I don’t endeavor to emulate de Toqueville. For all the niceties and praise he laid on the then-newish America, the American people have run with his comments much more than is currently applicable. No, my observations filter through a perspective influenced by myriad ideologies, identities, affirmations, and rejections—you read only what I think, all the while unaware of everything that led me to that thought, and you to these words. My account, therefore, is always incomplete, as is your knowledge; as is all our knowledge. Continue reading Mandala
I want to learn French. I’m in China and I want to get better at French. How seriously I want to learn French, I cannot say. Most likely, this is symptomatic of procrastination: I’m in China so I should learn Chinese. I think back to my college days—crazy how I can say that now—when I had papers to write, or tests to study for, and I would decide that, rather than begin working on papers or studying for tests, my time would be better spent reading a new book, or organizing my room, or doing laundry. Still, my desire to improve on my French is helped by the fact that, even though I could talk to the waitresses in Spanish or English, and be equally misunderstood, I automatically think in French; none of those languages would actually help me order anything here, I just find myself resorting to French, for no reason. Continue reading Fluency
One month in. It’s time to take stock.
I’m still alive. Hooray! Let’s take a moment, first, to appreciate what it takes to survive in today’s harsh, cruel, cruel world. Money—that’s all you need. I don’t need to learn how to cook, as there are others who can do it for me. I don’t need to learn how to sew, as there is no shortage of garments and apparel ready for purchase. Hell, I don’t need to know how to do anything, as long as someone exists who I can throw my money at and receive their knowledge, or skill, or labor. I don’t even speak the language of the country I’m in! Just like the nearly identical pyramids and monuments that sprouted all around the world in ancient times, from people who, presumably, had no contact with one another, body language—and the language of pointing, specifically—is universally understood. At the most basic level, having money and being able to point have been the two things I’ve needed to do, to get anything and everything. Continue reading What It Takes