Hi, I'm Tina. Welcome to my blog.

19 Feb '18  — as an oppressor

The #metoo movement is obsessed with pointing fingers. It forces certain people to step down and become replaced by others. Which is kinda nice, a fresh change. But the hierarchical structure that allows for abuse still exists.

The movement avoids criticizing those who hired the guys who abused their power. NBC executives weren’t written about after Matt Lauer. Anna Wintour wasn’t criticized after Mario Testino and Bruce Webber.

Maybe it’s not up to the guys at the top but us. Instead of looking up to only people with money and power, treat everyone with equal respect. That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s easier to point fingers at certain people than to fix my own perception of who is better and who not. I, along with many others, give a disproportionate amount of credibility to the same few.

“There are two impulses when confronting people abusing their power:

1. To get better people in power.
2. Eliminate the power.

Only one of these has a chance to work in the long run.” - Existential Comics

If I want to eliminate the oppressive structure, I have to do a ton of work. I don’t want to believe that successful people are more respectable but right now I’m indoctrinated to believe it.

What’s hardest is to re-evaluate someone who doesn’t work hard. They shouldn’t be less respected than someone who does. Yet my culture tells me to engage in the oppression of the lazy on a daily basis.

How to even begin?


18 Feb '18  — who are these people

Jane Birkin has been featured countless times as a style icon online, in magazines, in catalogs. She’s over seventy now, but all examples of her style are pulled from her twenties. The same set of photos from the 70’s are published over and over again.

She’s still alive. If she’s referenced as a style icon, shouldn’t there be a current photo of her? Or even a photo from the more recent past? At least within the last three decades?

The omission of later photos makes a statement. No one’s inspired by the style of Jane Birkin, the woman that is alive.

People my age are getting older. We were the first ones on Facebook. Many have never changed their profile picture.

There are plenty of online friends I haven’t seen in real life since social media started. Their profile photos reflect how I remember them. But when I happen across a recent photo, I’m confused.

‘I don’t think I know this person.’

‘I would never be able to recognize them if they came up to me.’

All our facial features became more defined. Lines deepen and there’s less suppleness. Looks have changed to become different than what I remember.

Overtime, I’ll stop recognizing the people I once knew. If I don’t interact with a person in person, they’ll diverge from being the person I remember, the ones in the photos posted years ago.


17 Feb '18  — She's still around, the four year old me

For breakfast, we went to Mr. Monkey, one of the few cafes open nearby. It’s the second day of the Chinese New Year Holidays. Not much is open.

I ordered a couple drinks and two sandwiches for me and mein Mann. A mother came in with her kids: two girls and a boy. They all had bangs.

Just like the mother, the girls wore tights and boots. They all had short skirts.

It shouldn’t be so strange to match, should it? I haven’t seen a family that matched this well. Usually the children are wearing bright clothes, mismatched, topped with a stuffed animal hugging their neck. Parents are dress in subdued colors.

These kids were wearing all black.

I didn’t trust them.

Is it because I didn’t like them? The girls had all the pretty things I’d wanted as a girl. My parents would have never allowed it.

There’s a part of me that’s jealous. The experience I had as a young girl is still alive, she still wishes she could look like these girls. The current me is repulsed by how camp it is to look like another person.

Both versions of me exist at the same time, the four year old me and the current me. Combined, both versions give a mixed impression. Overall, it’s negative.

I’m not sure how much choice I have in how I perceive them. I wish I could be ‘a better person,’ not as negative. I wish I could not judge someone by their cover.


16 Feb '18  — Karma bit me hard in the ass

“My dad is so mean.”

I watched a young girl wail while holding her dad’s hand through the rose garden. The dad had a blank face as if nothing was wrong. All that was happening was that he was at the park with his family.

I related to her. Last night, my husband and I had Chinese New Year Eve dinner with my relatives. Several aunts and uncles started by suggesting that babies are wonderful to have. When we replied that children are of no interest to us, they changed their strategy.

“You’re life will have no meaning if you don’t.”

