Running Off

Washington, D.C.Well, I will be running off soon. Kunming has been my home for a year and a half, but I’m going back to the U.S. this month. I will be starting my new life in Washington, D.C. I’ve never lived in the capital before, and never really thought I would, but that’s what’s happening.

Next week we finish up classes. My final exams are on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then Jeremy and I are planning to travel around Yunnan. Hopefully we can avoid the cold weather.

Although today was pretty mild, it has been a chilly week. And I should remind you all that Kunming doesn’t have indoor heating, so everyone wears their coats inside. And once your fingers and toes turn to ice, it’s impossible to warm them back up without the aid of some sort of dangerous electric heating appliance — I have a space heater, electric blanket, and plug-in hot water bottle.

Very Dangerous-Looking Space HeaterElectric BlanketPlug-In Electric Hot Water Bottle

Shockingly, I have a cold that has lingered for almost two weeks. At least the fever went away, but I have that terrible chapped nose from blowing my nose constantly. Ugh.

A Different MirrorI just finished a book my dad lent me, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki. It is a very engaging history of the U.S. from the beginnings to just after the cold war. (It was published in 1993.) Really reminds you that the U.S. has always been multicultural, and our image of a “real” American being white just doesn’t make any kind of sense at all. Of course there were plenty of white guys in early America, plenty of English-speaking Anglos, but there were so many other groups of people — immigrants and Native Americans. And it’s interesting to see how and when certain people became “us” and others remained “them.” I’m not talking about immigrants stubbornly resisting the melting pot! There were all kinds of barriers set up to prevent people from becoming citizens and to prevent people from getting an education and finding work. I guess I should make that last sentence present tense! We are still a country that loves waging war internally between “us” and “them.” And the point of the book is that “us” is “them”… and er… “them” is “us”… er… we are they. “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together… I am the walrus!…” Anyway, it isn’t really all that psychedelic, but it is highly recommended.

Lethal InjectionOh, and here is a disturbing piece describing capital punishment and lethal injections in Yunnan. It is an interview with Liu Renwen, “a death penalty expert,” who advocates the use of lethal injection over “execution by shooting” which is still the favored method in China. How very progressive!