now you see Him, now you don’t

the way that God works is mysterious.  and strange.  and hidden.  i don’t think many of us understand it most of the time so a lot of times, we don’t see it.  other times, our eyes are just not tuned to the spiritual work of God so we seldom notice Him.  our eyes are tuned to see other things that we deem as “important”, such as our facebook profiles, our reputations, the number of stars at the restaurant we’re eating at, our annual salaries, the college we go to, our gpa’s, etc.  i’m not saying that these things aren’t “important” or “good” but it is often these things that blind us from the work of the Lord.  in fact, God usually has to take these things away from us [often forcibly] in order to get our attention.

over the past two weeks, God sent me on a mission trip with 15-ish other crazy taiwanese dumplings to the city of Hualien in Taiwan, our homeland.  objective of the mission: none other than to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  in a land where over 90% of its people don’t know Christ.  we must go.  the call is urgent.  the people need Christ.  mission accepted.  Jesus, I am in!

but how?!  how do we proclaim Your name to these kids and their families?  of course we could always go to their homes and shout “JESUS CHRIST” in their faces, but that might not work.  can’t take that too literally.  we need some sort of.. “vehicle”.  something that will allow us to reach their hearts.  we must first tend to their physical hunger, in order to reach the needs of their spiritual hunger.  what do the people want/need?  english.  many of the families want their children to learn some english.  so we’ll give that to them!  and at the same time, we give them Christ.  more of showing than giving, but yeah.  and so for two weeks, we taught english to around 85 kids at the donghong church, hoping and praying to God that these precious kids would come to Christ.  that was our mission trip.  the end.

a lot of people would conclude their reevaluations of a mission trip abruptly, like such^.  “oh, the mission trip was good and stuff, we had a lot of fun.  kinda tiring.  but like, it was good”.  hearing that makes me sad.  not only does it make me feel like you don’t wanna talk to me, but it also shows that you were unaware of all the work that God has been doing.  “seriously?!  nothing to share all??  there has to be at least one testimony…?  okay fine :(”

in my opinion, there should be tons and tons of testimonies to share on each individual mission trip. [btw, testimonies aren’t limited to just stories of salvation; they can be about anything that the Lord has been doing in your life].  why?  because God is always working.  to reiterate, the way that God works is mysterious and hidden.  if you can’t think of anything that God has been doing on your past mission trip, search harder.  over the past mission trip in hualien, i think God has really helped me shed my “worldly glasses” [as i like to call them] and open my eyes to see His marvelous works.  it was as if i was blind to a whole separate dimension and God just revealed the 3D world to me.  was blind, but now, i see.  it’s mindblowing.  eye-opening.  i can now see the invisible and mighty working hand of God, molding hearts, transforming lives, and even moving typhoons.  i can’t see all of it but i am so certain that His hand is there; i just know it.  there’s evidence everywhere!!

