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Collected Words of a Taiwanese Mother

December 1, 2012 1 comment

[roughly translated from Chinese]

“Guys need to be more romantic, more proactive, in order to keep a girl interested in him. He needs to woo her.”

“I’ve noticed that very intelligent people tend to end up divorcing more frequently.”

“When a girl goes and beds with a man, all his male friends know she’s off limits because she belongs to him. But once they part – because easy girls never last long in a relationship – no guy will touch that girl.”

“I was going to introduce you to a nice Taiwanese boy, but then he got leukemia.”

“Never use your real birth date and social security number when registering an account online. I use your father’s birthday on LinkedIn.”

“Be careful what pictures you post on the internet. What if a sex offender sees it? It’s so easy these days to access your real name, location, and date of birth. He’d find you so easily!”

(After being told a funny story about my housemate’s mother asking when I decided I was gay) “Did you tell her you are REALLY straight?”

“Don’t think you’re too old for me to hit you.”

“Hey, I’ve never seen [your brother] cry. Let’s see what it takes to make him cry!”

“If [your brother] goes for his Masters or PhD after college, you’ll be the one person with the lowest degree of education in our family.”

“Oh, California’s sales tax increase will be good for the state. Even the Mexicans will have to pay their fair share.”

(After hearing me talk about how much I like my apartment in San Francisco) “Yeah. It’s just too bad you live in such a densely Hispanic neighborhood.”

“Are there a lot of Russians in San Francisco?”

(After I tell her about the friend who made my necklace) “Oh! Is she Taiwanese?”

“If someone said something bad about me, you wouldn’t stand for that, right? It’s a natural, familial instinct.”

“Guess what my pant size is now. Just guess!”

“Are you really that much skinnier? Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner kept commenting on how skinny you are!”

“How much do you weigh?”

“You could try my diet plan, too!”

“Have you noticed if eating so much Mexican food has made you stinkier?”

“Are either of your housemates fat? You should tell them about my weight loss method. It could really change their life!”

“If I lose another 10 pounds, your father will definitely want me to go back to Taiwan to live with him.”

“Your father made a lot of promises to me. He’s never kept a single one.”

“You’re a lot like your father.”

“There is something very, very wrong with you.”

“There was this show in Taiwan about male children being kidnapped and sold off as cucumbines[sic], being treated like girls and raped repeatedly until they turn into, like, a gay mentality, you know? And one of the actors apparently was gay, and ended up committing suicide.”

“Why are you still freelancing? Don’t you want to do something with your life?”

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Categories: humor, life

The multitudinous benefits of being an ethnic minority in America

February 5, 2011 1 comment

A brief exchange that occurred a few days ago:

Me: walking down to Mr. S, minding my own business.

Slightly unkempt guy walking a dog in front of me, looking back over his shoulder: “Hey! You are very beautiful.”

Me, a little startled: “Huh? Oh, thank you…”

Him, slowing down to match my pace: “So, what’s your ethnicity?”

Me, immediately slightly defensive: “Uh, I’m…Chinese.”

Him: “Oh! You must be quite an athlete, then – the Chinese are such amazing athletes! I’ve seen videos where they start training their girls at six or seven years old…”

Me, thinking, Yeah, it’s nothing short of child abuse over there… Aloud: “Oh yeah? I guess so…”

Him: “Anyway, I can tell you’re athletic by your gait.”

Me, slightly bemused: “My gait?”

Him: “Yes, gait. You know gait? G-A-I-T-”

Me, slightly annoyed: “Yes, I know gait. You can tell I’m athletic by my gait?”

Him: “Yeah, I used to be a trainer, I can tell how athletes walk.”

His dog starts pulling and barking at something in front of us. Slightly unkempt guy pulls sharply at his leash and admonishes him before turning back to me.

Him: “Hah, he’s just jealous. You know jealous?”

Me: “…”

Him: “Anyway, have a great day!” And turns a corner.

Good fucking riddance.

Sadly, this is not a unique occurrence. I am often asked about my ethnicity, and when it’s a white guy who’s doing the asking, I immediately cringe, and my defenses (as well as my hackles) go up, assuming he’s got a case of yellow fever. I know, I know – it’s an unfair and sweeping presumption to make, but it’s also been reinforced by past experiences. As soon as I notice that a guy is specifically interested in my ethnicity, I lose all interest and patience in him.

