Hey folks! It is October and the beginning of Fall. Except, it sure doesn’t feel like it here in Southern California. We’re getting 90 degree weather, and the Santa Ana winds are blowing hot and heavy. Seriously? It almost feels like someplace else I used to live…Anyway, how many of you are hooked on Hallmark? I mean – the Hallmark channel. With Fall and the holiday season approaching, Hallmark is on a roll. Practically every other movie has the descriptive word, “Harvest,” in its title, and tonight they’re featuring a Christmas sneak peek at all 21 world-premiere original movies to be aired during the holidays. I know, like me, you are greatly anticipating this hour-long preview.
Now before you get all judgy, there was a time when I couldn’t stand Hallmark movies. I get it – they’re incredibly sappy, overly romantic, and let’s be honest, utterly unrealistic. Oh, I forgot to throw in ridiculous. If you’re a guy, you probably have no patience for such nonsense. My husband the other day remarked, “You just love watching white people fall in love.” Hmm. I wasn’t quite sure, initially, how to process that comment. Was it funny, was it an insult, sarcastic for sure, and I had to admit, there was some truth to it. I confess, I love mindless, romantic, fluff that has a happy ending and no one gets killed. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Law & Order SVU, This Is Us, and The Gifted, but sometimes, I just need a break from reality. Yea, that’s what I’ll call it – Hallmark is a break from reality. The fact that a lot of white people act in most, okay, all of the network’s movies hasn’t really bothered me – that much?
I mean, let’s face it, I think like a white person, talk like a white person, act like a white person. What does that mean exactly? If I didn’t look Asian, you’d probably never know the difference. When people meet me for the first time, they sometimes say, “Wow, you don’t have any accent. You’re English is so good.” Well, I grew up in a white family, surrounded by white people in a mostly white community. And get this, when I lived in the South, I actually had a southern accent. I learned in subtle and not so subtle ways, that white was privileged. I was fine with that for many years. I wanted to be white so bad, I lied about where I was born to my peers, I dyed my hair so that I looked less Asian, and yet I never quite felt white enough. Well, duh. I hated the fact that my eyelids were so small compared to my beautiful, white girlfriends. And then one day, much, much later in my life, I started to come out of the fog – if you’re an adoptee, you get what I mean. I realised that the Asian self I loathed needed some love and nurture. It took a really long time and a lot of digging down deep into my core, but I began to slowly embrace the me I always loathed. I searched for my birth family in Taiwan and eventually reunited with them. I learned about Taiwan’s history and clung to the little I learned about my birth parents. I went back to my country of origin and walked the streets of the city of my birth. It was freeing, healing, exhilarating – I could add a million more “ing” words to describe what that connect was like. And yet, because I was uprooted from my birth country, I will never fully embody its culture, customs, language. I’m not Asian enough in some communities, too white. And in others, I’m not white enough.
So being a Taiwanese-American adoptee is a dichotomy. I’m Taiwanese, yet have a very hard time connecting to my roots here in the U.S., much to my dismay. Recently, I started listening to Pimsleur CDs on my way to work to learn Mandarin. I’m not a very strong auditory learner, however. I was concentrating so hard on pronunciation and remembering what was just spoken that I got a pretty intense headache. And I nearly rear ended the guy in front of me. I’ll have to listen and learn in a less distracting environment. What I’m trying to say is, my husband’s comment struck an uncomfortable chord. I know that Hallmark is about as white, American, apple pie as it gets. It’s a struggle to manage being of two vastly different cultures at times – and unfortunately, connecting to one more than the other – and not of my own choosing or doing. As much as I want to connect more deeply to my Taiwanese roots, there are so many barriers.
So, what are ways that you connect to your culture of origin? Is it as maddening for you as it is for me? I’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, I’m going to return to watching Hallmark. It’s easy; it’s comfortable; it’s mindless. And Lord knows, we have enough complicated in our lives as adoptees to last a lifetime, so give me a break. And btw, I do love Korean and Taiwanese dramas. If you have any good recommendations, do send – my favourites are Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter. Yea, I know, I’m justifying my addiction to watching Hallmark…Shameless.