A C- Life

grading_system

 

C- as defined by this chart here is “minimum standards”.  I’ve worn this letter grade throughout school like a badge.  In the 4th grade when I brought home my first report card with letter grades my mom and the guy we were living with at the time were horrified.  They thought I was going to be a super student based on my previous report cards that had no letter grades but only comments.   I was described as pleasant, obedient, cooperative and not stupid.  Once letter grades were introduced to my life though, I changed.  I was none of those good things from then on.  That first letter grade report card was full of C minuses.

Every time I brought home a report card that was full of the C- grade, I would get this rush of motivation to do better next time.  I would do OK for a month and then start slipping again.  I knew if I brought home crap grades I would get in shit but I kept bringing them home cause I just couldn’t get myself to study all the time.  They would try to bribe me and punish me but it wouldn’t work.  To me I didn’t see the point.  I didn’t have dreams of going to university, couldn’t care less of what school mates thought of my grades and getting in trouble from my mom or guardian didn’t scare me.

The C- grade often signifies that you hate this shit and just want to get by.  Doing just enough so you don’t drown.  I was always methodical about my C- grade too.  We would get 3 semesters/terms a year in high school.  If I got D’s in the first 2 semesters I would calculate what I needed to get in the last semester in order to finish the year with a C-.  Also, if I got higher than a C- in the first 2 semesters I would do as little as possible in the last semester as long as I didn’t get lower than a C-.  My grade 11 math teacher discriminated against my ways and failed me for the year out of spite.  I was in grade 12 and needed to pass math 11 to graduate.  The rule was a grade 12 student wasn’t required to take the final if they had already passed the year.  With my calculations I passed the year with 51% so I said screw it to taking the final.  So what does she do?  She fails me and says it’s up to her if she wants to include my grade from the final which was 0% cause I didn’t take it.  She hated that I skipped class, hardly did my homework but still was able to muster up a passing grade.  She was fat and got cancer later.  I went to report her to the vice principal but being the C- person I am, I didn’t try harder to make a thing about it.  Plus I was just a timid, passive Asian kid.  She’s lucky I had no uncle or father to tell who would actually do something.  If I could go back I would have assembled some friends together wearing ski masks or pantyhose (probably pantyhose cause it would be way funnier) and bombarded her with rotten eggs.  I would come back a year later and let her know it was me.

It wasn’t until grade 12 that I stumbled upon a way to change my C- grades into C+’s.  Our report cards were printed using light black/greyish ink so if you just took a thin lead pencil and stroked the – into a + you would get a decent looking C+.  More than sufficient to trick an immigrant mother.

My C- life has continued since then.  I still only do just enough most of the time.  Throughout my 20’s I would work and save money just so I could not work.  Most other people would continue working so they could buy something big like a new car or property.  I’m starting to think it’s just not very possible for me to be trying to get B’s or A’s or even C+’s whether it’s in school or life.  Maybe I should be deliberately trying to live a C- life instead of living a C- life but always thinking and sometimes trying to live for a higher letter grade.  Maybe I’m better off just getting by cause every time I try to shoot for the stars or whatever is lower than the stars, I lose fuel and have to eject myself back to ground.  Sounds like loser talk but shit, maybe I am one.  If I really am then there’s no use even trying to compete.

 

Humans are glorified monkeys

There’s a video clip I recorded using the Chinese mystical art of holding a camera to the television.  It’s my first time so I did a lousy job but the content is watchable.  It displays a bunch of Japanese macaques appearing to be all peaceful and cute until they’re not.

The difference between them and humans is that we now live in a time where we don’t have to use physical aggression to get our message across.  We don’t even need to speak to each other.  We can simply communicate by not doing anything.  If we don’t want someone to join our party we just don’t invite them.  If we don’t feel invited then we just don’t go.

As a mostly civilized society with many options we hardly ever engage in direct physical aggressiveness for anything .  It hardly ever has to get to that point.  But what if water, heat and resources were to become scarce?  Most of us would become monkeys.

The equivalent situation to the pool of Japanese monkeys in western society is not being able to get into the coolest night club or fancy restaurant.  I guess primates act crazy for things of scarcity.

