Michelle's Story

Michelle Tong-Choyce

There have been several occasions where I found myself wondering what I would have been doing with myself if I was never in Mandarins. Maybe I would have spent my summer days, and Wednesday and Friday nights slumped on the sofa watching hours of brainless television. Or maybe I would have been running the streets of Sacramento wreaking havoc, hanging out with Greenhaven punks.

In fact, that is what I did, after I quit Mandarins! I also wonder how Mandarins may have contributed to shaping me into the person I am today. I do not necessarily know the answer to that question and I am still trying to figure that out today. But, I am able to boil the Mandarins influence down to four things: the physical effect, the subconscious effect, the parental effect, and lastly the social effect. As you read on, you’ll understand. 

The physical: Physically, the muscle above my left shoulder blade (trapezius) tightens up whenever I am under stress. I realized the pain dates back to the frigid nights we spent awaiting our scores during the awards ceremonies, where I would crunch my shoulders up in the cold. Then, there is the incessant habit I have whenever I lay hands on a long tubular item, like a roll of wrapping paper, of attempting doubles and triples by tossing the roll in the air. And then, just a few weeks ago, I was crossing the street and I smelled a waft of exhaust from a bus, and suddenly, the nostalgia of the running buses outside Jumbo as we loaded up went whizzing through my mind. 

The subconscious: Mandarins affects my life because I still have random dreams about trying to learn a new combination that Greg Mar was trying to teach me. More recently, I had a dream that I was doing horizontals, which were not done with the precision I once had in the past. 

The parental: Also, Mandarins saved my parents countless hours of driving me around (because I had friends that could drive!) and worrying about me falling into the wrong crowd during the most important formative years of my life. 

The social: However, what I found most influential about Mandarins was the strong sense of community and the sharing of my individual space with others. That has definitely carried over to my life today, such that I have committed my career endeavors to community work and have a personal interest in providing legal assistance in areas that affect low-income Asian communities. 

In addition, I love to travel and I love taking the bus! And, I also know that for five years, I was part of a disciplined environment that fostered and encouraged Asian American youth to entertain a competitive team spirit. 

In closing, I quote the priceless words of my brother Bruce Lee, “when tea is put in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.”

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