You've heard of that old expression, "In vino veritas"? In wine there is truth. Well guess what? There is truth in jet-lag as well. When one has just flown in from northeastern China, been in the air for 24 hours, hauled luggage all over three different airports and gone without sleep for two days, all the polite facades and social niceties of life tend to quickly fall away.
Here are some of the basic home truths that intense sleep-deprivation has allowed to sneak past the usual rational censors inside my brain:
2. All that nonsense you hear about Tibet being a miserable place before the Communists came and set it free? That's hogwash. You wanna know what Tibet was really like in the old days? Go to Bhutan. People in Bhutan are basically living the same kind of life now that Tibetans used to live one hundred years ago. Climb up some mountains. Poke your head into some monasteries. Talk with some smiling kids. And what will you find? That the Bhutanese are happy and that their spirituality, kindness and respect for themselves and others is practically palpable. Sure, the serfs of feudal China were miserable but why project that misery onto the Tibetans of the past? The people of Bhutan are HAPPY -- unlike most of post-modern America. One does not live by bread alone. Want to know what old-timey Tibet was like? Check out Bhutan. And you won't want to leave -- except maybe in the winter.
And when people complain about Tibetans viciously attacking the Han Chinese in Lhasa? Well. What are all those millions of Han Chinese doing there in the first place?
3. China is covered with smog. Wall-to-wall smog. From Beijing to Shenyang to the Korean border, the air is thick with the stuff. How thick? So thick that the sun looks like a red-orange sphere in the sky -- if you can see it at all. When your plane lands in Beijing, you can't see the ground until right before the wheels hit the runway. I kid you not. Even out in the isolated farmlands of the northeast, China is wall-to-wall smog. That's scary.
4. I've written my freaking fingers to the bone since as long as I can remember. I've written articles. I've written blogs. I've written freaking books! And a million people, I bet, have read stuff written by me. And do you want to know how much money I've made from my writing in all of those years? Total? $35.15. Some really nice people helped me buy Kevlar to get over to Iraq with last year and that helped a lot. But it just isn't the same as getting an advance on a book contract.
On behalf of starving writers everywhere who devote their whole lives to their art without any compensation, I got this to say -- enough is enough! We want artist-in-residence programs. We want grants. We want some of that money that is now being poured onto the Bush-Cheney gravy train.
Instead of great writers, nowadays America just mass-produces gaggles of media hacks who sell their souls to the devil -- like what happened in Philly last week when so-called journalists who should have freaking known better turned a debate between two intelligent and well-qualified candidates into a talk-radio sideshow. And these journalists got paid big bucks for it too. Yet those of us who take writing seriously, write on serious topics and force our souls through the meatgrinder of creativity every single day of our lives get no respect -- and no money either. To hell with writing.
5. I once had a doctor of Chinese medicine tell me, "Jane, you have the rare ability to bring people good luck."
So. What's my point? I'm sick and tired of living on rabbit food, watching every penny and saving like a miser so I can go out and bring people good luck. Screw it. You want me to bring you good luck? Then pay for my freaking plane ticket and hotel room your own freaking self!
"But, Jane," you might say. "That's just magical thinking." No it's not. Magical thinking is what they do in the Pentagon and the White House. They think that they can start another war with Iran and North Korea just like Germany did in 1939 when it deliberately started wars with Britain, Poland and Russia, and that the military and financial fallout isn't going to destroy America as we know it? Now THAT'S magical thinking,