Thursday, January 14

Puzzle wring.

So, the story goes that I woke up on Friday, a normal boy in Kaohsiung. I found out that my paternal grandfather, Albert Morton Postrel, was on the verge of passing away in Boca Raton, FL. After having a rather intense morning at work in which I had my last conversation with the man via Skype, I booked a flight back to the United States. Less than 48 hours later I had made lasagna, hosted a promised, T-shirt stenciling party, and found my way to my grandmother's home, where the rest of my family was also gathering. I have now returned to my native Rhode Island, to wreak havoc via blitzkrieg social visits to old friends, and will probably make a visit to New York to do the same there...I'm going to leave from JFK anyway, so why not? I'm once again completing ye olde grande to keep the international Simon networking network healthy.

In the hopes of meditating on my grandfather's passing in the ways that I do, I have acquired a most amazing set of things: about 150 hand written letters written to my grandfather from other people while he was in the army, between 1944 and 1946. They're amazing to read, and I'm going to do something like a collage with them. You'll see when it's done, I promise.

It's strange--I think that hidden in our families are all the stories we love to read or hear about--you just have to look in the right place. There are all these amazing pictures of my grandparents and their friends partying, and doing lude things, and being beautiful, and I find it completely confusing. I learned that my great grandfather worked on science fiction films, and was one of the original distributors of the home video camera for Sony, and had visited Taiwan many times. In addition, he wrote poems and short stories, like my grandmother's brother, and my Aunt. My grandmother paints. I am interested in all of these things to some extent, but most people I know do not do them. Who are the people that I am descended from, and why are we all strangely similar in one way or another? Clearly, family is more complicated than I realize. I think the most painful thing about spending the time with my grandmother, aside from the fact that she was sad, was the fact that I felt as though there was an entire history that had been lost. Looking through the photo albums, I knew that I never could have asked my grandfather enough questions to satisfy my curiosity about who he was and where he was from. This was depressing at the same time as it was a relief. I am always struck with the strange feeling that I do not quite know my family, even the ones I am supposed to be closest to. I wonder if this doesn't have more to do with me than it has to do with them.

I may go to Bali soon! Details at the eleventh hour.

I have the following items to present to you today:

--A large set of phantasmagortastic photos which alert photographer Sophie Goldstein took while we were both hangin' in Taiwan, and going to Taroko gorge n stuff! This is just a few of MANY things you can see when you come and visit me. Yes, those signs with cute characters are posted all around my school. And yes, that is me doing a handstand with a motorcycle helmet on. And YES, for the final time, yes, that is me looking utterly presidential in my English Village stationary store clerk outfit.

--A fascinating article which alert reader Jonna Cohen has sent in. Clearly, there is hope for the world if people

--A link to a trailer for Kick-Ass, a movie I am wicked excited about, though in retrospect it probably will have been embarrassing to admit it. The comic it's based on was too ridiculous not to love, though it was a nightmare in terms of racial and ethnic stereotypes. Oh, the youth of today. I love you.

--Your Chinese character of the FRIGGIN' DAY:

Okay, I may need an etymology check for this one. But I'm going to try and present it in the correct way:

The lines on the left represent fire. The right looks like a bottle for holding liquid. HINT: The bottle contains the fire.

Get it?

ALCOHOL. Pronounced jiu (third tone, that's the dip in the middle).

--The poem I read at the memorial service for my grandfather...people said they liked it, and they wanted to read it again, so here it is (looking for feedback):


As we live,

we collect.

And our shelves, you know the ones,

the ones which we make a museum

of our selves,

those shelves

are stuffed with us.

Here is a series of figurines of fat elves,

a plate that is really more of an art piece,

a small, ornate box we don't keep anything in.

No, we just like

the way it looks.

Oh, and look at this

here is a small painting we liked,

yes, there is something about the way that man

is picking his nose in the background

that made us reach into our hearts

and pull out enough to buy it.

LOOK! Here are a series of tickets to shows we saw

and enjoy recalling

here is a local news clipping, framed, in which we are mentioned in passing

here is the picture of an uncle

in a nightmare of a sweater

waving from a famous place he visited.

Looks like it might have been

Minneapolis? No, it couldn't be, there are no pyramids there.

Anyway, here is a photo album, a clock that was a gift, a rifle from the war which now seems silly, an unfashionable pair of glasses, an urn, a book that is of no interest but has an alluring cover, more newspaper clipplings, and more photographs, yes, always more photographs.

Only now that we are looking at it, there is someone

in the photograph whose voice

we can't remember.

Which is a shame, because they spoke

like a box of music.

but never mind, here is an advertisement for a dance

from thirty years ago

that we never went to

because we never left the house together.

The date went so well we just sat on the couch

thinking happily that we might never get tired of kissing.

Though just now, we can't remember the color

of that person's hair, or skin, or eyes

or the nice things they said to us when we were getting sleepy.

