Goodbye, Bank of America

I finally left Bank of America today, after months of saying I would. I just liked my Hello Kitty card (it accentuated my asianness). The fact that there was a photo on my card was convenient, too. But no more. Large corporate banks like Bank of America are fucking evil. All the times I was ripped off and taken advantage of makes my blood boil. Every time I receive a wire transfer from my parents in Asia, BOA takes $20. Every time I touch my savings account more than the limited amount, BOA takes $20 (which I didn’t realize till the second time around). Every time I dip lower than my balance, BOA takes $35.

I’ve never voluntarily gone below my balance. The only time this happened, it really wasn’t my fault. I used my debit card to purchase a plane ticket that cost $1800 from Alitalia (don’t EVER buy a ticket from this airline, trust me on this one). Alitalia charged me TWICE. That’s $3600 I didn’t have. Imagine my surprise when I checked my account balance and it said something like -$1600 in red. Obviously, BOA charged me the $35 for overdraft fees. I called Alitalia, enraged. They gave me the usual apologetic bullshit and refunded me the money. Then I called BOA to undo the overdraft fee. Their response? Not our problem. Get the $35 from Alitalia. I call Alitalia again. Can you guess their response? NOT OUR PROBLEM. Sort it out with your bank. Are you fucking kidding me? And this is after holding on the phone for a long time (which I’ve already expressed that I absolutely despise doing). I was very, very, very angry.

The main reason why I cancelled my account at BOA was because I thought my bag was stolen. Since there was an unused check in my wallet, the dude on the customer service line told me it’d be best to put a complete hold on the account for the time being. At the state of panic, I agreed. After I got my bag back, I went into BOA to get rid of the hold. What pissed me off the most was that the people at BOA couldn’t do a single thing to help me. They said I needed to call customer service. WHY, WHY, WHY FUCKING WHY? Why does this have to be done over the phone? I called at the bank, and they said they couldn’t release the hold because of the checks. It was some kind of “special” hold. They told me that I needed to cancel my account altogether and set up a new one. While I was waiting for the lady to set up a new account, I was deep in thought. Maybe this is a sign, I thought. Besides, they weren’t doing the Hello Kitty cards anymore. That really upset me. I really loved that card.

Since they weren’t going to give me a new Hello Kitty card and I hate the shit out of BOA, I decided that it was time to cut the cord. I told the lady I changed my mind; I want to cancel my account and get all my funds in cash. Walking out of BOA with a thick envelope of cash, I felt free. No more bullshit. I’m in the process of researching for a less evil bank. I’m thinking a small to mid size one. I’m not sure exactly. The important point is, I’M FREE!


The Real Story Behind Thanksgiving ?

Thanksgiving is coming up. I never really understood this holiday. I’ve heard various renditions of the origins of it. The first one I heard was the “Settlers sat with the Native Americans to celebrate a bountiful harvest,” then I heard “Native Americans saved the settlers with their farming knowledge.” I also heard “Native Americans had nothing to do with it, they had slaughtered them all,” and “It was a day where everyone came together to thank god for his graciousness (HA).” So, I researched it.

The story that is told to kids:

“Let us have a great Thanksgiving party, and invite the friendly Indians, and all rejoice together,” said the Pilgrim mothers. So they had the first Thanksgiving party, and a grand one it was! Four men went out shooting one whole day, and brought back so many wild ducks and geese and great wild turkeys that there was enough for almost a week. There was deer meat also, of course, for there were plenty of fine deer in the forest. Then the Pilgrim mothers made the corn and wheat into bread and cakes, and they had fish and clams from the sea besides. The friendly Indians all came with their chief Massasoit. Every one came that was invited, and more, I dare say, for there were ninety of them altogether. They brought five deer with them that they gave to the Pilgrims; and they must have liked the party very much, for they stayed three days. Kind as the Indians were, you would have been very much frightened if you had seen them (ha).

