Happy Election Day, Y’all!*
After today, I will no longer feel like this. (Damn you, Virginia, for being the swingin’ state that you are.)
After today, I will no longer feel like this. (Damn you, Virginia, for being the swingin’ state that you are.)
I’ve been feeling pretty American this week. On the patriotic scale, I’m probably floating somewhere between Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Stewart.
There are two reasons for the egotistical label I’ve assigned myself. First, I randomly found and returned someone’s wallet last week. Second, I had jury duty for the first time. (Three cheers for adulthood!)
Last Thursday morning I was walking to my office in my usual fog (zombie-like expression, headphones in, walking like a herded cow along with the rush hour masses exiting the metro station) when I noticed a wallet on the sidewalk. A few people in front of me noticed it and walked on. Before even thinking, I bent down to pick it up, inducing suspicious glares from passers-by (I guess I look like a thief?). I examined it, looked around the block with pre-caffeine confusion, then eventually pocketed the wallet and walked to my office with the full intention of Google Searching/Facebooking/virtually stalking the person who owned it.
Unfortunately, this task was not as simple as it should’ve been. As it turns out, not everyone has a digital footprint. Also, it didn’t help that this guy had absolutely no social media activity and owned several forms of identification for several government facilities (one in Northern Virginia, one in Maryland). I had no way of logically connecting him to the SW quadrant of D.C. where I found his wallet in the first place. I ended up spending the greater part of my morning formulating every key term combination I could: his name, his possible nick name, his name and his military branch/title, his name and his logical workplace, his possible nick name plus his squad, his full name plus his address…nothing. Let this be a lesson to us all: If you are too professional/paranoid to have any internet footprint at all, sure, you might be protected from identity theft, but hey – you just might lose your wallet anyway and, in fact, make it impossible for a nice person to return it to you in a timely fashion. Just saying.
At the end of my morning I knew more about this guy than I ever needed to (including his SSN, height, weight, birthday, and love for Smoothie King/Panera). Before resorting to dropping off the wallet at the police station or (shudder) calling his credit card company so they could contact him, I attempted a Hail Mary pass. I randomly contacted someone on one of the many worn out a business cards he has (Personally, I barely know some of the people whose business cards I hoard in my own wallet, so I’d saved this option for last…). As it turns out, on my first try I ended up contacting the man’s boss. I got a grateful phone call from Mr. Wallet Owner Man about five minutes later and we arranged a drop-off meeting.
Dear Mr. Wallet Owner Man, I know you’re not reading this post because you’re obviously not a big fan of the Internet, but I’m writing you this message anyway. Thank you for the $10 that you awkwardly shoved into my hand upon meeting me and wouldn’t let me return to you. You’re a very nice man and that gesture was certainly not necessary. I do not, however, think that you were aware our uncomfortable age difference. Of course, since I saw your ID/birth date, I was very aware of it…so yeah, I hope you didn’t take my aloof/vague response to your invitation as unkindness. Also, I secretly hope I don’t look like I’m in my 30′s. In all seriousness, thank you for your service to our fine country. Also, just in case you lose your wallet again, you should probably make a bare bones, minimalistic Facebook page for future upstanding citizen stalkers like myself. Sincerely, Denise
Upon receiving my summons a few weeks ago, I was initially tempted to pull a Liz Lemon:
I did, in fact, answer the call of Justice and did so without a Star Wars costume. Honestly, I’m glad I didn’t delay my responsibility. I ended up getting selected for a case, but it [thankfully] only lasted one [very long] day. I had no idea what to expect or what I might take away from the experience. Most of my understanding about trials originates from Gregory Peck’s Atticus Finch. Obviously, I’m not going to go into detail about the case I participated in, but here are a few things in general I learned about jury duty that I didn’t know before…
OK, my civic rant is officially over. Maybe I’ll keep this riding this citizenship wave. Maybe next week I’ll buy some Girl Scout cookies or help an elderly woman cross the street. You never know.
Joceline, I have one last piece of jury-related advice that might come in handy for you: Depending on the county or jurisdiction, knitting needles are frowned upon in the courtrooms and/or the building in general. Anyway, I thought you should know that. =)
Last week I was a pilgrim, this week I was an
Indian Native American for my third and final Thanksgiving. As you can tell, I saved the best whackiest for last; I’m kind of obsessed with my family, and thankful as ever that I have them to keep me sane and smiling year after year.
Short post for me this week. Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! It’s great to be an American. Sure, we might have loads of debt, high unemployment, and polarized/out-of-touch political representatives, but hey – at least we’re not sleeping on small pox infested blankets (at least I don’t think so…).
So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the family, turkey, and unrelenting replays of A Christmas Story. I know I WILL!
Considering that my parents both immigrated here (and in my dad’s case, went through great lengths to do so), I am always grateful that I’m a U.S. citizen by the easiest and luckiest method–birth.
