Philosophy & Thought


After 12 weeks of Economic History, I hereby declare I am officially class conscious.

Capitalism, the very economic system by which we live in, is an exploitative system.  Up until now, I have believed that work hard and you will be rewarded.  In fact, from the traditional economic system that China has sustained until the revolution of 1912, we have been taught as Chinese that study hard, work hard, and you will be rewarded with wealth and a good life.

Yet I see so many of my peers at my university, the wealthy ones, who contradict that very belief.  Those who have not worked one sweat to obtain their status, yet enjoy and spoil money as if it were paper.  I once thought life as unfair, and that their way of life was not sustainable.  Now I understand it is the system of Capitalism that have made them so, and it is unlikely that their way of life will crumble.

The factory owners in China, those Capitalist that control and own capital, who exploit fellow workers and extract very bit of surplus value they produce.  It is them!  The Capitalist!  It is them who enjoy the vast wealth created not by themselves, but the workers they employ!  They own and organize capital, but it is those workers who produce wealth for them.  Yes, the very workers who work for less than 2 dollars a day while the products created are sold for 100 fold.  Who does that money go to?  The Capitalist!  The very enemies that Chinese Communist Party declared war against 80 years ago.  Now not only are we back to Capitalism, their children’s spoiling of wealth mocks our very existence.  Why should we work as slaves, while the children of capitalist enjoy the fruits of our work and toil?!

Nay!  I say.  Over my dead body!  I will become one of them!  I will become a Capitalist.  I will gather interest from Capital!  I will accrue returns from investment, earn money simply because others are borrowing my money!  I will be paid, without one sweat from my eyebrow, for work that I did not do.  I will no longer be chained in front of a computer programming 9 hours a day.  I will no longer that machine of work, I will have no part of that!

Only when I am economically independent and free from that chains of having to earn wages just to survive, can I truly be free.  I will be free!  Free to do whatever I wish, free to devote my mind to whatever I see fit.

But of course, before becoming a Capitalist, I must have Capital.  That means I must rent out my intelligence and body to earn a wage in order to accumulate Capital.  Nine hours of programming a day for god knows how many years is a start.  Hopefully, not for long.  Now that I am class conscious, I know where I must go to be free. 

廣告

1999年我剛到美國的時候,美國25分硬幣正好推出10年50州紀念硬幣的專案。每10個禮拜美國每一個州依照加入聯邦的次序推出一個圖案自己設計的25分硬幣,到2008年50個州50個禮拜為止。

那時候剛來就開始收集25分硬幣,還特地買了一個收集硬幣的「地圖」,每一州有個放硬幣的地方。剛來的前五年,每10個禮拜一有新的硬幣出來,不出一個月我就能收集到。每次付錢買東西找回來的25分硬幣,我都會興奮的找有沒有新的硬幣可以放進地圖裡。

但是最近三年來,收集新硬幣的速度越來越慢,常常硬幣推出了3、4個月我才會收集到。到了今年,更是一個新硬幣都沒收集到,連看到25硬幣的機會都很少。為甚麼這幾年來收集的速度會這樣的減緩?

答案是電子交易的興起。

更詳細的答案是信用卡的發達。我還能記得當初剛來美國,拿信用卡去麥當勞買東西是不可行的。「我們不收信用卡」是常常會聽到的答案。錢包裡總是充滿了現
金,五塊十塊二十塊。信用卡是用來網路上買東西用,而儘管如此大部份的人也寧願寄支票也不願意把信用卡號碼給別人。想起那時大一申請了一張信用卡,我媽還
說申請那種東西幹嘛,大學生沒幾歲要信用卡作甚麼?

今天,我錢包裡的現金只有五塊美金。任何店,包括麥當勞,都收信用卡。事實上,我已經想不出有甚麼店不收信用卡了。連以前中國店規定只收現金,到現在也改
成十塊美金以上就能用信用卡付錢。信用卡已經是美國商業交易的一個不可或缺的要素了。支票逐漸被信用卡取代,電子交易也讓我們能夠更快速的交換金錢。例如
Paypal 能夠立刻轉錢,只需要填對方的電子郵件就能送錢,比起傳統寫支票或給現金方便快速太多了。

以前一個人要付錢的時候總是從錢包裡拿出「美金」這個「東西」來付錢。美金代表著自己的財富,代表著一個履行交易義務的一個東西。今天交易全面電子化,令
人不禁震撼未來「美金」這個物品會不會因此消失?上面寫著「美金」的綠色長方形的紙逐漸被廢除,取而代之的是上面寫著「VISA」或
「Mastercard」的塑膠卡片。以後會不會大家都有張「美金卡」,一張卡就能取代所有現金交易?

