Sunday, May 31, 2009

What have I done to my children? My pet germ...

6yo was slaving over a project this morning, and he proudly showed it
to me...

It made me laugh. And then pause. And then laugh some more.

He even named his pet "No. 17"...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"You people!" is symptomatic of something that none of us want to admit...

(I promise. This is going to be the final rant from me. There is a bit OCD in my personality, and sometimes things just bother me and I cannot let go. Most of the time these are "trivial" by most people's measure. But are they REALLY trivial? Perhaps they are only trivial because you are not affected by it?)

Here is what I have been thinking...

No matter where you are in the world, the advantage of being one of the majority, the mainstream, the dominant society, is that you have the freedom to just be you. No REPRESENT! No speaking for your race, nationality, gender, etc. No "Tell us something about your culture" as if by the nature of being who you are, you automatically are well-versed in the history/culture/geography of where you are supposed to come from. And nobody will ever ever say to you,

"You people..."

Tropic Thunder clip - "You People"

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Wonder what Newt would say about this classic Eddie Murphy SNL skit "White Like Me"?

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Friday, May 29, 2009

"No, Newt, You're the Racist" Thank goodness someone more elequont wrote this rebuttal...

to the charge by some Republicans against the Supreme Court Nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, as being a racist against the white people, and specifically, white male people.

I first saw this charge when I was waiting to board the plane. (You know the CNN scrolling texts on the bottom that drive everybody crazy but, I have to admit it, was pretty useful when there was NO sound on!) I could NOT believe my eyes. But I was not surprised either.

In my head I was formulating all these rebuttals, clever comebacks, theories, arguments against charges of any type of Reverse Racism. The best I could come up with was: It is like the Royal Families complain about being prejudiced against because people are jealous of the privileges they enjoy.

Seriously? Give me a break!

Thank goodness for Vanity Fair. Here is again another article that I LOVE so much that I want to print it out and eat it whole. I really should be working since I am buried by projects that are all due YESTERDAY. But I need to get this off my chest before I explode into a pile of, YES, non-white, mess...

No, Newt, You're the Racist by Michael Hogan (May 27, 2009)

Mr. Hogan, I assume who is white and male (NOT that there is anything wrong with that...), managed to deliver a rebuttal against this utter nonsense in an even-handed, non-didactic, non-preachy way.

Digression: I also appreciate much the fact his article does not invoke White Guilt either, for nothing is more annoying to me than condescension and patronization born out of White Guilt. No, thank you very much, we have managed along quite well. We do not need to be rescued by a knight in shiny armor. Give me outright Racism any day ( Disclaimer: obviously, I understand VIOLENCE committed on the basis of racism is no joke. Here I am referring to TALKS. DISCOURSES.) When it is veiled in White Guilt, I am at a loss as to how to react to it.

Anyway, the best quote from the article is as follows, although I do hope you read the entire thing if you have stayed with my rant so far...

"The reason so few sensible people take [any charge of reverse racism] seriously is that there is no effective anti-white discrimination in America or, for that matter, the world. Being white is almost universally easier than being any other color, just as being male is almost universally easier than being female. (If you’re white, male, and still angry, the problem is you.)"

Nicely done. Thank you.

If you happen to be white (in appearances) and you cannot see the implied privileges that come with your skin color, here is a great article/exercise that may resonate with you:

"White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh in 1990. Yes, it is decades old. But hey, some things never change... or at least, not much.

p.s. Once again, the comments steal the show and become the proof for the importance of writing the article being commented on in the first place.

Michael Hogan, poor guy, he's being pummeled and maligned in the comment section. It is rather scary and disturbing what was said in those comments. I wish I hadn't read them because now I am officially pissed. And scared at the same time. And disturbed. And dispirited.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bring your swimming trunks when you visit the Crown Fountain in Chicago...

This is one place that we keep on going back in downtown Chicago, the Crown Fountain at the Chicago Millennium Park, lovingly nicknamed the Face Fountain. Public art pieces based on water features are known to draw people together, inviting people to participate in shared activities and to create an ad-hoc community.

Here is what the artist, Jaume Plensa, said about this piece:

A fountain is the memory of nature, this marvelous sound of a little river in the mountains translated to the city. For me, a fountain doesn't mean a big jet of water. It means humidity, the origin of life.

And anybody that has been around this gathering place when the weather is warm enough knows what it means: children splashing in the water, laughing, chasing each other. Adults fascinated by everything that's going on around them. The surprise and delight in the faces when the water jet shoots out of the mouth of the "face". And the best part is the screaming children under the catch-you-off-guard waterfall coming from the top with no warning.