I find it amazing how all social creatures who thrive in groups will have members who will cooperate even if they get the extreme short end of the stick.  They’re willing to accept to be the last ones to eat or to be left out in the cold.  It’s like their duty to serve the alpha for the greater good of the dominant specie.  It’s like nature’s programming for them.  It’s the same for humans.  The aggressive ones more often than not will be the ones to achieve success while the passive, easy going ones usually get what’s left over.   In human society the aggressor doesn’t have to ever get physical or even verbal like a monkey to achieve success in the classic sense.   Most people aren’t willing to fight for success that hard.  They’re willing even if it’s reluctantly, to quit and let someone else take the gold.  Hard work, ego and selfishness will get you to the top.  If you’re missing one of those traits you’ll likely be a bottom feeder.  Even in the game of Texas Holdem Poker, the best players are the aggressive ones.  The universe does not seem to favour the meek.

21st Century Life

Many of us in the western world don’t ever think about how possible it is for our current standard of living to be squashed one day in the near future.  We’re so used to having jobs, cars and a whole bunch of little luxuries that have been made possible from decades of economic prosperity.  In life there’s one thing that is always guaranteed and that’s change.  Throughout our lives all we have seen for the most part is change for the better but I think it’s all starting to fall apart.

I don’t know crap about economics and such but it seems as though our capitalistic system is failing more people in the western society than helping them prosper.  The current situation of this capitalistic era is seeing the distribution of wealth leaving the middle class and transferring to the wealthy and to the working class of the developing countries.  Unskilled labour in first world countries such as factory jobs and customer service jobs are being outsourced.  It seems as though if someone from a developing country can do your job then it may just happen.  This is how our system works.  It’s the way of the publicly traded corporation.

Publicly traded corporations only live by profit.  Quarter after quarter they have to see growth from the last quarter.  For this to continue to succeed there needs to be infinite growth which is not possible.   If a publicly traded corporation cannot find ways to generate more revenue they look to cut costs.  It does not care if people have to lose their jobs.  It will do anything it needs to stay alive.  They build up a bubble of prosperity and when there’s nothing left they blow it up and start over again.  Ordinary citizens suffer from the burst and some of the corporations fall as well but the ones that are still alive come out stronger.

If I were to have kids (having kids would just add to the problem), I would try to entice them to get some kind of skill so that they could not easily be replaced by a robot, immigrant or someone from a 3rd world country.  If they could not be inspired to find a skill to pursue then I would have to try and train them on how to be happy with little money cause the easy jobs with decent pay seem to be disappearing.  If they’re not outsourcing they’re hiring cheap labour and the only thing I have over an immigrant who will work way harder than me for less money is that I can speak English.  I think knowing how to speak English isn’t going to be that special one day.  They outsource call center jobs to India and the Philippines.  I don’t know if that was possible 20 years ago.  The next time “David” answers your call with an Indian accent you know what’s up.

It seems unfair that the ones who lived comfortably for so long may have to see a demise to their way of living for themselves and to their future generations of family.  But the same system that is presently less favourable to the middle class and less than middle class in the western society is also the system that brought them decades of a comfortable standard of living while billions around the world lived in poverty.  Some of the very poor aren’t as poor anymore.  If you ever wanted to give to charity you may have done so by having your wage cut, not getting a raise or losing your job.

This is just life I think.  It doesn’t have to be this way in theory but it’s going to be.  It is unfair that there’s such an inequality of wealth distribution but when has wealth and power ever been distributed fairly.  The rich use, abuse and exploit the not rich.    There’s 7 billion of us eating from the same piece of pie and that pie never really gets any bigger but there’s always more people.

I’m not sure what I’m really trying to say except life is ever-changing and it seems unfair only when you get the shorter end of the stick.   Since the beginning of time, groups of people got shafted so another group could benefit.  Maybe it’s just our turn now.

I just watched the documentary, Detropia and felt inspired to write something.  If a once thriving city like Detroit can become what it has become today then why can’t it happen anywhere else?  I guess it depends on what industry your city thrives on.

