering, Philosophy
  5. Creating greater efficiency in waste, energy, time
    1. Re-organize lifestyle and bedroom
    2. Establish regime – wake up before 12pm, sleep at 2am, take morning/bedtime calcium supplements.  Stretches, drink 37oz liquids, work out, floss, mouthwash, skincare, haircare.
    3. “Is what I’m doing beneficial to me in the long run? Am I learning something right now productive?” –>  TEDtalks, cooking recipes (next up, ba wan), Lynda tutorials
    4. Be better at planning events
    5. Minimize sound pollution, food waste
    6. Develop photography portfolio so I can develop photoshop photos
  6. Passions:  women’s rights, Asian American rights, Disability rights –> how to save energy
    1. Suitcase with wheels/ moving chair
    2. Accessibility (ex:  more elevators in the city, better “wheelchairs”)
    3. How do we increase efficiency in obtaining empathy in each other in a simple, direct manner that makes sense?  –>  perspective of woman translating well for men.  Struggles of Asian Americans and immigrants, their story to become understanding or more relatable.
      1. Watch movies:  50/50 on reality of illnesses, The Godfather on moral dilemmas, Master of None on feminism, immigrants, ageism, hook up culture, racism, etc.
  7. Me:   Sound of heels clicking cleanly across the floor with a slight echo, rustling of a turning page, old smell of sheets of paper, fresh cut grass, moisturizing lip balms, Lupicia cookie tea and chocolate strawberry tea, slicing cucumbers, sizzling oil, matcha bubble tea, onigiri, ramen, glistening sashimi, glutinous gelatinous ba wan, emotional energy channeling through fingertips into keys, deep breaths, whirling thoughts, racing heartbeat, derp.

Advice for Greater Empathy- the Dangers of Inspiration Porn

I don’t know how many times I’ve been called an inspiration by friends or just people I’m having a personal discussion with.  I think it would greatly benefit everyone in general to learn about how to help others in having greater empathy-  counter to general belief, there is also usually a “better” way to show your empathy with someone you care about… of course, there are the typical “I’m so sorry for your loss” or those standard sayings, and while they’re not “wrong”, I often find a lot of people are completely oblivious or unsure of what the right things are to say to someone in need.  Of course, to a certain degree, different kinds of words or actions to show solidarity or other types of things work for different kinds of people and characters, but if one were more willing to open their eyes and minds more, they would find that there are usual sayings or things people do that are actual less helpful than they think… and actually kind of useless and frustrating for the person hearing it.  If one is interested, there are always more specific, better ways to gain understanding and empathy, and to show it.

One of the things that I find vital for people to learn is the right wording and the right timing for it.  I am not an inspiration simply by default for dealing with a chronic condition- some people might find this comforting, but be careful in who it is and making sure what the situation is – illnesses and health conditions vary as much as the individual human experience in anything else.  If they grew up totally fine managing their health, why go out of your way to tell someone in a wheelchair they’re an inspiration and singling them out like that, and without first understanding what their struggles are, if they are even what you assume they are?

If perhaps they recounted how difficult it was to rehabilitate themselves after a hospital run or something, it might then be acceptable to say you’re inspiring for pushing yourself to get better, or for opening up, or for using their experiences and platform to further a cause and raise awareness.

It pisses me off when I see some video on facebook with a girl in a wheelchair singing her ass off, and somehow that being by default, “inspirational.”  Do her legs have anything to do with her pipes?  If not, then why is it inspirational?  That’s the wrong use of the word, and what I would label under “Inspiration porn”-  you posted that and made an immediate assumption because you saw she was in a wheelchair, and it made you feel more driven or blessed in your life somehow.  You can be grateful for your own health and appreciate her vocal ability without denoting it to her physical ability to walk, or to think wow that person’s life must suck, I feel better about mine.  That’s WRONG.

