Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wode che zai nar?

I wish I knew.

Remember two weeks ago, when amidst the other panic-inducing factors of my life, I thought my bicycle was stolen, and it turned out to have simply been "hidden" by a staff member at my school "for my own good?"

This time, it's really gone. I left it, locked, outside of my building with 100 other bicycles on Sunday evening, only to discover Monday morning that it had been snatched away in the night like a sixteen-year-old's virtue.

But, I have too many other things to think about at the moment, like my trip to Shanghai/Hangzhou next week, and the nightmarish "retreat" I have to attend this weekend with my fellow-educators, and lessons for students with whom I share a mutual hatred.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One year ago.

One year ago, I was watching The New Pornographers on stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival. It was a rough day, despite the wonderful music that was happening in my ears. I was operating on very little sleep; I had a terrible illness that later caused me to lose my voice for a few days; I was in a romantic situation that was less-than-stellar.

I short, I felt unhappy.

I decided that day--that moment--that I needed to make some changes.

Big changes.

Some of those changes actually happened; some of them even lasted into the present day. Although I had passively considered moving abroad since early last year, I don't think this current trajectory was something I pondered that day. Nevertheless, I'm glad I did this whole "moving to China" thing.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

ZO. M. G.

I love my family:

I loved my weekend almost as much. Another fun party; a great meal with spicy lamb bits; I was "photographed" for two different "magazines" while walking around a superior part of Beijing; danced until dawn; bought a weird T-shirt. Good times.

I AM EATING HOMEMADE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES RIGHT NOW and they are telling me that this weekend should never end.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008


A conversation with a student today:

"Your hair...(giggle)...it is so...(waves hands frantically in the air)...what is it?"
It's curly.
"Yes, curly. Is it real?"
Yes, it's real. Is Vicky's real?
"(giggle) (Vicky's English isn't good enough to know that we're making fun of her perm, so she just stares.)"
"Your hair...is...so beautiful. It is...it is like sunlight."

And then another conversation with a student a mere two minutes later:

"What is this? (Points to her eye)"
It's an eye (stupid).
"No, this (runs her finger along the outline of her eyelid)."
Oh, those are called eyelashes (I write on the board and draw an eye with eyelashes, for anyone else who cares to see). Eyelashes are countable but we usually talk about them all together.
"Your eyelashes...are so long and beautiful."
Um...thank you. (Giggle) They've grown very long in China, to keep the dust out of my eyes.
"(An "I don't understand" giggle.)"

I have a visa for three more months, thanks to the miracle of having a school owner who's very well connected. Praise the heavens (?).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A note to those who live in the US:

How have you been bludgeoned to near-death by Bravo's marketing for PR5 Project Runway 5, and yet failed to inform me of the start of this new season? I officially hate you all.

Classes are not as pleasant this term as they have been in the past. I have, basically, several shitty little shits in each of my classes. Discipline is a skill I haven't even begun to master.

Otherwise, things are pretty fine, I'd say.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008



(This would be slightly more charming if it wasn't being created in class.)


(I think Fighting is one of the authoress' names? One day I'll make a list of my favorite names.)


Item 1: I saw stars for the first time in three months on Saturday evening, while drinking Qingdao on the terrace of a moderately lovely bar overlooking Houhai Lake.

Item 2: The Chinese government has programmed rain to occur on several late evenings these past few weeks. It's been quite nice, falling asleep to the sound of rain pitter-pattering against my porch roof.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

< del >

I could write extensively about the Worst Week of My Life, also known as last week, but I'm going to jump-start the repression process by not discussing it here. Imagine, if you will, every terrible thing possible (short of bodily inj--well, short of fatal bodily injury to yourself or loved ones) happening in one week.

Instead, read this:

In Changing Face of Beijing, a Look at the New China

Sunday, July 6, 2008


No, no, not the commodified Marxist leader (I wonder how Chinese people conceptualize him...project!)--that's Mandarin for bicycle.

