Girl of Fortune

The case study assignment for this week is about Box, a cloud sharing application. So I logged in my Box account and accidentally found this, something I wrote years ago. It was March 2011, during spring break, I was in Miami with my friend, lying on the beach and enjoying sun shine. I can’t remember why that brought me back to elementary school, with my best friend of that time, Tina. (this story happened in China)

Here’s the story.

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1.

The day I met my childhood friend Tina began with heavy snow. I went with my mom for Christmas shopping. We had parked the Buick Lacrosse at a parking lot down the street where we almost lost sight of the shopping mall.

Hours passed with no sign of time. The night came, but inside the mall it was bright and warm, made it harder for us to imagine the cold outside.

While waiting for mom outside the fitting room, I heard someone calling my name.

“Daniel,” a girl’s voice, “there you are.”

I looked up.

It was a girl about my age, though the heavy make-up made her more sophisticated. She was wearing the mall uniform and looking at me with perplexity. I wondered if I knew her.

2.

My dad turned to look at me.

It was a night in January, during those New Year family get-togethers. I was seventeen then. I knew my dad wanted my thoughts when he said how he wished he learned calligraphy back in high school, but never had the chance. Outside the window, the sky was clear, and moon shone brightly high above. Mom called for help in the kitchen. Neither of us moved. I tried to study the moon. The moon was huge for the size of a moon, I thought.

My dad knew he had me.

He always does.

I hate dad’s expectations on me, but I love to be his favorite child even more. I know this fact would either be my salvation or the reason why I am a nerd and can never get a date. I know I must do whatever he says. We both know what will happen next –

I looked directly into his eyes.

“Oh dad, I have always wanted to learn calligraphy.” I admitted.

That is where it all starts, doesn’t it? Those piano lessons, swimming trainings, language camps, after-school classes of math, science, chess and private tutoring – always keep one step ahead, my parents would say. I spent all those years meeting what they have expected.

3.

Since I learned how to read, I always sat in dad’s den, surrounded by bookshelves with books piled from the floor up to the ceiling. I spent most of my spare time sitting there and reading. My dad is not like other men around the neighborhood, at least not inwardly. They spent most of their everyday life complaining about work, murmuring about unfairness or soaking in alcohol. However, my dad, as early as I recall, in every snatched moment he always spent his time sunbathing and reading fat books, as last summer: one on the conflicts of the world civilizations, one a biography of Taiwan’s former president Chiang Ching-kuo, with his portrait on the cover. Whenever dad acquired new books, he would immediately stamp them with his name on the flyleaf. At first, I laughed at dad’s obsession with books secretly. Fewer people really care about books now. But later I too, had my own stamp, and stamped all my books once I had them. It started out as a pure imitation, and later turned into a true habit.

I inherited all dad’s habits; if not all, I don’t wear gloves when reading newspaper. However, sometimes I would wash my hands before reading a book. It made my friends uncomfortable.

I believe that is not what made me a solitary today, but it is what made me the kind of solitary I am. Nothing is more acceptable than what we are born into.

4.

A day later, I ran into the girl who recognized me at the mall.

Tina, that’s her name, and she used to live across the street. “We were friends back in the first grade.” She said.

In fact, we were friends since kindergarten, and we used to do everything together. We were both on sports teams, she played tennis, and I swam. Everything seemed wonderful, until one day her mom fled away from home with her tennis coach. Her dad then started drinking, and later imprisoned because of a bar fight. The absence of caretakers in her life eventually dragged her life to the street. We started out the same though; our parents had diverted our lives into different directions.

She started missing school frequently, and later withdrew officially without completing junior high. In order to make a living, she went out to look for jobs. What kind of job is she qualified for with a fifth-grade in reading, and a sixth-grade in math on her academic assessment? Or should she just find a man — any man — who can provide her the occasional ride to the jail 30 miles away? How, then, can she make a way out of this dead-end life?

She has no way out.

Later that day, I lay on the bed but could not fall asleep; thinking about Tina’s life and wondering what I was up to all those years. I had drifted through, ambitious, attentive and serious, worked hard and turned in good essays, passed all the exams and started the life I have today, the real life.

5.

Where have all the fathers and mothers gone? Once the fathers went to war and returned, if they did return. Yet still other fathers and mothers fled away, or went on business trips. Do they think about their children? What better things do they have to do? Why escaping the life they have is so essential that made them left? Or what else are they hiding?

I should ask my parents why they didn’t leave.

6.

Whenever I bleed, it is their blood I shed.

I felt gratitude for all those things my parents did for me.

When their friends flew all over the world for more fun, bought new cars, moved into million dollar villas uptown — how jealous am I over their material abundance. Dad and mom remained in our narrow apartment, kept on the moderate way of life – make plans, work hard and put money aside for my education – so we could get to where we are now. Mom once said, the more you learned the more money you would end up making. Mom used to get up every day at six, to prepare my breakfast, and wake me up on time.

