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52. O brave new world

March 12, 2012

Alright, the Write Transition, I am a laggard. Or clueless. Or, actually, both. Once Hollywood has released a mainstream movie about a new hot thing, it’s probably not the new hot thing anymore. Last year, Meryl Streep was nominated for, (but didn’t win) her third Oscar in a movie about blogging. Devastated, I didn’t start blogging until September. I blame the Academy. What does Margaret Thatcher have over Julia Child? I could have been blogging a whole six months earlier. Then maybe I could have at least ridden the Meryl-blogging aftershocky bump. Yes. There is probably a better way to say that, but I don’t know what it is. Instead, I will insist that “Meryl-blogging aftershocky bump” become a new meme. Tweet that, buddy.

All of which is to say: I thought I was writing about writing today. But I’m clearly feeling a little giddy and not at all sure that’s actually where I’m going. Did I also just use the word “meme” in a sentence? What the hell is a “meme?” Since I entered the blogosphere (there’s another one) – and for that matter the whole social media-o-sphere, I’ve felt like I’m operating in a foreign country. I want desperately to learn the language, but it feels hard. While it can be exhilarating, I frankly don’t think I’m very good at it. I mean, I’m the one who wouldn’t go near the microwave back in 1976. Granted, I was 7 years old, but it signified things to come. This business of trying new things doesn’t come easily to me.

After college, I moved to China to teach English. Talk about having your world turned upside down. When I left the U.S., I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin (or any other Chinese dialect). One afternoon, just a few months after my arrival, a Chinese teacher invited me to her in-laws’ home for Sunday lunch. In most respects, it was just like Sunday dinner here in the U.S. Kids underfoot, yummy food, polite (translated) chit-chat with the only stranger in the room. Who was me. I smiled a lot. After lunch, they invited me to xioxi, Mandarin for siesta (Spanish for nap). With more smiles and gestures, they indicated I should lie down on a straw mat laid across the concrete floor. Um. Ok. So I did. And I must have fallen asleep.  Next thing I knew, the room was warm and still and striped with late afternoon sun.  You know that feeling when you wake up and don’t know where you are? I have never felt it so profoundly. Because that’s how I felt for two years. Where am I? I’m just not sure. Not a bad feeling most of the time, actually. But occasionally disconcerting.

Which leads me to think about a conversation I had yesterday with Oscar, the janitor at my daughter’s former preschool. Calling it a “conversation,” might be something of a stretch, as he doesn’t speak English and my Spanish doesn’t extend much further past siesta. Still, it was a nice encounter, and in it, I was struck, again, and always, by the courage of the immigrant. Especially immigrants like this very real Oscar, who not only don’t have the language, but also aren’t accorded the honors I received in China as a welcomed guest. Thinking about this kind of voyage humbles me, and gives me such hope.

O Wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world

That has such people in’t.

— The Tempest

I’m going to keep blogging.

The tempest, peter greenaway, Prospero's Books, miranda, brave new world

Isabelle Pasco as Miranda in Prospero's Books (1991)

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2012 2:13 pm

    I wish everyone could experience living in a foreign country. The awakening that occurs combined with the knowledge that it isn’t “all about me” is important for tapping down the egocentrism that can occur–particularly in the West. My year in France as a very young adult was eye opening. Difficult at times to be alone so young, but what a life-changing experience.

    Thanks for the trackback to my post. Appreciate it!

    • March 12, 2012 3:47 pm

      I agree – I think living in a foreign country – or at least being uprooted as a young adult (in a nice, happy safe way) is the best education we can get. BTW – I do love your blog! Trackbacks whenever I can. 🙂

  2. March 12, 2012 3:11 pm

    I know what you mean…feel that way myself most days! Keep at it – I plan to, even if it isn’t cool anymore. 🙂

  3. March 16, 2012 3:07 pm

    Love Prospero’s Books. In fact, might have an original cinema quad in my collection of movie posters somewhere. And The Tempest in general, in fact.
    Nice blogging. Great title. I work on that supposition at lot myself. 🙂

    • March 16, 2012 5:17 pm

      thanks. Yeah – that was kind of a sneaky way to get an image in of a favorite movie too! I used to have the CD of the music — it was literally the first CD I ever bought. Time to see it again, I think…

  4. March 17, 2012 3:42 am

    Awesome photo. 😉

    • March 18, 2012 12:28 am

      Prospero’s Books – film by Peter Greenaway – truly lavish rendering of The Tempest, with music by Philip Glass. Enjoy it I hope!

  5. March 17, 2012 2:33 pm

    I love your posts and not just this one; reading from an actual human being instead of a “how are you, pass the salt, i have no problems” sort of person. I am going through my own personal transformation and your blogs feel like a warm place to be – one that keeps me focused and helps me to remember to not sweat the details and that not every day has to be perfect. I really like the content and your style of writing. Peace, Kitchen Wych.

    • March 18, 2012 1:25 am

      yah… real human being here. That’s for sure! Thanks for the comment – and, btw, could you pass the salt? 🙂

  6. Anonymous permalink
    March 20, 2012 12:20 am

    Living abroad, I felt protected by naïveté
    Tourists, new arrivals, fobs all remind me
    How dependent I was on the kindness of strangers,
    Whom for the most part, I ignore.

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