Creative Writing

There is a short phrase we find difficult, if not impossible, to say to our parents.

“I love you.”

They don’t say it. We don’t say it. Or, so I thought.  

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I wanted to delve further into this phrase, especially in relation to our mothers. Why don’t we say it? Or, do we say it often? Should we even have to say it? I walked around UCLA and asked some of my peers what their thoughts were.

Pacific Ties: Has your mom said “I love you” to you before?
Josephine Gao: Yes, my mom has … every time before I fly to UCLA. It makes me feel very happy and loved. It is very comforting to hear, especially if she says it when I am stressed or upset.
Raymond Huynh: No, but she makes food for me which is all the love I need.
Sujan Kim: My mom tells me she loves me all the time – whenever we hang up on the phone, whenever we’re hanging out, all the time.

PT: How does your mom express her love for you?
Frank Deng: She tells me. She worries about every little thing for me.
Pauline Tze: Basically, my mom worries at least twice as much about the things I’m worried about even after I stop being worried about them, and she nags me about things I haven’t been worrying about as well. I just pick up her calls even if I’m in the middle of studying and bear through all her nagging.

PT: Do you say “I love you” to your mom? How does she respond?
Linda Yee: Yes! She says I love you back or kisses me.
JG: Yes, I tell my mom that I love her before I end phone conversations with her. She usually replies that she loves me too.
RH: Yes (laughs). She just laughs.
SJ: I tell her I love her as often as I can. She always reciprocates the mushiness.

PT: How do you express your love for your mom?
LY: I like to think that I express my love for my mom through my actions. I’ll go up and hug her, or I’ll try to help her with whatever she’s doing.
JG: Honestly, I don’t think I adequately express my love for my mom, even though I love her a lot and am very grateful for everything she has done for me. (But) when I come home, I help my mom with chores like cooking dinner, washing dishes and folding laundry. I bring her hot tea, and we spend quality time together, watching TV shows that she likes.
SJ: I call her often and send her funny pictures of my daily life while she does the same. It’s like I never left home.

After my interviews, I learned the phrase didn’t matter too much. Whether our mothers say “I love you” or express it through actions, their love comes in hidden and various forms that don’t require words at all. The three words are just three words.

So, this Mother’s Day and the days after, let’s not forget the spoken or unspoken love our mothers have for us. Let’s remind them of our appreciation and reciprocation through words or actions; either works! I know Sunday I’ll be giving my mom a call saying “I love you.”

 

ni meiyou bing (you’re not sick)

I came to UCLA with a dream that I’d be somehow new.
That the real me would just appear.

Maybe a day after moving in, my first panic attack.
I run away from the dining hall.
Between striding and rushing deep into campus,
I end up in the courtyard of the law school.
I lay down on a bench and look up into the emptiness.
I was not expecting this.

When I can breathe again I return.
People line the sides of the hallway.
The warmth of their chatter burns me.
I avoid the eyes looking up at me as I head to my dorm room.
Shame.

I don’t turn on the light when I enter.
I cry until I fall asleep.
I hoped to retire this past time when I got to college.
It came with me.

Counseling and Psychological Services.
CAPS.
I need this.
I had a dream that I’d be someone new.
Clearly I was not.

My first session I meet with an intern.
The session is videotaped.
I should have asked for a different person.
I brought myself here but I still don’t know how to speak.
I am referred to a psychiatrist.

This is how it’s gonna be.
My voice cracks. I can’t see.
What’s wrong with me.

Depression and some post-traumatic stress.
We’ll start you on Prozac.

I don’t tell my ma or ba.

It’s near the end of my first quarter and I can’t sleep.
When I’m still my body vibrates.

I lose my appetite. Good.
I think I’m losing weight. Good.
Xianzai mama bu hui jiao wo pang.

I’m out.
I go to refill my prescription.
I can’t.

I’ve been taking the wrong dose.
I’ve been taking double the dose.
I’ve run out.

Finals. shit.

We’ll switch to Zoloft.

Jazz Kiang is a fourth year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Asian American Studies. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Campus Retention Committee and has previously advocated for Asian American student issues as a former director of the Asian Pacific Coalition.

