January 28, 2011

回首虎年

Posted in Life at 10:40 am by changisme

腊月二十五了,三十转眼就要到。今年开春的时候大家都说虎虎升威,我这一年倒底都干了些什么呢?

首先,我这一年里没有正经上什么课,一直在写论文,几千行的数据分拆来分拆去。数据是我从别人手里接来的,当年研究计划的不足好像白日中的魔鬼,无处可躲。老板同样的话说了一年:”你细细地写,以后一定能为自己的成果而骄傲。“我却觉得不然,数据的质量这么差,我怎么分拆也没用,我越是认真,就越觉得它不可救药。这个过程还是现在进行时…

还干了什么呢?继续了解美国的风土人情。每个文化都像洋葱一样,一层一层的看不完。和朋友们吃吃饭,一时觉得学到了很多,转眼便发现只是皮毛而已。在我高兴的时候,这让我感觉世界很美好,充满了希望。在我不自信的时候,所谓学无止境会让我对自己的位置感到一细恐惧—我真的是不属于这里的人,像在汪洋大海中游泳。好在和我一起游泳的人很多,

我还开始做了愈加,做得不好,主要因为平衡能力很差。但我觉得左抻右拉的,像自我按摩一样,还是很舒服的。张飞喜欢把关节掰得咯咯响,我倒是觉得愈加这样拉拉我的老筋更好。正所谓萝卜青菜各有所爱。现在我的愈加老师很爱说,一个多小时不停地咕噜咕噜讲些愈加的哲学和他老师对他说过的这个那个,倒有点”子曰“的味道。

还有就是还在谈恋爱,也没什么太大的波折,只是有点儿怕。我是那种不轻易失控的人,但是在喜欢一个人的时候往往不会有什么原因。家人总在问些“为什么”一类的问题,我也就会给些半真半假的答复,但确切说来,是没什么原因的。这一年里,我一步又一步地体验到,生活往往是不为我而摆布的。我的性格和人生经验让我不得不尽力而为,但结果是不是会受我行为的影响,很难预料。

好像很多事都在发生,但都没有发生完,回首虎年,有种很忙很累但又没有什么成果的感觉。好在还是有希望的。

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January 19, 2011

Man in a blue and blue suit

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:04 am by changisme

Yesterday on the bus, there was a man in a bright blue suit with baby blue patterns. He also wore a black skinny tie on white collar. I wondered if the collar was real. His brown hair slick and gelled, parted to the side. I couldn’t help but imagining what his day was like.

What is the pointy long umbrella for? He sat down, under the armpits of four or five other passengers, concentrating on arranging a suitable locale for his British accessory. He picked it up, and put it down, picked it up again, put it on his lap and realized it was jabbing into plump thighs in skinny jeans, so he put it down again.

Is his mind solely concentrated on the matter of umbrella holding? It must be it, because his whole body seemed to be feeding into his unfettered attention onto this activity. Is he an office clerk? Maybe he works in a hipster design company selling abstract art that shaped like a self portrait of a teenage immigrant in an identity crisis. Or maybe he’s an actor? That must be it. He was probably auditioning for a musical called Forest Gump 2, adventure to Scotland. Do they have staff meetings like we do? Maybe they have boxes of chocolate in the green room. Wait, was it blue room or green room?

January 10, 2011

In reading Amy Chua’s Chinese parenting style article.

Posted in China at 12:40 pm by changisme

In the past few days, a very viral article has shaken anyone who has ever been a parent or a child all over the websphere. The author has been raised in a Chinese diaspora family with strict parenting rules and is comparing the strict Chinese parenting and the perceived free-range parenting in the West.

Among the responses I have seen, most have been horrified, a few protested against the extreme inaccurate stereotypes, even fewer have resonnated to a certain extent.

To be honest, I almost feel that she’s not serious. My first feeling when I read it was, is this satire against stereotypes or an outcry against the miserable life she’s been subjective to? To this moment, I’m not completely sure that she’s really advocating the so-called parenting style.

There are a few things people do resonate with though. One is that desciplined learning versus fun learning. Traditionally and culturally speaking, Chinese did believe that studying is supposed to be hard, there are proverbs like 学海无涯苦作舟 (the sea of knowledge only has bitter hard work as vessel). This thinking is very entrenched in Chinese scholarship. However, this is not completely absent in western thinking either. Edison said “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”, though I’m not a fan of Edison.

