I have never felt more like an Earthican than I did last week. Just being in Singapore breaks down any nationalistic tenancies I might have. For others, I can see it might have the opposite effect, but I'm surrendering to the internationalistic flavor of our new island home. Some things that are putting me in my place and giving me some new perspective:
• Our racial designation in Singapore is "others"
• A clerk casually referred to us as Caucasian on the phone
• Last week at least four cabbies assumed I was Australian
• There are 7-11 stores everywhere here
• Our dry pasta and spaghetti sauce come from Australia
• Red Bull is originally (and still is) a Thai beverage
Little things like this, along with the fact that I work in a studio with artists from over thirty countries reinforce the strength of my feeling Earthican rather than American.
A pet peeve of mine has resurfaced again as I fill scads of official forms: People from Spain are Spanish, people from England are English, people from Denmark are Danes, but people from The United States of America are American. I have enough friends from Canada and Central and South America to have always fely awkward about calling myself American. And there it is on my customs form: Nationality. I have been putting USA for nationality in protest. Everyone else in Singapore has put down American for my nationality when they fill out forms for me. Feh! Untied Statesian? United States of American? Even Yankee is better than usurping "American" from our friends to the North and South.
The simple question "Where are you from?" is more difficult than ever to answer. I was born in Long Beach, California, but grew up in Santa Cruz, Colorado, Florida, Switzerland, and Hilton Head Island. I've lived in Marin, San Francisco, Orange County and Savannah…and Singapore. FaceBook mocks me by asking my home town. Really? Home town? You're fucking kidding me.
When I was in high school I wrote two gags for some unfinished sci-fi comedy movie (which ammounted to two gags). Both came back to me this past week.
The first involved a guy on layover in a space station populated with all sorts of aliens and humans. He's sitting at a bar and strikes up a conversation with a guy on the stool next to him. The inevitable question is asked:
Man One: Where are you from?
Man Two: Earth.
Man One: Earth! Do you know Jim?
The second gag involved the same guy desperately needing to take a leak and finally finding a restroom only to be faced with stall after stall of strange and unusable alien toilets.
This week I used an Asian-style "squat toilet" for the first time. It turns out I did it "wrong" but suffered no trauma aside from an initial moment of dread and the realization that I really had no choice. Nature was calling. Later that day I found out that there was a western toilet in the next stall. It was about time I used the most common type of toilet in the world, however, and I did it and I feel better for it.