I need to remember who I am without my grandma, my mother, in order to progress and not regress when I return home. I need to be conscious of the ways in which I’ve improved, and in that security of who I am and who I want to be, keep a strong eye on what it is in my grandma and my mother that I do not wish to take, and prevent these things from seeping into my still impressionable mind.
- I should not push onto others what I think is good. I should not push onto others anything. I will keep myself to myself unless asked.
- I should not comment whatsoever on anything about others. Compliments should be reserved for that which they deliberately chose, which means I can compliment an outfit, but not a character trait, and not one’s bodily appearance. I especially should not comment on anyone’s eating habits. Because any sort of influence on a person is negative: I don’t want to push anyone in any direction; a person should float free and choose in which direction they should go.
I want to love China. I want this culture that is somehow supposed to be mine, which I am supposed to represent — I want to be able to cherish it, to have Asian Pride, to bring it forcefully crashing against whiteness, against assimilation.
But here’s a secret.
I hate China.
I hate the hyper-humble performative act. I hate the objectification of women, of children, of anyone really. I hate the easy fulfillment of roles stratified solely by age and gender. I hate that every single type of person has an articulated ideal: three days here with my grandmother and I already know exactly the person I was supposed to be: conscientiously neat, quiet, domestic, impeccably caring, studious, successful. Even what I eat: it’s never enough, and if it’s enough, perhaps maybe then we can criticize the ratio? I hate being called ‘mei nu’ by strangers, as if the most important part of my being such that it must be included in my title is that I must be ‘pretty’. I hate sitting in between two adults and hearing the same conversation about my round face but long legs and eating habits and my too-hyped piano playing and my university and how well I care for my grandmother.
It took being away from family to fully realize how oppressive the culture is, and yet it took even more time away from family to realize that it may not be oppressive at all. Who am I to say what is right? But I can say this: I can say what is right for me. I am American. Narcissistic individualism and tanned skin run in my veins. I don’t want to be Chinese; I never can be Chinese.
And the only thing I suppose I can hope for now is that one phrase I heard from someone not too long ago: that this situation — my self-loathing but hyper-aware being — is the flawed but necessary transition to a better ideal come next generation.
I can’t help but oscillate between hating being a female in china and scolding myself for doing so. I notice things. I can’t help it. A women smiles at me in the grocery store, flies swarming the bag she hands to me. “Mei nu,” she nods. Pretty girl.
I hate China like only a Chinese American could.
a middle aged asian man is doing walking leg exercises in the airplane aisle and you think about what you and melody decided on that defined the attitude or china: a stubborn disregard for shit. a blatant inability to feel embarrassment in publc places. they’re doing it right, really, you think.