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One of the things I tried to do when learning Chinese was come up with mnemonics for my vocabulary words. Most of these were in the form of little stories until I became familiar with radicals and started using them as a memory aid instead. I was reminded of my language studies when I saw these spray-painted characters near Taipei Train Station. 小心 (xiǎo​xīn) means “to be careful.” In a trio, however, the word turned into a bilingual poem (小 means “little” and 心 is the character for “heart”):

小心
Be careful
Little heart

Even before I moved to Taiwan and started my Chinese courses, I thought 小心 was an intriguing word. Why “little heart”? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the character for “eyes” (目, mù) in there somewhere?

But the more I think about it, the more 小心 makes sense. A little heart sounds small, tender and vulnerable—you have to guard it carefully. But if you are too cautious, your heart may shrivel up like a rotting vegetable. There’s a balance to be struck. You have to be 小心.

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Speaking of 小心, we can’t leave plastic bags laying around unattended. Look at what happens! Silly George.
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We also cannot leave cups of water sitting around unattended. My poor Tofu Oyako mug!
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Just in case you haven’t noticed that I am obsessed with cats, here is a photo of a fine feline I followed around outside of Alleycat’s at Huashan 1914 (華山1914).
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Ron and I went to get cocktails at W Taipei last night (well, a cocktail each because W’s prices are a little high). We noticed a lot of news vans on our way in. When we got home, I found out that Jeremy Lin is staying there. No, I did not see him—but if I had, I would have thanked him. Since Lin has become famous, several people have said to me “So your parents are Taiwanese, but you have an American accent when you speak Mandarin… like Jeremy Lin! You are just like Jeremy Lin!” After years of getting grief for my accent no matter how much my language skills improve, this really makes me happy. Thank you Jeremy Lin for making it normal to sound like we do! Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou謝謝thankyouthankyouthankyou!

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After a few weeks of gorgeous weather, the clouds and rain have returned with a vengeance. I’ve spent a lot of time indoors, going stir crazy. The good thing is that I have plenty of pretty things to stare at, including the revolving card collection I keep above my desk and my Ikea drapes. I love those drapes—when I lived in New York City, I couldn’t afford them because they were in Ikea’s higher price range (i.e. about US$90 instead of the US$10 I spent on curtains from Target). When we finally got them about a year or so ago, I was so happy… maybe a little too happy. But they always cheer me up, even on dull, overcast days.

August Break 2012