They could really have been anyone, now.

We are the silk that sticks so much

together...but gravity is always getting stronger

and so much friction between the memories

of objects

and places

and feelings

and people

they all begin to feel alike.

They melt into each other,

until we only know what we already know.

Memories become generic, unsharp.

If we are lucky,

as we grow, and we always grow

all these things are destroyed in a beautiful storm.

we forget to take our medication and smash them.

the window is broken by someone's God in a wind

or a burglar with a brick, or we trip

and our elbow catches the edge of a long object, like a golf club,

knocking every


to the floor.

We get to start again.

When we remember someone

we look at their shelves.

we wonder who the people in their photographs are,

and why they collected so many little statues of fat elves, they're really even kind of creepy.

And then, maybe,

suddenly, we think we realize

we're next.

After all, this does happen

in a kind of sequential order.

But I warn you that this is

almost certainly not the point.

We may be gone already. We may come back.

We may look at the moon one night and become stuck in between,

neither alive nor bored to death. Think too much about death

and you end

wondering what's happening

to all the food in the refrigerator.

Is it time to buy more already?

If the humous is gone, why are there so many crackers?

Didn't we pay this electric bill last week?

Should I shave?

The answers are yes and no, yes and no, hello and goodbye,

a thousand whats and no why.

I met a foreigner. She said

that in order to meditate,

we need only remember enough to make us happy.

Don't dwell, she said, just get in, get happy

and get out.

That means no fat elves, no books with alluring covers, no favorite paintings.

So I think of the three things

my grandfather gave me last:

a haircut and a ride to the airport,

and the little something extra

he always gave us.

So, when I ask to be,

I am alone on the curb

at the airport.

Though I keep waving,

I see the silver sedan

pull away. I feel a new breeze

at the back of my neck,

and the smile of a warm

twenty-dollar bill

in my pocket.

Then, I am


Saturday, January 2

"We are totally late!"

Adults and younger adults!

Sorry it took me so long to get back on the blogging horse. I've been going through a bit of a hectic phase which shall be known as the "a whole heck of a lot going on" period...and it's not that I'm doing any less now, but I've finally accepted the fact that I've just got to make some time and write some things down about what's going on. So, I apologize for not writing, and please don't yell at me any more, it makes my ears hurt.



The characters mean "big", "mother", and "finger". Da mou ghe.

Guess what they mean together?

No, not that.

It's your thumb.

In any case, I am currently waiting for my good old friend Sophie Goldstein in the Taipei Train Station! She's teaching in Korea...also keeping a blog...mumble mumble competition mumble mumble. She's visiting Taiwan for a week, staying with me for most of it. And we're going to start by going to Taroko Gorge this weekend for two and a half days or so. Lots of hiking, a half bottle of Jack Daniels, some 3-D cat cards, the last 100 pages of a Haruki Murakami novel, and a whole lotta Johnny Cash. Should be awesome times. I'll be sure and show you some pictures when I get back!

Speaking of pictures, I've got some major ones to lay on you, including a few from some rock climbing expeditions. I don't know if I'll be able to do it on the battery left in this laptop while I'm sitting here in the station, but I'll try.

The issues to discuss at present:

1. I gave a speech to a lot of government officials on Thursday at my school, to celebrate the re-opening of the place for the new semester. The governor was supposed to be there, but he wasn't. Anyway, it looks like I'm the new English speaking MC at my school, as this is the second event I

2. Ping pong continues to intensify, as does my enjoyment of it. The principal has begun smack talking me during lunch, telling me that it is "IMPOSSIBLE!" for me to win, and that my Ping pong game is "LOW CLASS!" I don't know what he's trying to accomplish. I hope that he fears me.

3. I am building an object which can only be described as too much fun to build, even if it is illegal. It is powered by hairspray and is made of PVC pipe. It's gonna be a gift. Those of you who know what I'm talking about, know what I'm talking about!

4. Movies: Sherlock Holmes was cute but lacking, Avatar was ripe and beautiful but disturbing. I'd go for Avatar if you have the choice...or better yet, wait for The Road.

5. This weekend I went to Tainan, the country's old capital, to go on a bike ride with a teacher from my school. It was awesome.

6. I went to the thop of the mountain here in Kaohsiung, and it's gorgeous. Going up is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, and the top is like...well, it's like the top of a jungle-y mountain in Taiwan with a view of the ocean. Very pretty. Anybody who comes here, guess what? You're going up the mountain.

7. I'm running a half-marathon in Tainan on Jan 31, with my friend Mitsuru! Fun times.

8. I'm having a stenciling party this week!

9. Internet in my house will be active as of Tuesday. I'm getting a 10 MB line, which means that things are literally going to be arriving before I send them. It's going to mess up my social life, but damn, I love me some ludicrous speed internet. I think that's when I'm going to upload those pictures, after all....