Another point many Chinese resonnate with is that parents criticize their children more readily. There is a common proverb in Chinese, 良药苦口 (good medicine is bitter to the taste). People justify their criticism to their loved ones to be for their own good. I personally believe otherwise, that we all need to nag because it’s a form of release. Some parents criticize more because they worry and their heart aches from this worry. If somehow they believe people can live a happy life even without being the top student, they would stop worrying, and feel less urge to criticize. Therefore, I don’t believe heavy criticism really comes from Chinese parenting style, it might comes from the types of lives the parents lead which constitutes to the worries they may have. For example, if the parents believe without a degree from a decent college, their children can’t get a decent paying job, then they worry. Some may believe this worry is justified and some may believe it comes from ignorance.

Very few other points in the article were resonated. For example, Chinese north americans like to make their children practice piano or violin, mostly because they feel that’s better for their children’s mental development. Western parents do things like that too, except in different ways. For example, I know some parents who take their children to church even if they aren’t really religious. They just believe their children might learn better behaviors there. A side note, I’ve never heard of any Chinese parents barring their kids from playing instruments other than the piano and violin (my mom did protest against loud instruments like the trumpet but that’s different). Again, this is only comparing to Chinese diaspora, if comparing to children in China, there is a much fewer percentage of chinese children who play piano or violin than Americans.

Also, very few Chinese parents forbid their kids from going to sleepovers. They may forbid their children from having certain friends. It’s the same as racism and prejudices in other main stream American cultures. It’s common for Chinese parents to believe that all American children smoke drink or smoke pot, and they believe Chinese children don’t do such things. American parents are much more concerned about leaving their children at home alone than Chinese parents, and no, I don’t think they are worried because some law says so. In essence, parental criticisms come from the parents fear of the world.

Chinese parents demanding good grades. That’s mostly due to the fact that most diaspora families in the US had high levels of education, so it’s a biased sample. Also, most of these people have a very hard time obtaining residence status in the US and it’s only their degrees that saved them, or the parents spent decades working illegally while seeing their more educated counterparts getting a green card in 5 or 6 years.  Therefore, one could almost say, the demands for high grades from immigrants are due to America’s immigration policies. Besides, find a white physics professor and see how easy of a time do hir children who fail math in 8th grade have!

Chinese diaspora like diaspora of most cultures, are generally more conservative than the source population. The reasons for this are commonly believed to be lack of cultural dynamic due to small community size and strong desire to hold on to conservative values for a sense of identity. Even taking these into consideration, the description of Amy Chua is extreme and uncommon in the Chinese North American population.

January 5, 2011

Watching the Fountain

Posted in Books and movies, Uncategorized at 9:53 pm by changisme

The Fountain is one of those movies that attempts to explore deep philosophical meaning of life but failing miserably. The story has three plot lines, one each from the past, present, and future – about men in pursuit of eternity with their love. A conquistador in Mayan country searches for the tree of life to free his captive queen; a medical researcher, working with various trees, looks for a cure that will save his dying wife; a space traveler, traveling with an aged tree encapsulated within a bubble, moves toward a dying star that’s wrapped in a nebula; he seeks eternity with his love. The plot line could also be seen as linear from the past to the future and the protagonist is reincarnated. Either way, he represents mankind in my point of view.

For the past plot line, conquistadors, seriously? Among all the cheesy heroic stories like Andromeda or St. Georges, you pick conquistadors and the queen? Way to kill the mood.

The present plot line, the scientist is desperately trying to revive his wife. The whole movie is supposed to be surreal so I won’t hammer on the fact that the hospital and research lab look like dim spooky castles and the lighting makes everyone look like they are in purgatory. The movie talked about the tree of knowledge vs. the tree of life. It got me confused, is the scientist looking for the tree of knowledge or the tree of life? He’s obviously looking for immortality, which is really tree of life, but he’s a scientist, so he’s looking for tree of knowledge. I though it’s a trade off. I also just don’t really like the idea that scientists are like… conquistadors.

The future plot line is even worse. It looks as if the guy reached nirvana of some sort, but he’s completely enslaved by his lust for the life goo oozing out of the tree of life. Eventually, he seems to return to nature. Is it trying to say that human immortality is achieved regardless of whether or not you accept death? Or is it trying to say that through the search for life with men’s sinful means, true life is found?

I have no idea. No matter how these three plot lines are interpreted, the characters are not at all relatable.

He also look very unhappy. From my own life and life of others around me, I feel people are most unhappy when we can’t find our place in the social network we reside, whether we think of it as the small circle of friends and family or the larger society. Some of us spend a lot of time in school studying how the world works, but what we learn is so remote from our persons, that it doesn’t really tell us how we should be part of it. It’s as if the camera has to shift its focus from far far away over a big big world to the small pair of shoes on our feet, it makes us motion sick.

There’s so much more that make people unhappy than our mortality. We have to first learn how to live, before we learn how to die.