A Modern Day Two Spirit


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A Modern Day Two Spirit

  1. 1. Amreth D. Long<br />Modern Day Two-Spirit<br />A<br />Cambodian transplant<br />in the <br />heart of <br />Beverly Hills<br />Benjamin Hart - 11/6/08<br />Dr. Wolfe - Anthro. 102<br />
  2. 2. Amreth D. Long is a 24-year-old Cambodian male renting a small bedroom in a Beverly Hills apartment. He&apos;s been in the states for almost two years after a volatile transition from his home town, Phnom Penh. &apos;Things got weird between my parents and grandparents. That&apos;s all we were told.&apos; Although his parents are reasonably close in Long Beach, &apos;It was time to move out.&apos;<br /> In Cambodia it is quite normal to live with one&apos;s parents through the 20&apos;s. Once in America, however, the draw to independence was overwhelming.<br />My friends back home think I live with the movie stars. I haven&apos;t corrected them yet...<br />
  3. 3. While barren of much else than a queen sized mattress and a cork board, Amreth&apos;s room is rife with displays of family photos. Between three brothers and one sister, Amreth has become Auntie Am to an army of nieces. &apos;Traditionally, younger relatives refer to an uncle by his middle name. I&apos;m not big on holding onto traditions. I&apos;d rather make new ones.&apos;<br />The grandparents don&apos;t make it into the collage, however. Little to no memorabilia of the elder generation were brought to the states. For everyone involved, the move was a fresh start.<br />“I&apos;d rather be Auntie Am than Uncle Dan.”<br />
  4. 4. Amreth&apos;s first big purchase in the states was a 2001 Ford Escape. He considers it a marker of prestige, and a little rebellion. “Nobody owns a Ford, much less an SUV back home. It&apos;s completely impractical.” While driving the beast is still a bit challenging, Amreth likes how he feels in the over sized truck - &apos;the Glamobile&apos;.<br />“My parents make fun of me for my big American car, they say it&apos;s a waste of space and money... I tell them that&apos;s the point.”<br />
  5. 5. One thing that has stayed firmly intact from Amreth&apos;s homeland is his diet. He is a strict vegetarian consuming little to no animal products. There&apos;s not a religious, moral, or obligatory reason behind the diet... just home training. When he goes to visit his nieces, it&apos;s strange to see them eating chicken nuggets and corn dogs. “That&apos;s just not something I had in my childhood. They&apos;re getting to be pudgier than me or my brothers ever were.” When asked if he thought he ever might venture into omnivoreism, Amreth didn&apos;t see the point. <br />“Maybe it&apos;s because we were poor, maybe just healthy, but meat was rarely on the table growing up.”<br />
  6. 6. “I have a degree that I&apos;m not using in a position a sixth grader could master. But I make more money than my dad back home. For the parents, this is ultimately what&apos;s important.”<br />Work provides a solace for Amreth. His older brother was able to obtain a position for him in a small media marketing company doing research for major motion pictures. Amreth was pleased with the position because of its late hours and minimal interaction with others. Convinced that his English isn&apos;t up to par for a position with phone calls or meetings, he&apos;s content to point and click for wages.<br />
  7. 7. Although the work is tedious, &apos;It&apos;s a stepping stone.&apos; Eventually, Amreth would like to move into a position working with development of television shows and new script content. &apos;I&apos;m a big indie-film buff. Hopefully I&apos;ll be working for Sundance soon.&apos; In the mean time, he&apos;s grateful for a position that allows him to decorate with Mariah and surf the web for free.<br />“I like the late night shift. It&apos;s easier to take an unnoticed three - hour break.”<br />
  8. 8. When it&apos;s finally time to clock out, Amreth&apos;s night is far from over. A quick trip back home to &apos;pre-game&apos; for the evening&apos;s endeavors usually lands Amreth in front of the mirror for an entirely different transition.<br />As supplemental income, Amreth is a performer at Avalon, a local dance club featuring a weekly 18-and-up night known as Tiger Heat. Amreth is a costumed dancer working for tips, drinks, and the occasional phone number.<br />He operates under the code name - ANTHRAX.<br />“Cambodia is reasonably advanced as far as some of the other South Asian countries, but it wasn&apos;t until I came to California that I felt free to be me.”<br />
  9. 9. “Storm always gets the best tips.”<br />His favorite characters to play are super heroes, because they&apos;re the same in every country. The top of the list being Storm from the X-men series. &apos;It seems silly, and it probably is, but there was never an outlet for this kind of thing growing up, and here it&apos;s celebrated.&apos; Other favorite characters include Catwoman, Wonderwoman, and interestingly enough, the Hulk.<br />
  10. 10. The nights are usually a blur of bar shots, platform dances, and photo ops for ANTRHAX. Again, a profession that Amreth is pleased doesn&apos;t involve much verbal communication. &apos;I don&apos;t talk to many people. I hide behind the slanty eyes and loud music. I wouldn&apos;t mind if someone recognized me, but it wouldn&apos;t be as fun.&apos;<br />When asked if Cambodia embraced the concept of a two-spirit, Amreth said he&apos;d heard the word before, but more in the context of a leprechaun, or beggar. Never very flattering.<br />“ANTHRAX lets me be a completely different person. Not in a bad way... whatever that means.”<br />
  11. 11. While every night lends itself to unforeseen adventure, they all end with a run to Taco Bell and a Mariah Carey mix tape blasting at full volume. &apos;Mariah taught me to not look for a way out of my problems, but a way through them.&apos;<br />As for the fast food, it&apos;s a luxury unavailable in the East. While some of the restaurants existed in Phnom Penh, Amreth never indulged until moving to the states.<br />“Cinnamon twists and Mountain Dew... <br />I don&apos;t know how i ever made it without them.”<br />
  12. 12. end.<br />