Day 244: The Man and the Last Cowboy in Texas; ‘Nuance’

How crazy is this, y’all? A movie review that might actually be helpful for a recent movie! I saw Logan in theatres on opening day with a friend on her birthday. No usual three week lag here.


Logan Header

I didn’t like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine when it all started. I saw the first X-Men movie in 2000 and I thought he was too rough around the edges, too wild. The first four iterations in the X-Men film series were all to me, catastrophically abysmal. X-Men, X-2: X-Men United, X-3: The Last Stand, and X-Men:Origins Wolverine were all terrible movies and for the most part, I blamed Hugh Jackman.

Aside from a few other majorly integral parts (Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto), Hugh Jackman was the only one to stick with the series through the entirety of its identity crisis, and, thankfully, eventual successful rebirth starting with X-One Last TimeMen: First Class. And I’m so glad he did. What I have come to realize is that the reason why Hugh Jackman and his particular Logan character stuck out so prominently in my mind and drew so much of my ire is because he was a strong presence. Too strong in weak movies with weak counterparts. I thought I despised him for disrupting the order and discipline of James Marsden’s leadreship as Cyclops. I wanted to blame him for the disastrously misguided romance with Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey. The truth is, what we were really watching was the attempts and efforts of a very strong and capable and independent character trying to break completely free and escape from the banality of these weak, PG-restricted Degrassi-fied superhero movies. (I only had to suffer through Famke Janssen’s god-awful parenting in Taken to fully cement how much I despise her characters.)

Hugh Jackman and Logan have been trying to find their natural habitat for a very long time. He has brought as much action and grit and violence and true reality to the X-Men movies as he possibly can but he’s constantly been constrained and restricted by ratings and audiences. I’ve no doubt he’s had an incredible time playing the toughest baddest rootin’ tootin’est mutant in the West ever, but he’s really been wanting to flesh out his character and give him some real life.

Logan finally gives him that chance to shine and god, what a spectacle it was. This is the Wolverine we’ve been waiting for. The kind of Dark Knight re-envisioning that puts real weight and humility into a superhero.

I don’t want to give too much away here. The movie deals with the excesses of superheroes and mutants in such a light but effective way that really it would be misleading to frame this in much the same way as its predecessors. This is truly a movie to stand on its own and to appreciate on its own merit. For those who want it to fit into and tie in with the rest of the series’ canon, rest assured that it does, though it doesn’t insist upon doing so nor does it apologize for its position. Just remember folks, I’m totally fine with it, but you asked for this to be in your timeline.

Logan is not-so-surprisingly grim and heavy, but what is surprising is how oddly…refreshing it feels amidst the lineup of either way too serious or way too silly superhero movies. It’s a fine balance between the suddenly overly-dramatic Power Rangers and way too casually silly ‘we’re saving the universe here people’ Guardians of the Galaxy XMen ComicsVol. 2. James Mangold is no stranger to Wolverine’s story, having directed The Wolverine back in 2013. Nor is he new to the world of the gritty country and western feel of Logan. He directed both Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma. But I mean, like, he also directed Knight and Day and Kate and Leopold so really, I don’t know what this guy knows. I do know that this movie feels and looks unlike any superhero film out there. And I think this is important. Logan is not, for better or for worse, an actual superhero film. Hugh Jackman is not a superhero. There is no outfit. There is no call or cry for help. There really even isn’t a supervillain, per se. Oh, and I thought this was hilarious, this isn’t even some post-apocalyptic wasteland either. Despite what the trailers might have you believe, it’s just Texas. Not even like, post-war Texas. Just Texas. And it’s only like thirty years in the future. Texas just looks that bad.

Yes there are a good number of action sequences, but don’t let this fool you into taking this at face value as another action movie. This is about much more than that. It’s about the unbearable weight of hope versus the unstoppable force of time and indifference. It’s about being very much mortal and wrestling that mortality with the responsibility and ability to contribute. No one wants to be who they are, where they are, or in the circumstances they find themselves in. But somehow someway Logan finds ways to give these characters hope and purpose in a world that frankly, has no time or room for people like that anymore. It’s a powerful message, one very much relevant right now. Right now it is becoming increasingly more important for the collective small voices, who on their own are insignificant and not worth considering, to face the tempting luxury of indifference and ignorance and rise against much more powerful forces.

And please don’t forget, this is not a kids’ movie. Logan earns every bit of its R rating. It is the only way to truly effectively portray this honestly incredibly powerful tribute, salute, and eulogy to one of the best personifications of a character I have ever seen over a 17 year long run. Hugh Jackman truly has been the Wolverine for longer than some people have been themselves. He has hinted to the possibilities of reprising his role in future movies provided they continue to allow him this room for pain and grit and struggle. Logan finally feels like home for the Wolverine we’ve seen running wild and searching for so long. Logan is not afraid to be very real with how it treats its characters nor does it shy away from the pain and the loss. So no, in terms of action or heroes, this is not that movie. It isn’t full of easter eggs and fun nods to other series or teasers for the future. It isn’t a collage of ‘who would it be fun to see’ like past movies rushing to fill in as many loved characters as possible. Aside from its characters, it doesn’t have the nuances of the mutant films of the past. Logan is, very much like the Wolverine itself, a lone wolf running parallel to the pack. And one of the greatest endorsements for this movie that I can give, is that when it was done, a young mother with an even younger child, turned to me during the credits in a face of shock, and said ‘I’m a terrible parent’. Well yeah, lady. This ain’t your kid’s superhero film anymore.

