Friday, September 22, 2006


I dropped off my laundry yesterday, and the young couple who run the laundry service took it and weighed it and handed me my little yellow tag marked carefully with 7pm - RED, and the whole time in the background a language tape was playing on a little boombox. (You could tell it was a tape; it still crackled.)

"I already submitted my paperwork," the tape said, the voice repeating in Chinese.

"I am here to apply for citizenship."

"I am taking the test for citizenship. I already submitted my paperwork."

"These are the forms you requested."

"Detergent allergy?" she asked me, and I wondered if these were the only two things they ever talked about; beaucracy and laundry.

It's interesting how quickly someone's vocabulary can change, and the gulf that opens up between people when their internal dictionaries are different, how the words you use define you.

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