So zandperl sent me an ask:

I'm curious, you describe yourself as a "1.5 generation Chinese American," would you be willing to share more? My mother was born in China but came to the US with her family when she was still an infant, so I have some life experiences of an ABC, and more of being fully American. (E.g., my mother didn't teach me Chinese b/c she thought I'd be discriminated against more if I knew it.) On a related note, if you read SF I recommend "The Three-Body Problem" by Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu).

And I think this is the perfect sort of thing for responding on the Dreamwidth.

First -- I haven't read "The Three-Body Problem", though I think I should!

Next -- my "1.5 generation Chinese American" identity... here's my utterly unique and perfectly common experience:

- I moved to the US when I was 6. My mom was getting a PhD in the Midwest, so for the first two years of my American experience, basically everyone was white. My parents' friends told them that I'd forget my Chinese within half a year, and my mom, being Master Elementary Educator, was like "not on my watch." So she made a very bold decision: she decided not to teach me any English. At all. She figured I'd get enough exposure everywhere else, so we just spoke Chinese at home, and she got some Chinese elementary textbooks sent over from China and she'd teach me every night.

This meant that my first year in America was exceedingly painful -- I basically went through 1st grade without understanding *anything* that was going on in the classroom because I wasn't learning any English. At the same time, I'd go home and have to learn all these Chinese characters. I still remember for all of first grade, all that I knew how to do was copy the letters of my name from the name tag on my desk to the line on whatever worksheet that the teacher handed out. I also don't think that school had any ELL or bilingual education.

But the result of that pain was that I learned to read and write Chinese! Instead of being properly socialized into friend groups with American peers, I spent 2nd grade basically reading the children's abridged version of Journey to the West. This was followed in 3rd-4th grade by Romance of the 3 Kingdoms, Yuefei, and Yang Family stuff.

Suffice to say, I felt very Chinese and didn't really feel connected to American stuff at all.

- 2nd Grade was when we moved to California so that Mom could continue her PhD here. Two things happened with this move:

1) My parents decided that my Chinese was good enough and that I should really read some English stuff. My school also had ESL classes, so I kind of learned grammar, and I discovered dinosaur and outer space books. The school library was still an intimidating place and I mostly stuck to biographies, and still mostly preferred my Chinese Warrior books. I also read works by the same author as whoever we were reading in class (so a lot of Scott O'Dell and Roald Dahl). I kind of started making friends in school (it helped that there were more non-white kids), so I was feeling more American. Or more specifically, Californian.

2) My Chinese ability really impressed other Chinese parents, so my parents decided to start a Weekend Chinese School! (I explain it to people now as "Hebrew school for Chinese people"). It was wildly successful, in part because my mom is really good at curricular design, in part because my dad is really good at business, and mostly because the two of them were total workaholics. (My mom was still working on her dissertation at this time, and my dad was making financial ends meet by working at a Chinese restaurant). But basically this whole Chinese School thing made me realize that (a) my Chinese was really good! and (b) I really didn't have *anyone* to talk to about my love for Chinese military generals. Basically it made me feel more Chinese and not really Chinese-American at all. My Chinese-American friends all wanted to play Super Mario and didn't want to talk in Chinese.

This sense of alienation continued through most of middle school, where I was linguistically competent in both Chinese and English, but culturally just a complete outsider. (By then I was reading martial arts novels, which was a pretty easy hop from the military general stuff. I also read some sporadic western fantasy, and my parents tried to make me read Tarzan and Charles Dickens in Chinese. But still, generally not a lot of English reading guidance. I remember reading Lord of the Rings in 8th grade and deciding that the battle scenes were sub-par and that Frodo was whinier than the Tripitaka, which is quite a feat.)

- In high school everything changed. I started hanging out with a group of geeky girls who were Really Into Anime. The first anime that hooked me was Rurouni Kenshin, and tbh, it couldn't have happened any other way -- it's got all the history and fighting and warrior angst that I've *always* loved, except now in Japanese. And really the Kenshin fandom was how I began to find my own "tribe". I guess during this time I'd consider my primary identity as "geek", if I knew what that was.

