Covid-19: a wake up call for society

Maybe this is the C-19 and diarrhea talking but this is something I had to get off my chest since there is currently no cure to literally get the Coronavirus off of my chest(and lungs rip) and apparently my gastrointestinal tract. So call me dramatic but honestly #calledit.

2020. What a year it has been and despite all the events that are happening in the world, we are still refusing to acknowledge that there is a universal crisis. One dilemma after the next, we choose to remain in denial and to keep on with our lives, we turn the blind eye to the suffering; until the universe no longer gives us the option to ignore each other’s pain and more importantly the planet and living beings that we share this planet with. Now is a time where it is necessary to come together as one and to offer the love, support and kindness that should’ve already existed long before we had to be forced to awaken. Nature is extremely intelligent and self-regulates every so often. Our job is to listen to and respect it. Why did this virus come into existence in the first place? Because humans were fucking with the natural law of the world.

Since people refuse to take time for stillness and opt to numb everything by adopting the “gogogo mentality”, the universe is forcing us to be human again. To simple BE. Trust me, this will be difficult with everything that is happening around us–I can tell you that I am having a tough time processing current events. We are being forced to be alone(maybe because we need to face ourselves) as people start self-quarantining and given an opportunity to reflect as the world is currently changing and trying to adapt itself to this widespread disaster. Most of us have all the time in the world now that we are stuck at home avoiding contact with other humans and so we will be forced to choose. To choose between two paths, action or inaction…one that leads to change or the other which leads to widespread catastrophe. Either way, fear will prompt the demise of humanity if we let it run rampant and lead us astray. Being fearful means we will be more inclined to be unkind in an effort to protect ourselves. We must not let it escalate to this. We have to listen to our fears but not give into them. Why are we afraid? How do me minimize this emotion? Through awareness, preparation and by taking action..taking back control.

So how do we take action? By showing love for those who share the earth with us and tuning into the needs of those around us. It is not just about you. Everything is connected and everyone is tied to each other. Every decision you make and every word you speak becomes translated into existence. The entire universe is working to help you. Let it. All you need to do is remember what is truly important. What is important to you? It’s time to ask yourself the serious questions. Is your job more important than your loved ones? If you were to die tomorrow what would you have wanted to get done today? Of course, we should be prepared in a physical/survival sense as well because in being ready, we put ourselves in a position to help both ourselves and others. You should stock up on food and water but remember to share with those who are in need as well. Every life counts. Notice how I said every life and not person? Animals and our environment are part of the picture. We cannot exist without both. That is the circle of life(what..you didn’t think I’d make a Lion King reference to emphasize the harmony of nature?)

To end this on a super realistic note..If you are one of my close friends, you already are aware of this but I have contracted the c-19 because I was being careless and chose to travel during this time. You never think it could occur to you until it does and this is a costly lesson to have learned. I hope that my mistakes did not affect anybody negatively but this is wishful thinking. I had a trip to Europe scheduled next week but will immediately halt my travels for the time being until we learn more about this thing. The only thing I can do now is to prevent someone else from contracting it, perhaps you might think that it is trivial in the grand scheme of things but one person can make a huge difference. I mean, this whole thing started off with one bat. In the words of Trevor Noah, “started from the Wuhan, now we’re here”; the problem wouldn’t have gotten to this point if we as humans did not use denial as a way to avoid and downplay all the issues we don’t feel like confronting. As a species, we are getting lazy. We would rather die and let those around us die than face our issues face on. Stop buying toilet paper and choose to be aware. Stop acting out of emotions and listen. If you were to stock up on anything, buy food/water/medicine.. you will not die if your ass is un-wiped omg. On a more positive note, get ready for more posts because I have so much free time I think I am going insane!

Asian American and a Woman…OOF!

Warning: It gets pretty controversial so feel free to stop reading if you get offended. Your body, your choice…wait.