The “real” story:

The colony was first organized on a communal basis, as their financiers required. Land was owned in common. The Pilgrims farmed communally, too, following the “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” precept. The results were disastrous. Communism didn’t work any better 400 years ago than it does today. By 1623, the colony had suffered serious losses. Starvation was imminent. Bradford realized that the communal system encouraged and rewarded waste and laziness and inefficiency, and destroyed individual initiative. Desperate, he abolished it. He distributed private plots of land among the surviving Pilgrims, encouraging them to plant early and farm as individuals, not collectively. The results: a bountiful early harvest that saved the colonies. After the harvest, the Pilgrims celebrated with a day of Thanksgiving. (Note the absence of Native Americans in this version)

Sooo, I choose to believe that Thanksgiving was a day of being grateful for the rise of capitalism. No wonder it’s such a celebrated holiday. Americans and capitalism are inseparable. Despite all the discrepancies in the stories, I like the traditions of Thanksgiving. Getting together with your loved ones (or not so loved ones) and feasting on an obscene amount of food. Since my family is halfway across the world, I get a little sad during the holidays when my American friends ditch me for their families. I miss Korean holidays and our little traditions. I don’t exactly remember when they are or what they are (I am a bad Korean), but I remember what we used to do…and what we used to eat. The whole family would get together and make dumplings, rice cakes and the like. We’d wear colorful traditional Hanbok clothing and bow to our elders for pocket money. Anyways, I have plenty of other “orphan” friends who I spend Thanksgiving with. Last Thanksgiving, we went to TGI Friday’s then got smashed afterwards. This year, we’re planning on going to IKEA (they have a Thanksgiving special) then getting smashed afterwards. All is well.


Phone Companies

I hate phone companies. They are evil. Truly malicious. AT&T has had me in a death grip ever since I “upgraded” from MetroPCS. Looking back now, I miss MetroPieCeofShit. I hate being tied down in a plan and paying $105 a month for shitty service and crappy connection.

I wish I never got a smartphone the first time around. Now I can’t ever go back to a non-smartphone. Especially now that I’ve sold my soul to both AT&T and Apple (I renewed my 2 year contract to get the iPhone).

Before renewing my contract with AT&T, I did a lot of research. But as an individual with no family members I can expand the contract with, I get screwed by pretty much every company.

You get what you pay for. I learned that from the $50/month no contract deal with MetroPCS. Shittiest customer service I’ve EVER had to deal with. When I broke my Windows phone (what the hell was I thinking, buying a first generation Windows phone? I guess I wasn’t), I went in to get the phone fixed. By the way, MetroPCS had only TWO proper stores where I could ask for a new phone – one was in Harlem, and the other was in downtown Brooklyn. There has to be more official stores now.

Anyway, back then there were only two goddamn official stores. So I had to trek to Brooklyn to file my insurance thingy. First time I went, the dude gave me so much shit because my phone was strangely acting FINE in the store (although it had been majorly fucking up for the past 2 weeks). It was like he was accusing me of lying. I was sweating, trying to prove myself. Why the fuck would I lie about it? The phone doesn’t work and it’s a pain in my ass. After a while, I finally proved to him that it wasn’t working. He reluctantly helped me with the insurance process, and told me to come back in a week.

For the next week, the phone was driving me insane. I couldn’t properly call or text anyone. I waited it out, and went into the store (I even cut class to do so) after a week. After drawing a number and waiting for like half an hour, they told me that they received the new phone, but sent it back by mistake. They told me to come back in another week.

Two weeks with a broken phone that barely worked. It was hell. It was almost as bad as not having a phone at all. Actually, that actually would’ve been better – in that case I wouldn’t have gotten so damn frustrated. Anyway, I went back the next week and got the new phone.

On the ride home, I tried calling my friend. It didn’t work. Nothing worked. It was working in the store?!? I was so enraged I almost threw the piece of shit phone out the window. My friend, who was giving me a ride, drove me straight to AT&T from there, and helped me open an account under his family plan.

Two years passed after that, and it was time for me to get my own individual account. But with which company? AT&T gave me a lot of shit over the years as well, but I’m not going to go into that. My point is, they’re all just a bunch of liars. Not a single phone company is trustworthy.

Have you ever watched a Verizon ad and an AT&T ad right after the other? They both compare their coverage with the other, and the maps directly contrast one another. Red for Verizon, blue for AT&T. Do they not realize that both of them doing that completely cancels out what they say? Sure, I may be a smarter consumer than most of the population in the US, but honestly. Shouldn’t they be penalized for false advertising? One of them is obviously lying. Or they’re just both lying. Neither of them has that good of a coverage.

