Busy Summer

The school term ended swiftly about a month ago. My finals were all scheduled on the first day of finals week, and I didn’t do nearly as well as I wanted on them. I don’t have perfect grades anymore, but I’ve made peace with that now.

The summer term is in full swing now. I’m still working on two research projects with my advisor, although one of them is wrapping up very soon. My advisor wants to submit my research paper (for the project that’s almost done) for publication in a prominent statistics journal. This paper will be my first publication, which is a big deal, since I’m still only a master’s student. A publication will put me at an advantage when I’m applying for the Ph.D. program in the fall (assuming I’m applying for the Ph.D. program, about which I’m still undecided).

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, my advisor made me the TA for a course that he is co-creating with a colleague. Over this summer, I will be helping to make lecture notes and coming up with homework problems. When the course is actually taught next year, I will be the TA and hold the lab sessions. It’s a great opportunity, since this is the most hands-on experience I’ve had so far in creating a course. Not only that, but this course is an advanced topics course in statistics that’s targeted for 8-10 Ph.D. students in the environmental science department. I haven’t even learned half of the topics (yet), but I’ll be a lowly master’s student being the TA for a Ph.D. level class! Crazy! I’m sure it will be a very different experience from when I was the instructor for a freshmen level differential calculus class in math graduate school.

My term break between the spring and summer overlapped with my brother’s break between medical school and residency, so my parents and he visited me for about a week. We did a lot of the more outdoorsy and touristy things around my university that I wouldn’t do on my own. I showed my parents around the university campus and even found a huge museum that I didn’t know existed! I really don’t get out of my apartment enough.

About a week ago, I went to a Pride event with the couple who live in my building (my two main friends here). The last time I went to a Pride event was five years ago in Canada with my two math grad school besties. Of course, I wore my It Gets Better shirt. My friends and I didn’t do much besides see the tail end of the parade and visit the various booths, but it was wonderful seeing so many people celebrating and supporting gay people.

Self-Conscious

I made a few more mistakes today. I’m not confident in my abilities, so I ask my friend/boss for everything, but he doesn’t want me to ask him for everything anymore. He wants me to make my own mistakes and learn from them. I am learning, but I hate that I have to make mistakes to learn. I hate looking like a novice.

I really am too self-conscious for the business world. I’ve been a very self-conscious person all my life. I’ve always been afraid that people will judge me and either think I’m stupid or just generally look down on me.

I don’t know why what other people think is so important, but it is. Hopefully I can get over it soon and move forward. No one succeeds in business if they dwell on their mistakes and embarrassments forever.

In other news, my friend/boss and his boyfriend are going to LA Pride (commonly known as just “Pride”) tomorrow. They invited me to go with them, but I’m supposed to go to my cousin’s master’s graduation. Unfortunately, family obligations come before big gay celebrations. Oh well, maybe next year.

I Need A Walkie

While I’m working at Target (or at least while I’m getting used to it), my posts will probably be about my job. After all, working is the only substantial thing I do all day (besides watching The Nanny on TV while I drink my morning coffee). I’m not complaining, only commenting.

Today went pretty well. My sorting and shelving became more efficient, and I learned how to use my scanner gun thing to check the back room for additional inventory. Since I still don’t have a walkie (talkie), I can’t ask the team members in the back room to send over more stock if they have it; I have to frantically run and find a team member with a walkie to contact the back room. It makes me look like a newbie (which I am, but it’s still awkward).

I was more help to the guests today too. Not only did I ask “Can I help you find something?” to a lot of guests, but I also was faster at explaining where items were. I recommended a particular hand cream to some guests who asked for my opinion, and they bought it! I’m still not perfect though; I didn’t know my Target sells wine but not beer. I’m learning something new every day!

Here’s a slight side story. Today there were some cute gay guys (probably in their twenties) who asked me where to find some posters. They were trying to find a poster of Miley Cyrus for someone, but they didn’t even know that Miley Cyrus is Hannah Montana! And they call themselves gay… Don’t they keep up with teeny bopper news? Well, at least they were drooling over the poster of Zac Efron, so that’s a good sign of gayness, I guess. I don’t really like Zac Efron actually. To me, he’ll always be the slightly nerdy boyfriend of Nikki in the short-lived show Summerland, which had Jesse McCartney as the headlining hot teen heartthrob, long before (two years) High School Musical and Hairspray.

Anyway. I feel pretty good about working. I’ve never had a job where I worked an eight hour shift every day of the week. It makes me feel like I’m doing something productive. The work doesn’t use my brain as much as mathematics does, but it’s not mind-numbing either. I’m never bored, and there’s always a guest to ask “Can I help you find something?” There’s a small sense of pride that comes out of putting in a full day’s work, no matter what kind of work it is.

Sooner Or Later

My online dating guy wants to meet. I’ve never had a date while I was living at home before (the stranger from the mall excluded), so explaining a boy at my front door who my parents have never heard of has never been an issue. My parents not believing that I’m gay has been fairly easy on all of us because of my lack of dating and relationships. As long as I’m single with no prospects, I can still be “straight.” But what if my online dating guy ends up becoming more serious? The charade can’t last forever.

My coming out to them (properly) seems pretty inevitable. I want to have a decent job and be living at my own place when I come out to them, but I may not get what I want. If things go well with this online dating guy (hypothetically of course), I might have to come out much sooner than I was expecting. Scary on so many levels.

My parents only want me to be happy, right? I wonder if that’s enough to overcome family pride.

You’d think my parents would know by now. I used to help my grandmother pick out clothes when I was two years old, and my mom still asks me for fashion advice. Now that I’m also interested in cosmetology, my mom also asks me for skincare advice. That’s pretty gay.

Pride

Last night my mom and I went to a reception to celebrate the Republic of China (Taiwan) National Day. My mom gets invited to all sorts of events. We ran into a bunch of my mom’s friends, as well as the parents of some of my high school friends.

A big part of these events and seeing old friends is to talk about how great your children are. All parents like to brag about their kids, but in the Chinese culture, the family’s reputation is everything. Any shame (of any magnitude) is unmentioned to “save face.”

Here is a big example. My mom’s friends sometimes ask if she only has two sons, to which she replies yes. She makes no mention of the daughter (my sister) she had from her first marriage, because divorce is shameful. Clearly her good friends know better, but for more casual friends, she basically denies my sister’s existence.

One of my mom’s friends mentioned being a grandmother, and she asked whether my mom is a grandmother yet. When my mom said not yet, her friend turned to me and said “Give your mom the chance.” I shrugged and smiled awkwardly.

It’s events like the one last night that make me think about how I will only bring my family shame. Right now, I’m seen as a good son. I go with my mom to social functions (I have respect for my elders and fulfill my duties as a son), I got a masters (I’m “smart”), and I’m studying to be an actuary (a respectable profession since it makes a lot of money and requires some brains). Once people find out I’m gay, all of that means nothing. Not wanting to marry a woman and have (biological) children to carry on the family name and bloodline is beyond ordinary disgrace.

There are days when I accept who I am. I like boys, and I can’t imagine being straight. It just isn’t me. But then there are days when I really wish I wasn’t gay. On those days, the fact that I’m gay gives me immense guilt and fear. Inevitably, I will let my parents down by just being me.

My parents sometimes say that I’m free to do whatever makes me happy. I just hope that what makes me happy also makes them proud.