Spicy foods: the battle between pain and pleasure

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It seems that a conscious effort has to be made to find non-spicy foods around here.  I suppose the Singaporeans tolerate pain better than I do.  And yes, extreme spices can qualify as forms of pain – after all, capsaicin creates that burning sensation and activates nerves much like painful sensations do.  It’s no wonder my insides still hurt from ingesting those spices.

Despite this, I absolutely love certain spicy foods, like kimchi, shin ramen, and preserved vegetables.  They are so tasty and delicious, but I can’t get through eating any of them without gasping for a soothing drink.  It’s a strange predicament to be in, loving to eat something so much, yet not being able to do it without crying the whole way through.  It’s nearly a workout in itself, making me work up a sweat and making my heart race.

So what’s a girl to do when her brain craves some spicy food and her stomach is clutched in fear?  Get a very big drink (milk, if possible, since it soothes best) and brace herself!  It’s like drinking soda and the carbonation is just a little too much, but you love it anyway.  We’re so strange to develop taste for things that generally are supposed to turn us away.  Are we as humans masochistic or something?  What other animal gobbles up chili peppers?  But alas,  that is how it goes and we have countless strange habits and rituals.

My stomach is still burning up a little and it’s been twelve hours!  Yikes!  I’m chewing on some Riesen hoping there’s some milk content in there to help my tummy.  Gosh, I should not have gone for that kimchi ramen, but it was soooo good…

Late night driving perils

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The weeks leading up to my departure I had been returning home rather late at night on a daily basis and I was always paranoid about an accident.  I am always amazed at how many accidents there are on the roads.  One drive down from Valencia to Westwood saw three crashes!  Thankfully, they were all small fender benders, though one did leave a bumper in the middle of the road and another somehow threw a mattress into a lane.

I also saw one across the way upon entering the highway; an overturned vehicle lay in the middle of the highway – it looked bad but not fatal.  I always make sure to keep an eye on other cars in case they are drunk or tired.  I consider it defensive driving.  I try to be alert as possible, but towards the end I was getting tired myself and found that the lines became more of suggestions to stay within as I swayed a little more than usual.  However, whenever I got too close to a line, I’d start to drift back towards the other side, so I never did accidentally cross over.

It seems that no matter what time of day and what the conditions of the roads, there are always people in a mad rush somewhere.  Then again, speeds also feel faster to me at night when the highway is relatively empty, so would often find myself marveling at a speeder only to find I was driving well below the speed limit.  I guess I get more cautious as the lighting gets darker.

Over here in Singapore though, things seem to go by at a more leisurely pace, probably because of the speed cameras that are waiting to take your picture for going too fast.  It was really nice to be driven around the city tonight, without all kinds of crazy aggressive drivers.  I like the atmosphere here; it’s been awhile since I’ve been somewhere that is roughly the same temperature in the day and night, so that is quite nice for me.

A black hole of a purse

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I just arrived in Singapore a few hours ago and I’m having trouble sleeping, so I found myself mentally going through the contents of my suitcases, trying to remember if I brought that darned toothbrush or not.  I swear there are items that I specifically packed, but I was unable to find them last night as I was getting ready for bed.  I’m willing to bet that it’s not my memory playing tricks on me, but my luggage.  Smart buggers.  So, I will try again in a bit as Marylin and I get ready to start our first day at work together!  Until everything is unpacked and stowed away, I am not giving up on finding my favorite facewash and that silly toothbrush.  Thank goodness they give you a temp one to use on the plane, or else I’d be using my finger and gargling a lot.

So does this happen to anyone else?  You throw something into your purse and no amount of digging will make it resurface again.  You just know it’s in there, but minutes of feeling around for it yields no results.  You give up on the search and decide that it’s a lost cause and go buy another one or stop using whatever it was.  Then it’s not until you dump out all the contents that it finally emerges from the depths of the bag.  It’s really quite amazing to me how this manages to happen, even in a seemingly small and innocent purse.  But no, those suckers are like a vortex.  Sometimes something has been hidden away in the crevices of your bag for so long you have forgotten you had it in the first place, then suddenly one day you clean out your purse to find it there!

