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home is where the heart is but what if the heart is torn asunder

I had the privilege of flying on one of Eva Airlines’ Hello Kitty planes today.

Here's a screenshot so you know what I'm talking about


Everywhere you turn on the plane, you see signs of Hello Kitty: from the pins on the flight attendants’ uniforms, their pink aprons, the pillow covers, to the air freshener in the lavatory.

Eva Airlines is seriously dedicated to Hello Kitty


I started chuckling as I stepped onto the plane. It’s cute and adorable. But soon I grew weary. [Yes, I tend to overthink. Are you even surprised?]

There are obvious social and cultural reasons that girls, and in fact, women under 50, are encouraged to be cute, to find cutesy things desirable, and also to screech in delight whenever such cutesy things are encountered: In a patriarchal, male-dominant society, men prefer women that are dependent and docile (or at least seemingly so) and find them to be more attractive.

A nation of young women marching to the drumbeat of cuteness. Some critics have even gone so far to call it the “infantilization of women”.

There is the voice that many women here speak in. High-pitched and nasal. 

The facial expressions: eyes blinking deliberately with eyelashes a-fluttering, better yet if they appear to be watery & starry. Verisimilitude of manga characters.

I imagine myself a reject from the Hello Kitty factory.

I’ve never been able to be cute – partly because I am 5’7″ and not starving myself. By Taiwan standard, I am enormous. I also cannot fake Jennifer Tilly’s voice. Just imagine Lucy Lawless feigning cuteness. That. Did you throw up in your mouth too?

That being said, I begin to lean towards + on the cuteness scale when I arrive. It’s as if when I speak in Chinese, I assume a different personality. Or maybe they’ve spiked all the food here.

I tilt my head. I blink my eyes. I smile vacuously.

I know tomorrow I will start making a bunny sign when having pictures taken.

This is like an emergency note written by a survivor before the inevitable Borg invasion.






Waiting to get on a plane that will take me to Tokyo Narita, and then onto Taipei. I am making my annual solo trip back home so I can pack 359 days of homesickness, guilt and filial piety into a 3-day visit. (I will spend 3 days traveling due to time zone change and the sheer expansiveness of the Pacific Ocean).

As my parents get older, the necessity of going home as often as I could becomes unbearable. The anxiety and sadness I feel every time I see them though becomes unbearable as well. I long to see the joy in my dad’s face as much as I dread seeing his tears. March on, little soldier. That’s what I have been telling myself since I gave the TSA agent my passport and boarding passes.

I will try not to talk about feeling like a Godzilla as soon as I land in Tokyo. But I will feel that way while stuffing my face with food that I have been missing all year.

And I will try and send in pictures to be posted here (and below if the Flickr plug-in works). Just in case you wonder what I have been up to. *Megalomaniac laugh* *Megalomaniac laugh*

Love and peace.

Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery


I am from sunshine, sweat, and bricks of humid air.

I am from have you eaten yet.

I am from rice, salted fish, stir-fried greens, from soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, from ginger, star anise, and cayenne peppers.

I am from concrete jungle, clothes lines stretched-across the rooftops, the smell of sun in the fabrics, of gardenias, jasmines and sweet osmanthus.

I am from morning glories winding along random barbed wires, coconut trees lining the streets crowded with motorcyles, from white azaleas strewn on the ground after thunderstorms like discarded Kleenexes.

I am from greetings, and salutations, from strangers in the streets who are also uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and grandmas and grandpas.

I am from blood is thicker than water, from you don’t turn your back to your family, from families stick together.

I am from proper, ladylike, and demure. From handkerchiefs and silk scarves and pocketbooks. From you should always make sure your hand is not empty and idle. From knees together, ankles crossed.

I am from politeness, decorum, and unwritten rules that everybody abides by.

I am from hospitality, from it takes a village, from gossips and busybodies.

I am from if you swallow the watermelon seeds it will sprout from the top of your head, from don’t point your finger at the new moon otherwise she will come and cut off your ear when you are sleeping at night. From if you cry or misbehave, Auntie Tiger will come and eat you up.

I am from humility, gratitude and contentment.

I am from nobody owes you anything, from be grateful even if someone gives you a mere roll of toilet paper, from nothing you get is because you deserve it.

I am from temples, incenses, and gods and deities.

I am from reincarnation, from Karma, from eighteen layers of hell.

I am from lurid ghost stories of vengeance, from spirits within magnificent rocks and towering trees.

I am from convention, contradiction, and confusion. I am from Post-Colonialism, Late Capitalism, and Rampant Materialism.

I am from the proletariat.

I am from the hushed wrath of my father, the quiet disappointment of my mother.

I am from a bottle of Aspirins.

I am from the deafening silence of a mid-summer afternoon when the only thing you could hear was the cicadas.


Many thanks to Elly over at BugginWord for writing her beautiful piece “Where I’m From” and for alerting us to this wonderful writing exercise. Of course, I did not follow the rules in the template, not because I am some rebel chick but because I am not good at writing descriptive scenes. 


I just want to go home

June 1, 2011 therapy in session

  Sometimes, for no reason at all, I would get a severe attack of homesickness. Without any provocation, my heart would ache and I would get a sensation of emptiness and at the same time heaviness inside my stomach. I recognize that feeling well. It is an intense loneliness that comes from a herd animal […]



March 7, 2011 through the looking glass

    I started getting it, bit by bit, that the thing between parents and children, the thing that ties you together is that all your life, you are forever watching them walking away. [The inadequate, rough translation mine] I read this in a book by Lung Ying-tai, a renowned cultural critic in Taiwan, on […]