Thursday, July 9, 2009

Suffering - China Blocks Facebook/Twitter and anything meaningful in my life.

The reason I haven't posted in so long is because I couldn't access my Gblog in China, neither on my laptop or the desktop. I wondered if China blocked Gblog, but then, I would see no reason why. Hmm, then again, I have sufficiently bashed their country and declared the Chinese people hopelessly brainwashed.

I am back in the states now, and it feels fantastic. I am so blessed to live in such a powerful, clean country with non-backward policies. Yes, policies that are front-ward. China is crowded, dirty, polluted and full of Chinese people who gawk and stare. I lived in a city by myself for 5 months, and so I have the right to say whatever I want.

I have resigned myself to that anyway.

It breaks my heart that I can't feel loving and nurturing toward them, or most people for that matter, when all I want in life is to be kind. There is no fault in kindness, and it's not naivety. The problem is that I have seen too much of live - I have experienced more than most people have. What does that even mean? I have "experienced more." What a vague thing to say! Who even needs to experience the world?

I am infamous for my second-guessing. It's what I do best, that and my indecision. No absolutes, eh?

In America, I marvel over the beauty and the open blue skies and trees and emptiness. You can go out on the street and run for half a mile without seeing a soul, then you descend upon a man watering his flowers. Or you might see a woman wearing a tennis visor pushing a double-stroller. You might even say hi to these people. And their kids if they happen to be running about under the sprinkler. In China, you wake up because you hear something. What do you hear? Different noises - they vary from day-to-day. This is simply the difference between city life and country-life, and anyone in America living in a city would experience this. Yes, city-dwellers all wake to hammering and drilling for the new building next door, or children playing outside (b/c Lord knows school children must get up earlier than any working adult will ever have to, and I am glad those days are long over). But, the difference between living in Manhattan and even a "small-city" in China is huge. Everything bad and obnoxious wavers on the Chinese side. It's good you can get taxis though. Fuck China and its over-population problems and pollution. It's disgusting to those of us with an aesthetic eye. I want to be somewhere beautiful with someone beautiful and I want to be in love. Why am I no where near these things? So funny that right now I do happen to be near those things. I am right there. I am in beautiful America, and the person I love does live here. But instead, I choose ugliness. Why? Do I love to suffer?

I think I just don't want to give up the Chinese language.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just got over tonsillitis in the middle of no where China

Tonsillitis sucked. Being sick in China sucked. Not knowing what is going on sucks.

I had no idea what was wrong with me. I went out with friends out night...some spicy hot pot...and I noticed my lymph nodes were starting to tighten up. What am I fighting? No mind...bring on the spicy food. But not too spicy. (I, of course, order the non-spicy sauce to mix with the spicy food because my tolerance for the spice is below average, needless to say. 我还没习惯了很辣的菜。。。在美国没有吃).

The next morning was death. No, death came later. The next morning was so bad I had to cancel my morning job and go directly to the hospital. The doctor looked down my throat, "Yep, there's a problem in there," and prescribed me to an abundance of pills, none of which works. By Tuesday, I was back at the hospital, cursing to myself and crying by myself. That fucked doctor. Fucker, didn't even bother to take my temperature or nothin'. god dammit. miss western medicine. fuck.

So I see another doctor, and by this time my tonsils have formed white spots. Large white spots that start on my tonsils and work their wayd down deep deep deep to where I can no longer see them. Are they lining my entire esophagus? What the fuck is this? Every concievable illness went through my mind - mono, tonsillitis, strep, gonorhea of the mouth - Everything. I researched for days, probably knowing just as my much as my 20-something doctors. Yeah, that's right, my doctor's were probably my age. One of my doctors was actually 20. I couldn't believe it and still can't. Obviously they aren't schooled the same way American doctors are. In America, if you're a doctor, you have reached the pinnacle. You have worked hard, studied hard, and now the rest of your life will pay off with fat checks, bomb ass cars and private schools for you kids. China. No Way. Way Different. The doctors are paid like 2000 RMB a month starting out, at least here in Sichuan. It's not such a prominent position.

Anyway, so they sorta figured out what my disease was (accute tonsillitis and upper-respiratory infection, although I dont believe that upper-respiratory infection shit and think they just rationalized it themselves out of convenience. You know...American who is used to fresh air suddenly arrives in China and CANT BREATHE). I went to the hospital daily for IV injections of anti-virals and anti-infections, and finally I am sure but with a hefty hospital bill to pay off.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"There's basically Nothin" - Here I am in China

Didn't realize how long it had been since I posted. Guess I haven't had much to share. More of the same. To me. To you...well there is no you because I have no fans. I can't write worth a shit, so it's no wonder no one logs on to read my blog. Maybe it's the lack of publicity, but I don't think I have the courage to display that I blog somewhere publicly, such as my Facebook.

The days go by so quickly. I only teach at 川教 3 days out of the week, and then the other two are Elementary School classes. I have one tomorrow bright and early, but today I slept most of the day, and so I won't be going to bed anytime soon. That is unless I take sleeping pills my dad so kindly sent me.

Last week and the week before I was in a great mood. I was confident and feeling pretty and full of energy. I met a lot of people and had fun. I enjoy social gatherings with lots of know...drinking and eating. Now I am on a low-slope. I will just say that. I met someone and it went quickly awrye. Perhaps it was the language barrier, or maybe it was just me being stupid. Anyway, I am not really one to write on a public blog about personal issues, only if I can do such in a discreet way.