This is the reason I avoid getting a big purse to carry around, or else I’d spend way too much time rifling through its contents trying to find what I want.  I wish they had more pockets and compartments in purses to keep things from falling out of place and away from reach.  No matter how neatly I place things in, they always manage to shift around and I can never seem to pull out that pen or chapstick when I need it most.  It’s like when you try to find something you’ve misplaced – you only find it after you don’t need it anymore.  Now what’s up with that?  Murphy’s Law?

Something similar happens in bowls of soup too, particularly ramen, as my friends and I found when eating some for lunch recently… really, how does a piece of pork get lost in that bowl?!  They need to serve these things with strainers or we may never even know some of the food we missed out on!  It’s all fine and dandy when you’re drinking the entire bowl, but if it’s a noodle-based soup, you could be leaving a lot more left over than you intended to.  Oh the black holes in our lives…

Packrat tendencies

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I have a habit of collecting things and never throwing them out.  I just can’t bear to.  This has been a problem since my youth, when I couldn’t even throw away homework that I wrote.  I blame it on my intense sentimentality.  Everything is a memory to me, good, bad, or otherwise.  Well how do you throw that away?  However, though I do love to keep things around, I would like to cut back on the superfluous things I have lying around the house.  After all, who needs clutter?  So whenever I move or pack, I try to clear out some of my stuff in an effort to stop the growing piles of boxes.

I am finally getting to the point in my life where I have outgrown some of my clothes, yet I still haven’t put them all together to donate.  Some are just a tad bit small now, but mostly they are just not a style that someone my age would wear.  Despite the fact that I will never need them again, they sit in my closet, reminders of my high school days.  Perhaps one day I will start an electronic photo album database with pictures of all the items that I’ve owned, so even when I get rid of something, I’ll have it stored away in a memory bank of sorts.  At the same time, I recognize that once that stuff is gone I will hardly ever think of it again.

This goes for a lot of things I own.  My mom is always doing some spring cleaning in my room, rummaging through my things and throwing them out as she sees fit.  Many of these items I don’t miss for a long time, which should indicate just how much I don’t need them.  Yet, it doesn’t make it any easier for me to let go, since the moment I do remember, I feel a great loss.  Why do I have such an attachment to my personal items?  Maybe it’s because my memory is not as good as I would like, or that I fear losing it too soon.

Right now it’s been hard to not pack certain things, since I can almost always convince myself that there will be that one circumstance in which I would need to use that item.  I had to constantly remind myself that I really won’t be needing a dozen jackets in Singapore, seeing as my research into their weather patterns has shown very consistent results: hot, humid, non-jacket conditions.  It’s a pity, since I have suddenly been rediscovering jackets that I have not worn in ages and would love to!  Alas, I will just have to console myself with the thought that I can make up for that when I get back.

I even had trouble deciding what office supplies to bring – how many highlighters?  What color pens?  How about pencils?  Erasers?  All of this is largely irrelevant, since I will likely be using a rather plain black or blue pen most of the time, which I’m sure the office is abound with.  Besides, how long does one pen last you?  Ages!  So it’s not like I’m going to be pumping through them, but nonetheless I took special care in deciding just what to throw in my suitcase and what to leave out.

So there you go, I confess my packratting habit.  It could be worse… right?

My favorite moments in college

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As my departure date approaches, I am frantically taking advantage of the time I have left to visit my friends at and around UCLA.  The other night, I met up with a friend for tea and two and a half hours later, I left campus with a nostalgic feeling in my heart.  I miss the days of staying up late with my friends, discussing all sorts of ideas and lamenting the work we had to do.  One of the things I will miss most about college life is those late night chats in the hallway or lounge.

That is the reason that I stayed in on-campus housing for as long as I could; I loved the atmosphere there that cannot be replicated.  When else can you go knock on a random stranger’s door and make a friend without seeming too forward?  Where else will you find so many doors kept open and people weaving in and out of the hallway?  College residential life is the best buffer for meeting new people who may have nothing in common with you.  In every other social situation, you are brought together by some shared interest, but in this one, your choice of living situation hardly dictates the type of people you will be living around.

It was the nicest thing to be back in that environment I adored so much, doing what I do best – livening up the quarters!  In fact, as we stood in the hallway chatting, the duty RA came by and told us how he had just been thinking how he hadn’t heard the place so chatty since I was last around when he rounded the corner to find it was actually me there!  We caught up briefly and then he left to continue his round, jokingly warning us to keep it down or else he’d have to come write us up (he’s a friend of mine, so it was only half serious).  I thought about it and you know what?  I’d much rather be the type of person up way too late interacting with my peers and possibly getting written up for it than the type of person always holed up in the my room, hardly ever socializing with fellow students.

