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Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Jax Cassidy

Who I am

There’s no denying in my mind that I was born to write. After all, my mother was a natural storyteller and throughout my life she painted pictures of a different place so romantic and interesting that I could actually see them in the pages of a book someday. Born in Southeast Asia, I was fortunate that my family emigrated to the United States when I was five years old. Growing up with the heavy influence of Eastern and Western philosophies and values, it was easy for me to connect to both cultures, yet I found it extremely difficult to belong in either. Nor could I grasp who I truly was.

I didn’t feel like I completely fit in with other Asians because I was so headstrong and independent. My no-nonsense personality made me the object of vicious gossip and my parents had to endure the embarrassment of my ‘shortcomings’. On the other hand, I didn’t fit in completely with Americans either because, on the outside, I was still a foreigner. I’m glad I never conformed to what was expected of me and continued to follow my dreams and passion regardless of the consequences. When I pursued journalism in college, my parents were displeased with my career choice and their disappointment continued when I turned to the arts. During the middle of my college years, and the height of my ongoing identity crisis, I was offered a position in Paris, France to do some public relations work with high-profile comic book artists. I didn’t hesitate to jump at the chance and in two weeks time I was boarding a plane with three bulky suitcases and kissing the States goodbye.

My first impression of Paris? It was a culture shock like no other. Paris was everything I imagined it to be, and so much more. The city was rich in architecture, cuisine, and fashion so I couldn’t help but skip through the Parisian streets at every opportunity. I was immersed in the City of Light and even with over a decade of French language training, I needed more. During those three years I traveled to many large and small cities in France, as well as visiting a few countries that I had always wanted to. Believe me, I learned so much about myself. By disconnecting myself from the limitations I had been faced with back home, I was able to be who I wanted to be. I had so much freedom to explore, grow into an adult, and come to terms with the person I was.

In Paris, no one addressed me as the “Asian woman”. Instead I was always introduced as “the American”. There was no color, no race involved and it was as if the world was equal in every sense. It was such an elated feeling and in those introductions I recognized that who I was on the outside wasn’t as important as the person inside. The lessons I learned from living in Paris and exploring exotic places impacted the way I looked at life. I embraced the carefree lifestyle and grateful I had the opportunity to find myself on my own terms.

Even now, I am shaped by my experiences and the details are still vivid in my mind’s eye. All those senses and emotions bottled up inside made it easy to spill over in my writing. As an author, I love tapping into my past to weave a romantic tale about two people who fall in love and with this relationship there are no colors or race. I try to spin stories that focus on the relationship, overcoming obstacles, and finding happily-ever-after. Because of my ability to take chances and staying true to myself, I was able to discover the person I am…ME.

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