Thursday, June 30, 2011


The smoke sneaks in from the balcony, where the Bear enjoys a cigarette. She complains I'm sticky. The humidity's high, though the temperature's low for June. We're trying to get me to understand Chinese grammar—we are fun kids, after all. The advice I keep giving to get over the nervousness of not being able to speak—have a few beers and then try—I don't want to follow.

Those who have been here for a while ought to know better than to begin any sentence with "In China…" You either get it right and piss somebody off, or you get it wrong and piss somebody off. There's no telling anybody about their own country. Right? I mean, what is your America? An absolute for you. Don't you talk about my home, you which country person.

After just shy of three years, I finally run out of shampoo. The brand I request from a visiting-home friend is gone, she reports. No one's surprised.

Everybody in our business has their favorite words, no? Which often become confused for correct usage. Oh my Lady Gaga. I'm more jazzed about being able to understand anybody than I ever have been before. It's hard to know which language to use when people use your own but you're in their country. Like, what's polite? What's appropriate? You first. No, you.

Am I getting through to you? Hello?

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