February 27, 2008

GPA – disambiguity

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:13 pm by changisme

Did you know that GPA also stand for Gravida/Para/Abortus, the number of pragnency, viable births and miscarriages? The thought provoking thing is that it’s also sometimes referred to as the history of a woman. Living in a post-surrogate environment as I feel it, especially with the focus on career, it’s rather foreign to think of this GPA as the real history of myself. The other academic GPA almost feel more on the central stage of my history than this one.
This is almost frightening realization to be honest. Being a woman is such a big part of my identity. I wouldn’t need to extend GPA too far, but just to puberty, the awakening of the womb. It was as if I finally stepped onto a wabbly bridge which connects to a destination in the misty unknown. Is it womanhood? Is it motherhood? The direction of the bridge is certainly not my choice, and yet neither did I want to steer it one way or another. However, the only thing that is clear is the blatent uncertainty ahead.
I wonder how woman in the past see conception, when they did not have birth control or independence from their husbands. It must really be the history of women, because just like wars and peace, we somehow make them happen, but feel that we didn’t. It’s as if the devines are pushing our hands, the battle of the gods maybe.
Of course it’s also not always to be escaped. Many women (maybe someday I will be one of them) treasures motherhood, at least before they got their feet wet. It’s in our mind, and part of the reason that GPA history is written the way each of us women have.
It’s certainly not paranoia that women wrestle over this GPA, either in our minds, or in our bodies, or both. Birth is such an important part of this world, it should be charted separately from all the other activities, marriage, imprisonment, divorce, first step, etc. What history means to me is how we as individuals somehow get linked to this bulk of human existence. It’s like corn kernals on a cob, and birth of another being lock us so much tighter into the rest of the race.
The relationship between us and this piece of history of ours is complex, hard to say if we are writing it, or it’s writing us. It’s certainly harder to handle than the GPA on my transcript. When I’m old and gray, what will my GPA be? What will my history be?

February 24, 2008

spring comes

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:46 am by changisme

I really do hope this is not just an illusion but spring is really coming. I used to think it is the colour green that constitutes to the exhiliration of growth, but having moved to Vancouver, with her moist winter nurturing the resilient pines and spruces, I find when leaves are small or wrinkled away from sunlight, it’s still not vibrant enough. It’s as if the leaves are nervous, tense and timid. The warmth under a break of sunshine relaxes them. They no longer shiver into a little bundle of existence, but rather ancounce their presence. They become daring, maybe overly haughty as if no one can get them. Maybe that’s the real spirit of youth, somewhat ignorant of the danger this world can bring.
I went to visit my family this week, the people in my mom’s generation and my grandma would be telling us about all the adventures they had during their years. It sounded like they had all the bravery young women can ever imagine mastering, and yet, they were incescently telling us not too be too bald, consider consequences, leave the back door and so on. I know I tend to act on the strike of lightning, even though I’m not crazy enough to launch myself into glorious physical danger. It has elicited many warnings amongst family members, but I know fully well that they were once just as I am.
It’s rather hard to say which is better, pine or cherry blossoms. If it were five years ago, I would have said pine is richer and cherry is more dramatic, now I don’t know anymore. I feel that there is just as much dripping richness in Cherry, and pine, telling its winter tales is just as dramatic if not more. Maybe the best is to have both, not be both, just to have both. That’s probably the best thing about Vancouver.
The first part of my last week or spent in North Carolina, and the latter part was in Seattle. Both are beautiful place. Maybe I even like NC’s forests better. It’s warmer and trees are more interlocked. There are so many thin branches mingling with the sky and clouds, it reminded me of impresionism art: the sky seemed to change colour. However, it is really Seattle that I liked better, because people actually walk among the bushes and into the wetlands. People with their fullblown silliness of brightly coloured sportswear would at least try to be WITH the birds and insec, even though it was chilly. It’s unlike NC where everyone seems to be confined in their cars by the ridget highways.
By no means do I mean people and nature are in perfect harmony, lie Vivaldi’s 4 seasons, but at least the struggles to live and preserve make me feel both parties are still living and kicking. Some environmentalists would probably fee otherwise.

