kidnap poem

By Nikki Giovanni

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you wrap you
in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i’d kid
nap you

My first time

It’s quite a funny story, you know.

“She looks like Mrs. Chin!” I could hear whispers multiple times throughout the day. Perhaps to a young middle school student who has around 3 other Asian schoolmates total and one Korean American teacher, I looked like Mrs. Chin’s twin. But to any other Asian person, it was like saying I looked like Trini from the Power Rangers. In other words, I look nothing like her other than also having an Asian face. By no means was I offended, nor was I preparing a long, comprehensive sit-down lecture about the oppressive and racist implications behind these children’s statements. I knew it was going to happen, and I was ready to slowly make my way into their lives as Ms. Su, the student teacher. Not the Asian student teacher, but just the student teacher.

Today, the Chinese teacher didn’t show up to teach her very first Mandarin class. The principal, faculty, and staff all asked me, “Do you speak Chinese? Do you speak Chinese? Please go teach the Chinese class!” They didn’t even ask if I actually spoke Mandarin, just “Chinese.”

So, I taught my first official class, asked to do so literally 2 minutes after the starting bell rang. I can’t read or write characters, so I taught a classroom full of white, black, and Latino&Latina kids the four tones, and had them pronounce ni hao (ma), jai jien, xie xie, and laoshi. It was, by far, the most fun hour I could have imagined.

Afterward, every time I entered a classroom or walked down a hall, I would hear someone excitedly yell, “Ms. Su, ni hao!” and “Xie xie Laoshi!” and “Ni hao ma, Laoshi!” Out of context, you’d think this school was full of ignorant and racist children, and that I was the most passive and discriminated student teacher. It’s still so hilarious to me, the irony of how it all happened. I’m so excited to hear another atrociously pronounced, American accent-ridden “Ni hao!” tomorrow. Because of course, they had all forgotten the four tones the second they ran out of class.

Lyon

I am from invisible Power Ranger battles
always fighting with my little brother.
I am from stolen glimpses of my mother’s
red eyes and wet cheeks in the bathroom mirror,
Of my father’s crescendoing voice coming down the hall.

I am from blonde wavey hair and big blue eyes,
hearing about their soccer games and sleepovers.
I am from failed attempts to do my makeup
like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
I am from failed attempts to do my makeup
like Lucy Liu and… Lucy Liu.

I am from my own dreams,
created and birthed in secrecy on my own bed.
I am from conditional parenting with unconditional love.

I am from the discovery of the color Yellow,
and how it fits in with red, white, and blue.
I am from the East and the West,
and now from the West to the East.

Under my bed, there is nothing
In a room I have just placed my displaced self.
I plan to keep a box below, as I
Redream, rebirth, remain myself upon my bed.

Lola & Clarence

Eric: Did you have any REAL food for dinner?
Me: Yes, I had a full turkey sandwich and a bag of potato chips for dinner, I promise
Eric: Good, or else I’ll throw mac and cheese through your window

I don’t know what I would do without him here with me.

New York City

In order to spare you all of a ten-page essay as well as the fact that I owe it to my friends and family who have been asking me about life in the Big Apple so far, I will resort to listing:

1. NYC is not exactly “mean,” it’s just blunt and refuses to suck up to anyone. When they’re nice to you, they mean it. When they want you to get out of the way, they tell it. Personally, I’ve encountered more people who have completely appalled me with their rudeness and disrespect in Orange County, because at least in New York, I’ve definitely met [less] people who react out of a sense of self-entitlement.

2. In relation to my first point, Raffy said it perfectly when he described New Yorkers as being just as nice as they are mean. I’ve had more genuine, sincere, honest conversations with strangers in grocery stores, subways, parks, and sidewalks in the last two weeks than all my 14 years in Irvine (the city, not the college). It reminds me of Vegas in that aspect!

3. I’m almost done with a book that I’m reading voluntarily for the first time since the last Harry Potter book came out (I am dead serious). Why? Because as fast-paced as this city can get, I also find myself relaxed and alone (in a good way) very often, like sitting in a train, lying in the grass in Central Park, or waiting at a bus stop. I’ve had more moments of peace and quiet here than I did in California, so much more that I’m actually reading. Who’da thunk?

