July 19 Reprieve: Moment, Pause, Break

I been tryna keep busy, keep running, keep moving, but the second my mind slows down and tries to take a breath of calm, it jumps all over the place, and ends up running, but instead of with me, it runs away from me, spinning out of control, whirling, and I can’t chase it down or catch up to it.

Fear of other people, fear of myself, fear of being drained, fear of not being drained enough, fear of the future, fear of now, fear of not getting over from the past.

A moment, a pause, a break.  Don’t let it all break you.  Don’t let them hear your thoughts, see you spiraling like crazy, hitting the ceiling, bouncing from last year’s sorrows to revisiting the lingering moment of choked up hurt sitting in your room.

Sometimes I think it’s better to stay outside of the fishbowl, to peer in, interact, and pull back out to observe from a distance, but never be caught in the drama.  Then you stay in the honeymoon zone and don’t enter the disappointment zone.  Of how people let you down and reveal their true colors.  Oftentimes its scent turns more sour than what drew you in from a distance.  Don’t let them use you and throw you away like just another tissue paper.  Make your existence matter to them (although this sometimes feel like you’re fighting against the current).

How can what once felt like it was becoming home, feel suddenly once again as much of a stranger as when you first entered, except worse because you know that’s not how it’s supposed to feel?

Was it because I forgot my medication.  Is it because it’s that time of the month? (It’s not).  So… what is it?  Life.  lol.  Emotions.

Retreat: Testimony

Wow.

So I forced myself to drive out to the university where spring retreat was being held- I had seen many pictures of this place in all the pictures I stalked when I first befriended my fellowship friends last summer so I was curious to check it out.  The night before, my anxiety kept me up all night with me knowing I should show up at a respectful time to participate, especially since I felt guilty that I had not paid anything and had not planned to come, much less stay.  Nobody knows how hard it is to push the small part of yourself through all the anxiety and fear, simply to challenge yourself to be present in the experiences of life, no matter what they are.  Something so natural to someone else, like looking forward to how fun retreat is, or a vacation, is stressful to me no matter what.

Anyway, as usual, there were things I was not too keen on, one of them being the Sunday message given by the pastor (more on that in another post), but one of the most crazy experiences this Sunday was testimony.  To be honest, I was a little apprehensive as the last testimony I witnessed was during their Thanksgiving dinner led by the pastor… it felt a bit forced and inauthentic, with every single tumor that disappeared, every mini good thing that happened, resounding in ‘PRAISE THE LORD.’

I thought it was strange that testimony was scheduled for more than an hour as nobody spoke for the first five to ten minutes.  However, slowly but surely, one by one people went up to speak.  These felt spoken from the heart.  One kid was in high school, and he talked about how he felt he was in a dark place, and was depressed that he wasn’t getting good grades.  He said he knew that it might get better, yet he might regret if he didn’t speak up about it.  Another who really got to me was Donna, Bobby’s mom who lost both her father and her husband AND got cancer all around the same time… nuts.  She apologized for being difficult to be around and also spoke of her pain and gratitude for the kids especially.  It was really hard to listen to her, but I felt her suffering, and a couple people were crying with her.  It was so real, and I was almost tempted to go up and talk about my experiences too, except I still don’t know if I’m completely convinced of the beliefs in the bible and I still question a lot of things… but I do wish I have the courage one day to speak up, and at least talk about my personal experiences or give a word to encourage others, especially the younger kids.

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.

 

“Technically a Christian” part 2

Continuing onto the last post I wrote regarding my relationship with Christianity, which you can read here, I’m still pretty confused and seeking answers.

I’m really liking fellowship and still continuing to grow closer with everyone, and getting to genuinely know and care about people.  However, aside from that and despite having many deep philosophical talks with individuals including the evangelist who is a cool guy, I’m still not sure I found any clear answers.  I’ve gotten into a few sticky topics, most of which revolves around homosexuality.  I’ve come to  discover many of them don’t exactly support gayness, and that they don’t see it as anti anything, but rather that in very clear, literal terms, the bible has passages stating that it is an abomination to lay with another man.  According to them, the individual is not a sin, but the act is, and we are to love them regardless and not judge them, because we all sin.  The word “sin” still makes me cringe, not sure why.

Does a gay person really feel like they’re accepted though, even stated that way?  Again, according to many people, homosexuality is a choice, something that people experimented with at some point in life and ended up thinking was for them.

