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Letters from Home / 25

These two birthday letters were written per special request from Henry’s Taiwanese fanpage, which can be found here. Many thanks to the admins for the opportunity.

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Letters from Home: From One Huaqiao to Another

Dear Henry “Yoga Mat” Lau,

Call it procrastination or a quarter-life crisis in the making, but lately I’ve been rewatching a lot of footage from your appearance at KCON last year. Really random stuff, too, like that Final Recipe panel you did with Bobby Lee, or outtakes from that Danny Ahn show where you wrote your name with your butt. It’s weird that I’m poring over shaky fantaken videos when there’s three episodes of Happy Together, two episodes of Hello Counselor, and six gazillion episodes of Real Men that I haven’t watched. I guess that’s what happens when you finally quit K-pop fandom — no matter how you try, you still manage to hold onto the little things.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you sound like a completely different person when you speak English. It’s actually really jarring to listen to you speak Korean or Chinese on variety shows — because no matter how good your Korean or Chinese is, I can’t shake this weird feeling that what I’m watching isn’t really you.

To be fair, I’m pretty sure it’s just a language thing. As a fellow Taiwanese kid who grew up in the States sortakinda speaking Chinese at home, I know the feeling — like you’re half the person you really are when you’re speaking in a language that’s not English. Like the real relief of being able to speak English isn’t that you can finally say exactly what you want to say, but that you can finally be the person that you want to be.

I visit Taiwan frequently these days (because once a year is pretty damn frequent when you’re shelling out $1500 for a plane ticket from the New York to Taipei), but my home is still here in the States. I can speak English whenever I want and know that virtually everyone will understand my words — and therefore, me. It’s hard to think about the fact that you don’t have that luxury anymore. Sometimes when I catch myself being envious of your career and your success, I remind myself of this — that as awesome as it is to be a huge celebrity, nothing quite beats being able to just be yourself.

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Alaska

Some snaps from a recent family cruise to Alaska.

Between unpacking, working on a high school choir alum project, and editing med school essays for friends, I’ve been writing my Wellesley postgrad reflections and sweet fancy Moses it is so hard. Too many feelings and not enough words, I guess.

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(More glacier-y goodness below the cut.)

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WE ARE TAIWAN, BUT WHO AM I?

(An interruption from our regularly scheduled programming: this post is being used as a program note for a sound installation piece I did at Wellesley. I’ll post pictures and videos of the actual piece sometime soon [here are two previews via Instagram]. But for now, a warning: much nerdiness ahead.)

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The Five Colored Flag (五色旗) was used as the national flag of the Republic of China from 1912 to 1928. It is based off of Sun Yat-sen’s ideological principle of racial integration, exemplified by the effort to unify the minority ethnic groups residing in China’s frontier with the Han majority under one Chinese banner.

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We are sorry to inform you

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They say that good things always come to those who wait.

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변 to the 백

These cuts of Exo on Immortal Song are really old so I’m not going to dwell on them too much…but man. This is some good ish. It’s a little mindboggling to watch these performances knowing that this is the same group that can barely sing on pitch whenever they perform their own songs live, and I’m not going to discount the possibility that some of the audio on their IS performances were edited before broadcast…but I mean, if there was ever a time and place to just shut up and enjoy the cake, it’s here.

Amongst Exo’s main vocalists — Chen, Kyungsoo, and Baekhyun — Baek is undoubtedly the weakest of the three. His range is smaller, he’s a lot more pitchy, and his voice isn’t as powerful as Chen’s or as agile as Kyungsoo’s. But somehow, Baekhyun ended up being the standout performer of all three IS performances. Up until now, I’ve never paid much attention to Baekhyun as a vocalist in Exo; the timbre of his voice was just too similar to Kyungsoo’s, and there wasn’t anything Baekhyun could do that Chensoo couldn’t do better.

But Baekhyun really has a lovely voice, and it’s kind of a pity that he has to be pitted up against Kyungsoo and Chen all the time. Baek doesn’t have the same amount of technical precision and control as Chensoo, which really becomes his downfall when he’s spending most of his time singing K-pop songs that don’t make the best of his voice.

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