Today's fortune: Culture and customs of China attract you.
My brother suggested that I should walk around my house and take note of all the things made in China. Since I'm lazy, I decided just to look at the stuff on and around my desk, but I think it also proves the larger point - no matter where you go in your house, you're surrounded by stuff made in China.
(But, yeah, mostly because I'm lazy.)
A brief rundown of the made-in-China items I discovered in a two-minute search of my desk:
My computer's speakers.
My computer's keyboard and mouse.
My cell phone.
The electric fan on the corner of my desk.
The Bret Saberhagen bobblehead doll that keeps me company while I write.
The ukelele off the the side of my desk, the one I should be practicing more.
And that's just the stuff I found; I'm sure the desk, too, is made in China, but I can't see the country-of-origin label (and I'm too lazy to look for it very hard).
Ironically, the one thing you may think would be clearly made in China is actually produced in the good ol' U.S. of A: the fortune cookies. In fact, all four batches I've purchased this year have been made by different manufacturers in America.
Actually, maybe that's not so ironic: fortune cookies are, largely, an American invention, based on a Japanese recipe. I don't need to re-invent the wheel here - for the full story, check out Jennifer 8 Lee's great book, "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles."
I could get into the politics of America's obsession with and dependence on Chinese-made products, but please reference my laziness comments above. Really, everything I know about Chinese culture and customs I learned from Pearl S. Buck.
If you've never heard of her (shame on you), Pearl Buck was an American author who lived in China for decades. She was a prolific novelist, and many of her best works are about the country that became her second home, most famously "The Good Earth," a book that is rightly considered one of the best novels ever written. I have a shelf almost entirely dedicated to Buck novels in my library.
Her signature is also hanging on my office wall, a gift from my aforementioned brother.
Although "The Good Earth" is a masterpiece, my favorite Buck novel, and the first one of hers I read, is called "Imperial Woman," a lesser-known piece of historical fiction about Chinese Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi, who ruled her country like a gangsta. "Imperial Woman" holds a special place in my library on a shelf with my favorite books of all time.
Pearl S. Buck writes about ancient and modern China in a way that's so vivid it has to be real. And while it may be problematic that I've learned about China through the writings of a white American, I've held a special place in my heart for China ever since first picking up that dusty book up there.
So read "The Good Earth." Read "Imperial Woman," if you can find a copy. Study up on China as much as you can. It may help you out when they become our landlords.