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Sunday, February 25, 2007 by Jon

Musings from Taiwan (and after)

- This time around, I don't have any friends from the states visiting at the same time as me. And with plane tickets to Shanghai ultra-scarce with a long waiting list, it looks like I won't be able to see Justin & Erin. So a quiet week lays ahead, which means I can do other things. I'm going to try to go Sedaris on my travels (minus the gay banter).

- I saw the Barack Obama candidacy announcement here. Here in Taipei that is. I'm sure this is the first and only time Springfield, Illinois will ever make an appearance on Taiwanese television. I tried looking for familiar faces in the crowd, but saw none. Just a lot of white people who looked cold (go Springfield!). But whatever, props to to my hometown for making the headlines.

- There is an awkward commercial that shows people making some weird hand gestures and chanting, "WE WANT WANG! WE WANT WANG!" But then it's just a commercial for Chien Ming Wang and Big Macs.

- My dad is rocking out in a Members Only jacket. I think they're making a comeback, but I think his is from the original Members Only days, and he's been wearing it ever since.

- I went to Ximen Ding today. Got chatted up by a very friendly male sales attendant who kept playfully slapping my arm and got playfully hissy when I said I didn't need to buy anything (I bet Sedaris would have liked him), and I saw an Abercrombie clone called 'WHO.A.U: California Dream'. But its not really Californian! Its Korean!

- One of the things I've noticed this time around in Taiwan is that the winter is so much more pleasant than the summer. It feels like a cool breeze perpetually runs through the city, and you notice things that would otherwise be undiscovered in the summer. For instance, the heated toilet seat here at my grandma's. Imagine yourself bending down and how normally you clench and brace yourself for the cold contour of the plastic bowl, but instead you are greated by the inviting sense of a heated chair awaiting the release of your bowels. One of life's secret pleasures indeed.

- I'm probably too young to wonder about mortality right.

- I'm sitting down at a table. The table is located in the food court of a department store. This food court has establishments such as Au Bon Pain, Starbucks, and Haagen Dazs. It is also Valentine's Day. Vendors are hawking roses and little teddy bears to passerbys. The table I sit at is in Taiwan. Hello globalization.

- The girl in charge of cleaning all of the tables here in the food court looks sad. I find myself glancing back at her to see if she still looks sad, and she does. Or she might just be incredibly numb and bored. Maybe both. I wonder what her life is like outside of this gleamy, plasticy, shiny SOGO food court. I feel like the haves and the have nots differ greatly here in Taiwan.

- This reminds me of my grandma's housekeeper. Her name is Mini and she is only 22 years old. She's been working in Taiwan for two years, but her home is in Indonesia, where her boyfriend lives. Her days are spent helping my grandma cook and clean, and as I've noticed, if she isn't doing that, she's probably in bed resting for the next day of work on her small futon in the corner of my grandma's room. Now I'm sure she could do worse as my grandma is a caring and thoughtful person, and I think my ahma's age justifies the need for help, but I can't help but feel weird. The idea of a young girl leaving her family and friends behind to go work as a servant in a foreign country is pretty hard. But in reality, that's how a good majority of the world works outside of the United States.

I think its weirder though because Mini doesn't look any different that someone I would be friends with. She's basically the same age as me and her style of dress is pretty western. She has some trendy blue adidas shoes and jeans and all that. But her life seems so much different than mine. I wonder if she envies me. I wonder how long she will do this for.

Does my American education really afford me better opportunities that her? Mini is no doubt a very hard worker and a genuinly friendly person. She's picked up Mandarin pretty well, so I wonder...could she do what I do back in the States? I think she easily could. What makes her and I so inherently different that she ends up making juice for me in the morning, doing my laundry, and vacuuming around me, all while I lounge around with my laptop and talk to friends all day long.

- I came to a realization on my drives home from work. I noticed that the traffic goes from really bad to really horrible right about the same time the the freeway reaches the Asian populated regions. I mean, it is almost as true as can be. Whenever I get a chance to pass a slow car, the car that holds everyone else up behind them, which oftentimes is in the fast lane, which causes this massive's usually either an Asian female or an old man. Someone needs to do an academic study on this so. It boggles my mind.