(A friend of mine, who openly admits to being primarily attracted to Asian women, can attest to just how cold and brusque I can be about this. I refused to associate with him and barely acknowledged his existence for the first three years I knew him.) – Sorry, AB!

To have to deal with that in the world at large is annoying enough, but now that I’ve also entered the kink community, the fetish is not only much more prevalent in my social circle – it becomes that much more blatant. A quick scroll through the “Asian” group on Fetlife is enough to make me gag.

There are many different viewpoints regarding ethnic fetishes. On the one hand, a person cannot necessarily help what they are attracted to, and an attraction to a certain race may be equivalent to being attracted to blond hair or a certain height. It’s just another physical attribute that a person considers in the overall makeup of someone they’re checking out.

On the other hand, I am more than the single dimension of my ethnic background, and I am certainly more than the perceived beliefs of what that ethnicity says about my personality and my behaviors. And I’ve found, more often than not, that those who fetishize my race narrow in on those aspects; they aren’t viewing race as one part of my overall person. They are, in fact, replacing my individual personality with one they’ve already constructed in their mind to fit their fantasy.

There is nothing that grates on me quite as acutely as having another’s fetish or presumptions pushed on me. I can’t imagine that anyone appreciates this, actually. Sure, there are people who embrace having their own race fetishized, and who am I to judge them? But don’t assume I am one of those people, and don’t start talking and behaving towards me as if I’m agreeing to act on your fetish!

I suppose a possible analogy I can make here is to bottoms (especially submissive males, it seems) who assume anyone who is dominant will dominate them, especially if they just start submitting to them without regard for whether the other person actually wants to engage. The opposite also works: tops who are somehow arrogant enough to believe anyone who identifies as submissive will automatically submit to their domly self. (Spare me my ribs, they may crack from laughing at the thought!)

All of these circumstances are rude, disrespectful, and self-serving. Asian fetishism is no different.

[note: I went off in another direction altogether from what I was thinking when I started writing down the short conversation I had with slightly unkempt guy. Besides the blatant interest in my ethnicity, it was actually his only-too-happy assumption of my English ability and vocabulary that royally pissed me off.]

Categories: humor, life

Ho…ho…ho…

December 26, 2010 Leave a comment

A day late, but I completely forgot about this beautiful animated short, based on a poem by the inimitable Neil Gaiman.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Nicholas Was” by Neil Gaiman, animation by 39 Degrees North.

I don’t know how it’s possible to love this man any more than I already do, but every time I see something like this, he captures my heart that much more.

Categories: art, humor, video

“thoughtful profile”

July 15, 2010 3 comments

Some conversation came up in our household a week or two ago concerning received messages on Fetlife, when I was suddenly reminded of one that I had gotten some five months ago.  I remember distinctly vacillating between disbelieving hilarity and plain incredulity over this message.  I don’t know why I should have been so surprised; e-mails in the same vein and of the same consistency are sent and butchered by their recipients for public consumption all the time through media outlets.  Yet I almost couldn’t believe that someone wrote something like this in complete seriousness – surely this was a poor attempt at irony?

I suppose part of my shock came from the thankfully low numbers of these kinds of e-mails I get on Fetlife (and elsewhere).  The vast majority of my inbox’s contents are from people that I know, or have met at a party, or are friends of friends.  Even the occasional stranger’s hello is frequently nothing but cordial, a couple times coming from someone wanting to ask about navigating the scene as a newcomer (imagine, me being asked that!)

Then, just today, I came across a Fetlife post titled “A Field Guide to Creepy Dom” – you have to be registered and logged into the site to access that link – that once again reminded me of this one, specific message.  I’ve also started reading a fantastic book called The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker.  All of these writings relate somewhat to the message I received, which I’ve reproduced in whole below, save the hapless man’s signature (bolded emphasis mine – those were especially juicy phrases, I thought):

Hello Nell, I like your thoughtful profile; There is a saying..”Still waters run deep..” so although you may seem sad on the surface you may have deep feelings and emotions underneath. I am a master at reaching those and releasing your full potential. I can imagine what your responses were like. I know and respect Eastern ways, after visiting Hong Kong & Singapore and still practice yoga. We are so close by & I am often in SF. So tell me about your thoughts, a little about where your family is from and the best way to contact you. My best e-mail is via Yahoo, so we can chat & share pictures there.What is your e-mail there? You had better discribe yourself a little too. Are you tall, average shape or slim or what parts are you most proud of? Also which part of the city are you near? We can talk first. Well Nell, I look forward to finding out more and sharing some new interesting parts of your life and feeling you grow as a more fully complete lady as your self-esteem and confidence blossom under my guidance…You will be able to do whatever you want and feel free and strong too! But you have to take that first easy step and reply. You must show willing to learn… Your new mentor, master & guide, [deleted]

