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In October of 2009, with a one-way ticket, I moved to a small industrial town in northern Shangdong province, China, to work as a volunteer English teacher at primary/middle school. When the semester ended, I went to Shanghai for a couple weeks and, just before Chinese New Year, to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. For the next five months, Chengdu became my Chinese hometown of sorts. The trip came to an end in June, 2010, after one successful visa extension, one midnight near-run-in with the Chinese army in the narrow streets of Lhasa, many many bowls of spicy noodles, snow in Shandong and rain in Chengdu and thin air in Shigatse, and countless broken conversations with cab drivers. This, and subsequent travels, are unevenly and very partially documented at Hopeful Enterprise. If you ever get a chance to go to China, and especially Tibet, by all means: go.
I love that there can be an art to nearly everything. I love that geometry is ancient. I love that Frank Lloyd Wright was shameless. I love that the littlest things can make biggest differences, like cufflinks or a pinch of salt or 8 seconds on the last day. I love that some things are inexplicable, in fact more things than you’d expect. I love that no expertise is needed to appreciate a well-made thing. This. I love that you can pretty much always assume there is a better way. I love that anything can seem new. I love that a computer is referred to as a machine. I love that music doesn’t have to mean anything to be beautiful. I love that there are theories about handwriting, the composition of matter, and horse racing. I love the knuckleball. I love the lightbulb joke about how many boring people. I love that the things worth remembering are usually the things that get remembered. I love the moment at dusk when the F train comes out of the tunnel after Carroll St. and fills with golden sunset light and feels like a cathedral. I love the slow motion replay. I love that Japanese architects deliberately inserted mistakes into their designs to appease the gods, who believe only they are perfect. I love that the heart is a muscle. I love the simplicity of punctuation. I love the Radiator Building, the Queensboro Bridge, and summertime. That perfect swing. I love that line about how memory is like a train. I love that anything is interesting if you look at it closely enough. I love that even a cheap hamburger is still pretty good.
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