Sunday, July 31, 2011

Up Up and Away

Well, sort of.

Here's my unsuper recap of summer.

Mandarin class wrapped up surprisingly quickly. I wrote the school an email and talked to some lady about the turtle who lives in an aquarium that's far too small for him, and lives a life of utter boredom and discontent, but it doesn't look like they're gonna do anything about it.

The class itself was ok, and met some nice foreigners who all speak roughly the same level of chinese as me (except that i was by far the illiterate one). And i also would have preferred a teacher who was more of a Nazi. Less friendly chit chat, and more Today we MUST get through exercises A, B, C, D and E!

Watched a bunch of vids and movies w/ my gf, who's worked as much as ever through this rainy, hot July. Transformers got slaughtered by the critics, but i thought it was pretty refreshing after the abysmal part 2. I won't tell you why, in case you go and see it. But it does some interesting historical reinterpretation.

Also: The Hangover. Pretty f'ing funny. Don't read the back of the DVD box first, if you can. Really.

And then: today i'm of to some buddhist place for a 4 day retreat. Although i'm sure the place isn't set up as a retreat centre, and there's a possibility i may be sleeping on a couch. Which is fine.

Then back for a couple days, whereupon me and Q will throw our lives into suitcases for a few weeks. YES she got the visa! So we'll be off to Budapest, Hungary for Abe and Judit's wedding. Then off solo to explore Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Germany. Yes, it'll be a busy few weeks.

And then i'll return to a jobless life in BJ, whereupon i'm hoping that my ex-employer forgets that they gave me that 1 year visa, and DON'T cancel it leaving me an illegal resident who could get kicked out of the country forever more.

i don't expect it to come to that.

Expect more scintillating updates upon my return, dedicated readers!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crazy summer MADNESS!!!

Well this is summer alright.
Beijing's hot and peculiarly humid. Admittedly this is my 1st July spent in town, so I'm not sure if all these sporadic torrential thundershowers are the norm.

Unbelievably, it seems like July is already drawing to a close, and what've i got to show for it? Well, i've been in mandarin classes for 3 hrs/day, 3 days/week. And that's been ok, although i'd frankly like to see yet more rapid improvement.

I've sloppily recorded most of the guitar songs i've ever written so i don't need to worry about forgetting any more of them.

i went running once. Did a bit of writing.


This is a disappointingly small list of accomplishments for 3 weeks. Yes, i'll be off to Eastern Europe in August, but what can i do to exploit my time here?

finish the painting i started 8 months ago.
Visit Fragrant Hills area.
Visit Temple of Heaven area.
Get something published on a local website.

Q is working all summer long, including some wkends, so trips out of town aren't too feasible. I kind of want to get her out more, but i know that when i was teaching i sure as hell didn't want stay up past 11:05...

In the beginning of August i'll hopefully skip out for a 4 day self-guided meditation retreat.

Also, i'm unsure about the plans for next year. After politely saying thanks but no thanks to my employer about working next year (right after i received the 1 year working visa from them), they contacted me twice to ask me to reconsider.

i had actually said that i decided not to teach FT next year, and now they just asked what that would look like. And that if I don't work for them, they'll recall my work visa. With a sigh, i responded politely saying that of course i'd be happy to work 3 days/wk.

We'll see what happens.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Hits of Yesterday

I remember before I'd left Canada for China, I asked a Chinese (from China) girl about biking in China. Is it dangerous? I'll need to get a helmet... She informed me, "If you wear a helmet in China, people will think you're... special." But it didn't take long on the roads of Beijing to realize that a helmet's not a bad idea.

I've witnessed numerous collisions involving bikes (only one involving a head injury), and had a few instances of forgettable contact myself.

Yesterday was my first real accident. Chill. I got off scot-free. Zero employment of my helmet.

It wasn't yet late, but the sky was already black. I was finishing up a rare recreational bike ride, and was 1 minute from arriving home.

I raced ahead to catch the green turning light, noting the approaching taxi who was turning into my lane. No problem, he'll see me. Generally speaking drivers somehow manage to find the brake pedal in time, regardless of the unpredictable shit that foggy drivers and pedestrians thrust in their path.

But this time he didn't see me. I yelled at him at full volume, thinking that my left leg could be on the brink of some serious pain. Then he hit, slamming on the brakes milliseconds later than preferable. I found myself amazingly having landed on my feet, completely unscathed. But the adrenalin at least got me to start yelling at this guy in broken chinese. "I have a green light! You are wrong!" He apologetically concurred that he was busy looking the other way.

A few people stopped to watch, before puttering on. This wasn't serious enough to garner a proper crowd.

I made a show of whipping out a red pen and writing down his license number on my arm. The driver was worried. But elated that I wasn't hurt. And that even the bike seemed alright. It did seem to be strangely untouched. The way things are handled in China, you could call the cops, but both parties usually prefer to take of their own business with one party passing cash to the other.

So i contemplated: 200rmb maybe? 100? But as the adrenaline receded I started to think about the life of the average cabby, the 14-24 hr shifts, dealing w/ drunks and idiots, relentless traffic and ubiquitous bonehead drivers...

Ok, ok, ok. You go. He smiled and pumped my hand with both of his. "Xiexie xiexie xiexie!" Yeah yeah, no problem.

I hopped on my bike and realized that it wasn't exactly riding properly. Eventually i realized the car had struck exactly one place on my bike: the side of the pedal. Thus warping the crank and/or bottom bracket. I groaned wondering if this was gonna cost me some coin. In the end it did: 5 kuai. Or 80cents to get it bent back into shape.

The end.

Lesson: use your front light. It's not useful sitting (conveniently) in your bag, you lazy punk.