⒈ Personal Narrative: My Move To New York Success
Often I think my defiance is Personal Narrative: My Move To New York Success delusional, self-glorifying bullshit that artists have Personal Narrative: My Move To New York Success told themselves to compensate for their poverty and Personal Narrative: My Move To New York Success. Old age and the transience of life now came increasingly to the fore in Frisch's work. Mein Name sei Gantenbein. House of Sky Case Study Shin Dong Hyuk Breath. This was based on a sketch from one of Frisch's Diaries.
Personal narrative a trip to New York city
But, most important, my parents believed that a mastery of English would promise a good, stable job in the future. Before long, I learned that there was also significant social currency in adopting English as a primary language. Outside of E. I was humiliated based on how I looked and the fact that I could speak another language. It was an easy decision to suppress Cantonese in an effort to blend in, to feel more American. As I entered my teen-age years, my social circle shifted. For the first time since I was a preschooler, most of my friends looked like me. My personality evolved; I became bold, rebellious, and maybe even a bit brash compared with the painfully shy wallflower I had played in the past.
I dyed my hair magenta and shoplifted makeup for the thrill. We had no money. We had no time. We needed to raise you and your brothers. I resented them for what I thought was laziness, an absence of sense and foresight that they should have had as my protectors. When I continued to be subjected to racial slurs even after my English had become pitch-perfect, I blamed my parents. Any progress I made towards acceptance in America was negated by their lack of assimilation.
I was cruel; I called them hurtful names and belittled their intelligence. I used English, a language they admired, against them. Over time, Cantonese played a more minor role in my life. When I went away for college at Syracuse University, I heard it less often. After starting my first advertising job, I spoke it infrequently. And now, as an adult living thousands of miles away from my family, I understand it rarely. It served no purpose in my life other than to humor my parents when they called me. First, my directions were off. Then, the names of colors started to escape me. Eventually, I struggled to construct sentences altogether, often mispronouncing words or failing completely to recall them.
This phenomenon is known as first-language attrition , the process of forgetting a first or native language. My brothers are further along in this process—they have more trouble communicating with my parents than I do. My closest friends include first-generation Chinese Americans who also have fraught relationships with their parents. Cantonese no longer feels natural, and sometimes even feels ridiculous, for me to speak. My parents and I have no heart-to-heart conversations, no mutual understanding, on top of cultural and generational gaps to reckon with. Did I really want to spend the rest of our lives with a language barrier between us?
I made it a goal to relearn Cantonese, and, ultimately, rebuild the relationship with my parents. But, most of all, I call my parents and stammer through more meaningful conversations with them, no matter how challenging it gets. Looking back, forfeiting the language passed on to me from my parents was the cost of assimilation. As Allyn points out, in order to be a leader, you must have followers. To become a leader requires taking personal initiative and thinking about how an organization can work differently. It also requires networking, self-promotion, and self-assertion. But about seven years ago, she felt her progress begin to slow.
It was around this time that she attended a seminar being offered by an organization called Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics. LEAP has parsed the complicated social dynamics responsible for the dearth of Asian-American leaders and has designed training programs that flatter Asian people even as it teaches them to change their behavior to suit white-American expectations. Hokoyama laid out his grand synthesis of the Asian predicament in the workplace. In the end, Asian people themselves would have to assume responsibility for unmaking them.
This was both a practical matter, he argued, and, in its own way, fair. That would be a good reason for not saying anything. Or maybe you think the conversation is beneath you. Takayasu took the weeklong course in One of the first exercises she encountered involved the group instructor asking for a list of some qualities that they identify with Asians. Then the instructor solicited a list of the qualities the members identify with leadership, and invited the students to notice how little overlap there is between the two lists.
They would worry if they saw me working too hard. Her father was an executive at Mitsubishi; her mother was a concert pianist. She was highly assimilated into American culture, fluent in English, poised and confident. She was willing to take on difficult assignments without seeking credit for herself. Takayasu has put her new self-awareness to work at IBM, and she now exhibits a newfound ability for horn tooting. The law professor and writer Tim Wu grew up in Canada with a white mother and a Taiwanese father, which allows him an interesting perspective on how whites and Asians perceive each other.
After graduating from law school, he took a series of clerkships, and he remembers the subtle ways in which hierarchies were developed among the other young lawyers. By contrast, the white lawyers he encountered had a knack for portraying themselves as above all that. And so the easiest thing to do is follow all the rules. But then you consign yourself to a lower status. The real trick is understanding what rules are not meant for you. This idea of a kind of rule-governed rule-breaking—where the rule book was unwritten but passed along in an innate cultural sense—is perhaps the best explanation I have heard of how the Bamboo Ceiling functions in practice. LEAP appears to be very good at helping Asian workers who are already culturally competent become more self-aware of how their culture and appearance impose barriers to advancement.
The issue is more fundamental, the social dynamics at work more deeply embedded, and the remedial work required may be at a more basic level of comportment. What if life has failed to make you a socially dominant alpha male who runs the American boardroom and prevails in the American bedroom? What if no one ever taught you how to greet white people and make them comfortable?
How do you undo eighteen years of a Chinese upbringing? This is the implicit question that J. His answer is typically Asian: practice. Tran is a pickup artist who goes by the handle Asian Playboy. Their mothers had kept them at home to study rather than let them date or socialize. Part of it is psychological, he explains. He recalls one Korean-American student he was teaching. The student was a very dedicated schoolteacher who cared a lot about his students.
But none of this was visible. The story he tells is one of Asian-American disadvantage in the sexual marketplace, a disadvantage that he has devoted his life to overturning. Yes, it is about picking up women. Yes, it is about picking up white women. Yes, it is about attracting those women whose hair is the color of the midday sun and eyes are the color of the ocean, and it is about having sex with them. He is not going to apologize for the images of blonde women plastered all over his website.