I am beginning to understand 四川话。 I cannot speak it, but I can understand more and more of it. It's a lot like 普通话 but words seem more drawn out...almost like an octave lower. I cannot describe the way it sounds, nor can I describe standard Chinese, but I am starting to understand it. And I understand that people, friends my age do nothing about talk about boyfriends and girlfriends and which province has the best looking girls ("Sichuan") and where one can meet guys. It's really annoying. I mean I am boy crazy, but in America, our conversations are not focused on looks and whether we can meet a man to marry before we're 27. Everyone notes how strange it is that Rod, the Englishman, is not married with kids at 42. I have to say this is quite normal.

Monday, April 13, 2009


is Tuesday

Demonstrations of Racism in China

The other day I brought a bunch of magazines to class (yes, a "bunch," the classic American counting-word, as my British friend jokes). My parents had sent me a package with magazines and different movies. I told them I desperately needed American entertainment and that I also wanted to show my students magazines, books and movies from back home. The must-have magazines are, of course, In Touch and Elle and a few other girl-ish magazines. Bright pictures of Britney Spears showing off her newer, fuller figure, children and more children surrounding Brad and Angelina, what magazine could be a better way to teach Chinese students about American culture? And I had an idea of just how to do it - they would read the magazines together, in groups, and then their groups would come to the front of the classroom and present an article, advertisement or picture that interested them. Simple enough, yes?

Unfortunately, I only had a limited amount of In Touch magazines (5 I believe), then Homes and Gardens, National Geographic (they kept calling it National Geography), Readers Digest, Conservation Today and then The New Yorker.

Sorry...brief pause. I just got a call from my boss's assistant, Tony, who asked me to come over to talk with him and Rod at the hospital. Rod is "sick," and sice Tony cannot understand his English, I had to go translate into Chinese and Chinglish so that Tony could comprehend the mysterious ailment. (Rod is always ailing. He is plagued and no one can understand him.) This experience at the local hospital is worth noting, not for my sake, but for Rod's. I experienced his culture-shock vicariously. I did not feel the shock of being in a Chinese Western Hostpital, nay, Rod did, for I have spent time in Chinese hospitals in Shanghai, where I was amazed at the smokers in the waiting rooms. Anyway, Rod insisted something is wrong with him and that it might be diabetes. He continued to question why the doctor wasn't diagnosing him with something and the questioning why the doctor did not either check his blood pressure or check his urine. It's because no one understood him! He was shocked, and out of the street, to me, he said, "And that's a Western hospital, right? I mean that's not where they practice traditional medicine, and yet they give me this paper drinking cup to piss in?" So it goes at Chinese hospitals.

Back to my story about racism and magazines.

So I dished out the magazines. One magazine, one group. And then they got to work. I went around to each group to discuss some of the different pictures and advertisements. Some of the magazines were harder than others (National Geographic and The New Yorker), and so I spent extra time with the students reading from those magazines, and also reading from newspapers (both USA Today and the local Bristol Herad Courier). For the easy magazines, I simply told the students, "Ok, for your presentation, you can simply do a skit of buying or selling some of these products, or maybe you want to take a survey of who likes which model more or which movie is the best." The New Yorker did not have much for struggling learners, but they managed with the few pictures and comics the magazine does have (though I seriously doubt they understand joke-pictures such as a man walking in front of a camera saying, "That's my mockumentarist." Ha.Ha.Ha.) Anyway, there did happen to be an article about China in this issue (February issue with John Updike's stories and life after his death), and in this article race and the treatment of blacks is stressed. Really, the article is through the eyes of a Nigerian businessman who has come to Guangzhou for import-export business, but in this giant city (the largest in the south), an African inevitably has to deal with racism. As the article notes, the taxi drivers call an area of blacks, "Chocolate City." The article talks a lot of about violence to Africans over the years, such as in Chinese Universities in the 1980s, and the article also goes in depth about racism present today in China, in Guangzhou, where blacks don't trust Chinese, and Chinese don't trust blacks. I imagine a lot of this distrust is rooted in money. They're trying to rip us off. Those shrink-eyed Chinks. Those filthy niggers.

Ok. Now, here, me, pondering this article after I read it. I am in shock to a point I almost can't breathe. I want to cry out because of all the ignorance and misunderstandings in the world. My throat closes up and my eyes start to water, just for people who fail to recognize something beyond themselves. But what good does trying and trying to understand do? Racism is ingrained in their minds. They have been taught about racial hierarchies throughout their brainwashed lives. I know they are brainwashed because I witnessed it. I witnessed my college students (COLLEGE STUDENTS) preaching about the greatness of their country and the greatness of the government and its policies. Sure, they spoke about the expedited action when the earthquate struck this very province, but they still never question. They truly believe in an omniscient, omnipresent service. The People's Republic and its actions. Can you imagine not questioning things? I am constantly told by Chinese people what is right, what is healthy and what is wrong. Yet when I ask, "Says who?" or "Who told you that?" They get this confused look on their face, like that isn't a question to be asked. I have been taught that, and therefore what I am telling you must be true. The Tiananmen Square Massacre, by God, it's the fault of the students.

Anyway, a slight tangent, but racial typologies exist and will continue to exist - in poetry, in old literature, in culture, in society. It is all there. When they were young, they read the timeless words 4th century B.C. Zuozhuan, who talked about those of a different color having a different mind and those with fair skin having more intelligence. They read poetry about the Shijing princess who had fingers "like blades of the young white grass." Sure, when Mao came along, these racial typologies were challenged, but they still remain today. This is what comes of a closed country, and one day China will suffer from it!

So, I just wanted to let my students know just how racist they are. Sure, you're nice and sweet to me, but, deep down, you are a die-hard racist, and if a nigger walked into this classroom right now, you would call him poor and be distrusting of him. You would think I am rich, as I am a white American, and if this nigger were from America, you would question it. I wanted to let my students know that they're racist Chinks.

