最近冬天衣服換季,各個服裝店開始推出春天新衣服,原來冬季賣不掉的衣服則開始清倉大減價。最近跟朋友們在網路上找便宜又好看的衣服,在 Abercrombie & Fitch 還有 American Eagle 等店買了不少便宜的衣服。

其中 AE 的黑衣外套,原價 50 美金,減價後 20 美金,加上有打八折的折價卷,共 16 美金,免運費 Wink

American Eagle Full Zip Hoodie

今晚我朋友忽然給我看了一個網站,是台灣 Yahoo 的購物網站。打開來一看,竟然是我在 AE 剛買的黑衣外套,一模一樣,但是價錢卻是…


Taiwan American Eagle Full Zip Hoodie

4880 台幣!!!

將近 150 美金的價錢,我乍看還以為看錯了。確定真的是四千而非四百後,深深地被台灣「搶劫」的價錢嚇到了。雖然 AE 在台灣沒有分店,而且我又是換季的時候買到減價的衣服,但是算原價 50 美金,運到台灣也不用賣到3倍的價錢吧?!怎麼會這樣?

看 看其他品牌的衣服,無一不是四、五千的數字。還有一件 Abercrombie & Fitch 的外套賣到一萬多塊,有沒有搞錯?!連 H&M 的衣服也是動輒兩、三千塊台幣。拜託!上海離台北那麼近,H&M 賣得衣服兩、三百人民幣,換成台幣也才一千多塊,怎麼會價錢差這麼多?

結論就是,要在台灣買衣服還真的是不能買所謂的「名牌」。但是想一 想,在美國 A&F,Gap, American Eagle等店,根本就不是什麼名牌,程度跟台灣的 Hang Ten, Giordano一樣普通,到台灣卻成為名牌!台灣人看到這些牌子衣服時的狂熱跟羨慕,雖然能夠理解,但是卻為他們感到一分嘆息。衣服好看就行,不是掛一 個牌子穿了就會好看。與其花四、五千塊台幣買一件普通的黑衣外套,用同樣的四、五千塊買各式各樣「無名」牌子的衣服好好的搭配一下,比一件黑衣外套好看太 多了。

廣告

3 年前的 12 月 6 號,我寫了我第一個 blog,隨後一個月就展開在 Cleveland 長達 7 個月的實習。

3 年後的 12 月 6 號,我考完了我生涯最後一個大學期末考。過兩個月後就要去上海開始工作了。

3 年,聽起來好像很短。畢竟,國中也才 3 年,國中 3 年對我來說很快就過去了。我還記得 15 歲那年,依依不捨的離開萬芳國中。那時候我印象很深刻的感覺怎麼 3 年一下子就過去了?但是大學這個 3 年,卻好像很久很久很久…回頭讀一讀以前寫的 blog,看到自己開始認識這個世界,遇到的那些挫折,問題,思考,等等,不禁覺得自己成長了很多。

即將結束在美國 9 年的旅程,以前常常會想來美國是不是正確的選擇?經過這麼多痛苦還有折磨,我想答案是肯定的。短期來講,我可能是停滯在原地。跟一同在台灣的國中同學比較,好像自己多了很多孤單跟痛苦,是在台灣 happy 的大學生無法理解的。隨著時間的過去,我逐漸見識到自己在美國得到的別人沒有的優勢,似乎對原來感受到的痛苦有那麼一點「值得」的感覺。但是問我若是能時光倒流,我願不願意做相同的事情,我目前還無法說我願意。

在美國學的是電腦。但是誠心來講,拿到美國電腦的一個大學學位,我並沒有太重視。反而我在美國學到最重要的事情是了解資本主義社會。不論是從學術理論的角度來講,還是親身體會「個人主義」的價值觀,我對美國的理解我相信比很多在中國台灣的人深厚很多。特別是修了經濟史後,回頭看中國人目前年輕人跟上一代的價值觀的衝突特別有感覺。經濟史讓我對這個世界豁然開朗,那感覺是我這一輩子鮮少感受過的。對於美國的價值觀,中國人的價值觀,資本主義,還有資本主義如何影響歷史,我好像忽然看到一幅地圖,讓以前困惑或是令人煩惱的問題都澄清了,讓我對這世界有種方向感。經濟史是我在美國最有價值的一門課。

帶著這些知識,我將去上海。去上海將是我另外一種學習的開始。在美國 9 年學習怎麼當美國人,學習美國人怎麼思考。現在去上海,是學習怎麼當中國人,中國人是怎麼思考的。在這同時,我將賺錢,賺「資本」,踏上成為資本家的第一步。blog 3 年來紀錄著我在美國的學習。未來的 3 年會紀錄什麼樣子的故事呢?