 

May 2, 2017 Update and Thoughts on Identity

I finished watching “Sing” last night and I have to say, even though it was more enjoyable than not, I couldn’t help but compare it side by side to the other Pixar films and feel that it fell a bit flat.  First of all, maybe there were just too many characters with subplots that the overall arch had a little struggle in transition and screenplay… my favorite was probably Johnny and his father’s relationship and how it reconciled towards the end, that was touching.  But the rest felt a bit disconnected and the emotion didn’t feel translated well, particularly with Buster Moon and Meena’s story.  It was lacking a bit of a magical, more in-depth touch that Pixar movies like Toy Story, Up and Finding Nemo/Finding Dory has.  That said, I will refrain from judging the whole of Sony vs. Pixar animations since Pixar’s had a few apparently lackluster ones recently, such as “The Good Dinosaur” and “Cars 2”.


 

On the days when I wallow in depression or pity for myself, whatever mood or situation that brought me down tends to lead to other thoughts that bring more negativity.  I noticed that in a lot of the issues regarding inequality in America, I don’t necessarily have it the worst – for example, I am not a black woman,  I am not a refugee, and I am not living in poverty.  However, there are many other parts of my identity that I am discriminated against, and I start to sit back and count all the ways in which I am “losing out” in our society.  Asian, a woman, and also dealing with chronic illness and anxiety/depression issues.

But you know what?  I don’t particularly concentrate on that every moment of my life- most of the time, I’m just, me.  And in another perspective, I have one foot in in multiple kinds of discriminative causes and conditions, and that gives me a firsthand look into other people’s eyes and experiences.  I have greater empathy and understanding because of it, and I can use this as a strength in life.

Life can be (but is not always) Farting Sunshine and Rainbows, But It’s Okay

I don’t know if anyone else follows a certain page featuring kids with special needs, but for the past year I’ve followed Christopher Ulmer’s mission relatively closely.  I support his goal to interview these people and to share their stories and perspectives with the rest of the world as normal human beings who just want to be accepted and treated the same way.  But maybe I’m feeling pessimistic today?  I’ve definitely been feeling annoyed at a lot of things lately.

I would always watch each video uploaded the day it came out and try to learn what I could from what I saw. But one thing nags me right now.  It just seems unrealistic that every single one of these human beings give happy-go-lucky answers, smiling about how they think about girls, friends, and their mom, and how they want to spread love and joy and appreciate everyone and all those good feels.  I’m not hating on it, I think it’s great, but it starts to feel repetitive and, well… can we call out the elephant in the room and discuss more about feelings and the tough parts?

Because it’s okay to feel anger, frustration, and pain at what hand you’ve been dealt in life.  It doesn’t do to focus on it and become drowned in it, but at least, speaking for myself here, there are moments, days, weeks, even months when you just have had it and you’re fed up.  At those times, is it not human, all the more real of emotions, to just let yourself feel, go through it, and then try to try again?   I want someone to say all this in one of his interviews, because it’s real.  It’s the truth.  That is what it means to be an inspiration:  getting back up despite everything, not a few seconds of positive babble that downplays their experiences and has cheerful, content, beaming kids in every clip.  I just feel like when all the kids appear to be of the same mold and outlook, it’s not a full or completed portrayal of the full range of human experiences.  For the people who go through chronic conditions as well as the people surrounding them who help, it’s different.

To “normal”, healthy people, I would like to explain what it is exactly that chronic conditions are like.  Sure, everyone goes through rough patches in life, maybe break ups, loss of job, those kinds of situations.  But having a chronic illness is like having a guarantee of those things either existing 24/7, reminding you with every small thing you do like breathing, moving a couple feet downstairs, or needing to ask someone for a favor.  People with chronic conditions have to wear a mental suit of armor at all times.  So when I see privileged people get all worn down by something like grades or worrying about not getting a job despite a 4.0 GPA and a million extracurriculars, I can’t help but feel a little pissed off and discouraged.