But on the other hand, if it is not a choice but just an identity of who someone is, to be condemned for it as a sin is pretty frustrating, and since the majority are not gay, who are we to speak for that demographic?  Just as if I as an Asian American am offended by the O’Reilly interview in Chinatown (ugh), who are all the white people in the comments section telling us to calm down and not be so serious??

One thing I’m confused about is when I’ve discussed the passage where God forces Abraham (I think?) to sacrifice his son to prove his love.  When pushed to a corner, Christian friends usually fall back to “well that’s why it’s the Old Testament, the New Testament is more forgiving.”  But, it’s the same God right?  Unless whoever wrote the bible intended parts of it to be more focused on the overall message and moral, rather than interpreted literally word for word.

In fact, the parts about not laying with another man take place mostly in the Old Testament…

I’m still confused.  But I think it’s really great opening up and sharing true fellowship and seeking the purpose of life.

Navigating a Social War Zone

Today, I was describing to someone what I experience suffering from social anxiety in particular.  I went to my friend’s BBQ July 4th weekend just to try something new for myself, and found myself somehow returning for their weekly fellowship.  While I’ve had a great time getting to know everyone individually and as a group, the first few impressions of figuring out the relationship between everyone is both interesting and stressful.  This is the time again when you get a fresh start, as in high school, then college, study abroad, networking, building relationships and new friendships.  Each person is also probably on their best behavior and feeling each other’s vibes out, and I’ve been trying extra hard to push my introverted self out to make those connections, throwing myself out into the abyss and trying not to worry so much.  But really, it’s a bit like navigating a social war zone… you don’t want to come off too close and eager or clingy or desperate, but also you want to be friendly and confident and personable.  You don’t want anyone to think you’re over flirty or crossing boundaries to someone they might be having a thing with, and because you don’t know any better, it’s pretty difficult.  I don’t want to offend anyone but also be open about my thoughts and my personality, I want to be friends with everyone but not awkwardly ask for phone numbers or seem lost, crazy, prude, or whatever else judgments.

Also, everyone is just so damn friendly and there are so many guys at this church that it’s hard for me to tell if that’s just the way it is. Regardless, I’ve just been riding the wave, suddenly I’m invited to multiple events each week, I had the best time chilling in their town and church, and definitely feel the warmth of a community that is rare to find.

All I can do is keep faking it till it’s real.  That’s all for now.

“I’m okay” (but not really)

When someone asks you, “Is everything okay?”  or when people (at least in America) ask “How are you?”  The answer is probably 99% of the time “Good!” This is such an automatic reaction that I notice people continue talking without even waiting for the response, and they bustle to talk over each other to continue to other things or something to that likeness.

I’m a terrible liar, so it physically makes me uncomfortable whenever I have to answer things like this.  I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but it still makes it a lie.  Here’s a scary thought.  What if it never gets better?  Your answer will permanently stay a lie?

You hide behind your smile, but even that feels untruthful.  And people comfort you and fall to the default of “It will get better” with all those testimonies.  But for those where it didn’t get better, guess what?  They aren’t going to rain on anyone’s parade by publicly coming out and say “It doesn’t.”  Chances are, their lives have fallen so dismally they wouldn’t bother to.  They’re busy dealing with the heavy load that has been placed on their shoulders.  It could be anything… alcoholism, suicidal thoughts, drugs, disease, pain in general that won’t go away.  Maybe they were gone already.

And me?  I can train myself to follow the wisp of thoughts that it might get better, but I’ve lived 23 years like this, and my best hope is more that it will continue to stay like this, and not worsen.  That’s the truth.  But the truth is so dark, the issues are so widespread from the immediate to the long term, that I feel some days like I’m waiting in a holding cell for her expiration date.

Some people walk by this holding cell, either completely ignorant, oblivious, or just don’t give a fuck.  The few who stop might gawk, or ask with some sympathy how I’m doing.  You know what?  I don’t want your sympathy.  That’s like feeling sorry for someone, feeling pity.  I want empathy, I demand understanding for everyone in this world. But the reality again, is that real peace and happiness will never exist.  We want equality in the economy?  That’s called communism, which we know doesn’t work.  In democracy, someone will ALWAYS have to get the short end of the stick.  And there are too many damn selfish people in the world, statistically, many simply just want to get through life okay, can you blame them?  (sometimes, you can for being an asshole).

