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Sunday, August 14, 2005

True, Clark, it is quiet in here. Let's remedy that.

I don't know if it's because of the brain-withering heat, or because I had a two-hour outdoor fight call before lunch, or because I'm about to bleed, or because of my nigglingly raw throat, or because I'll be seeing my parents in a fortnight for the first time in two years, but I just watched the second half of The Joy Luck Club on television and bawled. my. fucking. eyes. out. It took maybe fifteen minutes for the tears to start welling, but as soon as they spilled over the edge of my lashes, I was an uncontrollably sobbing, face-crumpled wreck until the credits rolled.

It must be; every single Chinese (or half-Chinese) girl on the planet grapples with exactly the same issues. Maternal expectation. Failure to live up to maternal expectation. Desperate desire to win mother's pride. Guilt. Resentment. Low self-worth. Pain at the sudden realization of mother's own low self-worth. Sacrifice. Pain, guilt, and love at the realization of mother's sacrifice. Later: desperate desire to break cycle. Birth of daughter(s). Inability to escape cultural (genetic?) patterns. More sacrifice. Pain at the realization of daughter's own low self-worth. Heartbreaking struggle to reconcile feelings and experiences. Rinse. Repeat.

The Jews have their complicated mother-son relationships. White Anglo-Saxon sons always have issues with their fathers. But no culture in the world can do mother-daughter angst like the Chinese.

It's wonderful. It's awful. It's insane. Every scene I caught in The Joy Luck Club was reflected in my own family, and every story told has been told or lived by me or my mother in some way. I vaguely remember being recommended this movie and/or the book when I was in high school, but I never got around to checking it/them out. I'm not sure I would have understood back then, anyway. From twelve to seventeen, I was firmly stuck in 'resentment.'

Now I can finally say that I have cried while watching a sappy chick flick (it was critically acclaimed, but still ...) on the fucking Lifetime Channel. I am woman, hear me .. sob melodramatically into a tea-towel.
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