A Critical Review of Dim Sum Funeral
Back in May 2010, I decided to watch a film called Dim Sum Funeral. I had been interested in Asian culture since the end of my sophomore year in high school. Maybe even a little before then. In the spring of 2010, I was just starting to learn a little bit of Mandarin Chinese. So, this film around a supposed-deceased matriarch of a Chinese American family caught my interest. My family still had digital cable and also had a free one year subscription to HBO that ran out by the end of the month. It was also Asian Heritage Month, which I wasn't completely aware of until May 2010. Dim Sum Funeral revolves around a dysfunctional ABC (American Born Chinese) family called the Xiaos. In the film, these group of five siblings who can't stand each other spend a week together planning their mother's funeral and trying to "resolve their differences" with each other. Their children also spend time together as well.
Life Lessons from Dealing with a Toxic Sibling
About six years ago, my maternal half sister and I severed ties with each other through Facebook. She deleted me from her friends list after I ignored two of her messages. One of the last things she said to me was something along the lines of how she wasn't going to chase me. She also said that I thought I had life figured out and that she hoped I find what I was looking for. Another piece of incriminating evidence was how she kept asking what did she do wrong for me to ignore her the way I did. She knew our relationship had been strained for years. It only got worse when our mother became mentally unstable. The truth is our relationship hadn't been good for years. It began to fall apart after our mother left my father.
An Open Letter to My Mother
So, I know I haven't written on Vocal in about six months. But, I'm finally back. Another mother's day is upon us. In the years following my mother's mental breakdown, it was hard to cope with. However, within the last few years it's been a little easier. This year, if my mom is still alive, she'd be 55 years old. But, since she's been mentally unstable and on the streets for so long, we have no idea if she's still living or not. I want to write an open letter to my mother, which includes things I never said to her when I was younger. So, here it goes.
Why I'm Open to Attending Online College Classes
At the end of 2014, I dropped out of community college. It was for medical billing and coding. They say you can get the certificate between 4 and 15 months. In my case, it had been a little over two years since I had my first class, which was Medical Terminology back in 2012. My late teens and early 20s was a bad time for me. Although I passed the classes I attended, I had no motivation to get my Medical Billing and Coding certificate. Not only that, there was one class where I had to use the Protomed software. It was extremely difficult especially for me since I was never really good at math. I barely passed this class by the skin of my neck. But I was so glad I did at least on the surface. I basically bowed down to family pressure and decided to attend community college just to keep up appearances. Deep down I knew many of my relatives looked down on me, yet I decided to enroll in school just to impress them. It didn't work. Especially since I was only enrolled in community college part time and not a full-time student at a four year school. On top of that, I was also expected to work part time while going to college full time. As a person on the Autism spectrum, it wouldn't have worked out for me. I would've burned out like that and had to choose one or the other.
What I Learned From Toxic Friendships
For a good part of 2020, I've been listening and subscribed to Dr. Ramani on YouTube. For anyone who doesn't know who she is, Dr. Ramani is a psychologist who specializes in the toxicity of narcissism and narcissistic relationships. From what I gather she herself was in a bad marriage with her ex husband. They divorced in 2008. Although I haven't attended therapy since 2019, I can say that it has helped me tremendously along with Dr. Ramani's videos on narcissism. Unfortunately, I dealt with my fair share of narcissists and it began in childhood with the sexual abuse and molestation. One thing I learned about narcissists is they're very self-serving. They don't care who they hurt to get what they want out of life. It could be you or someone else close to them. In my case, the narcissistic people who I dealt with started rubbing off on me. I started being almost as cruel, careless and reckless as them. I was starting to hurt people who may have cared for me even if it was in their own special way. I still feel bad about it to this day.
Life Lessons from Higher Learning
Back in January, I had the delight of watching the film Higher Learning through my free subscription to Pluto TV. Every time the film airs on TV, I always miss the beginning. Like Spike Lee, John Singleton was no stranger to creating controversial films. In my opinion, Higher Learning is one of them yet genius and creative at the same time. I know race and ethnic issues is once again a hot topic in America today. Recently, I read a response to my comment on a YouTube video of a trailer for Higher Learning and someone said it was ahead of its time. Maybe it was. I think the goal of the film was to highlight the political and ethnic issues of the 90s. From what I heard, some people said the colleges they attended were nothing like the fictional Columbus University in the film. However, we can agree that many colleges have been involved in political and societal issues since the Civil Rights and Vietnam War era of the 1960s.
