It’s weird to think of where my blog has been so far. I started off with short posts about my travels that just talked over my simple interactions without any further content or introspection. I was wary of posting too much or being too open because this was a public forum. Specifically, one that was much more indicative of my true thoughts, unlike traditional social media platforms. With my social media, I really only posted pictures that didn’t reveal my inner reflections. This blog was the start to me being very open on the internet and that was scary for me.
I knew I wanted to start a blog in the past. I even had many different renditions of blogs or online journals that I just never publicized. I would post my thoughts on a topic and have the blog page ready to go and then never tell anybody about it; and soon after, I would delete the blog.
I’m glad I found blogging though because I realize I like writing. I can’t say I’m that great of a writer or that I’m actively seeking to improve my writing skills, but I have always liked writing. I realized this in college when I became the weird one who liked essays. When my classmates would bemoan the three essays they had due finals week, I would feign similar feelings when in actuality I really loved researching and writing and would be sad when all my essays were done.
Now looking at my blog, I find it’s a good place for me to give somewhat consistent updates about my life, share pictures, and express my thoughts. And it will be here to stay at least while I have interesting things to write about.
This post is going to be a bit more of an updates post.
A couple of weekends ago, I hiked to Arapaho Glacier but accidentally took the wrong path. It was the same destination, but just a longer route. I actually didn’t see the glacier because the wind got too strong at the top of the mountain and I turned back. That was fine though because I got gust-fulls of fresh air, helped an older guy whose car ran out of gas get to work that day, and I got to drive through the mountains when the leaves were all turning orange. It was great.
I feel a lot more stable than I did 5 months ago when I first moved to Denver and started my job. For a couple of long months, I felt unsure of myself and still trying to find my circle. I met a lot of people, did a lot of things, and had a lot of fun. But I never quite felt “right.” I wasn’t finding people who I really clicked with and I felt like I was running around without working towards something I cared about.
The people I was meeting were great and fun, I don’t want to make it seem like they weren’t, but something was missing. I played volleyball in a league with some nice people and went to volleyball with this big meet-up group twice a week. That was fun but fleeting and I realized that while I like volleyball, I have other goals that I’d like to focus on. I ran a couple of times a week and mostly used it to just get out pent-up energy. I ate a lot of food and did some fun activities with this other meet-up group. They are and were fun, but I could feel myself getting drained quickly. I met a couple of activist friends just by going to activist-oriented events and soon got roped into a circle of young Asian Americans. But I don’t know if I just wasn’t settled in my life or if I wasn’t clicking with them, but I felt overall drained.
So, I took a couple of weeks to myself and hiked. I hiked in Boulder a lot and spent weekends taking long walks in my neighborhood. I would walk downtown by myself a lot. I bought roller skates and skated after work and on weekends by myself.
I took a leaf out of One Hundred Years of Solitude and intentionally placed myself in solitude whenever I could.
During this process, I felt better. I felt more myself and was able to really focus on what makes me happy. I think I’ve always been that kind of person who thrives in solitude.
I always used to jump around from friend group to friend group from middle school to high school. I never really had a best friend. Okay, I had one best friend, but I knew deep down that we were probably only best friends because they were an amazing social butterfly and could befriend anyone. I, however, was used to being alone. I spent all of 2nd-grade recess walking around in a circle on the playground by myself, talking to no one. The last few months of high school, I often ate lunch by myself or at home.
College, I spent a good amount of time in the library by myself or in coffee shops alone. I remember my first semester of freshman year of college I practically lived out of my backpack. I had my toothbrush and toothpaste in there, I would go to the dining halls for dinner and sit in a corner of the library until midnight when it closed. Then, I’d head back to my dorm, shower, and by 8 a.m. the next morning, I’d go to class and it’d start all over again. This was largely in part due to me being on a dorm with girls who I felt extremely uncomfortable around, feeling racially isolated, depressed, etc etc. The situation of racial anxiety and depression was the problem during that time, not the solitude.
I became aware of my lonesome behavior around 3rd grade. I thought I was broken for a long long time. I remember asking my therapist in high school to help me make friends and break whatever was causing this. I knew it wasn’t that I was shy or that I didn’t talk to people. I was on the volleyball team, I did student government, I had friends. But I knew that they always teased that I was standoff-ish and they viewed me as a fourth wheel. I could tell that when I told them I ate lunch alone or went to the movies alone, they thought it was weird or pitied me. So I asked my therapist back then to help me and she just told me to talk to my classmates more and essentially not be so shy.
