This is the time of the year where millions of people are celebrating the Year of the Horse. Families have cleaned and decorated their homes from top to bottom, altars have been constructed, special New Year’s meals have been cooked and consumed. Everybody is doing whatever they can to ward away evil spirits. Traditions run deep during these celebrations. But there is one tradition I want you to break…please take “Chinese” out of Chinese New Year.
If you prefer to listen than read, please enjoy the audio version of my story, South Florida Asian.
I moved to South Florida after finishing college in New Orleans. In New Orleans, you couldn’t walk a couple of feet and not bump into another Asian. Not the case down here. Every once in awhile I would spy another Asian and then a slightly awkward exchange occurs. First there’s that moment of disbelief. Did I just see another Asian? Or was it a mirage, like when you’re driving and you swear the road looks wet.
Et tu Facebook? While it’s not exactly betrayal, being defriended can feel like it is, especially when you’re still friends with the person in real life. Friending, liking, fans are new – well newly adopted at least – concepts that have invaded our popular culture. We find out more about our friends through status updates …
Millions of Asians worldwide and I just happen to look like every one of them. People see my eyes, my hair, my skin color and instantly I’m the Asian they’ve seen on TV, the Asian they work with or the Asian they went to school with. I never knew I had the universal Asian face. This must be the reason why I’m the subject of so many cases of mistaken eye-dentity.
As I started to read, I discovered that, yes the book was about his epic battle with cocaine and crack, but what I found more interesting was his attention to the fragility of memory. How our memories, even the ones we believe as solid and unbreakable, can be nothing more than our attempts to hide our personal demons propagated with our desires to be someone else, someone better.
I have an admission.
It’s not something I am proud of but, as the old adage goes, the first step in solving a problem is to admit you have one.
So here it is. I laugh when people fall.
Even though the theme of the book is centered around tragedy, the book doesn’t bog you down in pity or deep reflection. Structurally, it reads more like a fairy tale and an adventure novel. By telling the story in brief, fragmented spurts, it keeps the reader’s attention and builds tension along the way. As each scene unfolds, I found myself quickly turning the pages. Her words, like morsels of good food, made me want to consume more.
Other, the catchall category that combines together every ethnicity other than black and white. It’s the closet you hide all your junk in when you want to do a fast clean up. I hated the word other. It always connoted something that wasn’t a first choice: the other women, the other friend, the other child. I didn’t want to be other.
The wait staff was even more callous. Each time a waiter came out with a tray of food, they looked disgusted when they realized they had to walk the long way around to deliver the food. One waiter, deeming the food an emergency, stepped over the helpless man to a nearby table. He didn’t skip a beat, after all, there was Chinese food to be had.