Amazing article by Juliana Qian on Chinese identity: The Name and the Face
I know what stories sell. Australian audiences have an insatiable appetite for the suffering of people of colour, for stories of violence and poverty, trauma and tragedy. But I came to this country on a Cathay Pacific plane. My childhood was suburban and ordinary. I had experiences of racism, of loss and shame, but always plenty of friends too. And the China I knew was largely peaceful and comfortable, despite real corruption, censorship and repression. My parents used to rush to the television whenever China was mentioned, but soon my father began to grumble that they were only interested in the dismal and catastrophic. SBS showed many horrific documentaries, few films, no comedies. As Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie says about representations of her country, ‘to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience … the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete’.
My generation was promised equality after assimilation. And for a while there I believed it: I read Blyton and Blume, and later Plath and Salinger. And I loved them as I should. I forgot Chinese word by word and let my tongue grow wooden. And I hardly noticed because I always had more to say to my friends than to my parents. I waited for strangers to stop asking where I came from, and they kept me waiting. I went to the place I didn’t remember that I’m supposed to have come from, I looked at my grandparents’ bookshelves and the gaps in their photo albums and I thought about culture, loss, change and time. When I was four an ocean crossed me. If it hadn’t, I still wouldn’t be in the same place I came from.
I got chills.
Amazing article by Juliana Qian on Chinese identity: The Name and the Face
My grandpa was the sixth child of eight children and the only son. His father was a lawyer/minister of the Qing Dynasty and part of the last emperor's court. He was also a revolutionary in the 1911 Chinese Revolution. My grandpa's mother was a traditional wife with bound feet but very wealthy and apparently very intelligent. Grandpa was educated in Austria and was fluent in German. He became a doctor and optometrist when he returned to China. He participated in the Hundred Flowers campaign and was persecuted as a bourgeoisie and intellectual during the Cultural Revolution. When I harp on about history and politics, mum says I sound just like grandpa.
Last week he had a stroke and diagnosed himself with aphasia by writing it on a piece of paper in English. He lost the use of his right side and the ability to talk, but he didn't want to die in hospital so stayed at home with the help of two of my aunts and a carer. Two days ago he died at home. Today we burnt incense for him and said goodbye.
Sometimes I think there are few curses greater than to be the eldest daughter of migrants. It is a childhood of filling in forms and typing up menus and helping at the restaurant. It is a lifetime of wanting to tell your mother something, but not having the words, until, eventually, silence becomes a habit.
And later, there is the helpless burning of injustice as you watch a younger sibling become rude and selfish and lazy, like a spoilt Western child. And your mother's excuse for her is that "she follows your example."
My cousin, his wife and their little boy Daniel came over for a family dinner. Daniel is SUCH a sweetheart, zomg. I'm not usually the type to go gaga over little children, but he's the sweetest kid ever. He's about two and a half years old, and only speaks a tiny bit of English because he was raised in China with his grandma up until earlier this year. He's in that really fascinating and really funny stage, linguistically, where he's almost capable of stringing whole sentences together, but not in the most grammatically correct way. He still speaks more Mandarin than Rianna does though (lol). He's always full of smiles and is friendly with everyone and never throws tantrums or does anything annoying. He calls me "Ah yi", which means "aunty"... which totally does my head in, because I've never been called anything higher than a "jie jie" (big sister). I used to be all antisocial and trying to hide away in my room whenever relatives came over, but the kid is just so cute that I sit in the living room and willingly babysit him. I spoke more Mandarin (albeit, broken, 2-year old level Mandarin) tonight than I have over the last year. So yeah, I unexpectedly really enjoyed tonight's family dinner. <3
In other news, I ate some sort of special Japanese cheese today. It was pretty good cheese. *nods*
Right before dinner, Mum called to check in on us and she ended up falling apart and sobbing over the phone. I really don't know how to deal with that. It sounds horrible, but I'm really glad she's in China.
Today's interview with Yarra Valley Grammar went well. It was the longest interview EVAR. It went for an hour... question after question. And a ten minute spiel at the end about all the things they can offer me. They said they'd have a reply for me in the next 24 hours, which is worrying, because Canterbury Girls' isn't giving me a reply until the end of the week. I hate all this uncertainty.
Mum's leaving on Wednesday or Thursday as soon as she gets her visa organised. I actually can't wait for her to go, which sounds cold, but... having a grieving parent around is really unsettling.