 

Title: (Still) Untitled

I’m capable of anything

Nas’ imagination gave me wings to fly like doves

Not over streets

But over ringing campus bells that have hooked my opposing gaze

 

You walk past me

Like invisible spirits of a Miyazaki movie

Only introducing yourself when the sun conveniently sets its bright gaze

 

You are class privilege

And a passerby I may never meet in public

 

Because somehow

We wish sunsets to suspend themselves even at the cost of someone else’s sunrise

 

Because somehow

Proposition 209 has shepherded our minds back into Plato’s caves of individualism

 

Because somehow

Our radical imaginations have yet to improve the silenced poverty of our peers

 

Pass onto me your bravery

So I can bypass the hurdles of insecurity that you once used to grapple with

Because somehow

My wallet has bought into this too

 

You are the Burberry fabric I wrap like a noose around my neck

Lauded for beauty but really just a hanging execution by European bourgeoisie

 

You are the inferno Nikes I trudge in

Splashing muddy ignorance of the needled hands that Asian children half my age “just do it” with

 

You are the jasmine scent from 20-pound bags of Buddha brand rice

The choice of life without deserts of only high fructose corn syrup

 

You are the sea breeze during the walk to the ATM every first day of the month

Spotify Premium in headphones deaf to the clangs of nickels grandparents trade bottles for

 

You are class privilege

And the self-proclaimed progressives have tried to hide you

 

I’m capable of nothing

If my imagination passes without these wings

 

You are class privilege

And I have you

By Jenny Huang, Andrew Lopez, Jazz Kiang, Tiffany Guo, Daniel Kim and Gensei Kawahara

“Unanswered”

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

Power in the world

Opposing sides of a coin

Are we heads or tails?

We were the unheard

They laughed when we tried to join

But we cannot fail

A tail has no voice

As a penny on the floor

But still holds value

If given the choice

Would we still want to look down

Or have a new view?

We remove our veils

The potential to be both

While being the heads

We will be the tails

We have all of the power

We stand as the end

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

Patriarchy isn’t colorblind

Women of color haven’t been recognized

They say women got the right to vote in 1920

White, brown, black, and yellow women were of plenty

Yet suffrage wasn’t meant for women of the working class

Just the ones with white fences and green grass

Feminism says that we’re women so together we stand

But how come you won’t hold my pigmented hand?

We’re all in this fight equally

Stand up to the hetero, cis, white, man, the bully

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

Not a single cut more,

distress and pain galore.

Our hearts have bled,

ouch!

but look we have never fled.

Not a second more,

tick tock!

time to act in valor.

Join us in alliance

Fight!

rebel and rise up in defiance.

The movement feels rough during tough times,

But ten pennies weigh more than a dime

Don’t get lost in sorrow,

heads up!

there will still be a tomorrow.

Where should we find an answer for equality?

Shoulder-to-shoulder,

march,

show them who is bolder.

No, it’s not provocative,

look in the mirror,

It’s our prerogative.

Icons last forever in patriarchal memory

But the real lions are women in our families

Grace Lee Boggs, Nobuko Miyamoto, Yuri Kochiyama

Their legacies are more than just periods and commas

We speak for equality

Destroy the patriarchy

To the dear someone who might want to be my friend,

The first thing you must do is forget that I’m Chinese.

Second, you must never forget that I’m Chinese.

(As much as I’d like to), no, I don’t play five instruments. I do, however, enjoy and sing Disney songs in the shower.

Yes, I highly value studying, learning, and working. I list them as priorities. It’s not because Confucius said so—it’s the simplest way to become empowered. But why yes, I would love to attend that social gathering (i.e. party) with you next week Friday.

And, if the Chinese and U.S. governments finally flip out against each other and enter into World War III, please don’t go Red Scare on me and scream“Communist!” at me. The term has done nothing wrong to deserve such an unjustified negative connotation.

Lastly, if you decide that I’m a suitable friend candidate, don’t wear your masks. True beauty lies within. As consolation for ever having to read my terrible writing, I now offer a lifelong term of genuine friendship.

P.S. If you felt déjà vu while reading this… my hint is Pat Parker.

Not yet yours, but sincerely,

Lucy

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