我們敬期以待~

生日快樂,親愛的 blog!

After 12 weeks of Economic History, I hereby declare I am officially class conscious.

Capitalism, the very economic system by which we live in, is an exploitative system.  Up until now, I have believed that work hard and you will be rewarded.  In fact, from the traditional economic system that China has sustained until the revolution of 1912, we have been taught as Chinese that study hard, work hard, and you will be rewarded with wealth and a good life.

Yet I see so many of my peers at my university, the wealthy ones, who contradict that very belief.  Those who have not worked one sweat to obtain their status, yet enjoy and spoil money as if it were paper.  I once thought life as unfair, and that their way of life was not sustainable.  Now I understand it is the system of Capitalism that have made them so, and it is unlikely that their way of life will crumble.

The factory owners in China, those Capitalist that control and own capital, who exploit fellow workers and extract very bit of surplus value they produce.  It is them!  The Capitalist!  It is them who enjoy the vast wealth created not by themselves, but the workers they employ!  They own and organize capital, but it is those workers who produce wealth for them.  Yes, the very workers who work for less than 2 dollars a day while the products created are sold for 100 fold.  Who does that money go to?  The Capitalist!  The very enemies that Chinese Communist Party declared war against 80 years ago.  Now not only are we back to Capitalism, their children’s spoiling of wealth mocks our very existence.  Why should we work as slaves, while the children of capitalist enjoy the fruits of our work and toil?!

Nay!  I say.  Over my dead body!  I will become one of them!  I will become a Capitalist.  I will gather interest from Capital!  I will accrue returns from investment, earn money simply because others are borrowing my money!  I will be paid, without one sweat from my eyebrow, for work that I did not do.  I will no longer be chained in front of a computer programming 9 hours a day.  I will no longer that machine of work, I will have no part of that!

Only when I am economically independent and free from that chains of having to earn wages just to survive, can I truly be free.  I will be free!  Free to do whatever I wish, free to devote my mind to whatever I see fit.

But of course, before becoming a Capitalist, I must have Capital.  That means I must rent out my intelligence and body to earn a wage in order to accumulate Capital.  Nine hours of programming a day for god knows how many years is a start.  Hopefully, not for long.  Now that I am class conscious, I know where I must go to be free. 

我有個朋友(雖然他不太可能看我blog,但還是不說名字好了… :P),都已經甚麼年代了,竟然這輩子沒有買過手機,現在仍然用室內電話。我總是跟他說該買手機了,這樣比較方便,但是他給我的理由竟然是,「還沒有一個手機讓我覺得可買」。

他解釋他如果買手機,他要買最好的。甚麼叫最好的?最好的手機,就是價錢要合理,功能要齊全,樣子要好看,而且最重要的是不能在短時間內又出現更好的手機。就像如果買了手機,3個月就降價,他就覺得不行。

我每次都跟他說你就挑一個目前喜歡的,以後手機用這麼多年了你也不會想要在短時間換。就算買了3個月降價,你也不需要懊惱,因為3個月來手機帶給你的方便是值得的。我朋友每次聽到這個的回答都是,「我反正平時也沒有需要用手機」。才怪咧!每次要幹嘛都找不到人,有時候他自己緊急需要聯絡人也沒辦法。我每次都小嗆他一下說如果你有手機就好了,他總是說「也只是這麼一次而已」。真是無言以對…

他這個人買東西總是東比較西比較,看了半天,最後的決定往往都是以後再說。買電視是這樣,買dvd player是這樣,買甚麼東西都是這樣。我們往更宏觀的角度來看,他人生做甚麼選擇都是這樣。總是期待會有更好的東西出現,本來人生就是會一直遇到更好的東西。科技產品當然是日新月異,人當然也總是碰的到更年輕更漂亮更帥的人。每一個產品都有好有壞,功能A比較優越,可是功能B就比較差,或是沒有。功能A跟功能B都很棒,可是比較貴。我朋友總是在等待著便宜又大碗的東西,請問世界是這樣運作的嗎?

