What The Heckie

Photo courtesy of  Connie Zhou.

Photo courtesy of Connie Zhou.

Welcome to the blog, where ranting and imperfect grammar are bound to happen. If you’re my parents (hi ma, hi pops), you’ll be delighted to know this is where I’ll be posting about what’s going on in my life. If you’re everyone else, I can’t ensure that you’ll be just as thrilled. But maybe you’ll find some amusement in how I’m: dealing with life in transition/NYC, dealing with adulthood, trying to prove negative millennial stereotypes wrong, probably proving some millennial stereotypes right, a lot of talk about the things I’m eating and the games I’m playing, and “perspective wandering.” (Do I sound cool yet.) 

So why California Bias? TL;DR: I’m from California and I think it’s safe to say that  living in SoCal breeds a certain cultural perspective different from other countries (duh) and even other states (duh again).

Californians are more culturally open. The adoption of hybridized identities and cultural blending is more widespread. (Granted, my experience is limited and this might be a “no shit Sherlock” scenario.)

When I moved out East for school, the first thing I noticed was how palpably more high strung and grumpy everyone in New York seemed. And this is coming from someone who is pretty grumpy and uptight. Essentially everyone is more closed off in two ways: a ‘me-against-them attitude’ and a stubbornness to leave the comfort zone. No one got chill.

This was aggravated by the evident ethnic boundaries/cliques at Syracuse. And that was aggravated by the more frequent occurrences of micro-aggressions and racism.

  • Before moving I had never heard someone say, “you’re pretty for an Asian
    • (and if you’re one or both of my parents you’ll say, “have you ever even heard anyone call you pretty?”)
  • Some girls once told me if I rushed I could probably get into a ‘good [panhel] sorority’ because I wasn’t even “that Asian.”
    • But, like, what does that even mean?
  • Most of the people I know back home are all about eating new food. They’re willing to at least try new food. And if they don’t like it, it’s just a learning experience.
    • I once sat for 20 minutes listening to two friends complain about how they thought mango lassi was “disgusting” and then continue to berate another friend for drinking it.
    • “Like, how dare you like something I don’t?”
  • Boys tell you they have ‘yellow fever’ like it’s something to be lauded.
  • Girls tell you that they’re culturally open because they go to Bleu Monkey and eat sushi rolls with cream cheese, and then attempt to claim in your Newhouse diversity class that Asian women dye their hair blonde/want to be pale/wear makeup a certain way because they want to look like white women. 

But it wasn’t all bad. On a lighter note…

  • I never knew the beauty of Wegmans until someone took me to the one in Dewitt and handed me a directory.
  • Seasons were a game changer; let me tell you that.
  • My first night in the dorm I didn’t realize the loud cacophony outside was cicadas. And when I asked my roommate what the noise was, she was so used to the sound she didn’t understand my question because she didn’t hear anything.
  • A few times the dining hall labeled a bunch of quesadillas as taquitos.
  • Someone excitedly introduced me to their favorite Chinese dish “General Tso’s chicken.”
    • I still don’t know who the hell General Tso is.
  • My mind is still blown when I see a firefly (some of you call them lightening bugs ???)—what the actual heckie.

For a long time I thought it was just me. It being: me thinking California was another country compared to New York. People would ask me about what surprised me about the East Coast compared to the West. Expecting my answer would be, “omg well, like, snow” it always became uncomfortable when the answer was usually, “I’ve never been met with so much racism, sexism, and micro-aggressions in my life before coming here.” And then one day in class I realized it wasn’t just me.

There was a girl from my hometown who was comparing her experiences and expectations of college. She then literally repeated what I had said back as an underclassman, “I’ve never faced so much racism, sexism, and micro-aggressions in my entire life before until I came here [SU].” When she said that, it felt like the first time I saw Lucy Liu, “Oh my god there’s someone like me out here?!”

Disclaimer, she was a person of color from my hometown so of course she probably thought like me. But what made me believe that Californians think in a “super unique” way wasn’t that we both faced similar issues…

  • We felt the same type of marginalization and a higher degree of marginalization, whereas our friends the UC’s and CSU’s didn’t seem to face the same type of issues (or at least the same severity).
  • When we faced problems and brought them up to people at ‘Cuse, they were dismissed and met with an unwillingness to understand.
  • Diversity felt forced (unless you’re talking about MAX132) and/or very out of place.

