|It was one of these beauties, but much dustier and rustier.|
This led to a pleasant conversation about how some vintage items were so much better quality than their modern counterparts, and then that meandered into a discussion about the travesty of being able to Google or Wikipedia anything, and how kids these days don't need to work their brains because everything is just a click away. As a teacher, that is definitely a topic near and dear to my heart, especially since I have seen my homework questions show up on Yahoo! Questions/Answers. I know that students often (not always, and not all of them) take the shortcut of just looking up solutions instead of thinking through them. I've had students take shortcuts that end up being more work, just because they were trying to avoid thinking/studying too hard in the first place (so you're going to go research all the past AP Psych exam questions and memorize entire essays rather than just study properly for the test in the first place?! Really, child??? Did you think I wouldn't catch that?). But I digress.
Anyway, the store owner concluded our vintage vs. modern discussion by saying something to the effect of "Don't you think we're worse off now, as a society? Don't you miss the old days?" Readers, I have to confess, I really wanted to burst out laughing. First off, this lady, at least in my estimation, was probably close to twice my age...I'm not sure how old she thought I was (I was even wearing a cutesy little sundress), but I'm pretty sure her idea of "the old days" doesn't match mine. But after I swallowed the urge to laugh, I had to say no; no, I don't miss those old days. I tried to explain that while it was too bad that plastic appliances and Forever 21 clothing don't last forever (ironically), and yes, I do wish kids still needed to use their brains to draw conclusions, I wouldn't trade our progress as a society for her old days. Maybe it's because I'm too attached to my Apple products, or maybe it's because I'm an Asian-American woman, but I'm pretty sure that growing up in the old days would've sucked.
I do wish, sometimes, that I lived in an era where women still lunched in lovely lace tea gowns and wore cute hats and gloves, but then I remember that back then, that's pretty much all they were "allowed" to do. I like having the choice to wear my full skirts and gloves, but also having the choice to go out in jeans and flip-flops without being thought under-dressed or unfeminine. Even though I ended up in the quintessential 19th century single lady job -- a teacher -- straight out of college, I like that I chose it out of many possible professional options, and that I even had the chance to go to college (and not just to get my Mrs. degree!). I don't have kids now, but I'm glad that when/if I do, they'll have examples of Asian-Americans breaking barriers to look up to. I was really fortunate to grow up in San Francisco, where being of Chinese descent wasn't a big deal, but my dad has stories of being a college student in the Midwest, fresh off the plane from Hong Kong in the late 60s, and getting all manner of racist comments. Granted, that still happens today, but at least magazines don't print articles like this anymore:
|An article from Pageant, published in May 1959. It's so un-PC it's comical.|
|For some reason, eh?|
This article, while progressive for its time in trying to educate America at large, was still miles from where we are now as Asian-Americans. I really appreciate the progress that's been made in America's ideas of Asian-Americans, and while we're still not quite there yet, it's better than having people look at me and ask where I'm really from, or how come my English is so good. Oh wait, that still happens.
Anyway, the lady at the store seemed unconvinced even though I tried my best to explain about more opportunities and all. But even though that was a week ago, I'm still thinking about it. I don't have any clever conclusion or deep thoughts to wrap this rambly post up, but suffice it to say, even though I'm not a sports person at all (and basketball holds a particularly non-soft spot in my heart for the part it played in my middle school torment), I'm really excited for Jeremy Lin. I know, everyone's jumping on the JLin bandwagon now, but I think it's more because his success is especially meaningful for every Asian-American that's ever been teased at school for being too short, scrawny, or bookish for sports, than because of a desire to cheer for a suddenly winning team.
It's not fair to Jackie Robinson, who had to fight actual segregation laws and a firmly entrenched culture of discrimination, to say that Lin is "the eastern Jackie Robinson." That said, however, I do hope that Lin can be a symbol of changes in both the broader American culture, and Asian-Americans' view of themselves.
So no, I don't miss the old days.
|And just in case you all were wondering, here's what the cover of that publication looks like. Oh honey, must doctors tell lies?|