In a strange turn of events, I've found myself obsessed with J/7 again many years after abandoning it for the dark side. It's kept me very well distracted from reality over the last couple of days. It's been a constant source of amusement too. For example, this awesomely hilarious music video by Sazzy:
Kate Mulgrew's facial expressions are fascinating to watch. And the bits with the Borg Queen are just priceless.
I lived with my grandparents up until I was five, but I don't remember that period of my life very well. I do remember I used to watch a Japanese show called "Kasai" or something on the TV in her room with my cousin. And I remember this one time she gave me the last biscuit crumbs from a packet of biscuits, which probably doesn't sound like much, but for some reason it left an impression.
When I was nine, Grandma came to Australia for six months to visit. I remember bouncing a (soft squishy) ball off Rianna's head and getting yelled at by Grandma because she said it would make her dumb. Rianna had just been born and Mum was too busy to take Grandma out sightseeing. To this day Mum regrets not doing more things with Grandma while she was here.
After she went back to China, I didn't see her again until 2007 when I was in China for a few days. We had lunch at her house, and made stilted, awkward conversation because even though she could speak English better than my parents, there was still a world and a lifetime between us. I remember that during the lunch, she told me about the Russians that had rented the first two floors of our house sometime during the 1950s and 60s. I remember wanting to ask what their names were, but never got the chance to. Since then, I've talked to her a couple of times on the phone but it's always been awkward because I never know what to say to her, and she usually just tells me to cherish my youth, and to be happy while I'm young and healthy, which increases the awkwardness because I know it's because she's old and unhappy, and all I can say in return is "Yes, Grandma."
Mum's going to try and book a flight back to China tomorrow to go to the funeral. Since Dad just left yesterday as well, it's going to be just me and Rianna for a while.
On the drive back home, my aunt was talking a bit about her travels. She's been to Egypt and India and all over Europe and Russia and parts of Asia and the USA and now Australia. She's even been to Scandinavia, at which point I became truly envious and started pining for my fjords. I don't know how she got from 63 yuan a month to travelling the world, but it's pretty awesome. It made me wonder again how all my dad's siblings can be such cool people and why he has to be such failure.
My skins from DecalGirl arrived in the afternoon which was very exciting. Now my Xbox 360 is black and matches my computer and PS2. And my Nintendo DS is plaid and matches my scarf/boots/sandals/car/anythingred. Both are very shiney and pretty. Check it out:
Newsflash Mum, it's NORMAL for kids to argue.
GAH. SO ANGRY.
Rianna goes back to school tomorrow, which means it'll just be me and the relatives in the house during the day. I've discovered that my aunt is really talkative. She keeps talking to me in Shanghainese, which can get awkward when I lose track of whatever she's talking about (or fail to pick up the track in the first place) and I end up nodding and smiling and making "uh huh" noises for the next ten minutes. Such as today. I /think/ we were talking about the air conditioner breaking, and she suddenly started talking about "dou su", which I heard as "red bean paste", but which was clearly a homophone, given the context. I asked "What's dou su?", but it wasn't like she could explain in English, and she ended up talking about it for the next ten minutes, right through the Dementieva/Williams match point.
Dinner wasn't too bad, even though it took ages. I just got home. It was at an Italian restaurant, which was a nice change, and the food was really really really good. There were about four or five tables of us, seated at the back of the restaurant. And the guy who was shouting us all? Apparently he's a billionaire. A friend of a friend of dad's. He's got something like 50 BILLION yuan in China, which, even when you convert it into Australian dollars, still makes him a billionaire. *mind boggles* On the way home in the car, dad once again asked whether I was interested in his friend's offer to set me up with some rich millionaire Chinese boys. And I said... "Um... okay. Maybe. >.>" So now my inner lesbian is screaming omgwtfbbqz. And the weird bit is that I don't know if it was a temporary bout of insanity or if I actually meant that maybe. o.O
[+] The relatives have gone to Queensland for a few days. My sanity remains intact for now. Hooray!
[+] My addiction for World of Warcraft has resurfaced so I am happily immersed in Azeroth once more.
[+] Valkyrja is almost level 77 and so very close to getting her flying mount back again.
[+] I went shopping with mum yesterday at Chadstone and she was in a good mood so we didn't fight at all (!). We ate sushi from a sushi train and she bought me a t-shirt for Christmas.
[+] I applied for two more jobs: Canterbury Girls' (English) and Highvale SC (Humanities/Geography).
[-] Got a rejection from Highvale the very next day. :(
[-] Relatives are coming back on Sunday. *sigh*
[-] Am being dragged out to a fancy dinner at the Crown tonight with dad's friends.
