My Head Is Older Than My Shoulders, and My Heart too


Thought of Chi Li’s title “The Heart More Than the Flesh,” indicating that the heart ages faster than the body. In Chinese it is 心比身先老。

I wrote about the story somewhere before, so I am not going to repeat myself.

We are living both in remote past and into the far future.

The only time we are not living in is the present.


Turns out the most important function of women is just that: giving birth.



But before this, I saved the bird. Some vicious human beings tried to harm the bird before. Someone even attempted to buy it from me when I was rushing the bird to a pond. That is the bird’s home. His eyesight got hurt.

He would be cured by water from that pond.

After I brought the bird home, he would repay me back, someday.


Everything bad that has happened to me while I am staying here comes from the Chinese culture or those who has Chinese culture background.

Then it is indeed the culture is problematic. There is something fundamentally wrong with it.

So I am right in leaving it behind me. As I have shown in my dissertation, the last step is to break out of the demand of your cultural community and work towards the benefits of the entire humanity.

I do not tell in my dissertation that when an individual returns to the community, the community actually does not want him or her.

We are all living in diaspora. We are all living in cultural and spiritual diaspora.

Therefore, if you are extremely fortunate as to be able to love somebody, or be loved, you are saved. The reason is your ability to love has saved you from the abyss.

Those who cannot love forever live in the abyss.


Who has told me he is very disappointed in me?

I have told him I love him. Only he did not believe me. All he ever believed in are those that come after me, men and women included. They all tell him a very different story.

I do not know how many stories he has listened to for so many years. Maybe each day he has new stories to listen to.

Why doesn’t he listen to himself? He has been knowing the answer all along.  He just does not believe in it. That is all.

I should not be faulted for not believing him. I know I love him that very moment.

He should know the difference between things.

Now I forgot whether I loved him first, or he liked me first. Anyway, when I saw him I felt I knew him before. Didn’t I meet him in 1998? Didn’t he bumped into my office and talked to the Director of the English Department for half an hour? He said he wanted to be the language expert and things did not work out. So he left after I shook his hand.

No man had ever disturbed me before that point. No one had disturbed me before that point. Others could talk as freely as they could and I could take a career test in the same office and I would not be disturbed.

But I was disturbed by his visit. I do not overhear other’s conversation. As a well-educated woman, it is good social etiquette not to listen to other’s conversation.

But that day each word of the conversation fell into my ears, but they went in one ear and out the other. What I recollected before here was what the female director told me.

Maybe he came for me.

You never know what is going to happen to you in life.

That is why you should believe in God.

Dong killed off all other schools of thoughts. Dong also killed off Confucius’ thoughts, in a way.

In one society, whenever only one school of thought rules the entire population, it creates a very dangerous cultural situation. The reason is anybody who does not subscribe to it will immediately be squashed and even put to death.

That is why a society has to have and allow many schools of thought competing with each other. The moment this intellectual competition disappears, that’s the moment showing trouble is brewing.

One good thing scholars say about America is you are free to express yourself. Whether people choose to listen to you or not, that is another question. That scholar has published 13 or 15 books already.

I think I can live with that. It is a better choice than having the book killed and burned, and this scholar buried alive.

Burning books and burying scholars is what Qin Shihuang, had done in 221 B.C. Many later rulers and tyrants had done that in Chinese history, too. Only it has many cultural manifestations.

When Hu Shi was attacked on the Mainland, the directive is only his thoughts should be attacked, not his person.

A scholar lives and dies by his thoughts. When his thoughts are attacked, it is more pressing than his physical life is at danger.

Someone, presumably a student in my literature class, indicated that he or she was displeased that I mentioned Lu Xun’s objection to traditional Chinese thoughts. He or she thought whenever traditional Chinese culture came up in discussion, I would always refer them to Lu Xun.

I referred them to that man because that man was right in many things, not because he was once endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party, now the ruling Party on the Chinese Mainland.

Let me add a few lines here. People might become upset when I modified the popular misunderstanding here. The popular misunderstanding about Lu Xun on the American soil is since Lu once had been endorsed by the CCP, that automatically disqualifies Lu from serious intellectual study. It is a crime simply by association.

That is simplistic thinking.

Lu Xun himself adopted conditional cooperation with CCP. CCP only uses Lu Xun for CCP’s purpose, not for Lu Xun’s purpose. Lu was very famous then. CCP needs an intellectual spearhead for its mission. And Lu was conveniently selected.

Lu Xun agreed temporarily that CCP could use Lu’s big name.

Lu Xun and Mao Zedong understand each other perfectly. For Lu Xun once said: After CCP becomes the ruling party, I will be the first one to escape.

Someone also asked Mao Zedong, “What would you do with Lu Xun after we have the power in our hands?”

Mao replied, “He will either become silent or continue to write in prison.”

The meanings are the same, but not the exact wording.

Lu Xun, very conveniently died in 1936, before CCP took the throne.

