angry reader of the week: serena kao

Okay, everybody. It's time to meet another Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Serena Kao.

Who are you?

My name is Serena Kao, and I'm 34 years old. I'm a Chinese-American mother of two beautiful Blasian kids. My daughter is eight and my son is two.

What are you?

I'm a second generation, middle child of divorced parents. My mother hails from Taiwan and my father from Shanghai. My grandmothers are also from Shanghai but from two completely different regions. My great grandmother was actually Japanese so I'm technically, 1/8th Japanese!

Where are you?

I reside in North Bergen, New Jersey although I don't consider myself a "Jersey Girl". I live in a predominantly Hispanic community, and I've grown to love Jersey, but I will always be a Queens girl at heart.

Where are you from?

I'm originally from Rego Park/Forest Hills located in Queens, NY. I was born on March 10th 1976 in the middle of one of our biggest snowstorms, at what used to be St. John's Hospital. My mother often reminds me of how she tried to hail a cab after her water broke but there was not a single cab on Queens Blvd. that day. Fortunately, my father rushed home from work and they made it to the hospital in time!

We moved to Flushing after I graduated from the 6th grade. I attended the High School of Art & Design in NYC and I was determined to pursue art until senior year, when my Illustration professor told me, "Look kid, your ideas are great but your drawings aren't." Though I was disappointed at the time, he was right.

I decided to go to Babson College, a small business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I also lived in Argentina during my senior year through one of Babson's study abroad programs. It definitely made me more appreciative of all the things I took for granted here in the United States, like bagels! My girlfriend and I would travel by train for an hour just to have something we Americans can pick up from the local supermarket.

I graduated in 1998, and while all of my friends had found jobs, I had no clue as to what I wanted to do other than travel. So with the encouragement of my mother, I joined the notorious "Love Boat" (not a real boat but a Taiwanese government, subsidized program for American Asians around the world to study in Taiwan for a summer). After the Love Boat, I ended up stopping in Korea and California. By then my mother called me and said, "Get your ass home and find a job!"

So, I actually ended up living and working in Boston until 2001. That year I re-kindled my courtship with a guy I dated in my teens, Sam. Technically, Sam and I aren't married yet but he is the father of my children and we've lived together for 9 years now, so on days when he's behaving (hahaha), I consider him my hubby. I guess you can say we're doing the Brangelina thing right now.

What do you do?

For the past three years, I've been working for CIGNA Healthcare in Jersey City, as an Administrative Assistant.

During the past two years, my creative side has allowed me to express myself on my blog. Please check me out at benaboboli.wordpress.com and feel free to leave me any comments!

I'm a reality show and 80's flick junkie, and during my spare time I enjoy going to the little dive bars in our neighborhood and beating Sam at 9-ball.

I'm extremely adventurous, and one of the few moms you'll see jumping in the sprinklers with the kids at the park. Sam and I are on the same page when it comes to raising children, and as a result, our kids are happy and healthy. At times it's tough because Sam and I have that additional layer of parenting since our kids are biracial and our cultures can conflict but we teach our kids that we've come a LONG way in terms of how minorities were treated and I think that actually brings us together.

What are you all about?

When I was little, I was really shy. My mom said I was always crying, whining, and hiding. Writing has helped me tremendously break out of my shell and learn a lot about myself.

I fought my father tooth and nail to not restrict my friends to only Chinese or Caucasian people. When we moved to Flushing, just being Asian wasn't good enough for him. My best friend Peter, who passed away in 2002, was Korean and for my father, it was very disrespectful that I didn't obey him when he told me to stay away from Pete. So you can imagine what he thought when he met Sam, who is Black. The reason why he didn't accept them, and I imagine this is the case for a lot of Asian families, was simply because he's from the old school and has a deep, nationalistic pride for his country.

Sam and I dated when we were teens and my father actually threatened to disown me when he found out. Our relationship has been strained at times, but he never disowned me, and nowadays, he is happy for me and the family I've created. It means a lot to me that he accepts my decisions now that I'm older.

What makes you angry?

Racism, people who think they are "entitled," and those who look down on their own culture. This infuriates me. I know people who come to this country and want to fit in with American society but end up shunning people who are less fortunate than them. I was guilty of this in high school when I was struggling with my own identity. But by traveling the world, having kids and writing every single day, I've learned to be less angry about the things I can't control and happier for the simple fact that I'm still alive because it's definitely not easy to survive in this world!

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