College is a time of great growth, academically and socially, and everyone should take advantage of it in all aspects.  I will always fondly remember the feeling of sitting around with my friends, exchanging our thoughts throughout the night.  And I will miss that, as well as having such a huge concentration of friends in a small area.  Life is changing quickly.

Experience fuels inspiration

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I’ve found that the best source of creative ideas is personal experience.  It is in my day-to-day life that I think to myself randomly, "Oh now there’s something good to explore and write about!"  Immediately I jot it down on my "little fat notebook" amidst the growing list of topics to discuss.  Just living life (and being curious) can be the greatest muse!

So many times there are great lessons that can be learned best only by experiencing them.  Oftentimes the message doesn’t "hit you" until you’re there, doing it, feeling it, seeing it, living it.  Plus, you can’t really speak full with authority on an issue unless you’ve been in the midst of it.  Otherwise, you’re just reporting and relaying the message.

Stories from the heart also hold the deepest meaning and reach out to the audience like nothing else can.  What is more poignant than someone talking passionately about the greatest love of their life or the lessons they have learned through personal strife?  What do you believe more than a first-person account of how certain experiences feel?  It really touches my heart to hear personal stories, from the good to the bad.

I was reminded of this when I was listening to Taylor Swift’s songs – many were written about specific people and experiences in her life.  The same thing goes for a lot of artists out there and it made me wonder what they would write about if they didn’t have some drama or other eventful occurrences in their lives.  Although it’s easier to think about what to write when you’ve been through so much, it’s also much harder because of the personal involvement.  A little bit of abstraction could blur the lines between fact and fiction for the artist to make it easier to express, or they may choose to just bare their souls.

So the next time you’re in a creative rut, just go live your life!  Have fun with your family and friends, go for a stroll around your town, or even meet a stranger and strike up a conversation.  You never know what you may come across that will trigger that ‘ding, ding ding!’ in your head.  It certainly helps me always have a dozen things to write about.

How I was molded into an independent person

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I just overheard my mom on the phone, booking her plane ticket to Mongolia, due to leave just about 12 hours after mine to Singapore leaves LAX.  The past couple of days she has been lamenting what to do about our mail, since many statements cannot be sent to P.O. boxes and there is no one in our family here to take care of it for us.  We used to get it forwarded to a family friend’s place, but that’s such a hassle to do for just a month or two.

Now that I’m leaving the country, my mom is left to figure out what to do with the house (and her life) again.  When I was studying abroad in England, she rented it out and moved back to China with my dad.  Should she do that again or stick around to try to pursue a career in aerospace, as she’s dreamed of doing?  Strangely enough, my life is what gives her some stability – whenever I’m around, she can stay at home and do various types of work happily.  Yet, once I leave, she needs to figure what her life is about, sans moi.

All of this made me think of the fragmented time I spent with my parents growing up and how multiple moves affected my sense of independence.  It’s no wonder I did become so independent, what with one parent or the other often away and our family hardly ever staying in one place long enough to make lasting friends.  As I grew older, it became my time to be away from home and friends on my own – to swim camps, to boot camps, to a swim competition in Australia, and the frequent visits to my relatives in China.  Another factor contributing to my independence was early on: I didn’t even meet my parents until I was three and a half (my dad left six months before I was born and my mom left six months after I was born, so I hardly remembered her).

In the early days, my parents were busy finishing up their graduate degrees at Penn State – a Master’s for my mother and a Doctorate for my father.  To support us, they had to be research assistants and my dad worked as a teaching assistant as well.  From there, it was off to Kansas, where my dad worked for the government and my mom found a random job with Payless Shoes.  I would come home to an empty house and do homework or play by myself.  I think that’s when my desire for a sibling or pet began to grow, as I spent many quiet afternoons alone in the house, waiting for my mom to get home from work.  I had one or two good friends, but mostly kept to myself.  I enjoyed playing around during recess, but I rarely mixed home life with school life.

