Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2015: The Lost Year

Out of curiosity I scrolled through my phone’s calendar to see how many years it counted up to. The number is infinite so I stopped at two thousand three-hundred and sixty-five. I then turned back to two thousand and ninety-two to wish myself a happy 100th birthday.

What it made me realize was more than just being able to plan to a point where I stop existing - I've been making the fallacy of not appreciating the time I've been given. Much like a child anxious to be grown-up and then look longing on the past's care-free days, I will miss out on all of the wonderful things 2015 will hold by only focusing on the expiration date.

This New Year marks my five year graduation from high school. It’ll be the end of my college experience for now and travelling for mandarin learning. There’s been all this preparation and work involved to get me where I am and the future is still blurry. Even having long-term goals don't bring it into clarity because my individual say in the matter is swallowed up in the will of the powers that be. 

It feels good to let go, but very unstable. 

Here are a few things I've decided to work on so I’m not taken off guard and have confidence that under all the calendar dates and pen marks is a consistency and contingency plan.     

Read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. It was written in 1678 and has never been out of print. It’s a self-described dream put down in pen and I like the flow of the language.
Write sections of Chinese books out in Mandarin or start my own journal that will keep the characters fresh in mind. I want to find a way to use my Chinese that is meaningful so it’s less of a chore and more of an enjoyment. I like reading the old legends and stories but I want something that has more sustenance and really utilizes all four parts of language learning.
Take a free University course online! I was introduce to Coursera  (https://www.coursera.org/) and love the idea and what it stands for. You can take classes from top institutions like Peking, Yale, Duke, Tel Aviv, National Taiwan, Singapore, Tokyo, UBC and McMaster University. It can be in your native tongue or a foreign one and there are online classes and assignments so it keeps you engaged.
Watch. This is a bit tricky. I’m going to cut out a lot of extra noise and that includes youtube and facebook. I like to listen to the radio since it frees up my hands but even taking that in passively I don’t think is the best for me. I’m starting to listen to podcasts more and more and I also enjoy talks, so I’m going to switch my focus to that and also broaden my newspaper reading options.
Eat. This is a tender subject since I currently can’t eat solid foods at all. I love cooking in my dorm and am getting confident with a few dishes. My goal is to expand my culinary skills while cutting back on the preparation time. I want to be able to make good healthy meals in under an hour. I also want to switch to more fruits and veggies and less starch and meat since I eat that a ton.
Do physical activity! This shouldn't need to be a goal since I love exercise but I do it more as a hobby than a life style. How many pangs of guilt do I need to feel for not taking advantage of my University’s free gym? I also live right by it so distance isn't a good excuse either. I think what would be best is do easy morning exercises and in the evenings take advantage of the gymnastic wristbands they offer and improve my flexibility. I can still do back handsprings and front-tucks but splits and press to handstands are harder and harder to manage. I also eat more after I exercise, and these past few weeks of shrinking appetite have me worried. This way I can do two things that I love and reap the benefit of both.
Reflect. There isn't really a time when I don’t do this. My biggest concern is to not get so caught up in self-psychoanalysis that I forget to act. I often find myself sitting in a glass castle critically judging the world and myself but fail to make needed changes. It’s only when I hop down from that throne that I realize how breakable yet resilient human nature is.

Overall I want 2015 a year to be remembered not to just grit my teeth and get through. Living in Calgary has been fun and going back to school is wonderful even though it’s challenging. I want to take more care in what and who I invest my time in and ultimately be happy that I get to experience a New Year so limitless that it’s opportunities are endless.   


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Faces with No Names

When you are asked for money by someone who doesn't have any, you have a split second to decide; yes or no, to give or not to give.

I've come across all types of scenarios, within Canada and without, where I had to make this decision and it never gets any easier. Three main situations stand out in my memory, with one happening just recently that I want to share and lay bare the workings of a mind still unsettled about what is the best choice.