Where to even begin with this?  It is almost too easy an exercise to dissect this word for word, and hopefully five months after this writing (I never responded, of course) he has likewise no interest in pursuing me any further – and hopefully doesn’t read my blog.  I won’t even touch the solid, unbroken paragraph of barely acceptable punctuation, questionable grammar, and creative sentence structure.

So, despite being five months late, I do in fact have a reply to my would-be “mentor, master & guide”.

Since I am currently halfway through The Gift of Fear, some of the traits the author discusses as common to potential victimizers immediately sprang up – forced teaming by using the collective pronoun “we”, loan sharking, and having too many details.  However, in this case, it was not so much feeling threatened as recognizing the attempted, barely subtle manipulation in his words.

His assumed arrogance that I would happily fall at his feet in subservience and answer all of these incredibly personal questions is laughable to me, yet the prevalence of these exact types on any social network centered around dating, finding partners, or even just connecting with other kinky, sex-positive folks is disconcerting at best.  The Fetlife link to the Creepy Dom field guide describes it perfectly and clearly, and I highly recommend reading it if you are on Fetlife.

Likewise, I found many warning signs to attribute to this email from the Fetlife post: using “master”, coming on too strong and too quickly, and claiming extensive experience and connections (here, to “Eastern ways”).  The focus of the guide centers around Creepy Doms as defined by their desire to control, manipulate, and “prove” their dominion over their fantasy slaves.  These traits are equally applicable to abusers and other victimizers, so I thought it especially timely that I read that right before starting de Becker’s book.

So, lots of academic points there.  That aside, however, I was immediately repulsed and insulted by the implications made at every word.  The man could not have dug himself a deeper pit.  It was as if he was trying to push all of my buttons.

The first sentence clause I emphasized, for instance.  Right from the beginning, I was already aghast at this man’s gross assumptions about me.  Sad?  Oh really.  And, I “may have deep feelings and emotions”?  That is supposed to read as a compliment?  Using “may”, which intrinsically dictates that the opposite may also be true?

In fact, for most of his statements I have to do no more than repeat them with an emphatic question mark appended in disbelief.  He really believes visiting a couple Asian countries and practicing yoga creates a bridge of understanding just because I happen to be Asian?  Yuck.  Just the thought of that makes me feel unclean.  (This, incidentally, is why I have a heavy dislike for “Yellow Fever” pursuers.  Whatever others’ personal views are, are theirs, but my ethnicity is not a fetish.)

Where my family is from?  Where they are from is none of your business, and I was born in the United States, thank you very much.  This brings me back to a speech made by one of my peers to the incoming freshman class.  This upperclassman was an Asian female, and she lamented over a persistent question faced by many minorities in this country, “So. Where are you from? No, where are you really from?”  She talked about the multiple generations of her family that had resided in her home state, and how they were longstanding, devoted fans to a specific sports team in that state.  How she was a full-blooded American citizen who lived in the same section of town her great-grandparents had lived.

And, yet, always that question: “Where are you really from?”

So many questions!  Where to even begin?  But, thankfully, through him, I will be able to blossom into myself completely and feel strong and free!  As long as I take that first step, and “show willing to learn”.

Memorial weekend

June 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve brought back congested sinuses and a phlegm-y throat amongst a bunch of great memories and marks from Shibaricon.  The enormity of those memories threaten to overwhelm, and yet I keep flipping through them like a slideshow; images and moments and words running in constant stream through my head.

Shibaricon has been imbued with many different meanings for me.  If I had to give it a one-sentence summary, this is what I would write: a multi-faceted event encompassing various traits of family, community, and camaraderie.  From seeing the incredulously many familiar faces at Thursday’s meet and greet hour, to being welcomed home by Psychokitty at the opening ceremonies, to geeking out about ropes with new and old friends, to serving Max and wearing his collar throughout the weekend – I felt myself an integrated part of a whole.

