After spending eleven days in Japan and eight weeks in Hong Kong, I arrived home yesterday with the following things:
- $1.30 HK and 184 yen, which translates to about $2.10 of completely useless money.
- A white and grey striped shirt that’s stained, barely perceptibly, with sauce from a Teriyaki McBurger I ate in Narita Airport.
- Swag from my internship, including a set of regulation stacking cups, two light-up clown noses from Cirque du Soleil, and three aprons.
- A free flash drive, courtesy of the Columbia Alumni Association. In terms of things given away by the administration to appease students, I think that flash drives are the new chocolate fountains.
- Copies of Misery, Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Great Expectations, and In Defense of Food, which I bought and read instead of half the books I actually packed.
- A sweet tweed jacket custom made for me by this guy.
- Gifts for fronds, including but not limited to a Japanese banana case I’m giving to my brother; two shiny lacquered boxes, wrapped in the finest Chinese newspaper; a pretty paper tray I found at an origami museum that, okay, also happened to be at Narita airport; and a t-shirt inside of what looks like a soda can, notable more for the packaging than for the shirt itself. The blurb on the can, located where you’d expect to find nutrition facts, is amazing enough that I’m going to reproduce it here in full. I like to imagine it as read by Maya Angelou.
“LOVE OF T-SHIRT
Remove collars, shorten sleeves,
and eliminate buttons… …
In an enthusiastic rhythm,
the temperature rises so as to
wear out the whole summer
Put aside the trivialness and bondage of the city…
Sexy, or decadent, or Hiphop, or Punk… …
Therefore, simple and connotative clothing is used to decorate them.
T-shirt expresses our intrinsic desires,
Which mean persistence and individuality
and is also the expression of a life attitude.”
- The above lunch bag from Tokyo, which has become my new favorite possession. Doesn’t the picture look like it might have come from the cover of a Little Golden Book about the first day of kindergarten, if that book were translated from English to Japanese and then back into English by these people?
- So you know how souvenir stores always have racks that display little trinkets inscribed with common names? Like New York license plate key chains that say Madison or Michael or whatever? At the Hong Kong Museum of Art, I found a series of business card-sized gifts printed with English names written in both English letters and Chinese characters. I couldn’t find Hillary, but somehow names like Dagmar and Adolf were readily available. I bought one that says Zoltan.
- Enough new clothing that I probably should have had to pay an import tax.
- Zero bootlegged DVDs, somehow.
In just four short days, I'll be back in New York. In the meantime, I'm going to stare at this pile of stuff, momentarily contemplate how I can possibly transport it all to the city, then give up and see what's on Lifetime.