Bad Parent

Day 244

Man: 211 Loneliness: 33

Day 243: The Man and the Working for Love; ‘Nervous’

So a couple days ago I wrote about how nervous I was to approach my boss about trying to seek a promotion or new position somewhere in our company. In that post I wrote about the relationship between employer and employee and how different it was from say, when my parents were working for companies and even more so from when their parents were working. It got me thinking to the time around three months ago when I was coming in late to work, generally disinterested and unmotivated, and my boss pulled me into the same room I used to speak with her to ask me if I still ‘loved it here’. And between those two experiences I started to think about work and how it relates to relationships and love and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

I think it’s very interesting that the question of ‘love’ has any sort of bearing or relevance Spongbob Workwhen it comes to work. You know this blog really started from a place of love. Of missing love, wanting love, and seeking love but firstly, of working to define what it is to ‘love’ and what we want when we say we want ‘love’. And when my boss asked me that question I was so taken aback and so insulted that she could have the audacity to relate such an important and integral aspect of the human experience to something as paltry and pedantic as my 9 to 5. Love my job?! I don’t have to love my job! I have to do it, do it damn well, and leave it at the end of the day. That’s my work and that’s about as much responsibility and affection as I can stomach or muster for this.

I would never, ever, agree to the idea that one should ‘love’ what they do. I know full well that the reality of life is that there are many people who are in jobs they don’t love, but they do it for the ones they do. All work is noble, but certainly not lovable. This is not some mind-blowing revelation, nor is it anything to be sad about. When my father first arrived in the US he was a gas station attendant. My mother was a phone salesman for a rug company. I look at my friends and I know for a fact that they all almost immediately ‘turn off’ at 5. Sometimes earlier. Hell, I’ve been known to sneak out of the office at 2 or 3 in the afternoon if I know no one needs me or is looking for me. But just because we aren’t in love with what we do doesn’t mean we are any sadder or that our lives are any less complete. For the most part, we are in successful, consistent, and reliable gainful employment that allows us to save for our future, enjoy our present, and share with the ones we love. There is nothing to be disappointed in being able to do all that just because we aren’t skipping and singing to work every morning. So no, I don’t love what I do, but I’m not discouraged by that fact and I’m not sad for it. This shouldn’t be a necessity to do good in whatever it is that we do.

But, I have come to realize that, just like in everything else, having love for your work can certainly be an asset and an improvement. Love is a motivation and an inspiration. Some of the greatest and most successful innovations in any industry have either come from a Elf Workvery deep-rooted sense of professionalism and business acumen or from a place of pure love for the work or the product. In the long run one could even argue that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, one from the other. Employees who feel love in their work are often more motivated, more enthusiastic, and yes more loyal. There is always room for love in the workplace, for the workplace, as an effective business asset. But I would be wary to ever put any credence or value in the oft-quoted and very untrue expression ‘if you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life’. This is a lie, best buried in the graveyard of Instagram cliches. Love is work. To maintain, to grow, to find, and to keep. So if you are fortunate enough to do what you love or love what you do, you’ll know that it takes just as much if not more work, but you will find it personally and professionally satisfying.

When love becomes part of the supposed compensation, this can also be a problem. When I was a teacher, I often heard from other teachers and family and friends that ‘we [teachers] don’t do it for the money, we do it for love’.

Pardon my French, but FUCK that.

Doing something strictly for ‘love’ makes you two things. Dumb and poor. There’s no reason why, if you provide a valuable service, you shouldn’t also expect an equally valuable form of FOB Check.gifcompensation. This sentimental argument has been used to keep some professions down and make them feel bad for trying to change their status. There’s no denying that there is a higher sense of purpose and calling for those who decide to pursue education. It is a grueling, often times thankless occupation, but it is a pillar of society to create and improve future generations. Teachers are some of the most valuable and selfless members of our community. As such, we find it so easy to take advantage of their giving natures. We question their expertise, undermine their authority, and when it’s time to start ‘trimming the fat’ so to speak, we are quick to put them on the block first. Simultaneously, teachers have so embedded into themselves this sense of selfless sacrifice that they feel uncomfortable or awkward asking for more. They can, and often times do, sacrifice their financial security and prosperity because they believe the love they have, for their profession, their students, their subject, is more important. But you can’t eat love, now can you? So many want to convince us that doing what we love and loving what we do is so essential, but at the same time these same people want to take advantage of the love we do have for our work to undercut our compensation. Listen, maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to love what I do. And maybe one day I’ll do something for the love of it. But definitely this day, one day, and for every day in the future, I will need to be compensated.

