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Problems in my neighborhood essays

Problems in my neighborhood essays

There was a time when I could write well in Chinese. In school, my essays were used as models; in the Army, where I spent a year of involuntary service between the ages of eighteen and nineteen, our squad leader gave me the choice between drafting a speech for her and cleaning the toilets or the pigsties—I always chose to write. Once, in high school, I entered an oratory contest. Onstage, I saw that many of the listeners were moved to tears by the poetic and insincere lies I had made up; I moved myself to tears, too. It crossed my mind that I could become a successful propaganda writer. I was disturbed by this. A young person wants to be true to herself and to the world. But it did not occur to me to ask: Can one’s intelligence rely entirely on the public language; can one form a precise thought, recall an accurate memory, or even feel a genuine feeling, with only the public language?

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In the summer and autumn of 2012, I was hospitalized in California and in New York for suicide attempts, the first time for a few days, and the second time for three weeks. During those months, my dreams often took me back to Beijing. I would be standing on top of a building—one of those gray, Soviet-style apartment complexes—or I would be lost on a bus travelling through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Waking up, I would list in my journal images that did not appear in my dreams: a swallow’s nest underneath a balcony, the barbed wires at the rooftop, the garden where old people sat and exchanged gossip, the mailboxes at street corners—round, green, covered by dust, with handwritten collection times behind a square window of half-opaque plastic.

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Even though they haven't lived in their old house in a the tempest essay colonization chris paul biography how to write ib english language and literature hl paper 1 how to write Descriptive Essay �My Neighborhood� I live at Thirty-five Marcy Place on a hundred and seventieth street in The Bronx.

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Yet I have never dreamed of Iowa City, where I first landed in America, in 1996, at the age of twenty-three. When asked about my initial impression of the place, I cannot excavate anything from memory to form a meaningful answer. During a recent trip there from my home in California, I visited a neighborhood that I used to walk through every day. The one-story houses, which were painted in pleasantly muted colors, with gardens in the front enclosed by white picket fences, had not changed. I realized that I had never described them to others or to myself in Chinese, and when English was established as my language they had become everyday mundanities. What happened during my transition from one language to another did not become memory.