我今年到現在沒有收集到任何新的25分硬幣,其實還頗為遺憾的。但是機會真的是越來越少了,因為完全沒有用上現金。連朋友還我錢的時候我都要他們用
Paypal
直接傳錢到我的銀行。因為還要專門去一趟銀行存現金實在是太麻煩了。一個人的財富只是個數字而已,用甚麼來交換或代表,其實並不重要。在發明紙之前,錢是
用金銀等材料代表。在發明電腦等科技之前,錢是用紙鈔代表。我們可以預測以後磁條卡片將是下一波代表財富的「東西」~

但是,那25分的硬幣還是很值得收集的啦,我就只差今年跟明年就收集全了。有誰有的請你行行好,跟我說一聲吧!~我會用 Paypal 還你25分的! 😉

我有個朋友(雖然他不太可能看我blog,但還是不說名字好了… :P),都已經甚麼年代了,竟然這輩子沒有買過手機,現在仍然用室內電話。我總是跟他說該買手機了,這樣比較方便,但是他給我的理由竟然是,「還沒有一個手機讓我覺得可買」。

他解釋他如果買手機,他要買最好的。甚麼叫最好的?最好的手機,就是價錢要合理,功能要齊全,樣子要好看,而且最重要的是不能在短時間內又出現更好的手機。就像如果買了手機,3個月就降價,他就覺得不行。

我每次都跟他說你就挑一個目前喜歡的,以後手機用這麼多年了你也不會想要在短時間換。就算買了3個月降價,你也不需要懊惱,因為3個月來手機帶給你的方便是值得的。我朋友每次聽到這個的回答都是,「我反正平時也沒有需要用手機」。才怪咧!每次要幹嘛都找不到人,有時候他自己緊急需要聯絡人也沒辦法。我每次都小嗆他一下說如果你有手機就好了,他總是說「也只是這麼一次而已」。真是無言以對…

他這個人買東西總是東比較西比較,看了半天,最後的決定往往都是以後再說。買電視是這樣,買dvd player是這樣,買甚麼東西都是這樣。我們往更宏觀的角度來看,他人生做甚麼選擇都是這樣。總是期待會有更好的東西出現,本來人生就是會一直遇到更好的東西。科技產品當然是日新月異,人當然也總是碰的到更年輕更漂亮更帥的人。每一個產品都有好有壞,功能A比較優越,可是功能B就比較差,或是沒有。功能A跟功能B都很棒,可是比較貴。我朋友總是在等待著便宜又大碗的東西,請問世界是這樣運作的嗎?

我朋友老是等待著那完美的產品出現,快2008年了還沒有買手機,也不打算買,想換那買了20年打開來超噁心的冰箱,也遲遲買不了新冰箱。我們做甚麼決定本來就不應該是甚麼都要最好的,因為世界上沒有完美的東西。本來一個東西就是有好有壞,只要那個東西有你非常重視的優點,那麼他的缺點可以用你改變心態或是花點心思彌補來成為只有屬於你自己的「完美手機」。

再次的發現自己在一個很熟悉的不安感中…離開了上海,準備要離開台灣,又要回到美國。前幾天在香港的時候,在機場巴士上心血來潮的想起自己的23年。跟很多人不一樣,我在小時候的世界是美國鄉下的世界。從小就是個ABC,直到6歲的時候到台灣,把甚麼都改變了。

我依然記得6歲那年剛從飛機下來,進到中正機場裡。那個震撼不是一般人能想像的。又髒,又醜,又臭。我只想回家,那時候的家是Ohio,你說甚麼我都不會承認我家是台灣。在台灣住了9年,總愛喜歡跟人家說美國多好多好,因為在我心目中美國的確比台灣乾淨太多了,人比台灣人禮貌太多了,科技比台灣先進太多了。台灣在我心目中是個爛地方,我只想趕快離開。

