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Better stop thinking before I give myself a brain aneurysm

I’ve read the Millennials are the color-blind generation, and it’s always bothered me a bit. To be honest, I was hoping that I not be the person to break the bad news to my kids why this optimism is misplaced.

Millennials, as a whole, feel that colorblindness is something to strive toward, yet they believe in “celebrating diversity” within their “post-racial” generation. According to research compiled by MTV for a public affairs campaign to address bias, entitled “Look Different,” millennials believe they are more tolerant and diverse, profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness, and are less afflicted with “different treatment” than previous generations. Latinpost.com

There really is no point to this post – like most of my posts here. Yet another LOL-oh-so-hilarious irony that’s so sharp it cuts. Let me rewind a bit.

Scene: Dinner table

Cast: My family of four. Me. Husband. The two boys.

The subject of homecoming dance came up, well, because we have a 16-year-old. My 11 year old on a lark asked, “Hey, dad, who did you go to homecoming with?”

I laughed. “He went with Auntie Phuong.”

“It’s not Auntie Mai Phuong that we see every Christmas. It’s Auntie Phuong whom you probably don’t remember.” Husb added.

My 11 year old who would have chosen the faction of Candor if we lived in the Divergent universe blurted out with a “gotcha” smirk, “So, you have a thing for Asian women.”

The air froze around me. Or was it instead getting hot? Everything around me simply paused. The voices were coming from far away. I was pulled away from the set but also immediately thrown back down to earth violently.

I sucked in my upper lip and my nostrils might have flared. With my eyes shut tight, I took a deep breath.

I think I am going to lose my shit. 

“So…” I decided that I could not let this slide. Isn’t it part of our job as liberal, feminist, culturally and politically conscientious moms to take full advantage of teaching moments such as this?

“So. You’re suggesting that Dad went out with me not because of anything special about me as a person, but because I am Asian first and foremost?”

I think I am losing this. Look at those blank stares. They, both of them, don’t get it.

16-year-old being the diplomat that he is [Thank you Model UN!] stepped in, trying to broker a peace treaty, “Mom. I think you’re overreacting.”

I was ashamed. What kind of sane mother ruins a great family dinner by reacting so vehemently to her child’s innocent remarks? I stepped away from the table with resignation.

“Liberal, feminist, culturally and politically conscientious mom lost her shit when child spouted an honest, possibly innocent, observation that unfortunately harkened back to unequal racial dynamics and power relations”

The easier route would have been to let it go. But we never take the easier route, do we? So I marched the three steps back to the table, going in for the second round.

“No. I am not overreacting. That’s what we’re told every time we call out racist statements or behaviors. Oh you’re overreacting. It’s just a joke. Don’t take it too seriously. You should learn to take a joke. No. Not any more.”

Again, bless his heart, my 16 year old came to his brother’s defense, “That’s not a racist thing to say. It’s just an attribute. It’s no different than saying someone has a preference…”

I stopped dead right there.

I don’t think I am cut out for this. Fuck all these theories, post-colonial, performative, race and ethnicity, feminist, blah blah blah, they are useless when it comes to parenting. Useless when it comes to parenting this generation of kids. 

This generation of suburban kids who were brought up to be “color blind” by TV programs, YouTube videos, and Tumblr memes and GIFs are ignorantly and blissfully blind to racism. They simply do not believe in racism. And by not believing in racism, they believe that racism does not exist.

It’s like reverse Tinker Bell.

“We don’t believe!” Kids to racism.

Racism, “I am getting weak. I am dying.”

Poof. Racism gone. Dead.

[Scene. Lights up. Back to reality]

They think that people like me who cannot let “race” go are the problem. “Why does everything have to be about race?”

Believe me. I wish I were oblivious too, kids.

 

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Rain Drops on Roses

January 28, 2013

in this i believe

One of my favorite movies, as cliche as a cliche can be, is indeed The Sound of Music. I often thought to myself, “I should start a list of ‘My Favorite Things’ just so I could remember the little things in life, the fleeting moments, the silly indulgences, that make the sun shine, that remind me what it feels like to be free and alive.”

I should clarify that these are the things that demarcate the “me moments”. I guess this is ultimately a selfish list… These moments insulate me from the outside world, everything that is Not-me. They suck the air out of the space around me and create a vacuum that is almost imperceptible (except, of course, if this were literal, I’d be gagging for air. Duh.) Do you know the feeling you get when you put on a pair of noise cancellation headsets and you switch the noise cancellation voodoo magic on before you turn on the music? There is an indescribable (to me but probably not to somebody like Raymond Carver) yet tangible texture of tranquility, of emptiness in that split second.

To put it plainly, these are the moments that make it easier for me to imagine I am a heroin in an aimless, plotless European art-house movie, wandering the cobblestone streets looking for discarded playing cards appearing in random corners.

