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Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Half-Hearted Love Letter to the Great State of New Jersey

There is nothing like New York City in Christmastime. As the city itself is lifted in unison by the conglomeration and undeniable saturation of Christmases long, long ago, New York always appears in its' best behavior. For once the city's gray slush is completely outdone by the monument to Yule Tide joy.

I've observed all of this holiday hoopla gazing in deep, handsome contemplation from across the Hudson. Yes, I am a registered New Jerser, Jersian (We have not been able to think of a cool name for ourselves)

To my fellow Garden Staters! and the rest of you who live underprivileged lifestyles of certain blindness and scarcity of trees. I am embarking on this journey to define my own, very private New Jersey as a means of promoting the
burgeoning field of New Jersey tourism.

Pictures will be scarce; let my vivid wor
ds create the images of this Northeastern paradise for you.

I grew up around a lot of trees, lots of tall trees who've grown up with the generations of family names and legacies in my tiny little town. If someone were to refer to a place of residence quaint, it most often means that the kids who do the residing are bored out of their narrow, narrow minds.

There is one street lined with barbershops and pizzerias which my town affectionately calls that commerce. Glen Rock NJ where suburba
n housewives breed hyperactive, extra-curricular children from the driver's seat of an SUV and an outdoor pool.

As I further remove myself from the home I grew up in, I am increasingly more critical of how I grew up. I realize this more and more after I had forgotten so much about the sleepy little town full of power brokers and businessmen. I'm helping my sister out with college apps and because we went through a lot of the same things : lack of diversity, wastefulness, ignorance, extreme wealth and privilege. It's been tough to guide her apps without tapping into that deeply engrained sense of bitterness and regret.

Because there were no other Asian kids, I h
ad a miserable time. The days where I wanted to be a white kid made it that much more confusing when battling with an Asian American identity that is constantly mocked by students and teachers who somehow maintain a pleasant tone of voice.

I did have white friends but I know it's really difficult for me to open myself completely to them. I feel like they will never truly understand any which way I perceive my life, their lives, the world. I'm trying to break this. After so many papers where I've praised diversity and differences in thinking, how can I not appreciate varying worldviews and life experiences?

It's a matter of comfort.
I've gone great lengths to make college as racially different from high school. From my very closest friends to simple acquaintances, I've surrounded myself with Asian people, falling into the grand generalization that Asian people, men in particular can only hang out with themselves. They are the least committed to diversity building in the ethnic spectrum. Frankly, I don't really give a damn anymore. I've surrounded myself with people that make me happy and that I've enjoy talking too. There wasn't too much of that back in Jersey. In fact, I would trek my ass all the way to Queens to find some decent Asian people to hang out with.

But it's home. Park benches, kids on bikes, the piz
za from John's Boys, the stoner, underachieving drop-outs. Home is a one-acre ranch with a backyard full of gophers and a shed that me and my dad built. We tried growing tomatoes once and the gophers just ate em all. Now we, gopher and man, live harmoniously together.

New Jersey continues to confuse me. Towns of extreme wealth like mine are then surrounded by cities of such dire poverty, riddled with gang life and an entirely different racial landscape. Asian people have found these niches in rich white communities, single-handedly giving any sort of semblance to a diversity movement in suburban America. With issues of red-lining slowly being eliminated one by one, Asian parents are prone to flock then attack areas with attributes from good schooling, safety to the cleanliness of the public pool. It's their nature. A grand immigrant tradition of unrestricted upward m
obility and moving to anultimate goal, whiteness.

Can we gain the world and not become white?
Not that there is being white is so horrible, but because I enjoy Asianness. It's an extremely distinct trait that not many people have the privilege of holding inherently and walking with daily. People will always change, but can I control what I cha
nge into?

New Jersey, I am like so many of your bitter kids who leave you for New York or California. But i guess you are okay. The trees keep me coming back.

"Look ma, I'm confused but I still love you." NOTICE THE TREES. They're beautiful.


  1. hey. nj isn't so bad. i live in nj and i am cool no? :)

  2. Yoojin: sometimes it's good, sometimes it's really bad. But then again Pal Park is basically living in Korea

    Elizabeth: uhh thank you, I am quite professional :D
    wait but i don't get it. what makes it seem like mag writing?

  3. The gopher story had me smiling. This was a really good read.

  4. your tone of voice. it's something i can't do, and something that prevents me from being as interested in magazine as i want to be. it's a gift!

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  6. Stan: the gopher still lives in my yard. She now has 3 children

    Eliza- thanks, I'm working on honing it so I could write everything in a more polished way
    But I think you do do (hehe) it. Reading you blog, I can definitely get your personality through the text, which I think is the spunkiness that is with any good mag.
    O and I've always admired the confidence which you write with