Bubble tea

I'm going to seem like a horrible person for this post.  But here goes!~

I'm okay with sharing notes from class.  If you come to lecture, stay awake, don't goof off on the computer, and take notes, I'm actually really happy to explain my lecture notes to friends when we sit down and review them together.

But if you're not going to show up in class, and especially if you've asked me more than twice, and have the nerve to email me instead of asking me face-to-face, that you weren't in class, and you need to "copy notes" when it's really me just emailing my freaking notes to you because I take them using a computer, I am mentally throwing a desk at you... or pushing you off a cliff... whichever one is more convenient.

What bugs me more, is when you say "sorry" when you ask for notes.  If you're really sorry, then would you ask me for them again and again?  If I was sorry, I'd be ashamed to ask for notes a second time.

I don't know why I'm so sensitive about this issue.  I mean... they're NOTES, right?  I believe in a give-and-receive type world.  When you're nice, people are nice back.  And it's been working all my life.  But in my first year of high school, I gave notes out to a friend, because we're friends, right?  And then I befriended another classmate when I gave her notes.  And then another... soon I was befriending so many people!  So happy, new friends!  Photocopying my notes each night and handing them out to half the class...  Now I just think back and imagine me getting the hideous writing callous on my middle finger that I have today, because I studiously paid attention to the teacher, while the rest of the class played Gameboy or read books during class underneath the tables.  And I freaking handed them my notes the next morning.  What's worse?  The "real" friend that I gave my notes to in the first place began asking for homework.  What next?  I did homework for half the class.

Yeah, yeah, stop complaining.  It's no big deal!

But to me, it is.  What do I get in return?  Your fake sheepish smiles, your individual attention only when you need me?  They become people who only say "hi" when I say if first.  And if I decline myself that opportunity, my new found friend has disappeared.

That's one of the reasons I worry when I find out some of my friends are in my classes.  I love having friends sit beside me-- talking, catching up, just sitting next to someone that shares a small bond with you-- it's just a happy feeling.  If I miss some notes and you offer to catch me up, I am truly grateful and have no problem buying you lunch and giving you a week's worth of lecture notes.  But I'm scared my uneasiness will tear at the fibers that hold us together.  (Not that that's happened yet, but I'm always nervous about it being so..)

But if you are not going to show up in class...  I don't know.  Maybe you were busy and had a test, or you had a rough night, or you were partying, or you were up playing video games.  I gave you notes from a day when I had my own tests, days when I was falling asleep too.  Okay, I actually bit my cheek when I replied "Sure" when you asked me for them.  And you had the mind to do it again, handing me a USB drive when you asked, not like I could refuse, right?

And it's not just me.  I see you asking other people for notes too.  And the last time I gave you my notes I thought, "You freaking ask me again, and I will bite your head off."

And you asked me again.  Why me?  Why not some of your buddies that you actually hang out with?  Why only that girl in class that you only interact with when you're jotting down the notes she took in class?  Why not the guys you sit with?  You probably don't know that it's anything bad, but why are you making me feel like this all over again when I just got over it last year?  Like a dusty vending machine that people walk past without a glance, but only when those people are really thirsty that they'll pop in a bill for some drinks?  Am I just that?  A vending machine?  Someone you look for when you need me?

Just reading this stupid email in my inbox makes angry.  The email even thanks me for the notes, even though I haven't even given them yet.  So I'm expected to say yes?  Oh terrific.  Well, I guess vending machines can't really control what they give out either.

I just had a nice talk with a friend after dance practice today when we went to grab some bubble tea together.  I had missed class one day, because I was taking the MCAT, and he took the time to meet up with me on his own time and explain them to me.  I had given him notes for when he fell asleep in class before to make up for it.  I met him freshman year, but for some reason, we only started really talking this year.  Such a nice guy, and I'm really happy to have met someone like him.  It made me wonder how many other people like him are hidden away at school, people I just haven't met yet.  Not just nice, but truly caring.  I had told him about what we were learning in Women's Gender Studies: street harassment.  That is, when women (or men) get emotionally or physically harassed by others in public spaces.  Cat whistling, sexual gesturing, threats, and rape are just some that are included in the book.  I realized I've been sexually harassed before (and probably every other girl has in their lives at some point), cat whistled, stopped in the streets for no reason to comment on my face, drivers slowing down their cars and rolling down the windows, other drivers honking at me for no reason, and most recently, a guy following me for half a block trying to get my attention by commenting on my body and what he wanted to do with it.  I told my friend that I didn't realize how pervasive this stuff was in my life, and how sometimes I wished I could just walk the streets at night without being scared.

