Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Keep Your Eye on the Fish


On Sunday, i caught my friends' band (a husband wife couple). Their name translates to something like The Cat Outside the Fish Shop. i think they could be my new favourite Beijing band. All their songs were capital U cute, w/ clever and smooth compositions, slick programmed backdrops, and a quirky female lead whose voice i can't imagine with any other music style.

They're definitely not for everyone, but i think they're rad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Year In Review

2008 was a full 365 Gregorian days, that's for sure. (unless it was a leap year, i don't really pay much attention).

i finished my 1st school year in Beijing. i signed on for 2 more years. i got the flu on Hainan beaches, and i got horrendously hung over in Shanghai. Somehow i got lots of kids to think i was a great teacher, though they pbly didn't realize how much of my enthusiasm was ... a tad forced, shall we say. (Maybe that's the skill of a great teacher).

i had great experiences in India, though they were less pivotal (of course) than from my first trip there, which had totally turned my universe inside out, and threw in a few carbon copies to boot.

i also got dumped in the vacation's afterglow, and that has brought on countless new changes to my life in BJ, mostly good i think.

However, i admit i'm in a pretty pissy mood as i write this, so my overview of the year could be a bit tainted.

I was thinking today about when a few years ago, i was having a heart to heart w/ this drunken teenager, and me and my friend were telling him in all sincerity that the older you get, the better life gets. And i don't know if that rings true anymore. I didn't exactly mean that the passage of time = growing happiness, but at the time i really felt that that was my experience.

Well i guess it was bound to switch up sooner or later, and it's pbly better to get that out of the way before 2009, when the whole planet and its dog might move closer to economic misery.

Anyhow, 2008 was pretty fucking rich in its experiences. Like more than 2002, for sure! And i mostly still think i'm doing a decent job at doing what i'm supposed to do. Somehow. Even if i do have more bad moods and crankiness than i ever have. And even if i punch walls occasionally. And even if the unoriginal words "i hate my job" have started cropping up in between my synapses. And even if i'm drinking and smoking more than i ever have.

Well, actually in the past couple weeks i haven't been drinking or smoking all that much. So i can still claim some sense of responsibility. Though i irresponsibly got my date badly hammered on tequila last week. Oops.

So to sum up. i give 2008 a B. Almost a B+, except that there were too many grammatical errors.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Dating Game: Part 2 - (You Pbly Expected Part 2)

Well a month ago maybe my artist friend introduced her art student/painter friend, Y, to my brother and i. We all had a pretty fun time. Me and my bro and Y ended up in the Bed Bar til pretty late, whereupon we decided to call it a night. Then Y mentions that she's locked out of her uni dorm, but she can sleep on a couch in the foyer or something.

So of course we could hear chivalry beckoning us all back to my apartment for another drink and a spare bed. And then back in my pad i found myself lighting candles, and you might guess what direction the traffic patrollers were pointing me in.

Anyhow, point being is that me and Y are dating. She's very sweet, and we get along quite naturally.

however i feel i need to be particularly conscious of how i'm handling myself in this relationship considering that... well today, she turned nineteen years of age.

Shocking, i know. i wouldn't have expected it myself. i'm not even into younger girls. But i was introduced to her by a woman who's like 1/2way inbetween me and Y's age gap, and i think it may have been a tiny bit of a set up. Anyhow, thus far things have shown themselves to be quite positive.

Also i immediately did my homework (thanks, Dan), to make sure that i know what i'm getting into and that i'm handling myself appropriately. And i recall all too well my first relationship when i was 17 or 18, and how me and my gf and my peers and their partners were all trying way too hard to make our relationships way more serious and more deep and more meaningful and more soul-matey than they ever were destined to be.

And looking back, i have also contemplated how cool it could be to have been with someone who wasn't trying to everything mean capital L love; someone who was more like, "hey you're really cool, but this isn't IT. But we can still totally learn from each other and support each other and have an awesome rad fun time."

One friend of mine said, yes she's young, but if its not a problem, it's not a problem. If it becomes a problem, then it'll become a problem. So that's where it's at.

And i know it ain't perfect. It's quite clear that we live in 2 different worlds (not to mention opposite ends of the city, a potential 3 hr commute). And that i have more experience. And that she's less emotionally mature (hence the drama which affects her in her university life). All of which we've discussed. And then we hang out and everything seems ok.

So no big plans, but we did postulate that i could swing by her hometown on my summer train trek through China. Anyhow we'll see where it goes.

Down Up, Up Down, Down Up, Up Down

I should mention that this past wk, i haven't been 1/2 as cranky as the weeks previous. Maybe just 1/6 or so. Ha.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Dating Game Part 1

Guess what.
Not everything in my life makes it onto the blog.
Forgive me for holding back, but sometimes i need some space to figure out what the hell's going on, and some things just aren't blog-material.

But here's an omitted detail or 2 for you.

A couple months or so vago, i had a few dates w/ this chinese woman i met online, who i thought was crazy gorgeous ('cause she was). The night we met we got kinda tipsy, then hit a hiphop club packed w/ grinding college kids. It was pretty hilarious. Afterwards she coyly asked if i needed a lift anywhere and ended up dropping me off in her bedroom. It was a fun night, though i thought it wise to save actual intercourse for a later date. 'Cause like hey, why not? She was surprised and commented on my self-control, which i found rather amusing.

Then she came out for a quick drink w/ my friends the next night.

Then due to scheduling probs, it wasa long 3 wks or so before we saw each other again. Then we had another date and went bk to her apt and wound up having sex. Or "making love" as we called it. i think it was a translation issue, but it felt fine. i admit that considering the span of time that had strainedly stretched out between hook ups, i partly wanted to do the deed as a means of moving things forward: likely an error.

It was quite hot, but right afterwards i felt like i wanted to leave. That's the 1st time i ever had that post-coitus emotion, and i felt kinda bad about it (i've heard about that kind of guy before). Anyhow, we hung out a bit in the morning and everything seemed cool. Later we made plans to meet up the next wkend to chk out art galleries.

But then that wkend she went AWOL, and didn't return my txt or phone calls. It was weird. i called her later but she needed to call me back, which she didn't. i was pretty bummed for a while.

The end.

Except that i often see her on msn, but figure it best to just leave her alone. Although one time a few weeks ago she got me on Chat, and we had some pleasant small talk and never addressed anything from before.

The end.

i definitely felt obsessive in the gaps between seeing her, and not knowing what the heck was going on. We really did get on pretty well, but there's no doubt i was feeling a tad needy, nor was she was the best communicator, (potentially compounded by language issues), and also her life and schedule was like craaaazily dominated by her work. Seriously. i don't know if i can handle being w/ someone who puts in hours at work worse than i do, and willingly so. i totally couldn't handle being on call 24-7 on top of 50 hr work weeks.

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Depressed Stance


well at least i'm trying.
i mean my moods are far from uppity these days, though i don't seem to be so directly pissed off about work itself. Actually i was feeling pretty self-satisfied today that my students pbly think i'm almost as happy go lucky as usual, when really i'm not.

a couple things going on which i won't get into here, but i'm feeling pretty unimpressed w/ myself for my impatience and for being so fucking edgy these days.

But so as not to just be a whinger, i have at least started running a bit, biking a bit, doing pushups and pull ups. i have started flossing again. (it was said on Oprah that it stimulates some happy nerves). i have been forcing myself out of the apartment, even if there's no reason whatsoever to do so.

Then the other day i was on the bus, seriously thinking that all the work i've done in this life to be balanced and healthy and happy didn't seem like it had done much good. i was feeling pretty pissed off.

At the same time, i fully recognize that these moods are totally self-indulgent. It's fully possible that i'm just enjoying being sullen too much to let it go. i mean hey, how often does statusq get all grumpy and sullen? Seriously. So let a guy indulge once in a while, it's no skin off your back.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Zoo



*Oops, here's a post i thought i posted a week ago.

i tend not to go to zoos, 'cause i don't approve of them, but my friend suggested it as a good backdrop for a photoshoot. Anyhow, it was only like $2 to get in anyhow. And there was maybe 10 or so pandas there. And i maybe you've seen pandas before. they're pretty cute. Especially when 5 of them are rolling all over each other like it's an orgy for toddlers.