This is a topic that I have been debating whether or not to officially address publicly since it is extremely controversial and I am aware that no two experiences are alike. ‘Tis a complicated subject matter to discuss, especially from only one viewpoint which makes it an even more dangerous task(who doesn’t love a little danger though). Of course, I’m writing this with the hopes that openly talking about my own personal experiences could potentially help someone who feels that they are left without a voice or are alone with their struggles. Despite experiencing my fair share of unjustified shame(sometimes self-induced) because I was born a certain race and gender, I am very fortunate because many of my close friends also happen to be Asian American women and so we are able to discuss certain aspects of our childhoods with each other that the other can relate to. It helps a great deal that I have more than just my own experiences and multiple perspectives to refer to when addressing such a multi-layered subject. However, most people do not get to grow up in the Bay Area where Asian people are the majority and have to deal with the general discrimination that all Asians face but on steroids. I am also aware that not everyone has the luxury of being understood by another person so I would say my true aspirations for the reader(aka you) would be to use this as a guide to lead yourself closer to building an identity independent of what society stereotypes you to be and forces you to conform to. Don’t let anyone define you or keep you in a box…unless you like being in a box then more power to you, you do you.

So what is it really like growing up as an Asian American woman? Let’s tackle this one step at a time.

Asian

Being Asian I always felt like, dare I say, a freak. Albeit I got the longer end of the stick and grew up around an abundance of asian people, I still felt like the odd one out so I can’t imagine how asian people who didn’t grow up around other asian people feel. We were given the “model minority” status by society but not to surprise anyone, that didn’t make us prideful or proud to be asian. It was quite the opposite. The pressure placed on us to achieve was more anxiety inducing than it was motivating. We were conditioned to feel like it was a privilege to be “positively” stereotyped. Sure we faced less bias and blatant racism than say, African Americans, but we were still discriminated against. Oppression is oppression even if it is disguised as something else. I have been called racial slurs like “chink” and referred to as “ching-chong” or some racist Chinese sounding name by a non-asian person who was simultaneously stretching apart the ends of their eyes with their hands so they achieved smaller looking eyes. NOT a good look btw so could you not. It was either that or they would ignorantly call me another ethnicity(not all asian people are Chinese). It was extremely dehumanizing. But hey, it’s all fun and games..why are you being such a Debby downer? Lighten up it was just a joke. So we would pretend to laugh and play along because this was expected of us…agreeableness. That’s part of the reason why everyone loves the token Asian person, right? We are supposed to be benign, absolutely harmless and good at math but oh so horrible at driving. We don’t like conflict/confrontation and never ever stir up the pot. Any of this sound familiar? If not, let me clear things up…women deal with the similar generalizations.

In regards to previous generations(our parents and grandparents), Asian people did not have the language skills to speak up for ourselves since we left our countries and immigrated to a foreign place where no one understood anything we were saying. Instead of considering this as admirable, people made fun of our accents even though we were attempting to learn their language to be able to communicate with them. Most of my fellow Asian American friends have parents who have immigrated to America when they were a bit older and as a result have an accent when speaking English. I think this is commendable because it indicates that they can speak another language aside from English(which they put a lot of effort into learning). Not everyone feels this way though and so they make fun of them for not having perfect English. Their hard work is not appreciated. When you see a white person speaking Chinese you automatically are amazed. Which brings me to my next point, all of our accomplishments are downplayed and nothing is ever good enough. We must work twice as hard to even be recognized for half the things that a white person gets credit for(no offense to white people…but admit it ya’ll are undeniably privileged).

Maybe this is why our parents expect so much of us. Because they never felt like they were good enough to fit into American society no matter how hard they worked. Asian parents want their kids to be so high achieving that their children no longer have to face the struggles that they themselves battled with their entire lives. In a way, they are mirroring the culture that pushed them to strive for the impossibility of perfection and are protecting their kids by embodying the society that has supplied them with countless obstacles because if they became the enemy then they could prepare their kids for what they themselves were so unequipped to battle.

Asian American

Piecing the parts together…being Asian American you feel like you do not belong. You’re not fully American because you do not fit the mold of the typical American but you’re also not Asian because you grew up in a different environment than your ancestors. So you end up feeling misplaced. Your exterior is contradictory to how you feel on the inside. You end up having an identity crisis because you are not what you appear to be on the surface and it’s fucking confusing. We struggle to bare the weight of our parent’s culture as well as the culture we grew up with. I had to learn to balance both these parts of myself and to own who I am but it didn’t come without a lot of pain and endless self-reflection. This adversity made us stronger but the pressure we faced from both our family and peers either made us or broke us. More often than not, many Asian Americans grew up feeling inferior and unseen. It was not until recently that here was even an effort being made to include Asian people in popular culture and to attempt to represent them as members of American society. When you are brought up to feel ashamed of what you are, it is tougher to develop a stable identity so I see a lot of asians either fully commit to their asian heritage or completely deny it. I may never be white or have naturally blonde hair but you can’t take away my Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte, Lululemon yoga pants, Uggs and my attraction to Chad/Brad/Thad(kidding).

woman

This one’s tricky. This has been a battle that has been fought for countless generations and hopefully it won’t have to extend to many more. Where do I even begin? Okay first off, fuck the patriarchy lol.