Also, I went back to China in the summers 7th grade, 10th grade and in 12th grade, and my experiences in China those times made me realize that I wasn't really Chinese, either. My cousins in China didn't want to talk about military generals and martial arts heroes, either. They were honestly kind of confused, because to them, that's like your cousin showing up, not knowing any of the slang, using words like "thus" and "poopoo" in the same sentence, and insisting on talking only about Les Miserables, Shakespearan sonnets, and Chronicles of Narnia. With the same seriousness. It's... not quite typical teenager conversation. So I decided that while I was culturally Chinese, I wasn't *Chinese* Chinese, either. On my college app I wrote about being Chinese, being American, but not being Chinese-American

- I didn't realize how un-American I actually was until I got to college and had to eat with a knife and fork for the first time. Then came the painful years of learning how to make small talk and socialize the American way, and not just the online nerd way. (This was somewhat eased by the fact that my college was Extremely Nerdy. Really, the pain didn't come until I came back to California and started teaching at a school that was Decidedly Unnerdy)

College was also when I started taking Chinese history and and art history classes. They were excellent! The class I took on Confucianism really explained a lot of stuff about my parents. So I was gaining a lot of Chinese cultural knowledge and really falling in love with aspects of China that *were* military/martial stuff. But this knowledge was also acquired in English, so there is this interesting disconnect here, where I'd read the original text in Chinese, but only be able to discuss them in English. Also, I wasn't just taking Chinese history classes, but also Islamic history and Japanese/Korean history, and Western history classes, so I didn't feel that sense of "rah rah China" that I think would have happened if I was an exclusively Chinese history person. Even now, China-centrism bothers me as much as Anglo-centrism.

This was around the time that I started thinking of myself as a swirly ice cream cone: a weird blend of Chinese and American culture. Even so, I didn't participate in any of the Chinese-American events and groups in college (and still don't. And I still side-eye at certain Chinese-American stuff of mis-representing Daoism or Chinese culture.) On the other hand, I have a really hard time relating to Chinese people my own age -- their cultural values are very much formed by the last 10 years of China's development. And while I care A LOT about modern China, I'm coming at it from a completely different perspective from them. And on the third hand, I spend a lot of time defending and talking about China with my American friends, because the popular American view of China is far too simplistic. So, still not quite Chinese, not quite American.

In the time since then, I've done a lot more reading about the larger Chinese Diaspora, and realized that though my experiences feel very disconnected from the typical Chinese-American experience of "show up, learn English, forget Chinese, try to approximate Chinese culture through food and holidays, be angry about representation in media," my experience is still a non-unique part of the larger diaspora experience. So I now feel comfortable calling myself Chinese-American, though I also really like the term "bicultural".

So there you have it -- my Chinese-American identity. This is why I've drawn China Comics, I translate my dad's Cultural Revolution experience, I try to teach Asian Studies in high school, I work with a local Chinese-American group to put together a China workshop for teachers, I still teach at my parents' Chinese school on the weekends, I intend to raise my future child bilingual, and I occasionally rant about China on the internet.

Tumblr crosspost for liking/reblogging purposes:
potofsoup replied to your photoset “Whoever left the “chainsaw should perch on adam’s head” tag on the…
> “how do people comic” — LEMME TELL YOU ALL MY FEELS

tell me your feels! (are they “oh god is this supposed to take this long” and “oh god i need to do more life drawing” and also “it can’t possibly be this difficult to draw the same face in every panel”? because those are pretty much mine. :D)


“Oh god you mean I have to draw it AGAIN?!”, both in terms of drawing the person again, but also in terms of the fact that you have to pencil then ink then color basically 30 little pictures for a 6 page comic. Usually after I pencil I’m like “I’m done, I don’t want to draw any more, everyone can read my circular scribbles right?”


“How can I make this panel different?” If you’re approaching from the movie tradition, you’re used to having a still camera and with each panel just show the bit of the action that changed. (Which then gets you stuck in the “shit I’m drawing the same person multiple times and they have to look consistent” trap) It’s hard sometimes to remind myself that NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE MIDGROUND SHOTS. That’s... kind of the magic of comics? Like, “let’s make this panel TALL” or “let’s do a close-up of the hands” or whatever. EXCEPT then you’re stuck being like “HALP PANEL LAYOUTS”


“Who designed this freakin’ costume with all the twiddly bits?!!” The answer is, sadly, often me. But I basically have no patience for drawing that page after page. SO MUCH RESPECT for all the people who just face up to the hard work of drawing ringlets of hair or 3 necklaces or armor plates or jackets with complex designs. People who step up their art efforts to match what they want the comic to look like visually, instead of what I do, which is simplify the visuals of the comic to match my art efforts. People are good at figuring out that rectangle-face with blond sideburns is Steve!