Also there were lions and tigers and a panther and a cheetah. This part was totally depressing. The animals were so incredible and majestic, and seeing them in this sickeningly inadequate and humiliating environment was an affront on my own humanity.

i couldn't even take pictures of them. Well, i tried one time, 'cause the tiger was sleeping. But then he opened his eyes, and i put away my camera.

Then we did more photos and video stuff at my friend's apt, and that was great.

It's Beginning to Feel a Teeny Tiny Bit Like Christmas

Basically, i have other things to think about.
Ok, so i'm feeding a few xmas carols to the students. (the sad ones).
And i'm wondering if i can get outta bj for the boxing day wkend.
But i realized when i got a very sweet homemade xmas card in the mail today, that there's no way i'm gonna get any xmas cards out on time this year.
So sorry folks, i guess i won't be passing on the love and good will this year. (what a jerk).

But i will remind folks that people are welcome to visit bj, and i do have an extra bedroom w/ 2 beds in it, just waiting for visitors. Until June, anyhow. i tried to convince the married couple to let me take on their 1 bedroom apt, but they didn't want to bother. Damn their eyes.

Almost Famous


My wonderfully talented friend Joy posted pix from our photoshoot day last week. Check out the pix of me and my bro here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Witty Title. So Sue Me.

Sometimes i get cranky.
But now i get cranky more than i ever have in my entire life.
Sometimes i get in a bad mood.
But now i get in bad moods more than i ever have in my entire life.
It might be related to my job.
Sometimes i hate my work.
Which is too bad, since the work isn't totally awful.
though there is too much.
Sometimes my teaching is pretty mediocre.
And i have trouble mustering up energy to do things which would pbly streamline my work.
i'm thinking about life after teaching.
i'll stick out this year for sure.

i still like living in beijing.
i like the weekends.
Even though i always have to work some.
Maybe i can get into some other business here.

i really hope the cranky wil doesn't become the regular wil.
He swears too much.
He's kind of a shithead.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Small Speech for a Small Boy

I was asked to find a speech that one of my gr 1 students could read at the new years ceremony, but i figured it would be easier to write something appropriate myself. Here's what it looks like.

Hi everyone, how are you?
My name is David!

2008 is over.
Some people finish the year and they are happy.
Some people finish the year and they are sad.
But I'm not sad.
I feel great!
Do you know why?
Because I'm a small boy and i have lots of fun.
Some adults work a lot.
They think about money a lot.
i never think about money, because I'm a small boy.
I play with my friends and i go to school.
Some students don't like school because they have to work.
Not me.
At school i sing songs and play with my friends.
I think school is fun!

And now 2008 is finished.
That's great!

The Olympics are also finished.
That's great!

I am a small boy, so i am happy that i am growing bigger.
I am like a seed that grows and grows into a big plant.

Plants are great!
2008 was great!
Do you think 2009 will also be great?
I do!

Because my name is David and I am a small boy!
Thank-you and happy new year!


i'll be pissed off if David doesn't get to read this Obama-rivalling piece of oral art.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nov 30: My Friend The End

1. For last Thurs and Fri i threw together a couple lessons on Buy Nothing Day. Glad i did. i never even told kids not to buy stuff. i just wanted an excuse to talk about an anticonsumerism. Aferwards some kids wrote stuff like, "i used to think buying things was good, but now i know that it's bad and it hurts the environment." A few kids didn't quite get it, and instead wrote about how much they like fashionable modern Nike shoes. What can you do.

2. Another busy weekend, and not getting enough sleep in the good way.

3. Hey, thanks for reading me this November. i admit i posted late a few times, but frankly i don't care about that at all. It's a question of quality over punctuality, duh.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 29: Cops Trying to Break Into My Apartment


Recently i got a phone msg from my boss asking me to call him ASAP.
Turns out his wife saw 2 (presumably) police officers (for that's what they looked like) were at my door, taking different keys out of an envelope and trying them in my door.

Ok, first they tried to ring the doorbell, apparently. But me and my brother didn't hear anything. And i was possibly even awake at that point in the morning.

Also, it's funny, because the door wasn't even locked in the first place, so they didn't really try and get in or anything.

"Get rid of the grow op," said my boss, which rather worried me since i'd been reading and thinking about how to get my hands on some vegetables in Beijing.

Also, i started worrying about my internet usage, which has included journeys to sites which the chinese guver mint wouldn't approve of.

Heza reported people knocking on her door that morning, but she didn't get out of bed to answer.

The school secretary called the popo, and also the community security force, neither of which had any knowledge to share on this topic.

So anyhow, it's a medium-sized unsolved mystery. Weird.

My optimistic self thinks that maybe they found some keys and thought they could be mine for some reason. Ok, it doesn't really make sense,but the rest of it doesn't either. That was a wk ago, and i haven't found any strange fingerprints in my apartment since.

Day 28: That's Why They Call It "Work"


My brother commented to me that i don't seem very happy with my job.
It's true, i've been pretty grumpy about it lately.
Students used to ask me how i was, and i'd reply, "i feel very good today."
Lately, i've been saying, "i'm okay."
But i still try and smile when i say it.
The work itself isn't too bad.
Soemtimes it takes great effort not to throttle the kids.
But that's par for the course.
But i don't think that 10 hrs a day should be the norm.
Sometimes less, too often more.
A 40 hr work week would be a cake walk.
Ok, so the stress is less than last year, but the increased class sizes, and the maximum allowable teaching load is smothering my life.
By 6:30, i'm all "I JUST WANT TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE."

On the one hand, i'm still pretty new at teaching (i feel).
But on the other hand, there's other staff who have LOTS of experience, who are logging the same hours, it seems.
Fuck, in their shoes, i'd rather retire.
So i'm considering future career changes.
And planning to ask if my boss might have any pointers about how i can streamline my workload.
At the very least, he'll know i don't like the max course load, and maybe will go easy on me when planning next year's schedule.

1.5 months until Spring Festival holiday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 27: Bombay Bombings

Wow, how weird and saddening to read about the Bombay attacks. And to see the pictures. 'Cause i slept on the floor of that train station once. And i stayed in a grimey hostel, just a 1 minute walk away from the luxury Taj Mahal hotel. i went in there a couple times.

The Taj has security x-rays outside of it, sorta like the BJ subways do. As with the BJ subways, i thought it was totally unnecessary and rather paranoid.

Mostly i still feel that way. I mean if anyone really wants to sneak a gun or bawm past some minimum wage "security guards", it really would't be hard. At all.

i dunno. Security is surely the last defence in a struggle, the likes of which i know nothing about.

Hope everyone is doing ok everywhere. While over here i bitch and moan about too much work, and lack of motivation to exercise and stuff.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 26: "Schooled"


i broke up a fist fight the other day. Well, actually i don't know if one kid getting pummeled while 15 other kids crowd aroundqualifies as a "fight".

It was in the Chinese part of the school, so it's out of my jurisdiction. in fact, the fight was on the other side of glass doors which were lamely tied shut from the other side. So that kinda slows down yr ability to keep fists off of faces. A student had to untie it before i could exert my authority.

So after a few minutes i was able to get the 2 parties together in front of their home room teacher (the agressor's hand was dripping blood. Very dramatic!). The teacher seemed embarassingly unconcerned and basically said Thanks, you can go now.

Um, well don't you want to hear what happened? i got someone to translate a bit for her, and then i left.

i felt like the blood had been swept under the carpet before i'd even gotten around the corner.


Aside: i really didn't have much compassion for the aggressor, even if he was (in buddist terms) hurting himself first and foremost. i'm just not there yet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 25: My Difficult Struggle With Consumerism


Beijing's started getting cold.
So i thought i should get a proper winter coat.
So in a big hurry i ran into Uniqlo and bought one.
Then i realized that for the same amount of money i could get a cooler one.
Made from some independent local company.
Not a multinational.
And also i kept daydreaming of the Astroboy parka i saw last year.
So today i took a 1 hr bus ride to the Astroboy store.
The jacket i was enamoured with last year (but deemed too expensive) was there.
For 1/2 price.
But it was too small.
But then the sales girls found one for me in the back.
It's a pretty cool jacket.
So i bought it.
After hemming and hawing for too long.
Then 5 minutes after leaving the store i remembered the main reason i didn't buy it last year.
It's not that warm a jacket.
So why the hell did i buy it now?
All of my thoughts, heavily influenced by the fact that earlier today i was researching Buy Nothing Day.
So i swallowed my pride and went bk up to the store to ask for my 400 yuan back.
How embarassing.
Obviously it's not easy to get refunds on 1/2 price clearance items,
so i don't recommend doing it in Chinese.
Refusals, exchange offers, phone calls, and a trip to the store office.
Schmoozing a bit w/ the head supervisor seemed to help.
Then i left.
And decided that Uniqlo is good enough for now.

