As a millennial child (now adult) of two immigrant parents, I know that one of my roles when I come home every year, is checking on their phones and other household technology. In addition to unfamiliar evolutions of smart screens and wireless everything, my parents contend with unfamiliar (and arguably unnecessary) jargon in a language not their own. This is expected.
What is also expected, but heartbreaking and angering every time, is coming home and listening to their experiences of being dismissed or brushed aside while doing these things without me. This past weekend, they shared about how the Verizon attendee rushed my dad's phone process, speaking quickly and saying that everything would be figured out, and brushing aside their questions. Right before this, they dealt with an older white woman who belligerently said that my parents cut in line despite them waiting far longer than her. The white woman was serviced first, as no one including my parents wanted to cause an additional scene. The Verizon attendee, who my parents stressed was not unkind, hurried my parents along, so that they came home with nothing synced or transferred from their cloud. When my parents asked questions, they were told that it would work out— what is this it? they asked me afterwards. I didn't have an answer either. (I was Googling the Costco and Verizon, trying to figure out how to write a review). They noted that the older white woman's every question was answered and her session continued even after my parents finished theirs and browsed the store. In retelling the story to me, they smiled and laughed, and then together, we looked at different options online for what case we should buy for my dad's new phone.
I come back home once a quarter— twice, if I am lucky and my schedule is forgiving. I used to complain about going home to help with technology, and it's a common joke amongst comedians about helping our parents in this area (Kanan Gill's bit is especially hilarious). But over the years, as I hear these stories and have also seen them real time, I now wish I was here always. Not because my parents need a savior; they're actually good on their own (much to my annoyance of having parents who are slightly too independent) and can hold their own in any argument, both in English and our home language.
But I wish I was here always because there are times when I know my parents are tired and willing to settle... and I am not. I am privileged with not only having English as my first language, but also having the energy and the anger, to demand for something better. I am sure that we could argue this is not about race or language or agism. We could say all these things. But the hurt of being dismissed (and even worse: demeaned) is a universal feeling (that is often raced, classes, languaged, and more). I wish I was here always, because the equity-minded, justice-oriented labor of what I do, the world and work I want to create, is one I want for my parents to be the first to enjoy. And the times I am away doing these things are the moments they experience the opposite.
One of the commitments I've tried very hard to keep while being a grad student, is still reading "for fun." More specifically, I've tried to read at least 1 book a month that is not an academic book or something assigned on one of my syllabi. Last month, in a fit of "what am I doing in my life," I impulsively purchased a bunch of books from my continuously full shopping cart— the ones I convince myself not to read because "I don't have time."
They're beautiful. The books. All the books.
And have beautiful covers with beautiful prose and beautiful syntax.
I started Ali Wong's "Dear Girls" two days ago and have had such a blast reading it. After finishing this post, I'm going to continue reading it today, as a treat to myself while curled up with a blanket and a good cup of tea. Happy Saturday~
In a year, I read somewhere around 100-200 books. I don't have a TV and I use reading as a form of escape, and I especially like reading outside of academia. It also helps with improving my writing :)
When I'm trying to concentrate, I like having background music that's super dramatic. For some reason, instrumental music is instrumental (pun!) in helping me concentrate. Most of the songs are Korean-drama OSTs (original sound tracks), w/ a few classical music scores in the mix!
I don't categorize anything other than my "random round-ups" because it takes too much work (insert laughing emoji).