我朋友老是等待著那完美的產品出現,快2008年了還沒有買手機,也不打算買,想換那買了20年打開來超噁心的冰箱,也遲遲買不了新冰箱。我們做甚麼決定本來就不應該是甚麼都要最好的,因為世界上沒有完美的東西。本來一個東西就是有好有壞,只要那個東西有你非常重視的優點,那麼他的缺點可以用你改變心態或是花點心思彌補來成為只有屬於你自己的「完美手機」。

再次的發現自己在一個很熟悉的不安感中…離開了上海,準備要離開台灣,又要回到美國。前幾天在香港的時候,在機場巴士上心血來潮的想起自己的23年。跟很多人不一樣,我在小時候的世界是美國鄉下的世界。從小就是個ABC,直到6歲的時候到台灣,把甚麼都改變了。

我依然記得6歲那年剛從飛機下來,進到中正機場裡。那個震撼不是一般人能想像的。又髒,又醜,又臭。我只想回家,那時候的家是Ohio,你說甚麼我都不會承認我家是台灣。在台灣住了9年,總愛喜歡跟人家說美國多好多好,因為在我心目中美國的確比台灣乾淨太多了,人比台灣人禮貌太多了,科技比台灣先進太多了。台灣在我心目中是個爛地方,我只想趕快離開。

15歲的時候,我的機會來了,再度回到Ohio,我一開始真的很興奮,覺得我終於回家了。那時候也沒搞清楚到底Ohio為甚麼是我家,總之是美國,我回到美國,我回到家了。但是隨著對美國文化的了解,我恐慌的發現我不是美國人。在中國人的時候,我比較自在,比較親切,比較有話聊。以前我很瞧不起台灣人,更瞧不起大陸人,覺得他們土的可以,一點禮貌都沒有,更沒有格調。看到台灣人或大陸人我喜歡用英文講話,讓他們知道他們的英文永遠也比不上我,想讓他們停止想要「當美國人」這種無聊的思想。在我心中,當美國人是一種 skill,是一個學習而來的技巧。看到那些中國人想學當美國人,就像國中生看到小學生想要學加法那般瞧不起。

但是隨著時間增長,我逐漸看到美國人是怎麼看中國留學生的,就跟我的瞧不起差不多。但是我也看出他們對我的不了解,我也發現我非常討厭美國人的很多想法。02年去了一趟大陸,又把一大堆事情都推翻了。之後在美國我越來越不舒服,朋友總是中國人,美國人我根本沒辦法當朋友。而在美國的中國人又是特定的一種團體,正好是我不喜歡的類型。我在美國所經歷的事情,跟台灣的朋友說破嘴他們也無法了解。然而我又必須常常聽取他們對美國的疑問與幻想。說真的我現在都不知道該說甚麼,建議他們去美國,我沒辦法摸著良心跟他們說去美國會很美好,但又不能叫他們不要去美國,因為他們不會相信我。現在我的答案都是…你會學很多東西。

今年暑假,我有機會到上海,然後更幸運的有機會畢業後能留在上海。在上海的幾個月讓我有機會找回我在美國失去的很多東西。但是面對很多人對美國的疑問以及質疑我為何會捨棄美國高薪到上海,我再度發現我怎麼解釋他們都不會懂。現在我光是想到那些問題我都累了,能不能一笑置之?為甚麼朋友間總是要扯到這個話題?難道不能問我其他生活中的事情嗎?

回到台灣,跟家人報告畢業後就不留美國的消息,再度被質疑美國真的有這麼不好嗎?甚至有家人因為自己小孩在美國賺很多錢而很自豪。面對他們的疑問,我只能笑笑…或許我在上海住個2、3年後就會比較好了吧?可是我現在好想休息阿…為甚麼我看到我的表姐表妹甚麼話題都沒有?只能看著他們傻笑,是不是因為我們已經活在兩個完全不同的世界裡?

在美國住6年,在台灣住9年,在美國住8年,我已經搞不清楚我家是那裡了。畢業後要到上海去住,要住幾年呢?在美國交的朋友無一不是要分開的,能像這邊大學同學工作後繼續來往,我沒有那樣的命。到上海後要重新建立友情,畢竟在工作場所算是很難的。我一個人闖東闖西,早已沒有心力了。很有衝勁的交很多朋友,最後的下場都是在差不多三個月內就結束來往,這樣兩三次,我自己也毫無選擇。好的朋友都在台灣跟大陸,但是好朋友三個月後就要離開,再好的朋友也無法這樣維持。

這次在上海交了很多好朋友,但是又到了3個月的時限,我又要離開了。那股不安的感覺再度降臨,我回到上海的時候,朋友還會很好嗎?有多少朋友在距離跟時間的摧殘下,現在只剩下見個面吃吃飯的友誼?我的生活圈,我的世界,都跟他們完全分離。這種孤單感讓我感到厭惡,我只想找個地方好好的靜下來,好好的安定。交了朋友就一直看到他們,一直安穩的交往。但是安定這個想法,在朋友們裡又是個完全無法理解的想法。碰到好多人說年輕想出去闖闖,想要走走停停。我走走停停了23年,我累了。但是別人說我這種想法是老人才有的想法。想安定?這太無聊了!

