43. From Once Upon a Time to Happily Ever After

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I recently remembered this assignment from my Creative Writing class a couple of years ago and how fun it was, so I thought I’d give it another go–because I’m a strong, independent woman who can do whatever she wants (i.e., I’m bored and on winter break)–using only books that are sitting on my shelf right now.

Continue reading “43. From Once Upon a Time to Happily Ever After”

42. I’m not Voting for President

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I mean, have you seen the candidates?

I think it’s a shame that my first chance to vote has been tainted by literally the worst presidential run of America’s history. On the one hand, you have a criminal; on the other hand, you have a creep. Stellar choices.

It’s funny, I’ve been told by almost every older American that I have to vote purely because it’s my right as an American citizen. “Not everyone gets the chance to vote, Kayla, so you have to.” “It’s you’re civic duty, Kayla, you have to.”

Well, if you will, let me tell you a little something you might have forgotten: I also have a right not to vote, so no, I don’t have to. (And, therefore, no, it’s not anyone’s “civic duty.” Look that term up, voting does not fall into that category.)

Let me get this perfectly straight. My choices are these: 1) someone who has broken federal law, who lies, who gets her own fellow Americans killed, and who is basically controlled by the rich and powerful like a puppet, and 2) someone who sexually assaults and speaks poorly about women, who discriminates, who wants to build a wall around America, and who, for all his money, can’t seem to hire a decent hairdresser.

Yeah…thanks, but no thanks, I’m gonna sit this one out. And before you go off on me saying, “If you don’t vote for Trump, you’re basically voting for Hillary” or vice versa, let me remind you, I live in California. If you don’t vote Democratic, you’re vote is void no matter what you do. You’re vote is literally the definition of ‘worthless,’ and you can thank San Francisco and Los Angeles for that.

I don’t want either one of these people in the White House, so neither one of them is getting my vote. Avoiding the polls not going to solve anything, I understand; but I honestly don’t know what the rationale is for voting for either one. I’ve seen that most people are only voting for one because they just can’t stand the other…but how is that a viable reason? Answer: it’s not. The whole thought process behind this election is “choose the lesser of two evils,” but I don’t agree with that.

I’m not saying no one should vote. If you feel led, by all means, go ahead, be the upstanding American that you are. But in terms of the presidency, I cannot vote with a clear conscience. So I’ll just stand over here with the other, what is it, 50% of disgraceful Americans and vote for things I actually care about, like Proposition 64.

~ Hoài-Linh

41. An Open Letter to Society

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Dear Society,

I understand your push for perfection. I realize in many cases striving for perfection is the only way to move forward. My own family has trained me to never settle for less, as that is the only way reach success. But as a young girl living in this society, I would like to point out a few things. You see, your quest for perfection, while no doubt stemming from good intentions, has negatively effected the younger generations for decades. Whether you intended to or not, you have handed us unattainable standards and images of the perfectly dysfunctional lives all young Americans are “supposed” to live. Everywhere I turn, I see magazines full of “perfect” men and women living their “perfect” celebrity lives, I see commercials, movies, and television shows featuring unrealistically fit and athletic individuals, I see ads promoting products meant to transform us into the “perfect” people we all should be–the list goes on.

Honestly, I am a consumer myself, and I know little about your agenda other than how it affects me and the people I love. I can only tell you what I know and what I see. And what I see is a group of young people searching for their worth and happiness in superficial things. I see young girls worrying about their weight instead of living carefree childhoods. I see little boys worrying about girls instead of playing outside with their friends. I see teenage girls, including myself, dressing like they are thirty-five, and teenage boys spending hours in the gym trying to attain a Ryan Gosling physique. I remember one day my ten-year-old sister coming home from school and begging my mom to put her on a diet and exercise plan so she “wouldn’t get fat,” even though she was nearly underweight for her age. I remember my five-year-old sister coming to me and begging me to put make-up on her so she could “look like the girls on Disney Channel.” Through conversations with most of my friends, I learned we all began wearing makeup and worrying about our appearances because you told us we had to; that we needed to look good to avoid ridicule.