The lesson is that looking for "cool" is regress on The Path.
Even under the guise of supporting local business.

Also, if this is the experience of a "non-consumerist" guy like me, then i can only pray for the rest of humanity.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 24: Cycling, Recycling




Yesterday, me and my broher rode further out from the city, and explored some recycling communities. They're pretty third world. In one of them, some cranky ol' guy started yammering away at us, and told us that we couldn't take pictures. He was pretty insistent. So ok fine, we stopped. Then him and the small group of people who'd gathered in the meantime asked us some questions. Then he invited us into his office.


He poured us tea and gave us cigarettes. i thought it wise to briefly ecuse myself to lock up the bikes, but he stepped in and yelled at some people to keep an eye them instead. Then we had some broken conversation, the gaps of which were all filled by an unidentified electrical hum.

It was pretty cool, but also rather awkward i felt. So no, no more tea, and no thanks, no more cigarettes, 'cause uh we should go. But hey thanks!

After that he let us take pictures.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 23: My Practice

Well the good news is that i've pretty much been meditating every day since March.

The bad news is that my meditations are generally down to 4 minutes. Well hey, it's 4 minutes better than no minutes! But not really enough to make me the enlightened being i could be. That is to say, that i've noted that there's been times in my life when i've been more balanced than i am now. To say nothing of the times when i've been less balanced than the present. Of which there were many.

All of which goes to say that i don't plan on lengthening my meditations. Unless i feel like it, of course.

Day 22: If You're In a Bad Mood, Should You Still Go Out On Friday Night?


Answer: well there's too much inertia happening to bail out at this point.

And anyhow, Friday was pretty hilarious. Got a last minute invite to some photography opening. Didn't expect much but as soon as we walked into the place, it was like getting a cup of posh artsy water thrown into your face. Cool garllery made out of a converted traditional house and its courtyard. Chinese and foreign photographers on display. Plus dj and free booze.

i met the artist who my friend knew, who had pix from India. Incidentally he was from France, and had spent a decent amount of time in Vancouver and the Canadian far north. so it was cool to have so many connecting points.

Also, any art opening that's pretentious enough for people to randomly take off their pants is a-ok in my books.

Then we ducked out to hit 2 Kolegas for some live electro night, and that place was totally cool. Another of BJ's pillars of the rock and roll scene. The music was good, and the gang was fun. Got pretty drunk despite the watered down drinks, and that was ok.

Derrick and friend in the pic.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 21: Separate lives

From a while ago, H and i have started spending weekends out of contact with each other. i think this is good for both of us. But i can't help but be anoyed that she is suddenly more active and appreciative of BJ than she ever was when we were together.

And i know that i'm totally unjustified and petty in being annoyed about that, 'cause hell people do what people need to do when they feel like it. there's no fucking rules about it.

And seriously, i've only wanted her to be happy and independent. I'm also going out and doing stuff and meeting people which is good. Plus hanging out and doing stuff with my brother.

Mainly, i need a nap. Don't know why i waste so much fucking time on the computer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 19: The Uj

My brother observed today that i don't seem very happy with my job. Maybe he's right, or maybe i'm just underslept and cranky.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 18: More Unfulfilled Promises


A year ago i actually checked the Kylie Minogue website to see if she might grace BJ with her sexy little trendy rather hip but sorta not hip self. i wasn't particularly surprised there she had no China dates.

But now... she IS coming to BJ!

So i figured i should go.

But then i was thinking that a Kylie show might not be the best event to go to solo. Not that that always stops me, but Kylie isn't really my usual scene.

But after asking the small crowd of friends i have here, i had no takers. Well actually a photographer from Ukraine who i haven't actually met said he could be interested, but by that point, the only tix left were over 1000 rmb ($120).

Sorry, Kylie. Even if you're The One, i think i can spend 1200rmb ($160) in more fulfilling ways. And Youtube is good enough to show me how obnoxiously Kylie fans can shriek and scream: "Oh my gawwwwwwwwwwd!!!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 17: Recap

Had a busy wkend. It was pretty good. Me and my bro went to see a friend's band but they played earlier than expected so we missed them. But then we went to a pizza joint, and hung out w/ a crew of musicians and photographers, a couple of whom spoke pretty decent english and that was fun.

Also went for a family dinner and afterwards went to an outrageously expensive hotel bar afterwards. Any joint charging $10 for pop in China is uncalled for, in my books. My cousin (so i hear) likes to show off. But he's a good talker, and it was interesting to talk w/ his 8 yr old son, who is a great talker, though he really doesn't know limits.

Today was bk to school, and yet again i wish i was more enthused. The kids deserve more.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 16: Letter to Dad

Here's an email i sent off to my dad because he didn't really get why i'm not all hype about buying stocks now that the market's low.

Hi Dad,

the major concern i have w/ the future of the economy is the fact that the oceans are becoming depleted of fish, forests are being depleted, and we are running out of clean water and healthy soil. Basically, the economy is built on growth, but the environment and the resources it provides are reaching their limits. Although you can say that "in the long run" the trends show that the markets will recover and continue to grow, i feel like the economy (and humanity) are heading into completely uncharted waters. There is no precedent set for what will happen if and when fisheries collapse, if and when food shortages become more and more commonplace, when oil and cheap energy which our socieities are built on become more and more expensieve, and less and less availalbe for the masses.

Also, it is accepted that industry has changed the global climate enough that we can expect rising sea levels, and more hurricanes, tsunamis and tornados. Though this has sadly boosted the economy in the past, i think in the future the financial strain they may have on any and all countries (and subsequent mass migration of peoples) could be terrible.

The scientists know that these changes are already happening in our lifetime. I don't know much about money, but i feel that consumerism and capitalism, in the end, may be remembered for their short-sightedness. i can't say how my concerns would play out in the stock markets, but i can't imagine it would be good. Part of me thinks there could be a financial crash that will never recover in my lifetime, or at least not to its present format.

As you say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst. In a best case scenario, i think the concerns mentioned above will not happen in a quick or definitive way. Rather, they will happen slowly but surely, but in a way where i personally won't suffer the fall-out so much. Maybe the stocks i have will be lucky enough to continue appreciating in my lifetime.

For a worst case scenario, maybe i should be investing my money in a piece of property which has access to local agriculture and energy.

Anyhow, thanks for taking my rmb bk to Canada and helping look after my investments. For now i'm happy to follow yr advice re: investments, espectially as i don't know what else to do with my money for now.

Obviously i should do more research about money and stuff, but all the above is my gut-feeling about what the future may hold. What do you think? I know it's a little Doom and Gloom, but i don't think it's unrealistic.

Ok. talk to you soon.

Peace,

w//

Day 15: Bros




So my brother will be hanging w/ me in BJ for another month. It's been a couple years since we last hung out, in San Fran.

Since he's arrived many people have commented that we look alike. Like moreso than in the past. 2 people asked if we were twins. I have never thought that we look much alike. But now that Derrick's picked up some dark glasses, i can't deny it: he looks like me.

Also, i've been surprised to find that for the first time (somehow) our personalities have a lot of parallels. He also digs the atmosphere of the local cheapo ramshackle restaurants. He too likes to explore in places where you're not supposed to explore. He too is pretty happy to do things in ways which are interesting, if not easy. He too will sport a hairdo which my mother finds appalling. Mind you, he will brag that he spent 2 hours at Toni and Guy's to get his. I would never do that.

Also he is really into sports. So let there be no more confusion between us.


The pic above? BROS, circa late 80's. UK smash hit wonders.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 14:

After a number of parents sat in me and H's gr 1 classes, a letter came in today from the most irate parent from that hell meeting before. It said stuff like "the class is very greatful," "now we understand the immersion program," "we are very happy."

Followed by,"Still we have some suggestions" of course. Nonetheless, that's a huge departure from before.

Also, today was parent teacher interviews. Which stupidly enough are no longer "interviews". Instead i gave 5 minute speeches to 4 groups of parents. Then i politely excused myself, since everything was behind schedule as always.