Old People

This morning I pull up in front of my place after going to the grocery store and there’s this old white lady pulling weeds on the front yard of where I live.  She wasn’t on the grass section right in front of the house but where the sidewalk is.  I thought it was kind of strange but not really.  Although I didn’t completely recognize her, I was pretty sure she lived 3 houses beside me cause there is only 1 old white lady on this whole block.  She saw me, I said hi and she was telling me about how pulling the weeds or the seeds now would stop them from growing for 2 years or something like that.  I was like “oh, ok” and went inside.  I didn’t know what to say.  Am I suppose to say “thank you”?  Or “get the hell off my lawn”?

3 minutes later I come back out to head to the gym and the conversation is as follows.

Old Lady: Do you live in the basement here?

Me: Yes.

Old Lady: You know, people who own houses have a responsibility to keep their property looking nice.

Me:  I guess that would be ideal.

Old Lady:  No, not ideal.  That’s the way it should be.  You can’t have a neighbourhood looking lousy.  I pull weeds on this whole block.

Me: It probably would be the best thing but I guess it’s up to the owner of the property.

Old Lady: Well you’re young, why don’t you take some initiative and get a lawn mower and cut the grass and weeds.

Me: Honestly, you shouldn’t be going to people’s property and doing as you please.  If you’re going  to do this you should be talking to them about it first and you can’t go around telling people what to do.

Old Lady: Well, it blows onto my yard.

I don’t really know much about this weed stuff so maybe it does blow onto her yard from 3 houses away but it could also be horse shit cause she just wanted the last word.  I think she has this 1950’s mentallity of middle class suburbia where Herb comes home in his overalls holding his lunch kit and says hi to Frank who’s mowing his lawn while Gertrude is baking pies with her apron on and knee length dress.  All the houses have neatly cut lawns with no oil on the driveway.  Bob knows Bill across the street and Sue knows all the neighbourhood kids.  I may be speaking out of line cause this is just the imagery I get from what TV has taught me.

Maybe people like weeds on their lawn and she just ruined months of anticipation.  I have this feeling she went home and told her husband about our ordeal.  Well, she must have.  I’m sure she’s directing racial comments to me in her head.  This block is like 80% maybe 90% Chinese and no one has a pristine yard like her.  Her hedges are all even and trimmed.   She’s got flowers blooming everywhere.  Her and her husband are also retired and don’t have shit to do.

When the old lady pulled out that “you’re young” comment it’s like one of those things where it’s not fair.  I’m sure there’s a word for it but my ghetto vocabulary is not very sophisticated.  It’s like when a fat person can make fun of a skinny person but not the other way around.  Or when a non-white person can make fun of a white person.  Or when a poor person can talk shit to a rich person.  I should have said, “you’re old, you should have learnt some manners by now.”  Or “you’re old, maybe you should take some initiative and die.”
Obviously she feels strongly about the subject of keeping your yard well kept.  It’s a decent thing to do for the neighbourhood I guess.  Some people just don’t care as much though and it doesn’t make them a bad person.  It’s not like the grass is 3 feet tall with dead bodies all over the place.  There’s this thing about a lot of neighbourhoods where people are obsessed with keeping the area looking like the movie Pleasantville and if your lot doesn’t look up to snuff then they hate on you like you’re the enemy.   Now I have to deal with this old lady’s probable stink eye everytime I see her.

Moving Home With Mom

Is it frowned upon for a 33 year old man to move in with this mother?  How about on top of that he goes from full time work to part time work too?  I’ve been entertaining this idea for a little while now and I find it quite alluring.

In the western world doing something like this would be considered social suicide and loserism at its peak.   Admitting that you couldn’t handle yourself on your own.   Luckily I’m Asian so these rules only semi-apply to me if at all.  It’s not that I can’t take care of myself.  But when I have an option to make my life easier or less miserable I have to consider it.  Asians, whether the brown type or the yellow type, can be commonly found living with their parents no matter how old they are and even if they are married.  Still, I can’t help but feel a little like a loser if I were to move back in with my mom.  It’s kind of retarded to feel that way though.  She lives alone in this house with 3 rooms.  I pay rent to some dude and his wife.  Wouldn’t it make more sense if I moved in with her?  Any money I give to her will either benefit her or come back to me when she dies.  I think about my mom dying quite often and how life would be with my inheritance.