1. French bread sticking out from a paper grocery bag. ha ha.
2. Stomping in puddles in my rain boots
3. Burrowing myself into a pile of towels or bed sheets fresh from the dryer on a cold dreary day
4. Flowers sitting on my kitchen table. Or the idea of it since I seldom buy flowers…
5. A good book (or my Kindle) and a cup of tea or coffee
6. The sound of rain
7. The smell and fluffiness of freshly laundered plush 100% Egyptian towels
8. The scene in The Sound Of Music when Maria teaches the children to sing “My Favorite Things”
9. Toblerone
10. Falling into a perfectly made bed when I check into a hotel on a business trip
11. A bath surrounded by lit candles. Alone.
12. Hanging out at the Starbucks in the Metra train station with my laptop on Saturday mornings
13. Pathétique by Tchaikovsky, especially the 4th movement. No multi-tasking. Simply, listening.
14. December by George Winston. ibid.
15. Brushing my hair with long, calming strokes that are disturbingly similar to creepy brush strokes seen in scary movies
16. The feeling of my hair against my back when I tilt my head back
17. Lying inside a patch of sunshine coming through the window on the floor
18. Bench seat at a bay window
19. The delicate fragrance of flowers from a tea olive shrub
20. A piece of black forest cake, of course, at a quiet corner inside a darkened cafe. No ants.
21. A cup of tea on fancy china, with proper cup and saucer
22. Full moon that looks monstrously huge
23. Any moment when I am alone yet not lonely

This would be a laundry list that never finishes, kind of like my laundry in real life. Many more little things will be remembered and designated as a favorite thing only if I become self-aware and consciously register my enjoyment of it. That designation itself is fleeting for I will also need to remember to add it to this list. #FirstWorldProblem I know. This exercise has been good for my soul though as I walked through the minutes and hours today forcing myself to dig deep into the recess of my memory for the forgotten, precious moments that made me exclaim silently, “I am so glad I am alive.” Another #FirstWorldProblem yes. But you don’t live inside my head so please don’t judge too harshly my neurosis.

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What makes reality real?

March 24, 2012

in random

I have not watched the new TV show Awake on NBC. I understand the story is about a police detective who “woke” up from a car accident and realized that he’s caught in two realities, or two dreams, or rather one reality + one dream. In one half of his life, his son died, whereas in the other half of his life, his wife. In order to keep both of his loved ones “alive”, he decided to keep living this dual existence, ignoring the clues threatening to expose one half as “fake”.

I am scared to watch it…

I’ve had realistic, vivid nightmares in which I kept on telling myself, “No, it could not be. This has got to be a dream. Wake up! Wake up!” but I could not wake up. Fear would quickly settle in as I realized (erroneously) that this was not a dream. I would cry out from the pang of despair, with real tears, in from my dream. Often the warm tears would startle me and I would wake up, completely disoriented. “It is a dream after all.” My relief however would soon be overtaken by fear, fear that maybe next time, I would not be so lucky. Next time, I would not have anything to wake up to.

On the other hand, I have never had a dream so enticing that I do not want to leave it. (Probably a sign for lack of imagination?) Yet, on some days, when I am wishing for a do-over, I felt I could somehow understand why “the wife” in the movie Inception felt that way about the limbo she was in. (I will stop here lest this becomes a spoiler… even though I assume everybody that wants to see the movie has done so already…)

Remember Cypher (played by Joe Pantoliano) in The Matrix? He basically said “Fuck this. Put me back in the dream because reality sucks!”

If a dreamscape is so real that you cannot tell, what makes it any less real?

 

You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. — Morpheus in The Matrix

 

“Which pill would you take: red or blue?” I get a headache whenever I think about this.

 

You would laugh if I tell you what started this whole debate inside my head. It was the song Video Games by Lana Del Rey playing in the car on our way home after watching The Hunger Games. Now, a digression…

I am one of those empathetic people that cannot help imagining myself in the protagonist’s place when watching a film — That explains why I cannot watch horror movies — therefore I watched The Hunger Games with heightened alarm. The games would be a nightmare I do not want to be caught dead (or alive or sleeping) in. I KNOW, if I were there, I would be the first one to die. And that thought alone makes me want to hide a piece of cyanid in my tooth cavity. (I never claim to be brave so there).

Ok. I am back on track. (According to The Husband, this IS how I talk in real life…) When I heard Lana Del Rey’s voice, I remembered the big brouhaha over her flop on SNL. There was so much hype around her first ever TV/public appearance, on SNL nonetheless, people were shocked (or perhaps even outraged?) to find the Internet sensation could not deliver the promise in a live performance. It appeared that she could not sing nor did she know what to do with her hands. I cringed for the first few minutes and had to turn it off. It was painful to watch. I will admit: I liked her musical videos. I liked her voice in the videos. I still do. The videos were expertly produced, looking and sounding fantastic. The out-of-proportion backlash against her on the Internet (The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh) following her SNL appearance made me wonder out loud:

So what if the persona Lana Del Rey is fabricated? You liked her when you thought she was real, what changed now that you know her daddy is rich and her lips may have been undergone some cosmetic surgery, and that her voice may have been digitally enhanced during production? What if she had simply stayed a virtual Internet sensation a la the Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku: a synthesized presence that, understood by all partaking in it to be “artificial”, yet fulfills something the audience yearns for that is not achievable in real life.

 

Here is Hatsune Miku in all her digital bits performing live to thousands of screaming fans. She is so real that she stars in commercials for Google Chrome in Japan, and of course, for Toyota.

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