Hmm.. it's a rainy rainy night in melbourne. Flicking through the internet, a thought pops into my mind. What happened to the Kony campaign? What's changed in the world as a result of Kony? Not much I think. That's the thing about massive campaigns the seem really cool for a moment. It makes social justice way too easy for those of us who are willing to pay for fair trade coffee and wear a bracelet to make poverty history.
Easy come, easy go. Just as quickly as everyone was happy to hop on the bandwagon, the crowds have fallen silent very quickly and continued on with their lives.. they've done their bit for child soldiers.. they shared a video on Facebook! Don't you know? Clicking "like" on photos now cures health issues too!
That being said, I think it's good to educate the masses. A genuine "Well Done", heaps of people now know about the issue of child soldiers, but I just wished that the solution offered was more than just wearing a bracelet or putting up posters (this goes for any other campaign).
So here is the challenge that I'm putting out, that I'm taking on as well. If I spend money on non essential items on myself, I'm donating half of what I spent towards social justice causes. This way, I constantly remind myself to only buy what I need. On the other hand, if I choose to buy it anyway, surely I can spend a couple of dollars to better someone else's life. Given I'm a bit of a shopaholic, I think I might make the world a better place in my own little way after all.
I've been meaning to get back to blogging for a while now but life has gotten real busy. In the last few months since my last post, I have: - graduated - got a "big girl, grown up" job - stepped down from leadership - figured out my faith a bit more - been a bridesmaid at my brother's wedding - found my calling - grown up - bought things because I need it for work.
I've also had the privilege of having my "Ah Ma" (paternal grandmother who lived in Perth) move in with us for awhile. My Ah Ma has Alzhemiers, she's had it for awhile now. My earliest memories of this saga are of a family meeting where she was beginning to realise that her memory wasn't quite up to scratch and I remember my biggest concern then at age 10 was that my Ah Ma would forget my name and who I was...12 years later, she doesn't know my name and that is okay. She recognises my face and she tells me she loves me and I think she means it. Sometimes she forgets I don't speak Hokkien but we have a giggle about it. Now that I'm 22 and have worked in the healthcare system, my biggest concern is her safety... and yet there's that niggling thought about her not knowing my name. Does she think she is sitting next to a stranger every time I sit next to her on the couch? Maybe the fact that I'm calling her Ah Ma alerts her to the fact that I am one of her granddaughters. One night I came home from work and walk past her room. She sees me and is genuinely excited and welcomes me thinking I've flown in from Melbourne to Perth. I'm grateful for these moments.
For the longest time, I'd look at her sitting on the couch and wonder if I should just come out and say " Hi Ah Ma, I'm I-Shen", and yet I didn't. I find it so terribly awkward to have to reintroduce myself by my name to my grandma and it was such a struggle between wanting her to know that I wasn't a stranger so I didn't freak her out when I hugged her (not that I think she would, she'd willingly hug anyone) and getting over the awkwardness of it all. Then... it hit me.
My Ah Ma was a Chinese School Teacher.. actually both my grannies are, but you'd never know cause I can barely write my own name in Chinese. I speak enough to continue a little conversation but not much else. But my Ah Ma doesn't remember this, so I've asked her to "teach" me Mandarin even though I know the basics already. We begin by the general:
me:Ni hou ma? (How are you)
ah ma:Wo hen hou, ni ne? (I'm very good, how about you?)
me:Wo ye hen hou. Wo de ming she Lin Yi Sien. Ni jiao she mo ming je? (I'm also very good. My name is Lim I-Shen, what is your name)
ah ma: oh very good! Wo de ming she Huang Pao Ying. My name is Ng Pao Ying
we've been having this same conversation regularly now. I'm glad I've found a way of getting past the awkwardness of having to outrightly tell her my name. Now I'll just have to think more laterally about getting her to stop washing the dishes repeatedly seeing as we are in a drought prone state.
where does one draw the line? where do you say, this is the private side of me, this is the public side of me. Where do we stop "crafting" who we are to the outside world and just be real? When do we stop writing for the sake of gaining attention and write for the sake of expressing thought, logic and reason? When does the person we are online become the person we are in our daily lives?
I've been known to come off as scary. I keep my distance often, I'm pleasant and cordial enough but I'm not exactly one to hug you when we first meet. When you do get to know me and you are in "the circle of trust" I'm blunt and I say things that may seem a touch un-PC, funny, but very much unfiltered. There are however, no qualms about my stand on things. I DO apologize when I'm wrong but I don't um and ah about things that matter to me.
So last night, the message was on compassion and justice and there was a call at church to stand if you wanted to "stand for compassion and justice". I would've, I didn't want to be the odd one out. But something within me stirred and said "no, don't stand up, despite what others may think, you have compassion and justice in you". I sat in silence, in prayer, squeezing my eyes shut until i looked around as one by one everyone stood up and I sat... and knowing by my own convictions that I did not need to stand up to prove to anyone that I was compassionate and for justice.
I didn't need to physically stand up to show that I stood for something I always stood for.
I sat because I know without a doubt that I do seek compassion and justice...
