Catch Me Live

So, we’ve been in Taiwan ten days and I have not written a word about our trip. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing stuff for my public!

Thanks both to a challenge in a blogging group I’m part of, as well as great ideas and encouragement from my friend, Brittany Minor of Clumps of MascaraI have been trying out Facebook Live Videos.

(Seriously, Brittany is really amazing with her own videos – and she suggested all sorts of great topics to discuss, checkout, and asked so many great questions that I feel kinda guilty that she so generously helped me without asking for anything in return. All she got were some FB Live videos of questionable value.)

Now that I have done a few of them, I don’t know why I was so hesitant about doing them before. I think part of it was that it never occurred to me that people would want to see videos of me wandering about Taiwan. I mean, a city is a city, right? Just how interesting is a tour of 7-11?

Well, just because I personally am not interested in this stuff, I suppose doesn’t mean that other people wouldn’t be! And I also realized that I have been taking my trips to Taiwan for granted.

Most people do not get the chance to travel to Taiwan, let alone often enough for it to become familiar and not entirely intimidating. And even if they came, perhaps their language skills are nonexistent, not good enough or if they are, they still don’t necessarily know how things work.

Plus, all this knowledge that I now take for granted (eg: going on an MRT, shopping for stuff in a store, what to bring, how to shuttle kids around) – that is interesting and helpful to people! And folks, I am what we call a helpful person.

Also, I am somewhat of a narcissist.

So, because I’m a giver, I am collecting a bunch of my FB Live videos into this post, but if you are not following my personal FB page (sorry, I only friend folks I know In Real Life), you can still follow along at my Mandarin Mama Facebook Page.

Also also, because I’m never one to let a good suggestion go, please let me know if there is stuff you want to see or ask or watch a FB Live about. If I can swing it, I’ll do it. 😀

Anyhow, without further ado, here are most of my FB Lives up until today. (Holy cow, I did a lot!)

1) Traveling in Taiwan with Kids Q&A

2) Tours of Playspaces

Leo’s Playground

Fantasy Island Playspace Tour

3) Tours Around Town

Taking the MRT

Costco

Taiwanese Bus

7-11

Taking out the garbage

Wellcome Mart Tour

My Kids’ Favorite Escalator

Watsons Tour

PierMei Hair Accessory Store

Guang Hua2 Technology Mart

4) Restaurants

Modern Toilet

Costco Food Court Part 1

Costco Food Court Part 2

Yong3 He2 Dou4 Jiang Da4 Wang2 Taiwanese Breakfast

Taiwanese Department Store Food Court

Local Taiwanese Breakfast Place

Did Our Parents Freak Out, Too?

So, ever since I became a parent, it has amazed me that my parents – particularly my mother, did all the activities that they did with us. We went cherry-picking, went to Taiwan, went on tons of trips to national parks in CA and the western half of the US, had tons of lessons, etc. – and all BEFORE the internet with English as their second language. I don’t know how they did it.

I’m taking the kids to Taiwan in exactly two weeks and I’m terrified. I’m going to a place where though I am fluent enough in speaking, I am functionally illiterate (unless you think having a first grade reading vocabulary is impressive). I will have three small kids under 5 – two of whom have food allergies – mostly by myself. My mom is going with us for a week so we can visit family, and Hapa Papa will be going the last week, but for about 3-4 weeks, it’s my one adult against three. My good friend with her three kids are also going to be with us, but the ratio of adult:children will still be the same.

We are going to be outnumbered. In a foreign country. I am terrified.

I know we’ll be fine. It’s just that I’ve never done this before on this scale and it’s a bit overwhelming to think of all the stuff I have to get ready and then do. I am comforted by the fact that even though I’ll be sticking Cookie Monster and Gamera in a Taiwanese preschool all day, five days a week for four weeks, (this is WAY more school than they are doing now), kids are resilient and they’ll be fine. My friend is doing the same with her older two kids (our kids will be in the same classes), and we will each have our youngest babies with us all day to eat and play through Taipei. My mouth is already salivating in anticipation.

We rented a nice apartment through airbnb.com and I am very excited to pretend to be a grown up and fake living in Taipei for five weeks. I have to tell myself it will be fine. The things I do for Mandarin Immersion. (The kicker? After paying about $10k for the trip and related expenses such as food, lodging, and tuition, my children will be getting two hours of English instruction and European history every morning at this school. Irony, you bastard!)

I WILL BE FINE.