This is supposed be a blog about positivity but you know what?  Positivity and happiness is only measured in relevance to suffering and depression, so they’re one and the same topic.  Obtaining it, lack of it.  Here’s the real truth. Honesty, this here, the only space in existence where it exists, untainted.

And so, what would I reply to this person who asks me if I’m okay?  That’s a loaded question.  But maybe they don’t really want to know the whole truth.  As me, the one with the issues, am I supposed to be the one who bears the light bravely and inspiringly, beaming at everyone in my sickbed (figuratively speaking for now) so that I have any redeeming qualities and serve some sort of purpose for others?

I don’t want to sound emo, so I’ll just stick with “I’m okay, thanks :)”

 

It Never Ends

I spend all week feeling some type of way, trying not to feel so much because it’s too much to handle- I feel like Tommen in Game of Thrones some days.  Of course, compared to that world I guess this one is okay, but any worse and I’d want to jump off a cliff too.

What is the light at the end of the tunnel?  Maybe this week’s is meeting new people and friends and attempting some norms like laughter and blending in with everyone else.  But once the day approaches, I’m feeling another type of way. Anxiety.  Fear.  Feelings of doubt- why do I bother, why do I try, why can’t I turn off my thoughts, why is it so hard just to, be?

Is it supposed to be this hard for everybody, because I don’t think it’s the same?

This week’s two favorite pieces of music:

  1.  A new discovery, which is “Save Me” by the korean boy band BTS.  They’re not perfect, but I’m impressed with the vibe of the song and the dance.
  2. An old favorite, which is “Forrest Gump” by Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE, also my favorite color… while we’re at it, my other songs that I like by him are “Pink Matter” and “Lost.”

Sigh.  I’m in a sad place right now, but I won’t talk about it here until I’m ready.

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with Christianity

Someone once asked me before if I was a Christian or not.  I responded “Technically, I am I guess.”  The answer understandably complexed him, because well, it confuses me too.

Let me start from the beginning.  When I was hospitalized at the age of three, my parents were Buddhists.  I remember faintly the scent of burning incense with some sort of mini red and gold shrine in our house.  The suffering they went through guided them to pray to a different figure instead, and well, six weeks later, I got to come home.  From that time on, we thanked God before every meal, and my family attended church and were involved in the religious community for about a decade.  At some point though, I’m not sure if it was necessarily loss of faith, but rather the experience of witnessing and experiencing hypocritical and un-Christian-like behavior that caused a drift from the church.

Regardless, even though it may be wrong,  I always couldn’t help but wonder, question, and even challenge the whole idea of God, and what it meant to be a devout, true, “good” believer.  When I was about seven years old, I would think up immature ways to test that God was real, like praying that the water be turned hot immediately if he was indeed, listening to me.  I was incredulous that God had the ability and personableness to attend to my talks with him if other people were also demanding his attention.  Not understanding the concept of faith either, I would also request that he perform other similar mini miracles to prove his existence.

At my mom’s deepest moments of despair, I heard her once whisper that it was unfair and that it felt like we were being punished.  Though brief, that moment stayed with me, and throughout life later, whenever I witnessed or experienced pain, I would cry out in my head, Where are you now? Why aren’t you helping if you care?  Nevertheless, no matter how much I felt upset or resentful, like a habit I couldn’t help but converse with God whenever I was feeling very, very lost.

After we stopped going to church much when I was around twelve years old, it wasn’t until I entered college that my identity in limbo as a Christian would be pulled to the forefront again.  There was a group of older Asian students I wanted to be friends with, but I soon found out they were very religious.  The first time I sat down with a particular senior in the student center, he stared at me and flat out asked if I was a Christian.  I said yes. He asked what kind of Christian I was, to which I felt stupid and couldn’t answer because I wasn’t sure. He asked if I attended church regularly, and I said no, I had stopped going when I was about twelve.  After a long awkward pause, he continued staring at me and then finally said, “Well, that’s okay” even though it felt like I had failed some interview.  I felt incredibly intimidated.  Nevertheless, I would end up becoming better friends with some of the other people in the group, the ones who at least, didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or judge me for any transgressions I might commit by accident, such as cursing or sharing openly that I had imbibed some alcohol.  The ones who were genuine in their goodheartedness, and that took awhile to read and sort out.

