It’s been a whole school year since I last posted, which means it’s been a whole year since I’ve had to publicly admit to eating out wayyy too many times than my credit card should have allowed… Anyways, here’s WTF: Where’s the Food for semesters 3 & 4 (otherwise known as WTF: Why’d you spend so much money on food, Annie??)
Well. It’s been a while, hah. Long time no see!
The last time I posted was September of 2017, when I’d just started my sophomore year of college. Now it’s June 1st, 2018, and I’ve finished one hell of a year and am currently enjoying the summer in Ames, Iowa working as a research intern at the Ames National Laboratory through a Department of Energy program.
Last weekend, one of my good friends and I decided to try something new and adventurous before the school year really started: we went aerial dancing. (Ok, more like we tried to).
Recently, Namitha from TeenMemoir and I collaborated on a Q&A-style post about identity, particularly for those who are second-generation kids growing up in a different country than their parents are from, or kids who are growing up in a different country than the one they were born in. Our ethnicities, heritage, and the respective cultures of our native country and that of our parents heavily shape who we are, and when we grow up surrounded by different cultures, it does get pretty confusing for a young child trying to figure out who they are. Namitha and I each wrote five questions for the other, so below are my questions and her answers. Check out her blog post for my half of the Q&A!
She was of short stature and stout, with a head covered with curly white hair, but her presence and disposition were the most intimidating that the three-year-old me had yet met. Now, in the sixty-three years that she’d been alive before I was born, my grandmother had amassed — sometimes for the better, others for the worse — a myriad of exciting experiences and meaningful memories. Naturally, a woman with so much character and personality seemed to, at first, scare the young me. Looking back though, perhaps my grandma was the strongest female figure I had encountered at that point, and remains so, to this day.
Born in 1934, my grandmother grew up during World War II and lived through China’s Cultural Revolution — two of which were possibly some of the most trying times in modern Chinese history. During the war, she lost her grandparents and all of hr family’s possessions. Yet after the war, at the age of eleven, she managed to talk her way into continuing her education at school, even though her family could not afford to pay the fee of two carts of rice. When the government de-privatized all schools, she was able to excel in her education — becoming student body president of her school and a member of the city council student board while breaking gymnastics records in the gym. In every way, she embodied the feminist ideal: strong, proud and loud. One of the earliest lessons she had instilled in me was to use my voice: “You have a mouth, so use it to do what it’s supposed to do: speak.” And speak she did, through spoken and written words, about right and wrong, justice and injustice. She had, and still has, an incredibly clear moral compass — never do anyone wrong, always do what you believe is right, and never fail to lend a helping hand.
After graduating, she became a college professor, teaching the Chinese language. Imagine that — a female college professor in the 50s and 60s when even some US schools didn’t let women attend college. And that speaks volumes about her strength, her preservation and her dedication to what she believed in — herself and her goals. All the while, she was financially supporting her own parents and mother-in-law, along with her three children.
Once she retired, she returned to her first true love — art. She began teaching various art courses at the community center, eventually bringing that to the United States when she began visiting my family on a yearly basis after I was born. She taught four to five classes every weekend at the TAMU Chinese School, and it was through art that I formed my first clear memories of her. Each day, she would never fail to sit next to me as I was hunched over a sheet of paper, attempting to draw something of resemblance to a cat. She watched every stroke with pride, and every once in a while, would help steady my hand. From her, from the countless hours we spent indoors and outdoors drawing anything and everything in sight, I learned to draw fairly well. But it was during those times, where when we sometimes got tired and she would share stories about her life, that I learned what it meant to be a good person, and how to be the best one I could be.
Be proud. Be loud. Be strong. Be someone who, when your time has come, you won’t regret being.
Since I’ve left for college, I’ve started talking to her more and more over the phone. It would sometimes be over trivial things — boys & what happened over the week — or more serious things — schoolwork or my future. Although it’s been more than sixty years since she had walked this path herself, her stories hold immense value that transcends time and space, and her experiences deserve to be heard by all.
[中文版 ｜ Chinese Version］
It’s no coincidence that Earth Day and March for Science are scheduled for the same day. It may not hold the answers to everything, but science is the best thing we have for making both our lives, and our planet’s health, better.
Next up from my lovely mother are these beautiful steamed rice cakes. These are another popular Asian dessert and I definitely remember loving (and still loving) them when I was a child. 🙂
Every year after Spring Break, UT hosts its 40 Acres Fest, where a number of local bands and a few nationally known ones perform at a music concert held right on campus, and a number of orgs table in front of the tower. The event lasted almost all of Saturday, with a bunch of free food and T-shirts (best part about being a college student, right?) This year, Hunter Hayes was headlining, along with Capyac, Future Thieves, The Mardy Bums and some other local bands. I only remember Hunter Hayes for one song back in 2012 (I think it was Wanted?), and I’m not particularly a country music person, but it was definitely pretty lit!
This past weekend, one of my best friends came down to visit me in Austin for half a day. Given we didn’t really have that much time, we spent our time mostly on campus. UT actually has a really nice art museum (the Blanton Museum of Art), and it just so happened that there was a Blanton Block Party going on the day she came, so we stopped by that (before we went to go get some amazing Indian food and boba, of course!)
I bought Karen Bender’s Refund because it was on sale at Barnes & Noble (and because it was one of last year’s National Book Award finalists and the excerpt looked interesting); it was only until after I arrived home that I realized how fitting it was that I had chosen this particular novel: on the first page were the words, “We think about it every day, sometimes every hour: Money. Who has it. Who doesn’t. How you get it. How you don’t.” Every decision we make in our lives, including my decision to choose the cheaper book on sale, seems to have some sort of underlying financial motivation, and the lengths each of us will go to in order to find a temporary happiness, to make sense of our situations or to fight our battles differs because of, once again, money.