Shawn

一个多余的人,全部天赋仅够写过期的日记。

英文习作|Chatting with Jennifer

这辈子第二次尝试用英文写作。

@職女 Jennifer is an active content producer on Matters, I came to know her earlier this year, shortly after I wrote an essay about Taiwanese writer Weng Nao as requested by Jeger, editor of Suffix, a renowned “virtual literature magazine” on Matters.

One day Jennifer left a comment beneath Jeger’s newly posted article, I saw it and, for unclear reasons, commented that “I want to ‘experience’ Jennifer’s English”. My wish wasn’t ignored, at least two content producers within Jeger’s (inner) circle responded by suggesting I interview Jennifer in English, and Jennifer herself also responded encouragingly.

Then I started socializing with Jennifer on Liker Social (LS) and we chatted a lot in English, a language (in which) I read nearly everyday but rarely have any chance to write or speak. Jennifer’s English is reasonably good, and I tried my best to use my second language elegantly, both of us seemed to enjoy the chat. 

Nobody was interviewed, we chatted freely and informally. Or it’s more like I was the one who was “interviewed”, Jennifer asked short and simple questions, meanwhile I returned with lengthy answers. I talked fearlessly about myself-the hell with my privacy! As a man with “sinful longings, sinful thoughts and sinful acts”(a quote from James Joyce), I just couldn’t squander such a golden chance of self-confessing.


JENNIFER

Hi Shawn, not sure if it's a technical issue, I saw your messages this morning, but could not find it now, when I am about to reply.

SHAWN

Yeah I sent you two messages, both of which have vanished, it’s weird. Maybe a message with an emoji like “❤️” was not tolerated here.

Two months ago I talked a great deal with Jeger, where have all those chatting records gone? Is LS a reliable platform? It seems that old messages were covered by new ones, I’ve got to be more familiar with how LS works.

Jennifer, I really appreciate your kindness, you are so kind as to sacrifice your precious time to chat with me, a broken middle-aged guy, a womanizer.

 “If only I had money!” I constantly think, she would not have left me. I am talking about the lady who run a foot massage parlor.

Note: One of Jennifer’s responding messages under Jeger’s article had the emoji “❤️”, which I copied and pasted to one of my vanished messages, which was roughly written as “don’t you think a message with an emoji like ‘❤️’ was too encouraging”?

JENNIFER

I'm reading your new article out of curiosity. What’s your advice/thoughts on marriage?

SHAWN

As a man trapped in a dysfunctional marriage, I wonder if I am in the right position to give advices/thoughts. 

It’s very unfortunate that I was forced to get married. If I were still unmarried above a certain age, it would have been a big shame to the family. My father didn’t care about what kind of woman I marry, he just didn’t want to lose face.

Nor did I care. When I dated with my wife, I knew my high school crush was married, so I couldn’t care less about whomever else I date with and marry-which was deadly unfair to my wife.

JENNIFER

Appreciate your honest words! I hope my offensive curiosity doesn't scare you away. Self-awareness and self-reference are two attractive features of your articles, which force me to dig further. Please don't feel obligated to answer the following two questions, just ignore them if you are not comfortable:

1) Does your father ask for a grandchild?

2) How do you and your wife communicate on your career or even life decisions?

SHAWN 

Honestly, you haven’t dug deep enough and your questions are so easy, I would like to answer them as below:

 1) I have a lovely daughter, this August she will be five. As I wrote in my journal, last February my father raised the topic of ”a second child”, “it doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or a boy!” he said, but I knew he expected a grandson. The funny thing was, my marriage has been sexless since the birth of my daughter. Nobody is physically ill or abnormal, we just “dislike” each other to such an extent that having sex becomes a mission impossible.

 2) It’s very sad that we still live under the same roof-we have only one apartment. In my journal I disclosed some details of my marriage and showed my envy of Paul Theroux’s marriage(in his essay on The New Yorker Paul Theroux described how satisfied he was with his wife). My wife and I stopped communicating, we even don’t eat together.

JENNIFER 

Glad to know you wish me to dig more. In pursuit of happiness, I believe your courage and eager for love will help a lot. So Theroux's description is your ideal kind of marriage/relationship?

SHAWN

For me, both of Paul Theroux’s marriage and career as a writer are too dreamlike to be true. I still feel sorry for my father, when he cautiously mentioned “a second child”, he wouldn’t imagine, even in his worst nightmare, that my sexless marriage had entered the fourth year.

JENNIFER 

Even though you said those words plainly, I can still sense the struggle between your lines, I suppose that’s what urges you to write. (I believe sometimes I saw the pulse in your prose.)

SHAWN 

I write because I failed in everything else I did, and have nothing else to do now, I have been out of work for more than three years. By the way,“struggle” is a high-frequency word in my writings, I just like it.

JENNIFER

Wow, let me share more when I finish some of your articles. At the same time, it seems that you have read a wide variety of writers. Are you interested in developing a series of articles, introducing the works or writers that inspire or cure you, or that you just simply admire? Let's say it could be an article a month with remuneration of 100 LikeCoin per article. (Apologize it's not much at this stage)

SHAWN 

Yes I am interested, I never rule out writing book reviews, though I may prefer to write about myself. 100 LikeCoin is a decent sum, I don’t write for money.

JENNIFER 

Hooray! Glad to hear that. Will let you know more details by this week.

SHAWN

Do you mean writing (book reviews) in English?

JENNIFER 

There's no language limitations, but I personally recommend using Mandarin.

I'm planning to launch a supplement(副刊)-I’m not sure if I am using the right word. Below is the vision & mission(in traditional Chinese), I will let you know more details soon.

「美好的文學作品出生時泛著光,埋藏在土裡,埋藏在地下,等待讀者翻開書封,等待讀者開啟網頁,品味出感觸。《地下 Underground》作為《後綴》副刊,期與 Matters 認真的作者們一同無畏的創作,與 Matters 愛字的讀者們一同向光的尋覓。」

To add on, yes, it's about what you read or what you would like to recommend! It could be an introduction, or your feeling/criticism/experience toward the works.

I'm asking because I really admire the way your prose develop and how you analyze youself to a certain extent!

SHAWN 

Thanks for your kind words. I would like to share with you two book reviews I wrote last year.

JENNIFER

Fascinating! How could I miss them before! Damn algorithm!

SHAWN

Thanks for your reading and supporting, I just pretended to write book reviews, which was all about ME!

JENNIFER 

Yeah! Hope to see more of your unique books reviews soon!! Please refer to the document attached and let me know if any confusion or feedback.

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英文習作|Letter to Bertha

被解构的心得文|读《天亮前的恋爱故事》

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