During my darkest period of time, I started to attend one of the weekly Christian discussion meet ups, openly tearing up at bible passages, but also recklessly challenging perspectives not meaning to be rude, but in a genuine quest to understand better what it meant to be Christian and why certain beliefs were formed.  For example, I didn’t understand why some Christians believed all non-believers were denied entry to heaven when some of my closest friends and most wonderful human beings were non-believers, while there are more than enough shitty Christians who give all Christians a bad name in the world… while Hitler could be allowed in if he found redemption the second before his death and asked for forgiveness.  I didn’t agree with the idea that homosexual people were sinners, just as liars and other kinds of sins existed.  How could it be a sin if you had no choice in the matter and were born to love one or the other type of person?  I wasn’t particularly pro-LGBT rights before I got to college; I simply had no opinion and had lead a pretty sheltered, conservative life.  From my standpoint, I believe that the bible has great teachings to share with us, but it is definitely outdated and open for interpretation.  But stubbornness and strong faith leads us to believe that it is not interpretation, but simply  the word of God, and there is no room for debate, only truth.

Whenever I entered discussions with religious friends, it felt enlightening but also like we were entering a delicate danger zone.  At my most vulnerable, I reached out to many people and some reached back.  I am forever grateful for that, but always wondered if it was because they were good friends and cared for me, or because they felt pity and considered it a duty to lend me a hand.  I suppose it could be both, that they loved me and that it was through God’s love as well?  At my darkest times, I felt conflicting emotions when some friends would attempt to comfort me by sending me more bible passages.  Maybe they provided a minimal sort of comfort, but it also kind of irked me.  However, I recognized that it was a way of sharing their care for me in their own way, and I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude.

One particular story never sat well with me, and that was the passage where God tells Abraham to sacrifice his own son as evidence of his loyalty to him.  That didn’t sound like a very kind God to me, it felt cruel to force anyone to choose between someone else one loved and yourself.  But was I blasphemous for thinking these kinds of thoughts, would I end up denied entry as well?  I say that in an attempt to avoid the sentencing of going to hell for eternity instead… again, that seems rather unforgiving.  My friend once said that she doesn’t believe there is a hell, it’s just too extreme.  When we got into a heavy discussion about heaven and hell, I came to a theory that for people who have comparably minimal worries in this life on this planet with no particular worries embedded in serious health or financial issues, maybe that was the heaven that God has blessed them with (also, please, no more #blessed. It’s an abused word).  After all, for immigrants or refugees, the ultimate dream was to reach a safe land where they could live together and provide each other with food and basic comforts, not just survive day to day, and so many of us already have that that we don’t even notice it.  So if you already have all of these elements, and are deeply worried about getting better clothes than your friends, or a hot boyfriend or something like that, check yourself.

And while we are on the subject of hypocrisy, there is A. LOT. OF. THAT.  It’s a ridiculously easy thing to do, and all of us do it from time to time.  But everyone is constantly passing judgments off of each other, even Christians.  I get that even Christians can make mistakes, but it just seems I hold Christians to higher standards especially ones who are always focused on telling others what it meant to be a real Christian and holding others in contempt for not doing the same.  I think it’s important to respect your body and treat it well, but i also think it is a woman’s right to dress themselves however they see fit and not have to get a giant scarlet “A” slapped on them for it since men don’t.  That doesn’t mean I am a fan of Kim Kardashian for showing her nakedness all the time everywhere she goes, because I don’t think starting your fame from a sex tape is a skill I admire, and I don’t think her main goal of being naked all the time is to conquer and end gender inequality.  She is obviously talented at staying in the public eye, but to constantly seek the limelight and be considered a role model isn’t healthy either.  Even her sister Kylie’s example encourages young girls to demand a specific type of beauty that exudes superficiality with lip fillers and plastic surgery, and there’s more than enough of that in the world.  At the very least, that entire clan can use their platform to contribute more to society.  But maybe my opinion is misconstrued by what I don’t know.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with embracing your curves, but I also think she gets way too much fame and money for no particular reason.  News articles and the media are always featuring the latest antics of Kimye and whether Kylie and Tyga are back together, but girls in our culture pay attention to that shit, and we prize that clan’s flaunting lips and booties over girls fighting for their rights in challenging societies, risking their lives to make a real difference, like Malala Yousafzai.  But I think I know what the issue is here.  We prefer not to dip into others’ tainted waters, we prefer to stand by the pool in our shades, all the while saying “Oh man, that’s awful!”  We want to block out all the misery in the world instead of get swallowed up in it, because it’s much easier that way.  When I look at the seven featured Facebook news, I find myself gravitating towards opening the one about TSwift and THiddleston on their romantic getaway abroad, making out, rather than the one about more killings and deaths in another airport.