我該怎麼辦?我了解他們想要出去看世界的渴望,我要是沒看過,我也會想要。但是我像個葉子從小飄來飄去,看了世界,了解了世界,但是從來沒有停在某個地方太久。該看的也看了,該學的也學了。昨天我跟二姨在看 Jay Leno,我笑的東倒西歪,但是二姨卻完全不了解。有太多事情是他所不知道的,更有太多事情是美國文化的嘲笑與諷刺,二姨更是不了解。我試著解釋,但是看他一知半解的表情,我知道我在浪費唇舌。我只能一個人享受 Jay Leno 的幽默,我跟別人怎麼解釋他們都無法短時間內了解。一個人享受,這就是我近幾年來的感受。我對於那種孤單感,我厭煩了。我想要有人能夠跟我一起欣賞 Jay Leno,跟我一起欣賞 Musicals,跟我一起欣賞這世界的多元跟不同。但是有誰能怪到跟我一樣?有誰能在兩地居住又能真正了解雙方的文化?

沒有多少人

Text messaging is better than calling because:

 – You have time to think what you want to say.

 – You don’t have to respond immediately, you can respond when you feel like it.

 – You can let your anger rest and then respond politely.

 – It has more immediacy than instant messaging, since it is on your phone and you carry your phone all the time

 – It cost less when you only want to say something simple.

Yet with all its advantages, sometimes I am still confused because you can easily misjudge a person’s real intent.  Human’s yearning for conversation and interaction is facilitated by technology, yet perhaps it is technology itself that moves us even further away from each other?

iPhoto 08 has just been released, incorporating the concept of events to organize your photos.  As I mark each event after upgrading to iPhoto 08, I am drawn into a world of memory.  From the earliest photos dating back to the beginning of the new millennium, to recent photos that were just taken a couple weeks ago, I find myself traversing my past.

As I watch these past photos, I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness.  Looking at myself so long ago, I am amazed at the transformation.  Yet when I regain my orientation of time, only 7 years have gone by.  Seven!  How many seven years do one have in their life?  Yet these past 7 years have felt like 70 years.

To think that, only merely 2 years ago, I was interning at Rockwell.  It feels that happened in another life when I remember it today.  My 21st birthday marked the day I grew up and could never turn back.  The things I saw, the things I felt, the things I understood, all of which defines me now.  I never wanted to grow up so fast, yet I stepped into the world and the world wouldn’t let me go back.  The effects of those seven months in Rockwell is still lasting, and I realize now that I am still trying to recover from its wake.  Only 2 years ago?!  My god.

Then I began to see past photos with friends that are no longer friends anymore.  All the people I saw in that photo, each relationship destroyed almost completely.  The decay is so great that I have not met a lot of them since, and most of which even if we met we would not acknowledge each other.  That was only 18 months ago.  The people that have come and gone, I cannot help but reflect and wonder why things have turned out this way.

I so want to blame America for this phenomenon, it was the loneliness God Damn It!  Yet now I am not sure it is entirely because of the loneliness.  Perhaps it was my lack of faith in people, and I lost that completely 2 years ago.  I am angry at my situation, why I had to endure this when no one else had to or cared to even understand it.  People were indifferent, or actually, they didn’t understand.  Their life was good, they were nice people, but they couldn’t understand why the hell I was so angry.  Some concluded I was just crazy, some felt sorry for me, but most just didn’t really understand. 

I so wanted to blame them, so wanted to be angry at them, so wanted to be venting my frustrations at them just so I wouldn’t explode.  Yet now I cannot find the strength to do that anymore.  I just look at the photos and I sigh in disbelief.  How could I have done the things I’ve done?  How could I have thought the way I did?  Unbelievable, simply speechless.

Looking at each trip I took, each year occurring the same theme, just different people.  After which, none of them is part of my life anymore.  From the December of 2005 to March of 2007.  15 months.  15!  So many things have happened in those 15 months, I must have gained more friends than I had in middle school.  And in those 15 months, I’ve lost just as many friends.