Three years later I was sent back to China for a year to reacquaint myself with the culture and language.  It was a blissful time of no homework, no worries, since I was so far behind in all the subjects – except for English, where I was so far ahead – that I was kind of just a dead weight in class.  Nevertheless, the kids loved me because this little 3rd grader was stronger than the 6th graders, and faster than anyone in school.  I didn’t really contact my parents much during that year and when I returned to the US, I had no viable way of staying in touch with my friends from that school.

When we moved to Missouri, my dad had been working there for awhile.  He had secured a position with a company that kept him traveling as he and my mom started their own company, so my mom went back to China for two or three years to work on that.  The internet had just gone public and I was immersed in the world of HTML, making a variety of websites that I have since forgotten about.  I was also an extreme bookworm, preferring to spend time poring over novels to that of physical company.  At school, I was a social butterfly, known by everyone but not close to many.

By the time we made the move to New York, I was in the smack middle of my middle school years.  Afraid that I would get gaps in my knowledge if I took the honors track for math and science, my counselor advised me to follow the normal track and then test out of it after 8th grade.  The classes, unfortunately, were far too easy and filled with immature peers who I did not connect with.  My close set of friends didn’t have many classes with me, since they were all on the honors track.  After finishing middle school, I found that this test that my counselor talked about did not exist.  I was stuck.  Meanwhile, my mom busied herself with the stock market as my dad worked hard at his new Vice President position, often going on business trips.

During my freshman year of high school, I took a math class that was nearly a joke for me – algebra.  I aced nearly all of the tests and quizzes and got a disappointing 99 on my final.  Frustrated with the lack of challenge, my mom had me talk to my teacher to find out what I would need to know for the next level of math.  I spent that nextsummer learning geometry with my mother, meticulously practicing, learning, and writing out homework.  At the beginning of my sophomore year, we took all the paperwork to the principal and my new counselor to show them that I had mastered the material.  It was agreed that I should be allowed to learn trig at that point, however, I still had to attend geometry class.  (Apparently a New York State law that I needed to spend a certain number of hours in the classroom – utterly useless.)  So, I took two math classes simultaneously that year (along with either other classes, ensuring I never had a lunch period).  Though I finally caught up academically, socially it was a bit too late – the honors track students had already formed their cliques.  And I was not a part of them.

My dad had moved to Texas when his company moved headquarters and waited there for us to move there to join him sometime in the future.  Instead, a headhunter found him and convinced him to take a new position as VP over in a Californian company.  So, with just two weeks notice in the summer following my sophomore year, we packed up and moved across the nation.  Being that it was summer, not many people knew what had happened to me and why I left.  Once again I had been the social butterfly, knowing everyone in my grade, but hardly close to any of them.  Only my closest group of friends saw me off and the rest of the school I didn’t know well enough to call up to inform.

I started life anew in California as a junior.  With just two years of high school left and a lot of focus on college prep work, I made friends only with people in my classes, on my swim team, and in my JROTC unit.  This was the most present my parents had ever been, but I was far too busy with schoolwork, SAT prep, ROTC training, swim practice, and meets to really spend time with them.  For the last blissful weeks of high school, I lived it up driving around with my friends and enjoying life after APs and before college.

Then came UCLA, where I was so busy with being a college student that I only went home when I needed to do laundry.  When I was about to start my second year, my dad moved back to China to work and has been there ever since.  My third year of college I went abroad and by the time I returned, my mom had joined my dad in China.  I spent my fourth year and extra quarter on my own in this country before my mom came back to join me until I found a job.  Now I’ll be off to Singapore and by the time I get back, who knows how things will be.

So you see, much of my life was spent with my parents traveling around or busy at work.  I had a lot of time to myself in the afternoons when I came back from school and spent many years away from them.  Even when we are together, we all are busy with our own obligations, so I don’t just hang out with them much.  In fact, the only true bonding we get is the periodic family outings we go on – road trips my dad concocts to all kinds of places.  It’s been an int
eresting lifestyle and it just amuses me that in a week, our family will once again be split amongst three different countries.  I do love being independent and traveling a lot, but eventually I’d like to settle somewhere long-term to have as a home base.

Thoughtful friends make my heart sing

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You know when you think it’s just another meet-up with your friend and then BAM you arrive and it’s a surprise party for you?  Well if you haven’t experienced this, it’s just about the coolest thing ever.  If you have, then you know the utter shock and amazement that washes over you when it dawns on you what is happening.  And yes, I am writing about this because it happened to me today (well, I guess technically yesterday now).

