Weekday Word Count

Happy New Year! :O) This year, I’m writing fiction. I’m letting my greatest motivator, shame, keep me on schedule. Every weekday, I’ll post a hopefully-not-shameful word count accompanied by a few turns of Yahtzee and a song. Please feel free to follow along on Twitter or Instagram!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/auntiepesto

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Dailies 06/03/13

Dailies 06/03/13

Daily Doodle: In the Middle of a Lake

Song of the Day: Just a Short Time After (Reconstruction Pt. 1) by Javier Navarrete feat. The Landau Orchestra (from the Extended Version of the Pan’s Labyrinth soundtrack)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aRMSfltS6s

Musical Pipe Dream: I’ve thought about this one for a long time.

There would be a show with an orchestra and performers that would dance to the live music. The cast would consist of a main female and a main male and sixteen dancers to flock them. The costumes are leotards and tutus that are a pale blue. The makeup is pasty and crusty and it even cakes and crackles on the dancers’ shoulders. At the beginning, a single, blue spotlight is on the main female dancer. When the cello is being plucked, she is on point on her left foot and extends her right leg from front to back, doing lyrical movements that match the cello. As the horn section rolls in, the lights brighten to the outer parts of the stage and have an orange glow that contrasts with the blue center. The main male and sixteen dancers move in closer and closer towards the blue light until the main male meets the main female. He holds both of her hands and she does similar movements as in the beginning with her legs, but this time she’s pushing even farther, extending her flexibility. She doesn’t fall because her hands are being held. The sixteen dancers are on their knees and follow the lyricism of the horns as they sweep the floor to and fro with the palms of their hands. They circle be on their backs and sweep the floor with the backs of their fingers. The movements of all of the dancers get stronger until they’re all moving at the same pace and in unison. The number ends with the sixteen dancers in a tight circle around the main dancers all raising their heads on the last beat. They are looking straight up into a single spotlight that shines orange.

As for me, I would love to be the saxophonist in the second chair. For the horn portion of the piece, all of us would stand up and raise our shoulders and swing our saxophones to the beat. As we keep blowing our horns until the last moment, the lights black out on us while we’re still standing as the orange light shines down on the dancers.

Do you think that Javier Navarrette, The Landau Orchestra, and a dance company would be into doing something like this?

Blurb 1/365: I had food poisoning a few weeks ago and I threw up (and ruined) our trash can in the bathroom. I feel completely better now and we got a new trash can and I was happy about it so I danced.

https://vine.co/v/b3wDxjnVib3?fb_action_ids=407110309404492&fb_action_types=vine-app%3Apost&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Vice Versa

I just remembered the scene in the movie Vice Versa when Fred Savage’s character with the mind of Judge Reinhold’s character took a school test. He was staring and bored when the teacher mocked him saying something like, “Are you already finished Mr. Seymour?” And then Fred Savage snapped back, “Yes! It was easy.” (Cut to a confused and appalled look on the teacher’s face.) (Cut back to Fred Savage’s impatient face.) “*scoff* (eyes roll, arms gesture outward with shoulders shrugged) Do you have the paper?”

I woke myself up by laughing out loud. I’m gonna try and go back to sleep.

Dailies 05/01/13

Dailies 05/01/13

Daily Doodle: When I get anxious, I wish I had a sleeping bag that I could crawl in and zip up and then be magically transported to my bed.

Song of the Day: Slam by Onyx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ADgCeYJMN4

Musical Pipe Dream: All you can see is my head and my fingers peeking out of an enormously oversized sweatshirt. My pants are big enough for me to fit in one pant leg and the cuffs are stuffed into big boots. My limbs are flailing.

Blurb 1/365: Dude. SLAM. 1993. Whenever there was three of anything, my sisters and I would associate one of them to each of us.

For example:

With The Chipmunks, I was Theodore.

With Duck Tales, I was Louie.

With the Brady Bunch sisters, I was Cindy.

With the Three Amigos, I was Ned.