  1. changed hearts and changed lives – hearing from last year’s missionaries, there were supposedly only around three local TA’s.  very small youth fellowship.  this year, there were over fifteen.  i know that still doesn’t sound very impressive but the amount of growth that their ministry has gone through over the past year cannot be underestimated.  some of the TA’s have only been attending this church for six months!  and hearing from their stories, they went through dramatic change in just that short amount of time.  some of them were [i quote] “mean”, “scary” and “gangster”and yet, i didn’t see any of that.  i saw a loving and mature christian with a good heart.  it’s hard to believe that they went through so much change in six months.  and there was the hand of Yahweh.
  2. numbers don’t matter – on saturdays, the donghong church has a youth fellowship that welcomes anyone from middle school to college who wishes to commune with other believers and God.  this is similar to the “Friday Night Fellowship” that we do at East Valley, except with maybe less than a third of the people.  i’m pretty sure our EV team made up almost half of their attendance that day.  we could all fit within the first row of pews.  and somehow, i was still blown away.  not because of their attendance, but their passion.  their numbers were so few, yet their spirits were so strong.  when they played games, they were so excited and enthusiastic; when they fellowshipped, they were overflowing with joy; and when they sang…   wow.  i still don’t understand how they sang so loudly with so few people.  it wasn’t so much the skill of their singing [though they are good], but more of the heart behind it.  when they worshipped God, you could really tell that they were worshipping God.  they were passionate, bold, and unashamed.  it was so beautiful.  i couldn’t even understand the words to the songs [they sang in Chinese] and i still wanted to cry!  and there was the hand of Yahweh.
  3.  fruit – during our trip, we also spent our afternoons and nights visiting the families of the children who attended our english bible camp.  our goal was to be salt and light to their households, make a lasting [good] impression on both the kids and the parents, and ultimately, invite them to become church members at donghong.  most of our visitations were very successful; the families were mostly open to the idea of allowing their children to participate in church activities.  a couple of families even told us they would send their children to sunday school every week!  the sunday right after our team left hualien, there were already new kids.  and there was the hand of Yahweh.
  4.  coincidence?  i think not – God?  i think so.  july19th was our second and final day of english bible camp; we were already packed up and ready to leave hualien that afternoon.  we traveled by train and 2-3 hours later, we were back at the Taipei Main Station.  we all passed through the gate and showed our tickets.  well, all except one.  one of our team members somehow lost his ticket, causing us to wait for 5-10 minutes as he searched his bags and pockets.  thankfully, our team captain had a receipt of all the tickets so we didn’t have to abandon him but as we were about to leave, another group of 10+ asians speaking english passed by us.  i didn’t know who they were but they randomly stopped to ask me if we were a mission team.  it turns out that they were also a mission team from irvine, ca [not too far from us] sent to hualien for a mission trip for two weeks and they came back on the same train as us.  whoa!!  what the crazy.  now that i think about it, if our team member hadn’t lost his ticket, we probably wouldn’t have ever bumped into them.  fast forward 3 days.  me, my brother, and another church friend [J] were flying back to LAX; i kept trying to see if there was anybody on the plane that i knew.  but no dice.  as we were passing through immigration, J was telling us about the person who was sitting next to her; he was a caucasian male who was a missionary that was sent to taipei to learn chinese and spread the gospel.  and he just so happened to end up in the seat next to J and wanted to share with her.  whoa!!!  what the crazy.  if that wasn’t enough to swallow, it turns out that there was in fact somebody that i knew on the plane: my old small group leader that i met at a church winter retreat two years ago!  he also was sent on a mission to taiwan to spread the gospel with a team of 14-ish people.  WHOA. WHAT THE CRAZY.  what is going on.  from these different observations, i think i finally began to realize that God truly is working in Taiwan.  through this trip, i’ve learn to pray some prettyy bold and extreme prayers, one of them being the salvation of the entire city of hualien.  i prayed that hualien would become a beacon of light for the rest of Taiwan and soon, the whole country would know Jesus.  and throughout the course of these seemingly disconnected events, i think God was trying to tell me that He really was there.  right there in Taiwan.  doing His work.  doing His thang.  He gave me this assurance that..   that He was, in fact, answering my prayer.  of course, Taiwan won’t become christian overnight but i could see that God was doing His work.  werk it.  and from that moment on, i felt more at peace.  coincidence?  i think not.  God?  i think so.  and there was the hand of Yahweh.
  5. go away and never come back – i really don’t know about this one but i’d like to think that the typhoon was His doing.  originally, there was supposed to a severe typhoon hitting hualien on the first weekend but the typhoon shifted direction and went up north to Taipei.  had the storm hit us, we would have had to cancel one day of english bible camp, and that, in my opinion, would have made a big difference.  but instead, there was no storm, only a light drizzle.  and there was the hand of Yahweh?

these are only a few of the dozens of things that showed God’s work; i assure you that there are many many more.  there is a certain Jana Alayra song [woot] that goes “come and see what God has done, all the wonders under the sun..”;  we sang this many times during singspiration in those two weeks.  every time we sing it,  i am reminded of all these things..  the changed lives, the new church members, the “coincidences”, everything.  and it always blows my mind to think about it.  God’s fingerprints really are everywhere, we just have to open our eyes to see them.  perhaps it isn’t because these things are hidden, but more so the fact that we are blind, that we fail to acknowledge God.  perhaps we rely too much on the eyeballs of our face, rather than the eyeballs of our hearts.  next time you go on a mission trip, pray to God that you would be able to see things beyond a worldly perspective and i assure you that your trip will become so much more meaningful.  and bring it back home with you, too!  don’t just leave your spiritual glasses in the mission field.  don’t forget that you are always on a mission, whether you’re in taiwan, or back at home.

as i have learned to appreciate the invisible, yet awe-inspiring works of God, i have also consequently learned to worship that same God on an even deeper and more profound level than ever before.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  – C. S. Lewis

the chronicles of jamarcus brown – olga

this is what happens when you’re an english teacher and you don’t give your students enough guidelines for their projects.

our job was to read an old folk tale, discover its moral, and write our own unique folk story, delivering the same message.  we got a story by the name of “Gooloo the Mahpie, and the Wahroogah”.   what.  yeah, i’ve never heard of it either.   but short story even shorter, Gooloo was some wicked old woman that convinced a group of women at a tribe to go scavenging for food and supplies.  initially hesitant, the woman were eventually persuaded and off they went, leaving their children unattended.  Gooloo gathered all of them into her house and they were never to be found again.  the end.  moral of the story: trust your instincts. [i don’t even know if that’s the moral of the story, but our teacher just told us that].  had the women trusted their instincts, they wouldn’t have left their children in the hands of a shady old hag.  okay.  trust your instincts.  folk tale.  1 page, double-spaced.  psh. we got this.

to give you some context, me and my partner never really took our english class seriously.  we always partner up for everything and come up with the most ridiculous stuff.  we don’t end up with the best grades but hey, we have fun.  and i think our teacher likes us.  in our previous adventures, we created a certain character named Jamarcus Brown.  Jamarcus Brown is a beast.  I don’t remember specifics but he was like at least 9 feet tall, had monstrous legs, was ridiculously buff, and extremely good lookin’.  he was black.  he did have some flaws, however; he had tiny t-rex arms, tons of earwax, and social awkwardness problems.  as i was saying, we came up with the most ridiculous stuff.  but that’s what happens when you don’t give your students enough guidelines for their projects.

so anyways, we used Jamarcus in our most recent venture, the folk tale paper.  and this is what we came up with.  in about an hour.  brace yourselves.