15歲的時候,我的機會來了,再度回到Ohio,我一開始真的很興奮,覺得我終於回家了。那時候也沒搞清楚到底Ohio為甚麼是我家,總之是美國,我回到美國,我回到家了。但是隨著對美國文化的了解,我恐慌的發現我不是美國人。在中國人的時候,我比較自在,比較親切,比較有話聊。以前我很瞧不起台灣人,更瞧不起大陸人,覺得他們土的可以,一點禮貌都沒有,更沒有格調。看到台灣人或大陸人我喜歡用英文講話,讓他們知道他們的英文永遠也比不上我,想讓他們停止想要「當美國人」這種無聊的思想。在我心中,當美國人是一種 skill,是一個學習而來的技巧。看到那些中國人想學當美國人,就像國中生看到小學生想要學加法那般瞧不起。

但是隨著時間增長,我逐漸看到美國人是怎麼看中國留學生的,就跟我的瞧不起差不多。但是我也看出他們對我的不了解,我也發現我非常討厭美國人的很多想法。02年去了一趟大陸,又把一大堆事情都推翻了。之後在美國我越來越不舒服,朋友總是中國人,美國人我根本沒辦法當朋友。而在美國的中國人又是特定的一種團體,正好是我不喜歡的類型。我在美國所經歷的事情,跟台灣的朋友說破嘴他們也無法了解。然而我又必須常常聽取他們對美國的疑問與幻想。說真的我現在都不知道該說甚麼,建議他們去美國,我沒辦法摸著良心跟他們說去美國會很美好,但又不能叫他們不要去美國,因為他們不會相信我。現在我的答案都是…你會學很多東西。

今年暑假,我有機會到上海,然後更幸運的有機會畢業後能留在上海。在上海的幾個月讓我有機會找回我在美國失去的很多東西。但是面對很多人對美國的疑問以及質疑我為何會捨棄美國高薪到上海,我再度發現我怎麼解釋他們都不會懂。現在我光是想到那些問題我都累了,能不能一笑置之?為甚麼朋友間總是要扯到這個話題?難道不能問我其他生活中的事情嗎?

回到台灣,跟家人報告畢業後就不留美國的消息,再度被質疑美國真的有這麼不好嗎?甚至有家人因為自己小孩在美國賺很多錢而很自豪。面對他們的疑問,我只能笑笑…或許我在上海住個2、3年後就會比較好了吧?可是我現在好想休息阿…為甚麼我看到我的表姐表妹甚麼話題都沒有?只能看著他們傻笑,是不是因為我們已經活在兩個完全不同的世界裡?

在美國住6年,在台灣住9年,在美國住8年,我已經搞不清楚我家是那裡了。畢業後要到上海去住,要住幾年呢?在美國交的朋友無一不是要分開的,能像這邊大學同學工作後繼續來往,我沒有那樣的命。到上海後要重新建立友情,畢竟在工作場所算是很難的。我一個人闖東闖西,早已沒有心力了。很有衝勁的交很多朋友,最後的下場都是在差不多三個月內就結束來往,這樣兩三次,我自己也毫無選擇。好的朋友都在台灣跟大陸,但是好朋友三個月後就要離開,再好的朋友也無法這樣維持。

這次在上海交了很多好朋友,但是又到了3個月的時限,我又要離開了。那股不安的感覺再度降臨,我回到上海的時候,朋友還會很好嗎?有多少朋友在距離跟時間的摧殘下,現在只剩下見個面吃吃飯的友誼?我的生活圈,我的世界,都跟他們完全分離。這種孤單感讓我感到厭惡,我只想找個地方好好的靜下來,好好的安定。交了朋友就一直看到他們,一直安穩的交往。但是安定這個想法,在朋友們裡又是個完全無法理解的想法。碰到好多人說年輕想出去闖闖,想要走走停停。我走走停停了23年,我累了。但是別人說我這種想法是老人才有的想法。想安定?這太無聊了!

