Thanks to baby formula and my grandmother, from infancy I was raised halfway between Inner Mongolia and California, in neither place do I belong. I barely belong in my own body.
My vessel I was given from my mother, a person of brilliant intellectual precocity and mental acuity, w/out any foundation of emotional intelligence to support it.
Handplucked out of her Inner Mongolian mining town as the top two from the province to attend in China’s capital Tsinghua University; got her degree in chemical engineering; set the university record in the 110m hurdles in 1985. “The Harvard and Yale of China,” she never let me forget that. Model athlete, beauty and brains and silent in public to boot, she was the spitting image of the party’s New China, within the repressively internalized mental confines of the pre-Cultural Revolution China.
The break in her psyche came when she was 25, in the workplace. They were less than a year into the marriage. It was effectively made clear that if my dad was to continue his trajectory in the party, he could not be tied to a sandbag. Within the year, he executed arrangements in secrecy for doctoral student visas they would both overstay.
Mental health was unspeakable in the cultural climate, she would have wasted her life away in an insane asylum instead of the treatment and support she ultimately refused here given access.
His idealism, I inherited. His decision, I ultimately disagree with; it would have saved a lot of heartache for all of us.
In choosing the more difficult path of most resistance, in refusing to conform to political interests, in following his personal ethos into the unknown, the cost of his redeeming arc we all bear.
She never wanted children. She was too intelligent for her own good without adequate outlet for actualization in her mother country and then in a foreign country, unable to communicate and diminished daily as second-tier and non-citizen.
Her entire identity had hinged on intellectual elitism, and she lived out a muted life like a cruel joke. I wasn’t the punchline, I was the punchingbag.
I was in the middle of high school when she left. Quit her job, moved back to China, no notice to any of us until she phoned my dad a week later from Beijing. In her deepest depressive depths, she always looked across the ocean at college classmates rising to the titans of industry, deans of universities, top bureaucrats, scapegoats toppled by corruption. She felt entitled to their life successes and, accountability-averse, failed to remember she lacked the social skillset, emotional self-sustenance or security to support those mental expectations and be anything beyond self-defeating tragedy.
You feel so badly for a person’s sorry existence, you’re compelled to forgive them; and then you sit in a room with them, and they shred you to pieces first chance they get, to somehow uplift their own emptiness, and you are reminded you have legs to walk away from them.
```` telltale philosophy-waxing of vv privileged gentrifier afflicted w/ spiritual homelessness.
Severed. Anchorless anchor baby
at a precipice when youth no longer suffices an excuse.
A stifled feeling in the chest, finding some brief sense of comfort or solidarity, gaze fixated on forbodingly low clouds blanketing a grim horizon
as much as you prize your personal creativity, you understand your skillset stands utterly valueless to today’s employers. you cannot get stuck in tv.
the futile effort and daily routine of actively suppressing distaste for the excesses and wastefulness witnessed in production—
you think about why you are like this
the early memory seared into your brain is of your mother forcing moldy string cheese, direct from the bin, down your protesting gullet.
“You didn’t eat it in your lunch and look what you’ve done now, you wasteful ingrate!”
And because you were crying, between chews of foul fuzzing curds, you were once again locked in the dark bathroom. She took the bulb, as before, and went off to wait for the pitch blackness to tire out your lungs.
seeping as the latex of a cut jackfruit ekes from the center of the helm outward through the spike tips.