rcintheprc

离开圣路易斯 (Reflections on leaving St. Louis)

January 6, 2015
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今天离开圣路易斯,先到芝加哥,有一个小时的时间转机到上海,芝加哥到上海的机票没有显示在哪个gate登机,花了十五分钟找到,也算是顺利。不知道是因为今天芝加哥的天气太冷,还是因为飞机机械检修,飞机晚了一个小时四十分钟才起飞。因为是是飞中国的飞机,飞机广播播报消息都会一遍英文一遍中文,然而中文很难让人听懂,让我想到我跟瑞琦父母在一起的时候说的英文,真是太为难他们了。

这次旅行真是一次丰富多彩的旅行,虽然有人说要瑞琦带我去大城市看看,但是大城市里没有任何一栋楼,一个超市,一架飞机,一辆车,没有任何东西是属于我的,而圣路易斯却有我最宝贵的东西和我最爱的人在那里,让我感觉整个城市都是属于我的。短短的时间,我几乎赶上了美国几个最重要的节日,有光明节(瑞琦家重要的犹太节日),圣诞节,元旦(新年),还有吃火鸡节(这是瑞琦父母为了让我吃火鸡再过了一次感恩节)。这是一个让人感觉轻松和安逸的城市,没有因为压力而行色匆匆的人群,没有因为炫耀而随意穿行的豪车,没有因为虚假的GDP而任意污染的环境,一切都在按部就班的遵循这个城市既定的规则存在着,给人一种安静的舒服。圣路易斯也不缺少故事,这里的艺术博物馆就足够证明这一点,我也第一次看到梵高的画作,还有教堂,老火车站,密西西比河等等都保存着这里的历史和艺术。

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皮卡 (Pick up trucks)

January 6, 2015
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我的一个同事,他在我们单位的时候有一个任务是负责食堂。那时单位买了一辆新皮卡,他就天天开着这辆车去菜市场买新鲜的蔬菜和肉,为我们能够吃上新鲜的菜肴做出了突出的贡献,让我羡慕不已。同时,那辆同样辛勤工作的皮卡也很快的老去,虽然开了没有几年,但是看上去却有很长的年份了。每天早上或者下午,只要看到操场拐弯处镜子里的皮卡,那准是他从菜市场跟大妈们杀价以后满载归来。这辆皮卡对他驾驶技术的提高做出了不可磨灭的贡献,付出的代价就是,它破旧的速度比他驾驶技术的提高还要快。在辛勤劳动的皮卡的帮助下,同事的工作得到了上级领导的充分肯定,很快就被调到局里,但是任务还是管理食堂,这让他感觉有点郁闷。因为是局里的食堂,去买菜的车当然就不能像以前那么屌丝了,所以现在开的是领导级别的”passat帕萨特”逛菜市场,这让他心里平衡一点,瞬间高大上起来。

我来到美国以后,发现这里高大上的车居然是皮卡,心想同事开了这么多年的皮卡居然在高大上的美国是这么fashion,原来那时候我羡慕他开皮卡是因为我在心里早就看出来皮卡是不平凡的,是高大上的。同事的皮卡和美国皮卡有一个共同点,那就是,在他们起步的时候,都是狠狠的踩油门,不用在乎油耗的问题。一开始我不明白是什么原因,后来我搞明白了,在中国一般人开车起步的时候都会温柔的踩油门除非是土豪,但是同事开的皮卡是不要油钱的,而美国的汽油相比中国便宜的要死。

我来到美国以后,发现这里高大上的车居然是皮卡,心想同事开了这么多年的皮卡居然在高大上的美国是这么fashion,原来那时候我羡慕他开皮卡是因为我在心里早就看出来皮卡是不平凡的,是高大上的。同事的皮卡和美国皮卡有一个共同点,那就是,在他们起步的时候,都是狠狠的踩油门,不用在乎油耗的问题。一开始我不明白是什么原因,后来我搞明白了,在中国一般人开车起步的时候都会温柔的踩油门除非是土豪,但是同事开的皮卡是不要油钱的,而美国的汽油相比中国便宜的要死。


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市中心 (Downtown)

January 2, 2015
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圣路易斯比我的城市大多了,路宽,公共设施齐全,建筑多,也好看的多,感觉就是比黄山市高大上的多。但是这么大的一个城市,会给人一种荒芜的感觉,特别是downtown, 让我觉得像是一座空城,人很少,居然号称车山车海的美国在这里车也少的可怜,只有空空荡荡街道,空空荡荡的高楼,冷冷清清的餐馆和商店,让我一度担心老板们的生意会破产,但是瑞琦告诉我很多店从她记事的时候就有了,让我感觉很神奇,难道在美国,钱真的那么精花吗?


