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!

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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.

Cold, Hard, Shiny New Yorkers

I understand that New York is a “cold, hard place.” People here are known for being insensitive and selfish. But seriously? I didn’t think it’d be this bad. I was blown away by the callousness of New Yorkers a few days ago.

I was waiting for a train at W 4th station around 8 PM. I had my headphones in, jamming to some Queen classics. In the corner of my eye, I saw an old lady get off a local train (I was waiting for the express train). Halfway through a song, I saw that the lady was still at the foot of the stairs. What is she doing? I thought, and took off my headphones. I realized that she was asking for help getting up the stairs. The poor thing, she had a cast on one arm and two bulky bags on the other. She was asking in the most pitiful voice, like a helpless child croaking for help after hurting itself. Several broad shouldered, healthy young men just walked right past her, ignoring her completely. I shot a disdainful look at the people sitting on the bench nearby, just looking over like it’s some kind of damn entertainment. At that moment, my train pulled in. I was already running late to dinner with a friend (who is never happy about my constant tardiness) I looked at the train, then at the old lady. Train, old lady. Train? Old lady? Ah, fuck it. I went over to her, click clacking in my stilettos (why today of all days? I thought).

Do you need help? I asked. Yes, yes please, she replied. As I was helping her up the stairs, she told me her story. She had just been released at the hospital, and nobody had come to pick her up. They released her with all the things she had on her when she was admitted. She thanked me profusely, saying that god had sent her an angel. Her voice started to crack, as if she was fighting back the urge to cry. What a poor, lonely soul. I kept telling her that  it’s nothing, and not to worry about it.

I assisted her all the way up onto street level, although she insisted that I go and catch my train after the first set of stairs. I couldn’t just leave her there. I tried swiping my metro card again, but the turnstile beeped and displayed “just swiped.” What rejection. Is this what I get for helping someone? What the hell happened to karma… what goes around comes around? No? Exasperated, I went up to the conductor and asked to be let in. The dude shot me a dirty look, saying that I should’ve let him know before going out the station. Seriously, New York? Give me a goddamn break.

Once back in the station, I waited for what felt like forever for another train to arrive. During the train ride, I mulled over what I had experienced. Something like that would never happen in Korea. The old lady wouldn’t even had to ask. Any person going by would consider it his or her duty to help her out, and would insist on helping her up the stairs. There wouldn’t be any hesitation or negligence. If such an event occurred in China, however, it would be a completely different story… but what can you expect from people who’ve been basically brainwashed for decades? A Chinese dude would stare you down on the subway and not bother to look away when your eyes meet. He’d just keep staring. This kind of widespread mentality and general rudeness took me years to get accustomed to. Anyway, that’s besides the point. I’m just trying to point out that we’re not in some communist country here. This is America. Isn’t it supposed to be a civilized country? Alright, alright. I’m not being fair. New York is not really America. But isn’t it   a metropolis supposedly filled with the world’s brightest minds? Since when is there a correlation between intelligence and selfishness? …Something to ponder over, I guess.

What Kinda Name is Dat?

I distinctively remember my first “visit” to the States. I was in middle school, on a trip to Cancun, Mexico. Not spring break woohoo Cancun (sadly) since I was only 13. We had a short transfer in Dallas after a 15 hour plane ride from Shanghai. After landing, we had to go through security and customs.

I remember this part so clearly. After waiting in line for what felt like forever, I finally approached the person who checks your passport / boarding pass before you put your shit into a tray and whatnot. She was a big black woman. I remember her appearance simply because I wasn’t accustomed to black people. I AM NOT A RACIST. There just wasn’t (and still isn’t) a large black population in Asia. Anyway, that’s besides the point. She looked at my passport, and let out a snort. “Gurrl, what kinda name is dat? Bet dey make fun of you in skoo?” And I looked at her, baffled. No, lady, they don’t, because I live in a country where people actually have names like “dat.” Are you fucking serious? You work in an airport for crying out loud. She then took a pink highlighter and marked a big X on my boarding pass.

That big X meant that I had to go through a “special” security check. I found out later that they randomly select people who they think need extra screening. They made me go through this air blast chamber thing. For the whole time I’ve been waiting in line, I didn’t see a single person go through that machine. Yet there I was. I blame 9/11. I feel bad for anyone named Muhammad. The poor dude probably goes through so much shit every time he travels.

After the security check, we moved onto the customs lines. Most of the other kids were American so they went in the separate (and drastically shorter) line. By the time it was my turn, they had all moved ahead. I had my story prepared – I’m here to transfer to a plane to Cancun. I’m going to Cancun on a school trip. Our teacher is here somewhere. By the way, our chaperone teacher was a Mexican lady. I successfully answered all the questions asked (there were more than a few) and passed through.

By the time I met up with the rest of the group, I realized I was the last one. Wait, no. Not the last one. Where the hell is Mrs. Torres? I looked around. She was nowhere to be seen. Our chaperone had just POOF! disappeared. We were growing restless. The flight to Cancun was leaving soon. After like half an hour, Mrs. Torres finally showed up. She was apparently taken to the “back room” for questioning. I don’t recall why exactly. It was probably because her English was pretty terrible and she appeared nervous, couldn’t keep her story straight. Anyway, there was no time for explanations. We had a plane to catch.

We were just terribly unlucky at this point, because we realized that our  gate was at another terminal – one that was on the opposite side of the airport for that matter. We were power walking at first, but eventually we were forced to break into full on sprinting. I even dropped my damn passport. Some thoughtful dude came running after me with it – he figured that I might need it. When I finally reached the gate, I saw the fast runners sitting on the floor, looking defeated. The gate had just closed. Mrs. Torres finally caught up with us a couple minutes later, gasping for breath, her face red and sweaty. What happen? What happen? We just missed it, Mrs. Torres. What are we going to do?

I hate traveling. Alright, nobody hates traveling. Nobody should, anyway. I just hate the PROCESS of traveling. I hate the waiting, the lines, the incompetent employees, the safety instructions, the never-changing chicken or fish option, the loud as hell flush in plane toilets… but most of all, I hate the fake smiles and apologies. I’m terribly sorry ma’am, but there are no other flights out to Cancun today. You’re going to have to spend a night in Dallas.

That sucked. Four people per crappy motel room. However, there was a bright side to all of this. We got to go to a REAL American mall. Well, I got to, anyway. To the other kids, it was just another run-of-the-mill mall. But for me – pheeewww! It was a unique experience. A huge box of a building, filled to the brim with everything you could possibly need… with more parking space than I’ve seen at ski resorts. And the candy store! My god, the candy store. Willy Wonka moment right there. I purchased my very first Hollister jeans. I had been dying to get a pair.

Bright and early next morning, we finally got on a plane to Cancun. Mexico was great… although Cancun was way too touristy and Americanized for my liking – there were too many McDonald’s and spring break woohoo teenagers distracting us from enjoying an authentic Mexican experience. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it now though – as long as there’s plenty of cheap liquor involved (: woohoo!