Monday, December 26, 2011

merry christmas

In America, today is the holiday that people tend to get together and give shit to each other; there is and a general feeling of warmth and goodwill between people.  I am currently listening to James Taylor and thinking about the calmness and the feelings this season used to mean to me.  But right now I'm alone and so far away from all my previous associations with Christmas.  None of this is because I'm in China--in fact, I'm no longer in China.

Monday, August 29, 2011

rainy days

The past few days I have been in a daze, feeling glossed over, mechanical.  The off-and-on rain hasn't really brought much of a cooling effect.  Today I slept away most of the day's middle hours, deciding to eat a true breakfast at around 5PM.  Part of this could be the fact that the past few nights I've been up until around 2AM which is pretty drastic for a bookworm like me.  The good news is that I've been out up so late because I have made friends with Chinese people.  From now on I will just call them Chinese friends.  There really is no bad news about this even though that may have sounded like a lead-in, but let me continue...

Friday, August 19, 2011

driving rant

So...things here in crazyland are pretty good.  I'm trying to make some worksheets for classes so it looks like I might know what I'm doing.  But enough small talks...what I'm really about to tell you about is driving in China.  The short answer to the question I'm surprised nobody has asked yet is:  Yes, personal cars should be outlawed in China.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Century Mart girl

So I've now been in China for about a month and a half and I am starting to feel serious about making friends.  I have made a handful of friends but nobody I regularly do anything with (except for my roommates, who are American).  Basically...if I don't make 100 friends by next week I really don't deserve to be alive.

This girl I am about to mention was an employee of one of the stores in a mall that happens to connected to a Century Mart grocery store (otherwise I just might not be in the mall).  Upon exiting Century Mart and entering the mall, the girl I am now mentioning looked at me and smiled a very curious, welcoming smile.  I looked at her for a while and smiled back, naturally.  I believe that's what you do when someone smiles, but I smile at people here when they look at me for more than a few seconds, and often their faces remain frozen.  But let me now get back on task...

I went walking around some more and later on saw her walking and she looked at me and smiled again, following me with her eyes, repeatedly glancing back.  Her look was not one that I often see of the people here; it was much more warm than the usual bewildered look I get.  The bewildered look is interesting; it is a look that many people here seem to have when the thought first crosses their mind that there are actually people in the world that are not Chinese.

Anyway, since I saw her I knew I was going to go back and try to see if the moments we had were truly a case of friend at first sight??  I'll let you know...AFTER THE JUMP!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

new apartment

Things have settled down a bit as we have been able to rent a room from an American couple and quit living out of hotels.  The internet everywhere we have been has been sketchy and I've been unable to log on a VPN and thus, access this blog.  Tons of great interactions and miscommunications have taken place...take place on a daily basis.  I can't spend much on here now because we have to research for a trip we are going to take to Yellow Mountain.

One badass thing about our new place is that it happens to be...on the top floor and thus...we can get on the roof!!  Check it out!

Just chilling on the roof of our new big deal!

More photos and embarrassing stories soon...

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Umm...we've been in Shànghǎi about a week now.  We have been unbelievably fortunate thus far, receiving money from a handful of people before we left; my father paying for a portion of our plane tickets and vaccinations and one of Shawna's uncle giving her money.  Upon arriving a different uncle of Shawna's had a car pick us up from the airport and drive us to the serviced-apartment which he paid for through the 28th of June and just the other day asked us how long we would like him to extend it.

This city is beyond belief, stretching too far to see any hint of its ending.

View from back exit of where we were staying on Hong Mei Lu.