     Once upon a time in the shire there was a young boy named Jamarcus. Jamarcus was smart and extremely handsome but he had one detriment which was his shyness (also his large feet and t-rex arms). Because of his shyness Jamarcus rarely made friends at school and was forced to seek friends online. Relatively he could have normal conversations online without worrying about his image so this was a good alternative to real life interactions. Pretty soon, the internet became his newfound home; it was a social refuge to him, a place where he could hide from the real world and fully express himself without the fear of being judged.  The internet became his life.

     Everyday, he would come to school without having said a word to anybody and immediately return to his computer to talk with his “friends”.  Everyone that a normal teenager would’ve found in school and real life, Jamarcus found online.  He found his BFF’s, his wingmen, his awkward friends, and even his enemies. The one thing Jamarcus couldn’t seem to find was a girlfriend though. After years of searching online no one matched his ideals.

     This was all until one fateful day when the username of Olga messaged Jamarcus on one of his numerous chatting websites. Olga described herself to Jamarcus, she was a well built and exotic female.  She had gargantuan bosoms and a nice round and firm butt.  Her cheeks were perfectly proportionate.  She was bold.  She was everything that Jamarcus wanted in a woman. Jamarcus was so infatuated with this online character and would stay staring at his computer screen for hours on end. He would stay up all night to talk to his newfound love. Olga seemed to always suggest that Jamarcus and she should meet each other in person. Jamarcus liked the idea at first but thought it would be weird to release himself from the own bubble he had created and approach a stranger he had met online in person. Eventually Olga persuaded Jamarcus to pick her up at her house to go on a date.  Her enticement was far too great for Jamarcus to handle.  He gave in.

     June 6th.  It was the last day of school and summer would finally be here.  AP testing and finals would finally be over, the end of another terrible year of school.  Good riddance.  But what was even better was that Jamarcus would finally meet the woman of his dreams.  Jamarcus had been looking forward to this date the whole last month of school and it was here.  Bubbling with excitement, Jamarcus rushed home, slipped on his best formal clothes, gelled his hair back, and gave the address to his momma so she could drive him there. Momma Jay was very supportive of her son’s decision to meet Olga as she had thought her son had no friends whatsoever. As Momma Jay approached Olga’s house, Jamarcus could contain himself no more.  He abruptly started screaming in Indian tongue and crashed through the window; he could not wait a second later to meet her.  Jamarcus’ mom understood that this was a thing that Jamarcus would have to do himself and drove away hoping her son would find happiness in this woman. He galloped across the street, made one last turn, and her house was now in view.  It was the last house at the end of the street. Jamarcus was bounding up the driveway on all fours like an ape but he was stopped in his tracks.  The house was eerie and dark.  There was a strange and creepy aura about this house.  Something seemed fishy about Olga’s home but Jamarcus couldn’t quite tell what it was.  

     “Maybe I shouldn’t have come..”, Jamarcus thought to himself as he gazed at the looming house standing before him.  There was definitely something shady about the house but Jamarcus could not resist the his dying urge to meet Olga.  Eventually, he succumbed to his temptations and walked to the doorway.  There was no doorbell so Jamarcus gave three loud knocks on the rotting wooden door.  Jamarcus checked himself in the mirror and fixed his hair one last time.  After what seemed like an eternity, the door finally creaked open.  Jamarcus let out a loud giggle but the smile was soon wiped off his face.  The door opened and there stood an elderly man with prune juice in one hand and a wide grin on his face. Jamarcus was unable to react in time to the foul sight and was quickly snatched by the man. Because of his many days of computer usage, Jamarcus was relatively scrawny and had no way of fighting back. Though Jamarcus’ body was never to be seen again, his screams are still heard today from the dark, desolate household.

yup.  trust your instincts.  should’ve stayed at home, son.  oh, Jamarcus.

i had fun with this one.  we actually typed this up together on google docs so even though i couldn’t talk with my partner, i was laughing the whole time.  man, i really enjoy stuff like this.  i’m a huge fan of storytelling, especially verbal storytelling.  but i’m not going to read to you guys but expect more written stories.  some of them will be true, and some will be more about jamarcus brown.

oh, summer, please come to me now.

but until then.

the chronicles of jamarcus brown [debut] – olga.  to be continued..

the inclusio of scripture

[here’s a little article that’s dedicated to the bible-lovers]

inclusio – a device in literature where a section of text is bracketed off.  the story is placed within a frame, so that it begins and ends the same way.  like a sandwich.  inclusios are everywhere, in books, music, movies, you name it.  we often overlook them the first time we read, listen, watch them, but when we look back, we realize that they’re there and it’s quite mindblowing sometimes.