But we all know we can’t live up to the standards you’ve set, even if we don’t admit it. No one’s perfect, not even the celebrities you parade in front of us, but you’ve done a great job of convincing us otherwise. And the result is the scene I witness every day of my life. A scene of cookie-cutter individuals living cookie-cutter lives; no one willing to accept who they are, and everyone willing to transform themselves into who you want them to be.

I can’t change the way you do things, but I can push my sisters in front of me and show you how the reality you’ve fabricated has negatively affected them. You claim to think so highly of the future generations, yet you continue to dilute their young lives with everything fake and unattainable. You may not even target them–in fact I doubt the little ones cross your mind when you go about your business most of the time–but I hope you realize…they notice everything. They pick up on every detail. They can’t tell the fake from the reality. If you tell a teenage girl she needs to look perfect to have worth, any little girl standing nearby will believe it, too. If you tell a teenage boy he needs to have abs to be a man, any little boy standing nearby will believe it, too. I can’t make you do a one-eighty, but I can show you the ripple effect you have on all ages, especially the younger ones. They’re watching you. We all are.

Sincerely,

An 18-year-old girl

40. Asian ≠ Jackie Chan

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So, a couple of weeks ago in my English class we got to discussing an Asian writer for one of our critical readings. Somehow the conversation shifted over to how my teacher couldn’t quite remember his name at first, and one of the girls made a comment about how her mom “can never really remember Asian names” and “always just calls them Jackie Chan.” (P.S., the writer’s name is Francis Chan. Not hard at all.) Anyways, my teacher thought this was hilarious, laughing and saying how that was so true and “it’s just a lot simpler to say that, right?”

I’m not calling out anyone as racist here, because I know these people and they are amazing people–super nice and sweet and would never be racist on purpose. But one of the other Asian boys in my class kindly pointed out that calling every Asian Jackie Chan just because you can’t remember their name is “kind of racist,” and my teacher just said “…wait, how?”

I get it, sometimes Asian names are hard for people who aren’t familiar with them. I have an entire family of Vietnamese names that can attest to that. But I’m gonna be real with you: at least make an effort. It’s just respectful. You wouldn’t want someone coming up to you and calling you, I don’t know, Brad Pitt just because you’re white and they can’t remember your name. In fact, you wouldn’t like it if someone just didn’t make an effort to remember your name, regardless of your skin color.

It’s literally the most basic courtesy in the world to remember someone’s name. And if you don’t, then ask them what it is, don’t just think of the first famous person of their race and call them that.

~ Hoài-Linh

39. Marrying Young

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I love the idea. I love the idea of meeting someone at the age of eighteen, falling in love, and staying with them for the rest of my life. I love the idea of growing old together with the person I grew into adulthood with and confusedly working through all the horrible adulty responsibilities with them by my side. I love the idea of spending over fifty years with my first love. I love the idea…for someone else.

I’ve had quite a few friends get engaged or married over the past year. Most recently, one of my oldest friends got engaged at the ripe young age of eighteen. Young love is a crazy beautiful thing, and I think it’s amazing when young couples decide to make the lifetime commitment before they even hit twenty. I think it’s beautiful that they’ve found someone they’re willing to commit to before they can even legally drink. (Sober weddings, anyone?) I think it’s just an amazing thing…for someone else.

I could never see myself in a young marriage. The fact that I’m extremely single aside, I could never envision myself as a wife anywhere in the near future. I have so many dreams and aspirations for my life: I want to travel. Everywhere. I want to see the world, the people in the world, the beauty of the world. I want to experience every single culture there is. I want to have a career, I want to teach overseas, I want to move from place to place and live out of a single suitcase…

I don’t know how my life will unfold, but I do know that whenever I imagine my future…I’m alone. It sounds dismal, but I just can’t see a husband as a part of my young life. Maybe it’s because I have so much I want to do jammed packed into such a short time, or maybe it’s because I know I won’t have my life nearly sorted out enough for a long time to take on the responsibility of another person. I don’t know.

I know for some people, marriage and a family is the end goal, and the sooner they can make that happen, the better. But for me, marriage and a family is not the end goal. At this moment in my life, I know I could die single with no children and be completely at peace. My feelings may change in time, and if they do, so be it. But I’m not in control of my fate.

All I know is I love the idea of marrying young, but I don’t want it for myself.

~ Hoài-Linh