一 My Family
Look at my precious Chinese American family, sitting in our classic Chinese American restaurant, celebrating a not-so-Chinese but very American holiday. I am the mixy-kid product of a dedicated Chinese man and a beautiful Caucasian woman. My hybrid heritage and culture are massive parts of who I am - I was born onto a bridge between worlds, and that seems to be where I feel most at home. I am proud to claim the last name Ng.
二 Honey Boy
The heaping pile of stellar movies I could have put on this list are well trumped by Honey Boy. No film has seen me quite as clearly as this one. Shia LaBeouf's life has been far more traumatic than I can fathom, but flecks of his story understood me in a way no other film has been able to. I love Alma and Shia for approaching honesty about an imperfect man with such attainable compassion. I want my films to help my audience love those who seem hard to love, and Honey Boy accomplished that in a way I want to emulate.
三The Book Thief
Favorite book of all time. How brilliant to write about life from the perspective of Death. Zusak was the first author to make me weep. I was studying abroad in Tokyo - I was sitting across from my host brother at the kitchen table. I'd been in Tokyo long enough to want a day of rest, but he'd just returned from his own study abroad a few days prior - we didn't know each other at all yet. Death's narration of Zusak's story meant Death had already told me who was going to die, and braced me for that heartbreaking moment. Sentences away from that moments arrival, I looked up from the book and said "Just to warn you, I'm probably going to start crying at any moment. Know that I'm ok; this is just a sad book." He blinked at me, gathered his study material, stood up, and left. ... I proceeded to finish the book and weep silently as I stared out the window on that rainy Tokyo day. "I am haunted by humans... I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant." - Markus Zusak, The Book Thief 四 Polo & Pan
I love international everything - movies, music, style, personality, general culture. My music taste is particularly all over the linguistic place. Polo & Pan, a French band my brother introduced me to while he and his French girlfriend were visiting, has been on repeat in my headphones for several months.
*Honorary Mention: It took me forever and a day to choose between including Polo & Pan and Pomplamoose on this list. Pomplamoose is also my jam because MMM THAT BASS, MAN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CCNswShJRc
五 Learn-from-You Questions
It seems that everyone who knows me knows I love good questions. The kind that mitigates shame. The kind that gently pulls bricks from emotional walls. The kind that uncovers quiet beauty, and privileges you to really behold it. The kind that assumes you have something to learn from every person, something to admire about every person. I believe in a Savior that has seen the entirety of who each person is, and does not fear them. On the contrary; He loves them all the more for it. If you're wondering how to go about asking those kinds of questions, watch this TED talk video - Celeste speaks my language, man. "Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. True listening means the setting aside of one's self."
六 Misty Oregon Beaches at Midnight
I've only been to the coast twice that I can recall. The most recent time put me on a magical, misty Oregon beach at midnight. I was with people I love dearly, and I couldn't make out anything beyond 10 feet in front of me. I could only make out the shapes of their bodies and the edge of the water rolling in. Never have I felt so unsure I was awake, when I was.
七 Peking Duck
Favorite dish of all time. I am so blessed to have been exposed to real Chinese food my entire life. And boy, you better serve this dish with cucumber, green onions, Hoysin sauce, and roasted wheaten Chinese pancakes. Nothing can replace the Chinese pancakes. If the restaurant jips you with those fluffy buns, you're living below your privileges. 八 Obi
This little nugget showed up to take care of my sister at a time when I could not. I love him for that. He never barks, he flops around the floor like a little black mop head, his marble eyes always make him look like he's about to cry, and he loves to quietly rest against my feet as I work. I also accidentally named him - I visited around a week after my family brought him home, and they still hadn't named him. "He looks like an Obi to me." Came back a few months later, and discovered they'd rolled with it. I hadn't even seen Star Wars yet. My father once held Obi up in my face as a white flag, a sign of peace between us. Totally worked. Wept like a baby. Look at that odd, adorable face!
I love venturing to a new place and living there a while - airports mark the beginning and end of those adventures. Airports are also symbols of change for me, and I love change. Change is rich with emotion and courage and pain and longing and hope and the opportunity to punch fear in the face. Likewise, an airport is this massive canvas for imagination. So many beginnings and ends walk around in airports. Everyone you pass is going or coming, leaving something behind for something else... what, I wonder. I love dreaming up their stories, and then asking the people who end up sitting by me on the plane about what their real stories are (unless it's a 3 AM flight - then I sleep).
十 Jesus Christ
I know not everyone sees Jesus Christ as I do, but I am so thankful I recognize His name. I am so thankful for His life and example… He unfailingly believes in my goodness and my ability to change. His identity and story are my reason for any real, lasting hope. I love Him imperfectly, but I do love Him. And I want to be like Him.
The Chinese word most associated with Jesus Christ is 主 (Lord), and the ancient Chinese character this word is derived from was modeled after a candle. How beautiful is that? Even the Chinese language recognizes Jesus Christ as a source of light.