I come home empty handed from LA, with grains of sand still stuck to the bottom of my shoe, bruises on my feet from NYE heels and my forehead from when I walked into the car door, and a ton of pictures of Malibu and our various hikes around the los angeles area. It’s the third day of work back, and my body is slowly remembering to brace against the cold when I step outside, I’m recalling all the projects I was stressing out about before I’d left for the break.
This has been the…. Well for lack of better descriptor, BEST holiday I’ve ever had. It was the first reunion of the Lee family since 1996 (with the exception of my dad), along with the cases of fine wine, exceptional food and banter that comes with the Drs. Lee, who have an insatiable thirst for stimulation both on their palate and their noggins that undoubtedly served as a benchmark for Ali and I’s development. No wonder we’re so dysfunctional. One for the books, as they say, and as I’ve pointed out previously (though I think on facebook), our lives really do happen in chapters. 2012 felt a distinctive end of one lifestyle and the beginning of a new phase; attitude, priorities, people, approach, everything feels cleaner and clearer, my intent sharpened, my life starting to smooth out its edges and pick its direction. Instead of swinging wildly in all directions, I feel I’ve atleast got my next steps narrowed down to a 135 degree swivel, which is not too bad compared to the frenetic spin I was on just a year ago.
Won’t get into detail, but LA was the first true vacation I had taken since 2008, only instead of my typical OCD planning I had a bucket list of items to choose from, and ended up doing things on whim and enjoying every minute (though some more than others). The can’t miss was actually something that wasn’t on my list at all, hadn’t been suggested by anyone - readers (if you’re still out there after months of abandonment), if you get a chance definitely go hiking along the bluffs in the very tip of Malibu. The views are unmatchable, and it doesn’t reek of tourist exploitation like every other area of LA (as you can see I have a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles).
Felt a bit like this little girl all week - inappropriately dressed but not a single f*ck was given. I had no expectations for the week, just a spontaneous trip planned with a “friend” that turned out just as surprisingly relaxing and wonderful as a trip with no expectations only can be. Toasted the new year in with “Independence”, something absolutely worth celebrating at 23, with a new career and an apartment in Manhattan.
Cheers to you guys, hope you had as good of a year as I did and looking forward to the next!
I haven’t been on here in a while, and, that’s mostly because at the beginning of August I bought myself a moleskine and that’s where all my thoughts have been funneling into. Call me old fashioned?
I have only ever considered myself as Hongkongese, and balked at anyone who dared suggest it was “the same thing as Chinese”. To be perfectly honest, if you trace my genetic line back, both sets of my grandparents were actually from the Mainland/Shanghai region and, like so many others fled south at the brink of the cultural revolution. Hong Kong and Taiwan are both hybrids of Shanghainese influence and a diminishing indigenous people.
Though it happened over a month ago, news is now gaining momentum on the demonstrations in Hong Kong over the establishment of the Chinese “contemporary history” curriculum. The implications are obvious- the signs from the protests by Hong Kong were about the new Chinese “National Education” program, which include glossy cultural and historical depictions of the “Middle Kingdom”. Hong Kong, which has had 140+ years of British occupation, has (for now) access to international social media platforms such as Facebook and twitter, governs it’s own air-traffic laws and foreign policy system, and technically has it’s own parliamentary government. Since 1997, Hong Kong has struggled with its patriotism, an identity struggle between the international hub of commerce and culture it has become and the rocky transition back into the Chinese Nationalist regime. Despite the supposed 15 year transitional period allocated for Hong Kong to adjust to Chinese sovereignty, there have been noticable signs of the Chinese government’s tightening grip.
1) Drawing Orwellian parallels, TV networks are subject to approval and have changed direction in the programs they’ve been showing. HKers have verbalized their discontent for the propaganda-like quality of highly popular television networks. Majority of programs now feature both Cantonese, the native language of Hong Kong, and Mandarin, the official language of China.
(creepy eye lady though)
2) The “election” of Leung Chun-Ying, whose victory was followed by mass demonstrations, erupted in protest to both the electoral structure and of his extreme Communist loyalties. The voting pool in Hong Kong consists of 1,132 financial and political elite who are selected by the Chinese government.
3) July 29 demonstrations of the new “Contemporary Nationalist History” that is a part of the Chinese Education system - local reports mention over 90,000 protestors. This same demonstration was reported in Chinese media as a 32,000 people
The National Education curriculum includes a glorifying the virtues of one-party rule, neglects any mention of TIananmen Square or the Cultural Revolution and emphasizes the Chinese Communist Party’s role in holding the country together.
The signs at this protest read “don’t brainwash me” is interesting particularly because it IS in english - if you’ve ever been in Hong Kong, it is easily the most navigable Eastern cities because everything is bilingual - Road signs, announcements, taxi drivers, menus, etc.
“Michael DeGolyer, the director of the Hong Kong Transition Project, a coalition of academics who have been studying the territory’s political evolution since 1988, said that public opinion surveys in Hong Kong now show dissatisfaction with the current government in Beijing running higher than at any time since the territory was returned to Chinese rule by Britain in 1997.”
4) Just yesterday, 9/3, hundreds of students in Hong Kong protested the new education system at the start of the academic year in black t-shirts. Though this curriculum will be introduced at the discretion of each school, it will be made mandatory by 2015 and the Education Bureau has since expressed its discontent with the suggested “teacher’s manual” for the program.
This situation is unique in that this conversion to communism is not driven by a people’s motivation, nor is it an outright hostile or imperialist take-over. This reversion has been carefully strategized since the Brits initially colonized Hong Kong at the end of the Opium War, and yet they didn’t anticipate the scale of backlash from Hong Kong-ese people. What accommodations, if any, will be made for the growing dissent of HK natives? What of the growing rift between mainland China and its Special Administrative Regions (Macau and Hong Kong) or Taiwan? China’s feeble attempts at currying patriotism, such as sending the astronauts who sang Hong Kong’s praises to visit, have started to dim and may soon turn to a different strategy - it is within China’s (absolute) power to dissemble Hong Kong’s legislation completely.
I never thought I’d quote a prayer, but this is an incredible exception
“Disturb us, Lord,
When we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have
dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.”
-Sir Francis Drake
According to WSJ, our generation (“our” meaning born 80’s and early 90’s) values money and meaning equally in their search for a job. I’m about to test my evaluation.
I’m saying goodbye to the fashion industry in search of something more intellectually stimulating and morally satisfying. It’s been a fun year, but my capacity extends to so much more than what I’m currently doing, and I can feel myself adjusting my personal expectations to the mold of this industry.
It’s easy to take the safe route after graduating, its a scramble to see who can get their foot on that first rung of that career ladder that leads… where? We work in professional environments; accounting/banking/engineering/law, guaranteed breadwinners, coming home with a paycheck, taking vacations 1-2x a year, and making no actual impact on anyone but ourselves. Even our companies could do without us, couldn’t care less if we left, they do the minimal social impact projects for branding. Meanwhile we’re unengaged in our work, work that we invest 60%+ of our day doing just so we can live the other 20% (not sleeping) watching life float on around us.
I’m dissatisfied, I am ok being discontent because it means I’m not being complacent. I am not ok with being ok with “having a job at all in this economy”. I believe a life well lived is one that is constantly searching for more. Does that mean I can’t be happy being discontent? I think I cannot BE happy without wanting to do MORE. I’m not saying this is everyone’s life model, certainly my own blood brother follows the exact goals I listed above and finds it completely satisfying. I’m just saying that it isn’t, wouldn’t be, enough for me.