I’m not saying my way is worse, it’s just taking the other path. Like seriously, a major reason I draw so simply is because I *know* I’m gonna be drawing the same damn thing over and over again.

[Reblog/Like on tumblr:]
DW --> LJ
- I'm crossposting at , so folks who prefer to check their LJ flist can follow me there
- However, I've blocked comments there because (a) it's not that hard to hop over and comment here, and (b) it'll keep all the comments in one place, which is the whole point of this endeavor in the first place.

DW --> Tumblr
- I'm going to manually crosspost entries here to tumblr, with a Read More that redirects here.
- After I crosspost on tumblr, I'll also update my post here with a link to the tumblr post, in case you want to like/reblog on tumblr

Tumblr --> DW
- I might redirect some tumblr posts here, either by way of answering longer tumblr asks here, or by moving a tumblr conversation here.
- I'll manually crosspost some tumblr entries here, specifically things that would benefit from archiving or having conversation threading.

- Pretty much all of my posts here are going to be public, since my personal DW is elsewhere.
- I might eventually do friends-only posts relating to my nsfw, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

- Tumblr askbox is the easiest way to get a public response from me, though now in addition to answering privately or answering on tumblr, I might also answer on DW with a link from tumblr.
- Private messaging on either platform is fine, but since they both go to email ( anyway.... you can also just email me directly and cut out the middle man.

[Like/Reblog on tumblr:]
This came out of a conversation with the Hoosband, and the basic concept is pretty straightforward, but I think it's helpful to put here at the beginning of this blog, especially as we're considering its relationship to tumblr.

And the idea is thus: you do different things on different social media platforms to be validated and accepted as a person. It's like how in real life small talk and ice breaker conversation differs depending on what type of group you're interacting with.

- On various internet forums, you are merely your opinion. People don't actually care if you have a dog or if you have a soft spot for round birbs

- On Facebook, for example, you post photos of you doing fun happy things with friends and family. People care that you love your dog, but not necessarily about your soft spot for round birbs.

- On the tumblrs, on the other hand, it's the opposite: people find out your love for round birbs way before the fact that you own a dog. But I think the thing that makes you really become a "person" in the eyes of tumblr is openness about the weird emotional bits of your life. People talk about their struggles with depression much more openly on tumblr than many other places.

But people don't talk much about real life events on tumblr, and people don't talk much about real emotions on facebook. (Example: I can find out that a friend is changing jobs on FB, but not how they actually feel about it. OTOH, I can find out a friend is feeling really displaced and lonely, but not the fact that they just moved cross-country.) Between tumblr and facebook I'll always choose tumblr, because tumblr's definition of personhood (internal emotions) jives better with my own than Facebook's definition of personhood (external accomplishments).

I don't think either is enough, though. When I follow people on tumblr, I *do* want to know their real life contexts. (What's your job? Are you too tired to create when you get home? Do you like your living space and your commute?) And when I look at facebook, I basically want to email my friends and say "Okay, I saw the photo, but what's *really* going on?"

And I think DW/LJ can provide some of that broader context that is often missing from tumblr. What makes someone seem like a "person" on DW? I'm not quite sure, but I'd love to find out. I *like* that DW is more ponderous than tumblr -- without the reblog feature, gifsets of cute birbs aren't cluttering up my flist. I can actually read and write longer, more personal posts directed at a much smaller audience, and more importantly, know that the lower traffic volume means that these posts will stick around for days, not hours.

Anyways, I think one thing that I will aim for is to post some of the more archival and personal stuff here and see what happens.
Pros: LJ-only folks can follow me there

Cons: I'd be falling into the Same Old Trap of being divided between DW and LJ -- I hate that conversations are divided, that communities are divided. Maybe it's time to take a stand and stick to DW.


Intro Post

Aug. 29th, 2015 11:33 pm
Whoa I finally set up my more-public (and hopefully less-whiny) DW!

I've been trying to figure out what to do here that would be different from and yet a supplement to my potofsoup presence on tumblr. Dreamwidth/LJ is definitely like a slow meandering river and less like the firehose of tumblr. (Also I have a lot of followers on the potofsoup tumblr and so writing on tumblr always makes me feel like I'm shouting. So I suppose this is my quieter, more normal voice.)

