Sunday, November 23, 2008

Come back

She waits.

She watches all the others in the the brilliant azure skies and yearns to join them. But why should she ever want something more when she's got everything that could possibly make her happy?

You hope.

You wish that she'll forget the outside distractions and turn around to look at you, remembering once again that to her, you are the world.

She pecks at her cage impatiently. Chirping, always chirping about what she sees and what she thinks she can do once she's out there. You listen, feeding her confidence and ego but afraid of what this might mean.

It happened. She wants to break free. Free of this cage that doesn't seem like a cage. Liberated from the constrains that really only existed in her head. Set loose to explore the unknown and grow to be strong and beautiful.

No! You cried. You don't understand! You will only be truly happy here, safe, and with me.

Deep down, she knows that you're right. She just needs to figure it out on her own.

Shakily, you open the cage doors.

She steps out, hesitantly.

Crash! The cage doors close.

Startled, she turns around, expecting that the option of going back will always be there.

She looks at you pleadingly, wanting you to smile as you did before.

All of a sudden, the skies seem angry and dark.

Turning your back to her, you shoo her away.

You walk off, hoping that the hawks in D.C. play nice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Migrant Worker (N) : [mahy-gruh-nt wur-ker]

I randomly bumped into a friend the other day and had lunch with him. I casually mentioned that I have a job and all of a sudden he got really excited. He launched into a whole detailed description of his sociology research project in which he has to collect data on migrant workers. I listened politely, nodding appropriately throughout, all the while wondering why on earth he's telling me all this in so much detail. All of a sudden, he paused, looked at me and asked, "Sisi, I was wondering if I can interview you as a migrant worker."

I choked on a piece of onion that the girl at Subway had accidentally put in my sandwich. To be honest I was sort of offended. Smiling confusedly, I told him that 1. I'm not a migrant and 2. I'm not a worker. You got to hand it to him, he did not seem fazed at all. He persisted and reassured me that I fit the category completely and that I would be simply perfect. Always terrible at saying no, I found myself telling him that I would love to do it.

A couple of days later, I found myself sitting on the a couch, glancing nervously at the voice recorder. He sat across me and launched in a whole series of questions that I'm sure are very pertinent to migrant worker studies. Are you dating anybody right now? Have you dated/ considered dating a boy who is not of your ethnicity? What's your GPA?What do you like to do for fun? How many kids do you want to have?

The whole interview took two hours. Although at times, I found it kind of awkward, it was actually quite fun to talk about myself (how vain!). At the same time it is also kind of weird because a random boy has recorded all the details of my life and would probably have to listen to it over and over again for his project.

He insisted on taking me to dinner to thank me for my time. He bought me a huge Subway sandwich and as I bit into my delicious chicken teriyaki (no onions this time), I couldn't help but think that maybe being a migrant worker wasn't so bad after all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things you should never say to somebody who just broke up

Hong Kong doesn't have a lot of distinct seasons. But we do here at BYU. There's Spring (the meeting), there's Summer (the dating), and then there's the Fall (the breaking up), and of course there's the Winter (hibernating at home and gearing up for Spring). While talking to my friends the other day, I realize that a lot of couples that I know recently broke up. Some of them are glad, some are broken hearted and some are just plain angry.

So just to laugh about it all, and to poke fun at myself a little (most of these things were said to me!), Chelsea and I came up with this list at 3 am some random morning:

Top 10 things that you should never say to somebody who just broke up

1. Who did it?
2. Interesting. I don't think I've ever met anybody who got engaged and broke up before.
3. Can I have your number then?
4. What on earth are you going to do on Friday nights now?
5. Did she burn you a love CD? You put it into the microwave right now and put it on high for 30 seconds! (This one is actually a good idea)
6. Good. I never liked him anyways.
7. Oh that makes sense. I saw him yesterday with this other girl.
8. But you guys were perfect for each other!
9. That sucks. We broke up last year and I'm still not over it. I totally understand how you feel.
10. I just heard that you got engaged!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My SAT of life

In my SAT prep classes I always emphasize to all my students that in the Writing section, transitions are the most important things to look out for. Standing in front of the class, five foot one and all, I religiously extoll the merits of the Kaplan methods for SAT essay writing and tell them that with Kaplan's secrets they are on the road to success. It wasn't until recently that I find it all kind of ironic. Perhaps it is I who need to internalize that concept more than they.

I haven't been doing so good with all the transitions in my life so far. It's sort of hard to know exactly which transitional phrase I should be using when I don't even know what my next paragraph is going to be. I sit there, poised with my favorite black ball-point, trying to figure out all my different options. Is it going to be an internship in Washington D.C. ? Going home next summer? Taking another stab at the whole marriage thing again? By now my students should know that the key to forming good transitions is to have a plan. Well I had a plan. A plan that I really didn't think would change. I so confidently bought our honeymoon tickets without realizing what a pain they are to return. I feel like a typical SAT student who is panicking in the middle of the 25 min essay section, all because the once marvelous essay plan doesn't seem to be working out so well. I want to abandon the plan, indeed I almost feel like I have to, and just leave the testing room altogether. What's the point of continuing when you've already screwed up the beginning?

But (which is a delicious transitional word), yes but, there's always a chance for redemption. That's what transitional phrases are for. Even though I have no clue what random nonsense will flow out of my pen tip the next moment, I can choose my transitions. I can choose "Despite feeling lost and lonely at times, she keeps herself occupied with good friends....", "Since she's messed it up once, who said she won't mess it up twice?", or even "However, after a year or two of growing up, they realized that they needed each other..."

I guess the point is, in choosing my transition, I'm choosing how to go on. After all, the momentary freeze in the testing center is just that, a momentary freeze. I cannot just fly home on an impulse, abandoning my school work and my job just so I can lick my wounds elsewhere. There are lessons to be learnt, stories to tell and paragraphs to be written even in, or especially in, awkward transitions.

Now that I'm gingerly feeling for the right transition, all I have to do is wait for my next paragraph to form. And the next, and the next. So on so forth, and eventually I'll have a whole essay.

You see, despite all those rumors, SAT really is not that hard after all.