Then i had a few parents who tracked me down afterwards. One of whom was the last parent i wanted to see who hounded me last year about her son who doesn't exactly excel in my classes. But this time she invited me for dinner because now he's balanced by her keener daughter who is now acing my gr 7 class. That's nice, but i politely declined saying i was busy or something. 'Cause it's no fun when you can't rock out and get drunk 'cause you need to be "respectable."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 13: Meiyou kong

"No free time". that is to say, i have no time to blog. But shit, i churned out THREE entries yesterday. That's all i have to say about that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 12: Blood

Now my parents have split. Could be a while before i see them again. When they 1st arrived my mom said, "Oh, you're excited to see us!" That made me feel kinda guilty that i didn't really feel excited. It just felt normal. Same w/ my brother's arrival. Maybe that's the beauty of familial relations, i dunno.

But it's cool hanging w/ the fam, 'cause there's this feeling that we can be honest about things in ways that we may be more guarded with others. That's cool. Unless it's one of those times when it's not cool. Right?

Day 9: Up the Down Hill


On our last day in Shenyang, we went to aplace my bro read about online, where gravity is reversed. What it means is that inexplicably, you must pedal your bike down the hill, and coast back up it. If there was any explanation anywhere, it wasn't in English.

Really though. You coast UPHILL!i had visions of cyclist's utopia.

Don't know if was worth the 1hr taxi ride. But i did get to drive the taxi up the hill! Well, in neutral, that is. How often do you get to drive a Chinese taxi? And against the gravitational laws? Maybe only once/twice in alifetime, that's how many.

Day 8: Shenyang


Spent last Saturday in Shenyang. Hit some historical sites w/ the fam, which weren't exactly gripping, though they hold a role in some very crazy times and conflicts.

But the best part was when me and my bro went up in the Shenyang tower, to check out some wicked views. Froze our asses and our fingers of, desperately trying to capture a sharp pic, or film footage. Seriously, it was cold.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 11: No Time to Think

After posting about my absentmindedness a couple friends told me that technologyis hte anwer, so maybe i should send myself more emailo reminders or get a palm pilotl But thatwano't stop me form forgetting my bank card in the machine, will it. ? Which ahppened last wk. And taht can be potnetially catastrogphic if someone should come along after my pin ins still entered, and empty my acct. Thankfuly, everything was fine.

Today i taught a grade 8 calss teh word "groovy".

Stressed abhout rereport cards dued tomorrow.

And it's my parents are leaving tomorrow a,d it's toob ad i'm stressed and too busy w/ other shit to spend time w/ them more.

not sleepitnc much.

i shuold have a shower. i'm dirty.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 10: Dinner and Dreams


Um, i'll recap on Shenyang when i can. Life is going a shade too fast for my own preference these days. Today was the big family dinner of 15 people, which my Popo, my grandaunt, referred to as the family UN because there were peeps from so many different countries.

It was pretty good, though i didn't talk with everyone or even hear everyone's names. Tomorrow is another din.

All of this piled on top of compounded school duties makes for a bizzy statusq.

Oh, how i pine for the days when we lazed in the lush mosquito-less fields of organic daisies, when the cotton puff clouds mimicked the art of the abstract-impressionists for our intellectual entertainments, and when we bathed in the unity of our political ideals.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Barracka waka waka

A quick note on the election before i jet for school: YAY!

And i briefly announced it to my ESL class of the moment. 

"The USA has a new president. What colour is he? Many people in the USA don't like a man if he's black. But many other people say 'i think he is ok.' I think Obama is a good man."

i don't think Obama will be a miracle worker. But George W wasn't either. Well, not in my opinion anyway.

i may or may not be able to post this wkend, since me and the nuclear gang are going on a trip to Shenyang. It's gonna be iceeeeeeey there. 

Day 6: Under Scrutiny

Today i had a 3rd parent sit in to observe my science class. that was ok. Class was good. And he did admit that he was a bit baffled by all the English he was hearing that he couldn't follow. (But the kids clearly knew what time it was.)

I was a bit disappointed that he split at the 1/2 way point, since  i wanted him to see us do some drawing and colouring.  Because the parents have claimed that the colouring and art is a waste of learning time. And today, some kids' parts of the plant sketches were pretty purdy.

Anyhow, i refrain from sounding glib 'cause i know this episode isn't exactly over. More parent visitations are upcoming. And parent-teacher interviews next wk could be a pain in the arse too. At the very least, it all makes for more long hours, and less time we can devote to making 1/2 decent lessons. Such is life. 

Oh. Also, it's too bad 'cause i haven't had much time to spend w/ my parents. Oh well. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 5: The Answer...

Heza and i were feeling rather embittered after a painfully painful TWO HOUR meeting w/ 3 irate gr 1 parents who had decided that their children were learning nothing in our classes.

There was a 3 page letter outlining all the shortcomings of our classes.

There was a letter they had circulated to all the parents of our students, outlining said deficiencies.

There were threats about all students being unenrolled, as all the student's parents were being organized by parent X.

There were complaints about how hard it was to meet us or to see our classes.
And we only learned of this last wk for the 1st time.

"Well why don't you come sit on a class or 2 and see what you think?" we asked. They said ok, and then continued to go on and on and on, insistent on venting their stress and anger.

"Ok, I hear you. But that's not how i see the class. Why don't you come in? Tomorrow is good. Then we can talk about it more."
They said ok, but couldn't rid themselves of the compulsion to complain about how bad our classes were, and how immersion is not a good way to learn language, yadda yadda.

So 2 parents came in to my class today and sat in the back. The class wasn't stellar, but it was pretty good. Seriously, it's SO OBVIOUS that the kids are learning all sorts of intricacies of English grammar and new vocabulary about anything and everything, curriculum and beyond.

It's SO OBVIOUS that the kids' reading level is impressive. Almost at Canadian standards.

So they seemed somewhat pacified that they could hear my wonderfully accessible English accent, and see the students engaged and participating, each demonstrating speaking and listening skills. "i can see it's a very attractive class for the children to be in," went the translation of both visting parents.

Anyhow, i doubt the issue is over. It still pisses me off that all this shit went down w/out anyone actually contacting H or i.

Tomorrow my class will play host to a parent again, which is fine. i just teach my Sci class as per normal.

i know i'm bitter about the whole thing, but i don't want to be. Just writing this blog puts a sick knot in my stomach. For sure these parents are forking out big money for this school and want the best for their only child. But Jesus, can't you show a bit more tact in dealing with your concerns?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 4:

Some parts of work can be a majorly depressing drag. And it's not the students. Or the staff. Or the cafeteria food. Any guesses?

Monday, November 3, 2008

day 3:Last Minute Recovery

i just pulled myself outta bed 'cause i realized i forgot to blog.

My parents are bk from Tibet. Tonight i witnessed my parents tickling each other on the bed. i've never seen ANYthing like that before. too funny.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 2: Only Sightly Altered States


Think this one will suit me?

Last night me and my bro and his gf walked around NanLuoGuoXiang (my brother said it was the BJ version of London's Brick Lane: and he was right), and the mainstream barland of Houhai lake. Needing a place to just sit down, i suggested a virtually empty small joint which was playing a Ting Tings track.


Inside the place were 2 guys who helped us dnld whatever music we felt like listening to.

While sitting around, i noticed a pack of rollies in the table, w/ the cover mostly ripped off. Which could only mean one thing.

So i asked the guys if they knew where someone could find something to smoke besides tobacco. they said it's much more available in other cities, but it's really hard in BJ 'cause this is the Olypic city. Stupide Olympics! Consider yourselves warned, Vancouver.

But then he bust out a container of hemp seeds and started picking through it for tiny little bits of bud. It took a while, but he eventually rolled one on the table. i thought that was rather brazen considering the country we're in. We smoked it right there while the one guy, a tattoo artist, showed us his drawings.

Now i can't say i'm into typical tattoo or heavy metal art consisting of demons and skulls and flames and gouged out eyeballs and torture etc, but it did get me thinking about the counter-culture from which tattoos sprung. For example i think that typical death-metal tattoo images are probably the most unpleasant images for some people like, say, my mom. And in that light, i somehow have more respect for it.

The reactionism is a big part of that style of art, but still there's no denying that people love that stuff for its own sake too.

Anyhow, i suspect that my musings on the subject were just slightly tweaked from the tokes i had. Can't say i was high, but at least buzzed.

