John Tang

Posted in Sketchbook by Jt's Item Roster on May 19, 2010

Ms. Hall Spoke to Me at Work

Turned around, Ms. Hall leaned over the spine of the seat with her elbows under the chin: “I have a friend who spoke Tagalog, and now she’s learning Punjabi, so she could preach out there. So are you Ta…” I knew she meant Tagalog, but that was the language, so I helped shift the stutter in her voice: “Filipino? Yeah, I am. Raised in the Pacific side of the world: Okinawa, nine years, Guam, four years, then I would visit Philippines every summer, when it was cheaper compared to the states—it’s expensive out here.” She teased out of me a military background. We moved and visited many different countries, including mainland Japan and Korea; in fact, I wanted to move back to Okinawa as if Japan was home.

“Your dad was Filipino, and your mom was?” She, as well, peripherally touched on the common notion military families grew up more diverse because military personel found lovers in different countries.

“No,” I said. “I’m half Chinese, but my parents found each other in Philippines. I grew up, though, with friends of diverse backgrounds: White and Chommarro—from Guam— (That’s common); a friend of mine here was in the military household, she’s half black and Japanese—very cute—I thought she was coming in today.”

“Japanese and black,” She said. “That’s a good mix. So is the mom…”

“Was  Japanese?” I finished her sentence. “Got her skin, too. Soft-skinned, light.”

Because Ms. Hall was black, I was perhaps as nervous as Ms. Hall now because the term “black,” felt at first natural, then the political spell came about, “African American”; although it did not deflate the conversation, as we changed the subject of finally purchasing eye-glasses, semi-rimmed and plastic.


OT on the Laptop

Tonight she worked overtime in the room next door, since she had close ties to her uncle and aunts. Under a single lamp, shedding a white light wide enough circumference for both laptops, her personal and the one the job issued out to their staff in human resources and logistics. Her night was made up between the two to computers; some redundant piece of work, some casual pleasures; filling a requisition forms, catching her brother online, who was overseas in Philippines.

Her hair was unnaturally dyed into a roasted chestnut, and tonight was tied into a pony tail.



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