As with a lot of my growth, I started to become more okay with my gravitation to being alone. When I’m alone, I contemplate and reflect. I understand what I truly want and what makes me happy. I understand myself better and now I accept that I enjoy myself most when I’m alone. I still worry that something is wrong with me. The creeping fear that I’m broken comes back to me every so often. It’s not the fear that I’m different because I know there’s plenty of people like me who spend a large amount of their time alone- but more that this preference means I’m broken somehow. I’m aware that there’s a deeper psychological reasoning for this gravitation towards solitude. All this alone time has meant that I’ve reflected long and hard over what is parts of my behavior are healthy and about enjoying myself and what part of this stems from fear, trauma, or moodiness.
After leaving my three weeks of solitude, I started reconnecting with these two Asian solidarity groups. These two groups were filled with young, mostly Asian American, people like me who are trying to be loving, open, and politically engaged.
During my time alone, I evaluated the people I was surrounding myself with and realized that part of this exhaustion was because I couldn’t talk my kind of politics with the people I was around. By “my kind of politics”, I mean race, history, theory, justice, and philosophy. All with a heavily liberal lean. All of which were underlined with a passion for making the world and community better.
I think I felt a little empty when I was around people who didn’t have those values, didn’t understand those values, and most of all didn’t care. Therefore, focusing more of my time and energy with those two groups has made me feel part of a stronger sense of belonging. And maybe, more importantly, I can see myself becoming good friends with them and I think they see that as well.
The best thing that has happened to me lately has been the mentor program that I’m involved with. I have been volunteering with the Asian Pacific Development Center in a mentor program with high school and middle school students. The program pairs people like myself with a student in Aurora. Usually, the student is coming from deemed high-risk backgrounds like poverty, uncertain immigration status, a refugee background, minimal English skills, along with race, gender, sexuality, etc.
My mentee is amazing. Let’s call her “A” for anonymity reasons. She is smart, kind, humble, appreciative of everything given to her, hard-working, driven, mature, and creative. I’ve only hung out with her a couple of times, but I am constantly excited at how great she is.
Being around her makes me realize that I enjoy working with older kids like that because I think it gives me a lot of hope for the future, inspires me to work harder, and gives me an understanding of what I can do to impact the community and impact people.
In the early months of moving to Denver, I used to worry that I wasn’t being politically engaged enough. I was concerned that I would slip into the comfortable Yappie (Young Asian Professional) lifestyle. Not that there is necessarily anything bad about focusing on advancing your career and making money, but I knew that my goals were to help communities and be somehow politically active.
Part of that concern stemmed from the fact that a majority of my time was spent doing recreational sports or spending time just doing entertainment activities. I would sneak in a protest or some kind of community forum, but it was once every couple of months. And even then, I didn’t feel like I personally was contributing or impacting much. I guess I just wasn’t finding something that felt right.
But mentoring A does feel like it filled this missing niche for me. And not because it checks off some “politically active” box but because I care about her a lot already and want to see her do so well in life.
I’m sure I’ll have more updates with my mentor/mentee relationship as time goes on, but it’s been one of the things that have made me happiest lately.
Because this is more of a general updates/personal post, I’m just going to plug things of interest that I want to share.
First, some politics that you all may all support.
The Adoptee Rights Campaign and the 2018 Petition to Congress:
Everyone should have equal rights as U.S. citizens if they were born of or adopted by a U.S. citizen parent. Inter-country adoptees urgently need to be granted their U.S. citizenship. We individuals and organizations petition the United States Congress to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act (ACA) of 2018. This bipartisan bill provides U.S. citizenship to internationally adopted individuals who were legally adopted by U.S. citizen parents as children but never obtained U.S. citizenship status.
WHY THE ACA IS NEEDED:
Without their rightful U.S. citizenship, adoptees are unable to vote and lack U.S. passports. Many face obstacles in securing student financial aid, home loans, Social Security cards, Social Security benefits, driver’s licenses (due to the REAL ID Act), and more. In contrast, they had been adopted and brought to the U.S. with the promise of a better life. Despite difficulties, they have built their lives as Americans.
Lack of citizenship puts adoptees at an increased risk of deportation. Those who have been deported suffer being separated from their families and the land they call home. Many deportees are struggling to survive without the language skills or employment qualifications needed in a different country’s culture. In 2004 in Brazil, a deported adoptee was murdered. In May 2017 in South Korea, a deported adoptee tragically ended his life.
Since the 1940s, an estimated 350,000 children have been internationally adopted by U.S. citizen parents. During this era, naturalization of internationally adopted children was a lengthy and costly process. Without proper notice, parents bore the responsibility to file for their children’s citizenship. Unfortunately, many adoptive parents did not fulfill this duty, simply because they were not made aware it was necessary.