Sometimes I feel as though being patriotic is passé–it can be easier to focus on your country’s faults than to appreciate all its merits. Still, you’ll never catch me abusing my fellow countrymen to fit in. You might think all Americans are loud, proud, ignorant, and rude, but I’ll be the first to tell you about the Americans I know that are hardworking, humble, and generous. I’m proud to be an American every day, but today I wanted to wish all our U.S. readers a happy Independence Day!
About the Author: Our final “Man Week” guest blogger is NOT Don Draper (see left), but like the Mad Men character he loves to watch Jay prefers to maintain a mysterious air (hence the picture is not of him). Also, unlike Don Draper, Jay is obviously Korean (see above) and has some very interesting stories that only a jet-setting Asian American postgrad could tell. You can read more about Jay here.
Each year after commencement ceremonies around our great nation, recent graduates leave “the best four years of their lives” to make it in the real world. Out of our comfort zones, creating a new path in life, each and every one of us seeks change.
Change is good, but dollars are better and euros are best – especially in the recent years as the USD:EUR rate has dropped significantly. So what’s a recent college grad to do? Make Euros! Luckily, I just happened to get a job permitting me to do so.
When people ask me where I work, I normally say Europe because it’s easier. Let me explain with an example:
Now, while I can’t say every week is like this (Air France normally has at least one leg of each flight significantly late… I was trapped in Berlin for three days!), I’m at least in a different country once a week, and up in the air for at least 3 hrs a week. This example week did actually happen. Gotta love frequent flyer miles!*
I do try to travel for pleasure and not just work, but the label I’m writing about today isn’t “jet setter”; instead, my post is about a common problem I face no matter what time zone I’m struggling to fall asleep in. You see, being of Korean decent, others have quite a difficult time determining what my origins are. Let me give you some examples.
In Rio de Janeiro this past winter, the first phrase I learned was “não só japa!” (Translation: I’m not [diminutive term for Japanese person].) But when our server would bring out dishes or ask who the freshly squeezed cantaloupe juice with ice and the hamburger was for, the Brazilian response was “Japa.” We all knew to whom that one word referred…
In France, the Chinese are the immigrants like the Japanese are in Brazil, but there are many more. Any Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, or Japanese restaurant in France is more than likely run by people of Chinese descent. The French version of the diminutive is “le chinois.” One time, for business, I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Nice to run an errand. As I sat there reading my magazine, a little girl playing with her friends stops in front of me only to scream back to her mother:
“MAMAN… pourquoi les chinois ont-ils des yeux si petits?” (Mommy, why are the Chinese’s eyes so small?)
And in fact, also at the airport, when I set off the metal detector (I know, you’d think that a jet setter would learn not to do that…rookie mistake), the female security person told the male:
C’est le petit chinois là (It’s the little China man there.)
My friends here in Paris know that I hate being called a Chinese to the point where I will fight a stranger. On the night of Nuit Blanche, a night where the metro runs all night, encouraging you to stay out all night, I sat at a bar with some friends and some newly made acquaintances. Sitting at the end of the table, I was closest to the bathroom and anyone needing to break the seal would pass me. Since it was 4am in the morning after everyone had been drinking heavily, there were plenty of people frequenting les toilettes. One man, while waiting, came up to me and struck up an interesting conversation:
J’aime bien ta culture // Et c’est quelle culture ça? // La culture chinoise (I really like your culture // And what culture is that? // The Chinese culture)
I saw my friends’ eyes double in size (in non-Asian eye size) and another dropped her head into her arms. Let’s just say that he got to skip the line to use the bathroom for the evening and keep it at that. (Now I’m not one for physical violence, but it’s quite easy when dealing with flaccid drunks.)
Even though I’ve been mistaken for Chinese throughout France (where I have spent at least a year of my life), I’m not even Chinese enough for the Chinese! One of my favorite things to do when in Shanghai is to bargain in markets, and that involves chatting up the young saleswomen. With my accent, they deduce I’m not Chinese… but what are their responses when I have them guess?
你皮肤那么黑，你不是柬埔寨的人吗? (You’re skin is so dark, you must be Cambodian, right?)
In Russia, due to the Soviet Union’s involvement with the East, I know there are много корейцев (Translation: many Koreans) but just because I look like them…Wait. Wait. Wait. “But Jay, you are Korean…you can’t say you’re being mislabeled!”
