If we’re really playing the identity politics card…..

Then I would already be a valuable asset to your organisation. I would be your diversity checkbox complete.

I offer you a college degree, I offer you cultural competencies – GLOBAL cultural competencies.

I offer you a third lens, I offer you a step back from America’s own identity politics.

Perhaps my accent slips sometimes, maybe I use different words, but I am culturally ambiguous. I am neither American nor am I extremely Malaysian.

I do your nitty gritty work, diligently – only asking the important questions because I don’t believe in wasting time.

I do not goyang my kaki and I leave my politics at home.

I don’t ask for much but I work twice as hard. I have to because I don’t have a bloody choice.

So if we’re really playing the identity politics card and you want to talk about diversity, inclusivity, then my nationality would not be an issue.

I am the “new wave” of “expats”. We are yellow, brown, black. We have college degrees. We are not your undocumented immigrants.

We pay taxes. We pay as much as you do if not, a little bit more than you. We get paid a lot less.

We pay taxes but we are almost never eligible for services or resources.

So why? Why is it so hard to see the true value of my work, our work?

Why do you continue to be sceptical about what we can bring to the table?

Why are you saying no to the diversity and inclusivity that works and is cost-efficient?






Respect & Gratitude – On & Off the Mat

Today, I write about frustrations. So if you’re looking for some heart-warming story of my ‘story’, my cultural identity, you might not appreciate my scathing unforgiving tone.

Frustration #1:

Millennials – It’s such a bloody dirty word. Well, rightfully so.

Bullet point numbah 1: Living in another country ≠ the summer you spent studying abroad

Number 2: You don’t bloody delegate work so you can goyang kaki 20 mins before your other responsibilities while your fellow millennial does your dirty work.

Numbah 3: Contextual decorum – nobody wants to see your midriff ala Lady Gaga @ the Super Bowl. Save the thigh high boots and miniskirt for a night out.

Frustration #2:

Respect for the Mat & Practice – Perhaps I am too religious of a yogi but some things, you just cannot forgive.

Item numbah 1: My Mat is my real estate – stay the fuck off it.

Item number 2: Shut the fuck up, yoga is a physiological conversation with yourself. Honour and respect the silence.

Numbah 3: Being a teacher is to learn to not shame your students. There is nothing wrong with staying grounded and not feeling like one has to ‘challenge’ and ‘push yourself’ every yoga class. Save that yoga-shaming for a Crossfit class.

Now, on to big girl things like a little restorative yoga and moisturising.

Live and let live with a little gratitude and respect, dear reader.

Thoughts on Home(s) 2.0

It’s my fourth winter in Wisconsin. This post is way overdue.

I am finally content with my cosy little one bedroom apartment despite the smell of Korean, Indian, and different types of Chinese food aromas (stench, when I am grumpy) wafting through the cracks of my apartment door. It could smell like dhaal in the afternoon and come late evening, it could smell like kim chi. I have to say, my floor is pretty international. In a way, we are the new generation of expats. Will we be recognised as expats? Probably not, an American who studies abroad is considered more of an expat than we ever will be. But this is not why I am writing this.

It is hard for me to write nice things about Madison. It has never felt like home. Mostly because it feels impossible to find any sense of community. This is probably why it has taken me so long to write nice things about my home(?) in Madison.

There is a sense of security in knowing that I will come home to my apartment after travelling. It’s been a real bitch having to take the bus to and from OHare to get on a plane but I have started to appreciate feeling grounded whenever I am in Madison. It is a funny feeling. When I am in Madison, I always feel un-grounded; unsure of when the next time will be that I have to get on a plane. When I am away from Madison, I find grounding in knowing I will be home — sooner or later. It is a slow process of learning to value my living space. Perhaps, this is why I am so nitpicky about my apartment.

I also like how convenient it is for me to invest in my yoga practice. Despite how much I abhor the clientele at the yoga studio I frequent, there is nothing more that I look forward to in the evenings. My little walk to the yoga studio, my waxed pits being free to sweat in the heat and of course, that practice of mindfulness and patience. Oh, patience.

Leaving the college bubble has been difficult. Adult-ing is hard but it is because of leaving the college bubble that I have managed to stumble upon my meaning of home here in Madison. It is being able to understand the work that local community leaders dedicate themselves to that gives meaning to my 4-year existence here. All it takes is a meeting where you are a silent observer because you are new and have, virtually zero working experience.

It is coming up to a year of having some sense of the non-profit scene in Madison. It has been bittersweet and uncertain in so many different ways but it is one of the reasons I have nice things to say about living in Madison. For that, I am eternally grateful for calling Madison my home – no matter how temporary it may be.

From one bourgeoisie to another

Who am I to not take ownership of my snobbishness?

Dear reader, today I contemplate the American/Non-American binary that have at times, troubled and stifled my own voice (to feel that one’s voice must be heard and respected sounds so American of me). It hasn’t been all that bad though, I suppose.

