#SorryAsianParents

A goofy kid just trying to make sense of the world while trying to be Asian American

Yeah, I screenshot this. I stand by what I did.


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No Fadah, Moe Problams

This past Christmas, my father spent the festive night getting his gallbladder removed at Kawiia Delta Hospital. Despite being about ten or so years older than Baby Yoda, his health is not the ass-beating Asian father of nine he once was. I remember seeing my father stumble towards the front door the night before Krampus came for his inside cookies. I was sleeping in the living room when I woke up at 4 am to a thumping sound. Thinking it was my brother who was still drunk from a holiday party he and I attended a few hours before, I got up and yelled, “What the fuck you still doing up?” To my surprise, I saw it was my father, pressed against the wall. Between heavy breaths, he told me he was in pain and was making his way outside to meet my sister, who was taking him to the hospital.

I rushed to my father’s aid, escorting him outside by the arm. The early morning was cold as balls. I could feel my father shivering as we carefully made our way down the rain-drenched driveway. When I opened the car door, my father immediately sunk his body into the passenger seat. His eyes were closed, one arm clutching his stomach as the other found its place on the “Oh Shit” handle above the door. Seeing the man, who I thought was the toughest SOB growing up, in pain woke me up to a possible future where my father would die thinking I am a failure.

Growing up, my father was hard on me. Not to sound like the stereotype, but my father is the “typical Asian dad.” Like most Tiger Dads, he yelled at me when my grades fell below A’s (because B is for bitch); instead of getting grounded, I would get my ass beat; and, of course, he wanted me to become *enter my bad impersonation* doctor. He had a plan . . . until I (his firstborn son who had the opportunity to be the first of the family to attend a 4-year university) told him, “fuck all that.”

My parents and I at my SFSU graduation

Of course, I gradually disappointed my father with a soft lie of wanting to become a teacher. If I dropped the news like napalm, he would have had a heart attack from all the shame.

Even if my father wanted to voice his concerns for my questionable career choice, it would have been difficult because of our cultural differences. Typically, an Asian American son would know how his Asian father was feeling from the strength of his backhand. (JK…Kinda) Our relationship was(is) no different. So you can see why I avoided those father-son chats; my ugly face can’t take high-fives anymore. But when we did have our chats, the conversation would usually end with “You could do better,” or “Stop fucking up, dumbass.”

Looking back at it now, it’s probably not what my father intended for me to feel. He was trying to raise me how he knew best, learning from his father before him. But, needless to say, the constant fear of disappointing him put a lot of pressure on me.

Eventually, I stood up to my father and told him how I really felt (like them white kids on ABC Family). Haha PSYCH, no fucking way. I listened to my Asian side and ran away from my feelings, limiting my communication with him and avoided any conversations about my future.

Once my father got the hint, he started backing off. Then my twenties took OFF! Without having to worry about being the perfect Asian son, I was free from the guilt as I frolicked aboutsss in college. All it cost me was a healthy relationship with the man whose sack I swam from.

When you are young, you’re stupid. For real, think about being in your early 20’s and in college. I didn’t give a fuck about another person’s opinion, nor did I care about being some “model minority.” I was living the American Dream, baby. My ego had a BBC, and it was just swingin’ it in the air.

But all of that big dick energy went away on Christmas as I reverted back to a prepubescent teen who was afraid of disappointing his dad.

It’s a shame that it took an exploding gallbladder to make me realize how much of a child I’ve been, a thirty-year-old man-child who thought he could put a pause on time until he was ready to become an adult. But time doesn’t wait for anyone (unless you’re hella rich, then you can do whatever you want). Growing up isn’t a choice for me anymore; it’s a sobering reality.

Facing my father’s morality made me reflect on what I want for my future. I can’t change who I am and all the choices I’ve made in my life. And though I don’t want to be a bad Asian boy anymore, I cannot deny my hopes and dreams as an individual. I suppose, now, all I can hope for is to use the remaining time to make my dad proud by my standards. Or at least pay off my student loans. Come on, Liberal Arts Degree! Digivolve into a money-making machine!

#SorryAsianParents

PS, I know I’m not alone when it comes to immigrant children and daddy/mommy issues. Good luck to those out there who are going through the same struggles of finding your own identity.


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Life Is Short; Cherish Your Loved Ones

I would like to share a letter I wrote to my friends after someone shared with me some words to remember after the death of a loved one:

 

Someone who I had worked with recently passed away; her name was Judy. I didn’t work with her much, but I knew the fun person she was and the energy she brought to the room.