I just didn't need to let everyone else know.
just like how I think sometimes people post things on facebook so other people can validate their "goodness"
the new breast cancer awareness campaign on facebook? why do intelligent women keep giving in to this nonsense. its pretty infuriating when there is no clear link between tricking people into thinking you are pregnant and actual breast cancer awareness... in fact if a breast cancer patient has had to have a mastectomy it can often leave them feeling less feminine.. so what does society do? rub pregnancy (which is pretty darn feminine into their face.. gee what a good idea)
this is almost as tasteless as the last round of using
instead, choose to educate the masses, do some research, like: last year 1.5 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in australia, 1 in 11 women are diagnosed with breast cancer remember to do a checkup once a month OR
the awkward moment when the new asian kid says "1 2 tree"
the migrants: caught between the natives, locals and FOBs
(fresh of the boat)
sometimes we find ourselves caught in a limbo where we're not quite fresh off the boat, but:
-we still do things like bring our lunches in a thermos
-we speak a variation of english fluently, in my case,
manglish, when we're not in the correct "mode"
-our parents buy things in bulk eg. toilet paper
- our parents save plastic take away containers
-asian people are called aunty/uncle, white people are mr/mrs
-we do all our homework in school so we don't have homework/ go for tuition.
-people still think we don't speak english and
don't know where malaysia is.
-said people are shocked when you speak "good english"
-said people are super impressed if you speak in other language eg. counting in malay during maths (which we are supposedly good at)
-play the piano or violin
-my grandma almost sent me for chinese cooking lessons to find a nice chinese doctor boyfriend
( she said this jokingly but we all know it's not a joke, what popo or ah ma doesn't want a pure chinese bloodline?)
at the same time, i:
-worked in a bar in a pretty "bogan" area
- can't cook asian food to save my life
-didn't just hang out with the asian crew at school
-sound pretty convincingly aussie
-cringe when people talk to me in chinese and i have to meekly answer in english
-don't watch tvb or korean dramas
-didn't study chemistry
- am not a doctor/lawyer/accountant/dentist/engineer
(this constitutes what is known as: ASIAN FAIL)
now lately, i've been pondering about what it means to be a migrant. am i an aussie? or a malaysian? i'm turning 22 this year, meaning that i would have officially spent half my life in malaysia, and half in australia. i've surrendered my malaysian citizenship in favour of an aussie one, it wasn't a hard choice. I knew my parents came over to be closer to
family, but i also knew it was to escape a system where being a malaysian chinese, i would have always been a 2nd class citizen in comparison to the malays (bumiputras). oh yes, life would have been so much more different. here in australia, if i worked hard i almost had an equal shot as everyone else to get into a course at uni.
that being said, i think i owe my work ethic to the malaysian education system (all the good bits really), it made me work harder and gave me a greater appreciation for the education
system here. the pelthora of races in malaysia made it easy for me to get along with people from different races/cultures/religions and not making the rookie mistake of not knowing which hand to shake. ;)
i loved growing up in malaysia. it was a lot safer back then, and mahathir seemed like an okay guy. but every now and then, i'd have a sneak peek at malaysia kini, nutgraph etc to see how my homeland is doing, and i find myself in a state of sadness. see, as much as i sometimes crack a joke at the dismal state of malaysia.
eg obedient wives club it saddens me to see what has become of the place i once called home. EVERY malaysian knows the political situation is crazy and malaysia has finally had enough and are illegally marching for reform of the government. the bersih* rally on the 9th of July is where malaysians all over the world, from all races and all walks of life are gathering together to oppose a corrupt government.
reading the updates from facebook and various media outlets i can undoubtedly say i am so proud of the malaysian people. it can be said that sometimes the asian culture is to not become involved because it is more troublesome to do so, but the overwhelming number of malaysians who ARE doing something makes me so proud to be malaysian.
so yes, whilst i love myself a good barbie with a cracking cider in hand, should someone ask where i'm from, you can bet your bottom dollar that my answer will be that "i'm from malaysia"** because after all, where would i be without "negaraku"?
*bersih is the malay word for clean, tying in with the whole idea that malaysians everywhere are calling for a clean and fair election. the rally is on the 9th and people are showing their support by wearing yellow. i'll be at a camp in the bluemountains in sydney but i WILL be wearing yellow on the 9th of july. to those of you going to the rallies and wearing yellow, god bless, and wear good running shoes so you don't get caught.
** to my malaysian and singaporean homies, you'd get this version: "KL LAH!! you LEH?"
when i was 7 (i'm assuming i was 7) i was planning to build a massive house on a ranch with a massive lake. i remember thinking that if the house didn't come with a lake, it'd be man made. next to the said lake there'd be a house for mum and dad and a house for my in laws on the opposite side of the lake. there was also a jetty for dad's boat. oh and i forgot to mention, i had horses and i was going to be a world famous artist and i was going to change the world. oh and i was going to have a pound and have a billion pets. all this in malaysia..
fast forward to 15 years later.
i've decided that my future house will have a grass roof. a) because it'd be nice to have a rooftop garden and b) it's amazing insulation. everything in it will be energy friendly but extremely stylish, just enough of a mix for it to look stylish but casually thrown together. oh and we'll have a veggie patch cause we'e so gosh darn gourmet but will inadvertently kill all the plants. mum and dad have already bought their future retirement house in a pretty harsh neighbourhood cause they like the view and they love the people there. dad keeps talking about his hypothetical boat but is in love with his classic Alpha Romeo. I'm 6360 kilometers away from my hometown doing a course which the 7 year old me would have never even known about. I've been incredibly blessed. realistically speaking, staying in malaysia, i might have ended up in a more creative line of work. i'd be happy being provided for, I wouldn't have had worked at a bar. i wouldn't have winter clothes.. i wouldn't have met mr b, miss t and LV.
but.. i think i will still be having that myriad of animals.