And so, as some of my students browsed boredly through The New Yorker (a fabulous piece of literary journalism), I opened to this very passage and dictated. You see, Sally, this article talks about how Chinese people are racist. Do you know what that means? Do you see this picture? These are Nigerians working in Guangzhou. Yes, they are working alongside Chinesemen. What? You don't think they're businessmen? Well, dammit, they are. Just because they're from Africa does not mean they aren't businessmen. Anyway, the article goes on to talk about how racist China is and how it is engrained in your system since...well...since forever. But it also goes on to say that racism is getting better. You, in fact, are starting to like black people more.

And I am just as racist. I make too many points to defend black people here. I have all but convinced my classes that Rihanna is my favorite singer, both her and Beyonce. One of my students didn't like Rihanna because she "doesn't like that type." What do you know - she likes the milky-white complexion type. This is coming from a girl covered in pimples who wears acid-washed, dirty jeans.

I read this article

Suining, China - no man's land

I will further write about my experience in Suining, Sichuan, a medium sized city of 300,000 tucked nicely between Chongqing and Chengdu. 我会在这里当一年的老师, 我学校教四川职业技术学院. I will teach English the remainder of this semester, break all summer, and then teach next semester. I'm here alone.


Suining is really an interesting place, touched only by Western thought through commercial goods. There is little Western-living they can imitate, as there are no Westerners living here. (Western is such a bad term, but I use it when speaking of, oh I don't want to say it, I guess the developed part of the world. Japan included.) As I have said, I am one of 4...foreigners in this city. There is Rod Stevenson, an Englishman who spent the past 5 years teaching English in Thailand. Then there's Dahai, a Canadian whose real name is Gilles, but since he is married to a Chinese woman and seems keen on staying-forever in China, we all call him Dahai. Btw, his Chinese is horrendous. And now, there's a black guy named James. I no little about him, only that either his mother or father is from America and the other is from Cameroon. I am not sure what his native language is, but I am pretty sure it is not English. He kept leaving out important verbs in sentences, such as "to be." Then again, that could have been the alcohol.

Okay, now, it is clear I am not a journalist. I have nothing newsworthy to write about. I can only compare 2 cultures - mine and this backward, timewarped China. And my reflections are noteworthy, mind you. Mind you, you haughty Westerner who has flown to Shanghai, to Beijing and to Hongkong. You haughty Westerner who has stayed in 5 Star hotels and experienced only the best delacacies of China with your English-speaking host. (I am joking. But you may be better groomed than I.) I can only afford to live here, and yet my experiences are immense. What I have gained just by seeing China life as it really is can be a lifetime of cultural knowledge for your average person. I do not know what I am trying to say. But the difference of living between here, Suining, and Shanghai is different.

But there are always just your poor, Chinese men. They exist everywhere, and their lives consist of maintaining a living for themselves and their family. (My previous post comments on living-wages in China and the importance of the family when it comes to living.) Today I realized that I haven't recognized him enough...this simpleton...this average fellow. I have not recognized the tri-cycle man with his worn tennis shoes.

Or maybe he has new tennis shoes, shoes that are white and clean and do not seem to match the rest of his tattered outfit and tattered look. His shoes are new and white, and his pants are gray, rolled up, revealing dirty, tanned legs. His fingers are dirty, as he lifts and cigarette to his mouth and scans the crowd. He is looking for a customer. He is looking for a man, woman or child to board his tri-cycle for a 5-10 minute ride. His pay will be 2 yuan.

I have not thought of this man enough. Aye, I am that haughty Westerner. I walk around with my headphones in my ears. I keep a fast pace. And I wear nice clothes...nice clothes that match and could be expensive...I mean they look expensive. That is because I do not go out of my way to be showy or flashy. Chinese people simply do not realize the paradox of the clothes they wear. In wearing expensive looking jewels and lots of colors, they actually look poorer. The need to understand the age old lesson of "less is more." But, as I was saying, this does not matter. This materialism I obsess over does not matter. I need to consider the poor Chinese man more.

and if the man needs to be considered more, the woman certainly does

Sunday, April 12, 2009

China pics

Wages at KFC go further in America

Back to what I was saying about love of motherland. Maybe the students aren't brainwashed. Maybe their speeches about their love for China is simply the easiest thing they know how to say. I find myself doing that often, when speaking Chinese. I say, "Yes, I liked that movie," when what I really wanted to say was, "Well, I don't really like action movies...I prefer movies with nice imagery and good dialogue." So, maybe, the students couldn't fathom how to say words such as, "Every country in the world is great if you have the right mindframe."

They wanted to say, "So long as you are happy, your country, your people and everything around you is happy." Sure...that's what they wanted to say.

But nah, they are brainwashed. They saw no reason to compare their country to any other country. They see no reason, zero, to question anything. They don't even read the news. Hell, who is to blame them, they can't read the news.

I am beginning to understand China though. I am really starting to get a grasp of the culture and emphasis on family. It call comes back to the population. The population of China is over 1.3 billion. The population of America is 1 billion less. Imagine that! One billion less! For countries similar in size (actually America is slightly larger at 9.8 km2 and China at 9.6). Population can strain a country and its, living spaces.