I think if we talk a bit now about the relationship we have with our jobs and our employers, we can see why ‘love’ became such a hot topic to begin with. I believe there was a time when the relationship between employer and employee was actually very much akin to the relationship of two lovers. There was a time when being ‘married to the job’ was true in more than one sense. It used to be a person could come into the same place of work every day for their entire life and know that a) their job was secure b) their pay was fair and c) their future was being provided for. My father hung his hat on the same hook for over Temple Grandintwenty years. Back then I think companies took a much more honest and caring approach to their employees. You didn’t think about hopping from one company to another. Compensation, opportunity, and security could all be found right where you were. You used to get gold pens and watches on work anniversaries, and a retirement was like losing a family member. 9 to 5 is 8 hours of your day. That’s 1/3. Five times a week, 50 weeks a year (minus vacation of course), that’s 2000 hours or 1/4 of your year. When you spend upwards of twenty or thirty years in the same place, you start to build actual relationships. And you might as well, because you’re going to be here a while. So much of our work culture and language are interchangeable with family and married life. Being ‘married to the job’. Having a ‘work wife’ or ‘work husband’. Meeting your significant other through work was much more common. Granted, so was meeting the person you’d eventually have an affair with but, hey, it all comes with the territory. The point was, you could realistically spend a good portion of your life in this one place. Work was like a second family or a first wife (or husband, whatever). In this marriage-relationship you knew that the two parties were equally responsible but for different things. You cared for the company, and it in turn cared for you. Work for reward. Security for loyalty. For a very long time the relationship between employee and employer was one akin to marriage.

I don’t see that nowadays. I see a complete and utter lack of concern or interest from employers to employees. There is a deep-rooted sense of ingratitude on both ends I think, that causes both parties to distrust each other and so relations deteriorate. Employees still Lucy Workwant very much of the same thing. Security, good pay, benefits. The major difference now is that with much more job mobility and flexibility, when an employee realizes he or she isn’t getting these needs met, we have more freedom to get up and leave. So retention goes down. Loyalty goes down. In turn, companies start to mistrust their employees and invest less value in them. We’ve turned companies into stepping stones and companies have in turn turned us into interchangeable parts. I don’t know of a single person in my generation who has worked in the same company for longer than three years. And don’t get me wrong, I fully realize I am part of this problem. I too am currently looking for a new and better position and yes, I am not opposed to the idea of leaving this company. I just recently hit two years and I’m looking around and seeing how many faces are different and whose faces are the same and I fear I am not smart enough to leave yet and I don’t want to be the last rat off a sinking ship.

I think companies are trying real hard to throw the wool over our eyes too. Yes, my company has a bar and free drinks every first Friday of the month. We have barbecues and outdoor parties in spring and summer. I did a slip ‘n slide for Christmas. There’s this rampant atmosphere of party and free perks. But I never asked for beers and a beanbag chair. I wanted to be able to work my way up and know my efforts would be recognized and rewarded with further responsibilities and therefore compensation. Companies nowadays are very good at enticing you to get into the door. But they don’t know how to keep us there. It’s all flash and pomp and circumstance but no real substance. At a certain point, companies stopped taking care of us and we stopped taking care of companies. I don’t know which came first but at this point it doesn’t really matter because I see no signs of any sort of improvements or changes to this. It’s hard to love or feel love in a relationship when you know both parties stopped trying a long time ago.

Day 243

Man: 210 Loneliness: 33

 

Day 242: The Man and the Clash of Collaboration; ‘Ruminate’

Group LikeWhen I was in school I always cringed whenever my teachers would assign ‘group projects’. It didn’t matter how old we were, what subject we were in, or how the teacher created or designed the projects. I don’t know what it is about interacting with other human beings, but when it comes to group projects we just never seem to connect, let alone speak the same language.

If you’ve ever been a student or are still in school, I’m sure you can relate to this. The project is assigned and is supposed to be this great opportunity for equal collaboration and contribution. Your teacher optimistically yet naively expounds on the benefits of group work and how this is going to be the project that actually holds every member accountable.

Yeah right.

You know better. You know how this is going to go down. You meet up with your group for the first time and go over the assignment. All four of you have equally different yet Project Graphcredible and legitimate interpretations of where this project should go. You try to negotiate and compromise, but you can already feel this project being pulled four different ways. You realize your schedules don’t line up for the rest of the project timeline so you divvy up the parts and just hope and pray that when you all meet up again the day before the project is due that everyone has done their part. All noble intentions aside, you create more of a Frankenstein’s monster-esque project of loosely connected disparate parts than a finely tuned melange of ingredients that melt and meld together. More than half the time, by the end when all is said and done, some members will have disappeared altogether, others who mean well have absolutely no clue what’s going on, you’ve got still others who insist on either being backseat drivers or passive-aggressively shooting down all contributions, and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get paired with someone who at least brings snacks.

The point is, group projects are hot messes. And so it is with the Hong Kong/Hollywood mashup collaboration project The Great Wall. With a $135 million budget, one of China’s greatest and most prolific directors and master visual storytellers, screen legends like Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, and Matt Damon, The Great Wall would be China’s largest and most expensive film project ever. And much like any other group project I’ve been in or witnessed, it can have individual parts that truly shine but overall, it feels too disjointed and misdirected to create a cohesive successful movie.