Also i did some thinking about some other stuff, which was really good for me. But i'm not sure if that subject is bloggable at this point in time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 1: Chinese Halloween


There's not much Halloween in China to speak of unless you're going to expat parties. 

Well, in Mr Wang's class you can watch Simpsons Halloween episodes, and that's ok. 

And recently my bro asked me if i would dress up like a ghost and walk around an under-construction deserted chinese temple we found. For him to film. So i said sure, but we should pbly do it on Halloween. Seemed appropriate, no?

Anyhow, that's what we did lat night, w/ his gf in tow. We all agreed that the place was way less creepy w/ more of us in the group, but his gf still was a bit spooked and not at all hesitant to split after we'd got some footage. 

Upcoming. Maybe.

Well tomorrow is NaBloPoMo. Maybe i will blog for 30 days in a row. Although frankly i can't say i'm much in the mood. But who knows. Maybe i'll get enthused along the way. Or maybe i can pull off 30 one-liners.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Token Social Scene

Just to keep people informed on my life in times when i don't feel particularly inspired to write, here's all the action that's been going dn between me and society.

i went to the 798 art district and met a woman from Montreal at some headachey electronic soundscape music show held in some little artsy music store. i crushed on her for a bit until i found out she has a bf. But that's ok. She's uber cool, and i've crushed on most of my female friends when i 1st met them. i mean, why wouldn't i? Anyhow, it's cool to just hang w/ her, and she and H are sorta friends too now. 

Also, i placed an ad on a BJ site looking for friends. 1st some Australian born chinese woman replied, and it seemed completely obvious from 2 emails that she wasn't interested in any of the things i'd listed in my ad.

Someone else answered my ad, and we had some online chats. After a few days of that i asked "are you a man or a woman?" Woman, it turned out. Then we eventually arranged a meeting. then she asked how old i was. Then i got worried that she might be some 19 yr old, but she turned out to be 30, which is a fine #, i think. Then i wondered, hm i wonder what this woman will look like? Appropriately enough she turned out to be 100% gorgeous.

Anyhow we met up and had a great connection that night and got kinda tipsy and went dancing at a hiphop club which was packed w/ grinding college kids. Anyhow that was great and all, but now i typically think about where things might go from here, but we're both super busy, so it's bn hard to meet up a 2nd time. That's a drag, and it gives me too many opportunities to obsess about things, which i'm trying not to do. BTW, she's chinese and her Eng is pretty good, but not really good, so she talks to me a lot in Mandarin, which is really cool, even if truly 85% of it goes over my head. 

Also a political hipster-y photograper from the Ukraine also dropped me a line, and he sounds pretty keen to meet up when we both have some time later on.  

Also, my bro is in town now for a couple months, so i can have a partner in crime for a while. We'll dig up some stuff to do, no doubt. Hell, just walking around my own neighbourhood is totally entertaining for him, and i get my kicks too. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Last Post on This Topic

Heather has moved out. That's a-ok. 

i think i'm almost ready to stop calling her my ex, and start calling her my friend. 

There are still feelings to be worked out, as became aparent yesterday (long-ish story), i think things have gone well, and are going well. 

i've broken up w/ women and been broken up w/ from other women, and i guess practice makes perfect. Although there were times which were quite painful and sad and frustrating, i don't think things could have gone much better than they did. 

H and i handled ourselves maturely, with honesty, and with sensitivity. And that took effort, for sure. 

And i think i mentioned this before, but allow me to reiterate. I think H made the right decision in breaking up with me. At the time, i felt she made the right decision for her, but not for me. And that's ok. But now i think she made the right decision all round. Because if she were to tell me tomorrow that she realized it was all a big mistake and that we should still be together, i know i couldn't accept it, and that i wouldn't want to work it out.

So now, we embark on lives w/out roommates. Working together (which has always gone well, even through difficult parts of our break up). And probably hanging out here or there on the weekends, like when we're too lazy to cook food. Which is often.

Aside. The timing of her moving out is good, since my bro arrives on Tuesday. And my parents will also come stay with me later on in November.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Modern Sky 2008


In my opinion, this music fest is one of the best things BJ has to offer. 3 days of local indie bands and djs in the sun and smoggy air.  Except that this year 2 of the 3 stages got moved indoors. Oh well.

Aside from the problem that i waited in line for 2 hrs to get in on day 1, it was good to see such a big, hip, and fun crowd. I think it was about... 4% expats.

It's crazy to think that you can get into a well-set up festival with decent soundsystems, a swinging camera video system, and tons of bands for less than $10. So you might think they'd claw back some profits at the bar. But with some bartenders pouring massive unmeasured highballs (redbull vodka, gin and tonic, etc) for $1.40 a hit, i don't know how they managed.  But it makes for a fun festival.

Except that was just this one little problem.

The bands were pretty lacklustre.

Last year Modern Sky was one of the funnest music fests i'd ever been to. But this year, even the bands i really like didn't get me going. Once in a while i could say, "hey that song wasn't so bad!" but not much more. 

Bands which don't impress, kinda impact things like... music festivals. Don't ask me how, but i know it's true.

Also, this year the festival didn't bring in any international acts. Too bad, since the ones they were looking at were Lou Reid and good ol'  anguished but sweet Connor O'berst.

At least the dj stage wasn't half as monotonous as it was last year, but by day 3, i wasn't willing to stick it out late to see the electropunk djs i actually wanted to see.

Well, at the very least it was a nice place to hang out for a few afternoons and evenings. On day 1 i hung out w/ C, my new friend who i met in the art district. On day 2 i hung out with H. And on day three i hung out with... both of them, which was ... happily unweird.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Have a Problem. But i Forgot What It Was


Let me preface this entry with an anecdote.

I was in Nova Scotia. I rode my bike to get groceries. i collected all my items and went to the till line up. Then i got up to the cashier, reached into my pocket and realized i'd forgotten my wallet. Oops. The cashier generously set my stuff aside for me.

So then i had to ride my bike all the way home. Then i watered the plants. Played guitar. And then went back to the store. Went into the line up, reached into my pocket and realized...

i like recounting this story because it's kinda funny and cute. it also describes my absent-mindedness at its best.

But.

i really don't want to be absent-minded anymore. Screw funny and cute. i think i should be a touch more... responsible by now.

i've been thinking about this because the other day i was meeting a friend to go to the Modern Sky Music Festival. She is new to Beijing. She didn't have a cell phone.

So we arranged to meet at a subway stop at a designated time.

i was stressed that i just missed my bus. But then i was happy when the following bus still got me to the station on time. She wasn't there. So i waited for 25 minutes. Then i recalled that she'd mentioned the subway station Fuchingmen, and i went to Fuxingmen. So maybe she meant Fuchengmen, which was 1 stop away. So then i ran around, taking the subway between the 2 stops a couple times.

By then it was 55 minutes later, and she was nowhere to be seen. i figured that was enough so i headed off for the festival.

15 min later i got a phone call. My friend had borrowed someone's phone to ask where i was. "Um, it's after 12:30," she said.

Oops, i had mistakenly been waiting since ELEVEN thirty. Hm. What a lot of totally unnecessary energy and stress spent. Luckily, she was super mellow and understanding about it. A stroke of luck i certainly couldn't expect from others.

This sort of thing happens more frequently than i care to admit. Once i went to a concert and showed up a week early. 

Details craftily evade me. i don't know how, but the sneaky buggers do it. 

My meditation hasn't seemed to help me much in this respect.

I really am at a bit of a loss as to how i can deal w/ this aspect of my personality.It's like the importance of things doesn't always hit home. Do i need to take more notes? Review any and all information?

If anyone has ideas, i'm open.

 


The Old In and Out

So the split between H and i has been amicable and respectful and honest enough, despite the extenuating circumstances of living and working together and having no friends in this chunk of the city.

Due to the last detail, we had decided to continue to live together so we wouldn't fall into any patterns of isolation. And also we didn't want or need the hassle and complication of divying up all of our crap, also called "laziness."

Now that we're kinda settled bk into work and BJ, i think we're doing ok w/ not feeling isolated. And we have both been making more social contacts. That's good. So despite everyone's comments that it'd be better for us to move out of the same apt, laziness became the main reason i wanted to stay in the apartment. 

But then for reasons i hadn't expected, H decided that it would be best for us to part ways. And the school does have vacant apartments available to us. So i passively concurred that yes of course this is the best thing to do, which it is.