in onerepublic’s most famous song “apologize”, ryan tedder begins and ends the song the same way, with the words “i’m holding on your rope, got me ten feet off the ground”.  inclusio.  jason mraz both opens and closes “the sunshine song” with “if there’s a light in everybody, send out your ray of sunshine” [excellent song, btw].  inclusio.

in movies, they’re not as prevalent but there still are some out there, such as mission impossible iii.  in the opening scene, ethan hunt is strapped to a chair and watches in agony as the heartless antagonist owen davian counts down to the second he pulls the trigger of the gun pointed at hunt’s wife’s head.  turns out it was a flash.. forward? and the audience does not get to see davian finish counting.  2 hours of intense, spy action sequences later, we revisit the interrogation scene once again, only this time, davian finishes counting as a desperate ethan hunt attempts to negotiate with him.  inclusio.  in forrest gump, both the opening and closing scene show forrest gump [and forrest jr] waiting at the bus stop in greenbow, alabama as a white feather is carried by the breeze into the sky.  inclusio.

i find it weird that i enjoy writing blogs and whatnot but i’m a terrible reader.  i don’t read too much but anyone who knows me well would know that my favorite book of all time is the bible.  just about a month ago, i’ve been made aware that even the bible, the living word of god, has inclusios in it.  if you look in the gospel of mark, there is a very subtle inclusio hidden in chapters 1 and 15.

in chapter 1, we witness the baptism of Jesus [by John] in the Jordan River.  pretty epic moment.  in chapter 15, we witness the death of the messiah as he breathes his last on the cross.  overwhelmingly epic moment.  though baptism and death are two concepts that one would most likely find contrasting to one another, these are the two elements that make up the big juicy sandwich of the “gospel inclusio”.  but how, justin?  how do the baptism and death Jesus make up an inclusio if they’re not even the same thing?  you be trippin, man!  well, let’s take a look at scripture.

1. “At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”    -Mark 1:9-11

here is the scene when Jesus gets baptized.  what observations can we make?  Jesus was getting dunked in the river and as he rose from the water, the heavens opened.  i’d like to say i have a vast and vivid imagination but the imagery in here is simply unfathomable.  i try to picture some large crevice splitting open and creating a divide that breaks some invisible, metaphysical boundary between heaven and earth.  and wind.  lots and lots of gushing, loud wind.  then, the holy spirit makes its way down from the other side of this momentarily fractured barrier and the voice of God thunders from it: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”   holy cheeseballs.

2. “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”    -Mark 15:37-39

fast forward 15 chapters.  Jesus dies.  what observations can we make?  as Jesus let out one last sigh, the curtain of the temple tore completely, from top to bottom.  so what temple is mark talking about anyways?  in case you didn’t know, it was the temple of Jerusalem [Herod’s temple, if i am not mistaken] and inside this holy temple, animal sacrifices were made as well as worship according to the Law of Moses.  there was also a room called the Holy of Holies, in which the presence of God resided.  it also contained the Ark of the Covenant [yes, the one in indiana jones].  this place was so sacred that no one could enter into this inner sanctuary except the High Priest once a year to make atonement for the people’s sins.  this room was separated from the rest of the temple by a curtain.  and this wasn’t just any old window curtain that you put on for decoration.  it was a 4-inch thick curtain with such strength that even horses tied to each side could not pull apart.  oh yeah, it was also 60 feet tall.  pretty buff curtain.  but not buff enough.  when this curtain tore in half, even the Roman centurion instantly knew that Jesus was certainly the son of God and he was so sure about it that he felt like he had to say it out loud.  holy cheeseballs.

okay, now it’s time to connect the dots.

EXHIBIT A

in mark chapter 1, jesus was baptized by water.  while one may think that this is just something that all believers must do as a public profession of their faith and acceptance of God as their heavenly Father, baptism also has another meaning.  “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” [Romans 6:3-4]  baptism, in essence, means death.  so what was Jesus up to at the end of Mark?  oh yeah, dying.  bingo.

EXHIBIT B

after Jesus’ baptism, the heavens OPENED!  after Jesus’ death, the curtain OPENED!  well..  tore in half.  if you haven’t already got it, the curtain wasn’t just an extraordinarily buff curtain, it was a symbolic representation of the separation of God and Man.  separation of the Holiest of Holies and the rest of the temple.  of sinless and sinful.  of light and darkness.  of the heavens and earth.  when Jesus died for our sins, the impenetrable barrier between us and God was shattered.  bingo.

