Someone once told me that I write as if I am hacking away with a machete at shrubs, bushes, and thorns in the way of truth. My words are in active pursuit of the truth and to quench my endless curiosity. Topics include: Literature, Race, Asian American issues, Opinions, Harvard, and finding myself a job as a twenty-something.
This video of a girl slapping her boyfriend repeatedly on the streets of Hong Kong has become viral after two days, currently topping 930,000 views as I am typing. Without a doubt, it’s disgusting to watch as the girl beats her boyfriend in public. From what I gather, there was a dispute over whether the boyfriend invited another girl to his apartment (supposedly the other girl at the scene). I believe at one point he cries out that the second girl is the girl’s family member, and also he declares that he never did such a thing. Eventually a crowd gathers around and the girlfriend was arrested by police for assault.
But I’m horrified…and not just because of this girl.
“It’s sad when I am with my grandchildren and they are constantly like this with their smartphones,” someone recently shared with me as she mimed hunching over a smartphone. “But the saddest part is that I’m doing it too.”
This is nothing new. Cell phones and smartphones have become ingrained into our tech-savy societies today. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a cell phone until high school, and I didn’t get a smart phone until around my junior year of college. The thing is, I didn’t feel like I needed one. Since the campus had wi-fi, I could always check my email with my iPod. It was only when I went to renew my phone contract and get a new phone that I saw the not smart phone selection was of such poor quality! And now, ever since I switched from an Android to an iPhone (about three months now), I have become more addicted to those stupid games (Candy Crush Saga and Sims Freelife). And while yes, those games are fun and fill up those small voids of free time, such as sitting on a train, I have recently realized how much these phones disconnect us from people — and the people we love.
When you haven’t been able to break into the work force yet, you can feel rather defeated. It doesn’t help that most of your friends and peers are employed with six figure salaries coming right out of college. Talk about hit the ground running. There have been days when I have felt pretty depressed about my lack of employment. Even though it has only been three months since graduation, the looming sense of failure and rejection can even bring the brightest of spirits to its knees.
Last summer, I — like countless others — read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” and had several reactions to it. Aside from the class and racial issues I had about Slaughter’s article, it did raise interesting questions about feminism and work. Slaughter had the opportunity of becoming a powerful woman leader, at the peak of a political career in Washington — but she gave it up to spend time with her kids (and, you know, remain a Princeton professor). At the time the article came out, I was interning at Beacon Press, a non-profit press that promotes equality. When talking about the article with my (wonderful) supervisor at the time, she commented, “Isn’t this a step backward?” Back at the birth of feminism, women were trapped in the housewife role and wanted real careers. Now Slaughter was claiming that women still couldn’t be the mothers they wanted while having these powerful careers? I saw my supervisor’s point.
Yet the past few months, I’ve been grappling with the conflict between feminism and my own desires. While I initially saw how Slaughter’s article could be anti-feminist, my recent struggle with feminist theory and my life have allowed me to better understand Slaughter’s claims. Feminist theory has fought against old ideas of what women can and cannot do — it has allowed women to join the workforce side-by-side with men. But feminism has now shaped what we expect a woman’s goals should be. It has created restrictions again on the definitions of a woman. Really, feminism should give women the freedom to choose their goals.
I am supposed to be one of the privileged and educated women Slaughter was addressing. But I didn’t come out with a powerful job — in fact, I’m still pretty lost as to what I would like to do. I really enjoyed my summer internship, but as it drew to a close, I had to face a looming question.
“The Road Less Traveled” was what I named my college personal essay. I wrote about wanting to be an English major despite my father’s fears of economic insecurity. It was my passion, I wrote. And now that college is over and I have secured my coveted English degree, I find myself down this woody path of dark undergrowth with nothing but my wavering passion to light the way.
During a meeting of friends, a consultant who enjoys his work while not loving it asked the three present who had decided to take a more non-traditional route. For Harvard students, the “non-traditional” route is the one not necessarily paved with gold. The “traditional” route is often consulting, iBanking, academia, or something in the tech field. As someone interested in the arts or writing, I would definitely fall under the “non-traditional” route.
After graduating from college, I did what I believe most students do (aside from road tripping across America with my college friends). I went home. I stayed in my childhood home for three weeks, though if my parents had their way I would stay longer. Within those three short – or long, depending on your point of view – I achieved absolutely nothing. Continue reading →
When I was seven or eight, I remember sitting at the dinner table, glowering at the food in front of me. As my family got ready to eat, I accused my parents of neglecting me and my brother. We never see you. You’re never around! And other such accusations flew out of my mouth. The moment they were uttered, I could see the raw hurt flash in my father’s eyes.
My parents have loved me and my brother more than anything else in the world. They weren’t home until dinnertime because they were working all the time. Growing up, my mom worked in a clothing factory, her back hunched over a sewing machine from dawn to dusk. Her eyes would go bleary as they watched the needle endlessly pierce cloth under harsh lights. My dad worked as a construction worker and contractor. He often came home with paint, dirt, or wood dust on his shirt and hands. He did everything from tearing out walls to reconstructing roofs. My parents were paid probably lower than minimum wage, and this was during the nineties. They slowly chipped away at a mortgage for a house in San Francisco while supporting my grandmother, my brother, and me. Their lives weren’t glamorous and they could barely afford the two gifts I got each year. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but the only reason they came to America was to give me and my brother a better life than they had in China – they had grown up during the communist era, starving through the Great Famine and lacking education beyond middle school.
So why did I think my parents didn’t love us back then, when they so clearly did? Continue reading →
Because once again the past 24 hours have been so chaotic, with incredible news coverage (but perhaps, daresay, an overload?), I’m writing what happened in Boston on April 19th following the MIT shooting and Watertown shooting.
For the hours immediately following the MIT shooting, read my other post, “What Happened In Boston Last Night.” I’m going to begin with the morning. I was awaken around 5:43 AM with yet another Harvard emergency text message that read, “Due to search for dangerous suspect, HUPD advises people near Cambridge/Allston campus to remain indoors. Updates to follow.” I drifted back to a fitful sleep as more texts came. At 8:56 AM, I received another text, alerting that Harvard University was closed today and to stay indoors.
Finally getting up around 10 AM, I immediately checked the news, hoping to see progress on the previous night’s remaining suspect. Confirming my suspicions, I found that news sources had tied the MIT shooting to the Boston Marathon bombers. To my surprise, they had succeeded in identifying both suspects and the media was rapidly searching for all the information they could get on the two: Dzhokar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. I was honestly shocked that they were brothers – but what immediately crossed my mind was that (and I could be wrong) made them less likely to be part of highly organized crime. Continue reading →