Currently I thinking maybe a slightly wider range of writing -- more personal, not necessarily fandom, but still creatively focused. Just... more about creative endeavors in general and less crying over sad boys. I'll probably also refer to work on tumblr and in other web areas pretty indiscriminately, so here's a quick guide:

- my tumblr fanart blog:
- my non-fanart comics stuff:
- my translations of my dad's memoirs about doing village life during the Cultural Revolution: (my brother and I switch off translations)
- I also have an *ahem* nsfw blog on tumblr, which I may refer to and talk about, but won't link to directly. (But happy to talk about in private)
- my personal life stuff is under the name summercomfort on both DW/LJ/Tumblr, though of course the tumblr version is more spazzy and the the DW/LJ version ... not only has to-do lists and flagrant whining, but has 14 years of it in its archives. Most of it is regrettably public. :X

Also, as a general rule, I don't like using my real name on the internets, because my real name is hecka distinctive, and thus easily searchable just by first name. (Plus I work with teenagers who are very good at internet.) :/ So, call me Summer, Soup, S, or, if you know me in Real Life and feel weird calling me an internet name that means warmth, I also go by Soosh.

Anyways, to cap off this Intro Post, here's a "life update" meme that I stole shamelessly from [personal profile] dira, though slightly edited because I'm picky like that.

So what have you been up to?

I'm quietly stressing out about / prepping for APE. APE is Alternative Press Expo, the local small-press comics convention. This will be my... 4th? year having a table there. A lot of the things that I want to have printed actually aren't (Specifically, a lady friends fanzine and the next volume of Tisquantum), which means I have roughly 2 weeks to finish a LOT of comics pages.

Also, I recently contracted an affliction that makes me want to nap and pee all the time, and also messes with my appetite and gives me weird nausea. So that's been throwing me for a loop and messing with my ability to Get Shit Done, at a moment when I'd really like to ... well, get shit done.

Major life changes? Same old same old?

See above.
[Okay fine: through the power of no-contraception and 3 years of perseverance and consulting of witch doctors, I am now pregnant with a grape tomato. I am no longer allowed to lift heavy objects, and if I don't get an afternoon nap I am rendered completely useless by 5pm.]

What fandom are you in/do you spend most of your time in?

MCU Captain America. Some dabbling in Mad Max Fury Road and Steven Universe, though mostly as an observer.

Where do you hang out online?

I am Very Bad at Chatting. I'd go into a chatroom and be like "who are all these people, why is everyone talking?" and run away. Similarly with Skype Text Chat I'm like "okay I've run out of things to say so how do I stop?" So mostly email (, tumblr, and DW. (See above).

What are you reading?
Nothing. The last paper book I was reading words from was an anthropological guide to pre-Columbian New England. The last story I read was the Death of Captain America volume. I've been reading occasional fanfic of the <10k variety, and ... oh, I read a depressing article about how we've already killed the ocean.

I've also been spending 1-2hrs per day scrolling through tumblr, if that counts as reading.

What are you watching?
Mostly watching my husband make his way through old video games, tbh. He's just finished a 100% run of Super Metroid, and is now doing a speedrun. I'd usually watch crime procedurals, but the new season of Elementary, Castle, and Brooklyn 99 haven't started, and I've pretty much exhausted Netflix' backlog. (I'm very picky about the exact level of shittiness of my crime procedurals)

What are you making?
There's a lot of stuff that I *want* to make / *should* be making, but here's the immediate queue:
- 8 pages of Tisquantum, in the next 3 weeks or so
- 4 more patreon postcard doodles, by tomorrow hopefully
- quick polish of the comic that I did for the HTP book, by this weekend
- new business cards and small poster prints for APE, either this weekend or next.
- 2 short things for the Lady Friends zine, which is easy, and the cover, which is hard, in the next 2 weeks or so.
- I've idly started some mini-ficlets due to my newly active "imagination funtimes just before bed" that... apparently comes with early pregnancy.
- A giveaway comic about the Vuvalini, which I've scripted, but need to draft, maybe some time soon?

So... a lot to get done in the next 2 weeks, basically.

What are you squeeing about today?
I finished a Dad translation! Which means I'm off the hook for... 2 weeks...

Also, I recently drew some Cap-related doodles that I'm pretty happy with. :D (Which I unfortunately can't post to potofsoup for one reason or another)

I should really watch/read/dive into _______ and then come talk to you about it!
Gunnerkrigg Court, because it's the only webcomic that I follow nowadays? Steven Universe, because it's a good show? Anything China/Asia-related, really.

What else is on your mind?
I think taking it slow today has really helped re-balance my digestive system. Here's hoping tomorrow doesn't throw it off again. :/

[Like/Reblog on tumblr:]



September 2015



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