First impression as you start watching The Great Wall, Zhang Yimou very clearly put his distinctive style into the direction of the movie. The movie is almost always consistently visually stunning and appealing. From the bright orange sands of the Gobi desert to the brilliantly colored soldiers of the Nameless Order, from a visual standpoint The Great Wall is gorgeous. Color has always been an important element to storytelling with Zhang Yimou’s films. I remember the bright red scarf of Zhang Ziyi’s scarf in The Road Home. The gold in the clothing, uniforms, and poison in Curse of the Golden Flower. Color was a means of separating chapters, stories, and perspectives in his epic Hero. So too is the case in The Great Wall and it works beautifully. Each division of the army, with its own particular skill sets and responsibilities and roles, is designated by the color of their uniforms. It makes the chaos of battle look like a living breathing piece of art, a constantly shifting abstract piece. No one is as purposeful or conscious of the use of color and wide roaming shots as Zhang Yimou.

Commander Lin.jpgThe direction of the movie is very much in keeping with the tradition of Chinese epics, of which I have always been a fan. When I was younger I saw Warriors of Heaven and Earth and Musa the Warrior (which by the way, was a hugely successful collaboration film between China and South Korea). No one does grand-scale battle and historical epic drama quite like the Chinese. I highly recommend the very very long but well worth it Red Cliff. There is a theatrical cut around three hours but the original is actually a two-part three hour long each epic of which I would readily and happily devote a full day to watching again and again. So in those moments when Zhang Yimou and the almost entirely Chinese cast and crew are left to do what is the trademark of their cinema style, I Nameless Generalsam in awe. The battle scenes are wild but have a rhythm and pace to them that is still very much aware of how to tell a story. Female warriors in blue armor swan-diving into the battle, red archers firing red arrows into a sea of monsters, black armor and red blood dancing. Giant trebuchets, flaming projectiles, beautifully ornate ballistas, as an action epic The Great Wall is incredible.

The problem of course, is that it is not just a Chinese epic. It is supposed to be a collaboration. Standing on its own with its own cast and crew, this movie could have been one of the best modern Chinese action epics. But somehow in someway, they need to fit in Matt Damon.

Matt DamonI’m not even discrediting Matt Damon for this. Honestly I think he did his best but his role and credibility in everything is just so questionable. For starters, historically speaking I think it would make no sense to anyone why someone with an American accent would be walking around ancient China. A Spaniard, like his partner, could make sense, and we would absolutely expect perhaps an Italian like Marco Polo. Hell, I’ll even take a British or French knight. Somehow Matt Damon manages to not be any of them, though at sporadic, random times in the movie I could swear he was trying desperately to affect some sort of accent. Just didn’t make sense. I think he was going for Irish at one point.

Matt Damon’s interactions with the other characters pull the movie into different and conflicting directions. His strangely rushed and lacking any sort of context immediate flirtatious relationship with Commander Lin pulls us into awkward uncomfortable romance territory. Why does every action movie with a woman have to give her a love interest. Why can’t men and women kick butt together and be done with it. I’m looking at Pacific Rim for perhaps being the only movie brave enough to do this. When he’s with his Spanish companion I feel I’m watching a Lethal Weapon buddy cop ‘I’m too old for this shit’ action-comedy. They are way too sarcastic and snarky and casual around each other in the face of battle. Constantly exchanging derivatively sarcastic hero one-liners while exchanging blows. I fear this is what will make Avengers: Infinity War insufferable.

Overall, as a longtime Asian cinemaphile, I did actually enjoy this movie for when it could be as true to its roots as possible. There are some incredible battle scenes and Zhang Yimou’s direction and style are refreshing in the muted colors and blue/orange action hues of common Hollywood action films. No spoilers, but I do wish that a movie called The Great Wall spent the majority of its action at the actual wall. The siege scenes and technology Leaf Projectwere brilliant. I didn’t think they needed to relocate for the third act. I think for the right audience The Great Wall could be a great film. I know it is pretty much set to lose money, which is a shame. I think it didn’t know what it was trying to be, and I think it missed its audience. This is not your typical Hollywood brawler. There are real elements essential to Asian cinema here. I think somewhere in the future there could really be the potential for a truly successful and effective collaboration between the two largest cinema powers in the world. I’m imagining a 1940s gangster film maybe set in British-controlled Hong Kong. The truth is there was no need for two white guys to be running on top of the Great Wall of China but I wish that that does not become the reason why these two do not try again in the future. I wouldn’t be afraid of one misstep, especially if hopeful studios have already begun lining up some interesting prospects.

Oh, and before I forget, I do want to ruminate if just for a little bit about the claims of ‘whitewashing’ in this film. Okay look, if you want to talk about the very clear and apparent lack of Asian lead roles, that’s all well and fine and good. Ghost in the Shell definitely raises eyebrows. Doctor Strange is reasonably objectionable. But do not include Great Wall in this. I have no ill will towards Matt Damon. And you can’t whitewash a film that was produced, directed, staffed, and almost entirely funded, by the Chinese. Honestly, if anything, I felt that the Chinese parts and story were too strong and too independent to really include Matt Damon. He is, in my view, an extra. I believe the story could have successfully resolved without him, and every character and force was strongly portrayed to the point of it never feeling like Matt Damon was their white savior. Last Samurai, anyone? The guy was basically running around saying either ‘look what I can do’ or ‘what can I do’. His presence highlighted one very critical and essential piece of thinking though, especially nowadays. And that is, when you have been doing the same thing in a vacuum for hundreds of years, a fresh perspective is not only beneficial, it is necessary. What we saw here was how Hollywood wanted to sell The Great Wall to us. Matt Damon makes a lot more sense than Zhang Hanyu to a lot of people here. But this is what they were selling in China.