One of her close friends, Mark, gave me some wise words that have been lingering in my mind since last Thursday. While drinking a few Titos and soda with a Titos back, he told me to cherish the people who bring joy to my life because you never know what’s going to happen or when they will leave this world.

What Mark said made me think about all the times I have shared with everyone (my friends in the ZipperSquad) in and out of this group. All of those euphoric, blurry nights at music festivals (especially at the Electric Daisy Carnival) and beyond. For some of y’ all, it was like beyond, beyond.

I’m starting to realize that we are all living our life, growing into the spirited person we are all meant to be. And, of course, with life comes death. As we continue to grow from stupid teenagers to even sillier Adults, our encounters with lost will become more frequent as time continues to do its natural thing.

Sometimes our paths in life don’t always run alongside another or intercepts often, but that doesn’t mean the time we have shared was for naught. We have shared moments of joy and, of course, we were together in times of need. The company we each provided was the foundation of happiness I felt as I attempted to mature through my 20s.

In the grand scheme of things, all the hiccups and mistakes we all have made doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the bonds we forged through nights filled with side-aching laughter alongside those grey days showered by our tears. Life is short and we never really know what’s going to happen. I wish for everyone to appreciate the friends and family you keep and hope for you to enjoy their company to the fullest.

This could all be a bunch of gibberish from a man with too much time to think. But I would be lying if I said I don’t daydream of partying with everyone from dusk to dawn, or if I forgot about those times where we would sing offkey on our way to a burrito spot, or if I did not value the countless nights where I drunkenly shared a piece of myself. However, I did tell a lie. When I felt the distance between our friendship begin to grow, I reflected a cold manner where I did not care. Though some of y’ all saw through my facade, I was selfish to do so.  My memories with everyone are endless, and so is my sincere affection for everyone.

 

I hope this message sparks a nostalgic stroll in that beautiful mind of yours. It could be tomorrow when hearing that one song causes your brain to malfunction, looping the same memory as the music teleports you to the past. Or it could be when you spontaneously burst in laughter and can’t stop smiling at some stupid meme that uncovers a forgotten moment. If you have missed your bus stop because you couldn’t help looking at festival pictures suggested by Facebook Memories, or any other moments like these, then I implore you to reshare that memory and tell them how much you appreciate the impact of their friendship.

 

(TL;DR) Sorry for rambling on. Just so I can sound like a broken record, just make sure you appreciate one another and cherish those bonds that you have formed with your friends, current or past. If someone is on your mind make sure you tell them that they have a special place in your heart and that you will always remember the times you have spent with one another. If you ever find yourself where you need a friend to talk to, reach out. Depression and social anxiety in our generation are common, and your friends are there for you. Being vulnerable is ok. Just being there to listen can be all someone needs. Life is too short for pettiness to come between love for another. Remember, friends are the family you chose; there is a reason why you selected them to be a part of yourself and your journey.

 


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A Very Asian Christmas: A brief history about Christmas and Asians

By Airec Sype

not trying to break Santas lap

not trying to break Santas lap

As I reminisce about my Christmas vacation, the overpowering memory of me sitting in my parents living room watching my six year old baby brother play Call of Duty on the PS3 underneath the 62’’ TV, as my eleven year old baby sister watched Ugly Betty on the iPad by the decorated artificial Christmas tree with wrapped presents underneath, this makes me wonder . . . where the fuck was my Christmas when I was 10 years old?

Growing up in the Central Valley, a predominantly White Christian Conservative area, the concept of Asian culture was foreign to kids of other ethnic culture in grade school. So a question I was often asked was, “Do Asians celebrate Christmas?”

Yes. Yes Asians do celebrate Christmas, you racist!

LOL, well let me elaborate on that. Yes and no, and well kind of.

For my family, it was after my spawning that my parents decided to embrace and celebrate Christmas. I am the first born, oldest of nine, so I consider myself to be the test subject of their experiment with integrating into American culture. English is my second language (now my primary language), so that meant that Lao/Thai culture came first and American culture and practices came second. And the wonderful commercial holiday that I love was no exception to this rule growing up in a gradually assimilating household.

Before we get into my trail and “failures” of the American Christmas experience, let’s have a little history lesson shall we . . . and this Asian version of Twas The Night Before Christmas.