I have pondered living wages here and what they afford compared to that of the states, the the difference is phenomenal. I will demonstrate the living standard discrepancy by comparing wages at an organization in both countries: KFC. Here, a worker makes 4.2 yuan an hour. In the states, around 7 dollars an hour. Now - what can a little over 4 an hour buy you here in China? A toothbrush. 4 rolls of toilet paper. A stack of vegetables. A noodle meal. 4 apples. Next, what can 7 dollars an hour buy you in America? A meal at an inexpensive restaurant. Toothpaste and a toothbrush. Maybelline Foundation. a six-pack. The hourly wage goes further in America than in China! This is appalling. When my student told me about her job at KFC, she talked about it in a positive way. She said, "Actually, KFC isn't such a bad place to work. They give you the day off on your workday and let you have free food." Yeah, great. That is well and great, and I am not trying to make a point about the working conditions. My only point is about the hourly wage and what you can do with that hourly wage.

Since it's been established that you cannot do as much with your money in China, I will go into the importance of the family. Family is needed. You cannot live by yourself living off KFC wages, really. You need to work together with the rest of your family, accumulate your wages, and then, only then, can you have a proper lifestyle. Workers go to America, not to improve their lives, but to improve the lives of their families. It would be a wonder to meet a Chinese American who has completely amputated himself from his or her Asian ties.

Further Culture Shock Revealed

As a judge at an English-speaking contest, I was appalled. Out of 25 speakers, 20 spoke about their love of China. Patriotic, sure, there is nothing wrong with patriotism. But these speeches were completely different. They revealed no questioning of why China is great. There was only the underlying fact that "Hey we live in the best country in the whole world." There were varying titles - some being "I Love China," "Why I love my motherland," "The Great China," and so on. They all gave very similar speeches, praising their homelands beautiful rivers, rolling mountains, friendly people, and revealing to me the sad situation of a half-century of Brainwash.

I scoffed and laughed out loud when some students said the line, "Whenever foreigners come to visit our China, they always say how wonderful and beautiful it is."

I had to congratulate the students who picked topics besides their love for China.

It's no wonder I have a hard time with my students being creative. Creativity is not this country's forte.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Droppings on the street.

Today is just another day. My days seem to go so fast. It's already noon, already Friday, already almost mid-April. Maybe I will be home before I know it. My plans are so up in the air though. Certainly seems my weeks are flying by, and I can't even attribute that to being kept busy. I have somehow fooled people into thinking I am a busy beaver, though. Life is all about time.

Tonight I will be a judge in some English-speaking competition. My students all have pretty bad English, English I cannot understand, as they insist on mumbling and not enunciating. They don't even try most of the time. If I can understand what they're saying - forget grammar - then they will be the winner. Grammar is one thing you have to repeatedly overlook when listening to a Chinese speaker with English. Rather annoying having my days spent with Chinese people who can't speak English. I know I am not one to talk, as my Chinese is no better, but what is annoying is having their words stuck in my head: How do you call this? We will eat what he cook last night. So how about your weekend? So what do you do this weekend? Do you get to Chongqing last weekend? What about this lunch? How do you call this in English?

Phrases and words just stuck in my head, repeated over and over and over. Can you imagine the headache I have? I get annoyed with English speakers! That's part of the reason I hated my last 2 jobs in Bristol. The people just couldn't speak!!

Anyway - I don't mean to sound insensitive. I feel I might come off that way. I am trying to be funny in some way, but I guess my humor is too dry and might offend some people. I have had to learn this the hard way over the years...and as of late.

I am too inhibited right now. I can't say what I fully what to express.

Monday, April 6, 2009

China is choking on growth.

After it rains, the mountain behind my apartment complex is startingly clear. I can see the texture of the trees and the temple and everything around. It's sad that only happens once in a while. Most everything around me is always a dreary gray. Fits my mood.

Seriously though - this country is hugely polluted and the environment is no where near the forefront of people's minds. I am not much one to speak, but now that I am faced with tragic proportions of pollution, I cannot help but be outraged. Yes China is growing stronger, better and is modernizing. But at what cost? And are the people really becoming more educated? They still litter and smoke and pay no mind to the world around them. All they care about is themselves and their families and making money. And here I was thinking I was apathetic.

I dunno...just some thoughts. I am going to go running. Here I go - through the air and dust and smoke and hopefully I will reach the finish line.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Probably going to walk to a temple today and write

Not a lot is going on this fine afternoon. At least the weather has warmed up. Last week was a dreadful chilly mess, and when Rod said, "They honeymoon is over for you," I had to disagree. There was no honeymoon. Everything has been dark, dreary and sad since I got off the plane, and not one day has gone by where I have no desperately missed my America.

So, no, there was no exciting honeymoon. There has been excitement. I am not so low as to say I am depressed beyond salvaging. Sure, I have friends and I have laughs. If what I had was considered a honeymoon, then it will only continue.

I have found that in my life, I look tremendously forward to the future. Let's start back to when I knew I had a future: Probably when I was in America and knew I was going to China. There was that. I looked tremendously forward to my time abroad, and when I was abroad, well, I can say that was a pause. Then, in Shanghai, I did not want to leave what I was doing. I felt truly and completely fulfilled, and that is the most fulfilled I have ever felt in the past 4 years. (Is it that we have a tendency to exaggerate hindsight or is this true? I think it is true.) In Shanghai, I was intellectually stimulated in just the right way (Chinese language classes), I had great friends (all international), and a great environment (Shanghai - a city with a subtle blend of East and West). The days before I left that city, I cried nightly in my apartment. I did not want to leave my experiences there.

