What do you think about when you run?

A lot of friends ask me what I think about when I run and I usually tell them that it varies but one thing that I like to do when I run is conduct an interview with myself. But this isn’t an interview the way that a first date is an interview, this is an interview in which I ask myself the questions that I would hope I never have to answer and that make me feel the most uncomfortable. The hard questions. Questions like, “If I never get married or have kids then what will I do with my life?” or “If my parents died, would that change any of the decisions I have planned for the future?” or “Am I the person who I thought I would be when I was six years old?”

Yesterday I was interviewed by a professor studying upward mobility of first-generation college students. During the interview, I shared a lot of items about my life that I have never shared with anyone else, not even myself. While she audio recorded my answers to increasingly more personal questions about my home life, my identity, and my background, through the framing of her questions, I was making discoveries that led me down narrow paths and alleyways of my most deeply embedded, and very much hidden, thoughts and feelings It was therapeutic (it might have even been defined as therapy) and reminded me of going for long runs by myself and occupying both my emotions and my intellect by posing tough-to-answer questions.

One of the biggest discoveries I made while talking to her, aside from my answers to each questions, was the value of engaging in discourse about identity with another person. I can give myself the most rigorous, unnerving interview I can in my mind during a run, but at the end of the day, it is missing the way my words sound as they leave my mouth, the ability to see myself in the chair of the person sitting across from me. I didn’t realize how essential it was until she asked me about whether or not I have conversations about my background with other people, to which I answered “not if I think it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable.” She of course asked me to explain so I told her that there are two reasons why I think that white, non-FGB Americans at my university feel uncomfortable when we have a conversation about my background:

  1. The more they [non- FGB, white students] hear about how may family and ancestors struggled, the more they realize that their family and ancestors did not and they then pity me, or search for a an experience that matches mine and come up short
  2. I seem very Americanized on the surface in the way I dress, walk, and talk, so they feel like they can identify with me, but once I start talking about my background and they realize how much our upbringings differ then they start to feel that maybe their perception of me was very inaccurate

She asked me one other question that I remember distinctly. She asked me if I feel like I’ve changed during college, to which I answered “Oh yeah!” And then she asked if my parents have noticed that my change. And then I hesitated to answer. After thinking carefully about the question for a while, I felt my mouth start moving and forming words before my thoughts were fully gathered. I responded that I try to hide my changes because I want my parents to believe that I’m the same 16-year-old kid I was in high school, an innocent, hard-working kid who has an unparalleled passion for becoming a healthcare professional and no other interests in life. To protect them I hide my other passions, the other plans I’ve considered for my future, because to show them a Kyle that is still considering more than one option for his future would be to risk bringing stress upon them because to them it carries with it uncertainty about my future and prevent them from enjoying their lives the way they have since I told them that I was committing to a 6-year, dual-degree program that would ensure me a six-figure salary. But as long as my future appears secure, seems certain, then they can sleep at night without worrying about me, without constantly thinking about being a parent, and I can feel better knowing that they are living their lives being Shirley and John and not Kyle’s Mom and Kyle’s Dad.

 

Nice try.

Have you ever been to another person’s house, maybe a friend’s house, and their mom or spouse of whoever is trying so hard to make you feel comfortable and at home that it actually makes you feel UNcomfortable?

I stayed at a Fairfield Marriot recently in Washington D.C. and the university booked the hotel for me so I didn’t know until I got there that it was located in the center of Chinatown.

I couldn’t wait to be explore the different restaurants and bakeries around the area but little did I know that the Marriot tried to bring China inside the hotel. The overwhelming amount of cheap western replicas of oriental decor made me feel uneasy and a lot like when you go to your friend’s house and his mom is trying so hard to make you feel at home by offering food and whatnot that you actually feel uncomfortable because her actions are a constant reminder of just how much of a guest you are. Not to mention that the only Chinese person that I even saw working in the entire hotel  was the cleaning lady…

So I asked my friend to take a picture of me in front of some of the wall decorations (this picture isn’t nearly representative of how atrocious some of the interior design looked) because I thought it would be funny to show how not-Chinese some of this stuff looks when you put an actual Chinese person next to it.