我該怎麼辦?我了解他們想要出去看世界的渴望,我要是沒看過,我也會想要。但是我像個葉子從小飄來飄去,看了世界,了解了世界,但是從來沒有停在某個地方太久。該看的也看了,該學的也學了。昨天我跟二姨在看 Jay Leno,我笑的東倒西歪,但是二姨卻完全不了解。有太多事情是他所不知道的,更有太多事情是美國文化的嘲笑與諷刺,二姨更是不了解。我試著解釋,但是看他一知半解的表情,我知道我在浪費唇舌。我只能一個人享受 Jay Leno 的幽默,我跟別人怎麼解釋他們都無法短時間內了解。一個人享受,這就是我近幾年來的感受。我對於那種孤單感,我厭煩了。我想要有人能夠跟我一起欣賞 Jay Leno,跟我一起欣賞 Musicals,跟我一起欣賞這世界的多元跟不同。但是有誰能怪到跟我一樣?有誰能在兩地居住又能真正了解雙方的文化?

沒有多少人

在上海2個月了,手機總共用了70人民幣(含月費)。That’s 70 / 7.5 = 9.3 US Dollars.  沒錯,我兩個月手機費用總共用不到10美金。每天都送簡訊,打電話,兩個月,加月費,less than 10 bucks, that’s 4+ dollars per month.

對於美國手機費用不熟的人,這或許不算甚麼。但是對於使用美國昂貴且落後的手機通訊 3、4 年的我來說,這個數字真的很震驚。請跟美國手機費用比較,家中3隻手機,總共一個月80美金,平均一人26美金一個月。但是3個人包含的分鐘數是700分鐘,家中老媽不太打手機,保守估計100分鐘一個月,剩下跟老弟分600分鐘,一人300分鐘。聽起來好像蠻多的,但是請考慮下列幾項問題:

  1. 美國採取雙向收費,接電話也算你分鐘。300分鐘其實你接電話也在扣除分鐘數,很快就會用完。
  2. 美國簡訊也採取雙向付費,而且不包含在月費。接受簡訊一封0.1美金 = 3.3 台幣 = 0.75 人民幣。要是哪個人送你簡訊,你一收到就是0.1美金,所以誰敢送簡訊都會被罵。
  3. 美國要是分鐘數用完,多打一分鐘電話(或多接一分鐘電話,雙向收費…)為0.45 美金 = 14.85 台幣 = 3.3 人民幣。
  4. 辦新號碼的時候,必須簽合約一年(T-mobile) 或兩年(AT&T, Verizon)。合約沒到之前若要換電訊公司,請繳違約金 275 美金 = 9075台幣 = 2062 人民幣。

但是公平起見,美國也是有很多好處的,例如:

  1. 晚上9點後接通免費。週末接通也免費
  2. 月費超過50美金的「套餐」,網內互打24小時免費
  3. Voicemail是免費包含的。不需要另外加錢
  4. 美國全國內無漫遊費。

但是這就造成很多問題,例如:

  1. 因為網內互打免費,所以如果朋友都是某家電訊公司,你基於經濟考慮,只能跟著朋友一起用同家公司,即使他的月費比其他公司高。
  2. 也正是因為想要有網內互打免費,你必須要用月費超過50美金的「套餐」,否則就不能享受網內互打免費。
  3. 即使你公司的訊號覆蓋率其差無比 (Sprint),你因為合約的關係,你硬是不換公司。別人打電話給你你從來接不到,因為你宿舍沒訊號。
  4. 你從來不送簡訊,也拒絕收簡訊,因為接簡訊要錢又貴。美國人是不送簡訊的,甚麼事情都打電話。
  5. 你要是平時打的電話多,或是接的電話多,或是朋友都不是你的電信公司,一到月底你就必須節約使用,或是拒接電話。有多少人msn暱稱一道月底就是「請晚上9點後再打電話給我」或是「沒分鐘了,請不要打給我,我也不會接電話」。搞的很多人一道月底就消失,找也找不到人,因為都不接電話。

跟上海比較時,上海很多優點非常明顯,例如:

  1. 單項收費,接聽免費(不管是國內還是國際),撥打電話一分鐘 0.13 人民幣 = 0.559 台幣 = 0.017 美金(比skype打電話還便宜)。我的通話費用還算貴的,因為我是預付卡。假設使用「套餐」的話,一分鐘0.10人民幣。
  2. 簡訊接收免費,送簡訊一則 0.10 人民幣 = 0.43 台幣 = 0.013美金。 簡訊送到網外的話要0.15人民幣,但是因為大部份的人都用中國移動,that’s not a big problem.
  3. 月費16人民幣 = 68台幣 = 2.1美金。但是不含分鐘數。

