Sunday, May 27, 2012

End of an Era: Q

Well, if you haven't heard already... me and Q have split up. i guess i haven't felt like writing about it, even though it'd been building up towards this ending for quite some time. Today i helped her move into her new apartment out by the art district. 

Then i came home and took my bike into the bike shed, where the guy who lives there asked me what summer plans were for me, my bro, and gf. i mentioned that Q wouldn't be around since she just moved away and we'd broken up. 
"That's not acceptable! You shouldn't break up! You two need to get married!"
"Well, there's nothing to be done. We already broke up. And she got a new apartment. She moved."
"That's not acceptable!"

In the most basic mandarin, i did try to explain my relationship to the bike shed guy.

1. We argued quite a bit.
2. Q definitely wanted to get married, but i believe that if we did so, she would be unsatisfied. In large part because
3. Our communication was never very good. 

So it was definitely my call to end things. Not an easy decision to make, but i think that the main thing that could've lead me towards a future with Q was inertia. And that's no good reason. Yes, i love her, but somehow not enough. i had trouble imagining buying a ring for her. And "maybe why not?" seems like terrible reasoning to enter marriage. 

Also, life with Q has never been easy for either one of us. We both put in loads of effort, yet often felt like we put in more than the other, or that the other didn't recognize what efforts had been made, what injustices had been swallowed. 

On the whole i feel like i did the right thing for both of us, but today was still a bit tough. We packed out all her stuff (which was most of the stuff in the apartment), and inadvertently said goodbye to the little presents we'd given and received over the past 1070 days. 

Q has always found it bizarre that i'm friends w/ a bunch of my exes, as that's definitely not the norm in China. But it looks like we're going to give it a go. i think this is really courageous on her part. i hope to be a good friend to her.

She really is an amazing person. Intelligent, caring, artistic, beautiful, intuitive... It may have been the rockiest relationship i've ever been in, but it's still pretty amazing to have had the chance to be with her for our time together.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gutter Oil: It's Fucking Epidemic

I heard a long time ago from Q not to eat in cheap restaurants 'cause they use gutter oil. That's oil taken out of the sewers. But i didn't really believe her. And the cheap restaurants are too tasty to stay away from.
But then gutter oil started getting more and more press.
And one reporter even got lynched for covering it. Cause gutter oil across this massive country is worth millions of rmb to the gangs who run the operations.
But recently my friend and i stopped outside of any alley cafe to sip some wine, when along comes this guy. He yanks the manhole cover off of the whole and proceeds to scoop ladles of fucking sick-ass lumpy fat discarded by restaurant into a bucket. Of course, i whipped out my always dependable iPod, and shot some low quality footage. My friend asks him, "what are you doing? What are you going to do with that?" But she couldn't really understand his provincial accent.
One: gutter oil is disgusting. Two: gutter oil is carcinogenic. Three: after it's filtered and processed, gutter oil looks like normal oil. Four: don't expect the police to stop gutter oil.
And then just two days later, my co-host's co-host saw someone by our workplace collecting gutter oil.
But i admit that sometimes i still eat at the totally dirt-cheap place.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Jesus and Mary Chain at China Music Valley Festival