Chinese Wall

Notice the difference?

Day 242

Man: 209 Loneliness: 33

Day 241: The Man and the Swarm of Nerves; ‘Swarm’

Jesus Christ that had me nervous. Haven’t had my heart pounding like that in a long time. I think the greatest fear I had was not that she wouldn’t be supportive or anything, but that she would take this to mean I was a flight risk and try to get rid of me first. I wish I could say that this would have been a completely irrational and baseless fear but…knowing my boss and the company, it really isn’t. Let’s face it, nowadays the relationship of trust and longevity between employer and employee is just nonexistent. Gone are the days when a man could loyally, securely, and prosperously come to work for the same company his entire life and retire with a party and a gold watch. I don’t think it’s entirely companies’ fault though. Somewhere along the line there must have been a very serious disconnect between what employees needed out of their employers and what employers felt they were responsible for providing to their employees. We wanted competitive salaries, job security, and benefits. We got bean bag chairs, free drinks, and Taco Tuesdays. What I wanted to firstly portray to my boss when I sat down with her was that this request for some new position, a better role, more involvement and therefore more pay, was coming out of a place of satisfaction and loyalty. This was not an ultimatum. At least, not yet. I was worried my boss would take this as a threat and rather than negotiate or try and help, she would nip it in the bud and get rid of me. After all, this is why if you are ever looking for an external job opportunity while employed somewhere, it is almost always exclusively recommended to not allow potential hirers contact your current workplace. No one wants someone on their payroll they feel would be a flight risk.

Luckily I got that through very very quickly and clearly. I would be more than happy to stay in the same company and continue my path here but I do need to take the next step. Of course, I mentioned Canada. But, explaining my situation (no debt, no place of my own, no real ties here), I wanted to be open to anything and everything, everywhere. Wanted to check with her schedule first to make sure I didn’t swarm her before a meeting or something.

‘Firstly, I want you to know that this comes from a place of love.’

Thought I’d start on a humorous note. Luckily she got the joke because that line was just really awkward and cringey but it’s fun to lean into the curve like that.

I told her I’m happy, but I’m starting to look for new opportunities and new involvement. And while I’m not writing now about being shipped off to Canada, I did get a few glimmers of hope.

First off, Canada is in fact in serious need of training and development. Unfortunately, they just don’t have it in the budget to create a brand new position and add a new person. And the person they do have, struggling as she might, is still going to be the face of change up there. But, because they do need help, they will be sending us (me) there in the near future. So I do get to go, just not permanently. Still, company funded travel. I’m game.

Second, with all of the extra workload of helping Canada, there is room in the budget for us in our department for more pay, and my boss did allude to the fact that it would be coming to us (pending approval), but not starting until July (after fiscal year, which makes sense). So in my current position it wouldn’t be much, but there would be a slight increase if I just stick it out four more months.

Third, though she did say she would be sad to see me go and she did vouch for the contributions and skills I give to the department, she is in full support of me looking on our internal job posts for US and international positions. She has said she would have no problem if I were to start looking and seeking positions on my own within the company, which I am currently doing right now. Hahah. Hey that’s US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Philippines, New Zealand, and Australia. I mean someone’s gotta want me, right? God it’s relationships and dating all over again, isn’t it? Hahah.

So it’s on me now. The responsibility and pursuit of opportunity is solely on my own volition. So I’ll continue to search outside and in for something, but it’s good to know I can’t simply rest on my ass anymore and get out there to grab whatever it is looks the juiciest off the branches.

Day 241

Man: 208 Loneliness: 33

Day 238: The Man and the Signs of Bad Fortune?; ‘Desire’

God I really wish I had better news today. But it’s gotten so bad it’s almost to the point of comical. Or I’m delirious.

So taking some of your advice, I didn’t wear my Power Rangers shirt today. Even though it was a new shirt and it had the original MegaZord on it and it looks so cool. I dressed smartly and professionally, with a sweater over a long sleeve button up. It was my favorite outfit back when I was a teacher. Woke up early, had a good breakfast (egg salad sandwich, because you know, no meat Fridays are gonna be a thing for a while), and got to work with six minutes to spare.

And then I turn on my computer. And see the email.

She’s still out sick. My boss decided not to come in again.

Not only that, but one coworker has ‘caught’ the same illness and the other is in Staten Island. Which means I came in to basically having to run the whole show by myself. Could’ve taken my time. Could’ve stopped by some place and gotten myself a coffee. And unlike the past couple days where, like any good worker would do, I just left whenever I desired, I know I have to stay today because of Flash Friday and the bar. I feel like I’ve been held hostage by my hopes and dreams.

It’s not too-too bad. I’ve been watching YouTube videos, catching up on shows on-demand, and since it’s Flash Friday I can walk around the building and count on every department having put out some sort of spread. Hahah. I’m terrible as a ship without a rudder though, because I will absolutely take advantage of the situation.

It’s alright though, because Monday I’ll come in early (again) and look my best (again), maybe I’ll even wear the company tie with my uniform, and I’ll talk to her. She’ll have had the weekend to rest, recuperate, and I’m sure she’ll be in a better mood.

