Okay, so you’d have to be dead to the world to have not heard about Jeremy Lin in the past two weeks. After only playing in a handful of games, this has become the best and most captivating story of the NBA season. I watched the Lakers-Knicks game last Friday, when Lin scored an insane amount of points on national TV, and I have not been so excited by an NBA game in years. And this is still the regular season!
A week ago (yes, this post is a little tardy given how fast this story is moving), boxer Floyd Mayweather sparked some controversy by tweeting: ”Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”
Understandably, Mayweather received quite a bit of backlash for this comment. But let’s be a little forgiving with his precise choice of words, since he is not exactly renowned for his precise verbiage. Let’s just change the word “all” in his quote to “a lot.” This comment then becomes…
“Jeremy Lin is a good player but A LOT of the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”
So the thing is, this slightly modified tweet is completely and obviously accurate. Of COURSE race matters. If Lin were black, or even white, he would not be THIS big of a deal. A friend asked me the other day, “What percentage of the hype around Lin is due to his being Asian?” My gut response was “75%”. Now, that may be a little bit high, since there are so many aspects of this story that are so fantastic and unbelievable. Unrecruited out of high school. Undrafted out of college. Cut twice already this season. Most points scored in first five starts ever. Seven straight wins for the Knicks in the Center of the World. Sleeping on a couch. Harvard nerd. Devoutly Christian (and therefore the Tebow parallels). But let’s say that was it. Let’s say all of the above was true, but he was black. In my opinion, I think this would be a very big story in the world of the NBA. I think every NBA fan and most casual sports fans would at least know his name by now. But there’s no way that my sports-ignorant girlfriend would know who he is. There’s no way that Letterman would be doing his Top 10 about him. There’s no way that Linsanity would be this insane. So even if it’s not 75% like I initially stated, it’s got to be at least half.
So the problem with Mayweather’s comment is not the accuracy of his statement. The problem was his tone of tweet, that it sounded like he was complaining, like this was something NEGATIVE. And it is that negativity alone that reveals the ignorance and hypocrisy of this comment.
On April … [read more]
i’ve been craving chinese food for a week.
this doesn’t happen often. i attribute this occurrence to the fact that 1. chinese new year was monday, and i keep seeing food pictures from the weekend on my facebook and instagram and 2. i’ve been talking extensively about where to get chinese breakfast with jeff, my friend and now co-worker, who wanted to find a good place. and now all i can think about is chinese food. beef noodle soup. boba. green onion pancakes. dim sum. mango dessert. on and on and on and nom nom nom nom nom.
r and i made pork lo mein tonight, spurred in part by my craving. (the recipe was from cook’s illustrated, but no matter. it was good.) as i washed the dishes, another thought occurred to me: maybe it’s not just that i crave chinese food.
maybe i miss being asian.
the phenotype hasn’t changed, i know. but when i look around my life these days, there isn’t a lot of asian in it. my husband isn’t asian. most of my coworkers aren’t asian. most of my friends aren’t asian. (these are not complaints, mind you — these are simply observations.) and then i got to wondering how exactly i practice my asian-ness. i write about it and talk about it in sociological terms, but i haven’t done a lot of that lately. i eat the food, but i haven’t done a lot of that lately either. i hang out with other asian people, but i don’t really have a group of asian friends here anymore, and the asian friends i do have i tend to see in the context of my very diverse social circle. so there isn’t a lot of asian going on for me right now, in terms of either people or practice.
… but there is a hint of it, just enough to remind me that it’s there. like jeff at work, for example, with whom i talk about asian things constantly, and all my asian friends from home and college who i see on facebook and twitter and instagram. if i had no exposure at all, maybe it would slip to the back of my mind — but i seem to have just enough to remind me that that’s a part of my identity; just enough to make me want to practice it in whatever form; and just enough so that if i don’t practice it, i feel a loss. which is what i’m feeling now, in the form of craving chinese food.
don’t get me wrong: i love having a diverse community and a diverse workplace, and i don’t take these things for granted. but i was reminded today that i also have cultural needs that require attention. so i think i’m going to tend to them tomorrow, and by that i mean i’m probably going to get in my honda civic, drive to monterey park, get a … [read more]
Personally, I totally agree with liz’s decision to keep her last name after marriage. When I get married, I have no preference as to whether or not my future wife takes my last name or not. Ultimately, it’s her choice as to what name she wants to use for the rest of her life, and whatever choice she makes, I’m fine with it.