After the dreadful discovery of my broken Touch, I needed something to perk me up. I was already planning on buying a bike, and traveled to several rumored "used bike" spots (where one can purchase a stolen bike for practically nothing), with no luck (one was actually swarmed with police cars--a sign of China's attempt to "clean up" in preparation for its greatest two weeks ever). So, I took a trip out (and I mean out--it was a 25RMB cab trip) to the large bicycle market on the outskirts of town. There were hundreds of bikes, both electric and traditional, for every type of man, woman, and child.

I settled upon the below bike, as it was a traditional men's structure (most men ride what we would label women's bikes), pretty, light, automatically-geared (it changes based on how fast I'm going; is this normal?) and reasonably priced (with a basket, lock, and tune-up, it came to less than $60).

Pigeon! Hello friend!

I then spent all day riding it, and have a sore bum to prove it. I discovered so many places that deserve more examination. I ate at a Vietnamese restaurant, bought a really cheap MP3 player to get me through until I figure out how to proceed on that front, and had a delightful day overall.

Also, I happened upon this:

I cannot figure out how I made it through the last three months--nay, the last 6 years--without knowing how amazing the bicycle is as a form of transportation. It's a wind-in-your-greasy-hair feeling that a convertible car can only mimic. I will never live without a bicycle again.

Well, until it gets stolen.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rest in peace, dear friend. (Or come back from the dead, please?)

I really don't mean to complain, nor do I create situations in which problems cling to me like a freshly-tumble-dried sock to the inside of a pant leg. I should count myself lucky to have the experience of experiencing, managing, and solving slightly unusual problems in another country.

A back story, if you don't mind:

I've never been one for personal music players. I dislike being disconnected from my surroundings, and never felt the need to listen to music at all times. I rejected iPods for years on thee (and other) grounds, until finally, this past Christmas, Theo gave me a Nano. I kept it in its package for almost two months, until finally I decided to exchange it for an iPod Touch, since the Touch is the best of almost every world: portable internet, portable video, portable music, portable Chinese-English dictionary, et cetera.

The Touch has become my closest ally in a world of loud cars, louder talkers, and even louder phlegm-flingers. I listen to it constantly--on my way to work, while waiting for lunch, while preparing lessons at Starbucks, while running.

I went for such a run on Friday evening. Although it rained for approximately 7 minutes earlier that evening, the temperature was still well above 90 degrees. As I am wont to do, I produced a good amount of sweat, enough to (as is my hypothesis) allow some hand-sweat to drip into the headphone jack of my iPod Touch. Suddenly, as I was rounding the final stretch, whatever awful running song (I think it was a Crystal Castles tune) I was pounding the pavement to cut out. According to the screen, it was still playing, but my ears suggested otherwise.

When I got home, there was still no sound coming from the machine. Everything else functioned as normal.

I took it to several unlicensed and one licensed Apple repair centers in Tianjin today. The licensed repair center representative told me:

a. There is a chemical at the bottom of the headphone well that turns red when moisture makes contact with it, and it was, indeed, red.

b. To repair the Touch, they need to basically replace the entire strand of metal intestines inside, as there are not generally individual parts to use in repairs.

c. "Sorry! (Awkward laughter)"

So now, in addition to purchasing a bike and a trip to Shanghai this month, I also need to figure out how to replace my best friend, Touchy Touch McTouchesalot.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


So, I went to the hospital today. No, no, I'm fine; I just needed to have something looked at (and received some Chinese medicine that will pretend to solve the problem until I grow tired of worrying about the ailment). It wasn't as "crazy" and "backwards" as I suspected. The exam itself lasted exactly 1/64 of my total time there (the other 63/64 being comprised of wandering hallways, floors, buildings, waiting, being ushered places, and feeling awkward). But! I have another adventure under my belt.

My schedule this month will be dreadful--I'll be teaching from 9:30AM-4:30PM, with an hour lunch break in there somewhere. Plus, I'll be teaching three of the same, middle-level class, which means I'll be having three times less fun than I do now. I'll manage, though I'll desperately miss my wonderful children in the upper levels. One of my students is moving to Australia in three days! I'm quite proud of her.

It's really warm here; in a few days China enters the "very warm" period of time (it's a real thing I'll go into detail about at a later date). The air is thick with moisture and pollution, and yet running is still a possibility.

Yes--I think that's all.