比起美國雖然沒有週末免費,網內互打免費等好處,但是接聽免費,接簡訊免費,打電話便宜,月費便宜。結果就是2個月用不到10美金。兩個月在美國要26*2=52美金。5到6倍。我在美國工作的薪水是大陸的3到4倍,所以以購買力而言,上海仍然勝出。美國這種收費架構造成了手機落後的下場。美國人一般對手機的要求也偏低,因為沒看過多好看的手機。所有的最新手機在美國都買不到,跟電信公司買的手機還要被加鎖,假設你有天願意付那275美金的違約金換電信公司,你還要買新的手機,因為原先的手機不接受其他電信公司的sim卡。

Text messaging is better than calling because:

 – You have time to think what you want to say.

 – You don’t have to respond immediately, you can respond when you feel like it.

 – You can let your anger rest and then respond politely.

 – It has more immediacy than instant messaging, since it is on your phone and you carry your phone all the time

 – It cost less when you only want to say something simple.

Yet with all its advantages, sometimes I am still confused because you can easily misjudge a person’s real intent.  Human’s yearning for conversation and interaction is facilitated by technology, yet perhaps it is technology itself that moves us even further away from each other?

iPhoto 08 has just been released, incorporating the concept of events to organize your photos.  As I mark each event after upgrading to iPhoto 08, I am drawn into a world of memory.  From the earliest photos dating back to the beginning of the new millennium, to recent photos that were just taken a couple weeks ago, I find myself traversing my past.

As I watch these past photos, I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness.  Looking at myself so long ago, I am amazed at the transformation.  Yet when I regain my orientation of time, only 7 years have gone by.  Seven!  How many seven years do one have in their life?  Yet these past 7 years have felt like 70 years.

To think that, only merely 2 years ago, I was interning at Rockwell.  It feels that happened in another life when I remember it today.  My 21st birthday marked the day I grew up and could never turn back.  The things I saw, the things I felt, the things I understood, all of which defines me now.  I never wanted to grow up so fast, yet I stepped into the world and the world wouldn’t let me go back.  The effects of those seven months in Rockwell is still lasting, and I realize now that I am still trying to recover from its wake.  Only 2 years ago?!  My god.

Then I began to see past photos with friends that are no longer friends anymore.  All the people I saw in that photo, each relationship destroyed almost completely.  The decay is so great that I have not met a lot of them since, and most of which even if we met we would not acknowledge each other.  That was only 18 months ago.  The people that have come and gone, I cannot help but reflect and wonder why things have turned out this way.

I so want to blame America for this phenomenon, it was the loneliness God Damn It!  Yet now I am not sure it is entirely because of the loneliness.  Perhaps it was my lack of faith in people, and I lost that completely 2 years ago.  I am angry at my situation, why I had to endure this when no one else had to or cared to even understand it.  People were indifferent, or actually, they didn’t understand.  Their life was good, they were nice people, but they couldn’t understand why the hell I was so angry.  Some concluded I was just crazy, some felt sorry for me, but most just didn’t really understand. 

I so wanted to blame them, so wanted to be angry at them, so wanted to be venting my frustrations at them just so I wouldn’t explode.  Yet now I cannot find the strength to do that anymore.  I just look at the photos and I sigh in disbelief.  How could I have done the things I’ve done?  How could I have thought the way I did?  Unbelievable, simply speechless.

Looking at each trip I took, each year occurring the same theme, just different people.  After which, none of them is part of my life anymore.  From the December of 2005 to March of 2007.  15 months.  15!  So many things have happened in those 15 months, I must have gained more friends than I had in middle school.  And in those 15 months, I’ve lost just as many friends.

I write this now, exasperated, shocked, and full of remorse.  My friends tease me as being an old man.  Well, perhaps it’s because it’s true.  For a 23 year old, I behave like a man full of regret and bad memories. 

My world changed in 1999, and for 3 years I had no memory.  High school was a fast 3 years with, well, nothing worthy to note.  Then came 2002, when I came to China for the first time in my life.  That experience impacted me so greatly it changed my life forever.  The questions that were raised during that trip shook the very foundations of my core belief. 

