Thank Ted Koppel from saving you from another nap post. (Although I seriously can't help myself: three hour morning nap, people! THREE HOURS. No afternoon nap and a HELLISH time going to bed! Gah!)
But anyway. Ted Koppel. We saw him on The Daily Show a while back advertising his new Discovery Channel series on China and since Phillip and I are usually pretty interested in that stuff, we promised ourselves we'd TiVo it. Except we totally forgot (and also my TiVo is completely full of Jon & Kates (is she getting meaner?) and that series about NASA that I only watched with Phillip because THERE IS NOTHING ELSE ON, WAH. Wherefore art thou Project Runway?)
By chance we turned on the TV last night and it was on. (Well, turning on the TV was not chance. The show being on was chance. The turned on TV is pretty much the State of Being in my house.) And so there was not a lot of work getting done or any going to bed early, like we'd planned. And this morning Phillip tells me he didn't sleep well, haunted as he was by dreams of working in Chinese factories.
I don't know if you guys are interested in this kind of stuff. The series is called 'The People's Republic of Capitalism'. I have to say, on the whole, I am way more interested in redecorating Jack's room and finding cute girly portable crib bedding. Actually, I guess that just goes to show how fully entrenched I am in my Middle Class American Lifestyle, huh?
But the Beijing Olympics are coming up (anyone else tickled that it starts on 8/8/08?) and I've been reading slews of interesting stuff about China. Human rights and globalization stuff, sure, but I also recently bored Phillip half to death summarizing a piece on Chinese artists and the influence of the Cultural Revolution in The New Republic. Phillip was all, "There was noting about the new iPhone in that article. You know I am only interested in the new iPhone. By the way, where is the huge stack of Mac magazines I was carefully storing under our bed in case the fire department wanted to use our house as an example of Major Fire Hazard?"
ANYWAY. We were transfixed. The episode we watched last night flitted between Chinese factory workers to American factory workers whose jobs had gone overseas, to peasants who spend half their yearly income to send their only daughter to school in the city, to a super rich Chinese couple who were filling their brand new Western-style house with American appliances and Ethan Allen furniture. Oh, and who shop at the Chinese Walmart because it's the "upscale" place to buy your imported (from North Carolina!) chicken feet. KRAZY.
We were especially touched by the farmers' daughter who slept in a dormitory exactly like the one we visited a few years ago- eight girls to a long narrow bunkbedded room. And especially grossed out by the rich couple and their BMW and fancy dishwasher. Until I thought to myself, "I have spend at LEAST that much time picking out furniture," and then I was grossed out by my own self. We felt horrible for the midwestern woman whose factory job had been shipped to China, yet shopped at Walmart because everything's cheaper at Walmart- I mean, what is she supposed to do?
Ted Koppel interviewed a seventeen-year-old girl who spends her days putting boom boxes together. "It's a waste of my talent to work here!" she declared and who can disagree?
When the story jumped, for the zillionth time, from the lotus farmers in their shack to the rich Chinese couple, Phillip said, "That's the goal. That's all there is. That's why they're sending their daughter to school. So she can buy a BMW and an ugly four thousand dollar couch. THIS is why we need God."
We were silent for a minute, letting the Misery of Our Existence sink into our MIddle Class American Brains, brains that have churned quite a lot lately in the quest to figure out houses and grad school and two babies and what from Ikea will look nice in our overpriced house.
And there ends the Rumination on The Point of Being as told from the Cheung Perspective. For those of you who are all, "Dude, I just wanted to hear about Project Runway" I've got a post on Wading Pool Etiquette up at Parenting today. In which I take care of a one-year-old and a random four-year-old for an hour and wonder where the heck her mother is.
We're off to the grandparents. I've got work to do and Jack has his weekly dose of spoiling to enjoy. See you tomorrow.