So pbly next wk, H will start packing out. i'll stay put, as my fam is coming out to visit me here.

Also, i admit i'd be happy to find someone new to date also, and livng w/ my ex could complicate things. Is this rebounding? Could be, but frankly it feels exactly the same as large periods of time i've spent single in the past. Maybe not ideal, but whatcha gonna do?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Seventh and Final Day

In a nutshell...

Today, i got to skip out on regular teacher duties to drink tea and learn a computer program.

i sprinted in a relay race.

i peed 10 times.

i bought a ticket to ride the world's fastest train.

My friends painfully convinced a policeman to let me break the rules.

Because i'm a foreigner.

Another police officer went running with me to escort me to a shuttle bus.

A friend asked me if i want to do some nude photography.

It was totally unclear whether it was me posing for her, or her for me.

And i got drunk by myself.

And now... i have seven days off.

Amen, Golden Week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Attempts at Subversion

On a grammar sheet i made, focussing on proper use of 'Because", i asked students why some people might NOT like China.

After clarifying for some adamant students that the question was correct, and no it was not supposed to say "Are there any people who do not like China?" i got these responses.

Some people do not like China because they are not Chinese.
Some people do not like China because people habve prejudice with China.
Some people do not like China because China has bad environment.


but the best...

People not like China? I don't believe!

Pressure to Find a Mate


Grade 1 science is kinda fun. i get to talk about how you can't have babies alone. How males and females must arduously seek one another in order to procreate. i draw lots of cute cartoons and lots of hearts so they get the message.

A handful of kids yell out how Mr Wang and Miss Woodland "mate." And i lamely turned a deaf ear on it, choosing to focus on the smooching fish.

Let's call it a translation issue. Kids also thought that mosquitos "mate" with people since they "kiss" us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Names Rock


One duty i had as gr 1 teacher was to dole out English names to all the kids who needed one.

The names are ideally: monosyllabic, easy to spell, using different initial letter, and semi-recognizable as a name. My criteria, not the admin's.

So (of course) i dug up bunch of musician names.

We got
Art (garfunkel)
Mick (jagger) though he started calling himself Mickey by day 3
Lou (reid)
(ian) Curtis
Ian (curtis)

Um, i think there's more but i can't remember any rt now.

Oh, and sorry if i sound like a sexist bastard, but the fact is that most women in the Great Musicians website i looked at had names which i thought were dull or inappropriate or too complicated. Maybe someone could write a women's studies thesis about this phenomenon.

Let's Make Friends

Ok. Even last year i had every intention to make more friends in BJ when this year rolled around. So now i'm trying to do that.

So i put an ad out in the Friends section, but that only got one reply from an aussie woman who sounded like we had zilcho in common.

But also i met a couple thru Heza's friend (who just moved out of BJ, unfortunately).

i met up with them and a friend of theirs last wk, and this wkend we're planning to see 8 bands playing guns 'n roses covers. This is good, 'cause i just read Slash's hilarious autobiography. It fucking rocks.

Also, H will pbly meet up w/ a girl who is the gf of the guy who helped me record that song last fall.

Tight circles we're running here. But it feels ok.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Savage Politics

Yes, on rare occasions i have my own opinions, but i really do love it when someone like Dan Savage can research it and state it so much more concisely and cuttingly than me. So i'll let Dan do the blabbing about hockey moms to be wary of.

Speaking of hot teenagers and asshole parents and vows that you may come to regret...

The 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice-presidential nominee, is pregnant. The news was released by the McCain camp during a busy week—a hurricane, the Republican National Convention, Dick Cheney getting us into a war with Russia—so it didn't receive the coverage it deserved. To recap:

Seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin got her ass knocked up five or so months ago by 18-year-old Levi Johnston. Among the hobbies listed on Levi's since-yanked MySpace page—"fishing, shoot some shit, and just fuckin' chillin'"—was this revealing tidbit: "I don't want kids." But Bristol, says her mom, "made the decision on her own to keep the baby," and is now engaged to Levi "Shootin' Shit" Johnston.

As the adoptive parent of a child born to a pair of unwed teenagers, I'm certainly not in favor of abortion in all circumstances. But I believe that it's a choice teenagers should be able to make for themselves—with input from their families whenever possible—and, so it seems, does the GOP's VP nominee. Sarah Palin is pleased that her daughter made the decision—on her own—to keep the baby.

But Sarah Palin doesn't believe that other girls should be able to make their own decisions. Sarah Palin believes abortion should be illegal in almost every instance—including rape and incest. So Bristol Palin is being celebrated for making a choice that Sarah Palin would like to take away from all other American women. Apparently, today's GOP believes that choice is a special right reserved for the wayward daughters of Republican elected officials.

Oh, and Sarah Palin also believes that birth control shouldn't be made available to teenagers, she opposes medically accurate sex education, and she backs abstinence-until- marriage sex "education."

Sigh.

The GOP has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into abstinence "education" programs during the Bush years. I believe this enormous investment of public funds begs the obvious question: Is our children abstaining? Sarah Palin's aren't. Despite this massive outlay on the part of the American taxpayer and the example set by her Christian parents, Bristol Palin became sexually active while still in high school. Excuse me, but if abstinence education can't keep the daughter of the evangelical governor of Alaska off the cock, what hope is there for the daughters—and some of the sons—of average Americans?

I'm a cad for writing this, of course, because shortly before Bristol and Levi were paraded before cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention, the Palins asked the media to respect their daughter's privacy.

Another special right: When it comes to respecting your family's privacy, Palin and the GOP see no need. They want to micromanage the most intimate aspects of your private life. And if their own kids fail to live up to the standards that Palin and the GOP seek to impose on your family, well, that's a private matter between the Palins, their daughter, their God, and the thousands of screaming imbeciles in elephant hats waving McCain/Palin signs on the floor of the Republican National Convention.


Thanks, Dan

Friday, September 12, 2008

workworkworkworkwork

12 and 13 hr days at the school have been putting statusq into an awful mood. why is it that people say he's such a great teacher but he feels like things are barely held together if at all, and even if he likes working with kids, he hates preparing lessons.

Nothing is helped by the fact that he's at the maximum allowable teaching load, is still waiting for textbooks, and is trying to deal w/ a few students from gr 1, 2, 7, and 8 who can't read or speak much English.

He was completely fucking braindead by the end of the week, which felt like a month.

One staff member asked how statusq stays so calm and easygoing about it all. H told her that sq was actually very stressed out, but aparently it wasn't apparent. i guess that's good.

sq was so not on top of his game that he didn't even realize until Friday afternoon that Monday is a holiday.

Thank god.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Begin the Begin

Today was the 1st day of school.

Some long prep hours.

Annoyance at my increased workload from last year.

Grade 1 Eng, Math, Sci; Gr2 Sci; and 4 classes of gr8 & 9 ESL.

But so far, my stress level is super low compared to last year.

Knock on faux-wood.

Heza and i share a bunch of classes so we work together.

Seems ok.

Maybe good:

constructive work, and not exactly about "us".

H wants things to be normal between us again.

But it hasn't exactly been very long since...

So fuck, i think things are shockingly normal between us already.

Not exactly normal.

But pretty normal.

All things considered.

Like the situation.

The environment.

Our lack of outside social lives.

Ongoing differences.

And electricity probs in the apartment.

'Cause we still hang out.

Go out for din.

Have beers.

Watched a flick.

Shoot the shit.

Even if i don't look her in the eye so often.

What can you say.

It's exactly the life i asked for.

i think.



Begin the Begin is an old REM song, btw. Didn't get it, did you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pix Up


Ok, i finally got my pix up on Flickr.
That was hassle enough.
Maybe someday i'll figure out the pix thing on Facebook, which i've strangely taken up again. i figger it's forgivable at this moment in my life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Out of Taipei

Well that was a weird 10 days.


Took me some time to figure out that broke up actually means broke up. Not time apart, not friends with benefits.

Then it was like hey fine, we're broke up.

Then it was like oh how fucking weird and sad, we're broke up.

We talked a lot. All honest and respectful.

We also didn't talk a lot.

Moreso me.

Because i'd lost all inclination to share thoughts, ideas, observations, witticisms, jokes, etc.

At times i could do it, but it sure took a lot of effort.

Largely it felt more honest to say nothing.

i felt bad, 'cause i didn't want to give the silent treatment or anything, but that's pbly what it semed like.