Dad did say that he wanted me to be a doctor, and I did consider it, but probably only because I like Milan Kundera and Andy Warhol and dad liked Confucius and all those classics. In the end dad told me it was hopeless to take up something that wasn’t going to provide me with pleasure for the rest of my life. He was wise in early education.

Though no one has ever taught me the art of being alone, it has already become indispensable to me, as important as the Beatles, or as the kisses on my neck, or as good human nature. Herein, regardless of reading, writing, meditating or even wasting time, I can follow my thoughts and roam in the world of myself – I’m saying the kind of doing nothing but getting lost with deep pleasure. The pleasure I gained through reading is too private to speak of. It was probably inevitable that I grew up to be a solitary.

In earlier years, my dad too, got a high-paid job in Hong Kong that required him to stay there. He worked there for a while, but eventually returned home, because he did not want me to grow up without a father figure that I could look up to. To my parents, this is still the era that family is something you always choose without a doubt – Tina’s parents are one of those few exceptions, and Tina simply has bad luck.

We moved to a new neighborhood after I finished elementary school. My parents wanted it to come to an end, everything with Tina, and the life before. Did I wave at Tina when I was about to move away or did I fight against my parents will? I must have, of course, yet I couldn’t remember now. It is the same as everything else I’ve left behind.

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爸爸妈妈

我在美国读书,会听到别人这样对我讲,“Daniel,你现在一定要好好学习,争取以后留在美国,好把你的爸爸妈妈也接到美国,让他们在那里养老。”每一次我都是笑着反驳说,“我的目标是取得事业上的成功,赚很多钱给爸爸妈妈,让他们没有经济上的忧虑。然后他们可以选择去他们喜欢的地方,做他们喜欢的事。”

美国的确很棒。

可是世界这么大,难道我们只能呆在家里,遥想巴哈马群岛的粉色沙滩,阿尔卑斯山的雪和南极的企鹅吗?

我记起小时候看爸爸妈妈的相册,里面塞满了照片,有挂满钟乳石的山洞,布达拉宫,内蒙古草原,少林寺,天涯海角…都是他们在全国各地旅游时照的。他们喜欢到处走。

我也一样。于是我打定主意要周游世界,从我大学毕业开始。

我感激爸爸妈妈为我做的一切。

在别人吃喝玩乐,开新车,搬进城外的百万别墅的时候――我多嫉妒这种绵绵不绝的挥霍啊――爸爸妈妈仍然恪守 着中产阶级的生活方式,认真工作,作着计划,克制着不乱花钱,以此来得到我们拥有的一切。妈妈曾经说过,你每多受一年教育,以后的收入就会增加更多。为了我,妈妈通常可以六点起床,以保证我七点之前可以到达学校。

爸爸妈妈让我衣食无忧,鼓励我实现梦想;更重要的,他们培养我,但并不要求我成为他们。别的家长对他们的孩子说,成为医生,成为律师,成为领导人,或是接管家族企业…而我的爸爸妈妈,那样的话他们一句也不讲;他们只希望我做我自己。

很多过去人们重视的价值今天已经不复存在。

也许这并不是件坏事,我想。

那些由过去人定下的游戏规则,今天还有什么用呢?

就好比在结婚时,新郎新娘总是虔诚的说出誓词——他们会相爱到永远。可是,终其一生,他们只不过是活过70年到100年。连自己的生命都不是永恒存在的,又怎么能求永远相爱呢?

所以,永远,我从不讲这个词。我不自欺欺人。

直到现在,我还是不能理解养老是怎么被抬高为全中国人民的生活信条的。

为什么每个人都想把现在生活的方向建立在无尽的存款,杰出的下一代以及遥不可及的老去后的憧憬上?也许这就是它真正的诉求:表面上承诺能让你享受美丽的夕阳红,实际上却是在宣扬永无止境地工作。

我胳膊上的文身就是“freedom”。

在我看来,其实根本意义上的自由,是指你能够做出随心所欲的选择,可以决定是不是要为了尽人生的义务而放弃自由,进而义无反顾地投入其中。

爸爸妈妈给我自由;我可以选择人生中我要的。

我想要的是,更多的人生。

自从搬进了大房子,我总是坐在被爸爸的书架包围着的书桌前面,一刻不停地从上面抽书下来读。我的爸爸和邻居的那些男人们不一样,他们每天都把大部分精力花在抱怨差强人意的工 作上,而爸爸则是在闲暇时间里一刻不停地读书。时间是宝贵的,爸爸的珍惜时间使得我也害怕虚度光阴了。不过在书桌前浏览、沉思的时候,我发现什么也不做,有时候是做某件事情的最好方式。

我很讨厌小孩子,我把我的想法对爸爸妈妈这样说了,我说我不会结婚也不会生小孩。我喜欢到处走,梦想着周游世界——这也是我喜欢学语言的原因,学英语,学日语,学西班牙语…我想,我会死在走向下一个目的地的路上。