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关于美国的礼貌

January 2, 2015
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在这里你可以感觉到美国人的礼貌,应该是适可而止的礼貌。我临时抱佛脚的学习了柯瑞娜送给我的一本关于“the american way”的书,有关于在美国如何打招呼的介绍,很有意思。当一个人问你“how are you”,你不应该以为他/她真的在关心你的身体状况,就像你在中国,人问你“吃饭了吗?”,你回答吃过还是没有吃过,不代表他/她打算请你吃饭。所以你的任务是机械的完成回答,问对方同样的问题,然后该干嘛干嘛。另外说一下,虽然我在中国生活二十多年,但是对于吃饭的问题我还是一直很纠结,别人可能不管,但我总想找一个能说服自己的回答,可惜一直都不太令人满意。

在超市或者什么人多的地方,明明是我笨手笨脚的碰到别人,还来不及让我做完表示惊讶不好意思的表情然后说sorry,人家已经极为自然的抢先道歉了,一度让我真的以为是她/他做了错事,我该表示谅解,然后让我内疚一阵子,美国人真是厉害。

后来碰到几次类似的情况,我总结出了经验,反正不管咋地,先说sorry准没错,表示道歉诚意的表情以后看情况再表示,抢先把握主动权,把内疚的机会留给别人。

American courtesy is almost tangible, but it only goes so far.  I’ve been cramming lessons from a book Sabrina gave me about “The American Way,” and from it I learned about how Americans greet each other.  It’s very interesting.  When a person asks “how are you,” you shouldn’t think he or she is asking about your actual physical condition.  It’s just like how, in China, when someone asks “have you eaten yet,” this doesn’t mean they’re planning to treat you to a meal.  So your task is just to respond mechanically and ask them the same kind of question and then be on your way.  Although I’ve lived in China over 20 years, I still feel conflicted over this “have you eaten yet” question.  Other people can just ignore it, but I always actually try to recall whether I’ve eaten.  I have yet to find the perfect answer.

In the grocery store or other places with a lot of people, even when it’s obvious that I’m the one who clumsily bumped into someone, before I can even offer an apologetic look and say sorry, the person has already reflexively apologized.  And they apologize in such a way that makes me believe they’re the one who made a mistake, and that I should forgive them.  It makes me feel a little guilty.  Americans are something else.

After encountering this kind of situation several times, I eventually had enough experience to, regardless of the situation, be the first to say sorry.  Then, I analyze the situation and if it was really my fault, I put on a regretful look. By seizing the opportunity to apologize first, I can leave the guilty feelings behind for someone else.


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关于美国的车 (About America’s cars)

December 31, 2014
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在中国,瑞琦很早就学会一个词,而且记忆犹新,叫人山人海,虽然是一个简单的成语,但它毕竟是成语,对于国外人来说是很难理解和记忆的,但是瑞琦却记忆的很轻松很牢固,原因是她有机会在人山人海里,实实在在的情景无法让她不理解,换句话说,记不住都难。我想如果瑞琦没有去过中国,她很难理解,可能也无法想象,人怎么变成高高硬硬的山,怎么变成大大软软的海,虽然她是博士,但在她看来,这不科学啊。然而人家毕竟是博士,她不仅对人山人海理解得很透彻,她还结合实际,发明了一个美国中国成语,车山车海。你看,我连续打字”rsrh”可以直接打出”人山人海”,当我连续打”csch”就会显示一些乱七八糟的词来,所以可以证明,瑞琦是地球上唯一一个发明这个词的美国人,我很自豪。这个成语很有预见性,结合现在中国的状况,很快也会变成车山车海的样子了。

In China, Rachel quickly learned a saying, and learned it well.  That saying is, “mountains and seas of people.”  Although this is a simple chengyu (Chinese proverb), it’s a chengyu nonetheless, which means it’s hard for foreigners to understand and remember.  But Rachel learned and retained it easily because she had opportunities to be amidst these “mountains and seas of people.”  Having experienced this, it would be hard not to understand the meaning of this chengyu.  I think if Rachel had never been to China, she wouldn’t be able to understand or even imagine how people could become a tall and sturdy mountain, how people could become a large and rolling sea, even though she’s on her way to her doctorate degree, it would be over her head.  From her point of view, it wouldn’t be scientifically accurate.  However, not only is she almost an MD, but she also totally understands this chengyu, enough to invent a new one that’s applicable to America:  “mountains and seas of cars.” See, if I even type the letters “rsrh” together, my word processor immediately fills it in as “ren shan ren hai” (mountains and seas of people).  But if I type “csch” (the initials of mountains and seas of cars), the word processor shows a few messy and random suggestions, proving that Rachel is the only American to have invented this saying.  I’m very proud.  This chengyu is prophetic.  Considering the current situation in China, there too will soon be mountains and seas of cars.