Then came VA...good ole RVA. There, I looked forward to leaving Richmond and its high prices to return to Bristol to work for the summer. I felt nothing but anticipation throughout that dry last semester at college. Sure, my classes stimulated me (well, somewhat, there were those I hated and professors who were dull as dishwashers), and, sure, I had friends. But I was indeed lacking what I had in Shanghai, and I was forgetting Chinese faster than I could count. (True, I was forgetting how to count in the 10-thousands and 100-thousands and millions. Still, to this day I cannot remember and have not re-learned.) Then came this opportunity to teach here, in Suining, and I felt very excited. I wanted to get home, save money and let things work themselves out. And they did. I did exactly as I wanted to do in Bristol. God has graced me, I believe. Everything has always worked out so splendidly. Is this God or just my luck and good fortune or am I truly a gifted woman who can perfectly craft her future? I hope my good graces come from my own craft. Or do I hope for a God? Sorry to stray - let me continue. But, in Bristol, even though I had the two jobs I wanted there (office job and working with children), I longed for China. I longed to surely get my future started by learning Chinese. And now, here I am, and I can't wait to get out of it. But now, at last, I have something to look forward to...this summer.

At first I wanted to go home over the summer. Indeed, over the past 2 days I had tantilating fantasies about going home over this summer. I thought intensely about going on long, strenuous runs in my neighborhood. The hills....the long hills of Long Crescent and Glenway and the flat ground of statestreet. What perfect running territory! And what's more, people actually run in America. They don't sit on their asses outside and drink tea and smoke cigarettes (Chinese people reference). I would not feel like an insecure asshole running around in a sportsbra and blue New Balance. And New Balance I could trust! Brands! Names! Labels! Cameras! Everything in America is trustworthy, and I love that country.

But no - I cannot return home sweet home. Would cost too much money, especially when you put my other plans into consideration. Listen to this mess:

I now want to learn Chinese this summer
After teaching next year, I want to study in Taiwan at an expensive school
The school would propel my Chinese language to a native level
I cannot afford such a school!!
I will be 24 by the time I am finished.
Am I too old for this?
No...I am young.
But how how...will I make money? Money money money.
There is also thought, after that, of going to Johns Hopkins Graduate School in Nanjing.
More money money money, and this time more money.
How can I make money?
I would of course have to find a job...a teaching job.
But I want a company job.
I want to do something big and real!

But if only...if only if only if only if only...I could become fluent in Chinese.
Suining sucks.

And then, on the other hand, I need to calm the fuck down. All I have is now. It's just like Lee in Husbands and Wives...I will see what the next few months bring.

Oh yeah, I'll probably just go to Yangshuo and teach English there. I guess that could help me make some money. I need to have 10,000 US dollars saved by the time I want to go to school in Taiwan. And I don't have to go to school in Taiwan. I could always teach myself Chinese and save money in the meantime. And then try to get into a good graduate school in the states or at least find a good company job.

God, why is all this riding on me right now? Why can I do nothing but look to the future? Why 3 months ago I thought this - right here right now right here in Suining teaching English - was my future. I thought this was what I would love. And I do love it, and I am doing exactly, EXACT-FUCKING-LY what I want to do. I am studying Chinese for free and teaching with a great fucking salary. Why can I not be content in life? Life is a constant struggle. If it weren't a struggle we would cease to exist.

I am going to a temple now to walk around and think and adore the Chinese countryside and Chinese culture and those sorts of things.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Been keeping to myself

I have been keeping to myself a lot lately. I don't have any desire to go out and socialize. The only reason I would ever want to hang out with Chinese people is to improve my Chinese, and, I guess that is a good reason. I do, after all, want to become fluent in the language. Such a predicament. Anyhow, I can't very well remain cooped up in my apartment. I am forced to go out every day and talk to Chinese people, although my conversations are not as long and extensive as they would be were a feeling more social.

Actually, I have been watching movies and writing and reading and listening to music a lot. Right now I am listening to Bach F Minor Concerto - mainly because that was what was playing in Hannah and Her Sisters (a movie I have now watched twice since it's arrival from my parents' package). It really is so beautiful.

Another thing I have been doing is going to the gym a lot. I must say I am in fantastic shape and can run for miles. Last week I ran for an hour straight on the treadmill - almost 12 kilometers. The next day I was quite sore, but I have decided I will make this a hour on the treadmill a week. I work out about 5-6 times a week, every time running 5 kilometers. And I can do 5 pull-ups and lift quite a bit of weight. I guess I have nothing else to do, and it really makes me feel so much better to run...running really pulls me out of my depression. I feel I have a great stride, and I don't feel tired, and really, I just feel exhilirated. Anyway. At least I have that.

I am increasingly annoyed by being here. I have been asking myself lately, "What the FUCK am I doing here? Why am I in China? Why..."

You know...I don't know what to do to pull myself out of this depression. I have tried calling friends, but I have severed several relationships just since my arriving. I guess I would not say "severed," but they just are not the same anymore. I just don't know who to talk to about my feelings, and I have so many things to do. I have so many things that need to be said quickly, and also, some not-nice things to say. This is why I cannot talk about my feelings with a Chinese person. I am too worried about offending them.

Today I am annoyed at my boss. He told me...yes told me...that we would be meeting at 3 for lunch, and now, he has sent me a message saying, "Oh I can't meet at 3. We will have to meet at 5, see you then!" As if I don't have any other plans. This outrages me. Maybe Chinese people here in small-town Suining don't do anything, but I do!!!! I know I just said I didn't, but I guess it is the principle of the thing. You should ask if a person is free. You shouldn't demand time with that person. That's what we do in America.

I have cried many times today. I cried upon reading and EE Cummings poem about love, I cried during a Woody Allen movie about love, and I cried just thinking and things. I miss America. I love America, and no one understands me. I mope around, hoping people will look at me and notice the sad American girl. Gosh she must be homesick. She probably misses her friends and family. She probably cannot tolerate Chinese life any more. She's tired of the mess, the pollution, the grotesqueness of the city, the distress and the eager, annoying people. I am tired.

