“Most of the stuff they study in school is completely useless. But some incredibly valuable things you don’t learn until you’re older – yet you could learn them when you’re younger. And you start to think, What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school? God, how exciting that could be! But you can’t do it today. You’d be crazy to work in a school today. You don’t get to do what you want. You don’t get to pick your books, your curriculum. You get to teach one narrow specialization. Who would ever want to do that?”—Steve Jobs discussing bureaucracy in US schools (via) (via austinkleon)
The early 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, posthumously regarded as the father of existentialism, maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.
I think about life everyday. Commenting on it. Analyzing it. Dissecting it. Bitching at it. Making sense of it. In theatre, we tell stories about life on stage. In movies, we capture life on film. In books, we read stories about life. Even now, as I take my last undergrad class — biology (laughs) — we study how life works scientifically. There is so much critique, theory, research, religion and stories that come together to try to put meaning to life.
So what happens to humans on the occasion is we pull back a bit. It is during those existential moments like when you lay on the grass in the middle of the night, star gazing, and you realize how miniscule you really are in respect to the chaos around you.This is the reality check.
While you can bitch and moan, stress and freak out, worry and fear about how your life is: whether you are a struggling postgrad trying to find work, a family man working to keep his family intact or an old woman with many regrets, what is it all for?
I’m granted fifty more years (if I’m lucky enough) to live and be — 23 years already went by like nothing. I don’t want to be in tomorrow’s obituary just yet! Not until I’ve made a trillion more marks, when I’ve just only made about a million or two. This is the current conundrum.
I’m invited to be a guest speaker for a class of grad students at Argosy University tomorrow. They want me to detail my coming out experience as a Gay Vietnamese American — touching on my family dynamics, relationship status, coming out process, positive/negative experiences, and offer some suggestions so that they can better assess and cater to the needs of young adults such as myself in a clinical setting.
The last time I had to speak about all this (besides conversational or writing about it) was for a panel talk that I was lucky to be a part of last year for the CSULB Safe Zone Project which was a forum for campus faculty and staff to find out what are the current needs and climate of LGBT students. But for this one, I was among four other diversely gay students, this time around, the microscope is on me, and I feel a bit thrown back a bit by it all because I feel like some foreigner that these researchers are trying to figure out. But it is what it is, and I am glad to be a voice for students, especially for research.
If you have any pointers on what you think the LGBT Asian American experience is like, but more importantly how we can help practitioners, counselors, therapists in their clinical work, please let me know!
“I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college….You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught. The library, on the other hand, has no biases. The information is all there for you to interpret. You don’t have someone telling you what to think. You discover it for yourself.”—
“What you need to learn is that being creative is not enough in this business. You have to become techinical. Creative people are born creative - you’re lucky. Technical people however can never be creative. Its something they’ll never get. You can’t buy it, find it, study it - you’re born with it. Too many creative people don’t want to learn how to be technical, so what happens? they become dependent on technical people. Become technical, you can learn that. If you’re creative and technical, you’re unstoppable.”—Robert Rodriguez (via feltron :: roomthily :: ronenreblogs) (via austinkleon)
The one thing I do miss about being in a relationship is the care. The details and thought that was put into little things like gifts. When I was in one, I remember putting so much love into my gifts. It was a chance to be creative, working the magic, pulling the strings to make for great presents for celebrations like anniversaries. It seems a little silly to be commemorating the day you met someone, I think it was sillier celebrating every month. After a year, we started running out of ideas and eventually, it was a game of who can top the other person. My next relationship, I don’t think I’d put myself through the pressure of giving gifts as much as I did, it just lost some of it’s specialness making it such a big deal. Love is a big deal, and love should be acknowledged — celebrated of course. I think the next step is to express it, without making it such a holiday.
I’m writing this while looking at my friend’s post of the gift her boyfriend had given her. It brought back a bit of sinking feeling. I will forever be cursed with being a romantic, who’s now lost some of his touch.
Just expanding on my last thought about relationships, say, why is it that we are attracted to European, “White”, Australian, even Canadian accents, but whenever someone who distinctly comes across with an Asian accent, it becomes less acknowledged, less looked upon as a good thing. Is this where cultural assimilation, westernized infatuation, sociological meaning comes in? The whole, looking at Western culture, as the poster child of beauty.