On the other hand, however, why am I so judgmental when it comes to first names? With an increasing number of my friends having babies, I cringe almost every time I hear the baby announcement. You named your kid…that??? Really? (If you are my friend and you have a kid and you are reading this, I assure you that you are in the minority and that I love your kid’s name. Really.)
Furthermore, I’ve also known people to change their first names over the course of their lives, mostly changing from an Asian name to a more “American-sounding” name. Since I grew up as “Christopher”, I can’t really fully understand the headaches these individuals have gone through having to constantly correct American tongues that are physically incapable of pronouncing “Hyung” as one syllable or don’t have any idea what to do with a name that starts with “Xi” or Qi”. So I sympathize, to a certain degree. But at the same time, I don’t think one should give away their name unless there is severe hardship involved. And also, the replacement “American” name that is chosen is for some reason invariably stupid. Like, “Hello, my name is Sangjoon but you can call me Trevor.”
Why so much hate? As with post-marriage last name changes, people have the right to choose, right? I don’t know. People have the right to choose their own (and their baby’s) names, but when they choose stupidly, it pisses me off. I suppose I’m not being entirely fair. Is the world a worse place because “Aiden” has been the #1 baby name for boys for seven straight years? Other than to that poor kindergarten teacher who can’t keep the eleven Aidens in her class straight, I guess not. My big problem with a name like “Aiden” is that it is an Irish name, and if you’re going to appropriate a name from another culture, why not choose your own? But I guess you could say the popularity of “Aiden” has basically made that an American name now. But that’s partly my point. I am imploring people to at least consider choosing an Asian name for their babies. The more babies that have Asian names, the sooner those names can be accepted as American names. And that would be a good thing. (And yes, I realize that “Christopher” is not Asian. I acknowledge the double standard, which now means that you are not allowed to point it out. … [read more]
if you know me, you know that, after much debate, i chose to keep my last name when i got married. i recognize that the decision about what to do with your last name after marriage, for both men and women, is very personal, and everyone needs to figure out what’s best for them. this is what was best for me and robert, and i’m very happy with the choice i made.
since getting married, i’ve been mildly surprised by the ways in which some people have responded to it. even though it’s the 21st century and this practice isn’t new or revolutionary by any means, i expected the decision to be more of a surprise in some circles (e.g., christian ones) than others, given that it’s less common in some contexts for wives to keep their last names. but sometimes the way that people respond, while well-intended, is irritating at least and offensive at most. they tell me why it makes sense that i kept my name, implying that this is the reason why it’s okay that i did. because were it not for my special circumstances, i should have changed it, because that’s the way things should be.
this pisses me off to no end. allow me to illustrate with some (real-life) examples:
“oh, it makes sense for you to keep your name — you’re a professional. you have publications and degrees and stuff. changing it would make things so complicated for you. but for women who don’t have all that, there’s no reason for them not to change their names.”
i’m sorry, i graduated about a minute ago. i have virtually no publications or licenses to my name, and even if i did, i got married while i was in school, so i easily could have made it so that robert’s last name showed up on my diploma. the reason i kept my name has nothing to do with the fact that i have degrees, and there’s no reason why women without degrees shouldn’t be able to keep theirs too.
“it makes sense why you would keep your last name — it means something to you because you’re asian.”
this is a true statement. however, even if my last name had no evidence of my ethnicity, i still would have kept it.
