Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just an ugly, yellow, no-good keister.

I am SO Kevin McCallister this Christmas. Ugh.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I really can't complain, since Chicago has been repeatedly shat upon by Jack Frost, but it snowed here in Tianjin late Saturday night. I was having drinks at a tiny, one-party-at-a-time bar in a hutong in Beijing, followed by a 4AM game of Risk, and the sky was perfectly clear there. But when I traveled back to TJ at 6AM, I discovered that the city essentially shuts down at the mere suggestion of snow, even if it is only 2-3cm high. Since there aren't any snow plows here, snow removal consists of clumps of 20 police officers and city workers using digging shovels (not the practical, wide-mouthed snow shovels we're so familiar with), brooms, and odd easel-looking snow-pushing contraptions to casually move snow from one square meter of space to another. It's been three days since the snowstorm (which dropped about 2 inches of snow on this fair city), and even the most heavily-traveled, 8-lane roads are still frosted with black snow that feels like creamed butter and sugar, forcing already-slow drivers to lurch at snailspeeds. Preposterous.

I busted my leg up amidst the snowy mayhem; as I lept over a fence separating the bike lane from the car lanes, I slipped got my foot caught in it, creating some really sexy scabs and bruises. Thanks for this delightful Christmas gift, China! I'll cherish it forever.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A simple thought.

I would rather have freedom and crime than oppression and safety.

My Australian friend Jared (a US citizen, but a life-long resident of The Land Down Under) regularly talks about how afraid he is when he travels in America. He worries about our lax gun laws, the constant crime he reads about in international coverage of the US, about the man who was murdered in a fast-food restaurant near the house he was staying at when working for the Obama campaign this fall.

Perhaps I've lived a life sheltered from the realities of the United States. I've never lost a friend to the gunfire that plagues the south side of Chicago; I've never been robbed or gay-bashed or struck by a drunk driver.

But still. When I think of the sort of fear employed against Chinese citizens--the petty, Orwellian brand of Fear that calls for blocking the New York Times website, that gives neighbors the right to spy on each other, that keeps my students silent about the problems they have with their city government, that intoxicates police officers with the power to casually roam through a dry-cleaning business, that permits the guards of my apartment complex to skulk around our buildings and shine flashlights in our windows, I am compelled to trade every exposed political crook, every stray bullet, every out-of-work friend, every bigoted Prop 8 "yay" voter, every desperate pick-pocketer for this foolishness.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2 of Clubs.

Things I value about Chinese clubs, which exist solely because Chinese people have nothing to say to each other and therefore need distractions when they're out and about:

1. Playboy "bunnies" (a.k.a. very sad, possibly trafficked girls who "dance" on the "dance floor")
2. Champagne flutes descending from the ceiling holding waifish Chinese female dancers
3. The black-and-white-striped, pleasantly overweight girl who danced by herself all night long
4. Skeleton-clad male dancers on a high platform, successfully bringing back the robot dance
5. The charming, typical 90s ghetto girl in a frilly pink Wonderbra, baggy cargo pants, and construction boots
6. A tall Chinese man singing the Backstreet Boys ubiquitous "Everybody" on a stage
7. A short, stout Chinese man singing "In Da Club" by...possibly, 50 Cent? on a stage. I'm not well-versed enough in pop-rap to know.
8. Chinese people. They're so CUTE!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Queenie's Lunch

I have lunch at school yesterday.
I book the lunch with Jess and we ate "(some random assortment of letters)."
I thing it's ditishes and it has all litter hot.
There has so many carrot in it.
Carrot is good for my health.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happ(ier) Christmas

Apparently, my parents found my previous Sufjan Christmas song to be "too sad." This is infinitely cheerier.

Off to begin my month of teaching 4 classes, while training to be the new "head teacher" (which is beyond stupid, as I'll only be in that role for one month before returning to the US).

Its Christmas! Lets Be Glad! - Sufjan Stevens

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I have twins in one of my evening classes. Peter and Mark are identical in appearance and intellect; their only distinguishing characteristic (from the perspective of a teacher who only sees them thrice a week for an hour) is that Mark wears red-accented glasses and Peter wears white-accented glasses. Otherwise, they wear identical clothes (ubiquitous tracksuits that are standard-issue uniforms in all Chinese high schools), have identical hairstyles (a conservative Troll doll look), and speak for identical periods of time with identically-correct answers.

It's so odd to think of twins in the context of a post-One Child Policy China. I asked Peter (I think), "What is the biggest challenge of being a twin?" He promptly, perhaps tellingly, perhaps critically, replied, "Often, our teachers cannot tell us apart."

Thursday, December 4, 2008


It is so dusty here that people must brush off their cars in the morning (and, presumably, throughout the day) so that they can see through the dashboard. Combined with the Chicago-style wind and desert-like dryness, it will be an odd winter.

Fortunately, my ears have been reunited with the brilliance that is the Sufjan Stevens Christmas album set.

Sister Winter - Sufjan Stevens

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Heart ESL.

When I was described once, insultingly, as an ESL speaker, I don't think the blow-deliverer had people like my students in mind. For example, I have a cold right now (well, it's either a cold, or a sinus infection, or bodily reaction to the extreme dryness one experiences in Tianjin). Although usually my students react to my coughing fits in class with silent disgust, I just got an E-mail from a student wishing me the best of luck in "staying away from diseases." I have a disease! How cute.