What I Learned From Dealing with Child Abuse
This article will be a little similar to a previous one I wrote about being raised in an abusive household. However, I want to discuss specific examples of some of the abusive behaviors I endured from my mother. My mother in particular was no stranger when it came to using a belt. Some people feel like corporal punishment can help keep a child in line. Some also feel that the only thing a kid needs is a spanking. Then there are those who feel as though a belt or spanking could do justice. Nowadays, the ideology behind corporal punishment is pretty controversial. Plenty of people feel like it's child abuse or close to it. I can understand their sentiment. I personally don't think I'll be able to use corporal punishment if I were to have my own children.
Living With an Undiagnosed Mentally Ill Mother
Once again, I'm going to write another article about something that isn't easy to discuss. It's concerning my mother who may have had a mental illness for years. She never sought help for her issues. Some African Americans say there's a stigma around mental illness and seeking help in the black community. Perhaps they're right. Growing up I thought my mother's antics were "normal." As stated in my last article, she held onto the beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God years after she stopped attending their congregation. She felt like God was going to help her with all of her problems mentally and physically. Even a devout Christian would say, "God helps those who help themselves." She could've done that plenty of times before her mental breakdown. It's too late for that now.
Being Raised With Cultish Beliefs
In a previous article I wrote, I briefly mentioned how my mother raised me with beliefs she learned from the Worldwide Church of God. Now, I want to discuss how these same beliefs helped shaped my views on religion in adulthood. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Worldwide Church of God was started by Herbert Armstrong in 1933. He and his family were living in Eugene, OR and it was originally known as the Radio Church of God. As time went on, Herbert's program became known as the World Tomorrow long before it started airing on TV. From there, he established the WCG. The Worldwide Church of God was a doomsday cult. Herbert Armstrong told his followers he had all the answers and his beliefs were the only way. He said that other Christian churches and religions were false doctrine.
Growing Up in An Abusive Household
This isn't easy for me to talk about. But I feel like I must share my story with others especially since I just turned 28. For the longest time, I didn't discuss being raised in an abusive household. It distorted my outlook on life for the longest time. First, let's talk about my early childhood. My mother and father never married. As mentioned in another article, I am the product of an interracial relationship. My parents were only together for five years between 1991 and 1996. Their relationship ended when I was only four years old. The worst 14 years of my life were spent living with my mother. From 1996 until 2010, I didn't know how to speak out about the abuse that happened while living with my mother. Eventually, I found my voice and sought help.
What to Learn From the Film Gimme Shelter
As a birthday present to myself, I've decided to watch an overlooked film called Gimme Shelter. It was released on October 17, 2013 at the Heartland Film Festival and again on January 24, 2014 in theaters across the US. Gimme Shelter is a Christian drama film starring Vanessa Hudgens, James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser and Ann Dowd. Filming began in 2011 and scenes were shot entirely in New York and New Jersey. In the film, Agnes "Apple" Bailey (Hudgens) decides to run away from her abusive neglectful drug addicted mother who was keeping her to collect welfare. After being thrown out of a cab on the highway, she walked for hours and eventually found her biological father. He was now a successful broker on Wall Street and lived in a rich gated community to show for it. Initially, things didn't go so well and Apple ended up back on the streets. This was after Apple found out she was pregnant and was at odds with her father and his wife over wanting to keep the baby.
Being Biracial or Multiracial in the 21st Century
Alright, it's not very often that I discuss race. But given the current political climate in this country, I feel like I should. I want the world to know how I feel about being mixed race in the 21st century in Trump's America. Let's start with my family. I was born to an African American mother and a Caucasian father. My dad's mother is German and English and his father was Jewish. My dad's paternal grandparents came from Russia before World War I in 1910. This region is now known as present day Belarus. My dad said my great grandparents wanted the most American sounding last name possible and it was given. My great grandmother was 14 and my great grandfather was 19. It's possible they married young. Societal norms were much different even in the early 20th century. Before coming to America, they knew very little about it except that it was established by the English. They also knew they could make it big here. When they saw blacks for the first time, they thought all of them came from Africa. They had misconceived notions that if you touched a black person's hair, you'll cut your hands. But they had no exposure to people other than whites especially back in Russia. US History wasn't really taught in the old country.