My friend and I parted ways (me walking down the stairs to take the Metro and him walking back to campus) at the intersection.  I sat on the bench to wait for the next train that was coming in 20 minutes, and checked through my texts for a bit.  I felt someone sit down next to me, and I turned to say sorry and readied to make some more room on the bench.  And I shrieked a little, because it was my friend, who I thought had headed back to campus already.  He had walked a bit towards campus and decided to come back down to wait with me until the train came.  Ah, I felt kind of bad because I might had guilt-tripped him into waiting for me after I had talked about the street harassment earlier in the day.  But I was really touched.    It reminded me of that one time Derek had come walking to Walgreens with a flashlight to make sure Debra and I were okay after finding out we were there printing pictures at 2am.  Someone had just wiped away the dust off from the vending machine.

I don't really know what the point of this post is.  Is it because I was so, so... so scared last week, when that man was following me?  I had 911 dialed on my cell phone and was ready to hit the call button and run for it if he had caught up with me.  I thought what words I should yell, "Help," "Stop," "Dad," or just scream my bloody head off?  And I thought how my parents wouldn't have found out where I had gone if I had disappeared.  I think back to last summer, when I visited friends at their college, and homeless man had started cussing me out and calling me a whore because I ignored his sexual comments.  I was scared he was holding a knife and walked quickly, while my friend just told me to not look at the man.  It's just not fair, that just because I'm a little Asian girl, I am scared every time a stranger approaches me when the sun is setting.

You've caught me at an extremely inopportune time, only a week after I've had another one of those experiences.  But with that single email blatantly asking me for notes, I feel as if people like the friend I had bubble tea with are truly hard to come by.  And it shouldn't be like that-- these types of people shouldn't be rare.  They should be the archetype.

But it boils down to this: it's not just a "you-only-really-contact-me-for-notes" thing, but that it's a "you-would-never-come-back-and-wait-for-the-train-with-me-to-make-sure-I-was-not-raped-on-my-way-back-from-home" type thing.

I am sure I am going to read this blog post later in horror that this had actually managed to get past my usual barrier of emotional calm, but today I've just been really touched by an act of kindness, and it by far outshines the dullness that I usually feel within when some one who just wants me there for notes asks me for  notes.  It just kills me to think:

When I'm done with school and notes are nonexistent, would you still want me as your friend?

Debra said...

First of all, thank you for this post. I feel like it shows the side of you that actually, none of us ever get to see. I love how it's so honest, uninhibited, and best of all, so blatantly angry. You probably pride yourself in being able to contain your anger at least to a degree that someone who doesn't know you well (or maybe someone who does know you well) wouldn't be able to distinguish your emotions. I can't remember a single time when you've been so angry (and not even this angry) without stopping at least once to apologize for being angry. You shouldn't need to apologize when you have such good reasons to be angry! Even if you don't think you have good reasons, they are probably good anyway, and if they're actually bad reasons then you shouldn't have to apologize for your own feelings.

Take this person who is asking you for notes. I'm sure he isn't asking other people for notes because yours are most likely way better. But because you are able to control your emotions so well, people don't know that you're against handing out your notes. They think, "Oh Wendy's so nice and takes such good notes, she'll give me her notes if I ask." Well, their logic isn't exactly unreasonable. Once upon a time, I could have been guilty of this reasoning without knowing any better, but now I won't ask you for notes even if I'm about to fail the class. One time you gave me your binder of notes, and I was extremely grateful and almost copied them. But just holding that binder felt like a sin, and after a couple of slides I gave up because I felt like I was committing some wrongdoing. It's something I recognize as a big deal to you, which I respect and understand, but most people would never suspect. Maybe they would be friends with you, notes aside, maybe they wouldn't. (In which case, I don't think they qualify as a "friend" by name anyway).

Some people may see you as a vending machine, which I won't deny, but many others will also see you as a person if you show your ups AND your downs. Why not just ups? Why not keep downs private? The downs, the "horrible" side, the side of you that you hate to admit having, also contribute to the person you are and how you shape your judgments. Sharing those helps others understand you better. Not saying that these "others" even have to be your friends. If you express your discomfort with continuously handing out your notes to note-person, they will not think that you are a horrible person, they will instead just look for their next victim to leech notes off of.

Debra said...