February 17, 2008


Posted in Uncategorized at 11:37 pm by changisme

It is beyond the power of language to describe the penetrating warmth of the embrace and the words shared in this small family of ours. What’s left unsaid and undone is more, it pushes waves in my world and shapes me like the fringing ocean shapes the shore. It’s not a little sweet and touchy feeling, but rather a strong force that mold my heart in tightly cupped hands under a kiss by thick and wrinkled lips.

I can be shaped by the individualistic culture of the west in all its ways, but what really roots who I am on the level of consciousness, is not where I live, not what I believe to be God, is not my Chinese ancestry, but rather this tight and nomadic family. The way we share our money, time, houses, labour, the way we love each other sometimes so "selfishly", as in one can bend so much just to benefit each other. It’s probably unethical, but fact that the bond is there is clear as the bright wickering candle on my grandma’s taro cake in the warm and dark living room.

I love touching my family, and I can do that with the utmost ease. They don’t really move much when I do that, not those gentle caressing which sometimes drives me crazxy and uncomfortable. They just sit there and let me be there and snuggle myself against their body. It’s as if it’s only natural that I’m there, and there’s no need for any reaction other than holding my hand there for stability. Grandma is the easiest to hug, because she has a roundness that’s brought about by senility. It’s not a meaty fat, but still soft to touch. She also smells faintly of flower scented soap, or maybe the smell is brought about by her chi. My mom is a little too skinny to hug for a long time but she fidgets anyway, but I still do. My aunts are a little fatter, but not quite as round to snuggle in, or I’m just too big. Also, none of the three daughters are as slow moving as their mother of course, as they are still young. They all smell differently, and all these smell calms me in the worst of anxieties.

I might complain about all the struggles I have about trying to achieve myself and trying to cope with my family’s desires, but I always knew, I really function as part of this. It’s like how I argued big time about bringing the stereo for my aunt. It’s a totally unreasonable act, shipping an old stereo across the countinant while I hate checking in luggage so much? I even decisively said to my mom on the phone, no I"m not bring that stupid thing. I brought it anyway, and I knew I’d bring it with the utmost stupidity, because I know my aunt likes that stereo and she bought it new in Vancouver,during the time we shared. Well… United Airline lost the luggage (I must be cursed!) and I think the stereo is in Chicago, and I think they have located it already, and just need to ship it over. It’s like applying for grad school, I told my mom I wanted to go to Waterloo because it’s a shorter program and has co-op, but ….I know my mom wants to go to the US and live here. That can only happen if I find a job here and get a residence. I mean I can deny all I want about coming to NC, but eventualy… what will happen? I don’t know. Although it’s a little less important whee in the US I go, because my mom can come wherever I go, and also with UNC asking me for TOEFL  at this point in time, we don’t know what would happen. (Also, it seems like my mom’s not a big fan of living somewhere without good transportation system either).

It’s similar with all the other family members. How can you imagine being like my aunt, in Beijing, flying to the US to see my grandma 3 times a year? All her vacations are spent like that. My aunt being unreasonably tangled up with my the love of her daughter, sisters and mother. It’s  all rather messy, silly and yet… that’s just the way it is.

It’s hard to blame the men in our family to have distant themselves and occasionally expressed jealousy… it’s just so tight a bond for any elbow room. I’m really not judging the morality, and I don’t want to because I’m so much inside than outside. My grandma probably believes that it’s really the hardships created by the lack or weakness of men around us that made us so tight, I don’t really know what direction of this causal is, probably both?

My aunt”s desktop has a screensaver with colourful bubbles bumping into each other. They have beautiful thin skin looking so vulnerable, and yet they gently squeeze and surround each other. All these bumps and pushes never destroy them, only make them look all the firmer.

February 15, 2008

Am I like Toni?