“oh, many people of chinese descent keep their last names.”
this is also true — in the motherland, chinese women keep their last names after marriage. however, i’m american, and my chinese heritage is not the reason why i kept mine.
what i sense from comments like these — and please feel free to argue with me if you think i’m wrong — is that in more conservative circles, people are uncomfortable with the fact that i kept my last name. it threatens the established order of things, the way that things have always been done. so they need to create excuses for why it’s okay for me to deviate from this … [read more]
last week, i started a new job.
i’ve written in the past about how unhappy i was in my previous line of work and how i gave myself a month, after finishing grad school, to just relax and detox before starting my job search in earnest. as i mentioned before, though that month was glorious, there were moments when anxiety about my future would bubble up and i would find myself looking for jobs in a mild state of panic with no aim and no success. it wasn’t completely dejecting, because i knew that if worse came to worse, i could work at starbucks while i figured out what i wanted to do next (a process i imagined would probably take longer than a few months). however, the fact that i wasn’t finding a lot that i was particularly excited about was discouraging. the options just didn’t seem great, and i wasn’t sure how much better they would get.
but then a present dropped out of the sky.
at the end of that first month, i got an email from a friend of mine from college who’s now the college pastor at a large church in my area. knowing that i was looking for work and that i have previous experience working with high schoolers, he wrote that there was an open position at his church to mentor high schoolers and to coordinate a bunch of their activities, and he asked if i would be interested.
the email came completely out of left field. i had never considered working at a church, but the job seemed… well, kind of perfect. i loved working with high schoolers before grad school — they were kind of the reason i studied what i did, though i realized much later that what i was studying wasn’t exactly what i wanted to be doing — and even though i wanted a career change, i still wanted to work with students. the details of the job were also pretty sweet: it was a 30-hour-a-week gig with full benefits, which would give me time to teach adjunct at my alma mater (something i already had lined up) and to pursue some other things on the side; it was only a few miles away from my place; and the team, which included both my college friend and another friend from grad school, was by all accounts fantastic.
not that i didn’t have any hangups. the job was perfect for me, but i was a little leery of the fact that it was at a church. i’ve gone to church for about half my life and i’m a big fan of it, but i was concerned that working at a church would tarnish my street cred in the rest of the world, which is probably why i had never considered working at one in the first place. (then again, i couldn’t think of another context in which i could get paid to … [read more]
i’m now in my third month of unemployed living. even though three months isn’t a long time in the great scheme of things, i’ve noticed that this period has taken on some distinct phases:
1. the reverie. in the beginning, it was perfect. i loved being unemployed so much that i didn’t know if i’d ever be able to hold down a job again. getting enough sleep, having time for things that i’d wanted (and needed) to do for so long, being outside when the sun was out… it was glorious. i could hardly believe my good fortune.
2. the drag. after about six weeks of euphoria, unemployment started to get old. even though my working self from a year ago would punch me in the face for saying this now, it became, dare i say, a bit… stressful. and not in the “i’m running out of money” kind of way, though that would have infinitely compounded it. no, it was more a sense of “since you’re unemployed, you need to be doing something,” and then putting exorbitant amounts of pressure on myself to accomplish an unreasonable number of tasks.
i recognize that i have a hard time receiving gifts. i constantly feel like i need to be earning or justifying the things i have, regardless of what they are. for example, i am free to look for new jeans now only because i have 3 pairs, one of which i bought in high school (13 years ago), one i bought in college (10 years ago), and one that has a hole in the butt and needs to be replaced. (those i only had for 2 years. gap’s quality isn’t what it used to be.) the new phone to replace the one i had for 2 years and barely worked anymore? it can be a present from mom and dad for christmas. a case for said phone? err… maybe this can be robert’s christmas gift to me. i have a hard time coming up with things i want for birthdays and christmases because i don’t feel like i withhold from myself throughout the year, so why do i deserve something… extra? can’t you just retroactively gift me something i already got? otherwise, i feel like i’m being indulgent.
and i guess, in the same way, this whole period of time felt indulgent. the vast majority of my peers didn’t get a break between graduation and post-doc, and if they did, it was most likely spent moving. but i had the luxury of time off — months off, even. so i had to earn it, in a convoluted way, by being productive — by finally unpacking those boxes that have been collecting dust in the closet, by finally writing back to the 85 people i’ve owed emails for months, by finally reading the tens of books on my … [read more]
My eyes burn from staring at a never-ending stream of legal agreements all day long. My stomach feels queasy from too much coffee. It’s nearly midnight, and I came to a cafe hoping to quickly take care of some loose ends at work and then spend some time writing a post for this site, but it took me way too long to finish up working and now I’m just plain exhausted. All I can think about is how tired I am and how much work I have to do tomorrow morning and how early I have to get up. I don’t have the energy to try and be witty or creative or erudite.
