So, I could tell you a story about food poisoning and crazy rides across the Philippines, but I suspect you want to know what the cover of my book looks like, or what its final title and release date will be, or how you can pre-order it, or read about some fascinating characters from Portland who played both heroic and sinister roles in World War II.
We are the victims and the perpetrators.
My head hurts. My carpal tunnels hurt. My blood is mostly coffee sludge. I've become a master of doctoring up Top Ramen. I know the shame that is ordering pizza from a place three blocks away because I can't be bothered to stand up because this sentence is connecting with that one and this with this one and oh my god I'm actually writing, there are words coming out and they make sense and I actually think I have something here and wow I'm going to win the pulitzer and.
So, most of the journalists who worked in Chongqing during the war lived in the city's government-run "Press Hostel." When I was in Chongqing this spring I spent a great deal of time looking for the site of the hostel, and for years I have been researching everything I can about the place as I work on my book. Only just now -- as I make the last revisions on my book about Melville and Annalee Jacoby, who lived in the hostel -- did I think to type "Press Hotel" into google instead of “Press Hostel.” Oy...
Today we have taken a step back from another expensive, deadly conflict and toward transnational understanding. Instead of sharing some video of a medieval-minded woman who flouts the very system she has sworn an oath to protect, let's consider how this system and all its vaunted liberty was built on the very separation of governance from theocracy that we champion abroad, that we insist distinguishes us from the foreign lands we have cast as enemies.
"Chaos has made wanderers out of 15,000,000 people. These people, not only Jews, torn from their homes will soon command the world's attention. For unless an intelligent situation is found, the dire effects of mass migrations will be felt over and over again during the coming centuries. It is hardly up to the refugees themselves. They are so completely befuddled that only happenstance guides their course."
Given that many people in the United States are thinking about accounting today, I thought I'd share some of the raw numbers from my recent trip to China and the Philippines, but rather than detail how much money I spent (speaking of which, you are welcome to complicate my 2015 taxes by donating here), I thought I'd share the following summary of the many journeys within a journey I took while traveling through China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, Canada and the United States:
Feet shredded while walking miles through eleven cities, many small villages, one former military stronghold and atop, along and around ruined portions of a gigantic wall: 2
Subway systems used more frequently than can be tallied: 6
Personal cars ridden with a buddhist who would later host an elaborate tea ceremony, an atheist tour guide raised in a cave, and two precocious children: 1
Bridges crossed at which the largest conflict in the history of the world began: 1
Last minute rickshaw rides organized by a guide squeezing in one more sightseeing visit before a thirty-hour train ride: 1
A thirty-hour train ride between China's current capital and the city that served as its capital during World War II: 1
Beyond the fireworks, you hear Chongqing in honking horns, sizzling streetside frying pans and screams of Schezuanese from every direction. At night, before your eyes, Chongqing's bright lights dance up skyscrapers, the same towers that shoot from fields of strewn rubble and half-buried buildings, far past the smog-smudged apartment blocks they're replacing. Chongqing's scent wafts from grilling meats and fetid alleys.
Friends often ask what they should see and do in Los Angeles. This is always tough to answer because the city constantly evolves, as do my own tastes, and that doesn't take into account the unique preferences of the asker. Nevertheless, when a family of Austrian friends planned to stop in Los Angeles last summer, I compiled a list of suggestions based on their interests (seeing the beach, experiencing iconic architecture, and viewing landmarks). With a few changes and updates, I thought I'd share it with you.