“I thought babies were gross, just like you, but when you have them, everything changes. You’ll like them.”

“I wouldn’t able to realize my true potential as a human unless I had the pressure of feeding kids.”

The conversation turned violent. They were telling us that we had no authority, no understanding of how to live our lives.

‘Why are they being so mean?’

I wasn’t showing signs of interest so my relatives got desperate, attempting to find any reason that might attract us.

“You know when you go to work, you get paid by employers. Well, you took your parents money so why not listen and do what they say?”

My sister had just undergone the same conversation a week earlier with the same relatives.

I cried. Like the girl, the emotional pressure couldn’t be contained.

Karma was biting me in the ass. I have done the same to others, I have told people they weren’t thinking clear. I’ve adamantly proclaimed to others that they were not in the authority to know what’s right, that they couldn’t understand what the best thing was to do.

The topic of the discussion was not as moving as the fervent energy. I’m so familiar with demanding others to live a certain way. It’s exciting to have so many reasons that make sense. It’s exciting to try to persuade someone else that you and your thoughts are right.

My relatives all went through the same abuse. I felt the pain they’ve gone through and they’ve gone through even more holiday dinners.

Mid dinner I realized I needed to stop doing what they were doing. Just an hour before dinner, I was on the phone doing the same thing.

It’s about time I tasted the pain.

I hope to not discourage anyone from making their own decisions. I hope to promote the belief that everyone has what they need to understand what’s best for them.

It feels crappy when others are telling you that your authority is not enough.


15 Feb '18  — an unexpected surprise

I’m anonymous in Taipei. It’s great to know there aren’t people around that I can immediately relate to. As much as I wanted Berlin to be my hideaway from the world, I kept meeting people exactly like me. So many English speaking expats all drawn to a place that offered a break from the past. In Taipei there’s only me.

taipei 101

Most likely that’s untrue, but I don’t know many people in the States who say they’ve visited Taipei. Plenty of people visit Berlin.

When someone says they spent time in Taipei, there aren’t defined ideas of what that means. The place isn’t advertised as much as Rome where you can concretely imagine what a person’s visit might be like. With lesser definition, Taipei is even more anonymous.

I’m experiencing something fewer people know about. It’s far easier to jump to conclusions about an American who recently vacationed in Paris. It feels good to be free.


14 Feb '18  — extremely exciting conversations

“Oh my god, I was just thinking the same.”

I mull over ideas about life and reality. When I come across an unconventional idea and I find someone who shares the same ‘discovery’, I get excited.

Hours of conversation happen but ideas come and go. Whether I believe we have free will, whether time is linear, nothing consequential happens from these thoughts. There’s always a new way to see things.

Earlier in my marriage, I wished my husband could be someone I could enjoy philosophical conversations with. But now I’ve realized how lucky I am that he isn’t.

The people I’ve enjoyed these conversations with are enablers. As harmless as the philosophical perspectives seem, it’s self destructive.

When I engage in a conversation with someone who shares an unconventional viewpoint, me and the other person perpetuate the belief by citing our own examples to back up the ideas. We just keep going down a narrow rabbit hole, getting even more excited about the thing we’re excited about. There’s no one to stop us, no one to balance our thinking or question our narrow trajectory of thoughts.

The conversations always lead to ‘I don’t know how other people can live not knowing.’ As if the universe chose us to discover select secrets. It’s not healthy to applaud yourself for believing a thought and then tell yourself how much better you are.

However, when I do come across these opportunities, I cannot help but feel extremely alive. Blood pumps through my veins vigorously. I can’t wait to explain all my thoughts and feelings, I’m bursting with energy. ‘Someone is willing to listen! Someone has confirmed I’m right!”

Overtime, ideas become less invigorating. The people I thought who were kindred spirits, those who shared the same discoveries, have always proved not to be really kindred.

My husband and close friends have seen me entering and exiting different paradigms of understanding the universe. Sometimes I feel distant from the people closest because they’re unable to share my most invigorating moments. But now I know why.