But whenever these types of events occur to me, I always wonder if my parents felt the same way when they confronted new or tough situations. They always seemed as if they had their shit together. (Other than the marriage bit, but even then, it was my normal so I guess I thought they knew what they were doing.)

I mean, my mom pretty much raised my brother and I as a single mom – without any help from my dad monetarily – but she had support from her family and through our church. And I suppose when you are in a crappy situation with two young children, you just have to grin and bear it and somehow get to work, provide care for your children, and get through one day at a time.

It just occurred to me that I could possibly ask my mom how she felt during this time, but that would be CRAZY. Ah well. I hope that my own kids think that I know what I’m doing and that they can’t smell fear. When they’re older with kids of their own, I can tell them that I was terrified and didn’t know what I was doing. They better tell me they had no idea.

What about you? Do you plan things for yourself or your family that you’re terrified of but still really want to do? How do you deal with it? How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments.

Generational Poison

I hate to admit it, but it is incredibly hard for me to like folks from Mainland China. This is stupid since my father’s side is from China even though he was born in Taiwan. My grandfather escaped from the Communists to Taiwan after serving in the army. My paternal grandmother is also from China. We still have cousins and grandaunts and granduncles in China. Yet for me, I now identify mostly as Taiwanese after spending most of my life spouting that Taiwanese people were obviously from China unless they were the indigenous Taiwanese people. Now, I consider myself Taiwanese (if only because my mother’s family has been there for several generations.)

Unfortunately, my father’s numerous affairs with his secretaries in China have soured my feelings towards the country. I hear so many stories of women who don’t care if men are married and have families and become home-wreckers. Anything to get money and/or leave the country. It doesn’t help that the newspapers are full of stories featuring corrupt officials, corrupt food, and status seeking real estate, car-buying hordes of people.

Obviously, an entire country cannot be painted en masse just because of a few horrible people. The people I’ve met from China have been perfectly nice and friendly, loving and wanting the best for their children just as I do. We are not so different. Yet I hold them at arm’s length, convinced that they are, deep down, an immoral, ruthless, greedy people. I find it difficult to look past my prejudice and be warm and inviting. I’m not rude, just not kind or super friendly. This makes me sad.

If I want to be intellectually honest, though, I would have to hate Taiwanese women, too. My father had affairs in Taiwan, in the US, and who knows what other countries. While I’m blaming huge swaths of people, perhaps prostitutes, strippers, and all secretaries, too!

Part of me knows it is partially classic “blame the mistress” syndrome in order to distance my father from his evil. I mean, his latest woman is particularly fucked up and conniving, but let’s be real. My father didn’t just trip and accidentally have his penis fall into her vagina and make a baby with her, buy her multiple houses in China and Texas in an effort to hide assets from my mother before the divorce, not pay alimony, and in general be a sociopathic, narcissistic, grade-A asshole. Sadly, this is just the minor tip (see what I did there?) of a fucked up iceberg that tore through my family and ripped it apart.

Not that I’m still pissed about this or anything.

But try telling that to my brain when I interact with Mainland Chinese people. I know. My Taiwanese snobbery is showing.

I bring this up because this past Monday, a woman was so desperately happy to attend our Mandarin playgroup. She had been so isolated because she didn’t speak English very well, lived in a neighborhood without many Chinese people, and couldn’t drive (at least legally in the US). She has a 14 month old son who rarely meets other children because again, this woman cannot drive. Now, when she arrived at my house, of course I was nice and polite. I’m not THAT much of a jerk. And I felt bad for this woman – I know it can be very isolating and lonely after having a child – especially if you’re basically under house arrest. Yet, as soon as I found out she was from Mainland China, part of me shrank back and did not want to be as open to her as I had been originally.

Part of it can be rationalized by saying that as an ABC (American Born Chinese), my experience is vastly different than hers as a new immigrant. Also, Taiwanese culture can be very different from Chinese culture. But ultimately, that is crap. I can lie to myself all I want, but I know, deep down, it’s because I’m a racist bastard.

Anyhow, since I often post about racial issues, I wanted to be honest. Just because I’m a minority (in THIS country, anyway) doesn’t mean I’m exempt from racist thinking and actions. I don’t have any easy answers. I am not about to go out of my way to make friends with all the Mainland Chinese people in my neighborhood. But I do think that being aware of my tendency to be aloof and to actively be more engaging with folks from the Mainland is a good beginning.