My experience of Inception

It has been three months since the initial release of Inception.

I saw it the opening weekend. Then I saw it again a few weeks ago thanks to a deal. Then I relived it again when the soundtrack finally was on my iTunes. It has been the background music for the last few days as I worked, write blog entries and aimlessly browse the web.

There were multiple stages:

When I first saw the trailer, it was uncomfortable. It wasn’t the amazing imagery, but it was the pounding brassy tones. Signaling the end? The incoming anxiety? The tapping of my deepest fears? I wasn’t sure but every time I saw the streets of Paris bend above (I watched the trailer more than 15 times), I felt incredible trepidation. It was familiar of a bad dream.

Then when I first saw the movie, I was suddenly thrown into a temporary life crisis. I suddenly wanted to create. For so many years, I had neglected my lust for creation. Several years ago, I described what had happened to my career, “I create products that people never see…that they experience slowly through changed behavior and use, but I want to create something that will make someone think ‘I just never thought that way before'”. It was the desire to affect people so that when they experience my creation…they are different than when they initially walked in. During a period of two weeks, I suddenly started considering graduate school, made a plan for myself, and talked about it endlessly. But oddly enough, it was the scavenger hunt that stopped it all.

When I saw it the second time, it made more sense. A dream within a dream. A reflection of Christopher Nolan’s movie production. I had read all the analyses. I had met someone who had already seen it 3 times and studied the zero gravity moments on YouTube simply out of curiosity. I had thought about my own dreams—how when I was burdened by guilt, I often had dreams about attending school and forgetting about a homework assignment. Or the terrifying dream I had when I was younger of dying in my mid-30s. My dreams are about anxieties and deep-set emotions.

Chris has this to add about Inception:
It’s like an onion
Lots of layers
Plenty to go through
Makes you weep when you realize the entirety of it all
Not for some people who just can’t grasp the appeal
(Pun intended)
PEEL, get it???

“Let me see,” he said silently.

Two summers ago, Jack showed us the view he had in his office, overlooking the robotics lab at CMU. Despite having taken the shortcut through it to classrooms in NSH, I was curious. There was a small space between all the desks that allowed a single viewer to peer through the robotics lab—the one with robots ready for Mars, the rovers…all incredible stuff.

I took the first look, tip-toeing to take in everything. After a moment, Chris softly patted my right side. A pat not like one for a child, but rather a gesture that recalled the soft calming touch of a young bunny.

I willingly, silently stepped aside to let him see and he tip-toed to look.

Later, Jack mentioned that moment to me—you were moving in unison. To the outsider, it was as if there was no signal at all. As if you could reach other minds.

I just happen to be Asian American

I ran across a trailer today for the movie Falling for Grace.

Simply put, it’s a movie about an Asian American woman, living in New York City, trying to get away from her cultural identity by becoming an investment banker and entering the high socialite world.

Will I see it? Sure, I am intrigued that it’s about Asian Americans, but the idea that Asian Americans are always struggling with their identity and trying to assimilate with the culture…turns me off.

What bothers me about the archetype of the Asian American in movies—specifically the movies with Asian Americans as leads…is that it becomes about rejecting culture, finding that culture is needed and accepting culture. It doesn’t ring true to me.

Although both of my parents are immigrants, I never really felt that Chinese culture was forced upon me (except the frugal mentality which is pretty common in all immigrant cultures). I was lucky as some say to grow up in a well-to-do neighborhood where luxury cars roamed free and crime was nearly nonexistent. The only Chinese people in my life were my relatives and my mom’s occasional nursing school friend. Other than that, I never experienced the games of mah jong (I was jealous when watching The Joy Luck Club). My parents rarely compared my sister and me to any other kids. Or that whole trying to be set up with a good Chinese boy and produce babies as soon as possible.

I just happened to be an American who had an Asian heritage.

Granted, I grew up in the Bay Area where being Asian was definitely not uncommon. My desire to live in Hong Kong only is because I want to live in a foreign country period.

But my name comes from my mom watching Romeo and Juliet. They knew someone named Julie and so chose another J-name.