Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cultural Interpretation 1

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Hey, did you hear about the C-gov't wanting to reduce air pollution for the Olympics by closing down scads of industry and industrial plants starting now? (sorry, no link for this, either)

I think this is throwing an inadequate, temporary solution to a complex problem. Sad to say, it also makes it more credible to me that C would do something like hold back the flow of adoptions to look good during the Olympics.


So I shared this thought with a non-AP friend as one reason for the current slowdown, and she was completely thrown and started questioning me: Why would they do that?? I found myself too completely wearied with the complexity of the situation to explain thoroughly. I don't really know, myself, after all. But also, I was chagrined to find myself in the position of trying to explain C cultural values to an American. It was exhausting, partly because this friend doesn't understand why anyone would NOT be like an "average American" (or what she imagines that to be--haha!), so she is exasperated by the simplest difference and demands to know why, why why. ("Saving face" is obviously a term more than an actual concept for her at this point.)

We have had this dynamic for as long as I can remember (decades). It's not as if she has not had plenty of exposure to other cultures; we both have. But she still reacts to other ways of doing/thinking about something (anything) with bafflement. She seems to have a failure of imagination as to why anyone would do something differently than she herself would. The consistent refrain is, "Why on earth would they want to do *that*?!" And then, often, she laughs because she finds it too ridiculous to be believed even with explanation, which I sometimes find offensive. Even with my own, mundanely (or not so mundanely) American life, I've had to explain myself at times. Well, *many* times in fact, since I am outside the mainstream on many issues and factors! But she has learned to accept my differences from her own upbringing, and our friendship has survived numerous shifts, although in some ways we are still so different.

My friend's saving grace is that she is both open-hearted and very open about her thoughts, and wants to know about others instead of simply shutting out anybody different. So often, I can "just" explain my perspective and understanding, and once (if) she gets it, it's in the clear. She may not understand it or agree/accept it, but she'll at least not argue its existence! Heh!

I'm afraid, though, that it may be a prevalent, particularly American mindset. It's been my experience that most Americans are intrigued by but not really open to other cultures. (Or sometimes threatened by the differences--There is of course a continuum to either side of that which makes things very interesting!) And I'm tired just thinking about having to explain not only myself but the whole of C culture to other Americans, especially those not really open to other cultures. (To the extent that I myself understand C culture, of course--ha.) So do I get to be a cultural interpreter by dint of becoming an international-adoptive-parent? It would seem so. I've done this in the past, trying to moderate other's perspectives based on my own education and experience, but it's an imperfect interpretation. I'm still learning, myself. And is the listener even open to alternate ideas and cultural values at all? *sound of head bashing against brick wall*

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Ice cream touching

Dooce recently wrote about Leta's reaction to being offered ice cream *with* M&Ms on top. It was not what many of us would expect.

Dooce concludes:
"I don’t remember how long it took us to calm her down, to assure her than an M&M would never touch her ice cream, but she didn’t stop panicking until I promised her, gave her my solemn word that under no circumstances would I EVER again suggest something so magnificent."


M&Ms touching the ice cream? Oh the horror!  Kee hee!  I predict that someday Leta will grow out of this with a vengeance.  :)  Then it will be all toppings smushed into the ice cream all the time... 

Reminds me of when we were little, adding more and more homemade chocolate syrup to vanilla ice cream and spending more time mixing it vigorously, watching the pretty chocolate swirls (and the ice cream gradually turn color) as it melted together, than actually eating it.  I'm sure we thoroughly exasperated my mother, letting it melt so we could mix it before we ate it!  

My mother, though, also introduced me to the concept of planned indulgence.  Whenever she made chocolate syrup, we'd start with a bowl of ice cream, sliced bananas and syrup. Inevitably, we'd be left with "too much" ice cream or syrup left in the bowl, and the only thing to do was to say "oh no!" and even it out to start another round. ... Whereupon, no doubt, there would be "too much" of the other. "Oh no!" lol    This could go on for sometime until we were stuffed...   It probably goes without saying that my mother introduced me to obsessive eating of chocolate as well. 

Oy. I might have to blog about this (she said to herself). :) So here it is.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Me and My Krazy

Figlet asked about Krazy. Everybody has one. So what's your's, she asked.

Hmmm. Probably that I find this an interesting task... Yes, to spend hours thinking of exactly what my Krazy is. I like it when people ask me about myself. heh :)

I'm very private (to the point of social anxiety on occasion), but I like talking about myself. Go figure! I love filling out surveys, but then I'm too privacy-conscious to actually send them in. Of course, that's why I have a blog! Ha ha ha! It makes no sense at all.

I am very picky about my private space. I like having people over, but after a few hours, I need them to go home and leave me alone. I like my friends, but in manageable doses. And please don't touch me unless we have mutually agreed upon a hugging relationship. Don't hang on my arm or--god forbid!--pet my hair, or I will snarl at you.

I am super sensitive to any and all stimulus. Light, sound, touch, temperature, texture, scent, flavor, conversation. I thrive on the stimulation, and then it gets too much and I ask them to all go home. haha

I like finding things at thriftshops or rescuing old things. I like semi-antiques, things with character. In fact, as a former artist, I am always collecting bits of paper or design, scraps of color, cool little things. I do things like take pictures of interesting light effects and write down things stories about things that happen. Meanwhile, I am fighting the other direction, trying to purge all the junk I end up collecting. It's that whole love-hate of stimulus thing. I think as I get older, I am streamlining what I keep, and thank goodness for that.

I get a little obsessive about topics that interest me, and spend a lot of time reading and doing research (hellooo China) and learning stuff and marveling about how interesting it all is. Some people find it weird to enthuse and learn stuff. I think it's normal.

Oh, and I have this thing about being considerate, although it may not be obvious from the way I grouse about other people. I am sensitive to feelings and nuances. I notice when other people are trying to cross the street or to get by or to make nice, OR feeling overwhelmed, and I'm scandalized when other people are oblivious to that and don't respond. It feels so rude to ignore those subtle signals. Nevermind that others sometimes don't even notice! :) It's just an internal standard of how to "do right" by other people. Of course, there can be a fine line between being considerate versus being a doormat. Being subjected to any attempted manipulation reeeeally pisses me off.

Oh, and then there's ice cream. Mmm, ice cream.

(crossposted to Figlet)

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