Summer Writing in America

I finally have writing time in America. And to mimic my sessions in Malaysia, I had to be sitting outside, so here I am at Zinburger in Nanuet, NY.

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Beautiful evening. Warm, yet slightly breezy. Outdoor music not too loud. Good battery-life on the computer, and sweet-gooey ideas oozing out of my brain.

In fact, I don’t even think the wait staff noticed me for a while. I didn’t have anyone approach me for thirty minutes, and that was only when I flagged someone down. I said I’d like to order a drink, and then she asked if I had been attended to yet, I said ‘no.’ ¬†She looked around and located a small index card which was put under the menu. “It’s probably because the didn’t see the card.” I looked at her in a puzzled manner and said, “I have no idea what that index card means.” She bee-lined it indoors and within a second I had a waiter who came and checked up on me about every two minutes thereafter.

I parked myself for two hours there and wrote a 75% rough draft of one of my Christmas sketches, and I was almost finished, that bright bulb went on again and I knew how it needs to end. I just need a little more time to work out the kinks.

Summer time in America is sweet. I can’t imagine, however, what a winter writer in America has to enjoy.

Here’s to many more free and independent writing days in the future.

America the Paradox

I truly believe that America is a great place. I’ve lived overseas for much of the last twenty years, but when I go back home to visit, I’m always reminded of just how amazing America is. From its development to its beauty to its generous and kind people. Americans of every color, age, and belief have blessed me in one way or another.

But, of course, America has displayed many warts through the centuries. It’s never been a perfect place, but it is a grand experiment which has succeeded on many levels. It has wrestled with a tortured and tainted past and has made amazing strides. It continues to offer the greatest amount of liberty possible even as it currently struggles with itself and the behemoth of a government that it created which produces an ever present tension with the liberty that it tries to preserve.

And that is perhaps what makes the United States of America so unique. The constant struggle. The pulling left and right. The tightrope of freedom. The uncomfortable self-righteous walk abroad, carrying a big stick. A pluralistic society struggling with deep-seated individualism which brings about endless debate, name-calling, and bureaucratic stagnation. A country with boundless energy, which struggles not to use it. A country with a moral ideal, which tries to downplay it with secularism. A people who talk grand, believe in moral righteousness and exceptionalism, yet idly sit watching sports on the weekend. A generous people who become lazy in their giving. A good people, who want to help the world but who wonder if they haven’t already done enough.

It’s in these great paradoxes where America’s greatness truly lies because at its core, America is still a free nation, tolerant of different points of view. It, as a nation, is a microcosm of the stagnant congress. We are both sides of a coin, and, yes, sometimes that can be frustrating. We are the ‘heads’ that says ‘go’ and the ‘tails’ that says ‘no’. We can’t make up our mind, and when we do, we change it back.

But the alternative to this back and forth, uneven maneuvering is, in my estimation, even scarier – being at the whim of only one side of a coin – a pawn with a tyrant’s heel at our throat.

Perhaps we should celebrate the slow-moving nature of American life a little more. It’s what makes us unique, a standard bearer of differing views, a weigher of ideas, a struggler of philosophy.

But even with all of its negatives, America still stands as a beacon which cannot be ignored. Its still something to be proud of.


Get America Working Again

I loved seeing this during the past week as I went back and forth on the Tappan Zee Bridge:

2014-06-22 08.27.36 2014-06-22 08.28.03 2014-06-22 08.28.16 2014-06-22 08.28.30Construction cranes! About 20 or more of them spanning the length of the bridge, pounding pylons into the riverbed as the opening phase of building a bridge to replace the iconic Tappan Zee Bridge.

Why is it so wonderful to see?

I live in Asia, and construction crane is as common as street-side noodle vendors. They are ubiquitous. Not so much in America.

Granted, some of that speaks to the level of development that the USA has already achieved. It’s firmly a stage 5 economy while many of the southeast Asian economies that I witness daily are playing catch up.

But I firmly believe that America needs to move forward and think big. We have been plateaued for far too long. Too many people flipping burgers and flipping hedge funds and far too few people dreaming, innovating, and constructing large projects.

Let’s take advantage of our talented and skilled workforce. Let’s take advantage of the boon in gas reserves. Do we really want to be dependent on Middle Eastern oil? Really? Haven’t we learned the nature of the fragile ties of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc …

It’s time to put America back to work, so I am all for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. Let’s keep it going.