Being a woman in a man’s world is harder than it looks. I don’t need to be the person telling you this, of course. It is currently 2020 and if you are not aware of the oppression that women have faced and are still fighting against, which rock have you been living under and why haven’t you invited me over for dinner under this blissfully ignorant rock? As a matter of fact, women have faced similar struggles that asians have faced but just played out in a different way. We get paid less for the same work, are not encouraged possession or ownership of our bodies(in all senses of the concept) and are looked over when a position of power is up for grabs. The inequality women face is not acknowledged because the people who are writing and enforcing the rules are mostly men. Our voices are stifled by our gender and the differences in our anatomy just serve to emphasize the claim that we are the weaker sex.

Throughout my entire life, I always felt like I had to tone it down because being assertive and seen as a leader could be construed as “bitchy” if you have a vagina. So I just played along and nodded quietly when and if ever my opinion was elicited(it rarely was). Essentially I had to sit down and be humble whereas my male counterparts would be encouraged to go balls to the wall. I was not born with the golden balls(in reference to being born with a golden spoon if you did not catch on) and so I could not bring them to the wall. However, as I grew older, I learned that being a woman is a strength because we are taught to internalize at a young age and in doing so we are able to master ourselves more effectively. Self control and emotional regulation came earlier for girls than boys because we were forced to be aware of others’ feelings and to put them before our own. Though tragic, it made us resilient and aware of what it takes to be compassionate to others. Not saying that men do not possess the same qualities, they do but it takes them longer to fully master it. We had to create our own golden balls and this built character.

As you know, this portion can be elaborated into a whole separate post or even turned into a book…maybe a series. But I will save you the pain of me complaining about periods and men who can’t take no for an answer. If you’d like to learn more about the oppression women face, just go outside and have a look around you.

Double Minority

Growing up as a minority–or should I say a double minority–I was always taught to never ruffle the feathers and was encouraged to stay within the lines…”you should always listen to and respect your elders” and yes the stereotype is true, being asian two things were expected of you. Excelling in school(especially in math) and being obedient(to everyone but your own inner voice). People assumed the asian kid enjoyed being invisible and always followed the rules. This was true to an extent( though I rebelled at times). It’s even worse if you’re a girl. Now it wasn’t a matter of just your race that was scrutinized and appropriated but your gender as well. As an Asian American woman you had multiple battles to fight. The triple standard(being smart, attractive and competent) that women are expected to uphold combined with the double standard(being overachievers and model citizens) that asians are bombarded with were all aspects that I had to confront growing up. The pressure to succeed was heavy on my shoulders and when I did accomplish something it was shameful to be proud of it and unheard of to expect any acknowledgement that was proportional to the quality of work I produced. So I learned how use self-deprecating humor in order to make others feel comfortable at my expense(I know so many friends who do this too and it’s sad). Instead of receiving positive reinforcement for the things I did right I found that I got more attention when I did things wrong which is probably the root of all my problems now that I think of it.

Treating other human beings with respect and love should be the universal code but unfortunately there is still racism and discrimination present in the world. The sooner we openly acknowledge the issue, the sooner we can find a way to resolve it. Many millennials use humor(especially memes) as a way to address the issues that are present in todays society and although it is sometimes not the best way to solve problems, it offers a platform for open communication and if we talk about it then there is potential for deescalation. Once we identify the problems that each of us face because of another human then we can work out a compromise because we are all one and the same. There is no other species that harms their own–whether intentionally or due to ignorance–except ours. That is something to ponder.

Anyway, the moral of the story is just be who you are and fuck what everyone tells you you need to be. I am expected to write a proper conclusion because that’s just how things are done around here but I give zero fucks.

Aruba(where the desert meets the sea?)

Disclaimer: COVID-19 FREE ZONE. Since ya’ll are encouraged to not travel and to avoid human contact at this time, please enjoy this post instead. It wont give you coronavirus I promise. And you get to join me in the Caribbean. SO many wins.