1.    Tuesday, Calgary, Canada. Outside of a C-train station
As I was carrying my grocery bags home I was asked outside of a c-train station if I had any spare change. Out of reflex I said no then stared dumbly as the consciousness of the weight of my groceries pressed sharply into my hand. The woman with an older man by her side smiled cheerfully and said “Okay, by the way I love your hair!” I thanked her and tilted my head to the side so she could touch the curls if she wanted (which is also a reflex of mine). After looking more closely she gave me more compliments and I returned them feeling quite at ease. She told me then it was her Uncle’s Birthday today and he was turning 45. I wished him a Happy Birthday and he seemed genuinely pleased. I turned to go still mulling in my head what should I do or if this was just a ploy, when she asked me one last thing holding both hands out “do you need a ticket for the train?”   

My heart thumped, she was giving to me.

2.    Beijing, China. Inside a subway car
I was sitting on the subway headed to a friend’s house, when an old woman entered with her hair all ragged and wearing soft toe shoes, the kind that silently glide across the floor. She had a cane and was stopping every few feet bowing and asking for money. I starred at my e-reader hoping the uncomfortableness would end.  When she came up to me I made eye contact and shook my head slightly. Instead of moving on she stared at me and insistently asked. When I didn’t reply she started jabbing at my knee. Feeling picked out and picked on, I had an overwhelming feeling of anger and wanted to kick back.

Long after she left my pulse was still racing and my mind was irritated.

3.     Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On a sidewalk
When I went to Southeast Asia on a study abroad with the University of Calgary I was 19 and it was my first time traveling independent of my parents and family. We were given half a day in the Capital to explore so I ran out, headed to a promenade that banked on the Tonlé Sap River if I remember correctly. I went strolling about enjoying the humidity and sunshine when not too far from me I spied a bench with a man lying stretched out with his head covered, and a few feet away a woman with two little children sitting on the ground. I knew well enough that the man most likely was her husband and the women was begging with her children. Once I reached them she motioned to me and made the universal gesture of wanting food by putting her hand to her mouth. I was fresh out of a developmental studies class so was resistant to give money but got some bread to share. Perhaps because of my willingness to get food she also motioned to me to look at one of her children. She lifted up his shirt and I saw a rash with small red marks like chickenpox or bug bites all across it.

 I don’t quite remember all the details but somehow I ended up at a pharmacy store. She had written down on a piece of paper names of medicines and had directed me there. I was extremely self-conscious of the fact that I didn’t know the language, and the seller knew I was doing someone else’s bidding. I wondered if this happened a lot and if I truly was getting medicine for the kids or medicine that could be sold again at a higher retail rate. What stuck out the most though was how expensive it was. If this was the price of medicine for a small child no one in poverty can ever afford to get sick. Returning back to the women who I now considered a bit of a friend, I gave her the medicine and sat down in the middle of the promenade with her and her children and ate bread.

As the sun beat down we talked as only people who don’t share the same language can, and she tried teaching me a few words. We smiled and made wild gestures, and I alternated between feeling completely comfortable and acutely conscious of tourists and locals who walked by. By being on the ground you are always forced to be looking up. Those above you don’t just seem big but they tower. It’s a vulnerable position to be in and I only seemed to notice because of the contrast it gave to the position I usually am standing in.

Just as we were getting really at ease with each other I noticed four policemen and women come by and make a circle around us, slowly narrowing it in. I didn't know if they were trying to protect me, thinking I was being taken advantage of or harm me, so I slowly got up gave a quick goodbye and walked away in an effort to avoid any conflict.
As I walked away I thought about her, I thought about me, and I thought about how much we have in common.

So these are my three scenarios. I've thought about the Beijing incident a lot and why it made me feel so angry. I think there’s this assumption when giving that the recipient must be grateful. If instead they are snide or brusque it makes us less willing to share. But then we take another look and ask: what are they to be happy about? Should they feel giddy that they are in a position of begging or joyful to be forced to rely on the goodwill of others? There are many reasons for why people are in situations of destitute with some having it solely to do with bad personal decisions while others are born in to a pecking order where they are at the bottom.
Really what I've learned the most is to not forget the human factor of need.