Sure, it gets annoying when my American accent slips and I get the ‘mmm, she must be from China’ look. There’s also much amusement whenever I add the word ‘bloody’ into my vocabulary. There’s something about ‘bloody’ that Americans find very tickling.

So, why the bourgeoisie? It’s the smallest of things that irk me. This post feels more like a rant than thoughtful reflection.

It’s another dreary day here in Madison. It’s a good day for a freshly brewed cuppa and writing in a coffee shop. So, I decide to order a sandwich – college students are obligated to serve me. Perhaps it was my resting bitch face but dear darling, there was no need to stare me up and down. Does my yellowness intimidate your blackness? Does my yellowness demand an education in American blackness?

It’s a very interesting phenomenon, thoughts that I know I share with non-Americans. Thoughts that would make an American cringe and push so hard to silence. When the very fabric of racism in America is conceived from the threads of us versus them, one must thread carefully. It is as if, one must pick to identify as a woman of color and ally or be labelled third-world uneducated.

Perhaps, it is that threat of my identity that puts American blackness on the defence. Maybe it is the ambiguity of who I am culturally that unravels the legitimacy of racism defined by the American society.

From one bourgeoisie to another, you and I are alike in our hypocrisy and unconscious ethnocentrism. You are no better than me, I am no better than you.

Thoughts on Home(s)

A quick Google search unfortunately fails to satisfy my curiosity. You see, as I type this on a blustery day in Madison I am sipping on my freshly brewed coffee. Topped off with a dollop of half & half, I am in coffee heaven.

It all started with a visit from Michael to Malaysia. He is an avid drinker of coffee and I was walking down Petaling Street one sunny afternoon prepping for my trip back to America. It was then that I thought of buying coffee grounds for my partner. Tucked between one wanton mee store and another store selling counterfeit goods, I spotted a couple of big tins that I had hoped contained coffee grounds. I motioned to my mother to stop — let’s please check out this.

I walked out of that store buying five packets of coffee grounds. A packet for MYR 24 ( approx. USD 6) and they travelled with me all the way to Seattle, WA where I dropped them off with Michael to enjoy. Prior to getting familiar with Michael’s coffee habits, I only liked the sugary kind of coffee – lattes. When the cost of lattes started to prove ridiculous, I switched to drip coffee with half & half. Fast forward 9 months, I am a picky coffee drinker. I brew my own coffee with grounds from that little store in Petaling Street and always, a dollop of half & half to go with my cuppa. The lure of accumulating Starbucks stars to maintain my gold membership occasionally pulls me away from brewing my own coffee but nothing compares to a cuppa in my little tin carrier.

It’s a little piece of home I carry with me; mixed with half & half from Trader Joe’s. Down to my coffee habits, the hybridity of my difference rings through and through. Dear reader, I write today because it’s a day I yearn for the comfort of my family, dog and Malaysian food and feel like I never want to live the land of America. It’s a tug at the fabric of my cultural identity. If it was not for my library privileges officially revoked, I would have poured myself into academic literature.

I find solace in writing. Writing for an audience perhaps is therapeutic to me because it requires a different method of dissecting my own thoughts. When I journal privately, my focus strays to how the pen feels between my fingers, how I am printing words out, how it feels to flip through pages and pages filled with effortful penmanship. Typing on a computer however, there is no ability for me to personalize the look of my of writing. Rather, the appreciation of writing comes from putting two words together — documenting my thoughts is what brings me joy.

I am rusty, terribly rusty but it feels good to be writing. If you’ve made it this far, thank you.



An Ode to Us

I really like how the apartments dot the skyline when I look out from my bedroom window.

It’s especially nice at night when the other windows light up with warm lighting.

It reminds me of…the city. I miss PJ, I miss KL, I miss Tacoma.

Gone is the thrill of excitement of starting a new semester.

It’s been the hardest week so far being back here in Wisconsin.

It pains me to be in a campus where I feel I don’t belong.

Where nothing about Wisconsin brings joys to me except maybe, the beer (and only when enjoyed in the company of my bubba).

Maybe it’s because I am actually facing my issues straight on this time around.

No more unhealthy diet, no more drunken nights, no more drowning in my sorrows.

The last one is a little tricky but I have begun to realise that I am not alone in this world.

Sure, very much alone in Wisconsin but at least thank the stars on Friday (hahahaha this song was playing on Spotify as I was writing this) that I have my partner, my lover, and best friend helping me during this very difficult time of my life. Along with my faith and friends who stuck around.

Life feels especially hard right now doing things the right way but I have begun to realise that there is a lot more to this little Wisconsin (oh god, it’s so Wisconsin it sometimes kills me) college bubble of mine.

It’s the first Friday night of the semester and I am writing this out with the company of a Blue Moon (probably my only alcoholic consumption for the week thankfully) with a heart full of sadness, melancholy and despair but also a heart full of hope, faith and love.