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:21 pm by changisme

I keep on thinking if I’m really like Toni in Mockingbird. I really hope that I’m not really like her. To be honest, I love her, but I don’t really like her. The truth is though… I am quite like her, except that I’m less intimidated by life.

The thing that really link me to her is not just the fact that we are both big on stats, not just that we are both clumsy in the field of female sexuality. It’s really the fact that both of us are go-getters, taking charge of things around us, and yet somehow enslaved by life. Angela says Toni’s never failed, it’s true, but she says it as if toni’s never had it rough. It’s not true though. Life has been rough, (more so for her, and somewhat rough for me) but there has always been these few things that we managed to hold on to that allow us to feel that we are in control.

Really, in my life, there had been things I just had to swallow tears in the dark and run and run just realizing I could never run away, but have I ever lost my control on my life? I’ve had descent grades when I need them, I’ve had money to cover whatever I really desired, or at least I managed to shape my desires into whatever I could afford. I’ve never needed to be responsible to a child, and hence never failed in my responsibility of such importance.

It’s the kind of awareness I’ve always had that dictates my life. i’m not sure i think it a bad thing, it’s just a complicated sensor. Today I went to have a blood and heart test. These kind of tests are the most annoying to me because the lab techs never want to tell you anything other than what you are supposed to do. I stripped and lay on top of the paper covered bed. The tech stuck cool little pads above my bicepts, around my breasts and above my ankles. Then she hooked them up with cables to the computer which was supposed to map my heartbeats. I was immensely curious to touch those little sensors and wanted to see what my heartbeats looked like, but she just wouldn’t allow me to move a finger and shut down everything before I had a chance to sit up. I’m sure she sort of know how those sensors worked, ut she just wouldn’t tell me when I asked.

i guess i can understand that she’s had a long day and didn’t want to explain, but… really I hate to be in the dark. I probably have gone on a real tangent from what I was saying, but I think it’s the same with life really. Somehow i try to hold on to all these things thinking I’m in real control and I can be free this way, but really, I’m quite enslaved by all the scaffolding I have in my world.

February 10, 2008


Posted in Uncategorized at 8:51 pm by changisme

I’ve always had a special attachment to radio. Back in the times when I could actually do homework and listen to radio at the same time, I had them on all day, now that I’m less busy than previous terms, I find myself glued to the radio again. I guess it’s also that before I didn’t like the Canadian radio, because I felt they were too boring, but now… i think they are actually pretty good.  Maybe because my interests have shifted or broadened.

Last night, I called in for the first time in many many years during a Chinese station. I remember the last time I called in was still when I was really young to answer some question about trees. The last time I wrote to the station was grade seven. I sent them an essay and they dissected, which was the purpose of the program. The last time I interacted with them at all I sent them a song I wrote for a program, but then later found out that they didn’t have time to open it at all, because many moons later, somehow my letter was picked out sealed as a price draw, and I won a huge bag of instant noodles. Maybe because I was just hitting puberty, surges of anger sealed my mouth. They actually wanted me to sing that stupid song (which I can still remember every note and every word), but I couldn’t even burp a sound. I don’t know if I was humiliated or just angry at the fact that they were celebrating for the fact that they didn’t open my letter. What was worse was that they actually asked me if I wrote it myself. I must have looked really thick. Not mention the fact that I had a babhead with bangs as long as the back covering my not so prominent eyes.

After that, till now, even though I listen to the radio all the time, I always feel any sort of interaction is stupid. I think it’s either the same kind of mentality I have about answer the teacher’s questions all the time or the mentality of voting. In other words, it’s either I feel I’m too good or it, or I’m to small for it, or a mixture of both.

When I dialed in last night, it was like a re-encounter with a friend that I always knew existed. There was the bitterness of the memory that somebody said my voice was not suitable for radio. There was also the sweetness that someone in a little room with big earphones on was talking to me, just like many other big earphoned show host would around the world. There’s the mystery of what the host looked like, behind such beautiful voices. There’s the other guy behind the "scene" trying to put on the right music at the right time and answer the phone calls before hand.