Pure delight.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

What do tennis balls have to do with soft drinks?

Well, please let me know if you do know. Because I don't!

p.s. I missed the word "table" in the title of this post... Sorry if you read this post because you'd rather learn about tennis balls & soda BUT not table tennis balls (aka ping pong balls) & soda... (added May 27, 2009)

Red Bull milk shake? Just seems wrong...

They say money can't buy happiness

Well, money makes me smile here...

I GTalked my kid to ask him what he would like for breakfast today...

As over-thinking, ironically introspective, neurotic, obsessively over-analytical as I am, this incident strikes me as seminal. SEMINAL. Mark it on the calendar.

We have all seen those cartoons, parodying the increasing importance of texting in the life of teens and even preteens, showing kids texting each other while sitting next to each other on the sofa, or kids and parents texting each other while in the car, or family members texting each other while around the table, TXT "Could you pass the salt please?"

We all laugh. Then we tsk tsk and exclaim, "What the world has come to?", while simultaneously congratulating ourselves for not being like the characters as depicted in the cartoons. And then we worry that it may become a reality. It is in some way part of reality, we begrudgingly admit to ourselves.

It happened on a Saturday morning towards the end of a school year, the rare time when we did not have any place to rush to and my son was playing the ever popular Runescape on the computer in my study. Normally, it requires a lot of yelling back and forth, impatience, frustration, foot-stomping, indignation, accusations of ingratitude and false accusations for breakfast to be served. Since I had my laptop working in the kitchen, I thought, "Hey, why not Gtalk him?"

Ping. "What do you want for breakfast?"

Ping. "What the..." "Mom, is that you?"

Ping. "LOL. What do u want for bf?"

Ping. "Pancake pls."

It soon evolved into a Q&A session where the 11 yo asked me some words he'd learned from his fellow game-players but instinctively knew were "bad words" that he should not use. First right up:

Ping. "What does Jizz mean?"

Ugh, Jesus. Why can't his father be doing this? "You don't want to know."

Ping. "It is close to jazz."

"Believe me. It is not."

Ping. "tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me"

Fine. "Have you learned reproductive organs in your health education yet?"

"No. But 6th graders did. We didn't go."

I explained that he would learn about it when he has sex education in the 6th grade. Upon that, he said, "Yikes!" in spoken language which I could hear from the kitchen.

For good measure, I emphasized that it is NOT a shortened form for when you want to say "Jesus!"

Then we moved onto:

"Mom, what does f-g mean?" "It is banned from this other site." "People would say this to me whenever I kill [their characters]."

Well, the usage originated from The World of Warcraft, I believe. "You know the word 'gay' and how we agreed that we would not use it to make fun of people?" "There's this word that is even worse than 'gay'"

"Oh. I know that word."

Me. Thinking. "How the hack does he know? Where did he hear it? And who the F called my kid that word?!"

Somehow it does not seem as lecture-y through Gtalk to make him promise he would not use this word. No matter how common an expression it has become in this game or anywhere else. It is a principle thing.

Although I can only hope that he keeps his promise when I am not around, which will happen more and more often now that he's 11 going on 30, I am glad that we had this chance to talk. So, so what it is through Gtalk?

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Friday, May 22, 2009

We are like The Simpsons. Yellow like The Simpsons.

My 6 yo drew this picture of us today. This would be one of the 86,337 pictures drawn from the teacher asking "Please draw a picture of your family" before he graduates from high school. Surprised at his choice of color. But thank goodness that they no longer call the pale pinkish color "Skin". That's probably why he decided to go with a color that was most likely the closest to human complexion in the meagerly selection of crayons he has left - it is after all towards the end of the school year. I am surprised that we are not blue in the picture...

When they were younger, I pondered whether to be absolutely PC-crazy and shell out for a box of those fancy "People Colors" crayons from Lakeshore Learning Stores. I eventually decided against it. What are they gonna do with those crayons? Take them next to the person they are drawing to match the color? Like at a cosmetic counter when you are buying foundations? Or like paint chips you brought home from Home Depot?

Children are amazingly observant and they are not afraid of asking questions. This is what I have learned from my kids.

I guess tis a sign that Multiculturalism has become a big selling point when Crayola started selling something called "Multicultural Crayons". Kudos to them for trying. Something is a bit off however ... I cannot help but wonder at the colors.

Orange orange and red red? I think I will stick with yellow any time.

