Posts Tagged ‘style’

As I browsed the market last week in search of the best market shirts as gifts for friends of mine in America, something fascinating happened.

A woman came up to me and asked me to read the shirt she wanted to buy. Specifically, she explained, she liked it and wanted to buy it for her teenage daughter, but she didn’t want it to say anything bad in English.

The shirt was covered entirely in text taken from something about architecture and design at the University of Nottingham. After I skimmed it, I explained it as best I could. Seemed good enough for her. We chatted about how one can find some really good deals on clothes at the market so long as one looks carefully. After she asked me to read a second shirt, we talked a little more about her daughter. I left to go explore another vendor’s offerings before I became the market English consultant or got caught taking photos of only the weirdest clothes.

Like these:





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A few months ago, I was chatting about my own TCK identity with an American woman in Taiwan and mentioned how I was thinking about getting one of these great shirts from taiwaneseamerican.org that says “I am Taiwanese American.” Look at that amazing green!

Image from taiwaneseamerican.org

“But you’re not Taiwanese American!” she replied. Sigh. I guess not.

That’s part of why I didn’t order one. Another part is that I’m worried Taiwanese Americans themselves wouldn’t like me using the label either. I’m afraid of that rejection. Perhaps it’s best not to invest money in apparel proclaiming an identity that I’m not entirely sure I should go about proclaiming. And that the first assumption will likely be that I’m wearing it ironically, as a white woman thinking it’s funny to pretend to be Asian. That’s a reading that will upset and hurt precisely the people I don’t want to hurt when I’m in America.

Instead, I want to share in the joy of having found another someone from my little home country while far away across the ocean in that big strange land. Like I’ve done several times in Chicago thanks to my boys’ and girls’ high school bags from Kaohsiung. I’ve had many delightful conversations about home. I’ve helped lost Taiwanese tourists who saw a familiar object and dared ask me for directions. If you’re reading this, Ching-Fang, our chance meeting on the 6 bus and continued friendship is probably the most fun of them all. :)

I suppose I’ll just stick with those identity markers, rather than anything more explicit and open to negative interpretation.

You know, I’d buy the Ai Daiwan shirt that taiwaneseamerican.org sells, but the brown t-shirt it’s printed on would look awful on me.

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Hi, my buddy!
I like rainy day
as my mom
will be waiting for me
at the bus stop.

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I forgot to add, you can also find ugly clothes for 100NT ($3.30) a piece:
(give me long enough here and I’ll start buying these clothes)

And intensely sparkly hair ornaments:


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Stationery stores in Taiwan are a uniquely delightful part of life here. As many friends in the US will attest, I can’t resist buying notebooks, writing paper and cards and mailing them off, far and wide. Thankfully, this is a fairly cheap vice.

Carrying my camera with me and covertly taking photos of some of the stranger cards and notebooks does help keep me from buying them all and starting a collection of oddities and amusements.

Sometimes it’s the odd English:

Sometimes it’s the bizarre imagery:


Sometimes things are just too cute for words:

Would you like me to share more of these kinds of things? I see them all the time and love them (even better, Gene enjoys browsing stationery stores with me) but I’m not sure if the humor and charm of it all translates outside of the magical space of the stationery store.

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Over two weeks ago I promised a piece about packing clothing and then got completely sidetracked by moving. I do hope this is one of the last moving-related posts until next summer. I’m just as bored and sick of the entire process as you are, dear friends.

While I’d hoped to pack at least one bag before we moved out of the Chicago apartment, packing boxes and disassembling furniture took up so much time that our clothes made the trip to Gene’s parents garage in trash bags. Once we were settled there, I dumped all all 5 (or was it 6?) of my bags onto a king sized bed and began sorting.

From the single pile, I sorted into three – yes, maybe, and no. About half of the “maybes” ended up in the “no,” it memory serves.

A good imagination and the blurry picture below will show you how big the yes and maybe piles ended up being.

I took the picture below of my baggage once we were Taiwan, ensconced at the Look Hotel for three nights courtesy of Fulbright. My combined checked baggage weight was only about 65lbs.

Lastly, here are the clothes, unpacked at last. Pardon the laundry stuffed in the closet, we’ve yet to buy a basket.

On my first trip to the local “everything store,” I bought 30 hangers, assuming that would be more than enough. How wrong I was! Pictured above are 50 and I probably need another 10 for the remaining hanging clothes in the laundry and stuffed into drawers.

When I first got the Fulbright, I remember reading an entry on Academichic about packing clothing for a year abroad. It seemed like such a restrictive task, but here I am with 60 hangers and 6 full (albeit tiny) drawers*. I’ll probably grow tired of everything eventually, but for now I’m pretty satisfied.

*I never counted the number of hangers I used in Chicago. I’m a little afraid to think of how many now.

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