I guess I still just like the listening of radio over all the other interactions at this point, but it’s nice to get back an old friend like this.

February 8, 2008

celebration and ritual

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:53 am by changisme

I often struggle with what festivities mean, even when I was younger. I’ve never been a fan of any kind of organized celebrations which always involved speakers and slogans in China. These days it bothers me even more as my mom constantly have arguments with me about my resistance against staying in Beijing for the Olympics.

Chinese New Year is one of the many occasions and from most of the reminiscence I have read, it is the collective of things you eat and do with relatives. The colour and the noise. I have to say, I always had fun for Chinese New Year when I was in China, but for only one reason, I get to listen to adults gossip at my grandparents’ place (and that’s the only relatives I would visit). It must be very strange, but it’s true. Growing up in a city like Beijing I had always been quite callous about noises so firecrackers don’t excite me and I sleep right through the night of bombs. My parents had never made special efforts not to let me eat certain things (like candy or junk food) because I never seemed to have craved much, so the food was just another … thing that grandma does. As for the Red Pockets, somehow the strange sense of filial piety in me always made me give them to my mom who didn’t object.

The gossips however is nowhere you can get other than from these kind of occasions. One of the reason is that it’s hard for my family to get together like this, and there were many updates and stories. My grandparents would tell stories about my dad’s childhood friends and their families. Who got married to what kind of a husband or wife, which child is born looking like which so and so. My grandma’s voice is not the most melodic but very comforting. It propagates the air of honesty in her retelling of the information. She doesn’t really exagerate, but somethow the could-have-been-dull stories still sounded curiously exciting to my ears. Grandpa on the other hand spoke less, though not little, but his mind is clearer and occasionally provides amendments, my grandma as far as I remember had never doubted his corrections, she always felt or knew that he would be more right than she was.  My mom would respond to those stories with some discussions and examples from her side of the family and friends. Her advice is usually taken quite seriously, sometimes would be about the stockmarket and some other times would be about personal relationships. My dad is a humourous man, as little as his interested in giving advice, he makes us laugh, most of the times. The adults don’t really pay attention to the fact that I was around, and they just talk their talks. That’s the best part because in other situations, my presence would have affected the topics.

On a similar note, what appalls me about celebrations are some other kind of talks. The ones that are said on a stage with slogans every other sentences. I think I get really annoyed with them because I actually can’t help but thinking about what they mean. Some people have the ability to shield themselves against those words, but I never could. I wondered about all those words and phrases the government or schools would use. I rationalized by myself making up meanings for them because I somehow felt there was no one to ask, nobody cared about the meaning of them, just the fact that we could be there and listen. Those words stay in my mind and stirred up my brain. Part of me would tell myself to think about something else because they had no practical meaning, but the other part just couldn’t stop dancing around those "statues of liberties".  Each time, there would be people speaking, and I would have no idea where the speakers were standing. They would usually be so far away and the sounds would just come from the loud speakers from all directions that I wouldn’t know where to look.

Some people tell me that celebrations and rituals is something they could do with a community of people. They get a sense collectiveness. To me, these things makes me feel more lonely than I would have if I were by myself, because I felt confused and be surrounded by people whom I feel impossible to penetrate. My mother loves this collectiveness these days. She hates the chaos in New Year’s Temple Fair in Beijing. We never went and I probably went once. I think I rather liked the chaos, but the way everybody flashed by from place to place, while the goods are always the same and staring at your face made me not want to go. It was as if, the living didn’t want to bother with you, but only the dead care to look you in the eye.