But I know this blog post is about way more than notes. It's about the people you encounter in life, and the people in this world. It's true there are only a rare number of golden people like the friend you had bubble tea with. If there were so many of them, could we cherish them as much? We live in a Hobbesian world where people easily take advantage of others, where sexual harassment is a reality, where safety on the streets is an issue (wah, I didn't know you were in such a dangerous situation last week!). Fortunately, part of life is finding who your true friends are, and valuing them because of that.

Well, basically my point is that it's okay to show that you're human. This post shows that you're human. People will appreciate it. You talked about street harassment and someone came to sit with you to wait for the train - not because they were guilt-tripped, but because they were happy to know how to help you. Not everyone wants to be your friend, and you also don't want to be everyone's friend. However, a lot of people do want to be your friend because of who you are. You'll come across a lot of the depravities in the world, but at the end of the day it's not about what isn't here but what is. When that something or someone shines through, you'll be able to recognize it right away. Like the bubble tea friend, these experiences are the ones that make life all the more enriched.

I'm glad you chose to share this moment with us. :)

Elaine.Xu said...

Hmm haha I think Debra was amazingly eloquent and said everything (and a lot more!) that I wanted to say.
But yeah, I'm really glad that you were able to express these emotions - and I definitely don't think you're horrible for having these feelings!

I guess one thing I will add is that I hope you will let your worries out more often. If I can be honest too, I think I can understand you better now, now that you've explained your thoughts. In regards to why you don't like lending out your notes, and your worries about guys harassing you on the street (I remember you mentioned how you felt a car slowing down once when you were walking next to the road...at the time, I didn't know why that was significant to you and I didn't know how to respond, but now I have a better sense.)

Vent all you like! =) I want to get to know this side of Wendy too!
Well maybe you only feel comfortable letting these thoughts out to certain trusted people, but for those people, I'm sure they feel glad that you trust them enough to share these feelings with them. So I hope you don't feel guilty about showing a more negative side of yourself.

Meh, I hope I made some sense (compared to Debra's post, I feel like a derpface lolol)


Josh said...

So I read the title and i was like, yeee, a post about an adventure at bubble tea! but when I read the post, I was like, hmm, this isnt really about bubble tea.
First off, i think my comment might pale in comparison to deebra's and lanio's above but here goes:
I know when I read this first and I thought to myself, shoot, did I ask dedee for notes? I know I did before and I hoped I tried to return the favor one way or another. Anyways, to me, the crux of the problem lies in the mentality of what other people think of you. People see dedee as this super nice, hella friendly girl and because of this, certain people with less conscious than others, are willing to exploit that knowing that you won't say no when they ask for notes.
I know this happened to me before when I helped do other people's homework too in high school just to fit in with the coool crowd. I felt that they can see me as a friend, but it doesnt work out this way because they'll continue to use you and until you yourself break the cycle. You can change them, making them stop thinking they can just be friends just to get your notes. Next time the person asked, just plainly and simply say no. Say it's not worth it to be your friend if you're just using me. Obviously, this person deserves to fail the course.
But deebra is right, this post isn't about notes, its about the people. Honestly, friends are easy to come by, but true friends are really hard. Those that stick with you, not of what they want from you, but simply because of who you are. Since middle school, I have this friend Jeff who would always stick his neck for me. I once got in a fight with this kid cuz he was picking on me and Jeff stood up for me and took a punch to the stomach for me. I couldn't forget it. A true friend. Iono if my anecdote makes sense, but these kinds of friends are hard to come by. Friends that make sacrifices for you, hold them close and treasure them.
And i think i'll know who the bubble tea person is kekee.
It's scary to read about your harrassment. Geez, i told deebra before but next time you guys are on campus late, don't take the metro and call me. aiiiite?? aiite, coo.

All in all, we're here for you. I know I am.

Wendy said...

Haiii guys~

Haha, yayyy thank you everyone for the comments ^^ I feel like I get more *deep* 10 page essays than any of your writing teachers probably get ;) hyu hyu!

^^'' Although you all say I should vent more, I don't think I'll be able to do this again until I blow up another time.. which hopefully won't happen! :P If I posted things like this up everyday, then it just wouldn't be *me*!~

This post wasn't about one person in particular, so I hope you aren't looking for who this individual is, haha~ it's more of a .. compilation of personalities over the years. And also, you guys definitely repaid me for anything and more these past few years with your kindness and friendship. I'm truly thankful that I got to meet all of you lovely people :)

Hopefully I'll post a happier post soon to lighten the mood! ^_^