I write this now, exasperated, shocked, and full of remorse.  My friends tease me as being an old man.  Well, perhaps it’s because it’s true.  For a 23 year old, I behave like a man full of regret and bad memories. 

My world changed in 1999, and for 3 years I had no memory.  High school was a fast 3 years with, well, nothing worthy to note.  Then came 2002, when I came to China for the first time in my life.  That experience impacted me so greatly it changed my life forever.  The questions that were raised during that trip shook the very foundations of my core belief. 

From 2002 to 2003 I remained the same person, but with more and more questions.  2003 I went back the China and again felt myself doubting at everything I believed with evermore suspicion.  Why do I feel so different when I am with Chinese?  Why do I feel this sickening sense of sadness when I leave?  Like I found something good and am forced to leave it because I no longer belong anymore.  Do I belong?  Why do people say my Chinese is very good when they should be saying my English is good?  Why do people treat me differently, when in fact I feel part of them?

Then came 2004, I went to China and, after a chain of events, almost got myself published in major newspaper and tabloid magazines.  I think of that memory and tears of shame linger in my eyes.  The mistakes that were made, but worse yet, the publicity and spotlight that was generated from that mistake.  Fortunately I remained anonymous, yet I lost friends, good friends.  People sometimes can be unforgiving when they do not understand, and in my case, I did not have the benefit of being understood.  The way that everyone handled it was completely out of line.  My eager parents that did not show enough discretion in the spotlight, my dad that thought the whole thing a proud thing to declare to the world, my friends who saw everything so clearly but could not convey those concerns to me calmly.  And myself, for making the biggest mistake of not listening to any of them and going ahead and making the wrong decision.  When people mention the event, I insist that it was a good thing for me, that I learned a lot from my mistakes.  Yet deep inside I ache at the very thought of remembering.  I do not want to remember that great mistake that was worsened by the almost celebrity-like media coverage.  It was plain craziness. I’m only 20, I’m just a kid.

Then came 2005, Those seven months in Rockwell that for the first time made me worry for my health.  I was getting my blood examined, with my liver going to hell, blood pressure hit marks that 50 year olds experience, severe acne that destroyed my face along with my self esteem, and heartburn so bad that the doctor warned I had to keep it in control or I would develop ulcers.  All the while puzzling the doctor because he couldn’t find anything wrong that would cause those symptoms.  For the first time I realized this would have been the life I would be living if I graduated and stayed in America.  I hated the life, I was scared.  I was so scared that, now I think back, something inside me changed.  I became cynical, I became mortified of loneliness and I began to hate my personality.

At the summer of 2005 I went to China for a trip, made a friend in about 2 weeks, and at the end of the trip, lost it.  I began school with the determination to make a lot friends.  So I went to events I never would have gone, I did things I never would have done.  I made a lot of friends, friends that really never were my type, yet I convinced myself that if I didn’t change nothing would change (such is the American way, no?).  In 3 months so much was occurring that I began to believe that I was heading the right direction.  Yet in December of 2005 it was clear that things began to go out of control.  I lost a good friend that have not spoke to me since.  In its aftermath, I continued to switch among friends that had I been in Taiwan, I would never even have talked to them.  By the beginning of summer vacation in 2006, merely 6 months, I lost almost the entire group of friends.  The few that remain in friendly terms now only greet me cordially when we meet on the street.

The summer of 2006 marked the beginning of my relationship with NI.  At the same time new friends were arriving from Taiwan that seemed to happen so long ago.  NI was a great company but I still felt that sickening sense of not belonging to them.  I couldn’t really relate or identify with my co-workers, even though they are great people.  When they asked me to stay full time, my heart sank.  I did not wish for them to give me that choice, I wanted it to end in friendly terms without me having to turn down a great offer because of my own personal problems.  I ended the internship with NI at December and went to Taiwan having to decide my future.  I had 2 months to decide if I wanted to take the offer.

In December of 2006, I arrived in Taiwan and went to Macau for a conference.  Again those familiar feelings of doubt and questions revisited me.  This time though, I was not stable enough to receive them.  I became more and more frustrated and desperate.  In my desperation I almost repeated the same mistake I made in 2004.  It was the same situation, same spotlight, same dad, same everything.  Fortunately nothing really happened, no mistakes to grieve over.

I returned to Columbus in January of 2007, class began and for about 4 weeks nothing really happened.  Then I started to make new friends again.  And with almost mirror images, the same craziness happened.  I wonder if America has the power to make people repeat mistakes over and over again with its everlasting loneliness?  I hurt people, I know, but I am just beginning to realize how much.  For the next 6 months the same thing happened, and by summer of 2007 (yes, June, 2 months ago), I felt like I’ve relived 2006, with just different people.  So many episodes of reoccurring themes it feels like a bad soup opera.

