Monday, December 7, 2009

I Feel Special Here

In a low ceiling attic, I a share a bed with Michelle. It was snowing outside, yet I'm comfortable in her short shorts that I borrowed for sleep. It felt weird. I only associated snow with skiing and asked naively, "don't people need to put chains on their tires?" Apparently there are different types of snow...

People said I would have a good time here, but I've discovered a lot of things that I wouldn't have been able to if I were in California. No, not the historic monuments, brick buildings and 4 actual seasons... but an appreciation of my upbringing; my life that is more "unique and special" than I had originally thought.

3% of DC is Asian. To me, that statistic is too high. I counted 5 Asians while being here for 2 days. And while talking to Michelle and my hapa cousin whom I share an 8th% percent blood, I've realized that being Asian was something very special.

Some people want to fit in, others enjoy being different. In California or in places with a lot of Asians, I feel like people like to differentiate make themselves unique as a community within a community. We are not "Asian," but rather, we are children of refugee Vietnamese, Mainland Chinese, 5th Generation Japanese... etc etc. In DC, "Asian" is enough to set us a part...

I didn't get looks...being Asian in DC is not strange, just not as common compared to SF/LA... but Michelle and my cousin talked about the conversations they've had with inquisitive white folks who wanted to know more about something so alien.

Michelle told me she was asked:
"So you you've chopsticks your whole life? It's so hard"
"How does NGU Yen translate to that sound and when did 'you' convert roman characters?"

My cousin joined everything Asian possible while in college, she worked for Asian specific communities and the closest thing she got to an ethnic experience was spending time at the International House. I joked, "at Berkeley there is a club called 'Gay Filipinos in Architecture..." well minus the gay part... but not really.

I felt privileged to have grown up feeling normal when folks in other parts of the country world go through feeling like a minority their whole life.... I would interpret it as being special, they would see it as feeling disconnected and underrepresented.


"You have a language barrier with your 'immigrant' grand/parents?? That's so weird!!" I guess it is...

"You're Asian, you must be good at Math..."

Michelle expressed that there's a difference between being inquisitive about culture vs. being presumptuous.


We spent a dinner talking about these things. Somehow we ended up talking about making the peace sign and the quiet Asian girl that was a part of our group asked, "they do that in pictures??"

My cousin responded, "oh come on, you're Asian! How could you not know?"
"Well, I was adopted." My cousin apologized profusely.


Shoot, gotta get ready for New York. Blog more in a moment.

1 comment:

Gauss Jordan said...

This reminds me of an Honor Roll party I went to in the 7th grade. Someone turned around, tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Hey G, how come you don't talk black?"

I just stared.