February 24th was cut out to be a special day.  I thought it was because it was my boyfriend’s birthday.  I thought it was because it’s Mardi Gras.  But more than that, it turned out to be a special day for me!  After spending as much time as I could with Panda this afternoon, I had a few hours to kill before I was scheduled to meet up with my friend “Shadow” for dinner.  I decided to head over to the student store after parking my car, which turned out to be a fortunate decision – I ended up running into an old friend and an alum from my co-ed business fraternity, AKPsi.  It was great to catch up and I was happy that I didn’t end up bored out of my mind for three hours.

Eventually I headed back to the residential halls to get ready to meet up with Shadow, but since I was early, I decided to drop by and say hi to some old friends.  They weren’t in, but luckily, I happened to see them in the window of one of the eateries on campus.  As if that wasn’t enough excitement for a day, I also ran into another friend there!  We all made some plans to meet up later this week before I fly out on Sunday.  Eventually, it came time to head down to the restaurant that Shadow and I were going to eat at.

As she and I walked to the car, I babbled about how I didn’t want to walk down so I’d drive the car and try to get a metered spot in front.  Then we could get our food and park somewhere else to eat in the car.  She calmly agreed to this silly plan and we drove down, coming across a 30-minute spot that had 30 more minutes until they stopped checking meters.  Perfect.  I even babbled out loud about how I could keep the spot now, even though we shouldn’t need it since our food shouldn’t take that long.  Well, I didn’t realize just how fortunate that was!  It freed me up to stay happily put at the restaurant once we did arrive and she hurriedly pushed open the door to reveal three other friends, waiting there for us!

I was completely oblivious this whole time, haha, which worked out just as it needed to.  It was so amazing to see those lovely faces that I haven’t gotten to see in months!  Gosh, I am still thrilled about it now, hours later and even as exhaustion kicks in.  Additionally, Shadow got me this amazing gift baggie with UCLA gear to remind me of my alma mater, some candy for my sweet tooth, and even some gum, since it’s banned in Singapore.  I’m not sure I’m allowed to bring it in, but it’s cute.

A few years back, Katana also did something similar for me, arranging a surprise birthday party.  Sometimes I can’t believe I actually thought I was going to her house for lunch with her parents!  Haha, I can be so gullible when it comes to social gatherings.  Instead of a warm family gathering, I walked into their hosue and found a dining room overflowing with gifts and food, and most importantly, good company!  What a special day that was.

The point of all this is just to express how grateful I am to have friends like this.  Those who take the time and care to arrange these get-togethers and lure me to them.  I feel so blessed that they would go to that trouble and I really wish I was better at these things.  I am a hugely sentimental person and I appreciate thoughtful gifts so much more than anything of great value.  That is why these things speak so much to me – it takes careful thought to plan and execute them!  That sort of effort means so much more to me than anything that can be bought.

I want to explore what I am good at and find a creative way to turn that into something that I can do for my friends, in turn.  I remember when I used to be the picture-taker, Katana used to be the writer, and Elle used to be the CD-maker in our little trio.  We each had our own niche and that is how we shared with each other.  I want to do something special akin to the whole party-throwing thing, like make an artful collage or mini photo album or scrapbook.  Something that will be signature “me.”  At the same time, these little meaningful gatherings are a classic and I’d really like to do them.

Bilingual, bicultural

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I am not sure how it happened, but 8Asians started to follow me on Twitter!  When I was notified of this, it got me to go back to their site to read some of their entries.  I eventually came across an article about teaching your kid Chinese, as a response to an article that the author had read about the decision to not teach your kid Chinese.  It was interesting to see the perspectives on this issue, being one who went through years of Chinese school.  Though I hated getting up on Sunday mornings to go learn, the extra homework that inevitably came with extra schooling, and the difficulty of learning the characters, it is something that I am tremendously grateful for.

So I, for one, lie on the side preferring bilingualism.  I grew up speaking Mandarin at home and English at school.  Any notion that children will get “confused” learning two languages simultaneously is absolutely absurd.  I’ve never had a problem with that, not even accidentally saying a single word in the wrong language.  Some people seem to have it in their minds that integrating two languages into learning is conflicting, but it certainly is not.  That’s the beauty of a young mind.  It can pick up on so much so effortlessly (or at least so it seems).