EXHIBIT C

after the heavens opened, we hear a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” [Mark 1:11]  this is the voice of God, and He is proclaiming that Jesus is His beloved Son.  after the curtain ripped open, we hear a voice from a bystander: “Surely this man is the Son of God!” [Mark 15:39]  this is the voice of a Roman centurion, and he is proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God.  bingo.

i don’t know about you but when i first realized all of this, i was completely mindblown.  the entire gospel story of Jesus Christ, wrapped in a big, delicious sandwich.  wickedly cool.  personally, this revelation served as a reminder of just how amazing God’s Word is.  the bible is a truly remarkable book and i think we all ought to spend more time reading it.  trust me, it will change lives.  and lastly, i would like to give a big shout-out and thank you to the fantastic mr. jimmy l., who did such a phenomenal job at sharing God’s truth with me and the other highschoolers at ev.  personally, this was one of the most memorable bible lessons i’ve ever been taught in my entire life.

PRAYER:  heavenly father, thank you for your word.  thank you for this amazing book of life, because through it, we may grow spiritually and learn more about you.  thank you for God-breathed scripture, for it is useful in teaching, rebuking, correcting and training others in righteousness.  it is your truth that we cling on to and it is our double-edged sword.  thank you for revealing yourself in it so that we may see a glimpse of just how great you are.  Lord, please help me grow a desire and eagerness in reading your word.  move my heart and let me have an inclination to hear your truths each and every day of my life.  God, I want to grow in you.  i want to know you more and i want to love you even more than i already do.  help me become a better son.  as always, i am eternally grateful for your gift of love and i will forever praise you.  and it’s in your Son’s most precious name that I pray,  amen.

memoirs of a racially confused blogger

this pic [graphic.. gif.. meme?] always made me crack up, first of all because its punny [not lame punny but actually funny punny], and also because it’s so accurate and true. accurate, meaning it depicts the stereotype of asian parents and their impossible expectations for us. asian parents seemed to have inadvertently picked up a negative connotation but sometimes i have to agree that these parents really deserve it. i’ve heard some pretty ridiculous stories before and it’s quite appalling [and amazing] of how strict asian parents can get nowadays in terms of academics. for instance, one of my classmates was horror-stricken when she found out she got an A on a test because her mom was going to kill her. her mom only accepts A pluses. i don’t usually use this face but o__________________________________o!! that is just ludicrous. i happily rejoice whenever i get scores above a 90% but this girl isnt even allowed to get anything below a 98%. there is literally no room for error. how do you survive like this? i seriously no comprendo. i’m just glad i don’t live in that household.. in fact, my parents aren’t very “asian” at all. they are the rare case of taiwanese parents that actually say “it’s okay, as long as you tried your best”. thank GOD they aren’t very “asian” because who knows what third-world country i might be in right now. i consider myself extremely lucky because quite simply, i’m not “asian”. i hate how this word has picked up an alternate definition but it seems like in our day and age, with being asian also comes academic superiority and studying hard. so in terms of our modern-day vernacular, i’m not asian. at all. in fact, im the exact opposite of asian. i am a perversion, a disgrace to any family that calls itself asian. i fail to meet the requirements. i am not “satisfactory”. so if i’m not asian, what am i? what about me contrasts from the typical asian scholar? what exactly are the requisites for being asian and where do i fall short? what defines an asian? y’all know what it is.. LGI son, lesgetit, LEGGO! [<;-i hope that isn’t copyrighted.. ]

1. “go do the doctor or the lawyer so you make lot of money for me” – the american dream is to live and prosper and chase after your dreams. do what you want and become whatever you want to become. the pursuit of happiness. the asian dream is to become a doctor or a lawyer. business man is okay. no exceptions. all other jobs/occupations are irrelevant. to become a teacher, musician or movie star would make you the laughing stock of the family. to become an employee at mcdonalds would be equivalent signing your death warrant. you must become rich and wealthy and uphold the [insert asian last name here] dynasty.

ME: doctor? lawyer? screw that. that sounds boring as hell. [no offense to all you doctors/lawyers out there. i have respect for you guys but it’s just not my field of interest] honestly, i think there are wayy too many of you people trying to be doctors. as a hs senior, i’ve been exposed to a lot of college stuff and after asking countless people what they wanted to major in, all too many of them replied with your typical asian answer. i find it kinda sad because our generation has been influenced and brainwashed that becoming a doctor is our goal in life. it’s like when we were infants, instead of singing us lullabies, they sang songs about becoming doctors. it was spoon-fed to us and we were “indoctrinated”[pun unintended. hurhur] since birth [literally] and as a result, many of the people who have claimed they wanted to become doctors don’t even know why. why?! why do you want to become a doctor? because of your parents or because of you? don’t just go into the medical field just cause someone else tells you to. trust me, you don’t wanna go study pre-med and stay in school for 30 years of your life just to find out that you don’t wanna do it as a career. don’t waste yourself. another thing, please be realistic with yourself. are you sure that you can even handle being a doctor? look at your dang gpa and ask yourself, “can i even compete with all the other 4 billion asians in the world?” and just because you got the brains to become a doctor doesn’t mean you got the guts. i dont want you people touching my insides if i ever need surgery. however, there are those rare and bright individuals out there who are truly passionate about becoming a doctor and i totally respect that. props to you guys for saving lives.

