So….Ji-in modified it slightly to Five Weird Things Other Asians Have Said to Me. I actually spent quite a bit of time ruminating on this today. In fact, I should be reading cases for tomorrow’s classes and going to bed early for the 7:30 a.m. ESO meeting, but I’ve become addicted to posting this week.
Here we go.
1. “Do you dye your hair??”–Actually, only Asian people say this to me. I don’t find it all that weird now, b/c I’ve gotten used to it. The fact that I used to find it weird was just indicative of my former ignorance of the vast varieties of Asian hair color . . . I used to think that everyone had hair like me. My hair is black, I’m talking black-black. It gets really hot in the sun. I did once dye my hair black, but that was just to get back to my natural color after I’d had it lightened and highlighted in Korea circa 2001. The highlights were a fun experiment, but in the end, it just wasn’t me. I used to fantasize about having thin, wavy, blonde locks when I was growing up, but now I love my jet-black hair. In fact, it’s so black that sometimes the camera flash makes my hair nice and shiny in pictures (although P.N. thinks it looks “gray” in my My Space picture–such a hater).
2. “You can’t possibly be 27-years-old.”–I used to think only white people would ever say this to me, since I assumed they wouldn’t be able to differentiate between ages of Asian people. But to the contrary, for the duration of my stay in Korea 2004-2005, I was consistently told that I look far younger than my years. This is a theme that has continued during my return to Seattle. I attribute this to my high, girlish voice, and the fact that I don’t look much older than I did ten years ago. Sometimes I wear pink, too, which doesn’t help. Part of me longs to be taken more seriously, to have a deep, NPR-like voice. But . . . I suppose I’m glad that my skin is still pretty good. Being mistaken for being 21 has its advantages and disadvantages . . .
3. “_________ is just like being adopted.”–Actually, white people say this to me, too. Everyone says it. I commend them for trying to relate to me, to try to empathize . . . . but people, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. You just can’t do it.
4. “Oh, you’re not REALLY Korean.”–I really, really, really despise it when Asians and Asian-Americans try to rate each other on our authenticity. In some contexts, this can be funny, but it’s always a loaded statement. The worst is when it’s said in a belittling way (like what someone told j. gabriel as he relates in his “FUBU-Filipino” post). For adoptees, it stings just that much more, since we DID grow up with white American families (well, most of us, anyway). There were some Koreans who said this to us last year, and it was usually the cause for much gnashing of the teeth.
5. “How can you miss someone you’ve never even met?”–Believe it or not, this was said by a Korean adopted woman who has adopted a Korean child herself. Her daughter was missing her birth mother . . . and this grown adopted woman could not fathom why her daughter was missing someone that her daughter had never seen and had no memories of. WTF???? If anyone should understand and relate to that . . . it should be this girl’s adoptive mother, an adoptee herself. It makes me sad all over again just typing it. I have no memories of my birth mother, but I miss her on a primal level that cuts deeper than anything else. Cuts to my subconscious.
*Bonus* 6. “You want your guys whitewashed, just not white.”–This was said to me by R.S., a Chinese-American friend. I laughed when he said it, and replied, “No! I just want them Americanized.” To which he said, “Isn’t that the same thing?” But now that I think about it, it’s not. I’d like to meet an Asian-American guy who embraces his heritage (and is therefore not whitewashed), but who also embraces his American-ness (freedom of thought, etc.). This is a delicate subject that I might address in a later post.
And because I know you’re all dying to hear this, here are Five Weird Facts About Moi.
1. Since 2002, I’ve had 16 roommates/housemates.–This is a result of having 8 housemates in Boston, 5 roommates in Seattle, 2 roommates in Korea, and my current roommate. Like being on The Real World, except we are all much more interesting.
2. I have B.S. in Biology and I was in medical school . . . for three whole weeks.–This is not a weird fact for some of you . . . those of you who know me from back in the day. But yes, I had an alternate life all mapped out for me. What the hell happened to me? Another thing I might blog about later. 🙂 As I was telling K.T. today, I find that the people from my past have a hard time believing how I’ve turned out, and the people in my present can’t believe my past.
3. I was in a sorority in college: Pi Beta Phi.–I’m rolling my eyes as I type this. The Greek system is ridiculous. BUT . . . there were some moments of fun. Like rushing with S.C.H. And having P.C. as my big sis (in fact, I’m going to be her bridesmaid in April!).
4. I have a terrible driving record and have spent over $5,000 in body work repairs on my ’99 Saturn.–I attribute this to my inability to focus on what’s on the road. I’m usually thinking about anything but.
5. I’ve read several books on basketball.–I went through a weird phase where I was obsessed with the sport, especially weird given that I am not athletically inclined. But what sucked me in is how basketball is so enmeshed in hip-hop culture. And I saw Hoop Dreams, which is such an affecting documentary. And I watched Grant Hill throw that pass to Christian Laettner (used to think he was hot). So I’ve read David Halberstam’s Jordan book, Spike Lee’s Best Seat in the House, among other things. I like basketball as a cultural phenomenon. I like the intimacy of watching small games. I like March Madness when there are 32 games (now 33) that all go down to the wire.