What pisses me off the most is AT&T makes me out to be a bitch. People say they called me and I didn’t pick up. I check my phone, no missed calls. I had full bars in the library all day? How is that possible? They say that it was ringing before going to voicemail. What the hell, AT&T? How are you failing this hard at this? I pay $105 a month. You are fucking up my social life.

I went to T-Mobile. No iPhone. The price tag says $99, but you have to pay off $499 over a few months. Cheapest plan out of AT&T and Sprint! NOOO. Come on, T-Mobile. The $50 4G dealio they keep advertising all over the place? It’s got its defects.

Sprint… I liked that one ad where it called both T-Mobile and AT&T out with an honest tone. Nice surprise. I’m not saying Sprint is less evil than the other two. I just liked the ad. At AT&T, I was eligible for an upgrade, and I really wanted the iPhone. I’ve avoided it for as long as I could, but when my brand new Android started fucking up after 3 weeks, I really wanted the fucking iPhone.

So, I sold my soul. Oh by the way – I had to make a security deposit of $500. They didn’t tell me this till the last minute (after I made the decision to re-sign with AT&T). I get it back in a year. Every time I pay the phone bill, a little part of me dies 😦


Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Tribe

[ By Sir Horatio Galbraith ]

Nacirema culture spends a considerable portion of the days in ritual activity.  The focus of this activity is the human body, the appearance and health of which loom as a dominant concern in the ethos of the people.  While such a concern is certainly not unusual, its ceremonial aspects and associated philosophy are unique.

The fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease.  Incarnated in such a body, man’s only hope is to avert these characteristics through the use of the powerful influences of ritual and ceremony.  Every household has one or more shrines devoted to this purpose.

While each family has at least one such shrine, the rituals associated with it are not family ceremonies but are private and secret.  The rites are normally only discussed with children and then only during the period when they are being initiated into these mysteries.  I was able, however, to establish sufficient rapport with the natives to examine these shrines and to have the rituals described to me.

The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest.  In this chest are kept the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live.  These preparations are secured from a variety of specialized practitioners.  The most powerful of these are the medicine men, whose assistance must be rewarded with substantial gifts.  However, the medicine men do not provide the curative potions for their clients, but decide what the ingredients should be and then write them down in an ancient and secret language.  This writing is understood only by the medicine men and by the herbalist who, for another gift, provides the required charm.

The charm is not disposed of after it has served its purpose but is placed in the charm–box of the household shrine.  As these magical materials are specific for certain ills, and the real or imagined maladies of the people are many, the charm–box is usually overflowing.  The magical packets are so numerous that people forget what their purposes were and fear to use them again.  We can only assume that the idea in retaining all the old magical materials is that their presence in the charm–box, before which the body rituals are conducted, will in some way protect the worshipper.

In the hierarchy of magical practitioners, and below the medicine men in prestige, are specialists whose designation is best translated “holy–mouth–men.”  The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships.  Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them.

In addition to the private mouth–rite, people seek out a holy–mouth–man once or twice a year.  These practitioners have an impressive set ofparaphernalia, consisting of a variety of augers, awls, probes, and prods.  The use of these objects in the exorcism of the evils of the mouth involves almost unbelievable ritual torture of the client.  The holy–mouth–man opens the clients mouth and, using the above mentioned tools, enlarges any holes which decay may have created in the teeth.  Magical materials are put into these holes.  If there are no naturally occurring holes in the teeth, large sections of one or more teeth are gouged out so that the supernatural substance can be applied.  In the client’s view, the purpose of these ministrations is to arrest decay and to draw friends.  The extremely sacred  and traditional character of the rite is evident in the fact that the natives return to the holy–mouth–men year after year, despite the fact that their teeth continue to decay.

It is to be hoped that, when a thorough study of the Nacirema is made, there will be careful inquiry into the personality structure of these people.  One has but to watch the gleam in the eye of a holy–mouth–man, as he jabs an awl into an exposed nerve, to suspect that a certain amount of sadism is involved.  If this can be established, a very interesting pattern emerges, for most of the population shows definite masochistic tendencies.  It was to these that Professor Linton referred in discussing a distinctive part of the daily body ritual which is performed only by men.  This part of the rite involves scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument.  Special women’s rites are performed only four times during each lunar month, but what they lack in frequency is made up in barbarity.  As part of this ceremony, women bake their heads in small ovens for about an hour.  The theoretically interesting point is that what seems to be a preponderantly masochistic people have developed sadistic specialists.