I did this to myself. Of course I did. This is no body's fault but mine. I wish to God I would have gone to Shanghai, Beijing, or even Chengdu. But, no, my over-idealistic notions told me that the best way to learn Chinese would be to go to a small-time city in the middle of nowhere. I rationalized that I would have an incredible, eye-opening experience. I did not reason my own feelings. God...the head and the heart are in such opposition. "In my case they aren't even friendly."

What do I do now? I have overspent my money...but I always have more money to spend. I could buy a new, second camera. I have been wanting a smaller one, but then I would get upset and depressed to tears again because of the outrageous price and horrible quality. It's true - Rod, the Englishman, bought a small Canon camera for 1600. Extortionate! In America, the same camera would run for about 130 US dollars or 800-somethign RMB. And who is to know if the Chinks are ripping us off?

I have been telling myself that maybe I should find a boyfriend. But I just can't find any at all whatsoever anywher in this whole, godforsaken city that interest me. I need a strong, tall, professional man who does not smoke cigarettes and who does not think that black is the inferior color. It disgusts me that I chose a country where they have been taught about superior races. Racism is engrained, and it disgusted me when I student commented how "ugly" Rihanna is because she, "doesn't like that type." She liked the pale "types."

Cast a pall.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I saw a tipped over truck today.

Hello. By the by, I'm in Suining, Sichuan and have been since February and will be for another year.

Just finished eating lunch, a delicious, salty soup made out of dried mushrooms, noodles, seaweed covered in MSG and other vegetables. I made it myself, and perhaps I made it too salty...but yesterday and the day before I ended up making my food too sweet. All these added sweet and salt is in defiance of the Spice, which, every day, is being forced onto me by this city, Provence and its people. Enough with the salty and sweet though, I need to give the bare facts of today:

Woke up at 7 AM and rinsed my hair (so as to not look like a crazy person with my bed-hair sticking out every which way, but then again, that would just make me fit in).

Then got dressed, and then ate breakfast at my usual morning restaurant, and I ate my usual morning breakfast - porriage with fruit and vegetales and one lump of steamed bread. Quite tasty and quite the perfect breakfast if I do say so myself.

And then I got on the school bus to go to school. I could tell today was going to be a nice day because I could actually see part of the blue in the sky. Blue! It was actually there, not gray fog dust, but a tint of blue. It's 1 pm, and unfortunately that blue is gone now.

Yeah - so now today sucks. I just received some depressing news...not death, illness or major disaster depressing, but my-life-feelings-friends-fucked-up depressing. That's some context, but this is life and these are the things we get upset about. We get most upset about deceit and lies and things like that. Today, while riding the bus home, I saw a truck tipped over on the side of the road. I looked, just like everyone else, but then we passed the scene, and I resumed my text messages. I did not care...why should I? But now something seemingly minor has happened, and I am upset. Such is life. And I should probably just forget it.

On hungover days, I always tell myself, "Wow, just think about how lucky you are when you are in good health. If only your stomach felt like that." Well today I feel good, and I should be grateful. I am not hungover, with the flu. Nor do I have strange lesions my body. I should be grateful. But to whom? No one, just enjoy things.

Right now I should go print off about 60 more maps of America. That will cost me like 15 Yuan. Thank God for my new printer. It's just not hooked up yet.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

If I hear "just so-so" again I think I could scream!

The past 2 days have been horribly stressful, and as more and more people get my phone number, stress will only be added and multiplied. I should stop giving it out, perhaps.

It's the girls. They're on my back, wanting to carry my shit, see me to the toilet, buy me things, carry my vegetables, and walk really really terribly slow. The list goes on ad naseaum, and I am but forced to see these girls, these 20-something children, every day because they are the ones who most want to hang out with me and improve their English. Now, there are a few girls I like. The girls I like do not insist on holding my hand or on telling me to be careful when I walk down a flight of stairs. They're usual more relaxed, and chill, relaxed Chinese who aren't impressed by me.

Oh, if only I weren't so impressive. Me. With my bulky figure, fast-paced walk with my swinging arms, my big sunglasses and cleavage showing. I bring stares and smiles and smirks and Hello's from any corner of the supermarket. I attract crowds of old people, all of whom think I am Russian (modern China's closest, big-time companion, the golden age of Communism before the 1950's). No, I'm not fucking Russian. Oh, just stop already.

Anyway, but what else can I do? I like being alone. My disposition won't change, and I will never find these people endearing. I will never take joy in walking slow and holding hands and exchanging words such as, "I hope we are friends forever!" I might say such things, but I will never ever think them.

Today I fantasized about a Western girl coming to live here in Suining. Oh we would be best friends! I would cling to her like the Chinese cling to me - but only for a few minutes. We would laugh and curse the Chinese and their ways as we walk down the street, and then we would drink beer out of the bottles.

The the boys! The Chinese boys! ZERO HOT ONES. Well 2. But honestly, their hair is a bit different from what I am used to. It's either spiked up, or just sticking out every-which-way in the most undesirable fashion. The black hair looks very thinning and like it has dead ends, and you just want them to trim it short. And then, sometimes, they have this disgusting facial hair growing on a greasy, pimply face. Enough to make a girl gag.

I'm so naughty. So mean, so cynical, so rude, so wrong for coming here. Just NOT so-so. If I hear the word "just so-so" again, I think I could scream. Every response that should be "Pretty good" (according to me and my use of English) is "Just so-so." How is your day? How is your semester? How do you like college? God! It's such a depressing answer, and sooo soooo annoying. Fucking Chinglish is stuck in my head every day.

So today I met with my students, and we went to this temple. It was dreadfully hot, but actually they didnt' cater to me as much as I thought they would. They let me walk up the steps on my own, down the steps on my own, and they didn't even insist on buying me water or something to eat. Only later, when we were at the vegetable market, did I have to fend off a girl wanting to carry my potatoes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm terribly bad at yoga.

