We’re packing up and moving on. There, how many layers of meaning are in that one sentence? But, literally, I’m placing all of my things in boxes to transport to a different location. It seems that moving has gotten harder over the years. Or rather, moving on isn’t a problem; leaving behind is a problem. Maybe one of the most depressing things in the world is to throw out an old jar, labeled with the writing of a loved one who has died. Not that I did, but even considering it seems to be a sign. Everything is a sign when you’re moving.

We’re packing up and moving on.

There, how many layers of meaning are in that one sentence? But, literally, I’m placing all of my things in boxes to transport to a different location. It seems that moving has gotten harder over the years. Or rather, moving on isn’t a problem; leaving behind is a problem. Maybe one of the most depressing things in the world is to throw out an old jar, labeled with the writing of a loved one who has died. Not that I did, but even considering it seems to be a sign. Everything is a sign when you’re moving.

"They leave Asia with great expectations, and when they arrive, the experience can be deflating…They are discouraged by the dramatic fall in income and status. When they do find a job, it may be menial compared to their earlier career… In frustration, while wives and cildren remain in North America, husbands often go back to Taipei or Hong Kong or Bangkok to resume the high-paid managerial jobs or professional careers they had left behind. To maintain contact with their families, and to avoid forfeiting their immigrant status, the husband has to return to Canada or the U.S. every several months. If a husband cannot avoid forfeiting his immigrant status, his family remains in place, so the escape route exists. Thousands of middle-class Chinese immigrants have returned to work in Asia this way, earning them the sobriquet "astronaut" because they spend so much time in orbit. They have become Overseas Chinese in reverse— living overseas and sojurning in Greater China." -Lords of the Rim by Sterling Seagrave Despite Seagrave’s tendency to exaggerate the connected-ness of overseas Chinese, I found his book extremely enlightening, especially when it comes to the power structures in China. I have never had a clear picture of Chinese politics. Seagrave simplifies it (as he did with Japanese politics in The Yamato Dynasty) to a matter of money and family connections. Drawing on examples from China’s ancient history (again like The Yamato Dynasty) to the recent Hong Kong brain drain, he proved to me at least that ancient family networks and banking practices weave many successful businessmen Overseas Chinese into a cohesive identity. But although Seagrave has produced a very clear image of the Overseas elite, I think that he overgeneralizes to include all immigrant Chinese. It’s amazing the extent to which the community I live in mirrors the one Seagrave describes in the passage quoted. I had always found it odd that most of the non-Indian Asian families I know do not reside with the father for the majority of the year. Instead the father works overseas in some unspecified capacity, making enough money to fund expensive vacations and trips back “home” every few months. To think that it comes down to distrust of Chinese economic policies! Or for that matter, South Asian and Taiwanese ones.

"They leave Asia with great expectations, and when they arrive, the experience can be deflating…They are discouraged by the dramatic fall in income and status. When they do find a job, it may be menial compared to their earlier career… In frustration, while wives and cildren remain in North America, husbands often go back to Taipei or Hong Kong or Bangkok to resume the high-paid managerial jobs or professional careers they had left behind. To maintain contact with their families, and to avoid forfeiting their immigrant status, the husband has to return to Canada or the U.S. every several months. If a husband cannot avoid forfeiting his immigrant status, his family remains in place, so the escape route exists. Thousands of middle-class Chinese immigrants have returned to work in Asia this way, earning them the sobriquet "astronaut" because they spend so much time in orbit. They have become Overseas Chinese in reverse— living overseas and sojurning in Greater China."
-Lords of the Rim by Sterling Seagrave

Despite Seagrave’s tendency to exaggerate the connected-ness of overseas Chinese, I found his book extremely enlightening, especially when it comes to the power structures in China. I have never had a clear picture of Chinese politics. Seagrave simplifies it (as he did with Japanese politics in The Yamato Dynasty) to a matter of money and family connections. Drawing on examples from China’s ancient history (again like The Yamato Dynasty) to the recent Hong Kong brain drain, he proved to me at least that ancient family networks and banking practices weave many successful businessmen Overseas Chinese into a cohesive identity. But although Seagrave has produced a very clear image of the Overseas elite, I think that he overgeneralizes to include all immigrant Chinese.

