September 27, 2008
"Suuuure." That doubtful delivery of the word 'sure'. When your cheapskate friend says they'll pay you back you think "Suuuure". When your "Always Late But Worth the Wait" bumper sticker friend promises to be on time..."Suuuure". When the lady at Trader Joe's says that Fat Free Half and Half tastes REALLY good...
The Mandarin word for "yes" is shir. Pronounced just like "sure". Often times it's used like we would use "yeah". For example, if someone gives you instructions or tells you facts, you'd say "shir" to confirm you understand.
To find a common word that means the SAME thing in both languages is exciting, but moving back to America it has made for some funny interactions.
When a homeowner is showing their home that's up for rent. They say, "The hardwood floors are in great shape, we've taken good care of them." "Shir/Suure". They side glance, Katie gives me a look, I'm confused. Ohhh, I sound like the skeptic tenant, doubting the hardwood floor maintenance.
When I'm interviewing for a job and I observe the very 'laid back' culture of the office. During the interview the interviewer says "And we pride ourselves on the work environment, everyone gets along really well here". "Shir/Sure". He responds, "Really, no one has a problem with anyone else". I nod, and realize I sound like the pessimistic new girl.
For the record, landlord with the Victorian home, your hardwood floors do look great, I agree.
And new employer, I'm excited about the work environment, I noticed the laid-back atmosphere when you weren't wearing shoes as I came in the front door. I can't wait to kick off my shoes and work really hard for you... really. Thanks for hiring me, despite what appeared to be a doubtful attitude.
September 8, 2008
September 4, 2008
In small town China, I was famous. I didn’t do anything to gain my celebrity; it was based purely on my white skin, oval eyes, and pearly whites. A day didn’t go by without someone stopping, pointing and staring. These days also included someone announcing that I was a ‘laowai!’- the reminder that I was a foreigner- that I looked different from everyone around me.
Now that I’m back in San Diego, I’m getting attention for an entirely different reason. The stares and pointing fingers have turned to waves and smiles. Why? Because I own a really cute bike. More specifically, a light yellow beach cruiser. The people of San Diego love it! Old men tell me about how they once had a bike like mine. Mechanics yell out “Nice ride!” and runners along Pacific Coast Highway wave and smile through heavy breathing.
I’ve tried to pinpoint the reason people feel the need to respond to a bicycle and I’ve concluded that it’s more than the bike. I make people feel good about living in San Diego. With high rent prices, high gas prices, and busy lives...a beach cruiser riding along the harbor with sailboats in the background makes people feel good. It doesn’t hurt that I’m smiling. I’m smiling because it’s 74 degrees, sunny, and I have the Pacific Ocean on one side and palm trees on the other. I’m smiling because the sky is a deep blue.
And I’m smiling because I met the postman of my new house and he ended our conversation with “Welcome to the ‘hood!” It’s good to be back.