Note to Self: Buy ice cream for kid tomorrow. I look thin in the picture.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Mother’s Day Phobia

It is the Wednesday after Mother's Day and therefore I figure it is safe to reflect upon the impact of Mother's Day on me personally, without the risk of being accused as mean-spirited, bitter, spoiled, jaded, or worse, unfit-to-be-a-mother…

Although I have always been moved by the origin of Mother's Day, an internationally recognized and celebrated holiday nonetheless (unlike Father's Day…), I really do hate Mother's Day, if I may be allowed to be facetious. For myself.

I do sincerely celebrate Mother's Day for all the mothers out there who so rightfully deserve well wishes on their special day. The Collective Mother. The concept of motherhood.

I appreciate the opportunity to wish all the mothers happiness, a day of relaxation, of recognition. I appreciate the fact that my mother-in-law is probably one of the best mothers-in-law out there and I am blessed in this regard. I appreciate the reminder that I owe my own mother thousands of apologies for all the pains I have caused her, and that maybe for once I can talk to her on the phone without hanging up in a hurry because someone in my house screams as if his leg is being sawed off, or in a huff because my mother says something that does not jive well with my pseudo-feminist sensibility…

"What are you going to do with the kids when you travel for business?"

"Hmmm, they have a father too?" Click.

I hate all the commercials that unfairly raise my expectations of what my husband and children would do to "honor me" on Mother's Day. I hate my own passive aggressiveness:

"What do you want for Mother's Day? What do you want to do for Mother's Day?"

"Whatever. I don't care."

I hate my husband's taking my reply literally after so many years of marriage. Come on, man, you know the passive aggressive bitch that I am. DO SOMETHING. Anything.

I hate despite all my jokes of "lowered expectations", I cannot help but have that smidgen of hope, that maybe this year, something would be done. A surprise would be planned. The secret conversations. The furtive exchange of looks. The stifled laughter as they worked on a conspiracy. And I would pretend not to notice.

Like I said, I hate all those commercials that plant unrealistic expectations even when I try to be rational about it.

I once read that, statistically, more people committed suicide on their birthdays than any other day of the year. (Or did a college friend of mine tell me that? After he phoned to check on me, to make sure that I didn't do anything stupid. I was full of angst in my youth. Hermann Hesse. My husband would not agree on Demian as the name for our firstborn. Lucky kid…)

The same agitation I feel on Mother's Days. I wish I could just forget about it. DON'T PANIC.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

The "What the __?!" epidemic

I am no Miss Manners, let me just come out and say that. (Although writing Thankyou notes is one of the very few rules I am forcing my kids to follow). I have a potty mouth when the kids are not around, or at least, when I think they cannot hear me (which by the way often backfires... So yes, Bad Mommy. *Slap hand*)

We do say "What the...?!" a lot indeed when we are driving. Every time someone cuts in front of me, I mutter "What the?!" under my breath. So it is definitely my own fault then. Lately though I have been noticing the increasing popularity of kids saying, "WHAT THE?!" Even the very little ones. My own 6 year-old and I have overheard even younger ones mouthing their surprise, discontent, disappointment with this now ubiquitous all-purpose expression.

They say it without reservation. No hand "quotation marks" around the words when they shout it out. No whispering. It has become part of the conversation.

"Hey, kids, come see what I brought home for dessert?"
"WHAT THE?! Oh, thank you! I love it!"

"Why is the room such a mess? Didn't I just ask you to clean it up?"
"WHAT THE?! I already did it but [the other one] messed it up again!"

"WHAT THE?! oh, ha ha. You scared me!"

WHAT THE?! Mom! My new DSi froze again!"

"What the?!" indeed.

Do the younger children know what usually comes after the THE in adult speech? I surely hope not. I was hoping that they think "WHAT THE?!" is the complete expression in itself. There is nothing that's supposed to come after it. But then my 6 year-old started saying, "What the BEEP?!"

"What the?!" I thought. *Pull hair*

Thinking back, even Buzz Lightyear in his own first feature-length cartoon after Toy Story says "What the?!" once or twice - I remember that one because we had the VHS tape and watched it many many times. The boys were a bit young to pick up on that then. Now this expression appears just about in every cartoon not targeted towards the very young set. That is, NO, don't worry, Telletubbies do not say this. In fact, they don't really say much at all. Nor does SuperWhy, Dora, or Bob the Builder.

But I bet that if you turn on network TV on Saturday morning, also known as "Cartoon all morning so you can relax while your kids sit in front of the TV" Saturday morning, you will hear "WHAT THE?!" more than a few times.