Sadly, it must be true, as I find that I am attracted to such qualities myself.
But here is where I make the distinction.
I have found guys who have the chinkiest of chinky eyes, something I’m sure Asians all over the world, dislike — that are still immensely attractive. Why is that? Because they know how to carry themselves. They are not trying to be like others and fitting those molds of beauty.
But by saying those two statements, don’t they contradict?
I find that this self-Vietnamese hatred, if you will, can really be traced to the disrespect I have for our lack of originality and individuality. This stems from how our culture loves to steal. We steal looks, we steal music (Paris by Night, need I say more) we steal what is popular, and not much of anything of ours is that unique (I am not referring to history nor our beautiful country landscapes). Though I occasionally do watch Paris By Night for the spectacle and the genuine belief that they really are keeping our culture alive and trying to educate/entertain the younger crowds while giving our parents the memories of our country art - - I still dog on everything. And I know too, that we all dog on the product, the performers. Funny thing is that we shit talk so much on each other, we are so superficial and we all want so much power because we think that shit talking on other Vietnamese people gives us power, when really, we are actually just being detrimental, losing power and doing the opposite. But, until I see something good, I will continue to do so, it is a valid double standard I would say.
Out of observation, why are so many Vietnamese guys dressing, styling and looking so Korean nowadays? Why do I find them not believable, tacky? Why do so many of our women flaunt these big name, flashy brands but still looking cheap and even gaudy at times. Laughingly, why do bright colors make our women look “fobby”?
You’re probably thinking to yourself, well Steven, you were born here in the U.S., and the last time I checked, you’re pretty much a hipster kid that dresses like those guys on LookBook, how original are you?
Maybe it’s this slight pretentious, haute, confidence that I’ve gained. Maybe Orange County has finally had its effect on me. Regardless, all I know is that I question just how much ‘my people’ can really progress, perhaps go mainstream, make some great products, have some great public idols to look up to, raw talent. It just doesn’t help that this is faded away, as I don’t even agree with the politics of my country. We will never get out of this third/second world slump, as long as the government keeps cheating our citizens with their communist ways. There is level upon level of conflict, disagreement between old Vietnam and new Vietnam, generational differences, freedom yellow-three-stripe flag fighters vs. “content Vietnamese” who have no say, have lots of fear or have no powe, overseas Vietnamese vs. countrymen.
I’m not trying to spread this vitriol. I am not a Vietnamese hater. I participated in all the “Vietnamese culture” events being in VSA for three years in college, I can’t say that makes everything I say valid or gives me any type of credibility, but I can at least say that I have tried to learn, and that I know who I am and I still genuinely value the traditions and culture. My kids one day will celebrate Lunar New Year, the Moon Festival, etc. and even speak the lost language. I took some time getting back to ‘my roots’, learned about my country’s history and did all that. Now that I am a little more knowledgeable, I think I’ve gained the right to speculate, criticize, and even perhaps push people, Vietnamese people alike to really think about where we are at right now and what imprints we want to make.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all about commemorating and paying respects to our rich history, our Black Aprils, or holidays (if anything, I find it utterly sad that so many boys and girls of our current generation can’t even fucking speak their own native tongue), and there truly is much beauty in our culture: a Vietnamese woman in an Ao Dai is one of those most stunning things, our landscape is gorgeous, our food is amazing, yes. But can we learn to balance tradition, with modernization and acculturate ourselves into the world today, and do so with some sense of taste that is uniquely ours, not stealing so much, riding on other people’s band wagon and can we as educated young Vietnamese adults fight for some decency and democracy within our own country? So much work to done, I can’t do this myself. I’m sure all this is too provocative for some, but whatever, it needs to be said by someone. I am damn aware that if I were to post this in Vietnam right at this second, you will see me handcuffs.
Maybe being single is the most appropriate thing to be right now.
