Again, this is not me asking for comfort or encouragement or whatever you think I need to hear. I don’t need your patronizing sympathy. I don’t need to be told that I’m a valuable person. I already know that. I fought that battle and I won. I’m happy with who I am. I have something my parents do not have. But objectively speaking, compare my achievements with my parents, I’m a huge underachiever. My dad has every reason to be disappointed with me. He shouldn’t, but I don’t blame him for doing it. Being a proud Chinese dad, that’s what he was taught about parenting by his own very proud Chinese parents. During the Rugrats Horror characters movies Halloween shirt Furthermore, I will do this summers, we would go from house to house visiting various relatives. One of the houses was a modest-sized plantation home about 150 years old I was once told exactly how old, but I’ve forgotten. The building was a tall, two story, mostly wooden home with a formal dining room, several living rooms, a room that had been converted into a kitchen kitchens weren’t necessarily in the actual house in Louisiana because it’s so damn hot, and five bedrooms. We’d spend about a week there during our visits. The house was on a large block of land that had slowly been parceled off and sold, but the remaining area was quite large and included a lot of farm fields, a river near the house, and a fair chunk of woods. I was forbidden to roam too far or to try and swim in the river because of the currents, so I spent most of my time there riding recreational vehicles and reading. On occasion, we were permitted to watch the television, which was a 1960s model that picked up one or two local channels if you stuck a wire hanger in the antenna hole and give it a brisk beating. There was a second, smaller house near the big house. I didn’t pay any attention to it the first few times we went—the big house was full of very old things, and a great uncle had committed suicide in it after he came back from Vietnam. It was just more interesting, overall, than the little house. The little house was badly run down, and much smaller. The ceiling had collapsed, leaving the single long room open to the elements and the kudzu, which had mostly engulfed the building, crawling up the central beam of the roof, but left tantalizing hints of a rusted iron bed frame, the rusty belly of a stove, and a handful of glass bottles.
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I went green and left the Rugrats Horror characters movies Halloween shirt Furthermore, I will do this big house immediately to go sit in the yard, staring at the little house—one small, run down building. A single long room, the rusted iron bed frame, the old bottles, the way the building had been left to rot. If I had to put a finger on the emotion, horror came first. The US history I had exposed all the little lies I’d been told, even though it wasn’t detailed enough to give me the real experience of horror—I’d been told about the “War of Northern Aggression,” about the need to “take care of the Blacks, who could not take care of themselves.” I’d been told they needed to be taken care of, that they appreciated us and loved us until the North butted in and ruined everything because they were jealous. If this seems like an exaggeration, you haven’t read nearly enough about the slave trade. I’m from Louisiana. There was a reason slaves were afraid of being sold down the river—slavery is brutal, but the way it was practiced in the deep South was more than brutal. It was seen as a death sentence to end up down in the farthest parts of the US, working on a plantation. I was confronting not just the past of my family, but also the lies I’d been told and accepted, trusting the people I loved. It really turned me inside out, making the world feel unrecognizable, because I thought I’d known and understood the world and my place in it, and I’d known nothing. I’d been tricked, and been made a part of a world I didn’t want a goddamn thing to do with. It was the beginning of a painful line of questioning for me having to do with my family. I already had issues there, but I felt as if some additional, essential innocence had been taken from me, and I couldn’t take part in a bunch of family activities because I understood, if very imperfectly, what was laying under them. It’s not so much that I wanted to make my own pain central to anything as it was that I was utterly shocked and devastated by the way I had been enlisted in something I knew was horrible. They didn’t tell me. They just… let me keep thinking it was no big deal. And the terrible thing is that it wasn’t a big deal for them. I don’t think they thought about it at all, they just taught me to play along because that’s how things were. I sat at dinners where my relatives described having the money and social ties to have donated to and fund-raised enough for Louisiana State University to have standing, lifetime tickets to football games, and to be able to ask the university to send a private plane to pick them up.