The location for the Chinese-Japanese Friendship Group’s speed dating event seemed like a place where love goes to die. From the outside it looked like a local convenience store, the kind where you can easily purchase 50 cent baijiu (rice liquor) and tar filled cigarettes–maybe even a cell phone charge card. If it weren’t for the hand written sign taped to the wall adjacent to the shop keep, we would never know that a dating event lie in wait just beyond the foul stench of the convenience store’s stinky tofu, and up the stairs from the grime filled storage room.
You know, men never face this dilemma. They don’t debate about whether they should give up opportunity or stay with the woman of their dreams.
They just take the job.
Women, on the other hand, will face this agonizing predicament at least once in their lifetime. Move away from the boyfriend to pursue the career I have been dreaming of? Or stay behind, stick by his side, and possibly have a life of marital bliss?
I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. I had to choose a man or my career.
I check my e-mail to see the response I have been waiting for sitting there in my inbox, calling my name. I told my friends this is “my dream job,” even though I knew the chances of me actually snagging the position were to slim to none. Still, this organization called me in for an interview (to my surprise) and they seemed impressed at my credentials and skills. Since the position was in Washington DC, I knew the likelihood of me being selected as a candidate from halfway across the country was extremely unlikely, but I still had hope.
Most people are stunned to find out that I’m half Asian half white. They’re even more stunned to find out I’m not half Japanese or even Chinese: I’m half Vietnamese (I know, I don’t look Vietnamese at all).
And I’m not only white–my father is 100% Irish. So I’m a complete 50/50 split of two very different cultures.
Being a Halfie in the USA
In my hometown (a very small town in Utah) my mom was the only Asian person in town, making my brother and I the only Asians in the school. Despite how un-Asian I look, I was constantly teased for being a “gook” or a “chink” and never a moment went by where I wasn’t racially profiled. Me liking Japan didn’t really help improve the situation, so memories of people yelling “hey ching chong wong” and other such uncultured insults are still a very fresh memory today.
“How are things with you and your Shanghai man?” I ask J on the phone as I slurp some coffee and munch on toast.”I hear you have dinner with his family every weekend? Seems like things are getting serious.”
“Mary, I’m going to have a breakdown,” J sighs heavily on the phone. “His mom did something that REALLY bothered me these last few weekends.”
“Oh no,” I set my coffee on the table and leaned in, almost as if J were really sitting across from me. “Did she say something about you being a foreigner? Or maybe about your family?”
I know. It’s been ages since I’ve updated.
I’ve opened up wordpress and stared into a blank page for minutes at a time, trying to compose my thoughts into something that flows and make sense. I tried multiple times to post something that is profound, moving, touching, and somehow manages to convey all of my distraught feelings for leaving behind a life full of love and comfort in Shanghai. I tried to sum up the overpowering emotions of saying farewell to China and the wonderful life I lived there for three years–but every time I tried to type something, it just didn’t feel right. It felt forced, sappy, or empty.
Sometimes, you meet people and you know that you were just meant to cross paths somehow. As soon as you lock eyes and shake hands you know that this was meant to be. This connection between one human being and another, one heart to the next, souls that intertwine.
My boss Takada-san is exactly one of these people.
I’ve mentioned her a few times on here. My boss that could rule the world if she pleased, but can’t handle the burden of it all. A Japanese woman that gave up everything to fight for her rights in a society that wants to keep her at home and tied to the kitchen. A woman that wanted to be more than just that; she aspired to be a leader, a creator, and most of all a traveler–and she succeeded at it all, but at great cost. She looks of a woman tired from the relentless pressure and overtime of the Japanese ad agency world. Despite her experience as being CEO of multiple companies in the past, she continually refuses our headquarter’s offer of taking the position once again. She’s had enough, and you can tell at her age she just wants to soak in a hot spring or dive in the maldives. She’s simply tired of changing the world.
Reading this article (in Chinese) brought me back to one of my Chinese lessons at Tsinghua University back in 2010.
What Would You Do?
“Let’s say you’re walking down the street,” my Chinese teacher begins. “You see a child playing in the street, running around, and he suddenly falls down and hurts himself. You see the child crying and there’s even some blood on the pavement. What do you do?”
My Cambodian/American classmate, without hesitation, responds: “Go over there and see if the kid is ok, of course!”
I woke up and it punched me hard in the gut: stomach pain. I curled into the fetal position from the pain, but I knew that the show must go on. I got out of bed, showered, clothed myself and hobbled back to bed where I cradled myself and my sore intestines. Fifteen minutes later and with the excuse of ‘still being able to walk,’ I crawled out from my bed, grabbed my pre-made bento from the fridge and slipped on my high heels ready to strut to work. I was ready to make my Japanese company proud and go to work completely ill.
I was browsing through advertising agency news when I stumbled upon this article concerning China’s equivalent to Black Friday in the United States.
In other words
Leave it up to the Chinese to create a holiday that is, utterly, pointless. “Single’s Day” was supposedly devised up by some really lonely college students in a dorm, and somehow the craze has spread to the national scale–with the entire country recognizing this bizarre phenomenon and celebrating it much like the Moon Festival or even New Years. There really is no deeper meaning to the day other than the fact that 1 is a lonely number, and 4 of them lined up together makes it even lonelier—thus, ensuing commiseration.