Thursday, June 23, 2005

Just landed

Note: This is an especially messy entry. I made it without the light on my computer. Many of the entries vary in random franticness, this is the worst at such. Most of it is stuff I would never use, but I thought readers might want this stuff.

I am riding in the back of a psedo limo on the way to a real bus station, oh how the mighty will fall. The radio is unusually peculiar. We are listening to an "English" station, which means that it plays a random (really random - Pink followed by Life is a Highway) smattering of English tunes. Most of the DJ stuff is in Chinese, however, not always. Sometimes they come on and say "Highway, gridlock, Johnny Cocraine," and similar things. I swear, that is what I have heard every time.
I keep saying things to my driver, and her clearly has no idea what I am saying. But he does smile and nod, which will lead to more interaction.
I think I figured out how to order Chicken, now I just need to do it.
"And the moral of the story is, *indesernable* drive real fast! Avoid the gridlock." Now I am all for creative license, but I could not make that up if I tried. I think they have some kind of highway gibberish theme. He said something intelligible about the Alanis Morriset song that he just introduced (which, I don't think I honestly could do).
The plane was fine, it was long, but I zoned out pretty well. I worked on my overly large Sudoku for a while, and then I watched crappy movies and kind of blanked out.
To be honest, I am working some sort of dorky optimism right now. I think being picked up by leather seats and leg room might have something to do with it, even if it is only until we get to the bus station..
Their highway police cars apparently look like red and white zebras, one was stalking some sort of toll road.
They just had an English ad that careened into Chinese. It turned out that it was an ad to learn English in conversation classes. Many of these ads are in Engrish. Which is sort of sad, because it seems like people use this station to learn English.
Now they are playing Nitorious B.I.G.!! It was everything I could do not to go "Yo, turn it up playa!" But somehow I think that would communicate poorly.
The cities we are passing (the airport is about half an hour away from Taipei), are pretty. Not mind boggling, but nice. I am just sad that I can't stop by the Taipei 101 on the way to the station. The leather seats make me want to demand it. That said, it might be best to not rock the boat. Keep up the facade as long as I can.
I am going to keep this journal as a series of notes that I hope ot turn into a book, so if you have any advice, send me something (if you are actually diligitent enough to read much). What do you want to hear about? Don't worry about terrible English and spelling, those corrections will occur when I refine this all.
This DJ is terrible! Immorally wrong in how hard he is to understand at times. And he just FREAKED at the first time someone refereed to a bottom as a "booty." That was weird enough, but he then laughed at his joke for a solid thirty minutes. All the while he was screaming, I emphasize again, screaming, "BRILLIANT!" Its kind of what I imagine those crazy florescent Japanese television shows would sound like in English.
Now we are listening to Snoop Dogg. Stuck at a light I really want to tell the driver to "smoke the taxi driving biatch on the light. Come on pimp, drop the hammer!" I should try and get that DJ job...
Now we are in a real city. Its sort of like China town in the US, but without the occasional English. Not the most fun description, but so far it is pretty standard.
Woaw, I guess I found scooter row. Scooter shops.
What the hell, the DJ really does scramble words together occasionally into nonsence. He will say something like "We are all ampeedl;aldsfjl;and the pimp is in the crib! Onladsf;jjklly Snoop Dogg could get away with that!'
Now the city look great.We almost just ran over three motorcycles. Which are, in fact, everywhere. And they just weave through traffic. That did not look safe at all...
The DJ sounds like he is chocking to death when he laughs. And seems to be obsessed with Eminem's Just Lose It.
Having gotten on the bus, I spoke too soon about saying that i was falling from might. This bus is extremely plush. With little TV screens and big seats. Its actually very nice. Unfortuantly I foolishly did not check luggage (Lydia recommended as such), however now I dont have the room to spread out and really enjoy this. Its not bad, just not as good as it coudl be. Which, after the plane, would be like first class.
Also cool, it is a double decker bus, which, I have always wanted to ride (seriously, the concept is just so cool(). So now I am towering over the scooters that recklessly pass Rigbht by your side.
