Monday, April 25, 2005

It's the little things

I need a haircut. Well, not really a cut, just a trim to get rid of the split ends. All the "respectable" places here charge upwards of 50 Euro, which is highway robbery. But don't worry! I'm not here to do the "Dublin is so expensive" whine. This is an altogether different whine.

The closest I have ever come to having a "regular" hairdresser is this Chinese lady at a shady storefront in San Francisco, whom I went to three or four times. I also got a pretty good haircut from a lady in Manchester's Chinatown. I had to respond to her Cantonese with English after embarrassing myself with my broken Cantonese, but the communication was sufficient for the first short hair I had had since I was born. And she did a great job. Both these people charged, like, 20 bucks (or the equivalent in pounds). In Seattle I tried several different places, like Borseno's and Rudy's, but they were disappointing.

So, naturally, when it came time to get a haircut here, I went looking for little Chinese ladies on dodgy streets. And in my failure to find this mythical shop, was reminded again of how young the immigrant population is here. Only in the last ten or fifteen years has Ireland became a country where people immigrated to rather than emigrated from. You see lots of Asian faces on the streets of Dublin now, but most of them only arrived a few years ago or are students here to learn English. You don't see any Asian-Irish yet. In fact, I haven't even seen very many Asian-Irish couples. I was reminded of this when I saw a hapa teenager on the U-bahn in Berlin; it will be a few years yet before hapas appear here. I do see many Asian couples with babies or toddlers, however, so it won't be long before people hear a Dub accent you could float rocks on coming from an Asian face.

I can't identify very well with, for lack of a better term, Asian-Asians. Almost all my Asian friends have been 2nd-generation or beyond. For the first time since I moved here, I missed having this specific group of people around. I had bought a book called Ego Trip's Big Book of Racism (had to order it on-line through a store in the States, naturally), and it is, to quote a certain friend, hilaaaaarious. I got to a page titled "The Top Ten Things You Wouldn't Want to Steal from an Asian Household" and didn't have anyone to share "#3: fluorescent lights in the living room" with. I laughed and laughed, and at the point where, at home, I would have shown it to someone and pointed and laughed some more, I realized there was no one here to show it to. I knew it was getting really bad when, in a pub a couple weeks ago, I saw this Asian woman speaking with a British accent, and actually went up to her and told her I wanted to say hello because it's so rare that I find an Asian person here who isn't "Asian-Asian." Well, first I asked her whether she lived in Dublin, 'cause Brits coming over here for a drunken weekend don't count. Okay, so I had had a few pints at that point and was maybe a little tipsy. This whole episode was made worse by the fact that I was at the pub to meet a dude that a friend had set me up with, and, from the moment I heard that chick speak with a British accent, I practically ignored him and spent the whole time sneaking looks at her and hoping she'd notice I was speaking with an American accent. That, and trying to work up the nerve to go speak to her. I had developed some sort of instant girl-crush on her or something. Dang. And now I wish I'd drank some more and had had the nerve to give her my phone number.

Needless to say, I didn't have a second date with the guy. Too bad. He may have been able to suggest a hair stylist.

Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones (I usually stick to her Chrestomanci books, but this one is dedicated to Neil Gaiman! How could I just put it back on the shelf?). I'm used to reading multiple books at the same time, but this is getting ridiculous. I suspect Jonathan Lethem's going to have to go on the back burner.


Evolvingthinker said...

The new guy I met, Michael met Neil Gaiman and had dinner with him.

debeh said...

You write so well!

I used to have fluorescent lights in my living room too!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know more about this fluorescent lights thing. Would it still be funny if you explained it to me?

Lien said...

We have fluorescent lighting at home, too. My father actually took out the normal overhead lights and installed the wonderfully romantic and flattering fluorescent tubes. With all the wires showing.

I don't know if I can really explain the fluorescent lighting thing. It was funny in the book because I didn't really think about it until then. It's part of the immigrant interior decorating look. Maybe it sets off the cheesy ceramic figurines of cats and ducks well.

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind me chiming in...seems like a combination of economics, comfort, and environment stuff, perhaps? Most of the homes I visited in Korea had fluorescent lights, and most of the Korean (Korean-Korean) homes I've visited in the states also had fluorescent lights, where there was a choice involved. If not fluorescent lighting, then some kind of bright unshaded lamp that seemed to approximate the harshness (to me) of fluorescents.

Seems like what may start out as an economic/environmental thing in Asia becomes a comfort-of-home thing in the States?

Anonymous said...

I love the compact florescent lightbulbs that came out in the last half-decade!

so small, fit into your existing light fixtures, and use a small fraction of the energy!

I even got wicked orange ones for outside that are supposed to make nighttime flying insects think my house isn't worth approaching or something like that.

perhaps compact florescent bulbs are the new asian-asian thing? wait... I'm not asian-asian. crap.