Good question. In general, Xanga, or any blog for that matter, is a log of one’s thoughts; to wit, a journal. And a journal by any other name is still a journal: personal, self-absorbed, and free from constraint. So I will indulge myself. Will readership go down? Maybe. Doesn’t matter. A weblog, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is an excercise in exhibitionism/voyuerism: I show, you watch; I write, you read. In a way, this is what autobiographies are like, and in many cases the first novel of new authors. Not that they intentionally write autobiographies, but many of the ideas in a “maiden novel” are taken from life experiences. Relax. I do not intend to write a novel here. But I will jot down the experiences of a JA in LA in the late 60s, early 70s, something that some may find interesting to peruse, in that it is a “reflection” of the thoughts of one member of an invisible minority–y’know the one that doesn’t complain, the model minority–at a time when civil rights were blossoming across the U.S…. The entry below is an extended version of yesterday’s entry, because, in a way, I want to qualify my self-portrayal as a “total screw-up.” I don’t intend to justify it, just relate background info in the hopes y’all will not think that a complete idiot got a PhD.
Now, some may be interested in who the O-man is, what makes him click, what makes him write all these daily entries… He is, ahem, I mean, I am not interesting, per se; but my life has been different from yours, I’d bet…. But I make no claims about my style or the worthiness of the content or my effectiveness as a writer, AND I should warn you that I have been accused of writing boring stuff (then don’t read it! I wanna say). Those of you not interested, change the channel now. (click, click)
Not Living Up to Expectation
This is an extended version of yesterday’s entry; more detail, or at least enough, I should say. Names have been omitted or changed to protect the innocent–me.
I was raised in a modest home as the good, little Oriental boy–heretofore, Glob–of a model minority family–i.e. hard working, uncomplaining, compliant. In elementary school, I wasn’t very bright, I had so-so grades, and my dreams were limited to what people around me believed: work hard, go to college, study economics or engineering or medicine. (In a very Oriental tone) “Oh, rearry? Okay, I try hahd!” But I didn’t know how to try hard, or what it entailed, particularly as the son of parents who did not go to college (I’m not ragging on my parents; this is simply the way it was back in the day). I just watched “MyThree Sons” or “Leave it to Beaver” and wondered what I had to do to emulate such a “typical” American family.
I went to a private Catholic missionary elementary school and we were members of the church. We lived a rather isolated life… Actually most of the members did, I think. The school and church was exclusively Japanese American, and we, as kids, never had to deal with other races. We played with each other, and our parents socialized with church/school members.
However, that doesn’t mean I was unaware of my difference. Once, when I was 5, Chuckles the Clown came by to East LA, to a nearby shopping center. As loyal viewers of his TV antics, my sister and I went to see him as many of the local kids did. We tried to get there early to get a good seat and we were in teh second row. Chuckles set up his show in the parking lot in front of Thrifty drugs store, and we eagerly watched his magic tricks and listened to his jokes. He then went into his balloon routine, you know, the one where he blows up long and skinny baloons and bends them into animals? He started making animal after animal and handing them out to the kids circling him. Moving clockwise, he finally reached us. Hands raised and screaming like everyone else, my heart is pounding in anticpation of getting a balloon from Chuckles himself. He hands over animal balloons to kids behind us, then to kids in front of us. Then he moves on… Didn’t he see us? We were raising our hands like everyone else, crying out his name. Didn’t he see us? My lasting image of Chuckles was his back, facing kids, white kids, to my right, handing out those damn balloons.
Of course, my training taught me not to complain. So I just accepted it, trying to understand what happend–he didn’t see us, or maybe he reached for another balloon and forgot us–trying to justify it, as well as a 6 year old kid could. However, as you might imagine, I developed a very real sense of security at school and at church where I was among people who looked like me.
From elementary school, I then went to a private Catholic high school run by Jesuits. “Ooooh.” You’re probably thinking, “That must have really screwed you up.” Well, discipline can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it. The discipline administered by Jesuits is not violently brutal, but definitely limiting, and so usually has the effect of making one compliant or rebellious. As a Glob from a model minority family, I was expected to be compliant and uncomplaining, which I was for the most part. But fortunately–the good–it planted the seeds for rebellion and festered within me until the most opportune moment: a part time job.
“Huh? How can a part time job trigger rebellion?” Well, for a Glob from a very narrow world, getting a part-time job, meeting new and completely different people–including girls–was quite an experience. I should mention that I was kind of a dork up until then–maybe I still am–but the opportunity to meet people who had no preconceived idea as to my lot in life–or simply put, what a dork I was–was a relief, refreshing and even exciting. Here I was, with a brand new slate, ready to fill in whatever was necessary to create a new me: Anti-Glob, the the embryo that was to grow into Onigiriman.
Well, as a new Anti-Glob I had to do what all the other anti-Globs were doing: hang out, smoke cigs, drink scotch, go to dances, talk to girls, and of course, NEVER study. “Wow, is this what everyone else does?” I was enraptured with this new, cool lifestyle….