Now these may be some facetious responses to some lilliputian remarks, but the truth of the matter is that, for a lot of the rest of the world, the view of an American is over generalized. You may respond with “well yeah, but the Americans over generalize everyone else as well!” Google it. I’m not going to sit here and argue why America is the most diverse, but I’ll give you the main reason why:
Freedom. Our freedoms guaranteed by the government already knock many other countries out from any sort of diversification contest. It is freedom that separates us from the rest of the world, the very foundation on which our country was built. And it is this idea of freedom, which we grow up in, live in, breathe and eat every day (Including freedom fries… Americans eat a lot of fried foods and I am no exception to the rule…but my relationship with fried chicken is a whole other story.) and our understanding of it, that defines us and myself as an American.** That intangible quality is what makes it hard for non-Americans to view anyone as an American, regardless of race, religion, size, food choices or sports played. You can’t see or hear upfront how a person understands freedom.
And so I leave you with this, citizens of the greatest country…
“America! F*** yeah!”
About the Author: Nadia is from Tucson, Arizona. She did her undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University (where she was Lauren’s roommate) and completed her Master’s at the University of Arizona in Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies. She is newly married and is currently working on her Ph.D. in the same field.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step into another’s shoes? Not just to imagine it, but REALLY live someone else’s life? I know I think about it, and the more I do, the more grateful I am for my life and my surroundings. I don’t mean to get too political, but I want to share a few experiences I have witnessed living here so close to the Arizona/Mexico border.
First, let me start off by noting that I am of Mexican heritage, but have never lived in Mexico. Nearly all of my family has migrated here to the U.S., so even all of my family ties are here on this side of the border. My father faced many challenges as he (and his twelve brothers and sisters) immigrated to the U.S. that I will never have to face. From start to finish, it took ten years for him to cross legally.
I would like to address a common misconception regarding illegal immigrants. Many people think that they come here because they are dying to make their way into America–the land of the free. However, life here is anything but free for them. Many or most illegal immigrants are forced here for economic reasons. The fact of the matter is–Mexico’s economy cannot support many families, and they are forced to come to the United States in search of a better life. Most of the time, they are leaving their families, their homes, and a country they love. The transition is difficult, but in difficult times, difficult decisions must be made.
While even just crossing the border can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening, once illegal immigrants get here, no sanctuary is found. Their days are spent living in fear. Jobs are hard to come by because of lack of proper documentation. Adults are forced to work grueling jobs doing work that many Americans would not touch with a twelve foot pole. For the children, school is a huge challenge as their language, culture, and often identity as Mexicans is slowly wiped from them. They, after all, didn’t choose this life, either. They also live in constant fear. A routine trip to Walmart can end in disaster for them; they are forced to live a life where they are constantly looking over their shoulders. So many undocumented immigrants would love to go back to Mexico, to the familiar, and to their home, but can’t because of economic hardships that cannot be overcome there.
Not too long ago, a Facebook friend of mine had a status that read something along these lines: “I am so upset that my husband, A TAXPAYING UNITED STATES CITIZEN has to pay $1,000 to fix his broken foot when illegals don’t have to pay a cent! UNITED STATES, SERVE YOUR OWN!” It is misinformation of this sort that truly saddens me.
Not long ago a lady belonging to my church was trying to go to Mexico to visit her children, whom she had to leave behind in order to find work here in the U.S. On her way back into the U.S., she was in a horrible accident trying to get onto a train. The train ran over her leg, and she was left in incredible pain. She was left to treat herself–having no way to pay for care and afraid of being discovered and sent home if she went to the hospital. I saw her some weeks after the accident and was horrified by her bloody bandages, but she insisted she was doing just fine.
In the week after SB1070 passed in Arizona, it is my understanding that nearly 70% of hispanic children in one Tucson school just stopped coming. There were similar figures across schools and school districts in the greater Tucson area. The students’ parents were simply too afraid to send them to school. Anything (be it legislation or whatever) that forces children out of school, in my opinion, has to be flawed.
“U.S. SERVE YOUR OWN.” The person who wrote this is not a heartless person, this person is simply misinformed. Misinformed about the REAL LIVES of illegal immigrants; about their real day-to day struggles.
I simply ask that you be aware of the real lives of real people. And imagine, just for one second, what it would be like to step into another’s shoes.
I figure for today, let’s embrace our American-ness, and celebrate a U.S. holiday entirely for giving thanks.
I am thankful for: my family, friends, and students. My car. The little stopper they give you at Starbucks so your coffee won’t spill. TSA agents who will make the holidays just a little less lonely for me during my travel times (just kidding!). Friendly games of Scrabble. My brother, who is helping me grade my millions of papers on the floor of our living room, in front of a fire my Dad started. My relative safety (my heart goes out to those in Korea). The fact that teaching is just about over, and I won’t have to be near that Negative Nancy coworker anymore. Jake Gyllenhaal (Love and Other Drugs, what’s up?), Taylor Swift’s new CD (which makes me embarrassingly happy, oh and, she’s dating Jake…).
Finally, I’m grateful for the inspiring girls that I’m writing this blog with. I can’t wait to see you all tomorrow for lunch!
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.