 We could apply Blackstone’s ratio and change it to "It is better that ten pretenders receive than one genuinely in need goes without”. Common sense should be used in when and how to give but so should clemency. As for me there are times when I give and there are times when I don’t. I wish I could come to one overarching consensus that would do away with the mental conflict but it hasn't been formulated yet, I’m constantly finding myself thrown into different situations that cause me to reflect and re-evaluate my prior position. I think a better understanding will come with experience and age. I will no doubt travel more and be more involved with what I’m just seeing now on a superficial level. So even though it’s a painful process I can see the good in it, I become compelled to take a moment and see the person as they are and not as I imagine them to be. This way I’ll be able to know not only who I’m giving to but why, and slowly I can put names to the numberless faces we constantly see. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Logic of Racialization

As I was in Bio class the other day my Professor started in on the topic of how mutations are the cause for genetic variation in our DNA and the subsequent effect it can have on an individual or populations.

My seatmate then leaned over to me and said: I feel like she’s talking about me right now.

Lacking pigmentation in the skin and having yellow tinged hair among other features does set him apart as a having albinism; a recessive trait. So my Professor was talking about him, even though not directly.

If we then look at all words we use to describe this trait like abnormal, defective, mutated, it’s no wonder one would feel pin-pointed out even though enveloped by a sea of students.

This is a feeling I’ve had many times as well. There are certain words that make me cringe even though they’re not a direct attack against me. Whenever black is used in juxtaposition of good, clean or pure I cringe. Whenever people think the best and most efficient way to identify others is by their most obvious racial features I cringe. It’s not that it’s wrong, but that there’s so much more meaning behind the words people say.

Our words are culturally coated ranging from sweet to bitter, and a huge part of how we see the world today comes from how these words were created and used in the past.

For example the idea of a Pygmy. A Pygmy in most people’s mind is a small African clan in the heart of the jungle that are primitive, infantile and backwards. What we tend to forget is real evidence of Pygmies before they were used as a literary device by Homer was scarce if even they existed.  And yet it opens up our imaginations and upon the discovery of African continent it exploded into many forms. This type of caricature, a Pygmy was used by colonial powers to set up a racial hierarchy of mankind and justify their abuses. We can then call this the start of the colonial imaginary that is a mindset of racial superiority often based on fictitious ideas that lent respectability to the enslavement, mistreatment, and brutalization of those who are categorized as others. By a gross misinterpretation of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution the legitimacy of racism as a science took hold and crushed any notions of basic human decency.

Chris Ballard, an Associated Professor at ANU, writes: Although racial science's brief claim to authority may be long past, the elements of a Western and colonial imaginary to which it lent respectability maintain deep roots within our writing and thinking. The ways in which we conceive of historical process, the casual identification of imagined groups in the past… and the narratives that we consciously or unconsciously invoke of purity and mixture may never be entirely free.

I know for a fact that it still exists today and more than just in the west. In my Chinese literature class here that I attend with many Mainlanders we talk about contemporary authors like Xie Wanying, better known by her pen name Bin Xin (冰心). She wrote a book titled Two Families《两个家庭》narrated by two children, just born, who already sense the injustices of the society they are entering. One is born rich, the other poor, one is born with fair skin and the other with dark; I think I know where this is going.

 Even though the darker skinned child is healthier it’s already implied at the start that her life will be more challenging and full of difficulties. Of course there are other factors as well, but it bothers me how effortlessly we agree with the implied statements found all around us.  I can’t count the number of times the Chinese beauty standard of white skin has been boiled down to the basic social stratification of economics where the poor work in the hot sun and the rich relax inside. That’s true but not the full story. Opinions on beauty didn’t change once jobs moved into fluorescent lite offices, and instead we let these notions pervade the media, advertising and everyday thought. It’s said with a shrug and off we go pretending that the world has changed and we are all enlightened, forgetting along the way that the enlightenment period coincided with the height of the Atlantic slave trade.

So what are we to do? Ban all the words that have negative connotations? Make these words our own by taking “ownership” so they no longer have the power to sting? I don’t think so.

