Obligatory Post about the New Year

That’s it–I’m caving in.

This won’t be a long post. Plus, I don’t think anyone reads my blog. Sad, isn’t it?

Anyways, I read a post on Stuff Journalists Like. I like their blog because their posts are always funny and true. They decided to do a small list of what journalists hope to do or to stop doing in the coming year:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to blog/write
  • Dinner can’t be anything that can be ordered by the number or in a drive-thru
  • Quit smoking (unless accompanied by drinking)
  • Work on making bar tab less than rent
  • Drink less at work
  • Do not quote a press release in a story
  • Stop sleeping with that spokesman (and/or woman)
  • Learn all of your editor’s grammar pet peeves
  • Get serious about writing that book
  • Actually read some reader email
  • Find all those “unreported” stories
  • Do more investigative/enterprise reporting
  • Change the world for good (or at least your community)
  • Be less of a slob
  • Get ahead of the story
  • Break the story best, not just first
  • Stop eating lunch at desk while editing
  • Not to be on twitter at 2 a.m.
  • Get the word “bamboozled” into print
  • Appreciate the fact that you still have a job in journalism

I agree with all that applies to me (especially ‘be less of a slob’). Bravo. I feel happy to know that other journalists are just as crazy as I am. However, I think another one I would add to the list is: Piss off the administration. Excuse my language, but it’s something I hope to do. I won’t do it if it’s unnecessary, but I’m hoping to call the administration out on their downfalls. It’s time that I stop being a timid, scared little sophomore who wants to please with soft news. It’s time that I get real.

Things I’m looking forward to:

Finding an internship/job in New York. It’s the place to be, baby.

Getting more scholarships. My school is definitely not cheap.

Writing a novel. I want to do this before I’m old and looking back at things I should have done, but didn’t.

Completely redesigning The Mirror. It needs a little updating. Plus, I want to show the higher ups that I am completely dedicated to the campus newspaper.

Going to CMA/CBI Spring College Media Convention in March 2012. I had a lot of fun last year and I learned a lot of valuable lessons.

That’s a lot to do, but I know I’ll get them done.

I always do.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Loan

The Asian Curse

It’s impossible to look cool when you’re part of a tour group.

Especially if you’re Asian and you’re visiting an unfamiliar place with your Asian family (and that one awkward American addition).

You look on with disgust at how your uncle-who’s-not-really-your-uncle-but-connected-in-some-way-only-now-you-call-him-with-some-honorific-title is dressed in the typical Asian outfit — polo shirt tucked into jeans with a belt holding back his gut belly –spits as he lectures the whole group like a tour guide. For extra Asianness, he also wears a pair of eighties glasses.

You try not to roll your eyes when your Aunt brags about her daughter who’s going to Harvard University, because you know it’d be disrespectful and you might get a chopstick lashing from your mom later for your disrespect. Instead you put on an interested face and ask what kind of study techniques your cousin uses. You don’t even ask what kind of major your cousin’s going for; it’s obvious she’s going to add to the family of doctors.

You feel utter sympathy for the American guy who just had to fall in love with a really nice Asian woman, but an Asian woman came with a lot of packages — and that included her family, who, although they don’t say it aloud, mourn the fact that she didn’t marry an Asian. The family likes the American well enough though. But it’s clear that the American gets confused sometimes, but you give him props because he’s still part of the family.

You look on, amused, when one of your family members goes up to a stranger to ask him to take a photo of the family. That amusement quickly turns to annoyance when you hear the stranger ask your relative to repeat himself. Honestly, his accent is not that bad. So, you go up to the stranger — suppressing the urge to smack him when seeing relief on his face — and ask the question again. He nods eagerly then.

You trudge back to your twenty-something Asian family members (and White person), dragging your feet and praying to Buddha that they don’t do that stupid Asian sign. The stranger counts loudly and slowly, and you open your mouth to curse at him — when the flash goes on.

You then realize later on, after checking the camera for the picture, that about half of your family’s eyes are closed.

Curse the Asian features.

Yearning

Photo credit: Loan Le

You will miss the days of wondering when you’d finally succumb to a permanent food coma. You’ll yearn for the feel of the steam from a nice, big bowl of phở. The taste of the boiled chicken broth that spills pieces of  and ga, instantly cooking them, will tantalize you. You will always feel the crunch of fresh bean sprouts, paired with soft noodles and lettuce and hoisin sauce; the symphony of textures only brings you closer to that nirvana your Buddhist parents always talk about. And you will believe it, even though you’re Agnostic. And you’ll always savor the moments where you sat back and held your stomach (Look, I’m pregnant) because you ate too much and wanted throw up. Funny—because you know that you would eat another bowl of phở within 20 minutes.

You will miss the sugary, cold slurps of sugar cane juice that was freshly squeezed in front of your eyes, and the coolness of coconut water from a young coconut that had just fallen off the tree in your backyard. You will miss, unbelievably, the bitter taste of Tiger beers, which you had the liberty to try since Vietnam holds no drinking age limit (but no more mango daiquiris).

You will miss the beach of Nha Trang, how the shoreline stretches miles and miles and how the ocean is so blue and clear that even as you swim deeper, you can still see your legs. You will miss the bamboo umbrellas which shielded you from the unforgiving sun. And yes, you will even miss the pesky but convincing women who roamed the sands (Hello, Madame, you like to buy?), carrying bamboo baskets filled with bracelets and trinkets that—let’s face it—you’ll never need in your life.

You will miss the boat rides which took you from one island to the next. You’ll remember the sunsets that led your dreams for most of the vacation. You’ll want to go back to that time when you stopped your boat in the middle of nothing but gorgeous scenery and purple and pink, and jumped right into the bay.

You will miss the mixture of fear and excitement that coursed through you when you rode on the back of your non-English speaking, but still endearing, cousin-in-law’s motorcycle in the heart of Nha Trang (Slow down! Too fast! Sorry, no English, and he smirked). You’ll remember the sweet, suffocating, and homely smell of gas, bún bò Huế, and fresh bread, each individual scent bombarding you at every corner you turn. You’ll dream of the nights where everyone went out to have fun by the beach, where the lights of the night market stretched a mile down an already crowded street. The sights of eyesore and blinding glares of neon lights flashing “Fun Hear” (Oh look there’s fun—what?) and “Sailing Club” are now embedded in you.

Nha Trang, Vietnam, 2011. Photo credit: Loan Le

You will remember the day you finally left home. Goodbyes weren’t given; you just told everyone you would meet them ‘later.’ Yet, ‘later’ could mean a year, two years—maybe even ten years. You took your final pictures, passing it off in playful gestures, but you secretly wanted to take photos with the people who you know will not live too long. Aunt Eight didn’t smile at the camera; instead, as you posed next to her, she whispered in Vietnamese, croaking at the age of 65, “What is that?” (Just smile, you said through your fixed smile).

And then, as you drove away in your taxi, you resisted the urge to climb over the piles of baggage to glance at the family house one last time. So, you sat in the front seat and closed your eyes, and before you could even comprehend it, you were at Nha Trang airport, ears full of English and Vietnamese.

And now?

Now, you’re ‘home’ in the suburbs (doesn’t feel like ‘home’ just yet), sitting on your bed, thinking that Vietnam shouldn’t have become a memory so soon.