Arrrruba! Prior to moving to NYC, I had no idea Aruba even existed and I am so glad to know that it’s real. This place is the best of both worlds. Who would’ve thought that you could find beautiful white sand beaches in a desert? It is the second best option if you aren’t able to travel all the way to Africa and want to experience both the desert and the sea in the same setting.

Namibia(the only place in the world where the ocean and desert meet) has been on the top of my bucket list since forever as well as Australia’s Pink Lake(which I heard, sadly, is no longer pink) and coincidentally I found similar phenomenons in Aruba. Although we accidentally stumbled across this pond and am not sure if the color is natural or man-made, this was overall a pretty cool experience. Word of warning though, it was stinky and reeked of sulfur aka the infamous rotten egg smell. That didn’t stop me from getting out of the car to take a million pictures though.

Coming from NYC where it was both freezing and raining, I got a little too excited to see the sun and, dramatically put, to finally feel warmth again so as a result got a nasty sunburn despite applying SPF 50 every hour. Before arriving, I expected the climate to be tropical and boy was I wrong; the savannah-like landscape was a pleasant surprise. It was not humid but rather quite dry(like a desert lol) which made going into the ocean even more satisfying and at times, necessary. The temperatures stayed in the mid to high 80s the entire time we were there and it rarely rained outside of San Nicolas(on the southern part of the island) but when it rained it never did so for more than an hour.

Not an ad ’cause didn’t even work

Apparently, Aruba is the only spot in the Caribbean that does not experience extreme weather such as typhoons or storms which makes it a perfect place to visit year round. It is also one of the safest countries in the Caribbean to visit if that is a concern as well. The abundance of beaches with white sand and turquoise colored water is mind blowing. My favorites were Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. Both had very different vibes despite only being a ten minute drive from each other, which if you consider how small the island is could be considered quite a distance.

I’ll start off with Eagle Beach since it was my favorite due to the fact that there were less people and you could always find a semi-private spot. In addition, the accessibility to water activities like jet skiing was a plus since it made the entire experience more convenient. It was around $60 to jet ski for one person and $15 more for two people, but my advice is to get your own so you can race hehe. The sunset at Eagle Beach was insane and I would definitely recommend watching it by the Divi trees(exclusive to Aruba). The only con I can think of is that this beach does not have any spots to grab food at which are walking distance so you would need to bring your own food. There is a bar, however.

Palm Beach is a lot more crowded and rowdy because of it’s proximity to all the main resorts and shops. The food options here were more abundant and better and if you ever find yourself in Aruba, you should try Eduardo’s shack. They have acai and poke as well as pressed juices and smoothies. Finding healthy food options that were also tasty was a bit tough here so we were super excited to discover this gem. This beach was where we went to grab food and people watch whereas Eagle Beach was where we opted to chill out and swim at.

Another stunning beach is Baby Beach, which is located on the Southern end of the island near San Nicolas(not as touristy and despite being known as the “run-down” portion of Aruba, I found it to possess lots of personality and to be pleasantly quirky). The water was very pleasant but it is a bit more rocky than the other beaches which had soft and silky sand.

If you are looking for more excitement, I can happily tell you that Aruba is the kitesurfing mecca. It gets extremely windy here which makes it the ideal place to kite surf, I did not see that many regular surfers because despite being windy the water is quite calm. There were two locations that I found where you could kite surf and one was conveniently located next to the Ritz Carlton in Oranjestad, no need to travel far. The other was a bit out of the way, it was called Boca Grandi but the wind looked stronger here so it is a better option for the more experienced surfers.

Another super exciting activity(not for the faint of heart because you will swoon) is feeding the stray dogs on the island! *In baby voice* They are so cute, smart, independent and all good boys/girls, oh yes they are.

OKAY so this is something I would like to mention since I could not find information about it from ANY online sources, but in Aruba, they don’t give a shit if you’ve got places to be…they will just close off all the roads for impromptu parades that go until 2 am. I found out the hard way and got stuck in the middle of one and could not find a way out for four hours. It was lit though.

Other cool attractions consisted of the natural bridge in Arikok National Park, California lighthouse, natural pool, Arashi Beach, Druif Beach, Casibari boulders and off road beaches/cliffs. There’s also a flamingo island which we did not get to visit. Word of warning, almost popped a tire getting to Druif beach because the road was all gravel and rocks.

Stay healthy and safe everyone!