Taipei is easy for me. There is no severe culture shock like I know so many people have had, where discomfort becomes unbearable. Where pride interferes with our sense of justice. Where people cannot get beyond what they always knew to see how comfortable, friendly, and awesome these people are. To see that insults are often based on perception, not bias. It’s like deep inside people leave home and look to find the world to be as they were told it was, not realizing how much was left out of the story they were told.
That being said, I don’t understand or really accept that my eye drops taste like mint. I’m guessing since the sinuses and eyes are connected that the smell passes from one to the other, but it’s disturbing. They work, but I keep wondering if I’m putting breath freshener in my eyes. Even though there is a big picture of an eye on the bottle, and I had someone who speaks Chinese check, I’m still suspicious. Some things just aren’t right. It ranks with hot dog tacos.
I still haven’t found anything new I don’t like to eat here. The food is usually amazing, as long as they don’t drown it in wasabi mayo. That was gross. I found an amazing street where everything is glorious. Of course it’s halfway across the city, but I find reasons to go there a couple times a week.
It’s interesting wandering the city with headphones on. I still have that Mexican paranoia, but I hope I keep it. Better to be safe than surprised. I have learned to enjoy blasting pop songs in Spanish while I wander the safer parts of the city. Sure, I might not hear traffic coming, but you can’t stop the beat.
Things change a bit when the sound of the city is filtered out. It becomes less strange, in a way. The signs are still in Chinese, but the music is familiar. The faces are all strangers, but you have to read beyond just the noise they make. Body language becomes more readable, and it tells me something about myself.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a window and realized I look kind of scary. I was listening to Eminem at the time, the voice of anger, and with my hair as short as it is, and my face as angry, I wouldn’t want to talk to me or look at me either. It made me laugh.
I remembered what the director of Glide said about me, that when you first see me you see an angry giant, but as soon as you start talking to me I become someone else. I also remember that time in Mexico when I tried to hold my face in a smile as I walked and it gave me a migraine. If that’s the worst thing about being me, that the cover hides what’s inside, I’ll take it. That’s probably an optimistic outlook on life though.
I made it to the top of Taipei 101, looking over the haze toward the sun, contemplating being alone. I would be nice to share that moment with someone, but I don’t know that I have the time to do more than a moment. Life is too busy, and there is too much to learn. Who would I find who can go where I go, do what I do, and wants to spend so much time learning with me? I’m sure there is someone, but I haven’t found them yet. There’s always the next life, too.
It’s been harder the last couple of weeks, with finals and covering classes, but we have a long weekend coming up and there is some time in August, so I’ll be able to branch out a bit more soon. Assuming we don’t all fall into the sea. Apparently there was another big earthquake off the north shore, and it shook the building I was in for a minute during my Mandarin class.
Old Style has been here a long time, and I’m from California, so we just looked at each other, waited to be sure we weren’t going to die, the continued the lesson. The people outside our room were panicking, heading out of their rooms, making noise. If the building is going to collapse we’re all dead. If it’s not, get back to work. The only place I would fear an earthquake is in a warehouse store like Costco or Home Depot. No matter how safe they make it, having 50 pound bags 16 feet off the ground is a bit dangerous.
I’m sure we’ll get aftershocks, but that’s just like everything else. Whether the hit is fast or slow, hard or soft, it always seems to have a follow up. Roll with it, learn a bit, and get back to your life. It does make me more aware of how often the building shakes, though.