The medicine men have an imposing temple, or latipso, in every community of any size.  The more elaborate ceremonies required to treat very sick patients can only be performed at this temple.  The supplicant entering the temple is first stripped of all his or her clothes.  In every–day life the Nacirema avoids exposure of his body and its natural functions.  Bathing and excretory acts are performed only in secrecy where they are ritualized as part of the body–rites.  Psychological shock results from the fact that body secrecy is suddenly lost upon entry into the latipso.  A man, whose own wife have never seen him in an excretory act, suddenly finds himself naked while he performs his natural functions into a sacred vessel.  This sort of ceremonial treatment is necessitated by the fact that the excreta are used by a diviner to ascertain the course and nature of the client’s sickness.  Female clients, on the other hand, find their naked bodies are subjected to the scrutiny, manipulation and prodding of the medicine men.

In conclusion, mention must be made of certain practices which have their base in native esthetics but which depend upon the pervasive aversion to the natural body and its functions. There are ritual fasts to make fat people thin and ceremonial feasts to make thin people fat.  Still other rites are used to make women’s breasts larger if they are small, and smaller if they are large.  General dissatisfaction with breast shape is symbolized in the fact that the ideal form is virtually outside the range of human variation.  A few women afflicted with almost inhuman hypermamary development are so idolized that they make a handsome living by simply permitting the natives to stare at them for a fee.

Reference has already been made to the fact that excretory functions are ritualized, routinized, and relegated to secrecy.  Natural reproductive functions are similarly distorted. Intercourse is taboo as a topic and scheduled as an act.  Efforts are made to avoid pregnancy by the use of magical materials or by limiting intercourse to certain phases of the moon. Conception is actually very infrequent.  When pregnant, women dress so as to hide their condition.  Parturition takes place in secret, without friends or relatives to assist, and majority of women do not nurse their infants.

Our review of the ritual life of the Nacirema has certainly shown them to be a magic–ridden people.  It is hard to understand how they have managed to exist so long under the burdens which they have imposed upon themselves.


PS. Spell Nacirema backwards. Ahaaaaaa !

More on this subject later –

I just wanted to share this, it really made me think.

Health Services, My Ass

I hate having student insurance. I hate the FIT health clinic. I despise it with a fiery passion. I hate that I have to go to the health services to get a referral before seeking professional medical advice/help (because they don’t actually give you much of it). I hate waiting over an hour to be seen by a nurse who usually doesn’t know JACK SHIT. It’s probably this, it’s probably that, hmm I don’t know, it’s probably nothing.

Every time I go in there, I come out anywhere from semi to fully frustrated or enraged (mostly enraged). I go in with chest pains, they tell me to take Advil. I go in with stomach pains, they tell me to take Pepto. The stomach pains continued over the span of a month, and I went back every week, feeling worse. Each time, they didn’t have ANYTHING helpful to tell me, until I finally snapped and demanded that they write me a referral to see a REAL doctor. Every time I go in, it’s someone different. Every time I go in, I have to answer the same stupid questions and explain myself over and over and over and over. Can’t you just look at my fucking chart? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? It’s a thick ass chart; god knows I’ve been there enough times. The damn clinic. It’s so impersonal. It’s so useless.

Other times, they try to prescribe me something without even being sure of what I have. When I had chest pains, this lady just poked around my chest and said it’s probably a muscle thing, and tried to prescribe me some kind of muscle relaxer. I told her, no, it’s not a muscle thing. It’s internal. It feels deeper than the muscle. Well… is it hurting right now? Umm, no. Well… you should come back when it’s actually hurting. Ummmm, NO, because the clinic hours and the waiting time are absurd and it usually hurts at nighttime. Well… you should call an ambulance if it hurts that badly. NO, lady, I don’t want to wait until I’m in that much pain to figure out why I’ve been in pain all this time. What the fucking fuck?