Going back to my original ramble,  I think women are valuable beings who deserve to be treated with respect from their counterparts, and not suppressed or mistreated by men, but that does not mean they are holy vessels who must absolutely save themselves for marriage.  (It’s always been a bit amusing to me that I am considered a wild child in comparison to my conservative Asian parents and their friends and more so to other Asians, particularly in the motherland- yet, I am by far the most prude in other groups of friends.  I’ve always considered myself standing somewhere on middle ground on the spectrum, always in moderation of opposing opinions, yet if I had to choose, I’d say I agree more so with the perspective of most in modern times, yet my natural inclinations lean towards conservative views; after all, I am an old soul).

To expand on that, a lot of women have been pushing the boundaries for gender equality and demanding that women get to sexually explore as much as men do.  While I think it’s a fair right to demand, I also am just not a fan of hook up culture personally, and wish both men and women don’t sleep around so casually, because while I don’t think waiting until marriage is practical or reasonable, I still think the idea of sharing bodies is so intimate that it has to mean something to both parties.  I also believe it is my right to go out and have a night of fun that may or may not involve drinking a little or wearing an outfit that may or may not reveal more skin, as long as it’s responsibly handled and there is no disrespect and lack of consideration for others (acting trashy, there is a difference here that many conservatives don’t seem to consider).  Some people do curse too much, and it can get excessively rude or annoying, but if you’re judging the quality of a human being as a whole by how much profanity they spout above their actions, something is clearly wrong.  There are plenty of people who appear friendly and nice on the outside, but won’t be there where it counts down the wire, just like there are tons of individuals who seem rough around the edges but are actually some of the kindest souls out there.  If we had to nitpick, I think the amount of cursing one produces should be ranked pretty low on the scale, wouldn’t you say?

Bottom line, I can see how tempting it can be to believe wholeheartedly in God and find peace and comfort in having full faith, but my doubts have rarely strayed from my thoughts.  Christianity has been the cause of the crusades, wars and killings of other religions, intolerance practiced, multiple incidents of misrepresentation and dark interpretations of the bible.  I know that the argument is that Christianity is not the cause, but people are, because people are, well, sinners.  But still, it was and continues to be a source of both terrible and wonderful things, bringing out the worst and best in people.  And I may continue to have these complex, fluctuating feelings, which kind of sucks, but that’s the way my relationship is with Christianity.  I am a Christian because I do pray on rare occasions and attended church and read the bible; on the other hand, there were years where I barely touched on religion and felt “faith” was a rather demanding alien concept, and I still hesitate if asked the question “Are you a Christian?”  Technically, yes I am. I guess.  I’m here neither to evangelize nor denounce anything, but portray my honest thoughts.

 

Waste

You know, it’s interesting to me that we often discuss waste, but not much in the literal sense.  More in the abstract sense of “waste of time, waste of emotions, ugh Trump is such a waste of space” that kind of thought.  “That boy is not worth my time,” the usual kind of relationship material featured on mainstream music like Taylor Swift. Maybe it’s more romantic than talking about actual, straight up, physical waste.

I don’t remember where I read this from, so forgive me if the forgotten source detracts from the credibility of my blog post, but Americans do waste 40% of their groceries on average.  When I came across this figure, I paid attention to the amount of food I unearthed in the fridge that had gone bad because it was shoved way in the back, or we simply ran out of time before it started getting inedible, and ashamedly I admit it was probably close to that figure that particular week.  After that, I tried to stay on top of things and remember to use up food while it was fresh, but this new mindfulness conflicts with my natural hoarder mentality to tuck everything away and save it “for next time.”  Especially during college, when I had the occasional frame of mind to focus on making food with real ingredients and not instant ramen, I would open the fridge and stare aghast at the over-aged, sad-looking, withered bok choy and the molded cheese and fruit (It had only been a week!)

