Friday, March 9, 2007

Fiction Affliction

Okay, so maybe this post isn't about a work of fiction, but it's about an affliction related to fiction. I have been working so many hours that I haven't been getting a decent dosage of fiction in my life. Of course the more important things that are being neglected are quality time with my hubby, sleep, nutrition, exercise, sanity ... But indulging in fiction contributes to my sanity and I'm just tired and overworked and suffering fiction withdrawals. Some days I wish I could just win the lottery and then I could spend all my time reading, watching films, painting, studying all the interesting things I don't have time to do now.

Rambling now. Mother-in-law is downstairs doing my dishes because I haven't been home to do any chores and of course the hubby doesn't do dishes if I'm not home making him feel guilty about it. Of course mother-in-law doing dishes makes me feel extremely guilty - like a bad wife and daughter-in-law and Asian woman rolled into one. My house is a pigsty lately, by the way. Of course I don't feel like cleaning when I get home from working for 14 hours. And now I must go to sleep to get up early and administer the SAT exam because I cannot say no when someone asks me to do something. I love that there's this virtual space for me to vent because it's not like I can vent to my husband who is upset with me for working so many hours to begin with - not going to find any sympathy there.

Wish my life were more like fiction sometimes. But don't we all?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Reproduction Quandary

I just saw "Children of Men" over the weekend and while I can't say it was entertaining per se, it certainly raised some uncomfortable questions for me. The movie (or the novel by P.D. James it was based on) posits that if humans were unable to reproduce, our societies would degenerate into chaos. Overall, the film was dark, dreary, depressing and violent, with a tiny window of hope. Dialogue was witty - I do love British humor; it's very dry and delivered straight-faced by the ubiquitous Clive Owen.

Anyhow, back to the question of reproduction. So if reproduction is our primary biological and sociological purpose, then what does that say about people who are unable or unwilling (like me) to reproduce?

I don't understand the urge to have children. I view it as a selfish desire to create a human being that will fulfill one or all of the following needs: to have someone love and need us unconditionally, to have someone we can mold and influence with our values and beliefs, to know a part of ourselves will continue on after we're gone. Every human being that I know has issues with their parents, so no matter how healthy and functional your family is, your children will become adults with all kinds of guilt and resentment towards you. I might consider adopting, but even that seems selfish - would I be doing it to provide a child with better opportunities so that I can feel like a hero? It doesn't really matter whether the child has my genes or not; I can still be acting from selfish motives and I can psychologically damage the child in an infinite number of ways that I won't even be aware of.

And then while we were at the bike shop the other day, I was reminded of a wooden seat my father made that he attached to his bike for me to be able to ride with him. It brought back all kinds of memories of my childhood and the lovely things my parents did for me and with me. Then I imagined what it must be like for them to remember me as a small, helpless child completely dependent upon them; and now I am a full-grown adult. That must be the craziest feeling/thought ever!

I don't know ... I say to people who have children or intend to have children: more power to you and good luck!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Fiction Addiction

My addiction to fiction began oh so many years ago when I was just a wee little girl who stayed up way past her bedtime to watch epic Hong Kong martial arts sagas full of nobility, heroism, gravity-defying fight scenes (with strings, pre-CG), and forbidden love. Anyone seen "Legend of the Condor Heroes," circa 1983? It's 60 episodes long! Anyhow, part of the reason I loved those movies so much was that everyone in them was Asian. Imagine that. There were only pretty white people on television back then ... not that much has changed, but people of color are certainly more visible on screen these days. So that was the beginning.

Then I discovered the library. Yes, my hubby teases me all the time because I get excited about going to the library and bookstore, but I simply can't help it; I'm compelled. I guess fairytales and ancient myths and stories of whimsical fantasy worlds were a welcome refuge for an awkward girl who didn't feel like she belonged anywhere. I wasn't as charming, witty or helpful around the house as my older sister, and when I opened my mouth, fear of saying the wrong thing or being laughed at rendered me mute. So I drowned myself in stories, tearing through everything from Sweet Valley Twins/High/?? (did they continue that series until Elizabeth and Jessica became grandparents or what?), to those choose-your-own plot interactive stories. In middle school I read those incestuous VC Andrews books, dared myself to read novels with 1000+ pages like Gone With the Wind, Les Miserables, & The Shogun, and discovered Anne Rice before Tom Cruise sensationalized Lestat. Oooh, vampires ... I could write an entire blog on the sex appeal of those cursed, tortured beings, but that's for another day. And then there was the pure, decadent bliss of novels that came in series: Stephen King's Dark Tower, Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality, Raymond Feist and all of his sagas, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, Orson Scott Card's Ender story ... What a concept - stories that don't have to end! And then there's manga and anime that goes on forever with different generations and everything. (On a side note, I'm truly pissed at Tokyo Pop for asking Spectrum Nexus - site that provides free online manga scans - to stop posting Fruits Basket. I'm going to have to wait like years before volume 23 comes out in English over here! Oh, the withdrawals are starting to set in. An entire blog devoted to why Fruits Basket is like a how-not-to parenting guide to come soon.)

Currently, I'm into anything by Jodi Picoult. The emotional profiles and relationships she offers pack a visceral wallop, so prepare yourself.

All this fiction, hundreds of books and films I've consumed, and I can't bring myself to create my own because I fear it will just reek, that my imagination is weak, that the magic and wonder I seek is something I can't actually ... ever grasp. (You see, I was compelled to rhyme because poetry is another strange addiction of mine too. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Addicts unite!)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Resolution / Dissolution

So I'm starting a blog on the first day of the new year. New year's is an interesting time because the entire month and especially the few hours preceding it are filled with drunken food coma dissolution ... and then we are expected to make healthy personal resolutions for the following year.

This year I say to hell with new year's resolutions. Instead, I'm going to be more ambitious. I'm just going to make a lifetime commitment to my self-improvement. I don't think any of my past new year's resolutions ever lasted more than a few months. But if I make myself accountable every single day, then perhaps I'll stick with it.

One of my goals is to learn how to say "no." It may be easy for some people, but I have never been able to refuse a request from a loved one. I am the "yes" girl. I am stuck doing all the stuff no one else will do. Which is how I found myself as a "model" in a fashion show that my mother-in-law organized for her little cultural organization today. I was a good sport and donned the traditional Vietnamese ao dai. When I told my own mother I'd been suckered into doing this, she said I don't look good in ao dais - only thin women look good in them. And my father asked me how I still fit in my winter coat, as I'd gotten so fat lately. And you ask me why I never want to have children? F***ing with your children's minds and self image usually isn't intentional - it's just a side effect of being human. I don't believe it's possible for humans to refrain from damaging their offspring. You throw duty, expectation and a strong dose of guilt into any relationship and it's bound for disaster.

So my second goal is to have a healthy relationship with myself - total honesty and acceptance of all parts of me: the good, the bad, the ugly, the 15 extra pounds I put on in college, the creative, and the crazy.

And once I've achieved that last goal, I must be honest with others about who I am. No, I am NOT that demure, traditional, perfect, accommodating, thin little "yes" girl pictured above. No, I do NOT give you permission to project your expectations, fear, guilt, insecurities and myriad hang ups onto me.