And I guess that’s the problem. The years have gone by, and I have continued to waste time at 9 to 5 jobs (or 8 to 10) in which I have no real interest, passion or talent. But those jobs still consume energy, and the older I get, the less energy I have to expend overall, which means that I have even less and less energon in reserve to figure out what the hell I am doing in life. Which makes me start to feel like the longer I wait, the more unlikely it would seem that I will ever figure it out. (Yes, I said energon. And when I say that, I mean 80′s vintage energon, not 21st century CGI energon. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it, because I am a humongous dork.)
On the other hand, I could just stop working. I could, in liz’s words, simply just stop walking. Stop and be still.
But here’s the thing…even if you stop walking, everyone else just KEEPS ON RUNNING. Can you imagine if you were in a pack of runners (imagine the start of a marathon) and then you simply just abruptly stopped? Worst case, you’d be trampled and die in a bloody mangled heap. At the least, you’d end up alone, as runner after runner passes you as they head off to wherever it is that they’re going.
I’ve been walking/running, but at a slow and halting pace. Some of the “runners” are starting to fade from view. Recently I heard that a classmate from law school made partner at his law firm. He’s one of the first, but he certainly won’t be the last, and as the years go by, more and more of my former classmates and colleagues will take their places as captains of the legal industry. And, even though I don’t really have any interest in becoming a partner at a law firm, I still feel a pang of envy for that guy, because he’s already gotten to where he’s been heading and I’m just wandering around in the woods, trying to figure out what direction to go.
So I can’t really bring myself to completely stop moving. Maybe that would be better, but, like a shark, I have this compulsive need to not come to a complete … [read more]
I’ve been fired from a job once in my life. I had this cushy part-time job when I was back in college working for campus computing. I got to drive a sweet blue truck around campus to the various computing sites, fixing computers that were on the fritz and reloading printer paper. There wasn’t much to it. If I missed a site or four during my rounds, it wasn’t a big deal, someone on the next shift would probably get to it. Best part of the job was that you could park a university vehicle freaking anywhere: on sidewalks, in the middle of the quad, whatever. Mostly I would just clock in at the beginning of a four hour shift, hit a couple of sites, then drive home in the sweet blue truck and watch tv, then drive back at the end of my shift and clock out. The job was so chill I even scheduled a class during my work hours, during which time I would neither be in class nor working. (Still got an A by the way. Econ 102…cake.) I only got paid $7 an hour, but it was $7 an hour to do nothing.
Anyways, I’d been working there for about a year or so, and our super laid-back boss quit and they brought in this new guy as supervisor. We never got along from the outset, partly because I was talking to girls in the computer lab during his orientation speech (but they needed technical assistance!) and partly because of my rather, uh, casual approach to my job. I showed up late for my 10 am shift one morning, and he gave me a warning. When I showed up late a second time, he unceremoniously asked me to turn in my keys to that sweet blue truck.
Now, this was a job I quite obviously did not give a crap about. It was barely a real job, and a part-time one at that. In addition, I didn’t really need the money all that badly and I had other part-time jobs, and could easily work more at other jobs to make up the lost wages. But, despite all that, I walked home after being fired feeling utterly despondent, like I had been kicked in the gut. Despite the fact that I made no effort to gain approval, why did rejection hurt so much? Thinking back on it now, the biggest reason had to be that by getting fired I came to realize that I did not have any control over the situation. Regardless of whether I thought my boss was a moron (he was) or how highly I thought of myself (very high), I did not have the final say because I was not in a position of power. And that just seemed extremely unfair.
Fast forward to 2011. Early this year, I decided to leave my job. But I hesitated for … [read more]
One thing I’ve been thinking about (in no small part spurred by liz’s post on smart women), is the age at which we get married. For example, from what I can see on the Internet, the average age for a first marriage in Korea in 2009 for men is 31.6; for women it’s 28.7. In the U.S., it’s 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women. The average ages for China and Japan are comparable to Korea, in case you were wondering.