[-] I finished reading all 116 issues of Birds of Prey and have no more. :( And then I found out that it's being cancelled after February's issue. </3
[-] And why is there hardly any fic for comic-verse Black Canary/Oracle? There's nothing more painful than finding a wonderful new obsession and having no way to indulge in it!
So I'm reading Twilight. It's... amusing. I have no other words for it.
My WoW subscription ends in a couple of days so I'll have to end my hermitage briefly to go out and buy another gamecard. I've been a little apathetic about playing WoW recently, though. I've been in one of those moods where I just want to avoid everyone and everything.
Tomorrow, two of dads relatives are coming over from China and they're going to be staying at our house for three months. Three months. I'm going to go insane. *sigh*
On the way there, in the car, dad was talking to his friends and was like "we should get so-and-so to set Lilian up with a boy... she's old enough to be dating", and I was like zomg. -.- It was very alarming. It is indeed getting to the point where I'm a little old to be pretending that I'm the innocent virginal young Chinese girl who's had no experience with dating. I'm going to have to come out to my parents one of the days. Scary.
School was really boring today. Really, really boring. It's really terrible to be in a classroom and be absolutely bored and wished you could just jump in and take over the lesson (because you can tell that all the students were absolutely bored) but not be able to. -.-
I did have a good chat with Emily though. Emily is a really quiet student who always hands in excellent quality work and the medieval story I marked yesterday was really well written. She always puts her hand up when I asked questions, too. And she knew heaps about Vikings, that very first lesson. If I were to have a pet student, she would be it. :D
Anyway, only 2 more weeks of this 2-days-at-school-3-days-at-uni thing. And then 1 week of assignment hell. And then the 3 week teaching block. Zomg.
I have a sore throat. :(
Today my WoW account expired and I am not renewing it. This is very sad for me. I met Yiqun on the train this morning and we talked about WoW the whole trip (he's a guy I knew in high school who also plays WoW these days). *sigh* Anyway... I haven't been playing for a while now, but at least I had the option to while my account was still active.
And now it's gone.
I remember that I "officially" quit WoW this time last year, too. What is it about wickedkiwi's birthday that always makes me quit WoW? It's a mystery.
Anyway, without further ado... I present to you a giant picture post to make up for my general non-postiness.
( Remember how I was going on about some big shopping spree I had a while back? )
And then there are the before and after pictures of the garden renovations.
( Before )
I liked the old garden because:
1) It was pretty impenetrable so going into the garden was always a bit of an adventure. It was hidden and peaceful, like an old secret.
2) It was Stormy's garden, where he used to climb up and sleep in the branches of his favorite tree (which is now cut down). :(
3) I could bury
( After )
The new garden is kinda good because we can actually do things outside now. Unfortunately, dad monopolises this space and he usually invites a bunch of his friends over and they sit in the backyard talking loudly, smoking and drinking tea. Meh. I still liked the old one better.
Anywayz. Time to go again.
Yesterday I drove Rianna and my aunt (who was visiting from Singapore) all the way to Arthur's Seat and back because Rianna wanted to go horse riding. On the way back there was an accident and we got stuck in a traffic jam for ages. By the time I got home, I was ready to go to bed (at like 6pm) Guh. I never knew driving could be so tiring. Also, horse riding has made walking today very painful. My groin hurts.
I spent much of last night scanning the 200+ pages of a library book that was due today. Not the type of scanning that automatically turns it in a document. The type of scanning that requires me to save each page as an image. *twitch* I thought I could have the book for a month but apparently 3 people after me had holds on it because it was so damn popular and so the library reduced it to a 7 day loan... and I needed it for my essay but I didn't want to photocopy it all because that would have cost like $20, so yeah. *tired* But hey, I have a highly sought after Russian Rev book completely in my puter. Yay. I still have to rotate all the images in Photoshop or something though, because asides from smileys, I really can't read things sideways. Not so much yay. :( <-- see, sideways.
Karate today was painful. We had a different guy take us through the warm up and he made us do sooooo many push ups. If arms could weep, mine would be weeping right now. Along with my groin. Yes, my arms and groin are weeping. Also my ego. My ego is weeping too. All the other monday/wednesday night newbies know the fifth kata and we haven't been learning that in the day lessons and I only go to 1 night lesson so I'm like miles behind all the other night time newbies and I do it all out of sync. Gah. Must... kick... ass... *twitch, falls over*
Ooo, Xin just signed online. *distracted*