So what did I do today?

I woke up late. Around 8. And caught a cab to the new campus for my "meeting" (for what, I had no idea) with my boss "Jack." Turned out that he wanted to teach me some Chinese, which was much appreciated on my end, as I had only been trying to teach myself out of dictionaries and phrasebooks. I desperately needed the guidance of a fluent speaker. Anyway, I've been studying a great deal - any time I am doing something without using Chinese, I feel a bit bad for it. The question pops into my mind, "Where would a be a year from now or 2 years from now if every free minute I had was spent on studying Chinese?" The answer is - I would be pretty damn far along. And so, when this thought comes to mind, I instantly put down or turn off whatever English-using device I am using (iPod, AIM Chats, books even) in preference for Chinese language tapes or rummaging thought a dictionary.

So after my meeting with Jack, I went to wait for the bus to take me from the New Campus (where his office is and where all my teaching classes are) to the Old Campus (where I live). But while waiting, I ran into "Lemon," an incredibly sweet Chinese girl (aren't they all?) who desperately clings to me and talks to me in her decent English. I have started to speak Chinese more to these people who only want to speak English. I know half the people who come up to me as "good friends" just want to improve theirh English, but I'm tired of catering to people and thinking I should help them by only speaking English. Outside of class, I will do what I originally set out to do - Learn Chinese. And so I will only speak Chinese when outside of class. Too bad for all my new, dear close friends, such as Lemon. how vindictive of me. anyway, i met her and then her friend...whats her face...and they all commented on how good my chinese is (yeah, thanks, no no, thanks), how pretty i am (no no, thanks, no no), how white my skin is, whether I had eaten, and so on. Finally, I figured I had missed the bus, and they invited me to the dining hall with them. They clung to me arm-in-arm, and we three walked to the student dining hall.
Lemon said, "Oh, I think everyone wants to talk to you! You get so many stares because you are foreign and so beautiful!"
Their dining hall is nothign compared to what I am used to at VCU. Their campus is very dull and boring, lacking color or grass or anything vibrant. i feel bad when chinese people ask me what i think of their college. they ask me in a proud way, i can tell, because the campus is new and they want to show off. i always lie and say how beautiful and vast it is - in the city but right beside lovely, rolling hills. This is somewhat true, there are nice hills in the background, but, still the campus is boring, gray and ugly, and their Dining Hall has got to be one of the worst parts. I mean the food is lined up in these ugly gray bins, and piles of food are lined up - vegetables of all sorts, some meat selections, eggs, tofu, etc. The selection is not so bad, the presentation is majorly lacking. As with everything in China. I get my money's worth, but God Damn, it's ugly and ROUGH. The food was served in a small styrofoam, box. We also got rice, and ate in the dingy cafeteria, enduring stares and smirks.

After that, i came home to find my cleaning lady here. I took a nap while she cleaned, and when I woke up, she was still here cleaning. I do not know why she stayed for so long. perhaps she did not want to wake and disturb me. Anyway, when i woke up, i told oh my you've been here a long time. go home! Do you want me to pay you today? She told me "Suibian, you decide how much to pay." Which pissed me off because she had been making Rod pay here 30 yuan each time. I wanted the same deal, especially because my place is smaller than his. Anyway, I offered her a 100 (see, I'm a pushover, always wanting to please other people before myself), and thankfully she turned this down and insisted 80 was all she'd take. Should have been 60, but who am I to turn down such a poor person compared to myself.

Then I went to the gym and tried to get skinny. In the shower room (where you have free reign to look at all the naked Chinese women you want), I noticed I had the best body there. but when i have clothes on, I always feel like i look so fat compared to these little Chinese people. But still, my body is strong and doesn't have fat rolls the way many of these women do. Their asses may be smaller, but they're saggy, same with their stomachs. Small frames but saggy fat rolls. Well, that isn't the case with all of them. I really wish I could be skinny to fit into Chinese dresses.

Anyway, i have so much to say, but i just don't feel like writing or typing. i am find it terribly annoying right now.

So much to do this weekend:

Tomorrow - Go to Tony's Office and WORK ON SCHOOL PLANS
5 - go to Anna's
7 - call Jack to meet me

Saturday -
Meet with students at 1:00
Hang out with Steph and Rod...whatever

Sunday -
11:00 meet with Richie.

And in my free time, I will plan classes and STUDY CHINESE.

BloggerLast night, at the gym, I went to yoga class after my mandatory 30-minute run. And I made a stink of myself. I am the least flexible person I know. The poses, the stretching, the breathing and sitting up-right were all just terribly hard on me, and I wanted to give up. But at the same time, I thought of myself as a skinny, flexible ballerina. Agile and suave and sweet and angelic. I want to be like that. I want to be able to bend and twist and sit down and meditate and be comfortable doing this. Instead, I am a strong runner who can do 5 pull-ups and 100 crunches. I can walk on my hands and run really fast. But I cannot touch my hands to my toes, which is really annoying.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

So what...


My computer in my apartment is unfortunately broken. What news. As shared last post, my DVD player, too, is broken. I have other interesting news to share.

Earlier today I realized I desperately needed to keep up with my posts. I cannot stop writing on this thing. I want to write about my short hair and my long fingernails. Never before have such things happen, but now here in China - here where I am an outcast, here where I stand out, here where no one knows me and I'm free to be whatever I want - I've got sharp nails and a chic hair-do (think short haired Natalie Portman and Kiera Knightly). What's more - I do not care that Chinese people think I was "more beautiful" with long hair. Those who saw me with my long here - the first week I was here - are always asking, "Why did you cut your hair? I think, in my opinion, maybe you were more beautiful before." Sod off!