From 2002 to 2003 I remained the same person, but with more and more questions.  2003 I went back the China and again felt myself doubting at everything I believed with evermore suspicion.  Why do I feel so different when I am with Chinese?  Why do I feel this sickening sense of sadness when I leave?  Like I found something good and am forced to leave it because I no longer belong anymore.  Do I belong?  Why do people say my Chinese is very good when they should be saying my English is good?  Why do people treat me differently, when in fact I feel part of them?

Then came 2004, I went to China and, after a chain of events, almost got myself published in major newspaper and tabloid magazines.  I think of that memory and tears of shame linger in my eyes.  The mistakes that were made, but worse yet, the publicity and spotlight that was generated from that mistake.  Fortunately I remained anonymous, yet I lost friends, good friends.  People sometimes can be unforgiving when they do not understand, and in my case, I did not have the benefit of being understood.  The way that everyone handled it was completely out of line.  My eager parents that did not show enough discretion in the spotlight, my dad that thought the whole thing a proud thing to declare to the world, my friends who saw everything so clearly but could not convey those concerns to me calmly.  And myself, for making the biggest mistake of not listening to any of them and going ahead and making the wrong decision.  When people mention the event, I insist that it was a good thing for me, that I learned a lot from my mistakes.  Yet deep inside I ache at the very thought of remembering.  I do not want to remember that great mistake that was worsened by the almost celebrity-like media coverage.  It was plain craziness. I’m only 20, I’m just a kid.

Then came 2005, Those seven months in Rockwell that for the first time made me worry for my health.  I was getting my blood examined, with my liver going to hell, blood pressure hit marks that 50 year olds experience, severe acne that destroyed my face along with my self esteem, and heartburn so bad that the doctor warned I had to keep it in control or I would develop ulcers.  All the while puzzling the doctor because he couldn’t find anything wrong that would cause those symptoms.  For the first time I realized this would have been the life I would be living if I graduated and stayed in America.  I hated the life, I was scared.  I was so scared that, now I think back, something inside me changed.  I became cynical, I became mortified of loneliness and I began to hate my personality.

At the summer of 2005 I went to China for a trip, made a friend in about 2 weeks, and at the end of the trip, lost it.  I began school with the determination to make a lot friends.  So I went to events I never would have gone, I did things I never would have done.  I made a lot of friends, friends that really never were my type, yet I convinced myself that if I didn’t change nothing would change (such is the American way, no?).  In 3 months so much was occurring that I began to believe that I was heading the right direction.  Yet in December of 2005 it was clear that things began to go out of control.  I lost a good friend that have not spoke to me since.  In its aftermath, I continued to switch among friends that had I been in Taiwan, I would never even have talked to them.  By the beginning of summer vacation in 2006, merely 6 months, I lost almost the entire group of friends.  The few that remain in friendly terms now only greet me cordially when we meet on the street.

The summer of 2006 marked the beginning of my relationship with NI.  At the same time new friends were arriving from Taiwan that seemed to happen so long ago.  NI was a great company but I still felt that sickening sense of not belonging to them.  I couldn’t really relate or identify with my co-workers, even though they are great people.  When they asked me to stay full time, my heart sank.  I did not wish for them to give me that choice, I wanted it to end in friendly terms without me having to turn down a great offer because of my own personal problems.  I ended the internship with NI at December and went to Taiwan having to decide my future.  I had 2 months to decide if I wanted to take the offer.

In December of 2006, I arrived in Taiwan and went to Macau for a conference.  Again those familiar feelings of doubt and questions revisited me.  This time though, I was not stable enough to receive them.  I became more and more frustrated and desperate.  In my desperation I almost repeated the same mistake I made in 2004.  It was the same situation, same spotlight, same dad, same everything.  Fortunately nothing really happened, no mistakes to grieve over.

I returned to Columbus in January of 2007, class began and for about 4 weeks nothing really happened.  Then I started to make new friends again.  And with almost mirror images, the same craziness happened.  I wonder if America has the power to make people repeat mistakes over and over again with its everlasting loneliness?  I hurt people, I know, but I am just beginning to realize how much.  For the next 6 months the same thing happened, and by summer of 2007 (yes, June, 2 months ago), I felt like I’ve relived 2006, with just different people.  So many episodes of reoccurring themes it feels like a bad soup opera.