Oh, and they always try to get me on the pill. They talk like they care about whether or not I get knocked up, but really they just want my money. It’s really cheap, they say, trying to sell me on it. NO, and I said NO more than a few times, saying that I’m a big smoker and that’s not the best idea. They say there’s no proof of smoking + taking the pill being harmful to women under the age of 35. So fucking what? If it’s harmful for women ages 35 and up to smoke and take the pill at the same time, there’s a good chance that it’s harmful for teens, even if there aren’t any studies to actually prove it. Shouldn’t you know this better than I? Shouldn’t my health be your top priority, nurse practitioner, not your profit margins? QUIT. FUCKING. PESTERING. ME.

The FIT health services completely lost my trust when they practically poisoned my roommate back in freshman year. She went in because she had the flu. They gave her medicine. A few days later, she was rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance. They had mistakenly given her Vertigo medicine. (Vertigo: a neurological symptom of a disorder involving the vestibular system – the structures of the inner ear, the vestibular nerve, brain stem, and the cerebellum). She had the fucking FLU! How does that happen? I still can’t believe she didn’t sue the shit out of the school for that. I would have.

One of these days, I’m really going to lose it and end up causing a scene at the clinic. But then again I really hope I don’t. I’ll probably end up on a blacklist or something and won’t ever receive any kind of care again (even shoddy care that I’ve been getting). Well, I got my flu shot today. At least they didn’t fuck that up… I hope 😉

Cops and Dicks

My boyfriend goes to Rutgers University in New Jersey. Naturally, I go visit him once in a while. He comes into the city 90% of the time, because, well, it’s the city. And I don’t live in a dorm. However, I do genuinely enjoy going out there. I feel like it’s the closest I’ll get to having a “real college experience.” First thing I realized was how friendly everyone was. Like I mentioned in my previous post, FIT isn’t the friendliest place. And the campuses are GINORMOUS. God knows there’s enough room for them in Joisey.

Another thing I love about the campus is the cafeteria. It is also huge. The buffet is amazing compared to the shitty little food court that FIT calls a cafeteria. I love that I don’t have to feel self-conscious walking around looking like a hobo (sweats and hoodie). At FIT, girls go to class in 9-inch heels looking like they’re walking down the fucking runway. Why? I don’t know. They like looking good. Sometimes feel like I have to force myself to get dressed up just to go to class.

As much as I like to hate on FIT, I like living in the city. I could never survive out there. I love my 24/7 existence. I could never give it up. Plus, college towns have their big drawbacks. Getting into bars without a proper fake ID? Forget it. There are dicky campus cops who’re just out to catch people drinking and doing other illicit activities.

Speaking of cops, I had my first “real” encounter with them a few weeks ago. We were all drinking in my boyfriend’s dorm room, drinking beers and tequila shots. I passed out early. I was woken up at around 4 in the morning by the bright light and two cops standing in the doorway. What a rude fucking awakening. I looked around the room, and my boyfriend was nowhere around. His roommate was also waking up in his bed, looking as confused as I was. What’s going on? Where’s my boyfriend? I asked, rubbing my eyes. Your boyfriend’s at the hospital, one of them said. I instantly snapped awake. What?! Is he okay? They didn’t answer. They asked us questions about how old we were and how much we’ve had to drink (the room was trashed with beer and liquor bottles). When they realized we were underage, they lectured us on how we’re not supposed to do drink, blah blah fucking blah. No shit, Sherlock. We showed them our IDs, and they took our information. I just wanted to know if my boyfriend was okay. They left without telling us what had happened to him.

My boyfriend had left his phone and wallet in the room. Until noon the next day, I had no idea what happened to him. I asked around all over the place, trying to find out what the deal was. Nobody seemed to know. I knew it couldn’t have been alcohol poisoning. There wasn’t even enough alcohol in the room to cause alcohol poisoning – I know his tolerance very well. I was just hoping he didn’t get in a fight or seriously hurt himself somehow. He finally called from the hospital phone and told me that he was on his way home and that he’ll explain everything once he got back.

When he told me what happened, I was shocked. He was downstairs having a cigarette, clearly intoxicated, sure, but minding his own business. An ambulance arrived for someone else (probably for alcohol poisoning), and they took him as well. Okay, correction – forced him. They MADE him get into the ambulance even though he didn’t want to and clearly expressed that he didn’t want to. As far as I know, it is not a crime to be intoxicated, especially if you’re of age (he’s 21). He said they treated him like shit, not listening to him just because he was drunk. He caused a ruckus, fighting the EMTs off. At the hospital, he wasn’t even treated for anything. They cuffed him to the bed because he was being “belligerent.” He wouldn’t have been fucking belligerent if they hadn’t forced him to get in the ambulance in the first place. What a fucking joke. I cringe thinking about waking up cuffed to a hospital bed, feeling completely powerless. The next morning, he refused to sign the papers that would ultimately charge him for the ambulance fee. Smart move. Those bastards don’t deserve a cent.