Anyway, enough with beauty. The point of the prior paragraph was not only to talk about my hair but to also point out yet another cultural difference. Does it give you something to reflect on? Not really, I didn't go in depth enough. I suppose I could talk about where I got my haircut (Angel's in Central Business District Area for 10 yuan), who cut my hair (a jolly gay little Chinese boy, no taller than 5'1" with baggy pants and spiky hair), and also about how every customer and worker crowded around my salon-seat to watch the show! But I shall not.

Yes the show! Anything I do is a show, and I realized today the only crowd I like giving a show to is little kids. I do not care that they scream "Laowai laowai Hello! Hello Hello!" and laugh and giggle and get a big kick out of me. I do not care one bit, and, in fact, I am responsive and light-hearted. The same happen with someone else - some dirty old cigarette-smoking peasant - and I scoff and roll my eyes. This is something I need to deal with. Why can I not accept the way the people are?

Anyway, I was telling someone on the phone earlier today that I dislike the Chinese. Then, to the person, I spilled all the reasons I "dislike" the people here. Littering. hacking. poop in street.

Naked baby pees in street.

Smokers. Everywhere.

People which way.

Anyway, but I do not hate Chinese people. I am saying these things, but I believe my reactions are natural, and I will not hinder myself when it comes to my thoughts and feelings on the subject. I must voice my opinions fully.

Anyway, I do not talk bad about Chinese people to their faces. I am all smiles. I am always a cheery smile.

Today I have class, and I should go.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Me. Right now.

I have not posted in a very long time (not that you have been desperately waiting, day and night, by your computer for the next Amy-Derr-Update). I am not so arrogant as to think that.

In fact, now that I've chosen to give regular updates to my G-Blog (Yes, Amy, Dammit, You Will Post), I have happened upon a most unfortunate predicament. My computer - or rather the computer that has been loaned to me - SUCKS and WORKS HORRIBLY.

For example. No "For Example." Simply. It is Chinese. And on top of being puzzled at the character-commands on all sides of the screen, half the time the computer automatically starts typing Chinese characters. And I don't want it to! Their computers' English is just as poor as the people's.
The People's Republic of China is where I am ATM. And for the next year. Iarrived...let's see...February 14th, or almost one month ago. Wow! So much has happened. If I were a meticulous writer, keen on every detail, It would take a year to dictate just this past month.

What the people look like. So many of them! How they dress. How they act. How I am different. How we became different. How we are raised. So many people. How things look. Why are things so dirty? So many people! Endless shops. Taxis, bicycles, rickshaws. Honestly - I do not think I could come close to truly conveying this...feeling...of just being here walking around.

Anyway, and then there would be my thoughts and reflections. I'd have to write about everything I had thought about from the time getting off the plane until now. At first, there were restless nights when I cursed my decision of coming here. American life was so perfect. These people would do anything to live the life I did.  <----this a="" am="" and="" back="" became="" better.="" br="" coming="" course="" for="" friendships="" home.="" i="" it="" later="" m="" month="" my="" now.="" now="" of="" rationalization="" right="" s="" the="" then="" there="" things="" tired="" typing="" was="" way="" were="">
Anyway - but I am not a writer and not meticulous, and so I will not give in-depth descriptions of everything I have seen, every thing I have thought, or every passing feeling.

Today is Tuesday, and I have a few hours before my next class begings. My job is teaching English, and I truly feel lucky for having found this job with its benefits. Luck - that is what it is. It isn't the grace of God or being smart or planning anything well. My good fortunes are based on Luck. Beyond that, I am Lucky

Because I believe I am lucky. Anyway, this is my mindframe.

I am a superstar here! I am going to blatantly say it. I am! This is the way my life is here. Here below I will try to communicate my ascension to "stardom."

- I am the only white girl in this city, and I am American.
There! The end! Wow, that was easy to express!

This simple fact carries so much weight. I feel the weight every day in many different ways. Sometimes I feel guilty, I feel bad, I feel annoyed, overwhelmed, happy and mostly Lucky.

Once more, I am not a writer, and so I am not going to go into the different occasions that lead me to feel these different ways. Maybe eventually you will get an example or two out of me. I feel guilty getting on the school bus - the bus that takes us teachers to our college 四川职业技术学院 - and I do not have to pay the bus fee. Merely because I am a foreign teacher.

I feel guilty knowing I am paid 5 times the other teachers' salaries. Merely because I am a foreign teacher.

I feel sad when I go eat my dumplings - every day at the same hole-in-the-wall - and I see the little girl who works there and her scarred and blistered hands. Why isn't she in school! And constantly, the whole time I eat my dumplings, I am thinking the lines, "我可以教你英文." But if I told her and her family that I can teach her English, I,again, would feel guilty and like an intruding white person.

The accumulation of these feelings does not make me sad though. In fact, I am all-around happy. This poem by Emerson could convey this situation better than I every could:

Why should I keep holiday
When other men have none?
Why but because, when these are gay,
I sit and mourn alone?

And why, when mirth unseals all tongues,
Should mine alone be dumb?
Ah! late I spoke to silent throngs,
And now their hour is come.

well, I am going shopping! Hot tops!


我最近的生活和一年以前特别不一样。 我现在的生活和六个月以前也完全不一样。 对我来说,我现在的生活是有点理想的。 当然有很多方面我想变,但是我慢慢在注意到我心里真的想要的是什么样的生活。 难怪我在老家的时候我那么郁闷。 我那时郁闷的样子是因为我没有工作, 但是也是因为我那时对我...