After a journey from Kentucky to Seattle to Vancouver to Hong Kong to Guangzhou, I'm finally back in the PiA apartment, twiddling my thumbs and helping Jon settle in before classes begin on Tuesday. Thus the second year has begun.
Not having very much to say about the second year, on account of I've only lived one and a half days of it now, I thought I'd share some Deep Thoughts I had recently, all of which occurred to me while inside some sort of moving vehicle:
- Imagine a customs officer asking for your purpose in Canada. Do you say, "Visiting a friend" or "Visiting my friend"? Now imagine your parents asking you the same question. Again, which would you say? They both mean the same thing, right? I somehow instinctively reserve the word "my", in that context, for speaking to people I know well. A stranger would usually get the "a". But why?
- Describing my life in America to a Chinese person is always difficult, but I'm starting to wonder if it's not entirely because of my non-native ability. It's like growing up with a certain box of crayons and then going over to a friends house who has a different box of crayons and then she asks you to show her what the tree in front of your house looks like and you KNOW you've drawn it a million times with your own set of crayons and made it look freaking EXACTLY like the actual tree but now you've got "sepia" instead of burnt sienna so now the bark just looks like poop the way you usually shade it and she says "wait, your tree is poop-colored?" and you say "NO it's supposed to be burnt sienna" and she says "what's burnt sienna" and you say "it's like sepia but more orange-y" and she nods like she understands but she doesn't because to her "burnt sienna" will always be a sepia crayon and an orange crayon shaded over each other which you know in your head would look even more like poop than what you've just drawn so great now she thinks your house is lined with poop trees. That must be why public schools force you to learn a foreign language even if you'll never use it: catching a glimpse of another box of crayons, even just one other box, reminds us that our own box is just one of many, thus rescuing us from linguistic solipsism.
- The "ethnic" section of Lexington's "Hustler Hollywood" DVD selection is like 95% African and the rest Latina/o. "Where are the Asians?" I wondered. Answer: in the regular "Hustler" section. Since when did the Asian fetish become so mainstream as to not even merit being in a separate category? Globalization at work? Never mind why I was in the Hustler store in the first place, of course. Also, it smells really nice in there, no joke.
- Chinese people are hard to google by their English names. Way too many Cindy Chens and Howard Wangs out there. There ought to be a naming rule: if your child has a Chinese last name, you have to make its first name outrageous enough to stand out from the millions of other humans with your family name. Like Thelonious Chang or Lemonjello Wu.
- Lizards inhabit our apartment. This is pretty par for the course in subtropical areas, as I understand it. I actually think it's kind of cool (though if they were spiders of the same size I'd have a different opinion), but some people do not. Namely, several young Western women I know who, during their first night in Guangzhou were so terrified at the sight of several lizards on the walls and more importantly the prospect of lizards entering their buttholes that they immediately changed into tights and constructed a lizard-proof fort in their bedroom out of sheets and pillows. One funny thing about this is that the lizards I know appear to be equally terrified of human contact; a foreign butthole would seem the last place in which a lizard would like to find itself. I can't completely blame the girls; I mean, I would not enjoy a reptile-in-the-bum any more than they would, but it's definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when I see something crawling on the walls, and I believe this is because I don't have a vagina. I can only assume that women are very protective of their vaginas, and being around strange men (as in perhaps a sketchy club situation), must be troubling in some deep unspoken Freudian way, like how a turtle must feel in the company of a porcupine. Safe if the right precautions are taken, but ultimately still vulnerable. Irrational fear of penetration must be more pronounced in females, that's the conclusion I'm jumping to here. It was with this in mind that I came across this bumper sticker for sale in western Kentucky:
What other group besides females has a chronic fear of penetration? Homophobic rednecks! Hasn't it been said that obsessive homophobia is often a symptom of closeted homosexuality? Can we add this to the record as Exhibit A? Homophobic men, in promulgating their fear of penetration by penises, are actually exhibiting a feminine trait and not a masculine one. According to my lizard-butt theory, at least.
- There are actually two Beastie Boys couplets linking boastfulness (or lack thereof) to international breakfast foods:
"I don't mean to brag / I don't mean to boast / But I'm intercontinental when I eat french toast." —The Move
"Sometimes I like to brag / Sometimes I'm soft-spoken / But when I'm in Holland I eat the pannekoeken." —Super Disco Breakin'
I don't know exactly what this connection means, but I'm pretty proud of myself for discovering it.