I Am Not An Artist

PARANOIA ABOUT NONSTOP DESIGN WORKERS

Languages and cultures have been my lifelong passions. Maybe it is because I grew up in Southern California, amid Latino influences. In school, I heard Mexican-American students speaking Spanish. Downtown, I saw blocks of stores, all with signs in Spanish. Rich, wonderful smells permeated the air, and mariachi music poured out into the streets when restaurant doors opened. Inside, musicians strolled from table to table, dressed in the dashing black and silver of caballeros, strumming guitars and bowing violins with romantic finesse.

Maybe it is because my grandmother loved to take my sister and me to places like Chinatown in Los Angeles, where we would hear the timbre of spoken Mandarin and Cantonese, breathe spicy incense, taste exotic food with wooden chopsticks, and finger cool silks and paper fans in dark, mysterious shops. I remember dressing with care in delicious anticipation of these outings, knowing that we would be allowed to indulge our youthful curiosity while momentarily becoming part of the much envied, grownup world of travel and adventure.