Right? Right? Right?!

Well…

Then IT happened.

I’ve been closely monitoring all of our support pages and doing a pretty damn good job answering the requests as soon as they pop up. I mean we’re talking milliseconds of delay. But one happened to slip by me. A consultant wanting to know if we had Spanish versions of our forms to give to clients who did not speak English. Okay, no big deal, we don’t and it isn’t our responsibility, but I see my BOSS has already answered much to the same effect. No, sorry, not company policy, etc.

Consultant wants to know what our ‘work around’ is for this.

Okay well to be honest we don’t have one, and I do feel like it shouldn’t be our responsibility to have to accommodate in this way. In a lot of ways our consultants are their own businesses and need to take on their own responsibility by either insisting that clients come in person or offer to translate over the phone. As a child of immigrants, I know they taught themselves how to assimilate and recognized of their own volition the necessity of knowing the native language in order to succeed and work. I believe anyone with the desire can do the same.

But you know, I’d say it diplomatically. My very fiery tempered and short-fused boss said something to the effect of ‘get a translator or buck up’.

I’m watching this with my jaw on the floor because this exchange is getting out of hand. And anyone who knows my boss would have stopped right here and we’d all just go on our merry way.

But no, this crazy woman from some random store in the country who only works part-time and doesn’t know when or where to shut up has to get a word in edgewise along the lines of ‘oh well I think that was very offensive and I think you should take that down because if someone out of this company saw this you would be in much more trouble than you can handle’.

Oh. My. God. Her hair is probably on fire right now. I’m going to be stuck in this chair for the rest of my life.

The ENTIRE exchange has since been taken down with no record of it existing (except for the screenshot I saved because, well, this was hilarious). But there is no way she’s in a pleasant mood right now and I have no idea what the weekend is going to do. Thanks a lot DEBORAH. What kind of crazy amount of damage control am I going to have to do. And I swear to god if my boss’s son loses his hockey game this weekend it’s all over. I have to take a heavy interest in this woman’s personal life now because who knows what mood I’ll be dealing with when I go ‘hey I want to improve my life’. She’s probably wringing her hands together right now over a cauldron plotting revenge.

So like, what am I supposed to take away from all this?! Four days of trying to talk to her, four days of missed chances because she’s sick. And on the last day there is this crazy Workplace exchange/meltdown. Am I fortuitous that I didn’t try to ask her today before she got completely derailed, or is this further sign of avoiding this conversation? What in the world is happening right now?! I will have to tread very, very, very lightly on Monday. Oh my god. I don’t even know when the next good opportunity is. I can’t tell if I dodged a bullet or got loaded into a cannon.

I’m going to drown my sorrows in drinks at work, and then I’m going to hang out with a friend and her strange group of friends and watch Logan. And if they quit on me early, I’ll go out and just keep it going by myself. This has been a strange week.

Day 238

Man: 205 Loneliness: 33

Day 237: The Man and the Signs of Change; ‘Doubt’

Yesterday was kind of a giant word dump so I’ll make this short and sweet. Thanks to everyone who stuck it out til the end of my rant yesterday. Hahah.

Maybe it’s the spring weather here but I’m beginning to get a bit itchy for change. Could be allergies though. But I doubt it.

In its most basic form, this blog, this yearlong journey, has always been at its core, about change. Changing my attitude, changing my perspective, changing who I am. And now I’m starting to look towards other aspects of my life that have been constant and wondering if it’s time to change them too.

I haven’t been to my martial arts school in a month. I can’t quite place when it happened kung fubut this thought started to creep over me that if I were to reflect on my growth in the school, while I may know the forms and the stances and the poses, I’m not much of a better martial artist. The school is centered more around martial arts as a means of wellness. Which is all well and good. There are multiple studies proving the beneficial effects of tai chi and other martial arts in terms of longevity, flexibility, stress, and even digestion and circulation. But I don’t want to deny the nature and origin of martial arts. That is, to be able to fight. Not to pick a fight, but to defend oneself and others. I’ve been looking at schools in the nearby area and I’ve found a few that are a bit more towards that focus without sacrificing the awareness, meditation, and reflective nature as well. It’s a bit of yin and yang really. I’m starting to feel this need to shift.

Of course, I’ve been thinking more often about my friends and the time I spend with them and the things we do. I’m beginning to compile a list of the things I want to do or see or experience in spring and I’m already seeing a good number of them that my friends will friend needprobably not go for. I don’t feel like pressuring them into something they don’t want to do, I can’t make them change. As much as I want to shake the thirst for life and adventure into them, I have to respect and acknowledge that they are secure in themselves and that they are who they are. Some I can very well do on my own, and might even prefer it because at least I know I’ll enjoy and won’t be distracted. Others, I really wish I had some people to go with. So maybe in two weeks when I make another four-week planner, I’ll start putting in time to meet with some other local groups of similar interests or use apps like meetup to find people.