The answer is neither simple nor clean cut. First we have to admit it. We need to know and understand how these words are used to give voice to biases hidden in our language. The next step is to reduce their use, swearing doesn’t stop overnight and neither will the instinctiveness to fall back on these words for a convenient analogy, but if we’re conscious about it they will slowly, over time fade away and lose their appeal. Lastly, context is hugely important. I get it if you use black as midnight to describe the night sky, especially if it’s at 12:00am but if you use it to describe every black person you meets skin colour I might take issue.

To sum up, I’m not asking for a giant change in attitude but a bit more understanding. Choose your words more carefully and look to see the effect it has on the people you’re speaking to. Not all people grow up with the same background context, so many words are meaningless to them, but being part of a global society that has experienced overt racism, Human Zoo’s and genocides know your words carry heavy meanings and lend themselves when we are careless to continuing the legacy of logical racialization. 

- Chris Ballard (2006) Strange alliance: Pygmies in the colonial imaginary, World Archaeology, 38:1, 133-151, DOI: 10.1080/00438240500510155




Sunday, 7 September 2014

Enjoy the Moment

The sun was shining so brightly yesterday that I went out to see what it was smiling about.

I found a secluded area by a few bleachers and laid down, stretching my body out like a totem pole so as to dangle my feet off the edge, which of course they were in no danger of doing.

As I was looking up into the sky it hit me how incredibly lucky this moment was.

Here I am, 22 and in my final year of my bachelor’s degree. I've traveled, I've studied, and have had amazing support along the way. I've learned a new language, and if taken care of that language will open doors where before only a glimpse was possible. I feel like so much has happened but no words come out when I try to express it. I haven’t changed to the point of being unrecognizable, but there’s something definitely different.

There are those around me who've done this and even more. It makes me incredibly happy to see them pursuing their choices and turning ideas into concrete goals and achieving them.

I can’t help but feel though that there are certain demons chasing us. The largest one is an anxiety to be in a different moment of life. Behind the smiles and exclamation marks is an anxiety to prove that we are perfectly happy the way we are and yet completely miserable. Dreams that haven’t materialized still rule our nights, and, if not properly secured, run away with our fears.

It’s as if some are waiting for the graduation date, the wedding ring, or the job offer to be completely happy. Because of this, short-term choices are hard to make and long-term ones are impossible. We can easily fall into this groove of biding our time until something better comes along, and while we wait our true value as an independent person is slowly being degraded.

If you’re an unattached 20-30 something year old you should realized what an amazing part of life you’re experiencing right now.

You’ll never be in as much control of your environment, personal choices and decisions as you are now. This gap of autonomy gives you the freedom to know yourself without another person constantly peering over your shoulder. It’s a perfect time to understand your own capability, test yourself physically and mentally, and to be surprised by what you can do.   

If it’s a hard period of life filled with sickness or heartbreak you’re in the best condition to bear it. The ability to bounce back from hardship is a gift to the young and can be cultivated throughout our lives. Sooner than later the person of knowledge and understanding will be yourself, so keep from, however instinctive it might be, constantly look to others for guidance and work it out in your own mind.

This moment right now is fleeting; soon we will be moving on to better and greater things as well. Don’t stop dreaming but stop obsessing.  In the same way that we passed elementary school, survived high school and learned to drive, all the milestones of life will come across our path.

Instead of fretting about what you haven’t done think about what you've achieved. The moments you've experienced are yours alone and no one can take that away.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, enjoy the moment. Our time is short; we can waste it or choose to cherish it.       

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Takin' Care of Business

Since I've been back to my hometown, the name of which no one outside of Alberta seems to easily remember, I've been busy doing a few things.

The first thing I did was get a new debit card.
This card was to replace the old one that was stolen in Shanghai along with the rest of my wallet. I also incidentally earned some money, seems that thieves these days are bit more generous than before. Most likely what happened was that I forget the exact amount in my account since it was lost and now everyday is Christmas, I don't know what to buy first.