Anyhow, we struggled through time together and time apart. We did some touristy stuff still, met up w/ my aunt and cousin, caught a show (where i was stoked when a band rocked out with Verve/Smashing Pumpkins/Pavement-esque epic guitar jams, and the lead dude wore a My Bloody Valentine tshirt).

We also had plans to check out the hot springs but when the time came i reported to Heather that i was in one of those disgustingly anti-social moods, whereupon she decided to get a massage in the hotel instead. That was a smart choice on her part.

Now we're bk in BJ and spending our 1st night in separate rooms. For a guy w/ zero capacity to have perspective, it feels fine for now.

Don't it?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nuts and Bolts

Since people seem to be enquiring, i do plan to complete my upcoming 2 yr contract with the BJ school.

That's all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Up Down Up Down Up Down

This post is just to console readers who thought i was sounding too positive about everything.

Yesterday i woke up cranky and a bit sick. H was on her half of the bed and i felt a real reaction to get away from her.

i took a piss, put on my shoes and went for a long walk. Sat in a park, and had a meditation which ended in sobbing.

Went bk to the room, where H was packing her things (moving to a new hotel). Climbed into bk into bed and lay w/ the sheets over my head so it would be discreet when spasms of tears struck.

We pack out and walk to the new hotel. i hardly say a word, and always avert my face from hers, unable to look at her.

At the new hotel we have to wait 20 min for our room. we sip a beer. i hide behind the visor of my hat the entire time. Tears are intermittent. And i don't know why precisely they come. i'm not thinking of one thing or another. They come. they stop. they start up for a moment. they have a mind (or emotions) of their own.

Shortly afterwards i leave the hotel and kill time wandering around for the day, feeling grumpy and headachey.

Today i feel fine again. Break ups rock.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thoughts Which Fleetingly Cross My Mind

  1. i am very lucky to have such supportive wonderful friends
  2. H is also happy i have such supportive wonderful friends
  3. i have often comtemplated my good fortune and thought how i would have no right to complain should difficulties arise
  4. i really feel that my vipassana course i recently took is halping stay even through this break up
  5. i wonderful if being so forgiving encourages people to treat me like a doormat
  6. it's not about me
  7. i still want H to do what's right for her and to be happy
  8. i know she's done her soul-searching and put herself through the wringer
  9. so far i think i've done a good job at keeping things positive and withholding nonconstructive commentary
  10. being rejected still sux, and even though i know it's not true i sometimes feel like my personality is a long list of shortcomings and annoyances
  11. i did all i could to make the relationship work, and it wasn't enough
  12. i fully understand H's reasons to leave me, and they are just
  13. H and i still get on fine, though sometimes it's hard for me to be around her
  14. Mostly it's like before but no sex, she says, but i know i'm holding back
  15. i think H should make more mistakes and take more drugs. She might understand herself better
  16. things aren't very weird between us now, so what's the point of dwelling on the future? But i do think about it sometimes
  17. i wonder if rebounding would be bad for me
  18. Mostly i feel fine. Really. Even if you don't believe me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Vacationing in Taipei

Um, hanging out here w/ the "ex" so far has been ok. But also kind of weird. More details coming out as we hang out more. Some expected, some not. i pbly need a few months to know how i really feel about things.

Took some solo time today, and will likely need more.

Life keeps you guessing. It does that. Really it does.

H makes a comment about it on her own blog here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dumped

Didn't see that one coming. Or did i. i felt kinda nervous going bk to BJ wondering how it would be w/ Heza after our summer separation.

And i was shortly informed that our relationship would not continue on where it had left off in June.

A few tears aside, i thought i took it pretty well, though i am sad and rather confused about the year(s) to come, all of which need massive re-envisioning. Many of you know i had planned to be w/ Heza at the ripe age of 85.

Sad to hear that despite our love for each other, she doesn't think it is an ideal match.

Sad that over the summer i had discussed marriage and family with so many Indians and the one major decision of my summer was to try and eradicate the animosity i have demonstrated towards her family, to try and build new relations as if they were my own family.

But also i can understand the frustration she has experienced with me over the last couple years, and it's not fair to either of us if she finds herself unable to forgive me for being me.

Case in point: this morning we went to the BJ airport to head out for our no-longer-romantic holiday. despite arriving plenty early, i lost track of time while sitting alone, and barely made the last call for boarding. Meanwhile H was all stressed out waiting for me. She has enough trouble forgiving herself for her own errors, and i often get held to her standards which doesn't fly so well.

i am definitely still processing what's going on. Kinda lost, kinda lonely, kinda confused, and also kinda ok with everything. Weirdly, i still feel like the universe is sending me messages saying, "it's ok," so that's very much appreciated. Thank-you universe.

Surely there is much strangeness and awkwardness in store for us, so do stay tuned.

I guess this gets filed as "Everyday Life."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Later, India! or Bring On The Guilt

Had a full on finish in bombay before catching my plane out. Very very nice to be able to spend so much time with new and old friends. You may have heard me harp on before about how i meet such awesome people, but it's TRUE. i'm a very lucky boy.

A lot of people have asked me what i think of India/Indians, and this time around i was really struck by people's generosity. SO many people have been SO helpful and SO generous with their time, money, food, and homes. And half the time, it's coming from people who are like WAY lower than me on the economic scale.

"i don't want tourists to have a bad eperience in India," said a young student who refused to let me pay my busfare and rode with me to my destination. Um, does that happen in Canada?

Also, I should make particular mention of Vinit and his family who were super gracious hosts for the end of my trip, and got me totally loaded up on goodies before i split town. I sometimes wonder what i've done to deserve so much from the universe and its creatures.

Well at least i've learned how to graciously accept things and be happy. i seriously didn't know how to before. But now i feel the pressure and responsibility to pass such generosity on. This is the good side of Keeping Up With the Joneses, ain't it?

Push Push, In the ... Rush...?

Sue me if you don't like the post title.

Here's a comment i made to a few Indians. "Love India. Love the people. But don't like all the pushing and shoving on the trains. Well ok, I kinda like it, but not everyday."

Yep, it's worse than Beijing. In rush hour you won't catch your train if you don't get your elbows up. Although last night a friend said, "No I just stand right in front of the door and then everyone behind me pushes me on." Skills, dude. I did catch a train or 2, hanging out the doorway, and it didn't feel too unsafe, but i wouldn't want to pull that shit on a daily basis.

But anyhow, it's WAY more dangerous than BJ. Mainly 'cause the doorways have no doors. Sure i love to stand in the doorway for the great view and breeze like everyone else does, but people DO fall out, and falling out is often fatal. Hell, last night, my friend's wife sent him a eerie txt that a woman in her train car had just fainted and fallen out the door. You may recall my mention of the daily railway casualties. Scary stuff.

And yes, when it's super packed, people will resort to climbing on the roof, and nobody installed the seatbelts up there.

Also, there's rumours of theft on the trains. A nigerian dude told me he's lost 3 cell phones. I always felt pretty safe, but you all know how naive i can be, right?

well, it's easy to bitch about the Bombay transit system, but to keep things in perspective, in India it's one of the best. Frequency is good. Express trains. Lots of buses. I guess it's hard to expect any system to cope with a massively dense population like Bombay's.

The Taj Mirage

After my vipassana course, i unexpectedly had a couple days to kill so i went to Aurangabad to see the Ellora and Ajanta caves. 9 years ago when i came to india, i only had ONE thing on my agenda that i really wanted to do. See the Ajanta caves. But it wasn't in the stars. So this time around i was stoked to catch them. Except that the caves are closed on Mondays. So it wasn't in the stars.


but i did see the Ellora caves (which some say are more impressive). And trust me: pictures can't do the place justice. There's this epic monumental feeling like yr on the set of an Indiana Jones flick. Very powerful to be there.
well for the good ones, anyways. There;s 30 caves, and after 12 or so i was kinda caved out. So no great sadness to miss Ajanta.
Also, as pictured up top, i went to see Bibi Ka Maqbara, the poor man's Taj. A Salman Rushdie essay completely sold me on the need to see the Taj Mahal, but he never mentioned Bibi K M, for good reason. Save your $2.50.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Course #6 Under the Belt

Just finished another Vipassana course this morning. Well, sorta. Technically i dropped out of the 10 day course on day 6, left to see a Dr, then did a part-time course. Had some gut muscle issues, and whipped bk into Bombay to see a Dr, grab some drugs, and then whipped bk in time for the evening discourse.