With Onyx, I associated myself with Sonsee solely because of the fact that I constantly wore a grey sweatshirt that my sister got from a school lost-and-found and a pair of blue jeans. So it looked like one of his outfits in the music video. This song brings back memories …

 

Cellphone-less

I forgot my cellphone at home today. Albeit sort of ridiculous, I sort of felt like half a person without it. I didn’t have a pen or a book or a pamphlet to accompany me on my BART ride. On the plus side, I had the opportunity to see some things:

A sign that says “Ghirardelli Factory Store Now Open”

A big painted sign of the cartoon Pink Panther holding a pair of scissors

A pickup truck flatbed full of hamburger buns

A painted/decorated crosswalk (I wonder if more crosswalks could be like this?)

A few church steeples that I hadn’t noticed before

A lot of nice looking graffiti art

A lot of bad looking graffiti art

Many different types of roofs

A symphony of 7uP trucks getting ready to depart on their journey to different stores

A somewhat hidden playground with kids playing soccer in it

A man with a hairstyle reminiscent of DeBarge (I have been seeing this a lot lately)

So, it was pretty awesome. I’ll remember to do as the title of the BBC show says, “Look Around You”.

Movie Love and High School Memories

I watched Django Unchained on New Year’s Day and I loved it. It was entertaining and included thought provoking dialogue, painfully poignant acting, retro photography, and snarky comedy in just the right places. I couldn’t help but smile most of the times Christoph Waltz was on screen because he acted his character so well and is quite cute. Quentin Tarantino and crew did it again!

In the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio skillfully delivers a chilling monologue that got me thinking about a conversation I remember having in high school with people that could have called me “friend” had I been just a little bit (less) different. Mind all of us, this wasn’t that long ago. I’ll describe what I remember.

——

Geometry Class

Kevin: But I don’t really understand how you can consider yourself American though …

Shirley: What?

Kevin: How can you consider yourself a true American?

Shirley: Because I was born here.

Kevin: But your parents weren’t.

Shirley: That’s not really the way it works. Plus, my parents are Americans, too.

Kevin: That’s even crazier.

Shirley: Where were your grandparents born?

Kevin: In the dirt of Tennessee.

Shirley: And your great grandparents?

Kevin: In the dirt of Tennessee.

Shirley: And they’re parents?

Kevin: In the dirt of Tennessee.

Shirley: Statistically, that’s doubtful, but I don’t want to argue.

Kevin: Well … you’re all right. It’s just confusing to me that you consider yourself an American.

Shirley: Okie doke.

Kevin: Yeah, you’re cool and everything, but y’all still can’t drive!

Several classmates nearby: (collective) OOOOOOOOH! HAHAHAHAHA!

Chelsea: You guys, leave her alone.

Kevin: I’m just kidding around.

Chelsea: It’s not her fault. It’s been scientifically proven that Asians have problems with their peripheral vision because of the shape of their eyes.

(Collective laughter)

Chelsea: No, I’m serious. I read in an article that all their eyes have a slight deformity that causes them to have issues with their ability to see on the sides.

Shirley: Chelsea, I think you’re mistaken. (I almost couldn’t get those words out because of what she said. I mean, I was pretty used ignorance by my teen years. But what she said, and thoroughly believed, blew my mind.)

Chelsea: It was in Scientific American or something.

——

I really don’t know what was more horrifying, the fact Chelsea actually believed that all people of Asian decent have different eyeballs than other fellow human beings, or the fact that she thought she was heroically defending me from bullies with this erroneous information begotten from some insane scientific journal that I’m sure wasn’t Scientific American and that I hope doesn’t really exist.

The thing I always try and remember is that we were young and impressionable. In many ways they were just repeating what they heard from other people. With all things in high school, they were usually done or said just to be “cool”. Let’s just pray that people learn with age. I still think that conversation was crazy.

Maybe the scariest thing is that I still remember this conversation after all these years. Plus, we should have been concentrating on geometry!