Then I got the idea that we should all start taking pictures in front of decor or images that are meant to be representative of our ethnicity but actually reflects an inaccurate western interpretion of our cultural symbols. So I invite you to share your photos with me of you with or beside something that you do not think is representative of who you are! You could be Mexican and stand in front of a poorly painted “Mexican” restaurant sign or you could be American Indian and hold a cartoon drawing of “Native Americans” next to your face. I want to see what you come up with!

Here’s my photo! (Again, there were so many other things I could’ve taken a picture in front of but this wall was the easiest–don’t even get me started on the red tassels hanging from the ceiling lights).

(I was getting ready to hit a bar so don’t mind my flushed face that is somehow oddly similar in color to the hanging photos)

Picture a normal American

Just take a second to picture a normal American in your head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this person male or female?

 

 

 

 

 

 

How old is this person?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is this person wearing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does this person wear glasses?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is this person doing? Is this person standing? Sitting? Swaying from side to side?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this person smiling? Does this person look happy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What kind of body does this person have? Is this someone who looks like they exercise?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got a good idea of what a normal American looks like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now what color is their skin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it white?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it is, then does that mean a “normal” American is white?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the image that comes to mind when thinking of “normal” is white skin, then what does that make me? Or any other person of color? Are we not normal?

Farewell, Obama

I’m not going to talk about whether Barack Obama was a good or bad president, I just want to bring attention to one thing: regardless of whether you are black, Asian, hispanic, latino, or belong to any other minority group, it has been inspiring to see a person of color in office.

In a country that is dominated by white people, I was able to look at the highest position and say that it belonged to a person of color. Whether every decision Barack made was the right decision or the wrong decision, the Obamas reflected opportunity in all of us, hope that we can also be great despite our skin color, proof that it can happen, a reminder not let glass ceilings stand in the way of our goals, and I have no doubt that the young people in our increasingly diverse country who had the privilege of growing up with a black president will someday contribute to America in profound ways thanks to the Obama family’s inspiration.

If I were to use a shitty analogy to explain what it’s like, I would say that having a black president was like going to the cafeteria at my university and, to my surprise, seeing bok choy served instead of a more common North American vegetable like broccoli or carrots. Even if it’s cooked terribly, it still puts a smile on my face to see something familiar, something I can identify with in this mostly white place with typically only American food options. And that is pretty cool.

MOM – (noun) a person who makes their offspring feel self-conscious

That awkward moment when you, for some reason, feel like going to the movies by yourself and it also happens to be the one time your mom decides to text you back something other than “ok”

 

 

 

You’re on, Glenn Leibowitz!

According to LinkedIn extraordinaire, Glenn Leibowitz, The New Year’s Resolution Every Writer Needs To Make in 2017 is to write one blog post every week.

Well… you’re on, Mr. Leibowitz!

So I suggest you buckle up, keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle, and hit the Follow button on my sidebar because I, Kyle WordPress Liang, will be writing one blog post every week of 2017….

I know what you’re thinking: your middle name isn’t “WordPress.” In fact, you don’t even have a middle name. When you were born, your parents didn’t understand that Americans typically give their children a middle name. And you’re right. But sometimes I like to pretend that I actually have a middle name.

I know what else you’re thinking: a blog post every week? Yeah right. Get ready to end that New Year’s Resolution early. There’s a better chance of me actually using all 12 months of my gym membership than you writing a blog post every week for a whole year.

Well YOU’RE ON, my snarky subconscious in italicized font. I’ve purposely never made a New Year’s Resolution in my entire life because I wanted to wait until I felt like I had one worth doing. And here’s one that is worth doing.

So enjoy, as I complete my last semester of my undergraduate experience, freak out as I prepare for 27 months of rigorous physician assistant school at Quinnipiac, writher in the fetal position with anatomy textbooks at a corner of the library for countless months, and arrive at this same time next year with a full and nourished blog!