Another big step up on the responsibility ladder is updating my driver’s license.  
That was rather a painless affair except for when they "forgot" to give me my passport back. I know how precious those things are, lucky for me no-one in a ten-mile radius has my beautiful skin complexion or else I would be stuck in Canada forever which on second thought is kind of wonderful. I do regret though that when she asked me if all the information was correct for my new ID I forgot to mention I grew a few inches and got a piercing, now it’s too late, the shame of it all.

Something else I did oddly enough at the same time was to renew my Alberta Health card so I could put myself down as an organ donor, very convenient yet suspicious.

I also have a new job but more like an old job with longer hours. I’m a semi-volunteer with the semi being I don’t get kicked out of the house if I freely volunteer. It’s a lot of fun since I get my own desk, and permanent markers and file things all day long. I’m in charge of categorizing things alphabetically which is really hard since I've forgotten how to speak proper English, who in their right mind then believes that I can spell it? I’m also reading foreign names out so that doesn't help me improve yet I am thinking of having an alter ego and naming her Prisilia Opi.

So for today at work we did something a bit out of the ordinary. There’s a sidewalk event going on downtown so I was part of the man (woman) power holding the booth. It was a really nice day, warm with blue skies, and there was a live musician singing all of my favorite songs so a very relaxed atmosphere to say the least. I ran into some old friends and might have scared one or two of them with my sudden but welcomed presence. There was also a trampoline with a harnesses attached that I wanted to try but the darn little kids took up half the line. They also said the weight limit was 200 pounds and then turned their backs, but I'm not too sad, there’s always next week.   

As you can see not a whole lot of new changes in my life but I'm finally settling in, I've unpacked all of my things and have a bed to call my own. I've started listening to the Vinyl Cafe at night and laugh myself to sleep. I'm really enjoying the familiarity of everything from food to kindness and can say rather confidently that it's all starting to feel a lot like home.  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Dorm Life

I’m living in residence!

I received news this week that I was assigned a spot in my University’s dorm. It’s a bit of relief since I won’t have to be house hunting in the middle of August and or be in charge of a lease or finding flat mates and all of the drama that brings (and joys, if one of them is reading this).

What I’m most particular about is that I’ll have a mailing address and a private room. My old place in Calgary didn't have its own mailbox and I had to keep going to the neighbors to check for my own mail which was a little strange. Did you know it’s a felony in Canada to open mail that’s not your own? I do.

As well I’ll have a kitchen and a bathroom with a real shower and not the kind that soaks half the washroom. I can start cooking again and try some of the recipes in the cookbook I got for my Birthday. There’s a meal plan as well but I don’t think I’ll use it much since I don’t want to get too pampered. Hunger is a strong motivation to get out of bed and do something with my life.

 Last but not least I’m in a dorm with international and third year student so I won’t have to bother with all of the freshmen commotion, is initiation still a thing here?

With all of this happening fairly soon I can’t help but think back to dorm 1 at BLCU. This was the oldest dorm built on campus and is still in use though most people would agree it shouldn't be. It’s sort of hard to describe exactly why but we could start with the shared bathrooms that have more in common with an outhouse, or dimly lit showers with broken handles. I had my hair turn grey from sediment matter in the old pipes so many times it stopped becoming a shock and the only water pressure options were hard or none at all.

Oddly enough our rooms were fairly wide and seemed bigger than those in other dorms which might had to do with the scarcity of objects to clutter it up. We had the basics, a desk, chair and T.V. that didn't work. 

We also had personal closets and a full length mirror left from prior tenants that attached to the back of the door. Other than a kettle, we weren't supposed to have any other electrical appliances but that didn't stop Javkhlan, my Mongolian roommate, from setting up her own little tea parlour.