This really made me think. I’ve heard and read (and seen on TV) plenty of cases where intoxicated people were treated like shit just for being drunk. Accounts of police brutality. Accounts of unjust treatment. Just because statements made by someone who was drunk don’t hold up in court. Well, you were drunk at the time. We can’t trust anything you say, even if you’re sober now. You’ve lost your credibility. Is this really what we’ve come to? Come on. What is it with this country and alcohol? Honestly. So fucking retarded.

Queens and Bitches

Someone I vaguely knew from Shanghai contacted me via Facebook the other day, asking me about FIT. She asked about the school, classes, people and the general environment. Hooooo… Where to start?

Fashion Institute of Technology is a special place. At first it can be a little overwhelming. Well, I thought so anyway. Not only was I new to America, I was new to New York, new to college, new to bitchy fashionistas, and yes I’m going to say it – new to being around gays. I only knew one gay guy back in Shanghai, and he didn’t even come out while I was there. So, basically, I never really knew anyone who was gay. Obviously, I have NOTHING against gays. I have a few close gay friends now, and I love them. It was just hard to adjust to being surrounded by them… ALL the time. I’m not even that feminine. I guess I can be pretty tomboyish sometimes. Most of my friends are dudes.

Anyways. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. I was pretty blown away by how people acted at FIT, especially at the freshmen dorms. They were so… mean. It seemed like all the people I met had an agenda of bringing others down to make themselves feel better. Even around people who I considered my “new friends,” I noticed that my self-confidence was constantly under attack – subtly at times, but bluntly at other times. Divas and queens would drop snide remarks, hitting you where it hurts while disguised as a joke. I don’t joke at others’ expense (on second thought, yes I do, but never like that). I can be funny without hurting someone’s feelings, thank you very much.

I was used to friendly people. In Shanghai, international kids were always coming and going. That’s what we got for being expats. We were used to meeting new people all the time, as well as saying goodbye to our friends. We felt a strong bond as a group, like a little community. Actually, no. It wasn’t that little.

So FIT gave me a bad first impression of “American” colleges. It wasn’t until I had visited some other “normal” colleges (more on that later) I realized that college wasn’t such a hostile place. Plus, I’ve met a lot of chill (and perfectly pleasant) people at FIT over the last two years. FIT is not a “real” college. We don’t get a campus experience (because we don’t fucking have one) or a sense of real community. It not only is a university in middle one of the most competitive cities in the world, but it’s filled with viciously competitive people… those who are perfectly willing to walk over someone to get ahead.

Yeah, I was spiteful. I was depressed. I was nostalgic. I felt out of place. It wasn’t until I started meeting people from outside of FIT I truly broke out of my shell and began to act like myself again (I had put on a different persona to fit in).

I’m used to FIT bitches now (both the mean ones and the stupid ones). Which reminds me – the other day, I was in front of an FIT building trying to have a cigarette. I couldn’t find my lighter anywhere. I approached the nearest chick who was smoking, and asked if I could please use her lighter. Her eyes darted up (she didn’t even lift her head), and she stared up at me like I had two heads, looking almost disgusted. What the fuck? It was as if she was saying “how DARE you ask me for my lighter.” I stood there, lifting an eyebrow. “I don’t have one,” she said. How the fuck did your cigarette get lit, then? Classic. Bitch.

In conclusion – if you’re weak hearted or weak willed, FIT is probably not the place for you. People will walk all over your ass. You’ve got to be driven, assertive. Show them bitches who’s boss.

Tax Guide for Aliens

I want a job. A proper one. I don’t want to work under the table like some kind of illegal alien. I don’t want to work at the school’s library or tutoring center, either. A lot of my American friends keep forgetting that I am, indeed, an “alien.” Whenever I voice concerns about getting a job, they can’t seem to comprehend that it is a much more complicated process than they think.

