This is my third time in Chicago, but it's really my first time seeing any of the city. I arrived on Friday afternoon and took a cab over to see Dan Baldocchi, his wife, and his cute and slightly hyper dogs. We had a nice Cuban lunch and then went over to see Will Whedbee, the talented luthier who made my cello. I loved seeing Will's studio and the unfinished instruments he was in the process of making.
Sherry Hsieh and Jens Thiele have been great hosts. We've been eating well, and today we wandered around downtown Chicago, spending some time in Millenium Park and up on the 96th floor of the Hancock building. For lunch, Sherry's friend Linda Sheu took us out for Korean food. In the car, Jens asked, "Linda, are you Chinese, or Korean?" I wish I could reproduce the look of confusion on Jens' face when Linda replied, "neither," and eventually, Linda clarified to Jens that she was actually "Taiwanese."
I had to smile, because if someone says that they are "Taiwanese [American]" in perfect American English, you can pretty much assume that...
- ... their family has been in Taiwan for multiple generations - ... their parents came over between the late 60s and 70s - ... they were (possibly) born in some bizarre American city where there happens to be a graduate school - ... they constantly have to respond to, "isn't that the same as being Chinese?" :)
Oh, and please -- no comments about the Taiwanese vs. Chinese thing. Your comments will be promptly deleted because anonymity always leads to unproductive discourse on the subject.
Sherry also dragged me out to a spinning class at her local gym. There were some well-known triatheletes in the room, supposedly, but all I saw were 40 people trapped in a dark, black-lit room cycling in place like a bunch of hamsters on running wheels. It was also pseudo-motivational (to darkness and loud, hypnotic music: "imagine a goal... imagine a goal a year away... imagine a goal a year away that you think is nearly unattainable... now, imagine that you are accomplishing that goal... blah blah blah"), and motivational talks usually make me feel like throwing up. I guess most of my motivation comes from within me, and from interactions with people I look up to. Having "motivation" so explicitly thrown in my face turns on every skeptical nugget within me. Still, it was fun -- and it was probably healthy to sit there on a bike for an hour. My last two years of being a blob definitely haven't been good for me. :)