We had a lot of fun together though, we experimented cooking different types of meals with a rice cooker and because we didn't have a fridge gave the extras away to friends who lived in the same complex. I think perhaps that’s one of the most defining features of dorm 1, we shared what little we had with others and with the combination of nationalities you ended up with some pretty random things. I personally received boxes of items from my New Zealand and Filipino classmates before they left, and in turn gave all my things to my Kenyan and Cameroon friends. This constant passing of items and useful appliances like toasters, hangers, and air purifiers created a sense of community. So even with the creepy stairwells, random room checks (where knocking was not a prerequisite) and frequent pest invasions I survived a year in dorm 1.

Looking ahead I don’t think my dorm life will ever get as basic as it did that one year. I like the social life of living in residence and convenience of getting to class, you meet a lot of wonderful people and since it looks like this might be my last year I want to make it one worth remembering and have people to remember it by.  


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

阿里怕-Mother of 19

As a final essay for Chinese Culture class I wrote about the Chinese viewpoint on the adoption of children. As I was researching this topic I came across one story in particular that made a strong impression on me. This is the story of a woman in Xinjiang, China who along with her husband raised 19 children from different ethnic minorities along with 6 she had by birth.

The type of sacrifice she and her husband must have made astonishes me especially since they come from a culture with a clear distinction between who is family and who are the others. Her children and extended kin as of 2008 consisted of 180 people.  This couple though poor raised more children than an average home daycare and it made me wonder why.
This lady gave most of her youth, and all of her energy to creating a family and this husband, who is hardly mentioned, gave all of his income to support them. I think it’s amazing that we have people all over the world who by doing the little things like, feeding a crying child, working extra hours and digging for herbs have such a vast influence when all is accounted for.
I translated the story myself since it’s not a famous one and is hard to find information about even on baidu (the Chinese web). Her English name is just a translation of the Chinese pinyin and I included her last name being the first character at the front. I’ve stuck close to the literal translation with a few changes here and there since I found some of the language to be a bit embellished when there was none needed, the bolded characters are names. 
                             阿里帕 -阿力马 (维吾尔族)
In 1963 Alipa with her Husband Abipao were already the parents of 6 children. Ahbipao worked in the public security department and was the sole provider of the family with his wage of 45 yuan a month. There family life was cheerful and happy, but one day during winter their neighbours who were of the Kazakh ethnic minority suddenly passed away living three children under the age of 10.
Seeing these children left alone with no one to provide for them Alipa took them up and carried them home. Today 53 year-old Tuohuti memories of being 8 and being taken home to Alipa’s house remain fresh in his mind. Within the following ten years Alipa continually took in and raised orphaned children of all different minorities, at this time her family consists of 19 children.
In order to support the family the husband Abibao every day after work went straight to other villager’s homes in order to work part-time digging the land, Alipa meanwhile everyday went to the food market collecting the produce no one else wanted. Even though their home had two cows, that must would loath to give up because of the milk they offered, both cows were sold to pay for the children’s education, and provide them with basic necessities.
Even though they were poor, every child received the benefit of a loving home. In talking of her adopted children Alipa says they are in a way closer to me then my own children. They’re not my own flesh, but all are my children. In her home water runs deeper than blood.  

In order to provide 3 meals a day for more than 20 mouths, Alipa bought a giant iron cooking pot, 1.2 meters in diameter, for the express purpose of making meals. Most of the houses income was put towards providing meals and if in the summer there wasn’t enough grain Alipa would dig the earth for herbs, in autumn she would go out and gather wheat, and potatoes.  Life continued on in this way, with ends meeting but just barely for a number of years. To provide more money for the children’s schooling and clothing, Abipao continued working extra hours digging the land, and Alipa found a job with the village food factory cleaning sheep stomachs and goat intestines.  

Alipa and Abipao’s goal wasn’t to just make sure the children were well-feed but that they could study as well. Their home didn’t have electricity so Alipa would take old pieces of cotton wad and roll it with her fingers into strips, and then these small strips were used as a wick for the oil lamps. It was by the light of these oil lamps all 19 children studied for, and completed, elementary and high school. Not one child because of poverty dropped out of school. 
It’s because of Alipa’s willingness to face many hardships to raise her extraordinary family that her children learned from a young age what is most valuable., they learned to love each other and show concern and care. It was through the ability to bear much that Ahlipa cared for all 19 children who slowly grew into adults, now every Spring Festival and holiday are the happiest of times, because it’s at this time the whole family small and large get to be with one another.