I grew up in a household where a few grains of rice left on my bowl prompted my mother to warn me that the amount of grains remaining equaled the amount of pimples on my future husband’s face.  Even though some unused ingredients manage to slip through here and there, my parents had known a harder life than I had, and know the value of food.  I’m not saying it was helpful or fun to hear a voice constantly guilting you of all the African and Asian children starving when you couldn’t finish your noodles or felt unmotivated to eat the rest of the fried rice- I was too young to understand anything from it anyway except that it made me feel bad.  Regardless, the general rule was that until the food placed on your plate was empty, your butt was not allowed to leave the chair.  This plus my eating problems resulted in many nights of sitting at the kitchen table for hours.

In contrast, my friend and I talked about the occasional dinner to a white friend’s house, and finding it absolutely blasphemous when they couldn’t finish their dinners, instead of putting it in the fridge as leftovers, the simple answer to most things was to throw it out.  And while I am certain this was not the scenario for every white family, or even my scenario for every Asian family, there seemed to be a common theme for some differences, particularly for how privileged the family or generation is at the time as well.

Many other countries consider Americans lazy, pampered slobs. In many ways, they are right.  When other countries think of McDonalds and obesity first, that’s kind of upsetting.  Going to Taiwan and Japan, many parts of the culture revolves around the theme of moderation.  I find that every single napkin handed to me by the waiter in Japan is petite, and valued.  Place this image side by side to the food court at some American mall, where some dude walks by and grabs an unnecessarily large wad of napkins, all to jam into his face as he eats a burger and fries.  Sometimes, I get frustrated that I have to walk a couple blocks to the subway station in Taiwan just to find a trash can to throw a cup out, but you know what?  It works.  Furthermore, Denmark has transformed into waste-to-energy country, with a Zero Waste system in place.  I’m pretty happy to be an American, and I am proud to call myself one, but on the other hand, why is it that such a powerful, great nation is unable to achieve what many other smaller countries already have?

Another facet of waste that I see often that is a personal pet peeve of mine, is the waste of water.  Let me begin by saying that I definitely waste water- I am very guilty of taking long hot showers, especially when I’m having an off day.  It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  But what really gets me is when people take their time examining their face in the mirror and leave the faucet running for a minute or more.  I see this all the time in public bathrooms, and it BOTHERS ME.  Because well, at least the hot shower was contributing to someone’s happiness, but this is just well, plain waste for no reason at all except habit.

I love watching cooking shows.  But every time the judge takes one bite of food and then leaves the rest, I can’t help but assume that the remaining food is thrown away.  I cringe when I see Joe Bastianich throw the entire plate into the trash can just because it’s not up to his standards.  I mean, is that really necessary?  While I’m on cruises, I get excited when I know that I get to order as many things as I want, try and taste different plates, because well, the whole point of the cruise is to spoil yourself and get all glutinous, right?  A part of me says not to, but I still end up picking maybe two things and not finishing all of it.

I am a hypocrite, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve watched more documentaries (“Living On One Dollar A Day”, courtesy of Netflix, hop on it folks) on why and how people who count every drop and every bite of food, and I’ve had few moments when I was alone and had little access to buy a meal or go grocery shopping.  Of course, my spare moments are nothing to complain about, but I just mean that I had a very minor taste in what it could be like to be hungry and make every bit count.  I’ve walked by the streets and seen homeless people waiting to get enough for the next meal, or been asked to donate some money to organizations.  Listen, I know none of us are exactly able to dump out our pockets and just give it all away, because soon enough, one after the other there are more and more causes piling up, it’s endless.  The ongoing problems in our world rarely end, especially the common themes of war, hunger, poverty, politics, inequalities, etc..  But maybe I can honor the organizations and people a little bit by trying harder than I am now not to waste.  It doesn’t kill me to make that tiny choice of finishing the rest of the food for tomorrow, it doesn’t kill me to decide to research a few ways to use “waste,” such as using stale bread to make bread pudding, or overripe bananas into smoothies.  Even throwing waste into the garden patch is better than just throwing it into the can!  It doesn’t kill me to form the habit of remembering to turn off the faucet more frequently. I’m not saying, force yourself to eat the sad-looking, withered bok choy or the expired cheese.  Just being more mindful of little choices everyday is a great habit to have, despite our flaws and our desires to be less so.   We know there are better solutions out there, and it must be a goal to better our methods from the personal habits to society’s answer to waste and pollution.