hold my hand and we can jump straight into the cold unloving sea
The Path Home
When you ask where home is, I can give you a variety of answers. I was born in Hong Kong, but I grew up in Shanghai. I’m not deeply familiar with either of these cultures as I went to an American school, understanding enough of each culture to relate to my peers but not enough that I would fully fit into any particular city. Of course I now live in London, and have since picked up a strange mix of an American-British accent as well as a combination of random phrases and slang from both cultures. I speak enough Mandarin and Cantonese to get by and hold conversations, but not to a degree that would be useful for any job. Effectively, my mother tongue, the language of my ancestors, is being lost to me and unless I move back to Hong Kong, will likely be lost to any future children I may have.
Lotus Paste Mooncakes
In China, one of the most important festivals each year is Mid-Autumn Festival. It falls on the moon closest to the autumn equinox. To celebrate, we eat mooncakes. Although there are many variations, the one that I grew up eating was a lotus-paste mooncake with a salted egg yolk inside but other variations include savoury ones, such as pork filled, or sweet ones like read bean. In recent years, new variations have also developed, but I am a stickler for tradition. I have always disliked the salted egg yolk, so this is a fully vegan recipe! This mooncake is a bit savoury but mostly sweet-ish.
"Cursed" is a story for the Colonised
Fae legends have frequently been coded as colonised and oppressed peoples. Perhaps the most famous one of our modern age is JKR's portrayal of goblins—small, large nosed, greedy bankers who care nothing for the rest of the world. Anyone with the slightest understanding of Jewish stereotypes understands the allusion. The orcs in Lord of the Rings are an older stereotype of the 'barbaric' Mongols. The folklore of changelings is now attributed to autistic children. In each case, the Fae are to be reviled, a warning of the evils that the Other could do to the Self.
The Great Wall Lovers
There is a saying in China about movies. Americans go to the movies to have a good time, to imagine a better life. Chinese go to the movies to have a bad time, to remind themselves of what life is not. We can see this phenomenom far beyond the advent of cinema, to the very stories on which our civilisation is built. As such, the stories I grew up on did not teach me about hope and a better future but of the angst of love and longing, the type that can transcend time and space itself.
The ACOTAR Curse
ACOTAR, or A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J Maas, is easily one of the more controversial books I have seen. I have never seen a series or author that has as many ardent fans or anti-stans. On one hand, you have people who will overlook every problem with the book. On the other, you have people who hate it with a passion and go out of their way to let people know they hate it. I mean, part of it is understandable--this is the series that spawned the 'soap dick' controversy, it is massive. But that's not what I want to talk about today.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
I grew up with what can be best described as early nineteenth century ideals. I learnt how to cook and clean early on and went through all the expectations one might find at a finishing school of yesteryear--I learnt to walk with books on my head, the proper mannerisms of how one should eat and act, and of course, how to sew and embroider.
I Don't Really Want To Come Out of the Closet
I am in the crux of Millenials and Gen Z, the years that nobody wants. I grew up aware of the internet but rarely using it until my teens and have a childhood more similar to later Millenials. But I use the lingo of Gen Z, I understand their trends, I have the university experience of Gen Z the way that most of my classmates were Gen Z.