- I wanted to post pictures up with this post, but UIUC ended my netfiles subscription and I havent figured out another way to host my files yet. Sad. My internet connections to Illinois have officially ended.

- Lastly, I am too tired to fully elaborate my thoughts, but I went to dinner with Hochie in town last night and got to meet some new people. We were all Taiwanese, and we all had these criss-crossing connections (TAF, TACL) from way back that we didnt even know about that came full circle, and we worked in Hollywood or did something creative and had plans for the future or wanted to collaborate...and it was just cool. Us Taiwanese Americans...or just us PEOPLE for that matter, and ALL people, not just us in that room last night, we can be a pretty awesome and inspiring group of inter-connected individuals.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007 by Jon

I'm in Taiwan right now. I had initially hoped to hop over to Shanghai for a few days to visit Justin and Erin, but alas there are no tickets. However, I made up for a lack of Justin by meeting Justine, a friend to Will Tiao and a former Formosa Foundation participant. It has been suggested to me to participate in the Formosa Foundation's two-week all-expenses paid program (read that again, "all-expenses" paid) before, but due to my baby called the JH program, I would always decline commiting two weeks in June to this.

But now I don't have a baby called the JH program, and most of you don't either! So I recommend y'all apply for this. And remember, it's all expenses paid. That means they fly you to LA. That means you could get a free trip to hang out with me. And I am pretty valuable. And it's for a good cause and you'll learn a lot. It's win win win. AND the Formosa Foundation is not just looking for Taiwanese PoliSci majors to do this, but people of all backgrounds. And if you're from the midwest, you're pretty much a shoe-in for this all-expenses paid trip. So B-Roy, Jamie, Marg, Cho, Brittney, Stephanie and uh...any other non-Taiwanese subscribers to my xanga (I can't believe I can only think of five), you should do it. And get a free trip to LA and Washington D.C. With only a two-week commitment. All others are welcome of course too.

C'mon, what else are you going to do in June?

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007 by Jon

I hear its cold back home, as well as the rest of the midwest and the northeast. I'd just like to mention that it was 86 degrees today in LA. But hey hey, there are side effects to the heat, like the two small brushfires I drove past on the 101 freeway. Or the multiple semi-truck accident that backed up traffic for eight miles (during non-rush hour). See, things in SoCal aren't always great.

But yea, 86 degree weather is pretty awesome in February. Unless it means our planet is dying of course.


This morning, Roger asked me if I was going back to TAF this year and it reminded me of my dream last night. In it, I walked into some eating establishment, much like a Denny's or a Perkins (although I actually think it was the diner in THE OC), and saw all of the returning and new TAF PD's and the new ED sitting in booths planning and discussing TAF 2007.

I walked up to them and watched them interact. I saw their faces and expressions and all of the smiles that go along with planning a TAF program. And in the dream, I didn't say anything to them, and they didnt say anything to me. I don't think they even saw me. So I just watched for a moment, stopped, turned around, and slinked away to a dark table in the corner and sat down with other TAFers who aren't as involved anymore. And from there, I watched the new group of PD's work only a few tables over, yet it felt like they were far far away.

While that may sound morbid to some, it isn't that bad. When Roger triggered the memory of my dream, I laughed and I smiled. To be honest, it feels pretty weird to not be involved in TAF at all right now, to not know what meetings and conference calls are going on and to not be getting emails or to be writing any emails. My past four February's usually mark the beginning of "getting into-TAF mode". And right now...there is none of that. I went from getting to do everything, to hearing nothing.

But I think why I laughed and I smiled is because in my dream, I got to see the new people do what I got to enjoy for four wonderful years, and to see that some of my old co-pd's are still there. And I saw the happiness on all of their faces. So I know everything is in good hands along with full hearts for TAF (though there was never any doubt to this). I may be there in August, and I may not. But either way, it's neat to be so excited for something that you know you might not be able to go to. So good luck to the 07 PD's and ED, and especially to Alex and Tiffany for JH.

And since everyone likes to ask me, TAF will be held from August 5th - 12th at Manchester College in North Manchester, IN...but you might want to double check with a current PD.

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