阿里帕·阿力马洪(维吾尔族) 母爱最真, http://www.12371.cn/2013/08/22/ARTI1377164160017886.shtml  


Friday, 18 July 2014

Babies Everywhere

One thing you should know about my family is that it’s big and keeps on getting bigger.

Children keep being born and I’m told their part of my family but all they do is stare at me with their large eyes. If their motor functions are bit better they then progress to pulling my hair. 

The strangest things is this all seemed to happen when I wasn't looking, I heard it’s supposed to take nine months produce a child but now I’m not so sure, I mean with all advances in technology these days anything’s possible so be afraid, very afraid.      

A song that keeps playing through my mind is Sweet Dreams (are Made Of This) by the Eurythmics. I think deep down the meaning of this song was, and always will be, dedicated to the children in our lives. I changed the lyrics to more suit my particular situation. 

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something

Some of them want to eat you
Some of them want to get eaten by you
Some of them want to play you 
Some of them are very good at manipulating you 

Hold your head up, crawling on
Hold your head up, keep moving on
Hold your head up, crawling on
Hold your head up, keep moving on

Some of them want to tease you
Some of them want to get teased by you
Some of them want to sit on you
Some of them are far more heavier then they look

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Returning Home

I’m currently in the Seattle Airport waiting for my connecting flight. I was given special attention during customs because of a chicken sandwich I bought in the Beijing Airport, and then selected for random security check, so you could say it was my lucky day.

I’ve been looking forward to this flight for a long time.
I had started a countdown in June and every time I crossed a day off the excitement rose. During that time I wrote three essays and completed three exams. I wrote the HSK5, tried my hand at a screenplay, and graduated from BLCU.
Most people ask if I’m sad to leave and truthfully I’m not. These past two years have been immensely eventful, mentally grueling, and full of ups and downs. This China chapter of my life is far from over but I don’t see the need to lengthen it out into obscurity. Something I noticed while living over there is how it seems to suck young people in and never spit them out. Perhaps it’s the easy cash, or feelings of independence, but one year quickly becomes three and then five. That sense of directionless bothers me and I feel that two years is a good amount, perhaps a shade too long. In fact it’s hard to pinpoint a perfect length of time especially when it comes to language learning. I’m sure we’ll all agree a continuous exposure to the language and the culture environment is the best but that would also require a complete life commitment. Being only twenty-two I’m not wanting to make it a permanent settling place since there’s still lots of other things I hope to accomplish. So even though it’s hard, and always feels like I’m on the edge of breaking another barrier, I think it’s time I wrap up my “official” language studies.
I’m very grateful to all the teachers I’ve had, friends that have been made and family members who supported me throughout all of this. I’ve come to realize you’re only as distant from those you care about as you want to be. In this time of social media and ever reaching telecommunication we can talk instantly and conveniently; the real choice lays in how much you want to divulge. This is where I haven’t made up my mind, the balance between saying too much or sharing too little is a hard one to find. As a rule of thumb I error on sharing too little since that’s easier to rectify and causes less waves. A quote I stumbled upon once, and haven’t been able to find again, runs with the idea that personal thoughts and opinions I will share with everyone but my privacy I will keep to myself. I like it a lot because I feel that personal beliefs tell more about a person then names and dates, and when some are so focused on getting the answer they want to satiate their curiosity they  miss out on a wealth of knowledge and don’t get to know the person any better than if they were reading an obituary.
Now that I’m in a time and place where I can write more I will; hopefully it will be worth reading and full of exploits. I’m back from Asia but have lots of plans for the future, not only is writing a good way to share with those I’m far from but it’s a memoire for me as well. It’s something I can look back on for the experiences and helps me to evaluate what has been done and what I still need to do. This summer is going to be great. It'll be full of family, good food and relaxation. I can honestly say there is nothing as good as being back home from a long trip away.