A new school year means new beginnings and it’s no different here at beijingkids. Over the summer, we said goodbye to former Managing Editor Kara Chin and Deputy Managing Editor Ellis Friedman (whom many of you also knew as the old School Editor). As we kick off the 2013-2014 academic year with a new team, we figure we should properly introduce ourselves. This is the last installment of the series.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Not taller than my partner. As an awkwardly tall girl, my female relatives admonished me to “stop growing or you’ll never find a husband.” I did my best to oblige by staying a manageable 5’7 – but still no husband in sight.
Do you have any siblings? If so, tell us their name(s) and a fun fact about them.
My sister Nancie is six and a half years younger than me. My parents picked her Chinese name first: Nanxi or 南西, which contains the characters for “south” and “west.” They wanted to acknowledge our southern Chinese roots while commemorating my sister’s Canadian birth. “Nancie” just happened to sound a lot like her Chinese name, though we still don’t know why they picked such a quirky spelling.
As a child, Nancie was a bit darker than the rest of us. I slowly but surely convinced her that she was adopted from Cambodia. The story percolated in her psyche until she burst into tears at the dinner table one night and piteously wailed: “IT’S ALL A LIE!” Mom gave me a stink eye of such terrifying intensity, it’s a wonder my head didn’t just explode on the spot.
Who was your childhood hero?
I looked for Asian role models when I was little. The closest things I could find were Jackie Chan dubbed in Québécois French, then Pocahontas (who is super cool and has nice hair but is, of course, not Asian).
Eventually I realized that my dad is a pretty good role model. He’s been known to shout “Holy mackerel!” for no apparent reason and karate kick in the general direction of the TV when the Montreal Canadiens score a goal.
What was your favorite childhood food? Has it changed as an adult?
Kraft Dinner mac ‘n’ cheese. My mom was far too health-conscious to allow KD in the house, so I used to bike over to my friend Lisa’s house and scarf down a bowl. Now, I generally try not to eat anything fluorescent unless there’s betting involved.
List up to three of your favorite childhood books.
- The Little Prince: To this day, foxes, roses, and deserts still stir up intense feelings of nostalgia.
- The Sleep Book: In the ultimate bedtime story, Dr. Seuss follows a yawn as it spreads to creatures all over the world and ends with the reader. (I feel a Pavlovian yawn coming on right now.)
- The Witches: This book confirmed my suspicion that grownups are not to be trusted.
Tell us an embarrassing or little-known childhood anecdote about yourself.
In kindergarten, I blew a Hubba Bubba bubble so big it exploded over my head and got tangled in my hair. When I got home, my dad declared it a hopeless mess and gave me a haircut by putting a noodle bowl over my head and trimming around the edges. The next day, my teacher Alice mistook me for a boy. She asked: "Are you a new student?" I burst into tears.
Tell us about your parents’ quirks and how they’ve shaped you.
Mom’s a rebel, though she would never describe herself as such. She made her own clothes in university, rarely wears makeup or jewelry, and married a younger man – kind of a big deal in ’80s China. However, her worrywart tendencies have doomed me to a lifetime of arriving at airports three hours early and taking different routes home to evade would-be pickpockets/stalkers/intelligence officers.
Two years ago, my dad and I ate out together at a Chinese restaurant in Jianguomen. He brought a rice cooker (with rice in it), several bottles of Yanjing, and a single sweet potato. When the waitress opened her mouth to protest, he said: “We would like a bottle opener, please.” She hesitated, then obliged. That’s the kind of guy my dad is – never rude, but constantly testing the limits of what’s acceptable.
How many kids do you want (if any)?
As many as I can handle.
Sijia (Sisi) Chen is beijingkids’ managing editor and de facto den mother. She wheeled and dealed her way up the masthead after joining the magazine as an intern in September 2011. When she’s not making educated guesses about what people like do with their kids, Sisi enjoys beer, yoga, Heyrobics, making stuff, and looking at hilarious photos from Russian dating sites with her team.
Photo courtesy of Jirui Chen