This is what he prefers, what he stands for, and what he is selling: the courage to pursue anyone you want, and the skills to make the person you desire desire you back. White guys do what they want; he is going to do the same. But it is about much more than this, too. It is about altering the perceptions of Asian men—perceptions that are rooted in the way they behave, which are in turn rooted in the way they were raised—through a course of behavior modification intended to teach them how to be the socially dominant figures that they are not perceived to be.
Tran offers his own story as an exemplary Asian underdog. Short, not good-looking, socially inept, sexually null. After college, he worked as an aerospace engineer at Boeing and Raytheon, but internal politics disfavored him. Five years into his career, his entire white cohort had been promoted above him. Was charisma something you could teach? Could confidence be reduced to a formula? Was it merely something that you either possessed or did not possess, as a function of the experiences you had been through in life, or did it emerge from specific forms of behavior? The members of the group turned their computer-science and engineering brains to the question.
They wrote long accounts of their dates and subjected them to collective scrutiny. They searched for patterns in the raw material and filtered these experiences through social-psychological research. They eventually built a model. Tran and Jones are teaching their students how an alpha male stands shoulders thrown back, neck fully extended, legs planted slightly wider than the shoulders. They explain how an alpha male walks no shuffling; pick your feet up entirely off the ground; a slight sway in the shoulders. You must not be afraid to do this. They explain the importance of intonation.
They explain what intonation is. All of this is taught through a series of exercises. The students have to cross the room, walking as an alpha male walks, and then place their hands on her shoulder—firmly but gently—and turn her around. Big smile. Raise your glass in a toast. Make eye contact and hold it. Speak loudly and clearly. Take up space without apology. This is what an alpha male does. Before each student crosses the floor of that bare white cubicle in midtown, Tran asks him a question.
Raj, a year-old Indian virgin, can barely get his voice to alter during intonation exercise. But on Sunday night, on the last evening of the boot camp, I watch him cold-approach a set of women at the Hotel Gansevoort and engage them in conversation for a half-hour. Of course, there are lots of such people around—do I even have to point that out? They are no more morally worthy than any other kind of Asian person.
But they have figured out some useful things. The lesson about the Bamboo Ceiling that James Hong learned from his interviewer at IBM stuck, and after working for a few years at Hewlett-Packard, he decided to strike off on his own. His first attempts at entrepreneurialism failed, but he finally struck pay dirt with a simple, not terribly refined idea that had a strong primal appeal: hotornot. Hong ran hotornot. Or Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. Hsieh is a short Asian man who speaks tersely and is devoid of obvious charisma. One cannot imagine him being promoted in an American corporation. And yet he has proved that an awkward Asian guy can be a formidable CEO and the unlikeliest of management gurus. Growing up, he would play recordings of himself in the morning practicing the violin, in lieu of actually practicing.
He credits the experience he had running a pizza business at Harvard as more important than anything he learned in class. He had an instinctive sense of what the real world would require of him, and he knew that nothing his parents were teaching him would get him there. Huang grew up in Orlando with a hard-core Tiger Mom and a disciplinarian father. He gravitated toward the black kids at school, who also knew something about corporal punishment. He was the smallest member of his football team, but his coach named him MVP in the seventh grade. I was nasty. Huang had a rough twenties, bumping repeatedly against the Bamboo Ceiling.
In college, editors at the Orlando Sentinel invited him to write about sports for the paper. You have a lot of Woody Allen in you. But do you think you could change it to Jewish characters? Finally, Huang decided to open a restaurant. They respect our food. They may not respect anything else, but they respect our food. Rather than strive to make himself acceptable to the world, Huang has chosen to buy his way back in, on his own terms.
He had written to me seeking permission to swerve off the traditional path of professional striving—to devote himself to becoming an artist—but he was unsure of what risks he was willing to take. My answer was highly ambivalent. I recognized in him something of my own youthful ambition. And I knew where that had taken me. I finished school alienated both from Asian culture which, in my hometown, was barely visible and the manners and mores of my white peers. But like Mao, I wanted to be an individual. An education spent dutifully acquiring credentials through relentless drilling seemed to me an obscenity. So did adopting the manipulative cheeriness that seemed to secure the popularity of white Americans.
Instead, I set about contriving to live beyond both poles. Who does not seek after material gain. Who is his own law. This, of course, was madness. A child of Asian immigrants born into the suburbs of New Jersey and educated at Rutgers cannot be a law unto himself. The only way to approximate this is to refuse employment, because you will not be bossed around by people beneath you, and shave your expenses to the bone, because you cannot afford more, and move into a decaying Victorian mansion in Jersey City, so that your sense of eccentric distinction can be preserved in the midst of poverty, and cut yourself free of every form of bourgeois discipline, because these are precisely the habits that will keep you chained to the mediocre fate you consider worse than death.
Throughout my twenties, I proudly turned away from one institution of American life after another for instance, a steady job , though they had already long since turned away from me. I had come from a culture that was the middle path incarnate. And yet for some people, there can be no middle path, only transcendence or descent into the abyss. I was descending into the abyss. All this was well deserved.
No one had any reason to think I was anything or anyone. And yet I felt entitled to demand this recognition. I knew this was wrong and impermissible; therefore I had to double down on it. The world brings low such people. It brought me low. I went three years in the prime of my adulthood without touching a woman. I did not produce a masterpiece. I recall one of the strangest conversations I had in the city. A woman came up to me at a party and said she had been moved by a piece of writing I had published. She confessed that prior to reading it, she had never wanted to talk to me, and had always been sure, on the basis of what she could see from across the room, that I was nobody worth talking to, that I was in fact someone to avoid.