The Sweetness of the Fleeting

A plum tree covered with hundreds of white blossoms, and a cat at the bottom.

Here is our backyard. At the top you can see the plum tree in blossom, and at the bottom you can see one of our neighbors.

Right now, the plum tree in our backyard is covered with hundreds of plum blossoms, but not for much longer. I always look forward to seeing the plum tree come into full blossom every year. It lasts, at most, two weeks.

I was lucky to visit Dazaifu, a place in Japan famous for its plum blossoms, during its plum blossom season. It was gorgeous. I did not take any pictures because my camera was totally broken at the time, but the images are still vivid in my mind. (I’m sure you can find pictures of plum blossoms in Daizaifu somewhere on the internet). Continue reading

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Some thoughts on Shanghai Dream

While I was looking for videos for A Guide to Distinguishing Sinitic Languages by Ear, I discovered Shanghai Dream, a sitcom in Mandarin/English/Shanghainese/Russian about two European and two American young women in Shanghai. I got in the habit of watching an episode when I had a 15-minute block of time on the computer when I wanted to be distracted. By now, I’ve seen all twelve episodes.

I’ve never been to Shanghai, but I’ve been a young American woman learning Mandarin and living in a Mandarin-speaking society, so I feel like I know at least a bit about the reality of this type of situation. And some things in this show feel very untrue.

Such as the fact that these four women get to live rent-free in an upscale part of Shanghai?

Nah, that just seems consistently ridiculous. What does feel false to me is that there are often two characters who are native English speakers and not native Mandarin speakers speak to each other Mandarin. That. Does. Not. Happen. Native English speakers would only do that when they are specifically trying to practice Mandarin, and even then, they would probably slip into speaking English. And these people are in Shanghai, they don’t lack opportunities to practice with Mandarin native speakers. It’s unrealistic that their default language amongst themselves in Mandarin, not English. Continue reading

For Whom Do We Tidy?

When we ‘tidy’, who are we trying to impress?

Yes, I am still going through that KonMari thing even though it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged about it. Among other things, I’ve browsed/skimmed a few other books about decluttering/tidying at the library. I’ve even read one of them from cover to cover, specifically Decluttering at the Speed of Life. (Why that one and not the others? Because it’s entertaining. The others I’ve browsed are too boring to finish reading.) These books I’ve browsed at the library were all (I think) written by Americans, and (I assume that) the forewords were also written by Americans.

I’ve also read the Taiwan edition of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with two forewords which (I assume) were written by Taiwanese people. (There were a lot more differences between the Taiwan/Chinese translation and the U.S.A./English translation of the book than I expected, and I could write an entire post about that).

So now I can do a little cultural comparison – how are books about tidying/organizing/decluttering/etc. written by Americans different from a book about tidying written by a Japanese person with forewords written by Taiwanese people?

I’m sure a cultural anthropologist could dedicate an entire career to this kind of thing, but I’m not an anthropologist, so I will jump straight to what stands out to me. Namely, whether tidying is supposed to make a home look good to guests, or whether it is supposed to make it look good to residents. Continue reading

Knowing That I’m Aro Helps Me Get On with My Life

This is a submission to the March 2019 Carnival of Aros: “It’s great to be aro!”

I would describe being aromantic as being ‘okay’ rather than ‘great’.

That said, knowing that I am aromantic is great.

I was luckier than many of my aro peers. To the extent that my high school years were difficult, it was mostly for reasons unrelated to being aro.

When I first entered high school, I had figured that I would develop a romantic crush on someone (who I expected to be male), and would at least try to get romantic with them. After my first year of high school I thought it was odd that it did not happen. It was even more odd that by the time I graduated from high school I had to interpret my feelings through some pretty contorted lenses to consider myself to have had any romantic crushes at all, and even if those crushes were romantic (which, at this point, I don’t believe they were), I clearly had not responded the way my peers would to such feelings.

In high school, I was able to deflect a lot of pressure with the idea that I was a ‘late bloomer’. I could also tell myself that I was too busy to deal with romance. And I loved some specific examples of romantic poetry, so I obviously could experience romance, right?

In my first couple years of college, I was just so busy, I did not even have time to think about whether or not I had romantic feelings, let alone actually pursue a romance.

(Though really, in the deep recesses of my mind, I did wonder. But because these were the deep recesses of my mind, I was not really processing my intuitive observations of myself). Continue reading

A Guide to Distinguishing Sinitic Languages by Ear: Answers & Commentary

Two weeks ago I posted a guide to distinguishing Sinitic languages by ear. Here are the answers to the exercises where one guesses which language(s) are being used. But just giving the answers would be boring, so I’m adding my own commentary. Continue reading