2. “why you no play piano? go play piano 6 hours! prease. ” – of course, you must know how to play the piano. im sorry, did i say play the piano? i meant, you must MASTER the piano. CM level 10 is obviously not enough, that’s like an A minus. unacceptable. there is no such thing as “done practicing piano”. your daily 10 hour rehearsal will always be followed by 5 hours of theory. it is expected that you are a “musical prodigy”, become part of panel, win 1st place for all of your competitions, gain national recognition/earn scholarships, and perform at carnegie hall and juilliard. all before the age of 13. because by the time you hit age 14, you’re in high school and you must redirect your focus onto the 24 ap’s that you will be taking during your high school career.

ME: learning the piano has become somewhat of a trademark of asians. asian parents seem to want their children to be superior in every way (except athletically) and that doesn’t exclude music. while there are some musicians out there who actually enjoy and love their craft, i’m seeing more and more kids these days that are being forced into playing instruments. music, specifically piano, has become a new avenue of competition in which parents can show off their kid(s) and glorify themselves in the process. music is not supposed to be forced!! it is a form of expression that allows the artist to fully release his/her feelings and emotions spontaneously. emphasis on spontaneously. spontaneous. having a natural and uninhibited manner. voluntary. unbidden. delta G is negative. i personally had to deal with this for the majority of my life and no matter how much i tried to persuade my parents, they were unmoved by my arguments and i was not allowed to drop the violin. thankfully, they were finally convinced in my sophomore year that school was more important and i couldn’t afford to continue on but during that experience, i had those exact thoughts running in my head. music just simply couldn’t be forced. just as you cannot force someone to be passionate about God, you can never force someone to be passionate about music.

3. “you get a plus? son, i am disappoint.” – this is a no brainer. asians must prioritize school above everything and they must do everything in [and beyond] their ability to get good grades. gpa is your life. your sole purpose in life was and always will be to maintain your gpa until you get your doctorate degree and get out of school. as long as you’re in school, you will get the highest gpa possible. minimum gpa tolerated in asian household is 4.0. unweighted. there is no such thing as being “done with homework”. if you are “done with homework”, you will study your textbooks. if you are done studying your textbooks, you will study the dictionary. failure to meet requirements may result in severe consequences, such as banishment from any electronic devices, solitary confinement, disownment from household/family name, deportation to [insert country here], chinese water torture, and even death.

ME: i got an a plus?! SWEET HOLY MOLY, THANK YOU JESUS!!! HALLELUJAHHH, ITS PARTY TIMEEE!! i honestly don’t remember the last time i got an a plus. ..middle school? i dunno. i’d like to say i’m intellectually [somewhat] smart but i was never really book-smart at all. i didn’t really realize that until high school though, specifically junior year. i thought i was bad*** for getting straight-A’s in 8th grade so realizing that i was actually [in asian terms] stupid was quite painful and demoralizing. to put it simply, i screwed up my junior year. i overestimated myself and i signed up for classes that were beyond my academic ability. needless to say, my grades were terrible. my gpa dropped like america’s stock market. so i had to learn that i was academically incompetent, the hard way. as a result, my standards dropped considerably and my definition of a “good grade” is probably a couple letter grades below your’s. now excuse me while i party my head off.

4. “why you no like your big sister? or auntie [insert asian name here]’s son?” – you are a disappointment to this family. why can’t you be like your older brother/sister? or auntie soandso’s son/daughter? they all got good grades and sat scores and play piano well and got accepted Ivy League schools. and where did you end up? UCLA. come on, now.. UCLA?! i did not swim across the pacific ocean just so you could go to UCLA [bruins, please don’t take any offense from this, UCLA is actually a wonderful school that i would love to attend if i had the chance (which i dont). just using this as an example]. you are a disgrace and you have brought shame to this family name. i am deeply ashamed and embarrassed to have you as my child.

ME: in my opinion, this is by far, one of the worst asian-parent tendencies that i’ve noticed and had to deal with. i absolutely HATE it when my parents start comparing me to some other kid (usually my friends). it PISSES. ME. OFF. i’ve blown up on my parents several times because of this and to this day, i dont think i’ve ever forgiven them. it just makes me so angry because it makes it seem like they’re not content with me. they’re not satisfied with me as their son and so instead, they covet their friend’s child. do you know how that makes me feel? to be 100% honest, total crap. i feel like i am the less-favored son. i am sub-par. i fall short. i am not enough. as a son who genuinely tries hard to succeed in school (and life in general), this is extremely damaging to not only my self-esteem, but also my relationship with my parents. for those of you who’ve never had to deal with this, just know that it hurts like hell. and if you happen to be a parent, asian or not, just don’t do it. they don’t deserve that kind of torture.

5. “wah sai, buy one get one free?! das the good deal!” – do not ever settle for purchasing something at regular price. there is always a better deal. always. you must use your asian enchanting and charming skills to cajole your seller to let you buy at a cheaper price. as the consumer, your objective is to obtain such a good deal that your seller ends up losing profit instead of gaining it. coupons are your best friend. you are required to make a weekly pilgrimage to the holy land of costco.