Okay, I wrote this last week and didn't finish it.  So much stuff happened in Shànghǎi; hopefully I can go back through and write more about it.  I will try to be more timely and complete these from now on.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Houston, Chinese Consulate

Sitting at a Starbucks in what must be the gayest district in Houston.  I love it.  We just finished up at the Chinese Consulate, dropping off our passports and paperwork to get visas.  There was a line to the street before the consulate even opened.  We had parked at a nearby shopping center and walked to the consulate, disobeying the "No Chinese Consulate Parking" signs that littered the parking lot.  Don't worry, this story has a happy ending (for me), but not in the sexual sense.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

blast off

So I bought a plane Shànghǎi...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

strange feeling

It is a dreary day here in NE Tarrant County. Cool weather, rain off and on. Things are feeling kind of surreal right now. Sitting in my room trying to organize things to store away in the closet. I want to get a few empty boxes to fill with things I won't take on the plane but might want my family to send them to me later. These are the somewhat mundane logistical realities of moving.

An emotion that I haven't felt in quite some time (though it is familiar) seems to be creeping up, I think partially the because of the weather, partially because of my situation and recent events. It is a mixture of desperation, nostalgia and uncertainty.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

foreign expert

So...somehow over the past month I wound up magically transforming form mere American citizen into a foreign expert....

In case I don't know what this means, it means I GOT A TEACHING POSITION!! Yes, the theory of hard work and persistence paying off has now been confirmed to be occasionally correct instead of just being anecdotal. That is, of course, unless this was all just a coincidence and there is actually no correlation between diligence and success.  Either way, I signed a contract with Hángzhōu Diànzǐ University in Hángzhōu, Zhèjīang Province.  I feel a great sense of relief having secured a job but I also have realized the exigency of my final pre-trip responsibilities.

Friday, April 1, 2011

fruit time!


Straight from contact with a university in Hángzhōu.  The offer seems OK and I have talked to a few people from the school who say it is a great place and teacher friends at other schools envy them.  Of the handful of schools I've talked to, this one has had the most and most prompt communication with me.  However I would still like to see what other schools might offer.  The offer I received is good for two weeks so I have some time to decide what I want to do, maybe even longer depending on whether or not the deadline was a tactic of some sort or if it was legitimate.

Either case, I feel pretty good about it.  Always though, it could be psychological, wanting it to work out, wanting to think I received a decent offer.  Harder to be objective when you are really hoping for something. Man certainly has the capability to delude himself.

Hopefully I can eek out some more later, maybe it will be more interesting instead of such a straightforward account.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

no thanks Wendy

The past few days I have felt I'm starting to make another breakthrough concerning my move to China. I have been applying to numerous university positions, pretty much any locations where I have been able to find direct contact with the school. I'm very excited.

The "direct contact with the school" thing has become more important to me as people have repeatedly warned to be wary of dealing with recruiters, companies schools hire to find teachers. Recruiters are known to use bait-and-switch tactics to lure potential teachers in with a nice-sounding job but when the teacher arrives that job is no longer available...but the recruiter has a different job available. The replacement jobs are where many teachers' horror stories come from...small towns away from civilization, bug-infested apartments and salaries nowhere near the original quotes.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Spending hours a day looking for jobs in China is a hell of a lot more fun than spending hours looking for jobs in America.  Somehow it is exhilarating.  Eventually I have to tell myself to stop saying "one more page" as I wade through pages of job postings.  Half of the stuff I've looked at so far is shit but it's still kind of like opening presents on Christmas.

I've applied for a handful of jobs in Hángzhōu, Qīngdǎo and Tiānjīn.  I will probably have an interview sometime Saturday with a school and their recruiter.  So with the possibility of having a job soon, it is time to get some more last-minute details in order.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hángzhōu, Zhèjiāng

I believe that this time I have found a city to go to.  Hángzhōu was one of the cities I originally looked up and then somewhat discarded after focusing on dialects.  With the help of some friends and some random people I met on couchsurfing who reside in Hángzhōu I think this will be a good choice.  The climate sounds nice, public transportation looks to be plentiful and also there seems to be a mixture of city life and nature nearby.