Some highlights, roughly chronological:

  • Max tying his leather turk’s head collar around my neck.  I’ve only worn this kind of collar once before, for the week of Folsom 2009.  I’m glad to have gotten a little time alone with him that first night, reconnecting and rejoicing in seeing him again.
  • Everyone.  There is simply no way to list all of the wonderful people I got to meet or see again.  Thursday’s meet and greet set the pace for how overwhelmed I would feel the rest of the weekend.  I also got to see friends at the IML vendor fair as well as meet Dan Savage!
  • I feel like I didn’t actually go to that many workshops or classes.  I didn’t go to any on Monday, and missed Saturday afternoon due to a volunteer shift.  I also missed all of the Sunday morning classes in favor of sleeping in.  I do really wish I’d gone to more classes, but there is always next year, and I can’t really complain considering my late-night dungeon fun.  But I did especially enjoy Scott Smith’s Abductions and Takedowns class, Max’s Partial Suspension class, and Zamil’s Efficiency of Movements class.
  • Eating delicious cooked meals with the Boston crew and thereby saving much money I would have otherwise spent on hotel food.
  • Getting kicked around by Max before my afternoon volunteer shift.
  • A dynamic, co-self-suspension done with Fivestar, where much laughter, puppeteering, and general mischief ensued.
  • The amazing scene between Max and PopeBacon directly afterwards, one of the hottest scenes I saw that weekend.
  • Getting a bar of chocolate from Lani as a reminder of how we met at Folsom Fringe.
  • Watching Dov get taken down by 7 girls and one guy at the end of the Abductions class.
  • Taking photos of Max’s and my boots (aka baby Max boots) side by side.
  • My extensive play date with Max, which encompassed aiding him during his scene with the beautiful Symetrie, then doing his boots in the social lounge – an act which has become the closest to being spiritual and ritualistic that I have ever felt, and an act that singularly consumes my body with lust and desire.  By the end we were both filled with tranquility.  I was high, high, high, and we followed the bootblacking with a rope scene that left me snarling and panting, and with whispered words of ownership slipping down my throat and wrapping themselves around my ribcage.
  • Throwdown with Dunter at the end of Zamil’s class.
  • IML.  Getting the opportunity to attend the vendor fair, have my boots done for the first time (by someone other than myself), and just take in the vastness of the event was incredible.  I was a little intimidated at first, but was soon asking vendors for advice on bootcare and trying on leather vests eagerly.  While waiting to get our boots done, Max put rope on me and used me as a footrest.  He also got me my first leather vest, for which I have not yet thanked him enough (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Sir).  I have been loathe to take off the vest since.
  • The last hurrah at the hotel bar, hanging out with new and old friends and sipping on Bailey’s before leaving for the flight home.

Some of the more difficult parts:

  • Being in the hotel with two other conventions; one a giant frat party of dart-throwers who’ve co-habited the same venue with Shibaricon for years, and the other a high school quiz bowl competition.  As if it were not difficult enough for me to be around so many people to begin with – Shibaricon capped off at somewhere around 750 attendees this year – I had to navigate around drunk partiers on one side and intelligent and undoubtedly curious kids on the other.  There were a couple times when I just retreated to my room rather than deal with all those crowds of people.
  • Going to a convention without a partner with whom I could practice ties cut down on the classes I felt comfortable attending.  I know I probably could have found a partner fairly easily, but I felt a bit hesitant to let a stranger tie me up, even for a class.  That said, I did manage to get partnered for a couple classes where I knew others, and that was quite fun.
  • Negotiating scenes ahead of time is something I need to work on, as there were people I was really looking forward to playing with but just didn’t get to plan them out beyond “we should talk about playing!”  Not to mention all the boots I wanted to black but didn’t get to!
  • Sunday evening to Monday morning was a difficult period for me.  I could feel myself dropping by Sunday afternoon, and that combined with knowing Max would be removing my collar Monday afternoon sent me into a bad headspace.  I spent Monday morning fighting it, calming myself down, and talking as little as possible, and finally requested, once we reached the vendor fair, that I spend a little time by myself.  I had begun to feel that coming to IML had been a mistake, that I’d have been better off being alone back at the hotel.  But the hour or so I spent wandering the vendor booths helped tremendously and I was able to come out of my mood and enjoy the event.
  • Max taking his collar off.  I could have cried when he untied the leather from my neck and rewove it around my wrist.  I didn’t, however, partly because I felt no different, no less possessed and under his will, once the collar came off.  And partly because, well, I have a hard time crying anyway.
  • The flight home.  Dear lord, this had to have been one of the worst flights I’ve ever taken.  Between the extended delay, sitting in the plane through another delay, and then being delayed during landing, we didn’t arrive in SFO until after midnight.  And during the final leg of the trip, for whatever reason I had intensely painful pressure buildup in my right ear, and nothing I did relieved it.  While I could clear the pressure from my left ear, the right continued to build and build, becoming this brightly focused arrow of pure pain.  I wanted to drive a spike into my ear.