I think one big reason why people want to get the hell out of their parents place as soon as they can is because their parents are always up in their business, talking to them and nagging them.  It’s a different environment in a Chinese household.  We don’t talk to each other unless if we have to.  There’s not a lot of conversation cause our Chinese sucks and their English sucks.  We stay in our room and they stay in theirs.  Plus they never understand anyway.  Talking to them is like talking to a retarded kid sometimes.  They don’t know what’s going on outside of their bubble.  We’re similar to Goth kids to our parents.  We don’t say much, talk about our lives or smile much.  This coming from a person who doesn’t really know what a Goth kid is about.  Oh well, it’s fun to be judgmental.

There’s other big reasons why I’m thinking about moving in.  I want a dog!  I can’t have one if I’m renting and I’ll never be able to afford a house.  She has a yard!  Another reason is that I want to watch out for my mother.  I don’t want her to be victimized by a home invader or by someone trying to rip her off.  If she gets scammed that’s coming out of my inheritance.  A few weeks ago she was going to call someone cause she thought the garden hose was leaking from the connection from the faucet outside.  Turns out the garden hose just wasn’t screwed on tight enough.

I have it all planned out.  The situation with my mom right now is that she works 12 hours a day so she’s never home anyway.  That’s been the situation for before I was born.  I’ll wake up before her and go to the gym.  Once I come back she’ll be gone.  I’ll eat lunch and play with the dog, watch TV and run errands.  3pm comes around I’ll go to work for 4 hours, come home, eat dinner and walk the dog.  My mom will be home around 11 so I’ll stay up until then cause the barking of the dogs will wake me anyway.  Once she’s home I’ll say hi and go to bed half hour later.

There’s people out there always hating on people who live with their parents.  The heck does it matter to anyone if someone lives with their parents?   They’re just pissed off cause they’re always broke.  Go yell at your parents for kicking you out or yell at yourself for wanting to be independent cause no one else made you move out.

So ya, those are my reasons or excuses for thinking about moving in with moms.  Another bonus is that I get to get out of this neighborhood that I grew up in where I always bump into people.  I just bumped into someone an hour ago at the liquor store.  I see people at the grocery store, on the road, everywhere.  I don’t want to see them to have the same small talk.  I’m only here cause it’s 5 minutes away from work.  My company has a station in the same district where my mom is.   But ya, I want a dog.  If it’s boy I’ll name him Mr. Johnson the 2nd.

 

Paranoid Chinese People

I should write more about Chinese people since it’s not fully accepted for non-Chinese people to do so.  Johnson is not my first name or last but I get my kicks out of seeing females type it out.  Juuuussst joking.

A good bulk of the Chinese immigrant population in the western world are constantly living scared.  I’m not exactly sure what it is but I think it has something to do with the possibility of easily getting screwed over when they used to live in the old country.  They think if they get in trouble with the law the government will come and seize all their assets.

Location: Vancouver, BC

Chinese Population: 230,000 (not including the suburb population)

Story #1

Yesterday I had a delivery for a residential household (I deliver parcels and stuff) and an oldish Chinese lady answered the door after seeing I was probably not a criminal from her upstairs window.  The conversation is as follows,

Me: Hi, I have something for Brandon Lee

Her:  What is it?

Me: I’m not sure but it’s probably just a piece of paper.

Her: Oh.  Ummm.  I don’t know.

Me: Do you know this person?

Her: Of course!  He’s my son.

Me: Ok.  Would you be able to give this to him?

Her:  I don’t know what it is. You can leave it here (she points inside beside the door).

Me: I need a signature if that’s ok.

Her: No way!

Me: Ok.  He’ll have to pick it up then.

Her: Ok bye.  Sorry, I do not know English.

What the heck? She knew enough English.  I think that’s just the line she uses to get out of a conversation.  I can tell she’s been here a while cause I’ve seen her son before and he speaks English without an accent and he’s like 40 so she’s probably been here for at least 30 years.