So far this has been a talk about race and in a very specific place. And if I’m being honest, these issues aren’t specific to the American Northeast. These differences aren’t even necessarily specific to campuses in New York. But me bringing up race is the easiest and most obvious way to showcase the perspective “gap” between East and West. What do I mean? [In my opinion] people on the West respond more positively towards cultural differences, whereas people on the East shy away from uncomfortable (cultural) subjects. And the thing that makes this contrast so strikingly abrasive is that these are two “progressive minded” states.

The response to what happened at UCLA was anger and backlash. Something far more hurtful happened this past year concerning YikYak and Black Lives Matter at Syracuse University. The only response from the school was the Chancellor sending out an email saying, “we don’t condone it” and that was that. YikYak is an app founded on anonymity, so I’m not expecting SU admin to go round up some kids and punish them. The concerning part was the amount of apathy and division at SU. In contrast, during that UCLA debacle the campus was more united in pointing out “yo you could have talked about this in a more productive way.”

I worked in the library while at ‘Cuse. The Black Lives Matter rally came into the lobby once to protest, and it annoyed the shit out of my supervisors and some of the grad students I worked with. And then when those YikYak posts went down, the same people would say, “Well what do these kids expect, they’re going around bothering people during finals week. They should expect to get these responses.” Okay wait what? Like, I get it you’re annoyed that they came into the library during finals—you thought it was inappropriate, okay. But I don’t think anyone deserves to be called barbaric or a “monkey” for expressing their grief and outrage? And when I voiced my opinion the topic was changed quickly, as it always is.

While this is a very specific incident in a specific place, a big factor as to why no one wanted to continue talking about the issue was because it was uncomfortable. And to bring it back from all these tangents, often anything uncomfortable seems to be avoided on the East Coast. Literally one of the worst things that could happen to you in NYC is making eye contact with a stranger.

Maybe a more lighthearted way to say it is y’all don’t like to leave your comfort zone. Like that time BuzzFeed covered a meet up for an ‘elite dating app’ and found that even though the founder’s mantra was to cultivate diversity apart from “finance bros” (best term) and girls in marketing/PR…it wound up being finance bros and girls in marketing and PR that showed up.

But the differences aren’t just about ethnic and racial issues, or how each region deals with their skeletons in the closet. There are brighter things (well except for that first bullet point).

In which I terribly compare identities in California as a form of MegaZord and those dinosaurs are very clearly...social issues.

In which I terribly compare identities in California as a form of MegaZord and those dinosaurs are very clearly...social issues.

  • Reportedly, people from Los Angeles have an air of entertainment. A creative director once told me everyone is an actor in LA.
  • Everyone in NYC is driven with purpose (which is good and bad). Whether they’re trying to get from one end of the block to the other or working hard on a client pitch—same level of determination.
  • There is (are?) so much good food and good drinks in such a small space (compared to LA county) and it’s all accessible through public transportation.
  • It’s cool because you see very prominent traditional cultural communities in comparison with California.
    • This is going to sound stupid because I’m neither anthropologist nor sociologist, but the amalgamation of cultures form a sort of homogenous (and diluted)… melting pot mentality.
    • I’m so sorry I even typed that.
    • Basically New York has just Power Rangers who utilize their Zords. And in California, your Power Rangers combine their Zords to make a Megazord. Because that example makes so much more sense.
  • New York has seasons which makes Christmas time SO MUCH COOLER.
    • Ice skating is infinitely more romantic and cute surrounded by the night sky and ambient decoration light (as opposed to skating inside an indoor rink with disco lights).
    • This is coming from someone who loves ice skating inside indoor rinks with disco lights.
  • Both Californians and New Yorkers have immense pride. The key difference is I will gladly wear a shirt that has Los Angeles or the California bear on it whereas you would never catch a New Yorker wearing anything remotely affiliated with New York City.

So in this long-winded, roundabout, tangent filled drivel…California Bias basically boils down to there’s no place like California. What made me realize that happened to be racial issues and an issue with discussing those problems (or anything super uncomfortable).

I’m not saying California is better than anywhere else. I’m not saying Californians are better than anyone else. But something about growing up there has created a Carl Jung-collective-unconscious-esque phenomena that has affected my core (and probably everyone else that’s lived there).

Someone once told me that no matter what, there would always be California in me (in my style/manner/thoughts, you get my drift). And while that sounds awfully millennial-existential (and hella cliché), California Bias is about me navigating my identity and learning where I fit in by discovering these differences.

You’re basically reading the terribly written accounts of a child growing up. And if you read through all of that I’m really sorry. But that’s this blog’s tragic backstory. From here on out these posts will be more guided, probably still naïve, and hopefully a lot more funny.

P.S. while it seems like my time in college was terrible, it was a blast overall (as is my time in NYC thus far).