Overall, I hope to make Shibaricon a yearly tradition from now on.  A special thank you to those I met, connected or reconnected with, worked with, shared meals with, and played with, for all the memories.  And especially to Psychokitty for just being the wonderful, amazing guy he is, to Fivestar for being a rocking roommate and for co-engineering our suspension, and to Max for carving out the time during this ridiculously packed, whirlwind of an event to have me at his side.

Not very virtuous…

May 9, 2010 2 comments

“My left ear is still sore, Sir.”

–  I could balance it out.

” … That’s alright, Sir.
…According to my parents, the shape of my earlobes means I’m a selfish person.”

–  I don’t think you’re selfish, girl.  I think you’re the farthest thing from selfish.

“Well, if you believe Ayn Rand’s philosophies, selfishness is the highest virtue -”

–  I don’t think you’re very virtuous, either.

“Oh.”

Categories: humor, memories

Maxisms

January 31, 2010 2 comments

Lately I’ve had a lot of little quips, comments, and quotable tidbits of Max’s playing through my head.  I think my favorite is this:

What they never tell you about poly is all the laundry that’s involved!

Indeed.

There was also a conversation he and I had, the first night I was in Seattle, where I mentioned having read the column Mistress Matisse wrote on Top Types. I asked him which one of the types he identifies most predominantly with, and he replied that it would have to be service.  That didn’t surprise me; I had gotten a good read on that from being in service to him for eight days.  Then he added that, to him, a lot of the pain he inflicts falls under the category of service as well, and this gave me pause.

I hadn’t thought about pain in that context before, but suddenly it made a lot of sense in terms of how I react to that particular sensation.  A lot of the hardest, most painful scenes I’ve had have been where I endured for the pleasure it gave my partner.  And it also helps explain my continued hesitance to label myself as a masochist: I’m not completely in it for the sensations.

My whip scene with Max is a perfect example.  I was tied only by my hair, and while this did limit my range of motion somewhat, that was not what held me in place (or what kept my arms raised out to the sides) each time he cracked his whip across my body.  I was bound there by the urge to serve and to please, which was stronger than my fear of the pain.

There was also the spectacular scene I had with T a month back involving extremely tight pallet strap bondage.  The intensity of that bondage left me nearly in tears, begging to be freed – something that does not happen often (though of course that could be because usually, if I become uncomfortable in bondage and mention it, I’m untied or ties are loosened soon thereafter).

photo by Miss Vicki

Not this time.  This time, regardless of my whimpering about my deadened arms, restricted breathing, inability to maintain a particular position – T continued to push my limits.  He’d tighten or adjust a strap, then lean down and whisper to me, I want you to take this for me just a little while longer: this pain.

And so I would.

But none of that is to say I don’t enjoy pain for its own sake sometimes as well.  Otherwise there is no way I’d even come close to being able to handle the truly sadistic streaks of my various play partners.

I certainly obtain a level of pride from being able to handle having my limits pushed.  The issue then arises of wondering if I’ve been able to take what my partner thinks I should be able to handle.  One night in Seattle, bound in front of the fireplace, Max pushed me down into what basically amounted to a horse stance.  I lasted all of probably a minute, though that may be a generous estimate.  I instinctively tried to push myself up to lessen the strain on my legs, but Max kept me firmly in place by his favorite handle: my hair.  And after more wobbling and straining against his hand, I couldn’t take the position anymore, and he pushed me flat to the ground (ostensibly to let me rest).

I wished I had lasted longer.  And perhaps if I were still practicing tae kwon do, I would have.  That is a damn shame, and something I am hoping to improve upon with workouts and some kind of climbing regimen.

Because it I find myself in a horse stance in front of Max’s fireplace again, how wonderful it would be to feel the pleasure pulsing through his hand in my hair as I hold that position, just a little. while. longer.