It’s amazing the extent to which the community I live in mirrors the one Seagrave describes in the passage quoted. I had always found it odd that most of the non-Indian Asian families I know do not reside with the father for the majority of the year. Instead the father works overseas in some unspecified capacity, making enough money to fund expensive vacations and trips back “home” every few months. To think that it comes down to distrust of Chinese economic policies! Or for that matter, South Asian and Taiwanese ones.

"I found him in the private bar having a gin and ginger ale. His face, never much to write home about, was rendered even less of a feast for the eye by a dark scowl. His spirits were plainly at their lowest ebb, as so often happens when Sundered Heart A is feeling that the odds against his clicking with Sundered Heart B cannot be quoted at better than a hundred to eight. Of course he may have been brooding because he had just heard that a pal of his in Moscow had been liquidated that morning, or he had murdered a capitalist and couldn’t think of a way of getting rid of the body, but I preferred to attribute his malaise to frustrate love, and I couldn’t help feeling a pang of pity for him.” - Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, by P.G. Wodehouse (a Jeeves and Wooster book) The wonderful thing about Wodehouse’s humor is how benevolent it is. He’s not too worried about making insightful political satire, or social commentary. He’s just out to write something near to a musical comedy, without the music. Instead we lucky readers get the jazzy, self-satisfied Wooster. What a genius narrator.  

"I found him in the private bar having a gin and ginger ale. His face, never much to write home about, was rendered even less of a feast for the eye by a dark scowl. His spirits were plainly at their lowest ebb, as so often happens when Sundered Heart A is feeling that the odds against his clicking with Sundered Heart B cannot be quoted at better than a hundred to eight.

Of course he may have been brooding because he had just heard that a pal of his in Moscow had been liquidated that morning, or he had murdered a capitalist and couldn’t think of a way of getting rid of the body, but I preferred to attribute his malaise to frustrate love, and I couldn’t help feeling a pang of pity for him.”

- Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, by P.G. Wodehouse (a Jeeves and Wooster book)

The wonderful thing about Wodehouse’s humor is how benevolent it is. He’s not too worried about making insightful political satire, or social commentary. He’s just out to write something near to a musical comedy, without the music. Instead we lucky readers get the jazzy, self-satisfied Wooster. What a genius narrator.  

There is exactly half an apple pie left on the kitchen table. It’s been sitting there for a week. By now it’s probably radioactive (this is the real stuff, no preservatives, baked from scratch, even the crust) and I am afraid to eat more. The problem is with the recipiebook, which lists the calorie count for a single serving of the pie. I dared look at said recipiebook: 400 calories, read em’ and weep. A friend once told me he attended a party where they served New York cheesecake. This cheesecake, he said, was the best stuff he had ever tasted, the Real Thing. He and everyone else had a slice, and then two. One girl went over the top, and gobbled four or six of them down. She had been dieting, and the slices were thin. But then the information trickled slowly around the room that each slice was a ridiculous amount of calories (perhaps 500 or 1000). The girl broke down retching and crying. Mainly I’m confused about how dieting and calorie counting represent the intersection of psychological and physical health, a point at which one’s sanity can be said to trade off with actual scientific well-being. Or maybe I just really want some pie.

There is exactly half an apple pie left on the kitchen table. It’s been sitting there for a week. By now it’s probably radioactive (this is the real stuff, no preservatives, baked from scratch, even the crust) and I am afraid to eat more.

The problem is with the recipiebook, which lists the calorie count for a single serving of the pie. I dared look at said recipiebook: 400 calories, read em’ and weep.

A friend once told me he attended a party where they served New York cheesecake. This cheesecake, he said, was the best stuff he had ever tasted, the Real Thing. He and everyone else had a slice, and then two. One girl went over the top, and gobbled four or six of them down. She had been dieting, and the slices were thin. But then the information trickled slowly around the room that each slice was a ridiculous amount of calories (perhaps 500 or 1000). The girl broke down retching and crying.

Mainly I’m confused about how dieting and calorie counting represent the intersection of psychological and physical health, a point at which one’s sanity can be said to trade off with actual scientific well-being. Or maybe I just really want some pie.

I’m a big fan of this cover. Maybe it’s the collage, maybe it’s the shrieking red title, maybe it’s the pulpy messiness, but I love it. The writing was so-so. It seemed like the author hadn’t managed the transition from journalist to author very well. Now that I think of it, the writing was somewhat like the cover. A big mess of economics and history and undeveloped social commentary.