Sunday, July 13, 2008

LIFE = NOT AMERICA


Some days age, I was asked to do an 'interview' for a campaign the Flemish government is running under a title that roughly translates as 'Look over the fence'. They are renting space in one of the big-circulation newspapers for a series of ads that feature a Fleming living abroad and a 'foreigner' living in Belgium. (I added some scare quotes, because the first one in the series is a writer of Turkish origin who immigrated with his parents at age 3. Here in the States, we wouldn't consider such a person a foreigner. We might see her/him as different, but s/he'd be definitely American.)


Anyway.

I did this thing, it got boiled down to 1,668 characters, and then the journalist who was doing this asked me for 3 tips for people who want to make it in the States.

Here were my three tips:

1. Be good at what you do.
2. Make sure everyone else knows you are good at what you do.
3. Stay good at what you do.

(I was tempted to go a tad more Vonnegutian on their asses, but I'll save that for when an American outlet asks me the same question.)

This got mangled in the final piece. It was published as '3 tips'. For life, I suppose.

Which makes me realize that the three things needed to make it in America (and I firmly stand by those -- one day I'll make it here, oh yeah!, just by the power of my writerly competence and a big fat bullhorn), are not the ones you need (a) to make it in life, or -- or especially -- (b) to be a good, or even decent human being.

I am not in the mood today to draw conclusions.
But I do see a thought crowning there, and with a little push it will slither out and start screaming in my face. And then suck my nipples dry.

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