The interesting thing is this knowledge about Lu and Mao was published by a Chinese scholar in Beijing, not in the western media.

I do not totally agree with Lu Xun, of course. Where there is human life, there is always some kind of limitation on freedom, even on your spiritual freedom, on what you are allowed to think or not to think.

Every ruler has his or her agenda.

One thing that scholar has discovered about Lu is: Lu Xun had finished the three stage journey I have discovered about modern American and Chinese women writers. That is the departure–return–second departure.

People are upset in my immediate surroundings simply because they find it a little bit hard to accept when I say Lu is a genius. Maybe Hu Shi is also a genius. But I haven’t studied Hu Shi so I do not dare to venture any opinion.

You do not talk about something you do not know, as a scholar.

Many people are also upset when I say Eudora Welty is a genius. They would breathe a little bit more comfortably when I say Faulkner is a genius. They would breathe freely when I say you are a genius.

If you are a genius, then you are. Apparently my saying so or not should not affect how you see yourself.

I do not change my perception of what I am according to what others say of me. For one thing, I do not think many people understand or are able to understand me.

Even the one who is most close to me are not able to understand me as I would have wished. How much do you expect me to expect of the rest of the human beings who walk on this face of the earth?

Not very much.

In other words, I expect to be misunderstood, especially after I have gone through what I have gone through.


When a person’s mind has been poisoned, he or she is beyond being saved, no matter how much love the woman has for him.

Hurston has illustrated that point very clearly. Janie said sunlight in on his shoulders. He was a glance from God.

She was saying he represents true love initially.

But after his thoughts has been poisoned by that dog, the albano and racist Mrs. Turner, he immediately turned into a monster.

The mad dog on the cow’s back is Hurston’s way to represent the rabies in his mind through the dog bite he suffered to save her.

He saved her physical life but a few days later he took up the gun to shoot her.

Btu what Hurston the writer wants to represent to the reading public is what is diseasing the culture.

In her real life, she never shot anybody. She did not lead the life Janie lived. Everything in that story is a prototype. Each character, besides being a character, also represents this type of attitude.

Her way of writing in Their Eyes resembles Lu Xun’s writings. Each character not only acts like a person, a real character. It represents this type of character, this type of life attitude.

What she wanted to show is what is in the man she loved. But the man always demanded she must submit to his priority first. He is the masculine one, the dominant one, the one who must rule over the woman.

Hurston is extremely creative. Each piece of her work differs from the previous one. She is always changing.

For someone as creative and talented like her, she could not stand being stifled by the man. The man occupied a very privileged position.

She made the difficult choice. The man did not completely understand her, but he knew she left with her heart bleeding.

Sometimes being talented turns out to be a curse, at least for a woman like her.


Till today I still do not know who framed me up as a spy for the Chinese government. Maybe I will never know.

I have never regarded myself as being gifted. The only thing I know is I like literature. That is all.

Maybe I had it too well when back in China. I did not know so many would be so jealous of me after I ended up here.

Who visited my office in 1998? He was an American lawyer.

Are you telling me everything after that visit has been arranged by an invisible hand? That is too much to accept.

Is someone able to search for the Holy Grail, which symbolizes a spiritual quest, in this manner? Then why all the disbelief, after all these tests across the globe, through the crucible, and even through the belly of the devil?

Somebody is still not believing.

Tea Cake. Wonder why Hurston thought of using this name as a person’s name.

Didn’t I make Tea Cakes?

You know you were pushing towards the edge of the broken bridge, and you were cheered on by those dogs and cats, and rabbits, and wolves.

Everything has been passed.

I am on the other bank of the river. You chose not to save me in 2006. Everybody has to save him or her self.

You should have. For by that you would also save yourself.

That is why one should not be so selfish, only thinking what one is benefiting from an endeavor. That original burden turns out not a burden, but a blessing. Your original benefits turns out to be real burdens, and often a curse.

Life is funny, huh.

Fortunately I am not selfish. That should be considered a blessing from God.

At least I do not need to frantically run from one man to another to find love. I have it right here in me.

Some men run frantically from one woman to another, changing one each week, without finding the right one.

Some women also did that, being so courageous declaring,  “Who is afraid of whom, when it comes to love?”

Why so hysterical? It sounds like a declaration of sexual freedom.

That is not what I am looking for. You have to excuse me.

I am looking for the one and only. He does not believe in the one and only. To him, the more, the merrier. Wonder whether the image of a whale’s mouth where so many small fish swim into is an apt metaphor or not. I will go look for the second best. Life has many compromises.

Please allow me to say it again: I am not at all a radical. I take life as it is, on many levels simultaneously. I know what it is. I also know the cultural reality. It is naive to think I am so naive as to demanding the impossible.

I only demand its value be adequately and correctly and properly recognized.

But what I object to is an American should not behave as a decaying Chinese from the 18th century. That is why I say the thinking has been poisoned.