Why is this? Here are a number of highly suspect reasons:
- Higher education levels. There is a positive correlation between your level of education and getting married at a late age. Part of that might simply be the amount of time required to get all those advanced degrees. And you can’t deny that Korea places a strong emphasis on education while the U.S. is, ah, not doing awesome there.
- Mandatory military service. Korean men are required to spend two years in the military with relatively little outside contact, which could definitely be a factor here. But since this doesn’t explain the gap between women, let’s call it a minor factor.
- Social immaturity. This is related to the first point in education, but in my experience, Korean kids spend most of their formative years doing nothing but studying. Study, study, study. Often, there is very little interaction with the opposite sex until college. While I am calling it “social immaturity” for lack of a better term, this definitely cuts down on teenage pregnancy and shotgun weddings, which I’m sure is pushing down the American average.
- Those damn dramas. Korean soap operas have been continuing to grow in popularity; I singlehandedly blame a “soap opera” mentality for one of my cousins getting married so late. You are inculcated with these romantic ideas in popular culture, and you wait around for Mr./Ms. Right….until like forever. While maybe this could account for an increase in marrying age in Korea over the years, not sure it accounts for the difference with the U.S., which also seems obsessed with fairy-tale weddings.
- Lower rates of divorce. Less people get divorced in Korea; so maybe they just take more time to pick carefully? But not sure that this makes sense either, since the rate of divorce is rising at the same time that the age of marriage is rising.
I don’t really know what the reason is, though I think the education one sounds pretty good. If I had to put my eggs in a basket, I’d go with that.
But if anything, doesn’t it seem like it should be the other way around? And not simply because Koreans generally live with their parents until they get married (I would imagine that they would want to get married as quickly as possible just to get out of the damn house). But isn’t it an almost universal gripe of the second generation that our parents are pressuring us to get married, and get married quickly, and don’t we somehow write … [read more]
when i was a freshman in college, i became friends with two guys — let’s call jim and joe. they were seniors, and i adored them. they were big-brother-types to me — jim the jaded and cynical one, joe the outgoing and charismatic one. and then there was me, the little freshman in pink. (for some reason, whenever i think of myself as a freshman, i’m always wearing this one hot pink t-shirt, emblematic of my disposition at the time.)
several years later, after they graduated, joe and i were having a conversation when he said something that surprised me.
“jim and i were talking the other day,” he said, “and we were like, ‘liz is the only really smart girl we know.’”
i was so shocked that i didn’t know what to say.
on one hand, i was honored. like i said before, i adored these guys. and clearly, their respect was hard to earn — but i, among all women, had succeeded. it was as though they had bestowed a laurel wreath upon my head.
on the other hand, on behalf of womankind, i felt insulted. i know lots of smart women. lots. like my best friend, a yale-educated neurosurgeon who also has an MBA, just for funzies. like my mom, who has a phd, who is chair of her department, who is president of a company she co-founded on the side of her full-time professorship, and who has invented something that i think will change the world. like my parents’ friends’ daughters, almost all of whom attended ivy league schools and went on to become successful doctors, researchers, and executives for fortune 500 companies. i grew up almost exclusively with really smart women. who were the dumbasses that jim and joe were hanging out with?
and then because of the latter feeling, i felt guilty for having the first feeling, and then all of my emotions just got stirred up into a confusing, complicated mess.
i was reminded of that conversation today, over lunch with a friend, as we discussed some male co-workers of hers who really appreciate educated women. i felt the same kind of conflict i felt years ago: on one hand, i am an educated woman, and i appreciate that almost anywhere i go, my voice will be heard and respected because i have degrees that give me street cred. on the other hand, why does it require so many years of post-grad education to ensure that i’m taken seriously? and why are we lauding smart, educated women as though they’re rare birds when really, they’re everywhere?
conveniently, i had a meeting scheduled this afternoon with jim. i relayed the two conversations, he tried to find a way to articulate his position without offending me, and we had an interesting conversation about why men have a hard time identifying smart women. in light of that conversation, here are some of my hypotheses:
- women are encouraged to be a lot of things — pretty, thin, bubbly — but smart often isn’t one … [read more]