Mainly though, I’ve been thinking about my current job. The activity and demand has significantly decreased as of late, and an idle mind is the devil’s playground after all. I don’t think my free time has led me to evil thoughts or anything but I have been getting pretty lazy and lackadaisical. There’s a part of me that’s wondering if it’s time to request a change of position, but I know I need something that would pay much better too. My one year in this new position isn’t actually up until May, so I thought maybe I should wait until then. But I’ve been hearing rumblings that the system changes we did here are being done in our Canadian branches and they only have one person doing what three of us do here. I am, without trying to sound arrogant, the most experienced and knowledgeable member of our team. My boss constantly comes to me for clarification or assistance, and last week I met with my boss and our Canadian counterpart along with Canada’s president of operations to show them and explain to them how the systems work and what to show and tell our consultants. I’m wondering if there is an opportunity here. But this would be the biggest change of all. If the money and the job were good…would I be willing to really put myself on the line like that? I’d be leaving my friends, leaving the martial arts school, leaving my home, and starting truly anew. But it’s Canada and like, I loooove Canada.

The past two days, I’ve come to work extra early, worn my sharpest, cleanest, and best fitting uniforms, planning on talking to my boss. She’s been out both days sick. Tomorrow is the first Friday of the month, which means casual wear and we open the bar (I’m the company bartender, yes we have a company bar in the lounge). Is that really going to be the best day to talk about some major potential promotion? Should I still pursue it tomorrow or wait? Is this all a sign telling me not to?! I don’t know. But I’m open to suggestions. There’s a part of me that’s wondering if this is supposed to be my new path. I happen to know there are like, waay more Asians in Canada since it’s so much easier to get to, and the martial arts schools are bountiful. So you know, that too. Thoughts about asking heavy questions in jeans and a Power Rangers shirt?

Day 237

Man: 204 Loneliness: 33

 

 

Day 236: The Man and the ‘I’m too angry at this ridiculous dating service to come up with a clever title because, like, SERIOUSLY?!’; ‘Hesitate’

Chan Picture.jpg

If I did videos…if I was a vlogger…I’d be jumping up and down pacing the room with my arms doing wild and erratic undulations foaming at the mouth. But I’m not so I have to figure out how to distill the…shock…disbelief…utter bewilderment…and frustration that is more likely to process its way to my fingertips in the form of hands thrown up in the air in utter surrender into cohesive thoughts. In other words, I’m having a hard time typing because every single time my mind starts to really process this, I basically look like this Jackie Chan meme.

chan-meme

So what has me so riled up?! Of all things, an online dating app. Specifically, a rather new entry aimed at an Asian demographic, eastmeeteast.

eastmeeteast

It’s no surprise that the data spies over at Facebook decided to flood my sidebar with ads for this new dating service. I started seeing them pop up last month but didn’t really pay much attention to it aside from the occasional pictures of some very beautiful Asian women. The ads became more persistent recently and also more…objectionable…so I decided to look into their service a bit more. I did not like what I saw.

The motivation behind the service seemed to be noble enough. When its founder, Mariko Image result for jdateTokioka came up with the idea, it was because she ‘wanted to meet someone who shared [her] culture and language, and could talk to [her] parents’. She went on to say that ‘it was very hard on existing dating sites because they tend to group all Asians together’. And I get that. I can relate to that. I have always dated Asian women because of that convenience and connection of shared cultural experiences and perspectives. It is nice to start off from a very similar background and build off of that, and I do have to agree that when I did use online dating to help me find someone, while there was an option to either specify that you either were Asian or looking for an Asian, you couldn’t really specify any further than that. So you were taking a very large and complicated and diverse geographical, cultural, and ethnic Image result for blackpeoplemeetcategory and reducing it to one and the same. I mean hey, I would love to be able to date a Filipina, but I’ve never been able to just search or at least prioritize being matched up with Filipinas. In much the same way that there is jdate for Jewish singles, BlackPeopleMeet for black singles, why shouldn’t, or rather couldn’t, there be an app or site or service designed specifically to help Asian singles? Noble intentions or pragmatic approaches aside, Mariko was very sensibly and practically addressing a need that was there to be filled.