Today when I read “America the Beautiful,” the author believes what sets America from anywhere else is Americans believe in a self-directed life. What you are given does not matter when it is compared with what you have made yourself into.

And that is the belief I have always believed in, right from when I was seven years old.

I am self-directed. I decided to make myself into a college student at the age of seven.

For the next ten years, I never breathed a sigh of relief. I did not stop for one moment till I reached that goal.

Half way through, I discovered being a high school teacher was not what I wanted.

So I self directed to enter into grad study.

The next two years did not see me stop. I once was so tired I went to the library and slept over my books for the entire night. And I felt so guilty.

I did not go back to visit my parents during one summer holiday of three months. I was preparing for the grad exam.

I did not stop until I reached my goal.

Grad life was tough, especially the economic pressure. I once held two teaching jobs outside of the college for which I was also teaching as an assistant.

I did not receive one cent of indecent money. Of course there were men showing interest. What Beijing does not lack is high officials. Often one sees some senior grad students decking out beautifully going out dancing. It is a big city.

Here I think I made the decision partly because I knew what the result would likely to be, partly because it would be so easily misunderstood. And reality turned out as I expected, and sometimes much worse.

I did not wish to stop the dissertation when it was half way through. I know nobody would be willing to finish it for me if I chose to stop in the middle.

I was right, after all. It is now 450 pages. I fought everybody who attempted to stop me, to steal chapters. I even fought the very man whom I loved when he presented himself to be a huge obstacle. But I persisted. I did not even let the divorce and all subsequent storms from a variety of hosts to stop me.

I must finish the dissertation, no matter what cost. And I did. This dissertation belongs to nobody but me.

If things turned unfortunate and I died at page 400, nobody would even stir a finger to finish it.

I am glad I did not die.

I have no regrets. That person did not know, neither did he believe I loved him. So it does not represent much of a loss to him. He was having a heck of a good time with many ladies then.

Life is funny.

The Chinese say: bad luck and good luck are interchangeable. 福兮祸之所倚,祸兮福之所伏。

This turns out to be true.

My original good luck of being favored turned extremely sour midway, then my bad luck of being thrown out of the kingdom turned out better for me. Without that I perhaps would not have the chance to prove myself, nor would I have the chance to write a 450-page, well polished dissertation.

I should have my last laugh, as my American Lit professor has told me.

How come he is so sagacious? Is it because he is an outsider in this kind of things?

I had always wanted to blame him for not wanting to be my director when I originally asked him. But of course I never did. Everybody had their choice. I had suffered so many unnecessary hardships and wrong persecutions during my writing process. And being the director is not a nice job. One has to know when to encourage and when to push, and how far one can push.

I often complained, cried, grumbled, and even kicked and fought. The task is too overwhelming. It is too ambitious to cover within one project. And the director can never be satisfied. Is he or somebody else getting some sinister pleasure out of it?

It is not that I have to die simply because of one book?

But everything has passed. Let me put things into their proper perspective, pigeonhole them, and get moving.

My life is what I create it to be, not where I started my journey.

In a sense, I created my own muse.

It won’t hurt for others to remember Huston wrote her masterpiece in seven weeks. Less than two months. How much passion and how much love has she poured into the novel? It is almost perfect.

The Golden Apples is excellent. But it does not have the passion. Maybe Welty’s passion has sank down beneath the surface. She is the kind of woman who might look calm on the outside but passionate on the inside. Hurston might be the one who looks hot on the outside and hot on the inside.

People are different. Chopin is difficult to tell.

Su Qing is too level headed to do any foolish things. But she says she has fiery passions. But she does not have great love or great hate.

Zhang Jie is too ardent. Passionate inside and outside.

Wang Anyi is like Welty, burning inside but kept very calm on the outside.

My head is becoming older than my shoulders.

Personally, I think I belong to the type who is cold on the outside, I had been remarked for being stand-offish, but hot on the inside.

Are people thinking, “you have to beg me; you have to submit to me?”

Do we have Phd students committing suicide because of dissertation writing? It would be such a tragedy, to have to lose one’s life after going through the education system for so far.

I do not understand why Phd life has to be miserable, because most of those with doctoral degrees end up in the teaching profession. If they are miserable, they most probably would make their students miserable. At least the majority would. A few enlightened and compassionate ones perhaps would choose to stop the cycle of misery.

I do not think I have the desire to deliberately make others suffer to gain a certain kind of perverse pleasure. I am not a perverse human being, preferring to inflict pain whenever possible. There are those who do that if there is only one person temporarily under them.

I think such individuals live perpetually in misery. They either inflict pain or receive pain, as if they do not know they are still alive without pain.

I do not think they are nice to be around with.

I like the attitude I scratch your back you scratch mine. I always want to make life slightly better than it was yesterday, no matter which yesterday one refers to.

So, why should anybody be upset whenever I introduce changes? If I can perceive a change, it means the possibility has always been there. Most probably, somebody else can also perceive the change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: