Friday, July 14, 2006

The Beginning

Disclaimer: An attempt to recall the past is a mixture between facts and fiction. I reread my first draft since it was written 5 months back and made numerous changes. Below is an edited piece, and I'll keep editing it from time to time. Oh, the beauty of editing. As a fledgling writer going back to read her first draft, I was thoroughly embarrased and wished nobody had read it. Anyhow, you're welcome to read it now at your own discretion, and always with a grain of salt.

Here's 14 years of my life from birth to the American episode in a very, very condense version:

At around 8:30 am on January 11, 1980, I made my grand entrance into the world at Phyathai Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. I was a fat baby with a big, round head. Through the same womb, my older brother had made his residence a year and a half prior.

Yes, I cried too on my first day of pre-school. I also threw up a lot. In all honestly, that was not a tactic to get out of school. It was all real. Then something happened in first grade, I got so bold that I kicked a girl in the tummy for a reason I can't recall. Afterall, there was a mean streak in me.

Another memory was during the annual dance festival, I was chosen as the leader of the Swan Dance. I remember that morning my mother was trying to put some eyeliner around my eyes. It tickled and I couldn't sit still.

I was a definitely a nerd in elementary school. My friends and I had nothing better to do, so we took prep courses after school and on weekends. I did very well and got accepted to a prestigious prep school in Thailand. I think I was rather intelligent then. But something must have happened along the way from childhood to adulthood. As far as I know, many of my elementary school friends went on to become doctors or engineers. As for me, I have yet to land a full-time job as I'm writing this.

Toward the end of 1993, at thirteen, Mom asked me if I wanted to continue my study in America. I said yes before she finished her question. March 22, 1994. A historic day for my brother and I. We landed on American soil and kissed it with tears flowing down our faces. Just a tad of exageration. We actually were dazed and confused by the time we landed and were soon disillusioned with the truth that America wasn't exactly like in the movies. Mom dropped us off with our relatives and went back to Thailand after a month. That was when I cried. First year in America was the most difficult. Now I've been here 12 years, and the last 11 years sorta flew by.

First week of school, I couldn't understand what the boys in a tennis court said during PE. I said something back, and thought it made sense, but they couldn't understand a word. (Darn...those boys were cute and I was babbling at them.)

I went from being well-known, well-recognized for academic achievement to an ESL geek. ESL means "you-are-weird-and-the-cool-kids-don't-like-you." (Years later, an English girl from Birmingham asked me if it's true that in American high schools, there are all these cliques. It was hard for her to believe it as much as for me to believe her that England doesn't have anything like that.) Anyway, for the first few months, I struggled just to speak! That never happened. I was so fluent in Thai. People are not so nice to you in America if you don't speak good English. On the other hands, people in third world countries will love you for trying to sound a word in their language, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. They think it's the cutest thing. But if you're in America and can't say a perfect sentence, there's nothing cute about that. Go figure...

Language was definitely a barrier that I intended to overcome...


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