At this juncture, I am ashamed to report, I don't know how to react when I hear the kids say it since the cartoons that we allow them to watch (e.g. Skunk Fu) use this expression, therefore, they are sanctioned by FCC, ergo, we parents should be ok with it too.

Despite the above complaint about my losing control over the upbringing of my kids, I am no prude. I'll prove it:

What the f*ck?!

p.s. Turns out the answer is once again, "It's the economy, stupid!" According to MSNBC report in March 2009, "a foul economy is prompting more outbursts of foul language." *Scratch head* I didn't know my kids read our 401K Statements...

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Friday, May 8, 2009

How Nordstrom honors the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month...

First of all, for all of ya who are uninitiated: May is designated by the U.S. Congress as the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Don't fret if you didn't know until now. The first week of May is actually Asian Pacific American Heritage WEEK. Between the Swine Flu and the Oprah-KFC debacle (Seriously, folks. How much does it cost to just pay for those grilled chicken? They look extremely unappetizing to me anyway...), I don't think the mainstream media even remembered. So, you are forgiven.

Secondly, I promise I will not get on my soap box. There are many books/articles/websites out there if you are interested in reading about stereotypes, underrepresentation, Fu Man Chu, Lotus Blossoms vs. Dragon Ladies, blah blah blah. (That would be me preaching to the choir - the conundrum is if you are, you would have known already. If you don't care, you are not going to check it out anyway...) Yup. Otherwise known to the "mainstream" society as, cough cough, "whining"... I say that because the common comment, from the "mainstream" society, to the critics of stereotypes is, "It's just a joke. YOU PEOPLE have no sense of humor!"

"You people". I wince every time I read or hear it. In real life. In the movie, Tropic Thunder, it was hilarious how they played with it.

Anyway, I digress.

So in honor of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Nordstrom is hawking designer t-shirts by, you guessed it! Asian American designers. Anna Sui and Koi Suwannagate. YES! Represent, girls! (I just have to ask: Was the ubiquitous Vera Wang too busy or too expensive?) Don't get me wrong. These are extremely gorgeous tees, at $60 a pop. And the profits will go to the scholarship fund for OCA, an organization dedicated to advancing the cause for Asian Americans.

I am sure Nordstrom's efforts are appreciated but I am quite amused by the irony in this shirt.

Call me nitpicking if you wish. And I assure you, I have a great sense of humor.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Parenthood makes me feel dumb

It is a cliche that children do not come with manuals. No education prepares one for parenthood. Sometimes I wonder whether a Jeopardy champion would make a better parent since they seem to be better equipped with answering completely random questions.

The series of questions and free associations my 6 year-old child fires from the back of the car often make me grip the steering wheel so tight that my knuckles turn white, because they are not the usual questions of "Mom, why is the sky blue?" Nooo.

"When was [his daycare] built?"
"I don't know honey."
"The president of [his daycare] would know right?"
"I don't think so since there are hundreds of them."
"When was our house built?"
"See you know the answer. So how come the president of [his daycare] does not know when my school is built?"

"Who is the most powerful? The governor of [our local village]? The governor of Chicago? Or the Governor of Illinois?"
"Well, I would say the Governor of the State of Illinois. But you know they are responsible for different things."
"Well, who is the most power? [The above list of people]? Or the governor of the United States?"
"You mean the President? I would say the President."
"But you said that he works for us. So how come he's the most powerful?"

"Mom, when do you want your Mother's Day party to be?"
"Hmmm. I was hoping that I could just relax. I don't really feel like a party since I don't want to clean up afterwards."
"Hmm, you should be like Obama's wife."
"Remember how she went to ten parties* and she didn't even complain? You should be more like her."

* My guess is that he is referring to the number of Inaugration balls the first couple attended

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Can't wait to grow up and I worry so.

People tell you that every one of your children is going to be different. They don't tell you HOW MUCH different your kids can be from one another. They came from the same gene pools, the same womb, grew up in the same household, and it amazes me how my 6-year-old boy has a much older soul than his older brother.

I sometimes wonder whether it is true that the questions asked by my youngest child have never been asked by my first-born, or perhaps I simply forgot. I am often caught off guard by my youngest's questions, especially those stemmed from acute, and sometimes elliptical, observations of people around us and life itself.

Earlier today he asked, "Mom, what does illegal mean?" "Hmm, it means against the law. Like it is against the law to steal."

"On my birthday, when it is legal for me to drink, I am going to drink a beer."

I laughed. "You do that."

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