Story #2

Another time I had this delivery to a house and after knocking on the door I hear a knock from the front window.  It’s this old Chinese guy giving me hand signals to just leave the box there.  I’m in full uniform and I’m Chinese and he’s still paranoid that I’m going to tackle him once he opens the door and steal all his jade jewellery.

Story #3

I have an uncle who bought a second house as an investment property in the early 90’s.  Around the beginning of the new millennium he stopped by there and smelt marijuana smoke and thought the tenants were doing a grow-op.  In Vancouver there was a period where marijuana grow-ops were the biggest thing.  Regular people who were poor became rich from doing grow-ops.  The laws were so lenient that it was worth the risk.  Once he smelt the smoke he freaked out and became stressed out and decided to put the house for sale.  He didn’t even inspect the house or talk to the tenants.   The burn was that the 10 years he owned the house, real estate prices didn’t go up but just a few years after he sold it the market almost doubled.

Story #4

There’s another uncle I have that also bought a house as an investment.  His wife felt uneasy about having another mortgage and nagged him to death to sell it.  He sold it around the same time as my other uncle and got shafted too.  He’s like 65 now and his wife won’t let him retire until he can’t physically work anymore.  No wonder he can’t quit smoking.  These are my alpha male role models?  No wonder I’m such a loser.

Story #5

My mother had this dog before and someone in the neighbourhood complained about it barking too much.  Some city worker came by and talked to my mom about it and gave her a warning.  The next day she gave the dog away like it was some kind of curse.  The dog was only a year old so I’m sure it had no problem finding a home.  I want to call my mom something really offensive right now but I might end up feeling bad if I do.  Not for her but for anyone reading this.

 

 

The Bullshit of LIfe

If you believed in Jesus Christ all your life and found out after you died that it was all a crap of lies, wouldn’t you be pissed off?  Hypothetically speaking of course.  If you could do it over again you probably wouldn’t devote anymore Sundays to the church or have any guilty feeling for getting pissed drunk.  Why?  Because once bullshit reveals itself you can’t go back to it.

It’s difficult sometimes to decipher BS from the truth especially when emotions and ego are involved.  We can go a whole lifetime believing in crap if it makes us feel good.  We can also believe in crap cause we’re too scared to entertain the truth cause it makes us feel shitty about ourselves.

One of the biggest fallacies in life is that we think people care about us or that they care about us just for who we are.  Given enough time and opportunity the truth, if you allow yourself to see it, will show you that people generally only care about themselves.  They only care about you if they can benefit from you or if you compliment their existence.  When I say compliment their existence I mean you make them feel good about themselves.  For example, rich people tend to only hang out with rich people.  Yuppies don’t hang out with hippies.  Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t hang out with anyone but Jehovah’s Witnesses.

No one is going to spend much time and energy on you if they don’t get anything out of it.  You have to remember that we’re really just animals and not this special species that’s above any monkey clan roaming this earth.  We’ll sometimes cross paths with old friends that seem so excited to see us and project an impression that they care about us.  At that moment they may actually feel that way but that’s just for that moment.  When people are face to face like that they can get all emotional.  It’s sort of a monkey instinct to be nice to someone when you see them in person.

It will sound extremely cynical when I say that even when people call you once in a while it is merely a selfish action.  They feel obligation because of your relationship title or they have to clear their conscience and get that obligatory birthday phone call out of the way.

Perhaps this is just how it works.  I think the most selfless selfish reason that anyone would want to be friends with you is because they enjoy your company.

Bullshit needs to be able to run its course for the truth to reveal itself.  Most people think attaining monetary wealth is the key to ultimate happiness.  It’s only the few that make it to this pinnacle of wealth that get to see it’s not what it was cracked up to be.  For the rest that never realize this dream they continue on believing if they could just make a bit more money they would reach their dream of happiness.  It’s similar when it comes to people.  You have to be let down enough and beat all the possible goodness from the people in your life to be able to see that your connection is based on fragile bullshit.

It makes sense that no one wants to question the bullshitness of their life and relationships.  It could break down their whole existence to nothing.  It’s better to be in denial or even better, ignorance.