It’s a bit like someone getting upset that they got distilled water instead of spring water, when so many people elsewhere have access to no water at all:  there is almost little to no chance of them obtaining it.  So, just to even know there is a possibility, a hope, to gain something if you work hard at it and have a bit of luck, is a huge thing by itself.  What the absolutely worst circumstance is knowing that you will never get that opportunity, because it’s simply not in the cards for you.

And tonight, I’ll whine a bit and get it all out, but come tomorrow?  Tomorrow, I will have no choice but to wake up and work at it again, replenishing my mental and physical attitude as best as I can.  Even though you’re standing in the middle of the gym or the supermarket and feel really off and just unwell, you’re still standing there, smiling at strangers, holding up a conversation, putting on a mask to blend in with society so that you fit in as best you can.  And as you steer yourself towards the car with the handicap spot, you take down the sign because you don’t feel like you deserve or want that label for yourself.  Moments later, you see a tall, white dude walk out, stare at your car in its forefront spot, peer at you, and decide to continue walking.  And then, ladies and gentlemen, you know once again, that you have been judged in the span of five seconds.  But what options do you have, except to brush it off and continue on your day?

For so long, I felt like I had no right to complain, but I do.  It’s not okay to take it out on other people, but I do have a right to feel sad or upset.  It’s okay to feel this way.  It’s okay to be realistic and just call things out on what they are sometimes.  After all, we DON’T live in a world that shits sunshine and rainbow farts.  There is a lot of cruelty and injustice happening all the time, all you have to do is turn on the news to get that.  We can’t blindly ignore it as if it were not part of our world, but we also cannot let ourselves become consumed by it.  What a delicate balance and just plain fucking hard thing to do.

The Principle of the Matter: Star Wars @ RU

Summary of the day’s events:

I’d been cooped up at home for a few days being sick and all, and really needed to get out of the house to get my motivation running so I could get shit done and start visualizing my future and work on all the steps toward it.  My friend and I had dinner plans at Buffalo Wild Wings because her house has Vegetarian Wednesdays and she hates that and she had a letter that issued a free meal for two from a prior complaint her parents had with the food.  We showed the letter to our waitress, and from the very start, she had the worst attitude and stink eye towards us.  After awhile, my friend wondered aloud if perhaps she had spit in our food.  At the end, I asked her for the receipt, and she all but seemed ready to bite my head off for asking… until my friend said “It’s for the tip” and she seemed startled and said “oh, ok!” and bustled off to get it.

Now, my friend and I are pretty reasonable tippers and usually give 18% for neutral to nice service.  After the way she seemed to hate us, we settled on a 15% tip, which to me seemed generous considering I had an unpleasant experience because she seemed so pissed whenever we asked to order or get a take out bag.  The only thing I could reason with was that she had a terrible day or yesterday.  As someone who worked in retail for a few months, I understand it can be difficult, and I also know that anything regarding customer service can really suck sometimes… but we were nice customers, and she looked straight up angry and antagonistic.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if that wasn’t the case, then I can assume that this attitude was her norm, or that she presumed upon receiving the letter that we wouldn’t leave her a tip.  Regardless, the Principle of the Matter here would be that regardless of whether or not she knew we were going to tip her, she shouldn’t have had such a bad attitude, and being a decent friendly human being shouldn’t have been contingent on whether or not she would get paid for it.

Now, to play devil’s advocate, I’m comparing this to the countless times I’ve smiled at strangers or held the door open for them, and they don’t reciprocate or say thank you.  Sometimes I have bad days but I still out of habit smile, and then I have the rare occasion day where I don’t bother to smile, but when someone I don’t know smiles at me, it instantly makes my day a bit better.  That said, nobody is obligated to smile back at me, and if someone is accustomed to not smiling back, then is it safe to assume that they live in a joyless world and there is something bigger that they’re going through that makes them incapable and permanently too upset to return the favor?   I’ve noticed in people’s stories, whether in reality or in shows that often when one is going through something real tough and is struggling just to be present and make it through the next day, it can definitely be hard to do something that seems so simple.  Maybe you’re struggling with depression, maybe you just moved to another country as an immigrant and can’t speak the language or don’t have enough money to pay for dinner.  Maybe you’re a victim of domestic abuse and distrust others so much that even a smile can seen suspicious or sinister.  Maybe you just don’t feel like it.  And I suppose that’s ok.  But it still bums me out a little.