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美国的动物 (America’s animals)

December 22, 2014
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我到美国了,看到了一些美国可以活动的东西,这跟中国不一样,在我家的城市,到处可以看到人,人群,走动的人群,无聊的走动的人群,不知道为什么有那么多闲功夫成群结对的不厌其烦的制造噪音的簇拥在一起跳舞的的大妈人群。在这里你难得看到有超过两个人在一个固定的地方做着有规律的事情,除了这里的松鼠。这里的松鼠很吊,马路边上的树爬上爬下,汽车头上跳来跳去,完全无视你们人类的存在,在公共场所随意打架抢东西完全无视美国的法律,把人私人的早餐午餐还是晚餐随意带到别人家的阳台吃,留下一对吃剩的垃圾也不带走,完全不考虑人家的感受,它们完全看不起美国人。

I arrived in America and saw some of the local living things.  It was not like China.  In my city, there are people everywhere, groups of people, walking people, aimlessly walking people, those middle aged women dancing in large groups, making a lot of noise for no apparent reason.  Here, it’s rare to find more than two people out doing something.  That is, other than the squirrels.  The squirrels here have swagger.  They climb up and down the tress by the side of the road, jump in front of cars, and altogether disregard the existence of us lowly humans.  There they are in public, fighting, stealing things, totally disregarding America’s laws, grabbing someone’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and taking it to somebody else’s porch to eat.  And they never bother to clean up after themselves.  These squirrels don’t care a whit about people’s feelings.  They look down on the Americans.


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Reverse

December 22, 2014
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rcintheprc is about to go somewhere it’s never gone before: an outside perspective on America.

The following posts are 吕骄龙’s reflections on his first trip to a strange, new place and culture.


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I have editors!

August 3, 2014
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If you like reading my thoughts but are annoyed by my frequent typos, I have good news for you! I’ve been invited to write for The Concepts Project, and the things I write there get checked by copy editors (fancy stuff). The Concepts Project is a blog that provides clear, interesting explanations of concepts. I was invited in as a health writer, so if you think that medicine is a bunch of concept-less memorization, let me (try to) prove you wrong! Here’s my first post: it’s about feedback.


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Making a tongue twister

August 3, 2014
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During my first month in China, I wrote about my amazement that the phrase “我常常去长城” (wo chang chang qu chang cheng) could actually convey meaning.  At the time, it frankly sounded to me like someone doing a bad impression of what they think Chinese sounds like.  In fact, it means, “I often go to the Great Wall.”

Well, I’ve come up with another phrase.  It’s longer and more preposterous sounding, and it means, “brother, are we gonna be able to catch a cab or not?”

弟弟,到底打得打不到的?

I kid you not, that would be read, “Di di dao di da de da bu dao di?”

You just don’t get sentences like that in English.


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Crazy, weird, and culture

August 3, 2014
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Today, I saw a man slapping a tree. He was about fifty or sixty years old, and was standing by the side of the road repeatedly smacking both of his hands against the smooth bark of a sycamore. He is neither crazy, nor weird.

As Chinese people get older, they start hitting things. They slap their arms, slap their legs, slap inanimate objects. They do this to bring circulation to those areas, to relieve joint pain, and, perhaps in some cases, to keep the bones strong. These things all, in fact, make sense. Therefore: not crazy. Although those of us with American inclinations might elect to take a slew of medications, even we, if we really think about it, must admit that (gently) hitting yourself in your old age can be logical.

But this man was not only not crazy, he was also not weird. If what you’re doing makes sense, you’re sane, and if it’s accepted in your culture you are normal. Slapping trees is not weird in China. Most people do go into a park to do it (there they are surrounded by other retired folk doing similar things for similar reasons) rather than standing by the roadside, but no matter where you do it, only a foreigner would do a double-take.

To raise a similar example, when I use my umbrella on sunny days in America, I am not crazy (I have very good reasons, and frankly, I advise others to adopt the practice), but I am certainly weird.


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