Friday, 19 November 2010

Well, yes. Yes, it is.

I was telling the kids about interesting psych studies (you know, like you do), and came to a particularly famous one. I'm sure you're familiar with it-- a teacher told her class that the brown eyed children were smarter, prettier... you get the idea. Soon, the brown eyed children started acting like it, and treating all of the other kids horribly. There are many more details, but that's the gist of it.

So what did the kids say when I told them about this?

Neptune responded, "Oh. It's like what happened with Black people before Martin Luther King Jr."

I have never, ever been so impressed with anything a child has said. What a magnificent, thoughtful mental leap.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

When I grow up/Oh to be a kid again

As a child, my friends and I longed to be grown up. We wanted to be able to make our own decisions, eat dessert before dinner, and choose when to clean our bedrooms based on when WE thought it needed doing (read: never) rather than when those pesky parents did.

As a (granted, young) adult, I hear many other adults, my age and older, who long to be kids again. They dream of the days when problems were solved for them, "money problems" meant not enough allowance, and when they really, truly thought they could grow up to be anything they wanted.

We idealise both. You couldn't pay me to be a kid again! I do NOT want to go back to someone else watching my every move and deciding what the "right" choices for me are. I don't want to depend on someone else's approval for every step I take. On the other hand, being an adult seems to come with a lot of bills and fewer freedoms than I had imagined as a child.

And so, to sort of even things out, I make a point of doing certain things periodically Just Because I Can. Occasionally, I have dessert instead of dinner. I have two wonderful cats because I wanted to, not because it was the most responsible choice. Sure, I pay my bills, vacuum regularly, and am always on time for work.

But sometimes? Sometimes I do silly things, just because I can.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


When I was learning Chinese, one of the first things I was able to say (after "Hello," "thank you," and "shut up") was "My family (or "house" technically) has 5 people. My dad, mom, little brother, little sister, and me." (Wo jia you wu ge ren. Wo baba, mama, didi, mei mei, he wo.") It was not a great conversation starter, but it came up pretty frequently in oral examinations. On more daring occasions, I would add that I had a dog and a cat. I never did learn how to say "hamster."

The definition of family was pretty straight-forward. The people in my house were my family. I generously expanded this definition to include my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The end.

Lately, though, my definition of "family" has expanded significantly. "Wo jia" no longer simply has "wu ge ren." Now I consider many more people members of my family. Several of my college friends certainly fall into that category as, of course, do Clover, Neptune, and their parents. Even their extended family has, to a certain extent, become my extended family.

When I graduated from college, I decided to come to Seattle because I wanted to create a "home town" for myself. I've moved around a fair amount, and have never really felt like I'm FROM anywhere. On one hand, this is extremely liberating. I certainly wouldn't change my growing-up years for any amount of money. On the other hand, it would be nice to have roots of some kind. I thought-- silly, naive me-- that developing a home town would consist largely of becoming aware of the regional jokes, gaining the ability to drive around in the city without needing directions, and cultivating a healthy amount of ridicule for the "opposing" city (or maybe just the East Coast in general?). There's an element of truth in this, but I underestimated two things-- 1. The necessity of cute weather proof clothing and 2. How important people are. It's not the city that's "home." It's the people ("awww...").

I'm not building a "home" so much as I am spinning my web. Sure, the geographical area is part of it. I'm gradually learning my way around Seattle, I just bought a waterproof winter coat, and I can use the word "sun break" in a sentence without feeling like a fool. Not to be ignored, though, are the very important people who are all part of this web.