Perhaps the only good thing that came out of 2007 was me turning down the full time offer from NI, and then having them ask me if I wanted to come to Shanghai.  June 20th, I arrived in Shanghai, June 25 I began work.  And a new life.

For 4 weeks I have never felt so normal.  A new beginning.  This time it doesn’t feel like I am making the same mistake I made for so many years.  It feels that even when my internship ends in September and I go back to Columbus for 3 months, my friends here will still be here, and will continue to be my good friends.  That is something I have never felt for a long long time.  I no longer have to pretend to be someone I’m not, and with my original personality of being quiet, I can make friends.  Friends that I can relate and identify with. 

I now look back, I truly feel old.  So many mistakes, so many lessons.  I feel so tired from the experience, and I feel so ashamed.  Things that felt so real and necessary back then, now are impossible to imagine.  I hope to redeem myself here in Shanghai and let my friends see the real me.  However, the real me includes this dreary past.  It’s been 2 years that I’ve acted out of my way just so I wouldn’t feel like crap in America.  Those 2 years have felt like an eternity.  I find myself sometimes telling my new friends about these things and to be honest, it freaks them out.  That is the reason for me blocking them from my blog.  They will not understand what I’ve been through, and I do not want them to view me as a lunatic.  That is not the real me, that is not the me now.  See me for what I am now, what I am like during work, during commute, during the weekends. 

I do not wish to mention this past to my friends, yet there are a few days I found myself still lingering in the past and acting all weird again.  I hope I have not scared my new friends away, so far it doesn’t seem that way.  However, I am determined to close that chapter in my life and begin a new one.  One that doesn’t include me going crazy, being all angry and hurting people all the time.  I want to be normal again, I want my friends to like me and want to hang out with me.  So far, it seems to be that way.  I want to have good things to share, and as my time in Shanghai lengthens, it surely will be that way.  Right now everything I share is plain frightening, and I don’t want to be this way.  I hope I don’t have to linger in my past anymore, and that this blog will be the last of such topics.

To mom and dad, you truly misjudged the magnitude of the impact coming to America.  It didn’t help that I hid most of my thoughts inside and never told you about it.  When things really turned bad and I began to tell you my thoughts, it was already too late.  Coming to America is not a dream, it was a nightmare.  It has changed my, as well as our family, forever.  My English, my grades, my scholarship, my internships and my salary, none of which is worthy of mentioning in my opinion.  True, you are proud that your son has achieved so much (in your mind, not to me), but to me it is evidence of my nightmare.  To gain all that, I’ve been through so much pain and constantly felt like I am someone who does not belong.  The outside is pretty, but the inside is a mess.  I will gladly trade all of this to undo what I’ve done to other people and feel normal again.  High school was 3 years of nothing when my friends have so much good stuff to remember.  College was 5 years of hell and towards the latter 2 years so much evil was done by me.  I hear my friends talk about their happy 4 years in college, what they did with their friends and the funny things that happened and I ache in pain.  What do I have in my 5 years of college life?  The fun things I did with my friends?  Hell, I don’t have much friends anymore.  The good experiences of being with a group of people you like and developing deep friendships?  I don’t have that.  My friends, most of them, are no longer my friends.  Please compare that to your happy college lives that you talk about so often, and you will realize that your son do not enjoy college one bit.  Who the hell cares about my English or grades?  Would you be willing to trade all your college experiences just so you can speak english a bit better than others?  Just so you can proudly display your American college degree to others?  I bet the answer is:  you have never thought about it, didn’t have the choice in the first place. 

Well, I had that choice.  I am glad that you have come to understand how my decision now is something necessary for me to maintain a sane mind.  I am thankful you did not deny me the chance to come to Shanghai as so many other parents in the same situation would have done.  I know you still worry about my career and how much money I can save working here.  My true answer is this, I don’t really care!  Feeling normal is my biggest asset.  Your son never had any great aspirations, your second son might have a better chance.  Let me be the quiet son who just wants a normal life. 

I am happy that you have not objected much over my decision to come to Shanghai.  I will be returning to Shanghai in 2008, and I hope by the time Shanghai celebrates the World Expo in 2010, I will be such a different person that I will be surrounded by happiness.  2000 – 2007 will only be a vague memory in the past.

Hell of a long post, I hope the combination of English and its length will deter people from reading it Wink

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