It really is a pretty city. It seems liked a spread out version of Hong Kong. It has many fancy buildilngs, obviously similiar writing. However, it is not as condensed. It does not feel like too much, just, a lot. And I like a lot. Its too much that has me worried.
I am supposed to be met at the train station by the head of my local school. So that is going to be a real test, since I should arrive there at three in the morning or so. However, Lydia was at the bus station as promised. And the driver was at the airport as promised, so we will see. So many scooters!
They are sold every three stores.
This city has that similiarly run down feeling of Bangkok or Mexico, which surprises me. Corigated roofs. Cheap building materials. Poor architecture. This is not to say I don't like it (that would be a bit premature). However, it always has that neo science fiction feel to it, sort of a William Gibson Lite. I did not expect Tokyo. But, perhaps after LA, I pictured even the biggest cities in the fondest of terms.
I hope that no one sits in front of me. If they do, they will be unable to recline fully, which is kind of the point.
I realize that this is boring stream of consciousness, but iif you want something more excitting, wait until the book ;). Until then, this is what you get.
Lots of neon in areas, which i am a huge fan of. I like the super futuristic gritty feeling.
Alright, Chinese is being yelled at me, and it is clearly instructions or something. But I have no idea what they are saying.
I think they are telling me to relax and sleep, or something like that.
One very good sign, it is nearly midnight and the streets have tons of people. Now, the fear is that this will very much not be the case in Tainan, but its a good start. That was one thing that always ticked me off about Guadalajara, they didd not even have twenty four hour conviencne stores! Let alone an active night life. Wow, we just passed what I bleieve to be a scooter club of some fourty people.
Its hard not to wonder how the hell I got here. I have been watching Hotel Rwanda (a real mood lifter), as I have been going along the country side. Well, not really country side. There are always lights, and factories, and buildings. I don't think they do country side along this specific road. I think we are almost there because we passed what I believe to be Kaochung (a larger city than most). It looked fun, though not as fun as Taipei. I expect Tainian to be fun, though not as fun as this place.
That would seem to be a good segway into why I choose Tainan and not Taipei. First of all was the timeing. You can't really be impulsive if you plan four or five months ahead, I guess I prefer to plan two. That being said, I have a good lot of future mapped out as I would like it to go, its just, with sudden and emphatic travel, this seems like the best idea.
Jet lag is going to eat me away tomorrow. I am sitting on the bus at what should be 1:22 in the morning. The entiere bus is alseep except for me, and presumebly, the driver. I know I too would be asleep if it was not about noon in LA. These chairs are so comfy, and it has been soothing. But I am simply on another scheduel. Its eird, it feels like a symbol for this wholoe thing. I am the only person who does not speek Chinese natively on this bus, and the only person who is awake. The only person doing what I personally am doing right now. Albeit that is mighty specific, but it does give you a feeling of place. There may be an infinite number of beings in the world, but that does not stop any individual being from doing what he does. This, I guess, is what I do.
I am getting progressivly more excited. Although too dark to really tell, its clear that Taiwan is beautiful. From the roads to the women. I hope that this bus is cheap, because if it is, I definitly plan on visiting Taipei in style.
Going back to the Taiinan versus Taipei subject. You may seem to notice that I am very postiive on the idea of Taipei. That is one of the reasons I came here. I came to Taiwan and not Japan, partially for the challange. The same goies for Tainan rather than Taipei. There will be no huge ex pat community for me to rely on. There is some, but nothing like Taipei. The atmosphere will be very different from how I view myself. It will generally be more of a challange, and more of an experience. Plus, its a little more original.
Perhaps it is a big fish in a small pond thing, but I don't know. I probably threw that out for a reason, that said, I don't really think that is apart of it.
This bus is amazing, I guess it goes to Tainan no stops, the ticket must cost quiet a bit.
The other reason was that Tainan sounded like a safer bet. The school sounds more laid back and independent, which both tend to equate to better schools from what I have read online.
The windows are all tinted here and there are few motorists on this stretch of highway. The lights are too dark to make anyone out on the bus and everyone is turend away from me. In a way, I feel very alone. I feel strangely independent of these surrondings. I guess we all reach a certain natural harmony.