Perhaps the only good thing that came out of 2007 was me turning down the full time offer from NI, and then having them ask me if I wanted to come to Shanghai.  June 20th, I arrived in Shanghai, June 25 I began work.  And a new life.

For 4 weeks I have never felt so normal.  A new beginning.  This time it doesn’t feel like I am making the same mistake I made for so many years.  It feels that even when my internship ends in September and I go back to Columbus for 3 months, my friends here will still be here, and will continue to be my good friends.  That is something I have never felt for a long long time.  I no longer have to pretend to be someone I’m not, and with my original personality of being quiet, I can make friends.  Friends that I can relate and identify with. 

I now look back, I truly feel old.  So many mistakes, so many lessons.  I feel so tired from the experience, and I feel so ashamed.  Things that felt so real and necessary back then, now are impossible to imagine.  I hope to redeem myself here in Shanghai and let my friends see the real me.  However, the real me includes this dreary past.  It’s been 2 years that I’ve acted out of my way just so I wouldn’t feel like crap in America.  Those 2 years have felt like an eternity.  I find myself sometimes telling my new friends about these things and to be honest, it freaks them out.  That is the reason for me blocking them from my blog.  They will not understand what I’ve been through, and I do not want them to view me as a lunatic.  That is not the real me, that is not the me now.  See me for what I am now, what I am like during work, during commute, during the weekends. 

I do not wish to mention this past to my friends, yet there are a few days I found myself still lingering in the past and acting all weird again.  I hope I have not scared my new friends away, so far it doesn’t seem that way.  However, I am determined to close that chapter in my life and begin a new one.  One that doesn’t include me going crazy, being all angry and hurting people all the time.  I want to be normal again, I want my friends to like me and want to hang out with me.  So far, it seems to be that way.  I want to have good things to share, and as my time in Shanghai lengthens, it surely will be that way.  Right now everything I share is plain frightening, and I don’t want to be this way.  I hope I don’t have to linger in my past anymore, and that this blog will be the last of such topics.

To mom and dad, you truly misjudged the magnitude of the impact coming to America.  It didn’t help that I hid most of my thoughts inside and never told you about it.  When things really turned bad and I began to tell you my thoughts, it was already too late.  Coming to America is not a dream, it was a nightmare.  It has changed my, as well as our family, forever.  My English, my grades, my scholarship, my internships and my salary, none of which is worthy of mentioning in my opinion.  True, you are proud that your son has achieved so much (in your mind, not to me), but to me it is evidence of my nightmare.  To gain all that, I’ve been through so much pain and constantly felt like I am someone who does not belong.  The outside is pretty, but the inside is a mess.  I will gladly trade all of this to undo what I’ve done to other people and feel normal again.  High school was 3 years of nothing when my friends have so much good stuff to remember.  College was 5 years of hell and towards the latter 2 years so much evil was done by me.  I hear my friends talk about their happy 4 years in college, what they did with their friends and the funny things that happened and I ache in pain.  What do I have in my 5 years of college life?  The fun things I did with my friends?  Hell, I don’t have much friends anymore.  The good experiences of being with a group of people you like and developing deep friendships?  I don’t have that.  My friends, most of them, are no longer my friends.  Please compare that to your happy college lives that you talk about so often, and you will realize that your son do not enjoy college one bit.  Who the hell cares about my English or grades?  Would you be willing to trade all your college experiences just so you can speak english a bit better than others?  Just so you can proudly display your American college degree to others?  I bet the answer is:  you have never thought about it, didn’t have the choice in the first place. 

Well, I had that choice.  I am glad that you have come to understand how my decision now is something necessary for me to maintain a sane mind.  I am thankful you did not deny me the chance to come to Shanghai as so many other parents in the same situation would have done.  I know you still worry about my career and how much money I can save working here.  My true answer is this, I don’t really care!  Feeling normal is my biggest asset.  Your son never had any great aspirations, your second son might have a better chance.  Let me be the quiet son who just wants a normal life. 

I am happy that you have not objected much over my decision to come to Shanghai.  I will be returning to Shanghai in 2008, and I hope by the time Shanghai celebrates the World Expo in 2010, I will be such a different person that I will be surrounded by happiness.  2000 – 2007 will only be a vague memory in the past.

Hell of a long post, I hope the combination of English and its length will deter people from reading it Wink