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Li Charmaine Anne
Self-portrait provided by author.

[Updated: 15 April 2021]

You may have arrived at my Medium profile from a comment I left on your article. Or you may have seen one of my original pieces. Whatever way you found me, thank you for visiting and checking me out!

I am currently on hiatus. I just accepted a new writing job and am in the midst of polishing my first novel, so I am taking a break from Medium for the time being.

I write about culture, social justice, mental health, and the craft of writing among other things. …

Black and white old photo of two young Chinese women lounge posing in long, floral gowns, 1910s/1920s style bob haircuts.
Channelling the strength of my ancestors. (Photo provided by author.)

I was sixteen and stuck on a chairlift.

I had just learned how to snowboard and this was another exciting weekend on the local mountain. I was having fun, so when the chairlift came and I ended up next to three tall, white boys in their late teens/early twenties, I didn’t think much of it.

The boys were loud, swore a lot, and intimidating. Like many ski/board bros I’ve seen, they refused to pull down the safety bar.

Then, one of them said something along these lines:

“Man, there are so many Asian girls on the mountain today. Asian girls…

Black and white doodle of a person in glasses, toque, short hair, with writing in front on a desk and mug of coffee.
Self-portrait provided by author.

Hi! I’m Charmaine :) I list my surname first in my bylines. You can call me Charmaine or Sharkii, which is the nickname a friend gave to me in Grade 6 that has stuck.

My Backstory

Since I was three, I’ve lived on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples , otherwise known as Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.

If you don’t know what “unceded” means, check out my explainer, but in a nutshell, much of B.C. was never formally given up to the Canadian government during colonization. Today, many progressives, artists, academics, and writers do land acknowledgements to respect this.


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Photo by Silvestri Matteo on Unsplash

CW: This story contains violent details of Canadian residential schools that some may find distressing.

I used to be a proud Canadian.

I was proud that, unlike our neighbours to the south, we Canadians have universal healthcare, legal same-sex marriage since 2005, and legal recreational marijuana nationwide since 2018, among other things. We hold doors open for people, apologize for our wrongdoings (sometimes to a fault), and have multiculturalism embedded in our law.

As a child of recent immigrants and a queer person of colour, I have honestly never felt as safe as I have in Canada.

Yet, this year…

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

In October 2019, I left a well-paid, full-time content marketing job to freelance for a year and a half.

In April 2021, I left freelancing and went back to being a full-time, nine-to-five content marketer.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve cycled through a lot of feelings. A lot of feelings.

Feelings about who I am, the meaning of work, the meaning of life. And that forever-question: how should we be spending the limited time we have on Earth in the best way possible?

I still don’t have the answer to this question, but after my experiment with…

woman with glasses and pantsuit at table with coffee and laptop, head leaning on hand, thinking look.

Many of the friends I’ve grown up with have found success in medicine, law, business, engineering — you know, professions society traditionally deem important.

Sometimes, I feel left out and less-than when I’m with my friends and they’re all discussing some complicated, scientific concept. There’s a belief that STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math), along with a few other things like law and academia, are more valuable than the arts.

STEM jobs are good, necessary, and worthy of respect. But the importance of STEM does not negate or invalidate the arts.

If you, like me, feel tempted to compare your…

When I was in Grade 7, my 2nd year in a new school, I was suddenly pulled out of English class and made to do an ESL (English as a Second Language) evaluation for "kids who recently moved to Canada." I was born and raised in Canada. I had never, ever done an ESL test in my life. I was even in enriched Language Arts programs at my old school, and I had no interaction with ESL in Grade 6, which was my first year at that school (and which would have made more sense to make the mistake then).

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Obligatory Preface: I am not a healthcare professional and this article should not be taken as medical advice. For accurate information on nutrition, fitness, and Covid-19, visit the CDC website.

[Edit 21 March 2021] This piece is getting some traction, which is awesome, but I want to clarify that a) this piece is not meant to be advice; and b) I have not gained weight to the extent that it would have a negative impact on my health. I do not meet the criteria for obesity or overweight. For an alternative viewpoint on this issue, check out Eva Grape’s piece.

close-up of computer code.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Around 2014, I downloaded Spotify for the first time. Since then, I have discovered a bounty of amazing new artists. I have added their songs to my playlists, bought their albums on vinyl, gone to their shows, and worn their overpriced merch.

But I wouldn’t have shaken hands with Japanese Breakfast or seen her show twice if it wasn’t for Spotify’s algorithm. Of course, algorithms aren’t perfect — I get recommended weird stuff all the time — but when I saw Martin Scorsese’s criticism of them in Harper’s, I wanted to defend the damn robots.

To me, the debate on…

Li Charmaine Anne

(She/They) Author on unceded Coast Salish territories (Vancouver, Canada). At work on first novel. Get links to read my stuff for free:

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