I just don’t trust very many gay boys (yes, boys, not men) my age. I don’t even think I trust myself. I’ve come to realize that the time has come where it hits you, that, oh shit, I’ve dated a lot of guys, this pool water is on circulation, everyone knows each other and everyone’s dating each other, and there are just no more hidden treasures to be found. I’ve done my research, and really, I think I am ready for a little more maturity, some culture… someone not Asian (mind you, I am still attracted to them, but there are just so many now, everyone’s becoming a blur). Then again, I should probably start by stop talking to so many young 20 year olds, and start dating older men (I have yet). Maybe moving out of the state is the healthiest thing I could have decided to do, professionally and romantically. Sorry guys, I am out of here, come August. Catch me while you can, or don’t. I’m fine.
Where is this intelligent, witty, masculine, stylish, beautiful, perfectly spoken english speaking (yes, sadly, it’s an actual breaker nowadays — unless it’s a European, Canadian, Australian accent, ha yes expanding those options open), young gentlemen that I have yet to find? There are just so many elements that keep me interested and so many that automatically loses my interest.
Just the other day, I met this talented classical musician who’s Yale arts bound, well read, smart guy, but even that wasn’t enough, as I eventually shot him down as soon as his broken english, lack of hygienics (funny enough) and cargo pants started turning me off. God, I will forever be single! Is it too much to ask for a James Franco Jr. or something? Or another version of me (… or opposite)? Yes, I know it is, but I’m not giving up just yet.
Art is a way of making images, or objects, that reflect emotions, spiritual ideas or religious feelings that make us think about ourselves and the world. It is an attempt to explain why we, as human beings, try and make sacred, beautiful or meaningful objects that enhance our ways of living, or just make us feel better about the world we inhabit.
As Socrates pointed out, one mans idea of art is another man’s dog dinner. Defining what is art is almost as difficult as defining what is perfect or beautiful. It seems like there is much work to be done— I don’t have a current interest in creating art for people to gawk at and decide whether this is art or more commonly, whether something is beautiful, or makes sense, or means this or that. I’m going to take the time to use this vehicle as a way of breaking the misconstrued, misconceived notions of what is art, by simply working to use my art as a mode of expression, a reflection of my thoughts, current ideas, and reflecting on the world around through my visual statements. You may not ‘get it’, maybe I don’t fully either, but this is all part of the learning.
This could possibly be the most important thing I will ever write:
My friend asked tonight, "how many guy couples do you know, that are still together or have been together for a long time?"
I paused to think.
Thought of a couple I knew earlier during college, but realized they must have broken up since I see one of them with a new guy.
So no, I couldn’t think of anyone.
Why is that anyway?
So I paused to think a little harder, and came up with something simply by looking at myself.
What is my mind set right now?
I’ve been dating for about a year, got out of a heavy two year relationship, dealt with the whole post-break up-age, and where do I stand now, I ask myself.
I finally decided through much thought, that I am in no state of being in anything serious. Partly because I will be moving in August to New York for school (I don’t want to deal with long distance), partly because I am just looking to date and I haven’t found anything that has made me want to be in anything serious, reason being that no one has quite had that woo effect on me yet, and really, what is the point in settling down right now when there is so much eye candy, and hot fucks to be fucked. Get real people — men are pigs. We like pretty things, we like sex. You either get it through being in a relationship where you commit to fucking your boyfriend every night, and risk yourself every day, fearing that your other has his wandering eyes, or you stay single and slut around until it gets tiring. Take your pick. It doesn’t seem like there is much anything reliable nowadays, which is why I’ve become slightly pessimistic at times and come into every encounter with a guy with little expectations anymore, knowing in the back of my mind that it’s probably not going to work out, because it hasn’t.
And the fact that I can’t think of one gay couple who’s been together for more than 3 years — it is ridiculous to me. Granted, I am young, 23, and most guys my age are in a similar vein, I am speaking more in terms of when I hit my 30’s (an ideal time), will I find a decent guy who will have the same values and wants as me? I am hopeful, but it looks hazy. And dear god, I refuse to be like the sad 35+ year old (not just them, but anyone really) who I come across that are still in the closet, sleeping with guys my age, hiding their identities and being miserable. Too bad for not having the balls to live truthfully. And thankyouverymuch for keeping homosexuality invisible, perpetuating the fear, hate, ignorance, stereotypes and homophobia even more. Way to progress and be a part of the revolution.