4. I am in awe and will most likely remain in awe for the duration of my stay in New York (however long that may be) at the fact that, no matter where you are in Manhattan, you could be walking by a dumpy street corner that smells like urine, then you’re suddenly walking by a string of multimillion dollar apartments, then you’re walking by the cutest row of mom-and-pop restaurants&bars, and then you’re abruptly strolling past a giant 200-year-old cathedral, all within 5 minutes. “Boring” and “dull” do not exist here in these parts.

5. The food here is unbelievable. I don’t know what else to say. Everyday I’ve eaten something that has made me want to cry out of pure ecstasy.

6. I am so humbled and appreciative of the friends who have taken care of me from the moment I got here. People who unconditionally befriended Eric and me immediately over the unspoken bond that yes, we may not have been the closest of friends in California, but we’re all in New York now, and friends stick together and help each other out. Elaine, Tim, Connie, Ambreen, Sarah, Laura, Minh-Vy, James, even Jimmy, Melody, and Grace who I haven’t physically met up with yet, as well as friends who aren’t even in New York but are on the east coast like Sarah Bana, Christina, Jeff, Diana, Albert, Eric Ly.. and so many more people that I may have forgotten (I apologize!). I am beyond grateful and blessed.

7. To end on a lucky number, this last point will be… *drumroll please* PHOTOS! I finally got my memory card adaptor 🙂 Enjoy! I’ll be uploading the rest onto Facebook tomorrow.

Until next time…

No apologies

The main reason for what seems like the premature abandonment of this blog isn’t because I’m over it already, but because I just didn’t know what to write. I didn’t want this to be a Let-me-list-what-I-did-today blog, because I think that’s the function of Twitter, Facebook statuses, Foursquare, Yelp, etc. Yet, as each day passed and I felt more and more acclimated with my new home, I still didn’t know what to write, other than literal accounts of my actions. In a way, it almost makes my ~2.5 weeks here seem somewhat robotic and lacking of feelings, and it wasn’t until today that I realized that actually, they were.

Of course, my time here so far has been a good experience, but subconsciously, I was stagnating my emotions in order to hold back the one emotion that I didn’t want to feel, but was there and growing with each day: fear. Underneath all of the fun I’ve been having, the triumphs of figuring out the different metro lines, the amazing adventures my palette has been experiencing every single day, the confirmations that I’m socially capable to have amazing times in NYC bars & nightlife outings… lie the fear and insecurities.

I’m terrified of not only failing at being a teacher, but also hating being a teacher. I’m terrified that all of my classmates will be infinitely smarter than I am. I’m terrified that I will meet students pursuing Masters and PhDs in journalism, creative writing, English literature, leaving me with feelings of regret and inadequacy, because I’m merely learning how to teach all of that on a high school level. I’m terrified that I will befriend business, economics, computer science, chemistry graduate students who will all graduate into 6-figure jobs, leaving me behind to scramble for any job. I’m scared that at the end of this Master of Arts journey, I will simply let out a deep sigh and admit defeat to everyone (and oh, how many there were) who told me, “You know you’re not going to make any money, right? You’re going to school to be… a teacher?”

I’m scared of regret, and I’m scared of failure. And to take one step further: I’m scared of hurting my pride. I’m scared of being humbled as a small fish in a big pond. Because let’s be honest, as important and essential as humility is, the process of being humbled really hurts. It’s supposed to hurt, because a part of your self, your prideful self, is dying, being chopped off, and then disposed of. Good, yes. Excruciating, yes.

I’m questioning whether or not I should be publishing this entry as it is. Not because I’m embarrassed about what I’ve just written, but more because I also wanted my first entry to have photographs as a way to say, “So maybe I’ve been neglecting this blog, but oooh look at all the pretty pictures!” But that entry will have to wait for another day or two because I’m still waiting for my DLSR’s memory card adaptor to come in the mail. So until then, I will speak to you all very soon, and thank you for joining me on this journey.