I am on location in Ybor City, Tampa currently, which is an entirely uninspiring location. It might have offered something 50 years ago, or even ten years ago, but now it is officially a dud. Nike is getting into the skateboard scene, and Ybor is a parody of the culture that put it on the map. The sellout is complete. I hope someone got a receipt. Instead of offering further lament, I am going to share a private correspondence that I believe is inspiring- a message from a friend currently at large in China, and rediscovering the world at 146 years old.
what up lil biscuit eater…China is well…China. I am settled and excelling at teaching sophomores who ‘speaky no english very good’. My style of interaction is a hit with the 300 students to include 8 boys. Lots of young ladies who are very timid and sweet. All have adopted english names and most look alike. Huaibei Normal University has about 18,000 students most of whom are eager to say hello when we pass on campus. I have formed many impressions thusfar and believe on many fronts China has it right. There is no violence, crime in the streets and vulgarity. The students are wonderfully naive and eager to learn although scared to make mistakes, the whole ‘losing face’ phenomena.
They are genuinely astounded as to my experiences of travels and no wife or children. They have taken english since age 12 but have had little to no opportunities to speak it in conversation. Most believe that their second language skillz will provide them a better chance at landing a job. I am getting bits and pieces of information about both old and new China. What I love is that at the end of this year I will have come to some of my own conclusions of what is and isn’t.
I am playing on a faculty basketball team and we are old and rickity and terrible in leauge play, but beloved I feel. I play ball about three days a week with the zillions of boys/men that crowd the courts everywhere. Lots of goals but not a single net. They are delighted by my will and skill. Tenacious I still am with an authentic smile and clever passes. Feeling like I have purpose in my life and am delighted I got out of Myrtle in the nick of time.
Nothing but net in this email JJ, watch out for sharp and courteous elbows!