Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lo, for your Mercurial Girl has done the heretofore seemingly inconceivable and...gone downtown. It was a second attempt to find any institution that will turn my rags (in America, but riches in Korea) to American semi-riches. In other words, it was fail #12983721982348. A Sisyphean task this has come to be. The risky task of sending my unaccompanied life savings on a trans-Pacific trip is my only option.

As I was meandering downtown, I felt like such a foreigner..and I was commensurately treated as one in some places. In Citibank, the woman spoke to me as if I were a foreigner (it was beyond perfunctory or even natural courtesy), and I took comfort in it because it was in sync with my own perception to my surroundings. The employee at the American Express Travel agency treated me in the same way, and complain I did not. Out on the bustling streets, the almost exclusively American hordes of people walking past or alongside me made me feel as if I were in a colossal hypobaric chamber.

Who and what served as my "sources of oxygen"? Asian people and the books on foreign languages in the happening Borders of Downtown Chicago. I somehow perceived some sort of covalent bond between us...that they somehow knew that I had just returned from Korea...that they felt just as much as a foreigner as I (though I technically am not a foreigner)! I even felt as if I were Asian at not just one point! (I still bow and I nearly uttered a "감사합니다". The summation of these perceptions/delusions/&c. gave me a heightened sense of clarity: I don't belong in America. I'm American only by passport.

The veracity of that last statement is about 50% ± 35%. So let's revise that statement.

I'm not American. I'm not Japanese. I'm not Korean. I'm not Western. I'm not Eastern. I am me. I just might be something. I just might be nothing. I may even be just a figment of your solipsistic indulgences. So, I may just be misappropriating the most common pronoun: I. 1, 0, -1. There. Veracity = 50% ±50%.

Supposing that I am, in fact, an "I", I wanted to happily greet, hang out with, and even befriend (?) each of the Asian people that I saw in my stroll downtown. I even wanted to go straight to Korean Town--after I would have located it, of course. I didn't, however, for I needed to continue on my futile attempt at a way to exchange my "rags" without having to walk on eggshells (at least I had no problem exchanging my cash...and I was hoping for a chance to have an impromptu dinner with Stacey.

I actually visited my alma mater. This is the place that I call home in the United States albeit social life was immensely shitty. Seeing the residents of the area outside on a rather beautiful day for March (55-esque) was refreshing. I even saw someone with whom I had stayed in the same dorm house; he had just finished work, and I had just finished perusing the price-inflated University Bookstore whose doors had "Economic Stimulus: Books for Cash" posters on them (something which, in my undergraduate years, would have bankrupted me and bankrolled the Bookstore, since I would have deluded my librowhorish self into thinking that I'd have been saving money). The Coop, however, nearly induced a full-blown orgasm with the language books that it had. Had this been three years ago, I would have orgasmed at the Latvian-English dictionary for $17 that was in the Coop yesterday. Even Farsi books were available. Nothing was bought, though.

To the main University library I went. Blockading alumni from the wireless service provided in the library, I resorted to using Windows (probably Dell) computers that ran as slowly as my 198379218 open-windowed Mac...while "studying" in between. When I was in the stacks, I told myself, "I'm home." The stacks was my bastion of support during many of my years as an undergraduate, and I swiped my student card not a few times to check out a new, sexy set of books each time.

Those days are gone.

Further isolating alumni--well, at least me--from the University is the fact that I must squander $60 to check out just one book. The $60 lasts for the semester, but it's an egregious waste when one only need check out one book! ><

Approximately two hours later, I headed back toward the place of rearing. The out-of-the-way-of-everything place of rearing which serves as a reminder of why I needn't ever return here. This waking day served as another reminder: It is 70 degrees outside right now (sexily intempestive of Chicago's weather in March). It's Saint Patrick's Day. Where am I?

1 comment:

Sergio said...

I love this post besides It took "the 101% of my English skills" to "understand" it... Too many times, Books are my only way out...