P.S. A Break Up Letter

Dear Taiwan,

You’re so cute. Look at you, under all of your umbrella-riddled glory. Oh my god! Is that a peace sign you’re making with your fingers? Peace be with you too. Can a Jew even say that? This one can!

Listen, I’ve been reading through some old emails from my pen pal — you would love her, she’s this really sassy lawyer from Brooklyn who calls inanimate objects “cunts” — and I found this at the end of one of them:

“P.S. One of our neighbors died in his apartment and no one found him until the smell became unbearable and shit started leaking through the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling.”

- Really Sassy Brooklyn Lawyer

She added this to the end of her 1,700-word letter. She wrote a thousand and seven hundred words before mentioning that she lived with a corpse for a few days. Do you get it now? Do you understand why I need to move back to the States?

Oh please don’t cry, Taiwan. Think about the good times you and I’ve had. Remember when I accidentally got my nose pierced in Ximending? Or what about that 44-year-old you set me up with because he was the only Jewish man in Taipei? I will cherish all of those memories.

If it weren’t for you I would’ve never known that coagulated pig’s blood tastes so good or how to order coffee in Mandarin. You flushed my system with so much green tea that I’ve regained the body I had in college and the skin I had in kindergarten. Who knew I could look this good? Maybe if I stayed with you for a little bit longer people would begin to confuse me for one of the gorgeous Asian models strutting through your streets.

I know you love me more than America does. I know. Without your reasonable cost of living and attention to design, I would’ve never found my beautiful and affordable apartment on Yongkang Street. Plus, you taught me what a disposable income is! You really are the best.

I am not leaving you because Taiwanese men find me abrasive. It’s because I am in love with another city. I wish I could change my feelings about New York, but you know that I can’t. Okay, yes, sometimes New York steals money from me, but she’ll pay it back. She promised. And that STD she gave me cleared up on its own, so it probably wasn’t even a real STD.

When I got out of work the other day the taxi driver cheerfully yelled out my address before I said anything. Can you believe it? He made me feel like I’ve officially driven in every cab and met every person there is to meet in Taiwan. I know this isn’t true, but feelings usually don’t mirror truth.

Here’s the thing – and this is the last time I will try to explain this to you – I don’t want waiters to know my order. I don’t want taxi drivers to know where to take me. I don’t want the safety, predictability and stability you have given me. Not because it’s not nice – it’s the nicest! – but it’s just not me.

I am loud. I am erratic. I am American. America is my home. It’s where my family is. It’s where my friends are. If I were to be quite honest with you, I am leaving because I am scared. I am scared that if I die in my beautiful and affordable apartment on Yongkang street no one will find my body until the smell becomes unbearable and the shit starts leaking through the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling.


Marina V. Shifrin

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23 thoughts on “P.S. A Break Up Letter

  1. Julia says:

    I have been reading your blog for a little while now. I am always pretty excited to read a new post from you and always want more once I’m through. I really enjoyed this because your writing makes me smile. Thank you Marina.

  2. Although I stumbled across your blog like I’m sure most of your recent followers have you’ve been an inspiration to me. So much so that I have started a blog of my own and ironically enough it starts with a break up letter. I’d be so honored if you would read it sometime.

    • Hey, Hey! I’d love to read it. Can you put the link here? I am sure there is some more sophisticated way to find it, but that would involve and understanding of the internet.

  3. Sean says:

    Great writing as usual! Best of luck on the next step in your journey. I’m looking forward to hearing about it. Take care and God bless.

  4. Joe says:

    We look forward to being graced with your presence once again.
    I don’t believe that there will be any need to announce your arrival in NYC. I have it on good authority that your voice is not decibel-challenged.
    I live close (Silicon Valley), so please try to keep it down.

    Welcome back,

  5. alex says:

    Well, each time when someone asks me if I am ever homesick, I always reply, “When I am hungry.”

    If it surprising that you needed to learn Mandarin to order coffee.

  6. Nevsyo Li Ravno says:

    Марина, Ваше знаменитое видео и Ваш блог прелестны (you know that already but still). Ваш английский восхитителен. Дай вам Бог хотя бы столько же приятных минут в жизни, сколько Вы уже подарили людям. Best Regards и коль-а-кавод из Тель-Авива!

    • Привет!

      Спасибо за такой хороший комментарий, красиво написано. Я должна извиниться за мою плохую русскую граматику. Мне очень понравилось то, что вы написали! Жаль, что я не могу писать (на русском языке) как вы, поэтому я думаю, что я буду придерживаться английского.

      Еще раз спасибо,


  7. Carlos says:

    Your write some funny, sometimes suprisingly deep stuff.
    Please keep us posted on your job changes… I think there’s a couple million people who want you to succeed ;-)

  8. Mrunal Rao says:

    Hello Marina,
    I am a big fan of yours from India. Loved your video, loving your writing. Great Stuff. Waiting for your next stand up comedy video.


  9. D says:

    Lovely post! I found your blog via your video and it seems quite interesting! I never thought that as a 15 year old guy, I would enjoy this type of writing! Thanks!

    As with New York City, I have mixed opinions of it. I visited for one week a year ago with my parents, but I guess that’s not sufficient—obviously I’m missing the party life and such. It was too crowded for my liking.

    Once again, thanks for the great post! Keep writing!

  10. Alex Yamet says:

    Marina, thank you in general for the always fabulous writing, and specifically for putting being an erratic, abrasive and often lonely American expat into colorful perspective.

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