My Chinese is rusty, but it’s starting to come back after a couple of days immersing myself—and eavesdropping on the twenty-somethings (mostly girls) who sashay into Starbucks or down the street, at restaurants, shops, etc., in high heels, scarves, mini-skirts, with perfect hair bouncing. Boys are a big topic. It’s, like, universal or something. It’s amazing, too, what people will say in front of you when they don’t think you understand them. I’m not talking about insults, either. I mean highly personal information that should probably be divulged only in one of those dark rooms that obscure your face and voice (the kind that make you sound like some sick rejected Robocop model). A lot of foreigners are learning Chinese nowadays, but the reality hasn’t quite caught up with common expectation. There is, occasionally, a subtle prejudice where if you look white, people just won’t understand you. No matter how perfectly you say something, over and over again. Of course, I’ve seen the same thing happen in the United States, with positions and ethnicity reversed. Not cool, either way.
I was thinking about language because of this article that Jim McCann posted several days ago: Asians should change their names to make them ‘easier for Americans to deal with.’ Thank Betty Brown, Texas lawmaker, for that gem. Because, you know, Russian/Polish/Greek/etc. names are super easy to spit out.
I’ll start posting pictures soon. The past couple days have been mostly consumed with finishing up various writing projects. Today and tomorrow belong to the copy edits on The Fire King, which is book nine in the Dirk & Steele series. Mitch asked: Do you have any plans for the near future of setting another book in China? And the answer is, yes, kind of. The Fire King starts out in Minneapolis, goes to San Francisco, and then takes place almost entirely in Central Asia. Readers will finally meet Roland face to face.
I am so tired that I fell asleep sitting up during a phone conversation in which I was told that Roxanne, one of the orange cats, has gained so much weight that she’s having trouble jumping into the kitty litter box. At least, I think that’s what I heard. I need to go back and confirm. I might have had one of those strange split-second dreams I get when I’m writing late at night and hallucinating into the key board.
And darn it. I just remembered. Taxes.