Wen Hua On Campus (an interview with Jesse Sachs)

I was recently interviewed by an undergraduate student at Fairfield University studying Chinese-American student culture. Jesse Sachs runs a website called Wen Hua on Campus that explores Chinese life on college campuses and after spending only a few minutes on his site upon reading his first email to me, I could tell this kid knew his shit… He has a number of extremely insightful pieces about the damage of stereotypes, the biology of culture shock, and his experience tutoring Chinese-exchange students–and from the sound of it, he probably also has more Asian friends than I have in college (I would say that it’s because there are barely any Asian students at my college to even befriend but that’s also true for his college based on the demographics I looked up so it’s not much of an excuse).

screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-10-09-28-pm

Click here to read my full interview with Jesse!

 

Do you… celebrate Christmas?

Yeah. I just don’t walk through the singing Christmas carols on people’s doorsteps, take turns reading excerpts from the Bible with my family while sitting around the tree, or attend Church for the first time in 364 days. But my family still opens presents and gets together to have a big dinner (which was hot pot this year). Christmas is a cultural holiday more than it is a religion one at this point in American history and seeing as we are America, it only makes sense for us to celebrate it.

Below is a video that one of my friends made a few years ago that I thought depicted the attitude that non-Christian Chinese people have toward Christmas in a funny but somewhat accurate way. (Jay and I have done a couple videos together so if you snoop around his Youtube Channel you might see me in a few)

The whole reason why our family even began celebrating Christmas was because about 20 years ago, my brother started attending the Huntington School. My mom wanted him to feel like he shared more in common with the other kids and have more to talk about in class so my mom started putting together a small Christmas celebration which grew bigger and bigger each year until Christmas became just about as big of a holiday for us as it is for most other Christian-American families. In our family, Chinese New Year and Thanksgiving are still bigger because that’s when we make it a point to see extended family, but Christmas is a big deal too! I actually really like the way we do Christmas. All the joy and fun and value of celebrating without any of the stress or pressure that comes with making sure that it is executed perfectly. Merry Christmas everyone (who celebrates it)!

15 Subtle Gag Gifts For People Who Can’t Pick Up a Hint

 

1. A pair of running shoes

for someone who is always running their mouth.

2. An iPhone charger

for someone who is always taking yours.

Image result for iphone 6 charger

3. A watch

for someone who is never on time.

Image result for timex watches

4. A bottle of Tylenol

for someone you’re getting sick of. (Hemorrhoid cream could also work if you want them to know that they’re a pain in the ass)

Regardless of what you get, make sure it’s maximum strength.

5. A chair

for someone you just can’t stand.

Image result for chair

6. A roll of toilet paper

for someone who thinks they’re the shit.

7. A DVD of the movie Pinnochio

for someone who is always lying.

Image result for pinocchio dvd

8. A picture of a starving child

for someone who complains all the time (that one isn’t as punny but equally necessary).

[it doesn’t feel right to use a picture of that for this purpose–you can look that one up yourself.]

9. A bottle of lube

for someone who is always f****** you over.

Image result for astroglide

10. A box of Frosted Flakes

for someone who always flakes on plans.

Image result for frosted flakes

11. A drying rack

for someone who has left you out to dry.

Image result for drying rack

12. A pop-up closet

for someone who constantly borrows your clothes but never gives them back.

Image result for pop up closets

13. A broom and mop

for someone who leaves a mess everywhere.Image result for mop and broom

14. A free Uber

for someone who gets way too drunk every time you go out together.Image result for uber phone

15. A good ol’ smack to the face

for anyone who needs any one of these gifts to pick up a hint.

 Image result for open hand

You Know You’re Asian When #5

You celebrate Christmas 2 days early because your parents WANTED to work on Christmas to get holiday pay (and probably had to compete with their Asian coworkers who were trying to do the same thing).

Yes. That is indeed an orange collapsible traffic cone.