Christmas is a predominantly Christian/Catholic holiday in America with a splash of American commercialism. So seeing how Christianity isn’t the primary religion in Asia, jolly ole Christmas came later-on when DIFFERENT Asian countries (I want to emphasize this fact, despite the whole “Asians look the same” concept, that there are different kinds of Asians) adopted the holiday after being colonized and subjugated to the oppressors religion or just simply because they were memorized after witnessing the magic of Xmas.

On a side note, Diane Severance, Ph.D, said that “Jesus was Asian” and that “Christianity began in Asia.” So HA! Take that you “White is Right!” fools. Your lord and savior was a math tutoring, kung-fu chopping son of a gun/God. The real reason why we Asians squint is so that we can see Him better through the light . . . Just kidding, but it is quite amusing to picture Jesus protecting himself from blasphemous naysayers and the devil with one karate chop at a time.

According to my understanding, the Philippines were some of the first Asians to enjoy eggnog and Lifetime replays of It’s a Wonderful Life and National Lampoon. Their privilege to enjoy this holiday early was due to “Spanish influences.” Or maybe because the Philippines were conquered early on by the Spaniard who were extremely Catholic. The power of Christ compelled them early!

Then there are Western influenced Asian countries, like Japan, who celebrate Christmas for the commercial purposes (and love I guess, pff), like gift giving and yellow snowball fights. I also know this is true because I’ve seen it in Japanese animes . . . and anime would never lie to a fellow Asian boy.

But some Asian countries, like China, do not recognize Christmas as a holiday. Whether you’re observing Dec. 25th for a commercial or religious holiday in those countries on the naughty list (looking at chu North Korea), then you’re still going to have to go to school as you watch other Asians frolic around in their Santa hats as they attempt with desperation and hope to get a kiss underneath the mistletoe.

You can read more about Christmas traditions in Asia at this Wikipedia page.

However don’t lose hope for little Lao Annie at her orphanage, Christmas is here . . . or I mean there! Why do Western countries and other mainstream Asians get to have all the fun?! It may have taken awhile but a blizzard of candy cane joy has reached the dry villages of Laos and exotic cities of Thailand. Whether this is a result of America’s commercial colonization or a Christmas miracle, it doesn’t matter because now everyone gets a Christmas.

James Zwier, Program Adviser at World Renew Laos, states that despite less than 2% of the population in Laos are Christians, “Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year.” Villagers uses this time to be with family and celebrate the farming year. It maybe a small victory, but it’s still a step forward into a global Christmas utopia!

Umm . . . so thank you European colonization and American media/commercial influences for bringing my fellow brothers and sisters overseas Christmas?

However, my parents were not lucky enough while they were in Asia to stuff stockings as they waited for jolly ole Saint Nick on December 24th; the only thing they stuffed back then were egg-rolls as they waited to go to their itty-bitty child jobs.

But after their migration to America and the start of our gigantic family, my parents got to try out their very own version of Christmas on me, which was interesting since they were (1) foreign to this concept of freedom to express love for another family member and (2) they weren’t Christians.

I am glad that I was my parents guinea pig in their Christmas experiment. When I looked around that night and saw all the things my little siblings now have, I can see how my envious tears, that I shed in grade school when I heard other kids tell their tales of Xmas victory in a form of toys, bikes and sneaky mistletoe kisses, watered the Christmas tree of joy that my siblings now have standing over them today. Compared to my first Christmas, which was with a small poorly decorated tree with some sticky rice and pork and no presents, this was a huge victory for my younger brother and sister.

My families version of a Christmas dinner

My families version of a Christmas dinner

my baby brother opening his presents . . . SURPRISE YOU GET CLOTHES!!!

my baby brother opening his presents . . . SURPRISE YOU GET CLOTHES!!!

Although I still feel like my Christmas interactions with my parents are more of “Why don’t you get a job” and “When are you going to get married” instead of hugs and presents . . . I guess somethings never change.

Stanley, 25, San Fran., a Chinese American, also has a similar experience with Christmas. He believes that Christmas means family traditions and whether to continue with the traditions or transition into something completely culturally new with your own family as the time goes on.

“It’s this kind of freedom that is what makes me proud to be an Asian American,” he said. “Like trying to find whatever makes you and your family happier.”

Now when people ask if I celebrate Christmas, I answer “Yes, an Asian Christmas.” Not to be a smart-ass, but it’s the honest answer since my family’s version of Christmas is different than the ones on Hallmark cards. Also, I tend to celebrate my X-Mas with lots of alcohol with my friends when I’m not strapped down with my family. But I think that’s more of a traditional alcoholics Christmas than an Asian one.

 

-I hope y’all had a very good Christmas and have a great New Year, Sype