I’ve been offered jobs before. A few of them were modeling jobs. I would love to look pretty for money. I’m not saying that modeling is an easy job, but I much rather endure the pain of high heels than the pain of being ordered around the office making copies and coffee as somebody’s bitch… or the pain of waiting on rude customers (I would despise being a waitress. I’d get fired on my first week, I’m too clumsy to be a waitress). Anyways, that’s besides the point. The job conversation flows smoothly until I mention that I’m here on a student visa. The dreaded “OH” response. They say it’s fine, as long as you have a guardian to sign with you. Umm, that’s another thing. Both my parents live in Asia. “Ohhhhhhhhhh… Hmm.”

When I attended the international student meeting regarding employment and OPT (ç† before employment), I was taken back by how complicated everything was. Applying for OPT. Applying for employment visa. Applying for this and that. We, as a group, have to go through multiple steps that citizens generally don’t even think about.

We have to file a ton of paperwork to Immigrations. We then have to pay to have Immigrations go through the paperwork. Whoever hires you is required to file paperwork to Immigrations (who the hell wants to do that when you can just hire a good ol’ American citizen instead?). We have to refer to the “Tax Guide for Aliens” packet when we have a question (when I picked it up, I couldn’t help but laugh. Paying taxes. And being called an alien. Awesome). We have to do this and that. We can’t do this, we can’t do that, we most definitely can’t do this, we will be deported if we do that. Taxes really confuse the shit out of me. I still don’t have a social security number. There’s a whole bunch of rules for applying for that as well. So, I don’t have it yet. I don’t have a proper state ID. I don’t have credit. Is that bad? That’s probably bad. Do I care? Probably not.

If I leave the country without getting my I-20 (a document that validates my F-1 visa) signed, I can’t come back in. I lost my I-20 once. I left it in a copy machine at a Staples store. The copy just wouldn’t do. The copy meant nothing. I needed the real thing to travel. Thankfully, the international student department mailed me a new I-20 to my address in China. A piece of paper. With it, I’m good. Without it, I’m barred. I’ve been here for over two years now, and there are still so many fucking things that I don’t understand. I just… don’t… understand. I don’t really want to, either.

Sometimes I wish I was an illegal alien. But then again, no I don’t. Legal or not, I just don’t want to be an alien at all. Being treated differently makes me feel… alienated 😥 sob sob. America has a great way of making everyone feel included while excluding people at the same time. It’s hard to describe or understand. For those of you who are citizens of this peculiar country, congratu-fuckin-lations. I envy you.

Your Call is Very Important to Us

I hate 1-800 numbers. I hate calling customer service. I hate being on hold. I hate listening to the stupid elevator music and the automated message that says “Please stay on the line, your call is very important to us.” If my call was indeed that important to you, you wouldn’t have me waiting on the line for fucking 30 minutes, robot bitch.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to lock down an apartment. The bank was (obviously) closed, and I needed to get a grand out of my account to put down for deposit. I went to the ATM, and tried to withdraw $1000. I had plenty of money in my account; I just needed to access it. It didn’t let me. I withdrew 500. When I tried to withdraw another 500, I was barred from my own damn account. Fuck you very much, Bank of America.

Then the dreaded process of calling customer service began. First time around, I waited patiently. I stayed on hold for around 10 minutes, and got through to somebody. I explained my situation, and she asked me the usual crap, name and birthday and blahblahblah. She then asked what she could do for me. For the second time, I explained my situation. She then said that she doesn’t handle these types of calls; she’ll need to transfer me to another department. Why couldn’t she have transferred me earlier? I bit my tongue, and said okay. When she tried to transfer me, the line went dead. Confused, I looked at my phone. The phone call had ended. Are you fucking serious?

I called again. Another 10 minutes of piano music and stupid robot bitch. When I got through, I hastily went through the name birthday process and asked to be transferred. The dude transferred me, and I successfully got through to someone else (who, of course, asked for my information all over again). I explained my situation, and the woman said she’ll see what she can do about it. A long pause. More questions. Another long pause. I was pacing outside the bank, chain-smoking. The pause had gone on for a little too long. Hello? HELLO? WHAT THE FUCK? I checked my phone. The call had ended. By this point, I was screaming into my hands, about to tear my hair out.