爸爸说,他不会限制我对我自己人生道路的选择;他只是希望我生活得满足而快乐。我确实考虑过爸爸为什么这样讲,他提这个建议可能只是因为我喜欢米兰.昆德拉和安迪.沃霍尔, 而他喜欢红楼梦和论语。到最后爸爸告诉我,从事一项不能给我的余生带来快乐的工作会让我绝望的。他在这方面显得充满智慧。

我小学4年级时就说过想去美国,那时候人人都笑话我。结果我做到了。我能做得到,我就是能。究竟是我有什么诀窍或者小伎俩,还是我本来就有神灵保佑,我也搞不清楚。梦想对那些能厚脸皮去奋斗的人来说是很简单的,可对那些犹豫不决,死要面子的人,又是如此可望而不可及。

智慧上的任何一点进步,都需要厚颜无耻来帮忙。

妈妈总是花时间认真同我说话。我和妈妈无话不谈。

我可以对妈妈讲Madonna和她最新的22岁男朋友的八卦,诅咒我讨厌的初中地理老师刘颖,也可以讲我的剧本计划——说我想拍一个关于同性恋的电影…妈妈一如既往地认真听着。

我到了大学以后打电话给她,向她抱怨学校食堂只有汉堡,pasta和pizza吃。她说:“你非得要跑那么远去美国干什么!这段路很长的。”

“我能坚持,况且除了吃,别的都不错。”我说。

总有人这么说,“Daniel有一天你会改变的,你会后悔你现在说过的话。”

我试着回想那些人。当我站在帝国大厦顶层俯视整个纽约市的时候;当我坐在出租车里抬头仰望Brooklyn Bridge那边灿烂的灯火时;当我欣赏过Wicked,走在回学校的路上时…我在想他们中间有谁知道应该怎样好好地生活。

我知道:保持无畏的快乐。

它的高级形式应该是由很多品质交织而成的:才智,魅力,幸运,发自内心的美德,以及智 慧,品味,知识,理解力,还有将苦痛与冲突视为生活中的一部分的胸襟。财富不是最基本的,可是让财富在必要之处迅速累积的智慧是最基本的。我觉得极富生活 天分的,是那些生活得自由自在的人,他们不断构想出伟大的计划,然后眼睁睁看着它们实现。这些人也是最佳的合作伙伴。我也会成为那样的人。

我会每个星期都给爸爸妈妈打电话,忙的时候一星期两三次,时间多就天天聊一会。

既然我放弃有一天做妈妈,就一辈子做个好女儿啦,还是要拉着爸爸妈妈的手过马路。

有一天我会变成小时候,然后爸爸妈妈就在那,永远也不离开我了…

I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl!

See the whole book here.

The book SUCKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I read this from Google Reader. The book is based on the belief that the sexes were each meant to have their own set of roles in society that complimented one another. Too bad the roles were limiting, patronizing, and only worked if you were in a heterosexual couple. I support homosexuals and I’m really a feminist; I am very glad no one read this book to me when I was a child, or I probably would have set it on fire.

游戏与必然

我从自己同男人交往的经验中得出这样的结论:对情人方面有较大的数量苛求的人来说,最难做到的并不是诱惑一个人,而是认识足够数量的有待去诱惑的人。

因此,在任何地方,任何时机,我们始终应该对”趋向情人”实行系统性的标定,或者,换句话说,在一个笔记本里,或者在我们的记忆中,记录下那些讨我们喜欢的,我们有朝一日可以挂上钩的人的名字。

挂上钩是更高一级的活动,它指的是,跟着一个或者那一个标定对象建立起联系,跟他们相识,进一步接近他们。

那些喜爱吹牛皮,喜爱摆老谱的人,往往强调被他们征服的人的数量;但是,那些喜欢向前看,更加注重未来的人,则首先应该考虑怎样掌握足够数量的被标定的和挂上钩的人。

在挂钩之后,就只剩下唯一的和最后一级的活动了。我想强调的是,那些只期望达到最后一级活动的人,是一些没有情趣与品位的可怜人。他们就像是业余的球员,在足球场上一味地冲锋,奔向对方的球门,却忘记了最基本的一条:射门的疯狂欲望并不足以保证他们能进一个球。他们首先应该懂得,如何踢一场有意识,有过程的球。正如标定,应该以随意和不求结果为基础。

唐璜是一个不折不扣的征服者,可他终究是一个悲剧性的人物,最终下了地狱。征服者的时代已经一去不复返了,继承他们的是收集者。收集者并没有一个明确的必须到手的猎物,他们只是乐于占有世界上的更多可能性。由于没有目标,所以他们从不会因得不到而失望。这种收集者的占有是那么自由,那么随性而为,就像一个业余的艺术家,越不刻意营造,就越贴近自然本身。