When I go up to someone in Colorado, we probably have had similiar experiences. Even more so, if I am at CU and I speak to someone. The odds of them just not speaking English are pretty small. If it is 2:00 at night, they are probably tired. When you travel, you lose some of that harmony. You understand a new frequency, and your own that much better. Even small trips. In California, people drive different, talk different, dress diffferent, and subtly, act different. Albeit a Californian is closer to a Coloradoan than a Croation, but there is still a noticable difference.
You end up remembering more, each day stands out, because you are trying to reharmonize.
Some people live abroad their whole lives because they can not stand harmony. The word itself implies a good thing, like harmony in a song. however, I clearly do not believe that harmony is an intrinisc goal. Rather, it is simply a driving force. Both for and against harmony people are always moving.
For me, I know I am the type to be harmononic. And that might seem some what ironic to those who know me the best. Yes I wnader and I try to mix theings up, but I think that is partially due to a tendency I know that I have to settle. I will make irrational decisions in order to add consistency in my life. I think one of the reasons I want to be a freind to so many, and such a good friend, that I believe that helps me buildi consistency in my life.
I try to disrupt my harmony by traveling. I enjoy the hell out of it. I am not saying otherwise. However, Irealize part of the driving force behind it is to keep myself guessing. I am often dividied, I have crazy urges and conservative urges. The balance between them is the fun part. By coming here, the crazy side won out. By not becoming a Hong Kong street fighter, the conservative side won out.
This compromise will determine the full course of my life, and I guess I accept that, not because I have to, but because I will enjoy the process more.
This is the first day of what could be one of my most memorable years of my life.
I always think this at some point during my travels: this moment will only seem an instant away when I am returning. Usually I think about what I will be thinking as I am going back. Possibly in the same plane, or in this case bus. I think about how my life will change. I did that going to Mexico. I thought about how I will know Spanish. I thought about what I will be doing. I was not sure then, and when I left, none of those questions, minus the Spanish, were really answered. So in that sense, I was right.
How will I come back form this trip? I think I will speak surprisingly good Chinese. A thick accent, but I will be understood. I think I will have enjoyed teaching, and spent serious time thinking about pledging my life to teachingj, however, the crazy side would not allow that sort of thing, and I will be ona different path. I think I will either have a book that I really believe in or a law school admission ticket, or both. I think I will have new skill sets. Perhaps be better a t basketball, perhaps gardening, perhaps martial arts. But I will still be me. I think I won't be in love, but I will have a crush. I will have made some mistakes. I will have at least two more boxes worth of stuff, which will probably be sent home. But I will still be me.
A lot of that might read pretty arrogent. In many ways, I have thrown out the idea of arrogance or modesty. I have become increasingly more atheist, in doing so, I have decicded that it is not good for you too pledge yourself to false modesty. If someone asked what l;aw schools I think I could get into, I would list good schools. Not to impress anyone, but to understand myself and to present myself honestly. This is not to brag, that would be much easier. But showing some tact with the truth is a lot more healthy than lieing. As such, I am thinking of my LSAT scores very honestly. They could be terrible, but I don't think they will be. They might be great, and I think they might be. They probably will be good enough, and I think they probably will be.
I know you are supposed to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I guess I am planning for whatever, and hopping for the best. That said, I have become more quantum in how I view possibilities. I will look at my LSAT possibilities now for instance, and think that I have a good shot at this, a bad shot at that, and an unlikelyhood of this. And I will expect, hope, and plan around that. Its more realistic. Its taking my belief that if you have a bet that pays fifty one percent of the time, thats a good bet. If you bet two-hundered dollars, you will own $208. This ignores outside factors, specifically Geertz's "deep play." If you are betting a sizable chunk of your assets, then losing will be much worse than winning would be good. However, when I can factor the odds, I will take the bet.
So, those are my predictions. My hopes might be a little more grand than that, but I am not even sure what those are. I don't have some drifty fantasy of the perfect time here. The perfect time in Tanian, will be my time in Tainan.
I got a fortune cookie before I left LA, in the Portland airport actually, that said I was about to have a good year. I wrote the time and date on it, and I put it in my wallet. I think it will be right. But, on year from now, I will look at it and think: I need to eat more fortune cookies, or I will start penning my case against China Express.

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