The third time, the call was dropped again. Over 30 minutes had passed. I was done. Passerbys were looking at me like I was crazy. I had no idea why the call kept dropping, and that probably wasn’t Bank of America’s fault (I blame AT&T), but I had had enough. I couldn’t believe I was going through so much stress in order to get my own money out of my own account. I gave the landlord the 500, and gave him the other 500 the next morning.

Another time that comes to mind was when I was trying to book a plane ticket to Australia. I couldn’t purchase the tickets online for some reason (United Airways), and I reluctantly called in to see what was wrong. I hated the irony of the robot bitch telling me to go visit their website – I was on the damn website, miss robot bitch, it doesn’t work. Now put me through.

When I got through, this lady took forever looking for the flight I was looking at on the screen. I told her – round trip from JFK to Melbourne, date and time of the flights. She still couldn’t find it. After a few minutes, she realized I was talking about Melbourne in Australia, not in Florida. She then said she needed to transfer me, because she only handles domestic flights. TYPICAL.

The international flight lady couldn’t find the flights either. What the hell was I looking at on my screen, then? Mysterious flights that can only be seen by certain people? She then went on to explain that the website may be delayed, because it shows that the flights I’m looking at are completely booked. I was puffing steam out my nostrils. That is it, United Airways, I’m going to Delta. You not only just lost $2400, but lost a customer FOREVER.

As you can probably tell, I have a lot of pent up anger about this subject. These are only two accounts out of I don’t know how many. Nobody wants to take responsibility anymore. Oh I can’t help you, I don’t handle those calls. Oh I must transfer you, you’ve called the wrong department. In China, if you have a problem, you call and yell at them until they get the job done. Or you just go and yell at them. They’re not too nice about it, but that’s okay, because you’re not being nice about it either and they get the job done. None of this fake niceness, fake apologies, fake phrases like “your call is very important to us.” Enough already. Not another word out of you, robot bitch. Enough.

Get Your Drugs Here

I remember the first time I walked into an American drug store (a Duane Reade in Herald Square). My mind was blown. It was like a miniature super store… or a corner store on steroids. Everything you could possibly need displayed neatly in shiny aisles – food, cleaning products, gift cards, beauty stuff…and of course, meds. Where I come from, we had grocery stores for food, beauty stores for lipstick, and pharmacies for meds. The one thing that completely blew my mind was how HUGE the “DRUGS” sign was. I was standing on the escalator, staring at the blinking, neon, red white & blue sign that read “GET YOUR DRUGS HERE” with 5 arrows pointing downwards. My jaw dropped. Was all that flashiness really necessary? It might as well have said, “Welcome to America.”

It’s the change of the season. It’s sad, really, because I barely got to enjoy fall. Spring and fall barely exist in this city. Every time there is a drastic change in climate, I get sick. I’m in the process of moving, so I couldn’t locate my meds amongst the boxes. I couldn’t even remember if I have any meds left that isn’t Nyquil (I realized that it’s a devil drug that gives me nightmares and turns me into a zombie the next morning). This means one thing… the dreaded trip to the drug store. I hate going to the drug store to buy meds. I feel like every time I do, I spend a good solid half an hour staring at the aisle-ful of meds, wondering which one I should get.

I feel like every single fucking box of OTC cold medicine I pick up, it’s either missing a symptom I have or has one too many. So I’m standing there, trying to either compensate or overdrug myself for a symptom I don’t have. And honestly, why does there have to be so many choices? I understand the whole American view of “having too many choices is better than having too little,” even though they’re all basically the same (i.e. the soda aisle – 98% equivalent ingredients – high fructose corn syrup + flavoring). Why, oh why, does one company need to make 5 different kinds of pills for one drug? Same ingredients, different format. Tablets? Cherry flavored? Gel capsules? Easy-to-swallow? Daytime? Nighttime? Not to mention syrups, powders, nasal shots, balms, blah fucking blah. Each company makes over 5 different kinds, and there are well over 5 companies that make the same thing. THEN, on top of that, the drug store you’re at makes copies of those drugs and sells them for cheaper (“compare ingredients with Tylenol!”)

So many minutes, so many hours… wasted. From staring at damn aisles full of drugs that don’t even address my problems. I’m used to natural meds that address the underlying causes of symptoms, not synthetic meds that temporarily relieve symptoms. All I’m saying is, well… it’s stupid. And I’m tired of it.