(X equals negative B, plus or minus the square root, of B squared minus 4 A C, ALL over 2 A!)

A Story from My Childhood: Queen of Recess

During recess, we would all have access to check out a rubber ball to play with. There were two sizes: twelve inches in diameter and five inches in diameter. The balls that were twelve inches were always checked out first because all the kids liked to play handball with them against the backboards. It had a larger surface area and was easier to hit with two clasped hands. The five inch balls were always checked out quickly thereafter for various games.

I never really did any active playing during recess. Most of my recess time was taken up by sitting in the grass, looking at bugs, or grinding walnut shells into the pavement. I had tried my hand at tetherball in the past and had either gotten hurt physically or just emotionally from the ridicule resulting from ducking from that damned volleyball on a string.

Just to give a little insight to what I looked like as a kid: At any given time, my hair was either an unkempt rat’s nest or an unkempt rat’s nest hastily pulled back into a ponytail. I had pink, translucent, plastic glasses frames that you could see the wire running through which were too big for my face. My adult-sized teeth could barely fit in my mouth and, just like any other kid, my mouth was usually open. On this day that I’m about to describe, I can’t be sure what I was wearing, but with the frequency that I wore this outfit, I was most likely wearing a Disneyland 35th Anniversary sweatshirt and turquoise stretch pants with pink dots. With my belly full of chicken nuggets and canned corn, I walked slowly along the pavement playground. All the other children were already well into their recess activities and I noticed that there was one five inch diameter ball left. I figured “what the hey” and I checked it out.

The truth is, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with this ball. Any other time I thought about checking out a ball, I always thought that I didn’t want to check one out because I didn’t want to take it from one of the other kids that would actually put it to good use. Plus this was one of the smaller ones, and it was harder to play with. But that day was different, there was one left while all the other kids were already playing, like it was waiting for me.

I took the ball to an unclaimed part of the playground and started to lightly kick the ball against a short wall that came up to about the height of my childhood knee. It ricocheted off the wall and calmly rolled back to me. By this time, most of recess time had passed, and it turned out to be pretty fun. With about ten minutes left, a little girl came up to me and asked if I would like to kick the ball back and forth with her. I said “sure”, though I was a bit nervous and self conscious about my athletic abilities. The distance between us widened and my coordination was really being put to the test. We were kicking the ball and also tossing it with one bounce before catching it.

Things were going well and a few more kids came over to play. Without laying out any ground rules, we had created this game where I was the main thrower and I would call out a person and throw or kick the ball to them, they would catch it, and throw the ball back to me. There wasn’t any mystery to the game, except that I made the way I got the ball to them a surprise. I would dropkick it, roll it, or bounce it. I didn’t know any of these peoples’ names, so I started to make nicknames for everybody to call on them before I threw the ball. For example, the girl who initially asked me to play was wearing a sky blue sweatshirt, so I nicknamed her “Sky”. I explained this to her when I called her Sky. I called somebody else “Happy” and said it was because they looked so happy to be living the day and I got LAUGHS, even from Happy. I was playing on a playground with other kids, my hand-eye coordination was on point, and I was feeling the crowd and got genuine laughs that only a nine year old comedian could. I was on fire.

I never talked to any of those kids again, but for those ten minutes, I ruled the playground. I was the Queen of Recess.

What Are You?

“Hey, are you Chinese?”

“Are you from Iran?”

“Kumusta ka? Want to try this neck pillow?”

“Are you Vietnamese?”

“Oh! I always thought you were Latina or something.”

“Are you half Chinese? … No? … So, what kind of Asian is the other half?”

These are questions and comments that I have randomly received from passers by, coworkers, complete strangers in the supermarket, and people trying to sell me something. Some of the curious people are Chinese, some are of the culture that they believe I identify with, some are just random guessers. It has been interesting to witness some people try and peg me as one thing or another. I have come to quite enjoy my ethnic obscurity. The fact is, I am an American and both of my parents are of Chinese ancestry.

