Description: A piece about how minute trauma can be.
Blueprint Literary Magazine Issue 8, May 2019
"I'm being hunted. Shoot for the legs, thighs, knees. Bullets invisible and untraceable, no one believes me if I cry help to policies and people and parties and police (read: bureaucracies) that don't understand un-seeable evidence. My wounds are bloodless, they're under my heart, under my conscious, under my warmth. My wounds are those that'll break open fresh if you come too close. Hug me and the motion stabs me with pain."
HOW TO SPEAK OF SILENCE
Description: Balancing cultures and languages.
"I don’t have a true home.
My mother culture is that of Shanghai, China. My entire family, immediate and extended back for the last three generations originates from there. Shanghainese people have just as much pride in being from Shanghai, if not more, than even Beijing people, who at least had the stated privilege of calling their city the capital. Shanghainese people have a strong sense of distinction between insider and outsider, between their business and that of others’.
To this culture I am an outsider by all rights, overstaying my welcome under someone else’s roof. Each time I visit those aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles, I know my “not-actually-Chinese” brand is all but stamped on my forehead from the way they tiptoe around and over me with delicate care, lest I get confused and lost.
My birthplace is Windsor, Canada. After 3 years or so of marriage in China, my parents immigrated to Canada and then I was born there. We lived so close to the Detroit River that on the days between July 1st and July 4th, Canada and the US’s national holidays, I used to watch the fireworks by the bridge with my 阿公 (āgōng), my maternal grandpa.
But other than that, I could not tell you the first thing about Canada. Other than what my professional career in business dictates, I have zero awareness of the country’s on-goings, and zero interest to learn. There is nothing of Canada to my name save for a birth certificate and a dual citizenship.
My “hometown”, the place I physically grew up in, is Michigan. We moved from Canada to Michigan for good when I was about four or five for my dad’s job. The city we lived in has an abnormally high population of Asian-Americans - in other words, a city of scions who wore the same faces of Asian blood but spoke an unsteady mash-up of American and Asian culture.
Being a bilingual household, my house was not meant to have a single background by design. My parents encouraged me to practice Mandarin, because they said that was the language that would benefit me the most professionally. Not only would I not carry the burden of immigrant language barriers like they did, I’d rise above with an advantage of being bilingual in two of the most powerful languages used in the world today.
They didn’t realize – and neither did I until years later – that what I absorbed weren’t the Chinese ideals they expected. Instead of speaking to me in the stilted, heavily enunciated formalness of Mandarin, they spent more time trading words with each other in their natural Shanghainese accent, a rhythm that ended as lilts that sounded like questions and slurred words at every end. They played on their lips excessive repetition of the simplest connecting words in every sentence, in the Shanghai way of trying to speak as fast as humanly possible. To me, this was a cadence more natural than any Mandarin recording would bring, and I would carry this music forward forever in my tongue."
OVER THESE YEARS, OUR FRIENDS
Description: A piece on valuing the people around you, regardless of whether those bonds still exist today.
Blueprint Literary Magazine Issue 7, April 2018
"I hope you remember that one time we jumped out of a car into that great big intersection
Next to a mall that even my professors know of, two cities away"
Description: A reflection on my 2017 study abroad trip to Hong Kong.
"It was madness, the sheer number of people that shoved past me, as if they were in a frantic race for their lives, just to swipe their Octopus cards through the metro station scanners first. All to save a mere seven seconds of time. This time-stingy logic is the same for elevators and the like; on Day 2 of my internship, my supervisor scolded me (playfully) for not acting like a true Hong Kong local since I patiently waited for everyone else to get off first. I wasn’t used to this “lack” of politeness. Instead of loading up on pleasantries like America does, Hong Kong’s culture prioritizes on efficiency and minding your own business."
Description: This was a reflection on my forays into university book publication.
"I grew to love the feeling of producing others’ works, to be that evaluator who judged what made a work attractive to an audience, because I was that audience. An audience with the power to make my evaluation known, and grant works I considered worthy a place of permanence. Moreover, by being a producer of publication, I nourished the power of the viewer to learn about what I as the artist could do better to please that audience. It did no less than improve my individual artistic sense.
Publication is connecting the viewer and the creator, because they are halves of one whole tool that make creative products reality. If you get to know the opposite side, you make yourself all the more enriched of knowing what it takes to make accomplished art that both you and everyone else love."
Confined Connections, Aug 2017 [An excerpt, renamed "Brother"]
"In my mind, I’m holding a bulky piece of coal. Dark, chalky, and heavy to carry. My fingers slip easily over its smooth surface, and they come away smeared and dirty from the residue. I imagine setting it on fire; it blows up in flames easily like they did in the tarnished fireplace in my old home, and I’m left facing the ashes. The ashes, I know, are about ten times more radioactive than the unburned coal. Emotions are the same way, once they reach a certain threshold where they begin to drive you rather than the other way around. Once it’s the heart that’s speaking, not irrefutable facts and mind. It’s unreliable, dangerous, and ashes themselves can fly away with the slightest blow of the wind, light as they are. Flee really, as soon as the environment gets tough, and their strength is tested. They’ll land wherever they please; it’s not in my jurisdiction in the slightest. For that reason alone, I don’t trust it.
And as far as I’m concerned, Liam has just set himself on fire."
"I do not have a father.
We lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment at the edge of town. Half of the residences in the building were empty, so it was always quiet. Too quiet sometimes. Once, I asked Mommy, “When’s Daddy coming to live with us?” She had turned, looked at me with her piercing eyes, drew me in close so that her lips were inches away from my ear.
And then she screamed."