Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Once I really listened the noise just fell away

It's nice to know that the smoky, crisp, clean scent of autumn is a universal phenomenon.

Outward displays of fear, anxiety, and anger provide users with one-month paid vacations to Chicago. Listen and learn, kids.

I'm quite excited, and yet, at the same time, I'm already dreaming about coming back to China. Every day I think of another great place in Tianjin that I need to explore, like a brand-new, dark cafe near my house, or the antiques (rather, "antiques") market, or the many temples (including one near my house).

Get ready, because October is going to involve you with me and many containers of fun.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I wouldn't write about it if it wasn't keeping me awake.

My neighbors make the most unpleasant noises during sex. The man generally speaks in a very squeaky voice day and night (almost Disney character-esque), the sharpness of which increases during intercourse. The woman sort of mews like a cat whose paw is caught in a mouse-trap. It really sounds weepy and concern-worthy.

Doesn't it feel weird to think about Chinese people enjoying sex?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Visa: It's everywhere you want to be.

Hey, remember when I was going to have to return to the US in August to renew my visa, but then miracles happened and I was allowed to stay here for another two months?

Well, it's two months later. And this time, I won't be so lucky (or I'll be very lucky, as the case may be). As rules have changed in the magical bureaucratic world of visa distribution, I will have to return to Chicago for a few weeks to process a shiny new work visa.

There is no downside to this; I get an all-expenses paid trip to my favorite place on earth, I get a raise (!) and continued salary from my job while I'm in Chicago, and I get a vacation away from this awkward little home of mine.

So. Rock. The other upside to this is that I'll be away from school for 1.5 weeks immediately before this, traveling around China with my parents (itinerary pending), so I'll basically get a month-long paid vacation from my spoiled little miscreant students.

My only worry is this: how will I be able to return to China after enjoying a few weeks in Chicago? The first time I left, I was traveling towards a horizon of mystery and excitement and new experiences. This time, I'll be traveling so something I already know. It's only another 6 months, though; I don't think I'll suffer too much. After all, the first six (well, 6 by the time I leave for Chicago) have raced by like a Chinese high-speed train. Or spicy food through my digestive system. Zing!

And on that note: ta. See you on the other side, also known as the good side.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy September 11!

So, you know how people in the US are kind of racist? Well, people in China are kind of racist too. Except, well, they don't mind telling stories about racial profiling in class.

I have this really awesome student who I've taught a few times (and let sneak into classes he wasn't registered for), and we were talking about crime, and I asked if anyone had ever witnessed a crime. Well, Karl witnessed a "crime" a few days ago: he saw a Uighur man "offer someone a cell phone" on the street and called the police because "the cell phone was stolen." he only knows this because the man was from Xinjiang, which means the predominantly Muslim part of China. See, it's kind of like when white people started hating brown-looking people who may have been Muslim after "jiu yo yo."

Chinese people: they're just like us!

Otherwise...yeah, I have too much to do before my parents come. Like, making their visas happen and making their trip happen and also go to Hong Kong for a few stressful days to get a new tempo-visa for myself? My life is a series of Ikea instructions.

Teacher's Day! I got lots of well wishes and mooncakes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Another one bites the dust.

My relaxing weekend ended on an unpleasant note, after I left the supermarket to find that my second bike had been stolen. Can you imagine? Have I not contributed enough to the Chinese economy?

It's a good thing I had it this past week, though, as I had to make hour-long bike treks to the horse-pittle every day to have toxic things injected into my delicate body--a "remedy" I'm fairly certain was all for naught.

Otherwise, this last week marked what I hope will be the last rough month at school. Though I'll be glad for the overtime, I don't think teaching 8 hours a day is something I'll miss.

I traveled to Da Hutong this afternoon, which is the largest distribution center of crap in northern China. If you don't need it or want it, you can easily find it in this square-kilometer quilt of three-story football field-sized showrooms, sewn together by alleyways of stands selling everything from underwear to office supplies. It's quite a sight. You'd think, however, that being China, the fabric markets would be teeming with deals and delightful fabrics. Not so, not so.

I've thus given up on decorating my apartment. The money could be better spent on travel (my end-of-contract trip to India will be far more expensive than I anticipated, it seems) or clothes (fall is around the corner) or food (of which I've eaten far too much these days). I'm only going to live here for another 7 months, and I should probably enjoy the quirky Chinese-ness of my apartment. From the over-sized brown sofas to the hideously scarred walls, it is a part of the experience.

Bu hao.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I had a delightful weekend, all things considered. The "all things" being that I had some surgery on Friday morning and left for Shanghai Friday evening. I still managed to enjoy myself, amidst a few types of awkwardness.

My favorite moment of the weekend occurred at around 7AM on Sunday morning, when I was awoken by a middle-aged woman screaming at the top of her pollution-ravaged lungs. She had, for reasons unknown, decided to scale the side of a building and hang from electrical wires, so that she could reach into her victim's window and throw things from inside of this man's house at him while assaulting him with her staccato soprano melodies. He tried to shut the window on her, pinching fingers and body, without success. I'm not sure what happened in the end, because I was laughing too hard to continue watching. Just another Sunday morning for some, but a freakishly merry sight for others.

Please, please--if you need any sort of surgery (from a lobotomy to the removal of a splinter from your index finger), leave the Asian continent. Srsly.