So here’s an ode to you, my lover. For watching over me and helping me stay afloat.

I cunt wait to be reunited when you cum over in another less than 60 days.

The PJ Malaysian Chinese English-Speaking Stereotype

I spent my primary school years in SKTM.

I spent my junior high school years in SMKDJ.

I spent the remaining years of high school in Sri KL.

Before I left for the Midwest, I spent my first two years of college (seemed more like my summers to me) at Taylor’s Lakeside.

I sound like your textbook Malaysian Chinese born and bred in PJ (MCBBPJ), don’t I?

At least, that’s what you thought, mr. member of parliament.

For all that you have done for this country, for coming home when you could have made a life for yourself in the West, you have all the respect that I could possibly give a politician.

Still, do you really know what it’s like to not be a textbook Malaysian Chinese born and bred in PJ?

My love for the English language, my love for reading all started with me attending educational developmental classes. English-speaking Malaysian Chinese snobs, I’ll tell ya.

If it weren’t for my ‘banana’ experience in SKTM, I do not think my passion for reading would have grown and prospered as I spent hours poring over books, books from the West. Lads and ladies who still managed to have the time to love reading despite the heavy Chinese school homework loads, hats off to ya.

So naturally, what I read about in my books guided me in how I begin to form perceptions of myself as me, just being me.

Majority of the books I read about were about White people.

Everything that I watched on tv was about the West.

Unlike most MCBBPJs whose parents were British educated, my parents got the ‘best’ of the West, all hail the Queen of England and the land of Uncle Sam.

I grew up dressed in Baby Gap (rejects, nonetheless) and my parents sang me to sleep as a baby with Western nursery rhymes.

I had Gerber’s baby food and not once did I ever remember being dressed in traditional Chinese cheongsam when I was a baby or toddler.

At age 5, I went off to read about Don Quixote and Enid Blyton.

I remember learning all sorts of new words and using them in all the wrong contexts.

My English vocabulary grew and so did my Malay vocabulary.

When I got to secondary school, I was reminded of how I would have turned out if I did not spend my primary school years in SKTM.

Back then, I thought the West was where the grass was greener. In some ways it is, in some ways it really is not.

By the time I finished my O levels, I could see how I fared in comparison with my peers.

While everyone seemed to be doing well at math, accounting etc. my strongest selling points were English and Business Studies.

That was when I realised British education was stifling to me. Stifling in the sense that what I was taught would be what I was exactly going to be tested on.

The America that I knew as a tween was not the America that I knew as an Asian international student.

For one, the racial landscape that I was exposed to as a tween was slightly more palatable and something I was used to having grown up in Malaysia.

In the sea of white undergraduate students in landlocked Wisconsin, I was not your typical MCBBPJ.

Most people would chalk it off to me being me because of the good silver spooned life my parents I have given me.

Sometimes, I think that my depression is the result of my class privilege.

That I had ample time to ruminate and overthink while your typical MCBBPJs had better things to do such as attending the #Bersih rally or partying it up at Zouk or vaping away their lungs at vape bars (now now, stereotypes exist for a reason).

There are also childhood experiences that I had as a child that made me feel like I have to be the counter-culture to the culture of your typical MCBBPJs.

Yes, I do have that condescending, holier than thou American accent. I do wonder why you British educated lads and ladies chide me for it. Although I suppose, you fail to realise that beneath that American accent is my usage of British words and spelling.

After all, be it if you are in America, in Britain, in Malaysia, we are all bigots. We just do bigotry differently.

I do not have many achievements to my name. To the rest of the MCBBPJs out there, I have a lot to prove.

No, I do not go to a third tier British university.

No, I do not go to an Ivy League university.

No, I will not graduate with honors.

No, I have no idea what I will do after I graduate.

No, there is no confirmation that I will be able to get a job straight out of college.

Yes, my mother and I are comfortable enough to discuss my reproductive rights.

Yes, my father and I can talk about foreign affairs and rake leaves whenever the garden calls for it.

Yes, I am a voracious reader but my sister can be the queen of sports.

There is that real chance that I will turn out like your textbook MCBBPJ, mr. member of parliament.

You speak from experience and you know stereotypes exist for a reason.

The real me, struggles with depression.

The real me, would rather debate how the TPPA would affect Malaysia with a self-righteous American lovin’ American.

The real me, feels like a third culture child.

The real me is more comfortable being open about my sexuality, eating my food right away instead of snapping photos before I eat.

The real me is a snob. The real me is privileged. But I know that.

So to my dear MCBBPJs out there, will you let the ‘letter to a 20 something Malaysian’ become your dogma for 30 minutes since that’s how short our attention spans become?

Or will you just recognise that you do not have to be a typical MCBBPJ, that even if you could not have crafted your feelings the way she did in eloquently written English, that you are more than that?