—————————————————

After BWW, I wasn’t sure if there would be close parking to the building where the Economic Costs/Physics of Star Wars lecture was being held.  Apparently the actual parking lot was pretty far for me, but it would be okay to park in the temporary spots if I had my handicap sign up… no luck.  Came back to find a ticket on my windshield.

The lecture was super cool, I love just learning about the new ways in research is being done and the fact that there are other worlds out there outside of our own.  We also got to watch part of the most recent Star Wars.

The Principle of the Matter:  my friend texted this to me when I was complaining about getting a ticket to her, and I think it makes a lot of a sense.  I would compare this situation somewhat to the plot of Les Miserables.  The ethics of that situation was that the main character stole bread, and technically that was a crime and he got punished harshly for it.  But can you really blame him when one cannot afford food and the alternate option is to starve and let your family starve as well?  I think it sheds light on a bigger, systematic problem.  I would still get mad if I got robbed, but I guess if I knew it was going towards someone’s livelihood and they needed it much more than me, I might be okay with it.

Same principle:  Sure technically, I shouldn’t have parked there, but the problem is the simple, basic fact that the parking lot was much tougher for me to do, and there were no handicapped spots.

This principle applies not just to disabilities or economics, but to race, sexism, everything else.  If we don’t make a place for those that are different and placed at a disadvantage, then how can we penalize them for their actions?

 

 

Alter Egos

Shower Post #3

Do you ever react to a situation differently depending on your mood?  I think we all do.  A part of it may be an innate, so deeply ingrained part of us that can’t be changed.  At some point though, I wondered if I might even be bipolar.  What I’ve concluded is that everyone has multiple facets to their personality.  What is the real me?  Does anyone know?  Most people who think they know me might only have met the predominant me, or the stereotyped quiet Asian girl who has been trying to find her voice all these years, and still is.

When I was younger, I feared nothing.  Throw me in the deep end of the pool- I didn’t know what drowning was, so I had full confidence I would float and make it to the top.  Tell me to belt at the top of my lungs to strangers and introduce myself afterwards?  Why not.  Dare me to walk to the edge of a cliff and gaze down the world at my feet?  Sure.  Once upon a blue moon, I was fearless.

At some point, things changed.  Self-doubt had me wrapped around its fingertips.  I became a slave and puppet to the moods of others.  The obstacles leered over me, laughing at me as I became imprisoned in their shadows.  Over time, I withdrew into myself and people knew me as the shy, obedient, and tiny girl who could be easily coerced into doing their bidding, or who would stay silent to their mockery.  It was hard to make friends, but I had all these feelings bottled up inside, frustration mostly.  Multiple circumstances in my upbringing, household, and life molded me into someone I did not like.

If you caught me at a certain phase though, you would have met a different side of me.  Maybe it was the frustration spilling over, lighting a fire to my being.  Quell your voice.  Humble yourself.  Respect your elders and adult authorities.

Jasmine, why don’t you have any friends?

The journey I’ve made is mine, and maybe you do or don’t relate to it, but damn I’ve traveled a long way to where I am now.  The challenges are not over, and yet I can resoundingly say I am proud of myself to still be here, existing.  I am a survivor.  It is vital to first survive and overcome your demons, so that you can really live.  Maybe most of the time, it’s a struggle just to exist, to be.    But if there is a silver lining to all the pain and suffering you feel, it is that it will make the beautiful moments that much more beautiful.  After some self-reflection, I divided myself into Five Identities (more in the future on the ID, Ego, and SuperEgo via Freud)

