A Dime a Dozen

The quality of Rice’s academic life and the residential college system is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What perspective do you feel that you will be able to share with others as a result of your own life experiences and background? Cite a personal experience to illustrate this. Most applicants are able to respond successfully in two to three double-spaced pages.

“Mommy! I can’t find it!” My chubby hands flew up in frustration as my blankets and bed sheets tumbled on down, creating an incriminatingly prominent heap on the floor.”Find what?” Faithfully her characteristic scent of jasmine with a touch of azalea tenderly wrapped itself around me in an attempt to assuage my tumultuous temper.But alas, my insufferably obstinate disposition would never allow it. Under the pillow, under the mattress, under the bed down my eyes cast, down my shoulders slumped somehow my quest for my Holy Grail of the week now seemed fruitless and futile.”Eh? What are you talking about? Your dime should be here somewhere the Tooth Fairy would never forget about you!” and down in a flash she was on her hands and knees, fumbling frantically through the rumpled folds of my blankets and pillowcase.But the damage was already done. I never was one for magical entities and pixie dust, I guess.As the seasons and years wore on, I began to work myself out of my protective bubble, noticing bit by bit that things just weren’t the way they had seemed when I was five years old. Under this increasingly critical eye I learned to discern that it was my father and not Jolly ‘ole Saint Nick who was quietly munching away on the sugar cookies and drinking the glass of two-percent milk and that it was my mother and not the gargantuan, pink, and fluffy Easter Bunny who snuck in the extra Easter eggs when she thought I wasn’t looking.At this point I remember wondered why my parents even bothered attempting to try so hard to make me believe these children’s myths when I would eventually discover the disappointing realities of each one. Could they not understand the painful disillusionment the child experiences as his world becomes shattered piece by piece with each lie force-fed to him?And still later did I find a puzzling discrepancy in my parents’ motives for faithfully reinforcing these traditions — before my mother and father immigrated to America from China and Taiwan thirty odd years ago, neither had ever heard of perhaps the most famous celebrity in all American history: Santa Claus. Christmas in Asia apparently doesn’t hold the influence I had once imagined it had over the entire the entire world.However, the misconceptions don’t end there — Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving — just to name a few — also fell upon deaf ears across the Pacific.So why do we still have a turkey on our dinner table on the fourth Thursday of every November and mangled Christmas lights entangled in our trees and bushes every winter?I could never completely understand why parents really bothered at all — if they were so conscientious in raising the standard Asian offspring, would they not discourage these ‘American’ traditions, which in a distorted perspective ‘taint’ the budding Asian qualities in a growing infant?As I turned these ideas over and over mentally, my initial confusion over the subject slowly and steadily transformed into great guilt and regret as I realized that the inexplicable discrepancy lied within me, for when had I ever remotely expressed even the slightest amount of interest in what traditions my parents had once faithfully cherished and celebrated?With a sinking heart I unveiled yet another unfavorable fault that I had unwittingly harbored for so long — but I vowed to cast it away at once!I remember it had been at least several Septembers ago — mother had finally returned home one day after an especially exhausting day spent at work and evening dancing classes. She wearily trudged through the back door, managing to simultaneously do an impromptu balancing act with her briefcase and exercise duffel bag.As I turned away to scurry on upstairs to polish off my not-so-enticing pile of homework, my efforts to leave were halted by a familiar, jasmine-perfumed hand on my arm. And before I knew it, a moon cake encased in plastic wrapping was shoved under my nose. I took it gratefully, only then realizing that it was indeed a special holiday that day.”Did you forget? It’s the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival today,” my mother chided, playfully wagging her finger at me in disapproval. I merely acknowledged her nagging with a pointed look, as if politely asking permission to leave her presence.”Okay, okay, okay…you can go and finish your homework,” suddenly my mother’s earlier fatigued expression returned as she waved me off in defeat. My mother didn’t feel the need to see me off, as she turned back around and began unpacking her briefcase from a long, hard day at work. Apparently, she became engrossed with what she was doing, as she jumped in surprise when she felt a light tap on her shoulder.”What are you still doing here? I thought you were busy,” I never noticed how gravelly and hoarse her voice sounded — she never missed a day of work.”Erm…”Suddenly standing there at that moment in time felt too foreign. I tentatively held the moon cake up, “I was just wondering why we eat these every Mid-Autumn Moon Festival…”The way my mother’s face lit up at that moment was like mine used to every Christmas morning really was a reward worth more than any dime I ever got from the Tooth Fairy.

Leave a Comment