So you have a product with some real potential to be a valuable and profitable service in EastAd1.jpgthe world. There’s a large audience for it, you just need to make sure you are marketing it properly. And this is the first part that really missed the mark and got me wondering what exactly these people were thinking. Suddenly if I was on Facebook at work and an eastmeeteast ad would appear on my feed I’d have to very quickly and furtively scroll past it lest wandering eyes catch a glimpse and wonder what the hell I was doing. A service meant for Asian singles to meet with Asian singles started to pose itself like those mysteriously vague massage parlor ads you see on the back of bad local newspapers. This is not the kind of picture you want associated with your service and it’s also not the kind of membership you want to advertise having. Suddenly I had to question whether or not this service was even legitimate or if I was being asked to join some sort of strange escort service and the FBI would be knocking on my door. If you have real members who EastAd4.jpgare honestly and genuinely interested in finding a partner, why not highlight them? Instead I feel like they are reducing themselves to the very basest and simplistic stereotypes of ‘yellow fever’. Speaking of which, can an Asian even have ‘yellow fever’ being, you know, ‘yellow’ himself? I feel uncomfortable looking at these ads and considering what kind of service they might actually provide. And it isn’t even a one-off thing. These ads were taken directly off of eastmeeteast’s official Twitter account. These are their ads. This is how they want you to perceive them. I’m even extra careful writing this right now at work because I don’t want people to see the pictures on my page as I type. Again, ugh, what the hell guys? What’s your marketing goal here? When it comes to Asians and especially dating Asians, there are enough stereotypes to have to battle. Pictures like these just continue to eastad2perpetuate them and create unrealistic expectations and depictions on both sides. I want to date an Asian women because of the cultural background, similar experiences and interests, and because in general, I just want to. It really shouldn’t have to go beyond that. I don’t need to be tricked into thinking about those awful and outdated stereotypes of the shy, meek, submissive Asian girl and god help you if you’re trying to convince women that’s what we want either. It does no good especially for a service that is supposed to be even more connected and relevant to this particular community. I also think there’s a very fine difference between being self-aware and being self-defeating. So flat attempts at meta-racial humor like this aren’t funny or show some sort of higher level of awareness. I think it shows that this is a company so far-removed from its intended audience that it mistakes hyperbole and exaggeration for poignancy. This wasn’t cool when Mickey Rooney did it. It’s especially not cool when we’re doing it to ourselves. Again, seriously, I have to remind you that all of these pictures are taken from eastmeeteast itself. I don’t mind the name, eastmeeteast, as it correctly and accuralte depicts the intended seekers and potential matches. I understand, just as anyone else who comes across the app, what it is for. But beyond that, I just want it to be treated like any other dating app, and me to be treated like any other person hoping to find love or at least a connection. Once within the confines of the eastmeeteast world all I would want to expect is a smart, sleek, convenient way of meeting people. Yes they would be Asian and but the matching process should be the same. What are my likes. My dislikes. What do I do for fun. I feel like if I were to sign up it’d gauge my matches based on chopstick skills.

I think the worst thing about the service though is that it continues to perpetuate, profit on, and portray a message about dating Asians that we should really be trying to dissolve or disassociate with. Apparently, female members who sign up for the service can join for free, but men are charged $30 per month. Well let’s ask the owner and founder what she thinks. And I quote, ‘statistically Asian women are wanted more [by men of other ethnicities], but Asian men are not so much desired’.

parks-and-rec

YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. WHAT?! Did the Asian owner of an Asian dating app just say that?! I’m about to start angry pacing up in here again! Honestly, this isn’t even a statistic I want to prove or disprove. It’s a perceived fact based on cultural stereotypes that I want the person in charge of helping me potentially find love to not even consider.

I’ve had to deal with this assumption my entire life. It’s become such a seemingly subtle and deceptively harmless facet of everyday racism towards Asians that even I’ve limited eastad3myself sometimes because I convinced myself that no one outside of my own race would ever be attracted to me. I’ve been attracted to people of all different ethnicities and races, but I tend to always hesitate because I think I don’t possess the right qualities to appeal to someone beyond my own cultural scope. Asian men are often depicted as not masculine enough, not tough enough, assertive enough, or confident enough to go out there. Filipinos tend to be pretty short and often have much softer facial features. I happen to be six feet tall and big but still I often feel less than ‘manly’ enough. This is a damaging stereotype that hurts people’s confidence and prevents a lot of people from taking more chances. Now I’m not saying I expect eastmeeteast to deny this or rewrite history or change people’s expectations. I expected them to rise above it by not even addressing it. I believe that the truth is nowadays people are looking beyond appearances and stereotypes. Dating nowadays is such a global and interconnected phenomenon that one cannot help but become much more diverse in choices, preferences, and attractions. But eastmeeteast is very clearly trying to get across the message to Asian men that we are at a natural eastad5disadvantage in the real world. We are unwanted outside of our limited groups. Be wary, Asian man, for Asian women can go anywhere and get picked up by anyone, and you will be left alone. They are profiting by continuing this destructive belief. Asian men should be happy and willing to pay a monthly fee because by doing so you are getting access to an exclusive collection of Asian women who still might actually want an Asian man. What kind of crazy backwards self-defeatist thinking is this? Why are we seriously trying to capitalize on a message we should be trying our best not to spread? That’s what really got me the most. There is a history of racial profiling in online dating apps and the mainstream media portrayal of Asian men has always been less than favorable. Why are we now doing it to ourselves to control and intimidate Asian singles? I’ve done a lot, and still am doing a lot, to help improve myself not only as an individual but as a future potential partner. I keep myself healthy and fit with regular exercise. I’ve taught myself to cook. I’ve developed a well-rounded and diverse personality with many interests, hobbies, and activities. I didn’t do them to supplement some unnatural genetic or ethnic disadvantage. I did it because I wanted to be viewed as an individual for my individual qualities and traits.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the idea of a site that is aimed primarily to help Asian singles meet other Asian singles. But I don’t need the site to further depict or decide what being Asian means or is about and how we should be portrayed. I know from personal experience how hard it can be sometimes to find someone specific in a seemingly endless sea of ever-increasing fish. A little assistance is never a bad thing. But there’s something seriously messed up and slightly sinister behind eastmeeteast. I just think it’s way too off and there’s something wrong with how it’s presented itself. It depicts Asian women as these goddesses, sirens to be desired and dominated. It preys on the cultural stereotype of unattractive Asian men who must be willing to do anything to meet someone. The whole thing makes me feel uncomfortable. Confused. Shocked. I guess I’ll look somewhere else when the time comes.

Day 236

Man: 203 Loneliness: 33