14 Feb '18  — what happens after a taste is acquired

Yesterday I was savoring every milligram of the taro dumplings I ordered at Din Tai Fung. I couldn’t believe how delicious they were. As a child, I hated the distinct flavor of the root. But how could I have disliked such intoxicatingly delicious food?

Today I was going over the same experience over a matcha milkshake. I first tasted matcha back in high school. People were going nuts for it but I couldn’t understand how anyone could like such a flavor.

Is there an inverse relationship between how much I dislike something in the beginning and how much I like it once I acquire the taste? Outside food, my preference for people has also developed the same way. I have close friends who I totally wasn’t into at first. After becoming friends, I’m more than glad that these people exist.

Perhaps coming across something new and not so agreeable might be a good sign?


13 Feb '18  — do you have a problem with notebooks?

“No I don’t need another notebook.”

I tell myself this ten minutes into fawning over an empty notebook.

“I haven’t finished filling up the other five notebooks I have at home.”

It’s difficult but I have to force myself to put stationary down.

Today was different. I was finally worthy of owning a new notebook.

I’ve filled enough notebooks in my life. The five unfilled notebooks–now six–will all eventually be used up.

I used to think each notebook needed to have a specific purpose. A black leather bound one for my deepest thoughts, a pink one for my cooking notes, a blue one for future plans, a brown one for interesting things I find online…

“It’d be wasteful to get a new notebook. I don’t have any other categories to cover!”

Why do I even want a new notebook?

New paper is exciting. How it feels in my hand, how the pages turn, how the lines divide the sheets…I’m interested because it’s different than what I have at home. If I get far enough and take a notebook home, I can feel how different the pen writes.

While browsing paper today, I realized I’ve never been good at compartmentalizing my thoughts. Sometimes I create lists in the notebook for my deepest thoughts, sometimes I write cooking notes in the one for internet notes…there aren’t that many thoughts journaled in the right place. All my notebooks, no matter the original intention, become a place to put any random thought.

New notebooks will be no different. They’ll eventually run out of pages once I fill them up. Nothing will go to waste. I’ll eventually get rid of them like I get rid of everything else.

I’m finally worthy of new notebooks.


11 Feb '18  — Not forgetting those who can't read

Last night my husband and I went out for ramen. The menu was in Chinese and Japanese, neither of which either of us could read. After spending years in Germany without understanding German, this wasn’t a problem.

I’m effectively illiterate in Taiwan. In Berlin, I’d been illiterate for several years. When they count the number of people illiterate in the world, 781 million adults, I don’t count as one. But I do get to see a little of what it’s like.

The experience of not understanding has allowed me to not take anything for granted.

‘I got served a meal! Yay!’ My expectations are always low, which means I’m constantly satisfied. Not being hungry is far better than being hungry. At the very least, pointing and communicating with pre-school knowledge allows me to get close to what I need.

Food is one thing, but official documents that are required for a person to register and be in a country? That’s so much harder to deal with as a person who can’t read. In Germany, my husband and I got a small taste of it. You feel powerless not being able to understand. You’re signing documents that you don’t know much about.

At the same time, so many live without understanding and I can imagine so many feel powerless because they can’t read. I only get a small sampling of the difficulty but I feel privileged to taste it.


10 Feb '18  — A helpful tip from BDSM

There’s a feud brewing between my parents and relatives. It’s starting to escalate and I’m thinking–is this what’s going to happen to me and my sister?

Shouldn’t there be a safe word?

At my cousin’s wedding, the pastor spoke about marriage and how it can be hard at times. I remember him suggesting the newlyweds to agree on a signal beforehand, like a bouquet of roses, that would break the tension when things got difficult. It would be a symbol that would remind them of the vows they took that day.

Siblings don’t take vows, but there should be an easy way to de-escalate.

I’m surprised how a sadomasochist technique ended up at a traditional wedding. But I’m more surprised how much my parents and relatives are willing to torture one another without a way to know everyone will be okay.