City life...imagine me in a city.  I've never really lived in a city.  Oh, also important about Hángzhōu is that there are a lot of schools, so maybe I can even get a job and have a reason to go.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

dialectal struggles

Well, it turns out I don't have as much figured out as I originally thought.  In my search for a new home I assumed I could use temperature as one of the main determiners:  Warmer latitude = warmer heart = good home.  Doesn't entirely work that way I guess.  Part of my goal in going to China is to study Mandarin.  From my detailed internet research, most of the cities that I had been considering speak dialects that are not "mutually intelligible" with Mandarin (  According to the map Chóngqìng speaks standard Mandarin but further research has suggested Sichuanese Mandarin is spoken there.  A handful of expats in China have recommended moving toward Běijīng or Tiānjīn.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

126 yuan and getting closer

The other morning I went downstairs to scan a map and print it out.  Only problem was my dad was at computer looking at tennis matches or finances or something. He started talking...and in general I don't just interrupt and change the subject...but really I wanted to not hear him talk.  So I shared with him that I was researching Nánchāng and seriously considering it.  I mentioned I saw flights from Nánchāng to Shànghǎi for what would be around $40.  I knew what would happen next.  He pulled up (a Chinese airfare website) and started plugging in destinations and asking questions with his trademark investigative journalist tone.  This was almost worse than listening to him talk about whatever he talking about before and I began to question ever opening my mouth.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Today I went with along with Andrew to Dallas to run an errand.  After waiting in the office for a while I went outside to take medicine for a blooming headache.  out in the car I picked up one of my books about living in China and started browsing it.  It begins...

"Is China right for you?" was the first sentence of the book's introduction.  I mentioned in of my first entries how I know many things will be hard for me.  According to what I've read about people who will enjoy or adapt to living in China, I am the perfect candidate to not go.  I don't mind people staring much; that happens a lot here with my long hair and rebel-look.  But, "you'll have a rough time have high standards for cleanliness and service"...I really like cleanliness, I would even say if it could be, it would be a hobby of mine.  As much as I try to be laid back (and have even become more laid back over the past few years), poor customer service is irritating.  There have been times I have ended up walking behind the counters at restaurants because I got tired of waiting for refills.  Also, some people call me patient...but others don't, if you know what I means.  Oh yeah, personal space is always a hobby of mine....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nánchāng, Jīanxī

The more I read about Nánchāng, the cooler it sounds.  Travel proximity.  Lakes and rivers so I can find somewhere to look at dragonflies.  Climate.

I will revise this later tomorrow with more info.  Look it up and let me know what you think about it!

See entry on dialectal struggles.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

hot pot experience

Last night Shawna and I went over to her grandparent's house for his 83rd birthday.  Admission:  I didn't actually know the gathering was for his birthday, I just went to hang out and try hot pot.  Hot pot is a type of cooking where you have a pot full of simmering water (or stock) in front of you and everybody just drops in the foods they want to cook--veggies, herbs, thinly-sliced meats, seafoods, etc.  The food then cooks in the hot pot.  Pretty straightforward naming system.  After the food is cooked, you take out whatever you threw in the pot and put it or dip it in a bowl with sauces you can mix up to make it spicy or salty.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

location conundrum

Goal being to move to China...and move to implying a destination, it is becoming more apparent that I am going to have to choose a destination to move to.  Before I started researching I didn't really know this trivial fact, but...China is a large country...the third-largest country in the world according to some.  The United States of America falls either slightly behind or ahead of China in terms of area (depending on whether territorial waters and disputed land between India and China is included).

Friday, January 14, 2011

will to focus

I have been struggling to focus on projects for a long time now.  Photography, music, writing.  I sit down and get started only to get sidetracked and have more than a dozen tabs open in two different browsers.

I have wanted to publish a book of my writings and photographs for years now.
I have wanted to record certain pieces of music for years now.

Previously I thought I was not accomplishing these goals because I didn't have the know-how or equipment.  Now, I basically have both or the means to acquire both but still I haven't seemed able to finish even a small book or one song.  Part of the issue is a perfectionist attitude toward the work.  Part has been because of troubles focusing and seeing a task through.  Some things just seem to be so big and encompassing that I have no idea where I to start and I get frustrated before I even begin.  I know, this is a horrible attitude.