February 6, 2008

feeling odd…

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:54 pm by changisme

I don’t know why, just these past couple months I’ve been avoiding reading the last bit of whatever stories I happen to be reading. It’s the strangest feeling. Characters upon character, scenes after scene. I would at least somewhat enjoy the unfolding of the plot, but just at the very end. I would return the book to the library without reading the last few pages.
I got a haircut from Tara yesterday. I don’t really like it. The past few times she’s done well, and so this time I just didn’t really tell her what I wanted, I trusted her judgment I guess… but what frustrated me the most is how my opinion of my own appearance actually is fragile enough to be affected by such things. It’s really quite pathetic. That’s the thing with fashion in general actually. Somehow it really creates moments of insecurities in people like us. It’s like an addiction, which has intermittent withdrawals. I wonder if knowledge goes the same way. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. The difference here is that, for me, I don’t really feel unhappy when I realize I don’t know anything about … say the country of Chile. I think the reason is that I’m quite content and secure with my ability to acquire knowledge and care little about other people’s opinion of my informity. I’m sure fashion would play a similar role for people who feel comfortable with how they look as well.
When I get a bad haircut, I always have to struggle not to tell the hairdresser that I don’t like it. I haven’t told Tara yet, but I keep on feeling the urge to release it by saying something. It’s like a form of releasing my anger. I usually end up telling everyone else, just so I can release enough that I won’t need to tell the hairdressor. I think they may feel bad about it. Plus there’s no point. Next time when I get another haircut, I could tell them what to do and what not to do.
It’s a silly struggle, just like if my mother wrongs me, my instincts would be to talk back. In theory, I should let her know what she did wrong and what she did right, but does that make us closer? Some people say yes, because it’s an interaction, but what if she feels bad and what if conflicts occurs? I never really know how to deal with these situations. Sometimes I can control myself, and sometimes I can’t. My mother thinks I’m just unpredictable, but really it’s one of those unstable states where a slight lost or gain of control can result in quite different consequences. Having said that, I’ve never been able to say hurtful things during fights. I could get quite loud when I fight, but almost all I say would be things like "YOU ARE SO ANNOYING!" or "ARRRRRG". Somehow, things that really means anything, like I would hear people say things like "why don’t you go live somewhere else." or "You don’t do nothing around the house, useless!" Somehow, these are harsh words that I would be really scared to hear myself. They would somehow severe something… something, that something would go beyond repair.
Really it comes down to the lack of my ability express myself when it comes to dissatisfaction. I can pour out words in the buckets in other circumstances, but don’t know how to do so in front of the very person I need to express my dissatisfaction to. It could be just something small, like a haircut.

February 1, 2008

rant on weather

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:16 pm by changisme

I remember back when I was in Beijing, people keep on saying how the Brits always talk about the weather. I wondered why they were so obsessed with something so trivial to live as I knew it. I concluded that it’s just one of those things people greet each other with. They may not even think about what they say.

Now, I don’t really know if my feeling towards the weather is actually close to what the Brits think, or if they actually are obsessed with the weather in the first place. It might well have been a myth. The weather is actually a big part of my small talk now. It somehow is a very large part of how I relate to the world. It makes me either want to run into a building, whichever building, or it relaxes me enough to allow some real appreciation of the dripping green leaves in the trees. I may be more tempted to just go home and be with myself in a cold and wet day, or I may want to walking along side a friend by any street embellished by dainty shops and coffee stands.

The temperature just turned quite mild today, and I feel an incredible amount of relief, that I really wanted to say that out loud when I meet people. I guess that’s how some people like me could be obsessed with weather small talks. Cold weather really does causes me a lot of stress, physically but also channeled to my mind.

One may ask that how come Beijing weather didn’t cause me so much stress. For one, Beijing’s weather is not so varied. It’s predictable. Throughout the winter, it’s almost always sunny and windy. Also, we hardly ever go outside in the winter. The only times are the biking to and from school. It could have just been me living a boring life ba, but I felt all my amusement without leaving home or the classroom. When we did go to visit my parents friends, we would either take a taxi or my dad would bike. When he biked, I could slide my head and most of my upper body into the back of his jacket. The rhythmic bulging and flattening of his back muscles accompanied with the mild scent of sweat would take my mind entirely off of the world outside. In that complete darkness and the unknown of our progress on the street, I had my full trust and till this day, I wonder if I have ever physically trusted anyone so much. The magical thing is that, the trust still lasts.