There are a few reasons that I think people don’t initially think that I’m Chinese. One, my mannerisms and culture are a mix of my family’s Chinese traditions and the ever evolving American traditions. Two, I don’t speak any of my family’s native dialects. Three, I guess my “look” isn’t thought of as traditionally Chinese.

My family was and is very loving and supportive and I had a great childhood. Growing up had some challenges, but for the most part, everything was good. Everything else I consider life lessons. I was raised in a predominately white suburb in a time where I believe racial adversity was steadily getting itself on the right track towards racial serendipity. My parents always taught me that even if someone didn’t like me simply for the reason of being who I was, that didn’t make me any less of a person. That didn’t stop me from being sensitive when people made fun of Chinese accents, facial features, smells, or size/height. Some experiences left me knowing very well that people did not like me being in their space or line of sight. At a restaurant, it may have even made them feel uncomfortable, annoyed, or ruined their meal. At school, it may have made parents feel like the classroom was being invaded with the increasing numbers of students of color (when there were, like, three of us). I remember a classmate very innocently asked me how I could truly consider myself an American. When I answered it was because I live here and was born here, his counter reasoning was that my parents weren’t born here. What else could I do but let him stew in his ignorance?

While growing up in this environment, my mannerisms and speech acclimated to my surroundings. On one hand, I was trying to fit in with the majority of people that I was around in school and play, and on the other, I was distancing myself from the culture that my parents carried over from their families from Hong Kong and Taiwan. At first, when I realized this, I was sad. The people that I was subconsciously trying to fit in with would never completely accept me, and my extended family and other Chinese Americans felt I was losing my culture.

My parents are both multilingual. They tried to bring my sisters and me up multilingual and spoke Cantonese at home. During a parent/teacher meeting, one of my sister’s first grade teachers said that her sentence structure was hindering from speaking Cantonese during the pivotal time of learning English. Of course now, we all realize that this teacher was just ignorant (and maybe racist and a little insane), but this frightened my parents; they didn’t want their children growing up being made fun of or ridiculed. They reluctantly stopped enforcing us to speak Cantonese at home and we all ended up losing the language skill after kindergarten. My parents never belittled us for not speaking Chinese, but other people who make it their business always put in their two cents about how much of a shame it is.

My husband brought up a good point. The fact is that I’m American. It may be a lost opportunity that I’m not multilingual, but if every American was required to know the languages of their ancestors in order to contest shame, there would be a lot of shame to be had. I am fluent in my national language, and my responsibility lies in knowing how to communicate well with it. Anything else is great, but it is extra.

I’ve heard conversations of people talking with their families where they giggle about having an ancestor that may have “tainted” their gene pool. This was even used as subject fodder for sitcoms. For example, there was an episode of The Golden Girls where Blanche found out a relative of her’s was Jewish which became some sort of detriment to a club function or party she was attending. Don’t get me wrong, The Golden Girls was a great show, but it just proves my point that people actually thought of this stuff enough to put it in a lighthearted primetime show.

I think my family and I look pretty “Chinesey” but my features have always been the main reason why people tell me they didn’t think I was Chinese. There was a bully type student in high school that made fun of my sister and me for being Chinese and having round eyes. He said, “It just isn’t right.” (He was an idiot.) Depending on the season and how much sun I get, my complexion can go from relatively light to pretty dark. The same goes for my hair, sometimes it’s black and other times there are some brown and golden strands in there. I’m pretty sure what I’ve just described goes for many Chinese people out there.

History is very colorful and many things happened on the Silk Road and other trade routes. In history many cultures have mixed and have become their own culture with its own values and traditions. I think that it is a beautiful thing that continues to happen today and it is contributing to the vast spectrum of the appearance of the human race. Which leads me to my conclusion, my connection with my Chinese culture and American culture, my speech and language skills, and my features are all what make me Chinese.

I will continue to revel in my pride and entitlement of being a Chinese American and who I am. I hope all others can harmoniously feel the same about themselves.

Thank you very much for reading!