ME: perhaps my favorite aspect about asian parents. asian parents are so ridiculously cheap that it’s awesome. if you walk into an asian household, 50% of the things in there would be free stuff and the other 50% from discounts. they practically live off cheap stuff. coming from a taiwanese family, i’ve gone back to the motherland and experienced the awesomeness of nightmarkets. taiwanese people are natural-born bargainers and they are so skillful at persuasion that they can talk police out of giving them traffic tickets [true story]. they are lively and rambunctious folk who know how to compromise to make sure both sides are happy. they are people people. back here in the us, they can’t really do that anymore because there are too many rules and too much regulation so we asians try to find the best deal possible. we scour the market for cost efficient opportunities, hoping to save as much money as possible. free stuff attracts asian people like honey attracts bees. asians, especially parents, are the world’s most obsessively-conservative people.

6. “heyyy don’t go with the black boys, or the mexican boys, or the white boys.. only marry the ASIAN boys!” – you may NOT marry anyone of a different ethnicity other than your own. no blacks, no whites, no mexicans, no indians, no scandanavians, no russians, no swahilis, no jews, no muslims, no mormons, etc.. only asian. cause asian is numba one.

ME: okay this kinda makes me lol sometimes.. i’m just going to throw it out there right now because it’s truth and you just can’t deny it. asian parents are racist. either they have this excessive fear of kids from other ethnicities or they just think that asians are the best and all other races are “unworthy” so they try to make sure that their kids don’t hang out with them at all, even in elementary school. it gets really bad when the kid hits high school and they start looking for boyfriends/girlfriends. i feel bad for the girls because they have it a lot worse than us guys do. she’ll think it’s okay to date a [insert race here] dude but little does she know that there’ll be a harsh punishment waiting for her at home. asian parents get so paranoid that they don’t even allow their kids date/marry other asians! if you’re taiwanese [like me], they won’t even let you to date a chinese or a korean person! outrageous. i guess you could say that for the parents, it’s out of love but i think they could ease off on the xenophobic tendencies. just a liiiitle bit. i wouldn’t want someone else deciding for me who my future spouse was, especially if that decision was heavily influenced by race. that just seems really shallow to me. and besides, asian parents, wouldn’t you want super good-looking and amazingly beautiful grandchildren? im just kiddin. don’t ever marry someone of a different race just so you can have mixed babies that will be attractive when they grow up. doesn’t always work that way. sometimes the “mixing” part doesn’t go very well.. moving on. [btw, i do not intend to offend any of the races/religious affiliations aforementioned. please don’t sue me. im broke.]

7. “YOU CUT ME OFF?! I KILL YOUUU!!” – in america, the dmv rulebook states that the right-of-way always belongs to the pedestrian. in asian countries, the nonexistent dmv rulebook states that the right-of-way always belongs to you, whether you are the pedestrian or the driver. another thing, you must get your license as soon as possible so you can buy groceries for your mother. oh, but you’re not allowed to drive anyone other than your parents until you’re 30.

ME: asian drivers scare the living poop out of me. my goodness. living in the deceivingly-safe suburbs of socal, one would assume that he/she would be safe from the traffic hazards of the busy metropolis but oh, how you have been mistaken. you’ve picked the wrong suburb to live in, my friend. southern california houses some of the most asian-populated cities in the united states. in other words, southern california houses some of the most angry, homicidal driver – populated cities in the united states. asians parents are the most terrifying, aggressive people when you put them behind a wheel. theyre not the most law-abiding citizens when it comes to the road. why do you think we have something called a “california rolling stop”? theyre very skilled drivers, i give them that, they just don’t like following rules. they think theyre the most important thing on the road and everyone should yield to them. 99ranch market [and maybe costco] parking lots are probably the most dangerous places you can drive or walk in. all you see is a bedlam of toyota siennas, honda civics, and shopping carts trying to fight their way to a single parking space or through a narrow exit. amidst the chaos, one can expect to hear an abstract symphony of car honks [of various tones], f-bombs, screaming old people, offensive expletives in asian dialect, screaming children, and occasionally, a collision. pedestrians, heed my warning: do not test asian drivers. they are not to be trifled with.

asian parents. i love ’em and i hate ’em. why all the hate? i hate their messed up priorities. i hate their unrealistic expectations of us. i hate how they want us to achieve so much just so they can take the pride and make themselves look better. i hate how they think that just because they’re our parents, they can map out our lives for us; the college we go to, what we study in college, what career path we take, who should be our future spouse, who shouldn’t be our future spouse, etc. and most of all, i hate how they think that your academic performance determines your self-worth as an individual. though i was raised by very un-asian, asian parents, i still felt the negative effects of this corrupt value system. first of all, i suck at school. just because i can write a 3000+ word blog post doesn’t mean anything. i can observe the admirable traits of an ideal scholar from all my friends but i could never take on those qualities myself. school is just not my thing. however, if you grow up in an asian community, school is everything and if you aren’t good at school, then you are nothing. after looking at my report card last year, i felt like nothing. i was only sub-human, and unworthy. i was degenerate. i just wanted to shrivel back up into my shell and stay there for the rest of my life. going through high school was probably the most humbling experience of my life. it was only because of God that i could climb up from the deep, dark cistern that me and my self-esteem had fallen into. GOD is the only one who can tell you how much you’re worth, not your parents. and under Him, we are all sinners and we are all undeserving but we are still called His children.