That's the short version. The long version has some more philosophical flavour to it, which i could pbly handle talking about in person.

Anyhow.

On the one hand, i'm a touch disappointed that i didn't get any big "new" experiences or lessons this course. 75% of the time i do. My head was surprisingly scattered and off on tangents, this course. I don't blame the pot. But on the whole i felt like i did a good job clearing thru sankaras from the past (attachments, aversions, cravings).

But even today, coming out of 10 days of purification, i've still got way more negativity in my head than i'd like. For now, i'll chalk it up to sleep dep and crankiness.

You Do the Litterbug (snap snap snap)

Put aside the fact that the western world throws tonnes of carbon emissions into the planet's air.

Put aside the fact that we have happily and intentionally sunk tonnes of toxic waste into the bottoms of the oceans.

Put aside the fact that we have done the same unintentionally also.

Put aside the fact that we send so much toxic ewaste to 3rd world countries for "recycling."

Put aside the fact that because we produce more garbage than we can deal with we often ship it to our 3rd world friends homes.

But.

Shit, does it ever bug me here in India and in China to see people throwing their gupta wrappers into the gutter, styrofoam plates out the train windows, and chopstick wrappers on the sidewalk.

What, you people got no ethics?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yanks

Here in Goa i'm having a smashing time.
Met a couple very very cool guys from Dallas.
We've been checkin out the area, cruising around and exploring on their rented scooters.
Lots of rain here, but today was quite dry.
Checked out Old Goa, where lots of old Portugeuese architecture and cathedrals were amazing.
Last night we got lost driving in circles on dirt trails in a bloody forest
looking for a beach bar which we finally found.
Got quite drunk.
Also got the puff fix i was looking for from some other patrons
(now good for the next couple years).
And we had mad rad conversation.
Good shit.
Tomorrow i will split for my course at the world's largest Vipassana centre.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sai Yonara

Well that was kind of an anticlimactic visit to the man whom many equate w/ God.

But oddly enough, it's almost exactly what i thought would happen.

To sum up. Visiting the Sai Baba ashram was kinda weird for the following reasons.
  • Sai Baba is now in a wheel chair
  • thus he doesn't mix up w/ the People so much anymore
  • if he comes out at all
  • and sometimes he comes out in a car
  • ( a modest one)
  • and people get all focussed on the car like the paparazzi
  • that feels weird
  • But mostly life there requires a LOT of waiting
  • because he MIGHT come out
  • no books or entertainments allowed
  • you must practice your patience
  • or meditate
  • 4 + hours of sitting around/day
  • Mulitiplied by the 4000 (by my estimate) expectant individuals
  • = a lot of wating

Patience is important, yes. But i was seriously thinking about other ways we could all be using our time.

But still, i stayed there for 4 days and feel good about it. Why? 'Cause:

  • it felt right
  • i didn't have many mindblowing connections w/ anyone, but i did have a few good conversations
  • with other former skeptics
  • who concurred about "the feeling" they weirdly got to lay eyes on Mr Sai Baba
  • but mostly it felt right

Ok it wasn't at all the crazy mind evolution that it was the 1st time i went, but i didn't expect it to be. i just wanted to pop in and say "hello" and i did.

Somebody there gave me a Sai Baba book w/ the cheezy title Master the Mind and Be a Mastermind, which isn't a great read or anything, but it does make me feel a wee bit guilty about my intentions of toking at Goa. Ah well, you win some you lose some.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Saiiiiiii

Take 2 on the world of Sathya Sai Baba.

i came to see him 9 yrs ago and it was a pivotal moment in my life, when my logical rational mind was reluctantly but necessarily giving up my Faith in Atheism.

9 yrs ago, i came to his ashram and had mind-blowing conversations with almost everyone i bumped into, and even with Sai Baba himself i had experiences which went beyond Newtonian physics.

This time around, i come to see him with no real purpose except to pay my respects. I haven't seen him in a long time, and maybe will never have the chance again.

I feel that seeing him is comparable to seeing Jesus Christ when he walked the earth.

But this time around, my experience has been rather boring. Haven't had any wild connections, and not too much mind-bending conversation. Also, there's a LOT of waiting around for him, and he appears a lot less than he used to.

As i told one man this morning, "I feel ok. Good even, like Sai Baba is saying that I don't need anything from him right now."
"But what if he specifically called you here for some reason?"
"Well, then I'm still waiting to see it. Maybe in 20 minutes or tomorrow i'll see why he called me here. And that'd be great. Or maybe i won't. And that'd be great too."
i don't know if he dug my response so much.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Matrimandir



I feel very lucky that i was able to get inside the Matrimandir structure, which wasn't even listed as an option on the tour day itinerary. But Jackie pulled some strings, since we were rattling on about meditation already. But i didn't really get what it was about 'til i got inside of it.
i actually think it looks kinda tacky from the outside, but inside it's another world. 1st you walk up this ramp into the bottom 1/2 of the sphere. Everything is white. you take white socks out of a compartment and don them. The whole place is so f'ing quiet and pristine i was afraid to touch anything.
Two spiral walkways wind up through the globe to the top room. Refracted sunlight lights up the walls with glowing pink. It's weird, there's no way to identify which side of the sphere the sun is on. I felt like i was in some zen sort of Epcot Centre.
Then we went into the top room. I couldn't believe it. The temperature was weirdly cool. There was a strange echoey quiet. The only light source was a sharp shaft of light piercing down from the top of the sphere, into a crystal sphere in the centre of the room, after which it proceeded down through the bottom of the structure to the ground. Meditation spots were spaciously arranged. Cylindrical pillars stretched up into the spherical space.
Sorry, you'll never get the feel of the place from this description, but it was totally INTENSE. Everything was so meticulously arranged and so pristine. I was afraid to sit down. Never before have i ever been in such a powerful architectural space before. This place really inspired a sense of awe and perfection.
The closest thing i've seen might be Daniel Libeskind's Holocaust Tower. That was also quite powerful, but a lot more depressing. Therefore, i vote for Matrimandir.

Auroville: intentionality and experimentation, and definitely a work in progress

Now i know i'm usually all against tours, but this one kinda fell into my lap, and it was perfect. Basically i spent 8 hrs with a man who'd spent 30 yrs in Auroville, and he was totally cool, and we did whatever i/we felt like, and he answered all my questions, and we waxed philosophical quite often.

9 yrs ago i met a couple peeps who came from Auroville, and i was fascinated to learn of this experimental community where people were living in treehouses, trying to live without money, yadda yadda.

The town is named after Shri Aurobindo, an Indian guru, who along with The Mother, conceptualized and created Auroville.

Their charter explains it a lot better than i do:
  • Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
  • Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
  • Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
  • Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.
Ha, but talk is cheap! Where's Auroville really at?

Jackie (my middle aged French tour guide) talked at length about the huge changes and growth which Auroville has seen in the last few decades.

About the people:
I asked him what percentage of people here are aware of the writings/teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He looks at me in surprise. "100%! Why would anyone live here if they don't believe in these ideas? They might visit, but they would never stay."

What about the money? "I am French, i love cheese, so now they make cheese here, and i love it. But you must have money." He considers how people need to make a living, and money itself is not so bad. But his most poignent comment is about how before, Auroville was a few people who couldn't fathom the limits, eager to work, help, in any way possible. "We had no money, no motorcycles or cars, no houses. Now we have all of these things, but we are less happy."

Another gem: "Before there were two camps in Auroville, on opposite sides of town. People had to make the trek by bike or foot to reach the other camp. But if something happened, we all would know in one hour. We knew everything that was happening. Now we have motorcycles, phones, radio, internet. But if your neighbour dies, you might not learn it for days."

Anyhow we got on super well, and i got to milk him for details on taxation, population control, education, environmental issues, decision making policies, citizenship, life after Auroville, food production, trade, and much much more. All in all a very edjookayshnil time.

So is Auroville a...success? Hard to say. It does offer a lot, and Jackie comments that people who leave Auroville often return. It's not a bubble, nor does it try to be. But it is definitely a little microcosm of a town with unique problems and issues. The shared spiritual focus unites people in many ways, but sure doesn't eliminate differences in opinion. I do feel that Auroville is a powerful example to the world in many ways, though i am curious to find that i have no desire to join it. I kinda feel like we all live in the full-sized Auroville, though most of us don't know it.