What is it that defines happiness? What do we all want, maybe not necessarily right now depending on our age and mind-frame, but eventually we all want:
- A happy, healthy, trusting, loving (and hopefully a passionate) relationship with our significant other - A supportive family - A nice home - A solid career or at least making the money to buy things we like
And we can fit much of the rest based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but let’s just say that all four of those things will branch into satisfying all our human needs.
It seems like there is much doubt about whether gay men can live up to all of these traditional, but yet very basic human needs. What is a guy my age suppose to look forward to, if I can’t even think of a single committed, committed gay couple. We’re not even allowed marriage rights yet — it’s still a civil war. And homophobia is still rampant all over the place. How, just how, am I suppose to have faith that my future is bright?
Well damn it. This is the fight. This is the struggle that we queer, gay men and women must deal with. And how do we deal? By fucking breaking down all of these doubts by living it. I pledge my entire life to live fulfillingly, by living truthfully, in order to live happily.
It is hard enough being Asian, living in Conservative-Town-Orange County, being young and gay. This slutting around, being hormonal, being 20 shit, I hope will die down. And I am letting it. I am focused on my career and accomplishments first. No guy is going to distract me away from it. And with hope, after a few years of growing up and being even more comfortable in my new found skin, will I then start having all of the things off the needs list checked off. While I did NOT choose to be gay, I will take on the burden of having and needing to live the life that was given to me. Prove, people, wrong.
We live in a world where too much is never enough, and our lifestyles demand that we constantly gather, accumulate, and acquire.
But surviving the ever-growing complexity of things isn’t about peeling back the layers to reach the most refined essence of self. It’s about growing, changing, and adapting as we evolve into contemporary urban warriors.
“The internet has ended the monopoly on information by the elite - nowadays, even a teenager in a small town in Serbia can be as well informed as Barack Obama or Carine Roitfeld. Online blogs are doing the same thing to fashion. The inspiration process is no longer vertical like it was back in the days when the industry would create the new trends and looks for the masses to imitate. We’ve reached a point where there’s no more top-tier and bottom-rung, no more ‘high fashion vs. high street’. Instead of following trends, people prefer to set their own. They’ve come to expect more from fashion than a list of orders to be obeyed. This love for the custom-made, intensely individual look has grown noticeably since 2001, when the invention of the ipod began allowing people to update playlists constantly and to juxtapose the complete contents.”—says Yvan Rodic, Face Hunter
And with the advent of social media sites, we now have a new generation of personalization, the individual as percieved through the net — curating your own style and persona. Trends are dead, you can now be yourself. Neitzsche’s exhortion, ‘Become what you are’ is now a reality.
Katrina Nova: staring at these boxes in my room is making me really sad 10 minutes ago via Facebook
So that’s it. We’re all growing up and parting our ways now huh?
I will miss all the wonderful friends I’ve made. This week, with it being graduation and all, has made me think. Having grown up with not very many friends — seeking companionship mainly through online relationships and close family — going from that to having met so many people over a concentrated time frame of five years, I’ve had the privilege of bonding with so many great people. And the struggle nowadays is to keep up with all of these friendships and making time. All these social webs that I’ve created and all the stories, conversations, debates, arguments, jokes and laughs, have been so worthwhile and it has made my college experience what it is. And through them, I’ve learned much about myself. As sad as I am this month about ending things and wanting to take up the opportunities to hang out with them all one last big time during summer break, I just have to close another chapter and move on. A lot of us are moving on. Some know where they’re going, many do not.
An elderly lady came to my window at work the other week and asked how old I was. I replied I was 23 — she responded with saying, “Ah, yes, the twenties. Such an amazing time to be alive. It is the age where possibilities are endless. The next struggle for men won’t be until the fifties when you hit your mid life crisis, and all the things you said you wanted to do in your twenties, suddenly realizing that they haven’t yet been fulfilled”
I will save my tears for August, though, there have been quite a lot of tears shed these years. Not much has changed.