Many parents had been granted their child’s state birth certificates, Social Security cards, or Military Dependent ID cards (for those who served in the Armed Forces). These documents gave the impression that their children were automatically citizens by Virtue of Adoption. However, this was not the case, and thousands of adoptees do not have U.S. citizenship today.
In 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). The CCA intended to ensure that all inter-country adoptees of U.S. citizen parents receive automatic U.S. citizenship. It did not accomplish this goal, though, because it had a cutoff at age 18, which failed to cover adoptees born on or before February 27, 1983. As a result, it excluded an estimated 35,000 to upwards of 70,000 adoptees, based on recent research.
Adoptee Rights Campaign’s website: http://adopteerightscampaign.org/
Sign the petition: https://www.petition2congress.com/ctas/aca-2018
Some videos that I have really liked in the past few months.
Japanese-American farmers helped feed the United States. They were essential in developing California’s agriculture – until World War II came and they were forced to relocate to internment camps.
This week on Shady, our host, Lexy Lebsack, takes us into the underground world of human hair trafficking. Wigs and extensions are often made of real human hair, but have you ever questioned how that hair was sourced?
Jackson Pollock is one of the 20th century’s most famous artists. But do you know the critic who made his reputation? Clement Greenberg is a well-known name in the art world, but not necessarily to art fans. However, he earned a reputation as one of the most influential art critics in the 20th century, whose legacy included the canonization of Jackson Pollock.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has followed a familiar playbook as he becomes the latest man in Washington to be accused of sexual misconduct. Even back in the 1990s when then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas faced misconduct allegations during his confirmation hearings, he followed the same steps Bill Clinton, Roy Moore and Donald Trump would eventually follow.
For art history fanatics.
BURNING is the searing examination of an alienated young man, Jongsu, a frustrated introvert whose already difficult life is complicated by the appearance of two people into his orbit: first, Haemi, a spirited woman who offers romantic possibility, and then, Ben, a wealthy and sophisticated young man she returns from a trip with. When Jongsu learns of Ben’s mysterious hobby and Haemi suddenly disappears, his confusion and obsessions begin to mount, culminating in a stunning finale.
Release date: October 26
For some laughs:
Judge Brett Kavanaugh (Matt Damon) takes questions from Senators Chuck Grassley (Alex Moffat), Dianne Feinstein (Cecily Strong), Amy Klobuchar (Rachel Dratch), Thom Tillis (Mikey Day), Cory Booker (Chris Redd), John Kennedy (Kyle Mooney), Sheldon Whitehouse (Pete Davidson), Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon) and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell (Aidy Bryant).
Some good reads from the past couple of months.
‘I Didn’t Have the Language to Call It Racism’: An Interview with Nicole Chung on growing up as a transracial adoptee
Nicole Chung wants white parents of transracial adoptees to grapple more candidly with the reality of racism in America.
A 1973 work of short philosophical fiction by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. With deliberately both vague and vivid descriptions, the narrator depicts a summer festival in the utopian city of Omelas, whose prosperity depends on the perpetual misery of a single child.
We’re still trying to eliminate sweatshops and child labor by buying right. But that’s not how the world works in 2015.
Some podcasts that I have really enjoyed.
Former President Barack Obama — along with key advisers, mentors, and rivals — tells the story of his climb from Chicago to the national stage.
Blepharoplasty is often done to lift loose or sagging skin around the upper eyelids caused by aging. But for a lot of people of Asian descent, this surgery is not strictly about aging and more commonly referred to as “double eyelid” surgery. In 2017 alone, over 12,500 Asian Americans had double eyelid surgery and given the racist history behind the procedure, it makes sense that some people in the U.S. are vocally critical about it… but it’s more complicated than that.
In 1891, a physical education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts invented the game we would come to know as basketball. In setting the height of the baskets, he inadvertently created a design problem that would not be resolved for decades to come.
There are a lot of factors that go into greatness, many of which are not obvious. A variety of Olympic and professional athletes tell us how they made it and what they sacrificed to get there. And if you can identify the sport most likely to get a kid into a top college — well then, touché!
From HBO’s Silicon Valley, the incredible Jimmy O. Yang joins us this week to talk about his experience auditioning as a POC actor, his new book, and more! We read from his audition log, Dan & Jessica brief Jimmy on “Chinese China”, and we get into some impressions that will “snowblow offend” everyone.
Aaaand some music that I’ve been listening to if you want to hear what goes in my ears.
Solange’s “Mad” seems to describe the past two years pretty well:
I ran into this girl, she said, “Why you always blaming?”
“Why you can’t just face it?”
“Why you always gotta be so mad?” (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
I got a lot to be mad about (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
Where’d your love go?
Where’d your love, baby?
I ran into this girl, I said, “I’m tired of explaining”
Man, this shit is draining
But I’m not really allowed to be mad