don’t worry, i promise i’ll end on a happy note. i know i just spent hours of my life bashing on asian parents but in the end, i still love them. why? cause they love me. i don’t think i’ll ever understand what hardships they had to go through to get from their country to mine, just so they could give me a better, more comfortable life. i can’t imagine what kind of messed up kid i would be if my parents didn’t come here and send me to church and whatnot. my parents [and probably yours too] went through struggles beyond my imagination because they wanted to give me the good childhood that they never had.  and if that’s not love, then i don’t know what love is. asian parents can be a real pain-in-the-butt sometimes but honor and respect them, at the very least. know your limits and make sure you know where the boundaries lie between right and wrong because excessive “asian-ness” can be sinful. 99% of what i talked about in this post was asian parents to the very extreme and if your parents ever reach anywhere near that level [i sure hope not], then talk to them. but otherwise, show them unconditional love. trust me, they deserve it.

picture courtesy of http://highexpectationsasianfather.tumblr.com/! check ’em out.

vegetables

vegetable – a person who is so severely impaired mentally or physically as to be largely incapable of conscious responses or activity.

a person who is in the vegetative state suffers from a long-term, chronic condition but it is not to be confused with someone with a coma, which is a state in which one lacks both awareness and wakefulness.  a vegetable can wake up from a coma but still have no awareness.  in colloquial terms, you are brain-dead (or brain-dying).

so.  if you are a vegetable, what do you do?  what is there you can do?  can you do anything?  in most cases, the answer is nothing.  the longer you spend in vegetable-land, the harder it is to ever to get out.  if you’ve ever watched Inception, it’s kinda like limbo.  the longer you spend in it, the more brain damage you suffer.  and even if you do recover, you’ll have to spend an indefinite amount of time doing physical/mental therapy for all those brain cells you lost.  if you stay a vegetable for longer than 12 months, you are now in the permanent vegetative state.  or what i like to call, the “dead zone”.

if you are on your way to the dead zone, or even just on your way to vegetable, whether it be a coma, alzheimer’s, etc, you’re obviously gonna be on life support.  the next big question is: do i pull the plug or not?  needless to say, that decision is beyond your control.  but let’s suppose in a hypothetical situation, you were given the choice to decide beforehand, whether to live or die.  now the question becomes more complicated.  should i keep the life support on so maybe one day, i might wake up?  what if it takes so long that my brain is already fried?  what if i forget how to perform simple body functions? what if i don’t remember any of my friends?  what if i just become a crazy maniac who should belong in a padded cell?  is it even worth staying alive after waking up?  what if i don’t wake up?  okay so maybe it isn’t worth it then.  i’ll tell them to pull the plug.  but wait a minute, isn’t that the same thing as committing suicide?  suicide is a sin.  even though i’m not the one actually pulling the plug, i’m ultimately the one who made the decision to end my own life.  does that still count?

this is definitely one of the questions that i’ve had the most difficult time answering and i still don’t know what i would do if i had to make that decision.  once you recover from a vegetative state, are you actually still “alive”?  your brain is still functioning (kind of) but is your soul still there with you?  or has it already gone into the afterlife (if you believe in such things)?  but i guess by that time, it wouldn’t even matter anymore.  i just hope that i’ll never have to find out.

the beginning


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this weekend, i attended a digital media conference dubbed v3con at the japanese american national museum in LA.  my friend actually won a give-away contest in which the highly-celebrated blogger “angry asian man” gave him free admission for him and a friend.  i just so happened to be that lucky friend.  i thought it sounded cool when he talked to me about it and david choi and clara c were gonna be there so i thought, why knot!  honestly, i had no idea what i was getting myself into because ive never even heard of v3con and didn’t know who “angry asian man” was till i met him that day.  after spending 10+ hours at the conference, i hafta say, i got a lot more out of it than i had initially anticipated.  i saw some hugely influential figures in the social media game and i guess you could say they inspired me by their strong-hearted passion and pride for the aapi’s [asian american/pacific islanders], a growing minority group that i myself am a part of.  these pioneers of journalism and media were all united in purpose, driven towards a common goal: the pursuit of vision, visibility, and voice for the aapi.  

 

in one of the morning panels, a speaker [of whom i have forgotten her name] made a striking statement that resonated in my mind, even hours after it was uttered.  she said that she kept a blog because she needed to “express and speak [her] heart when [her] mouth couldn’t do it”.  so that’s pretty much why i’m starting this thing, so that i, too, can speak my heart when my mouth just can’t handle the task.  rather than shrug off and ignore an idea that i might find thought-provoking, i shall expand and nurture it until it is full-grown and capture it on ink.  and occasionally, song.  social media world, here i come.