Dear Department Store Saleslady,
Can you stop shaking me down for money, please? I promise you, I don’t have a lot of it, even though I come from overseas. And even if I did, I get to choose how to spend it. I don’t need a primer on how typical Taiwanese people spend money. I just don’t want to buy your product, okay?
Or maybe I do like your product! But I don’t need six of them at one time. A discount, of course, is nice, but you’ve demonstrated that your product is good, and I find value even at…
“Learn a new language and get a new soul.” — Czech Proverb
Curses! My understanding of this language is so
A language of my parents’ home
Unable to be passed down to me
Because of youthful stubbornness.
Curses! As I attempt to decipher
A notice, festooned with the universal sign for
Important information I need
Lost on me.
I take out my mobile phone
To snap a photo
A millennial reflex
And sit, with the photo, pecking in characters
Into my translation app.
How did past generations learn languages without you, App?
What would I, and can I…
I share a hobby with one of my favorite video game protagonists, Noctis from Final Fantasy XV — sleeping. Admittedly, Noctis sleeps a lot because he probably suffers from clinical depression, what with an enemy empire demolishing his hometown and having to save the world from eternal darkness. Sleep also remains a popular way for me to deal with my own inner demons because it feels like I’m pushing a human reset button. Whether it be processing a problem through dreams, distancing myself from intense feelings, or giving my brain rest from constant overthinking, sleep brings me one step closer…
A popular question people asked me while I was in quarantine was what would be the first thing I do coming out. Instead of fun answers like “Have some bubble tea” or “Go see a movie,” I flatly replied, “Look for an apartment.” Ever the pragmatist and a creature of comfort, I could have as much bubble tea and see as many movies as I wanted to the minute I found an apartment. There would be no rest until I could bury my face in a soft, fluffy pillow and burrow myself into a duvet and quality sheets.
Travelers from overseas must quarantine for a total of fourteen days, but the day you land is considered Day Zero, and I landed at 6 am in the morning, so I technically quarantined for fifteen days. Travelers must disclose their home address to Quarantine Customs, if they quarantine at home, or the name of their “quarantine hotel.” Since I had yet to establish a home in Taiwan, and I didn’t want to endanger my elderly relatives, I booked a quarantine hotel that was featured on YouTube (this might be the one moment I appreciated Big Tech collecting data from me.)
After repacking my bags for the nth time and crossing my fingers that the latest flight I booked wouldn’t be cancelled, it was time for me to leave the hellhole that was Los Angeles. If you’ll recall, in late June 2020, Los Angeles was still in the midst of shelter-in-place when the death of George Floyd sparked (absolutely justified) protests all over the city. Though my parents’ home was far removed from the action, I still received terrifying cell phone emergency alerts informing me of city-wide curfews. I watched and saw videos and photos of people pouring down the streets…
Sometime during the middle of California’s first shelter-in-place in 2020, I “forgot” that my goal was to move to Taiwan. It wasn’t that the thought of moving slipped my mind, but rather I completely lacked motivation while trying to wade through Taiwanese quarantine regulations (especially since they were mostly written in Chinese), ever changing airport rules, and reading tea leaves to determine which flight to Taiwan won’t be canceled. On top of that, shelter-in-place itself felt intense on my psyche, and my priority was just making it through the day without 1) yelling at an innocent person/animal or 2) breaking…
Gaming Like My Life Depended On It
It is no secret that one of the biggest winners during COVID is the video game industry, so much so that there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to this one niche topic. I never thought I’d see the day that the New York Times reviews a video game, but Animal Crossing managed it in April 2020. We now have members of Congress live streaming themselves playing Among Us. What better way to pass a boring day than to feel productive working through a virtual character’s to-do list?
I, too, retreated into virtual worlds…
Character Creation: Changing Names
Changing a name is a lengthy and paper-laden process in the United States. There’s filling out and filing court paperwork, notifying Social Security, taking a trip down to the dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles, then going through each and every mundane aspect of life that is connected to a name, like insurance policies, utility bills, credit card statements, and lease agreements. This seems inefficient in an era of “cut and paste,” and I can see why more and more American women choose to keep their maiden names.
Like the chicken-and-egg conundrum, are names considered sacred in…
Prior to voice acting, a player could choose a character’s name in a Japanese role playing game. I think the developers provided this option to help players further immerse themselves in the world with names they liked and were familiar with, but I personally liked keeping the canonical names, since no name I chose would be as inventive as “Aerith,” “Chrono,” and “Tidus” (pronounced “tee-dus” — see?!) To this day, couples name babies after these Japanese RPG characters because the names are so unique.
There are times I feel like my own names were chosen by a player at random…