As I read through comments to those posts, I started to think: it’s not just about the communication aspect.  Being bilingual (or multilingual) opens the doors to be bicultural.  And to be multicultural is to understand.  That is not something that can be learned very easily either.  Though plenty of people in their adult lives can move elsewhere and adopt their new culture, a lot of the old culture still remains at odds with the new one.  It’s not easy to balance the differing views.  Growing up learning to mesh them, however, could give you a worldly view on things.

Plus, from a practical point of view, if you want to stay in touch with your family abroad and allow everyone in your family to understand each other, it’s an important skill to have.  Otherwise, you will end up having to translate (or be translated for) at family gatherings.  I have always prided myself in my Mandarin fluency – it allows me to get around as I need to when I am visiting the country and it allows me to interact with my relatives without needing my parents to translate.  Just by knowing the language, I feel so much more connected to the culture too, since so much of it has historical and cultural roots.

I think the older generations also respect you more if you know the language(s) of your heritage.  So many of them shake their heads and mutter to themselves when they hear of other children who don’t know the language or can barely get by with it.  For me, however, they are either proud that I can speak to them or holding back from their mutterings because they know I’d understand what they’re saying.  It gives you so much more freedom.

Now I can understand parents who may want to wait for their child to start learning another language (like the lady in the article mentioned above, about not teaching your kid Chinese).  For the first few years, it will be relatively easy for them to pick up on the language, so there’s no need to throw them into lessons when they’re still learning to walk.  This is especially true for people who may not be native speakers themselves, since there isn’t much they could teach the child.  However, I do think that anyone of a heritage growing up in a culture other than the one they were born to should start learning the language sometime in elementary school.

I certainly want any of my future offspring to be bilingual, if not multilingual.

Native nothing: problems with my identity

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This is a thought that comes up periodically in my life.  It’s not that I’m a nomad, but I have no true hometown to speak of.  I am not really “native” to anywhere.  Though I was born in China, I grew up in the United States.  Does that make me “native American” (as opposed to Native American)?  I don’t feel so.  Then do I feel Chinese?  Not enough, especially when I go back to visit and the very way I look and hold myself gives me away immediately.  Plus, my way of thought is greatly influenced by the American culture.

Being Chinese-American has always posed a slight problem for my identity.  I am equally both?  More one or the other?  I didn’t grow up questioning this, but it’s always tricky to answer that inevitable question: “So, where are you from?”  Where am I from originally?  Where am I from now?  Where is my parents’ home?  It’s complicated, so I usually try to answer with whatever it seems they were looking for.  But really, what am I?

I lived in China for three and a half years (split between Shenyang and Jieshou), Pennsylvania for two years, Kansas for three, back to China for one, Kansas for another one, Missouri for two and a half, New York for three and a half, California for four (split between Valencia for two years and Westwood for the other two), England for one, California for another year and a half, and now Singapore for six months.  So you tell me, which is my hometown?

Even if I were to claim American roots, where do I belong?  The East Coast?  The West Coast?  The Midwest?  I even almost moved to Texas (and would still like to for awhile).

All I know is that England and Singapore are out the running, since they were rather brief stints that didn’t occur until adulthood (not that I feel like an adult).  One was for studying abroad and now the other is for working abroad.  Since they are not permanent relocations, it’s easy to rule them out.  However, that still leaves the eight major areas I have lived in.

I don’t look American because I am Asian.  I don’t look Chinese because I have been out of the country for too long.  I don’t really fit in to either place like a native would.  I’ve stayed in places long enough to get to know the area, but not enough to leave a lasting imprint.  Most of my childhood friends would have been lost to me were it not for Facebook.  Yet, even after finding people I knew early on, things have changed so much that we don’t even know each other anymore.  Sure, they look similar to what I remember them to be, but watching them mature and go on their own paths… well, that is not something you can really predict from elementary school!

I am quite comfortable with all of this though.  I don’t mind being seen as an outsider sometimes.  I still feel at ease where I am and with who I am.  It’s just hard to explain to anyone.  I am a melting pot of East meets West, East Coast meets West Coast.  There are so many different factors that shaped my opinions, from my cultural background and upbringing to assimilating into a new culture and traveling the world to experience more.  So if you really want to know where I’m from and how I think, grab a seat, get some tea, and we’ll chat…

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