We were excited for former Audrey contributor Shannon Goss when she landed a (dream) gig writing for ER, but sad to see her leave for greener (and well-paid) pastures. Now that ER has ended, she’s back to sharing her writing skills with us, this time with a regular column looking into her life as a writer, a hapa Asian American, and all-around modern woman.
I was asked to kick off my bi-weekly columns with an introductory piece. For anyone who has visited my website knows, I’m not big on the “About Me” page.
So what follows is an essay, which is my veiled attempt to get you – the reader – to like me, read me and clamor for more.
One of my high school classmates was convinced that I, with my non-white skin, was not an American. He was equally convinced that my fair-skinned best friend was. He was wrong.
My nationality? American.
My best friend? A green card-holding Canadian.
My ethnicity, which he confused with my nationality, is half Japanese; the other half equal parts Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh. In Hawaii, where I was born, I am known as a hapa, that is, a “half.”
Despite growing up in small town Oregon (read: not a Japanese restaurant in sight), I identify more with my Japanese side than my British Isles side, thus writing for Audrey magazine and not, say, Irish Lass Monthly.
My annoyance over the misuse of “ethnicity” and “nationality” probably has to do with the fact that I was raised by parents who were teachers. In our house, words and how you used them mattered. This supports the life assumption that we can blame pretty much anything on our parents.
Fear of abandonment? Thanks, Mom and Dad. Although in my case a little unwarranted considering I’m basing this entirely on the time I thought my parents boarded a cable car without me. Spoiler alert: They didn’t, something I realized after successfully chasing down the trolley with no money to pay my fare, what
with me being 8-years-old and all.
Inability to wake up early? Totally my parents’ fault, despite my mom’s best efforts to wake me from my teenage slumber by threatening to spray me with a water bottle and/or sing Chinese opera (she is neither Chinese nor an opera singer).
Comical confusion between rights and lefts? I want to blame this on my parents because I don’t know how else to explain my consistent ability to say, “turn left” when I mean, “turn right.” My boyfriend has accepted this as one of my adorable (my word) foibles despite the fact that when I make this error he’s generally at
the wheel of a moving automobile.
In my parents’ defense, however, I also take responsibility for my hang-up about words because I am a writer. Most of the time word choice is a matter of taste. Was she agitated or incensed? Overjoyed or jubilant? This changed while on the writing staff of the show ER where one wrong word could be the difference between life and death (in a fake TV show way).
So yes, words and how they are used matter to me. But hopefully not in a pretentious, you want to punch me in the face way. More of a I’m-laughing-with-you-because-you-misused-the-word-“literally” way.
– Shannon Goss