  1.  The Obvious Identity- Passive, Submissive, Quiet, Hardworking – who most people think is me… only recognizing the side of me who tends to be a pushover, likes classical music, smiles too much
  2. The Fierce Vibrant ID- who likes orange hair, the sensual human body, admires bold and free-spirited women, colors, has a temper, has no time for BS, all kinds of music (yes, I like hip hop music sometimes, depends on the specific song, why is that so surprising… all genres can be incredible, including that genre)
  3. The Dreamy Artsy ID- aspires to mix all kinds of art, loves photography, music
  4.  The Hateful, Depressed, Sick ID- consumed with negative thoughts, some worse than others.  The devil voice that whispers and tells you to give up, what’s the point.  Always tired and uncomfortable, grouchy, withdrawn, pessimistic, blames the world and everyone else (1/2)
  5.   The Overcheerful, Optimistic, Bubbly ID – super happy and excited all the time, wants joy to be spread to all corners of the earth, wants to save the world. (2/2)

 

Do Soulmates Exist?

Shower Post #2

Marriage / Soulmates / My Type of Guy / Age Difference and Double Standards

  1.  Marriage

It seems like marriage has become a prevalent theme in this age where I’ve reached my early 20s.  A couple weeks ago, my friend was sending me diamond ring designs she wanted.  Everyone is getting hitched these days, whether it be my parents’ friends’ kids or cousins, friends or acquaintances updating their Facebook status to “Engaged.”  The appeal of marriage is so paradoxical to me; on one hand, you’re promising to spend the rest of your life happily with your other half, and then maybe you kiss and ride off into the sunset together hand-in-hand.  On the other hand, as Aziz Ansari so hilariously and despondently points out, you’re putting a ring on someone’s finger, and telling them they’re stuck with you until you die.  i believe in the sanctity of the principal institution of marriage, but let’s face it:  it’s fucking terrifying.  Are you ever supposed to know 100% that you want to be forever with another individual?  Especially as someone who has more unconventional limitations than the rest of the ‘norm,’ will I really ever find a guy who will willingly enter a pact of “in sickness and in health” from the beginning?  Let me know if you have any opinions or experiences on this (more in an upcoming post on dating with said unconventional limitations aka… chronic illness (bleh, hate using that term)).

I know there are already a lot of existing memes floating around where women are jokingly distressed about where they are in life in comparison to others.  We’ve already accepted the pressure women face from traditional expectations to settle down in addition to the biological factor of doing so in their early 30s while their eggs are still hip and young.  So if my soulmate is out there, I’m waiting 😉

But hurry up, because we only have 7 years left before society decides I’m a barren and overripe old hag.  Well, I don’t even know if I should have kids.

        2.  Soulmates

My friend and I got into a really deep, philosophical discussion once sitting in the middle of Smashburgers.  I was telling her about a guy I went on a date with, and how we got into an intense discussion about our beliefs:  he said that he doesn’t really know if soulmates exist.  He would like to believe it, but how does anyone really fucking know?  And what if your soulmate died before or after they met you?  Then you’re just what, fucked for life?? Coming from a date, this topic was hella bumming me out.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a hypocrite.  While I have the same doubts and questions as him, I wanted the guy to woo me and convince me otherwise, all that romantic shit… whether it’s the brand of bullshit, I really don’t know.   

Her answer to that was that some people are not meant to have soulmates.  Some people in this world are perfectly happy being alone.

My rebuttal to his question  was that maybe there is more than one soulmate designated for each person, and that’s why love triangles can happen.  Maybe I just watched too many Korean dramas, or maybe these are just faux-soulmates who cause each other more grief than happiness, but love blinds you.  Just because you think you love someone, doesn’t mean they’re your soulmate.  Timing is everything:  who we are at the time our paths cross, what we’re looking for, where we are located.  The idea of soulmates seems to imply that their relationship would transcend all obstacles.   

Personally, I’ve witnessed too many failed relationships and prison-types marriages to have too optimistic of a view on soulmates, but the idea is fascinating to think about.

         3.   My Love Life

Even though I hesitate to quote Woody Allen due to his tumultuous and controversial life with women, I watched Annie Hall awhile back and his rambling monologue in the beginning really stuck to me.

“… originally in Freud’s “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious,” and it goes like this – I’m paraphrasing – um, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” That’s the key joke of my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women.”

Basically, I want a relationship but I don’t.  Does that make sense?  It’s not supposed to, because love doesn’t.  I think a part of me dismisses most people who like me, because I can’t help but think, “Why?” I question your judgment in liking me, because well, you don’t really know me, all you know is my appearance, so by deductive reasoning, you’re just drawn to the way I look.  Is this cynical?  Yes.  Is there some truth here as to how guys initially pursue girls further?  Yes. Do I perhaps have some trust issues and issues in general?  Yeah…

My Type of Guy:  People have asked me before what my type of guy is.  I used to have a weird list of qualities I was attracted to, but they were more about appearance and physical attraction than anything of substance.

1.  Slight faux-hawk, gelled up hair in the front

2.  Baseball cap backwards

3.  Rides a skateboard really well

In college, I slightly expanded on this stupid list.

4.  Preferably Asian*

5.  Ideally around 5’9”

6.  Dorky humor

7.  Really sweet smile

8.  No chest hair

9.  Kind and patient

-*Think Ryan Higa, the famous Youtuber.  Even my mom thinks he’s adorkable, which is no easy feat

-*Don’t think I’m racist for having yellow fever, I just prefer Asian guys because I guess they’re more relatable in background and culture

You know what the most hilarious thing was?  The actual crushes I have had only sort of match up with this “criteria.”  My first crush was a ginger with derpy blue puppy eyes and the cutest freckles.  One day in 4th grade, I was struggling to open my water bottle.  He offered to open it up for me, so I gave up and handed it to him- of course, he opened it right away.  When he caught the look of frustration and disappointment on my face, he grinned and said,

“You did all the work already, I just opened it up at the end.  You were almost there.”

  I was painfully shy, I probably blushed, said nothing, or stuttered something sassy to cover up how much those words made my heart melt.  Post 4th grade, he migrated more and more towards the popular crowd that began the divisive ranks and cliques formed into high school, we said hi less in the hallways, and thereon-forth became strangers.

Probably none of these crushes had chest hair (no way of knowing ohoho), but nevertheless, I had no way of knowing if they rode skateboards well either, and definitely none of them wore baseball caps backwards. In summation, we often aren’t attracted to people we think we like, as a study previously revealed.

The most recent crush I had was so overwhelming I couldn’t get rid of it, it was like a drug.  If there was one consistent trait in the way I react to people I like, it’s that I like them for a long time.  I’ve had three major crushes at this point that probably each lasted about a year to three.  My friend found the cure and helped me wean off of those feelings by pointing out all the reasons she believed he was gay.  It worked like a charm!  Or at least, 75% worked.

“My love… Saddest moment is when I found out he’s gay. Or a lie I tell myself everyday.”

       4.  Age Difference

We like to think that we’re one of those open-minded people who see a couple with a large age gap between them, and without any judgment think, “age is just a number.”  Don’t lie! I have mixed feelings about it.  If you’re both happy,  then it’s nobody else’s business.  But even someone I know who has pretty liberal opinions said that it’s a little weird for say, a 23-yr old to sleep with a 19-yr old.  A 4-yr old difference isn’t huge, but it’s perhaps the fact that it’s someone who is in their twenties vs. teens in which the maturity level gap is pretty big.

I also can’t help but cringe a little when I see a rich, old Hollywood male celebrity with a beautiful young woman hanging off his arm, someone who could easily pass as his daughter or granddaughter.  This is such a norm though, and we tend to go after the woman as a “gold digger”, but if it was vice-versa, she’s a “cougar.”  Everyone still loves Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, and God knows who else.

  • Other Double Standards Speaking of such, when a prominent man cheats, people are quick to excuse, forgive, or forget their deeds.  People are willing to overlook the creepiness in which Gandhi approached women, and I’ve seen many others defend Martin Luther King Jr. by saying that it doesn’t negate what they’ve accomplished in other aspects.  That is true, but women just don’t get the same pass.  Look at the way we go after Amber Rose with pitchforks, slut-shaming her even though to my knowledge she’s never actually cheated.  Observe the way we refer to Miley Cyrus as having fallen off the wagon for her provocative style change.

I also think while there are deeply rooted problems in the way we victim-blame or slut-shame, they aren’t as white and black.  The only stance I clearly agree with is that no one asks to be raped.  Doesn’t matter what vibe you’re getting or what she or he is wearing.  Watch last night’s Oscars performance by Lady Gaga and rape survivors; it was heartbreaking.  I don’t know why this is so difficult for people to absorb.  Let’s put it this way:  a guy named Bob who happens to be black wanders into a white privileged neighborhood.  Bob gets beaten up by a bunch of white dudes, and then people tell Bob it was because Bob should’ve known better and covered up every inch of his skin beforehand.  I hope we are progressive enough in racist issues to understand this analogy a bit. 

 However, if I had a child, I would still want them to treat themselves with respect, class, and dignity.  There shouldn’t be anything wrong with women casually hooking up like many men do, even though I personally would prefer it if everyone just approached such intimate experiences less nonchalantly, but I’m conservative, what can I say.  I can’t help but judge others when they act trashy, and this applies to both men and women.  I also think it’s a huge turn-off when people mistake arrogance for confidence.  It isn’t okay for anyone to look down on others, and we see this all the time in celebrities who then defend themselves by saying it’s female self-empowerment or passion.  Please lessen the bullshit in the world.

And that’s the end of my rant and ramble for today.

What I Learned in Taiwan

That year had been particularly rough on me, and I remember being on a bus in a desperate attempt to swig away my sorrows at TCNJ Senior Night, texting on a whim confirmation to my parents to sign me up for school in Taipei.  I was and am always hesitant and doubtful of new and scary experiences, but my grief momentarily blinded me from worrying, and it ended up being one of the best. decisions. ever.  Not knowing what to expect, my mom and I hopped on a plane in late May, and our first days of exploring the campus of National Taiwan Normal University excited me endlessly.  My mom finally coped enough to leave me to my independence after two or three weeks, and that week and a half was the funnest ever.  Sure, there were moments where I was so exhausted I was just barely able to move to buy myself dinner, and sure, the dorm’s strict curfew of 11:30pm was annoying, but for the most part, I was content to be able to manage my life without feeling so restricted.  Among the highlights of my trip were:

    1. Visiting my moms’ old friend’s village, which felt like a town in a Miyazaki film.  Her sweet and kindhearted family can COOK.
    2. Meeting up with my TCNJ friend Lauren at Danshui and having the MOST MAGICAL BUBBLE TEA at a cute cafe
    3. Going to Beitou Hot Springs and trying to compete against stolid old people by sitting in boiling water on a 90+ degree summer day- guess whose fingers were prunier?? Yeah, we didn’t win.
    4. Typhoon night where I huddled in my dorm with two yams from 7-Eleven
    5. Attending a 12 Cellos concert, courtesy of my aunt (phenomenal performance) in Kaohsiung
    6. Meeting new people, eating and bonding on mini-trips

During these mini travels, after months of therapy was I able to muster the courage to communicate my needs to new friends.  I tried to mask my shaky confidence as I explained what I needed: their understanding in walking slowly with me because it was hard for me.  I still remember the fear I felt bringing it up to my friend Nio as I walked with him and another guy through the streets, realizing if I didn’t say something soon I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I was tired.  Surprisingly, without blinking or giving me any side look of pity, Nio said “Sure,” slowed down and casually asked me what my condition was.  A heavy weight lifted from my shoulders, and I felt acceptance.  What I learned was that as inconvenient as conditions like mine were and as rare as awesome people are to find, they exist. And sometimes you have to forgive yourself and distinguish yourself from your chronic conditions, and take a leap of faith in opening up.  Recognize that sometimes, you are not the problem.