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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Strube

life in stereo

I have decided since I am going to live in the Redlands, I am going to believe in stereotypes.

And try all of them.

That’s right. Americans have long held a healthy obsession with all things Great Wall.  We love fortune cookies and fireworks. We think its “authentic” to eat Lo Mein with chopsticks. We love Genghis Khan. We believe in the six pack of Bruce Lee. Each year, thousands of semi-drunk university students stumble down to their local tattoo artists to get Chinese characters splayed on their biceps, in attempts to be original and not like the other twelve people in line behind them, getting the same “tranquillity” tattoo. We want to know if we were born in the year of the dragon or the donkey and why that affects our romantic partnerships and our sour choice of mother-in-laws. We believe in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and we too wish we could surmount bamboo forests, frolic with pandas, and play the violin while hanging from a trapeze.

There is a reason for Western fascination with China and if I am going to be here, I am going to find out why.

When I told people I was moving to the Far East, I got the same typical responses:

Um, why?

Are you going to learn Kung Fu?

Watch out for MSG.

In response, I want to spend my days doing Tai Chi and Chi Gong, learning how to hold a calligraphy pen, and getting massive amounts of acupuncture. I want to decorate Fen Shui and receive Tu-Nai massage while I flower arrange all of my Szechuan cooking tools. I will grow a Confucius beard and read the Tao each morning at daybreak. I will do sixty pouring of tea and drink it with chopsticks.

I will find stereotypical China if it kills me, because it must exist behind the ever-sprouting Prada stores and Swatch watch outlets I’m surrounded by. Beyond the neon lights, the mystics must exist and I will find them if it slays me.  Yangtze, where is thy incense? Oolong, Where is thy lyrical urdu drone? Where oh where is thy zen poetry?

And where oh where are my stilettos…

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