““Once upon a time, a prince asked a beautiful princess “Will you marry me?”
The princess says “dream on.”
And the princess lived happily ever after… and…
• read comic books at night with the lights on;
• hung out with all her handsome guy friends; and
• karaoked without anyone bitching to her about what time it is and how they always have to hang out with her friends; and
• drinking juice and water and never having to deal with hauling his drunk ass home after he falls asleep on the train; and
• never heard BITCHING; and
• went to rock concerts with her best friend without jealous snide remarks; and
• kept her apartment and her whole closet to herself; and
• never had to give up her career for anyone; and
• all her family and friends thought she was a fucking crazy spinster but she was living it up awesome and rad as fuck; and
• had tons of money; and
• no disgusting spawn or tagalongs to drag her down; and
• never had the toilet seat left up. ~the end~”
- Yuhline (via gmail chat)
As an Asian American woman growing up as an immigrant with immigrant parents, I felt a cultural difference very clearly. Working in a federal office that is international, I know how hard it is to apply these cultural considerations to our communications.
In my personal and work relationships this is a difference that is very pervasive. I was raised very traditionally in a traditional Chinese household where I was the oldest daughter. Our family is very much on the “collective” and “vertical” side of the spectrum. As I grew older, my parents and I would often have trouble seeing eye to eye on certain things such as what a “real job” is or what my “responsibilities” as the oldest daughter must be. I grew up surrounded in America surrounded by people on the “individualism” part of the spectrum.
People who I knew had confidence and certain tools in their pockets that were passed to them by their parents. I grew up wanting to be “independent” and “strong” in a place where speaking your mind is “strength” and staying silent is “weakness”.
In school, I noticed that kids would always ask me for things, but never ask me if I wanted anything. In my relationships, I realized that I would end up giving things while never asking for anything. In my family where collectivism was strong, sacrifice equated love.
My parents sacrificed their dreams for their kid’s dreams. Outside my family and the Asian American community, self love was more important…self help books, self love books, do it yourself books, “gotta watch out for numero uno”. To me, it was very contradictory and I found it hard to communicate and navigate as I crossed those boundaries daily.
To my parents I would try to communicate my alien desires for independence and privacy and pure want to just be me. This was confusing to them. Why isn’t the oldest daughter supposed to help with the responsibilities of our household the most? What is “not fair” and why does she keep saying it? The oldest should take care of the younger. The daughters sacrifice for the sons. At work, it was hard for me to communicate my style of leadership.
I am culturally drenched. Thoroughly saturated.
To me, strength is endurance, sacrifice, and silence.
When seeing me work, I am often told by well meaning non-Asian mentors to speak up and step up. My community peers often tell me that I have to be a leader because I am strong. At the same time I’m told by my parents to not ripple the water.
Even on such a small scale…these cultural bounds are hard to cross. Even with “belonging”, these cultural considerations have to be taken.
An article we had to read for class talks a lot about crossing cultural boundaries to communicate for business purposes…one example is a McDonalds “dan ta” (egg custard). McDonalds is an extremely adaptable (scary) corporation that is able to produce a packaged product that has a cookie cutter shape with a branding that is known all over the world yet they embraced and profited off successfully communicating across cultures. They serve things in other countries that are palatable to their tastes and sacrificed a little bit of their core.
What results is something completely different.
Just like coca-cola made from cane sugar in mexico and coca-cola made from high fructose corn syrup here…there’s a change in essence. What is communicated, could it ever be the same? Can there ever be actual understanding?
A business perhaps, can break the rosetta’s stone and speak to a people with their language…change it from I to we…but what about true meaning and intent? Can that ever be thoroughly and honestly and truthfully conveyed across cultures?
condo on mass
so there’s this condo on mass that I always walk by on my way to work. the guy leaves all his windows wide open so you can see everything in the apartment. this brand new condo is on the corner of the building and is made almost entirely of glass. his furnishings are impeccable. white, glass, and dark wood. it makes me wonder about his life and why he’s always inside. everyday I see him sitting there as I walk by. watching his flat screen on his couch, browsing his laptop on his table, pouring wine in his kitchen. it doesn’t matter what time it is that I walk by. 7 am, 8pm, noon, 3 pm. I even try to fool him by going home at odd hours. but he’s always inside. does he use a grocery service? is there a laundry machine inside? does he ever use the bathroom?
this guy is always dressed for work. or so it looks to me from the waist up. I can’t see if he’s wearing shoes or not. he wears cableknit sweaters over t-shirts and non-creased dark slacks. I can’t peg what type of music he might like. he most likely doesn’t partake in ethnic foods. I see him as a balsamic vinaigrette over arugula type guy.
he got flowers a week ago. yellow orange red tulips. they spread all over the table as they drooped since I bet he doesn’t have a friend to tell him to put pennies in the water to make them stand up. the drooping juxtaposes but matches his decor. sunday they start to bloom and open wide. they look garish and unsightly. monday tuesday wednesday they’re dead. he doesn’t clean them up. he sits there, stands there, walks around there, and they are dying…most likely smelling…
his impeccable white glass wood apartment smells like dead tulips.
is he ok? did something happen? if something did why does he still act like nothing is different? what made it so that he can just completely ignore this mass of degenerating matter in the apartment he strives so carefully to keep immaculate?
I wonder why he leaves his windows open like that. knowing what his apartment smells like…makes me feel like I know him.
“Discourses are tactical elements or blocks operating in the field of force relations; there can exist different and even contradictory discourses within the same strategy; they can, on the contrary, circulate without changing their form from one strategy to another, opposing strategy.”
- Michel Foucault
A Discursive Discourse-
Discourses are tactical elements or blocks operating in the field of force relations; there can exist different and even contradictory discourses within the same strategy; they can, on the contrary, circulate without changing their form from one strategy to another, opposing strategy.
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