Thursday, September 22, 2011

Life After Teaching

Hey gang,
Well, at the conclusion of last June, I was officially unemployed. However, before I'd gotten back to Beijing, a friend of mine who does voice work in BJ knew some guy who was looking for writers to create ESL oral tests. So I put on the tie, and did the interview where I sounded totally overconfident in my capabilities.

I did a rough calculation of my hourly wage from last year, and asked them to match 118rmb/hour. They said sure. Then i realized that $18/hr isn't that much, and holy shit, is that all i was making last year?

So i emailed the boss, asking for 200rmb/hr. "Sorry I miscalculated." And he said... okay. Wow.

Part time i've been writing dialogues and questions and editing other stuffs. Correcting enviromental misinformation whenever necessary. "Actually, the cows don't destroy the grasslands. It's just farmers who naturally accept payment to raise cattle," etc etc.


This job's been just a handful of hrs/wk.

So i've kept myself busy by playing music and painting. Yay.

And also doing some writing along the side, some of which looks pretty good, but i haven't submitted any of it to anyone. My bad.

And also i've sent out some resumes.

Had an interview yesterday at Radio China International. That would be rad. But i ought not to talk much about it yet. If i get confirmation on it, i'll wax poetic. So in the meantime, you can wish me well if you so desire.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eurotrip Part 2

Hopped on a train to Bratislava. Woke up on said train and was informed that Bratislava stop was 100km back. Jumped off at Brno and convinced an angry girlfriend that Brno was a nice place to spend a night. Which it was. Forked out a lot of money on a swank medieval style hotel, strolled the car-free cobblestoned downtown core, and ate a pork hock the size of an overinflated football.

Bratislava – boring renovated castle, touristy old town, great hipster band, one Jazzanova DJ, and one drunken couple who seemingly tried to proposition us into swinging, which we opted against.

Convinced by the large number of recommendations to visit Vienna, Austria, we veered off to Vienna, Austria. Jaws on the floor, to witness such ubiquitous sculptural precision and emotion on public display. Statues are great. Stone statues of embattled people transforming into writhing sea creatures are so next level. Prominent galleries which prove that Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele did much greater things than decorate yuppy living rooms. The world's undisputed best apple strudel. The city that Mozart himself chose for his freelance years. The place is f'ing civilized.

Prague. Never seen a city so well preserved in my life. Sure, it's touristified, but the winding maze of roads and historic architecture, and the wonderful absence of modern buildings creates a real feeling of going back in time. A tourist packed cathedral which still manages to bring tears to the eyes. Obviously , everyone says, “It was better before,” which it undoubtedly was, but the place still deserves to be prioritized among European destinations.

Berlin. Second time for Qianqian and I, and we stayed w/ my brother's friend and her bf (who i got on w/ rather well). He and i went out for beers in a sweet little living room of a club when our gf's were too tired to deal w/ us. After about 3 wks of travelling attached at the hip, Q and i eventually had a fight, where we both act like immature kids, and ended up taking separate routes in the gallery for the day. I take a full 50% of the responsibility. I need to voice my issues earlier instead of letting stuff stew in my gut to the point where i can't deal w/ stuff rationally anymore. Also got to meet up w/ my punk guitarist friend Matthias, who i hadn't seen in 6 years. He's still shredding. Berlin, if you don't know, is cool. Not overcool, but very cool. It's also “the poorest” city in Germany, as all the artists and indies go there. Organized, and efficient, but the DIY attitude is still in full effect. Spent rather too much time “shopping” w/ the gf, but did get to see lots of different chunks of the city.


Eastern Europe is def underrated. Good to hang out w/ Gavin and Abe (and we didn't even rehash our drug laden university days). Totally happy to witness Abe and Judit's wedding. Also in three weeks i had more meat than i've eaten in the last three years. That coupled with the daily beer consumption created a small beer belly on my skinny body.

Back in Beijing now: meditate. Read a book about buddhism to start being the Buddhist that i officially am. Run / bike / swim more. Get a job.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eurotrip Part 1 – Budapest

Budapest – totally cool city in a way that's predictably totally different from Beijing cool. Lots of cool hipster areas, Banksy graffiti, and artsy bars. And century old cafe culture. Qianqian and I had the good fortune of being invited out to Budapest for friends Abe and Judit's wedding, and got to hang out w/ them a decent amount.

The bachelor party: Sziget Music Festival. Well this one choked Q. She'd already stated she wanted to go to Sziget to see the Chemical Brothers, who happened to be playing the day of the boys' party. However the boys' party was for the boys, and she had another (slightly less wild) party to attend.

A gang of about ten guys, mostly new to me, had a rather spectacularly entertaining day/night. All members quite drunk. Nobody too drunk. Tons of ADD distractions provided by Sziget such as badminton, tight rope walking, machine bull riding, and others we didn't get around to like zip lining, bars in the sky, karaoke, bungee jumping, yadda yadda.

But mostly when I think of Sziget I think about the Crystal Castles performing in some massive black tent. Everytime I listen to Crystal Castles at home, my bro or gf tells me to turn it off because it's too intense. I admit, I too had never listened to the entire album. But i had a feeling they'd be mad live. And they were. Or at least the show was. Not once did I really even see them. (I admit I shot a video which showed a lot more than anything I witnessed during the show, that's for sure). I just saw a lot of fog and a strobe light and was crushed amongst thousands of people yelling, screaming, and jumping up and down. I had a full beer in my hand which I was inadvertently splashing all over everyone around me, so I tried to gulp it down as fast as possible, sloshing a large portion of it over my chest and more on bystanders. Anyhow. It's pretty insane how you can get totally caught up in the mad focus of such a huge mass of people.

Here's the vid that I shot. Oh yeah.

The wedding was great too. Lots and lots of artsy types as the bride's father was an artist, the bride is an artist, the groom is an artist, and they studied in school w/ a bunch of artists. Never before have i been asked “Are you a graphic designer?” so many times in a night.

The bride was beautiful in her dress, cape and shoes. Shoes which I had formerly seen and thought, “Uh, you made those crazy shoes for your WEDDING???” The wedding ceremony was sweet and simple and brought tears to my eyes. The dinner and speeches were all quite entertaining, despite the periodic translations.

And then there was the party. A band played some traditional songs, some Velvet Underground, and other dance hits. The bride was “kidnapped” and had to be woo'd back by the groom's impromptu epic performance of an epic indie love song he penned years ago.

Anyhow, admittedly me and Q ducked out earlier than others, and hence missed swimming, people forced to eat by losing pingpong, and the DJ angrily packing out after being upstaged by the groom's brother. Fun.

The rest of Hungary: swimming at the lake w/ the wedding party. Me and Q checking out art galleries, castles, and cathedrals, and a small serving of mushrooms.

Stay tuned for more on Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republik and the Deutscheland...