I was totally shocked when I first read that the Jesus and Mary Chain were coming to Beijing to play a show. As a teenager, I was a bit of headcase for these four young leather-clad lads. Headed by Jim and William Reid with their unruly locks, they were quintessential UK Britrock, plus they heralded the use of screaming feedback to accompany the sort of melodic songs that people can write within a week of picking up a guitar. Not only that, but they shamelessly advocated drug use in their songs, and made numerous explicit metaphors about oral sex. What teenager wouldn't love them? My walls were plastered with several Mary Chain posters. I would break a sweat to realize that the library had a new copy of Melody Maker which had a cover feature about the new JMC album. I shamefully cut out the article and thumbtacked it to my bedroom wall. My own songwriting and vocal style are directly indebted to the JMC. My list of Things To Do In This Lifetime included seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain live. I kinda crossed it off the list as i grew less enamoured with them over the years, but that's no reason not to see them when they come knocking on your doorstep. They were the Saturday headliners. William's probably doubled his weight since the days when he and his bro wrote Psychocandy. Pretty decent-sized crowd stuck out for the whole show, despite a thunder and lightning storm which took place. Even in their heyday they had a reputation for being shit performers, so I didn't expect much. Plus they're like 20 years older. Pluse Jim and William hated each others guts for years after the break up. Etc, etc... William shuffled around, hunched over his guitar, never looking up at the crowd (as he's always done). Jim's voice sounded exactly the same as before, and he sang much better than i was expecting. Not only that, but he seemed quite pleasant. He said "xiexie" a number of times. He even cracked a couple jokes, which kinda shocked me. "I'd like to say thanks to everyone for sticking it out through the rain. And fuck off to all of those who didn't." He actually seemed pretty gracious. i guess you shouldn't be an angsty teen up into your 50s. Hell, they even played an encore. They didn't sound great, but it did sound pretty good. Mostly i was happily drowning in nostalgia, singing along with most every song. Shit, when's the last time I thought about songs like Blues From a Gun, or Sidewalking? It was pretty darn fun. Also Glasvegas (who totally rocked the casbah) played Some Candy Talking earlier on. Actually, the Glasvegas version actually sounded better. But you know how it is: it's all about the music. It's not about the... oh, never mind.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Apple Ipod Touch: What a piece of shit

Well my friend got an iphone so i helped him out by buying this  thing. Wasted way too much time trying to get it registered so i can get apps, took it to the Apple store but they couldn't help me, had some email w/ customer support, and basically progress on just setting the thing up has been ZERO. The credit card company assured me it's not a problem from that end.

I'm sure that this is a wonderful piece of life-changing technology if i could actually use it. But for now i just think it's a piece of drippy shit worth fuck all. 

PS. It's true that i haven't been getting enough sleep lately, so please take that into account. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Past the First Hurdle

Me and a coworker wrote up a proposal, saying we wanted to cover a bunch of stories (of-the-non-self-immolation-variety) in Tibet.

Then we heard from one manager that he really liked our proposed stories and schedule. He even suggested a couple stories that we may want to consider.

That's great. We're stoked.

But the fact is that this is far from an actual confirmation about whether or not we'll make it to Tibet. There's still at least one other proposal for the trip floating around CRI, and another team of radio reporters who are also organizing for the same destination, plus shitloads of visa issues to be dealt with. Plus CRI doesn't generally send two foreigners out without a Chinese national along. Even though my coworker's mandarin is pretty solid. In Tibet even Chinese nationals have trouble with Tibetan or different accents, whatever that means.

At this point, we give ourselves 50-50 odds.

FYI, Natalie is from the UK, and has does some decent work for CRI, such as the vid below, which is pretty damn good. Michael Jackson impersonators in China; and way more gripping than that Mr Lonely movie.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Busy in the good way.

i had a packed weekend, which was great.

Din w/ friends and a jam session.
Ran w/ my running group.
Visited my great aunt.
Went to a swap event to get rid of things i don't use and scored a few cool things.
A bit of unsatisfying sober karaoke.
Then got drunk in a weird bar w/ friends where i drunkenly counseled a self-identified fuckeduppunkrockbitch. Who told me to fuck off and said, "I am pure hatred" but still ended up kissing me on the cheek in departure.
Went to a farmers market for pesticide free vegetables.
Got my bike fixed.
Went to dinner w/ some new friends.
Went to a decent concert.

Despite being underslept this Monday morning, the fact is that being active recharges my batteries somehow. i think i should also schedule in more Chinese lessons, 'cause these days people are bluntly stating that my Chinese is pretty bad. Like it's def not on the level to have a regular friend who doesn't have English that's better than my Chinese.

Anyhow. For now, i feel pretty good.

Tel: 15010476252
China Radio International

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Great Wall of China Marathon vs The Great Wall Marathon

At some point i realized that i was never sent the race details, so night of, i packed off to the hotel at 3am as per the years previous, only to arrive by taxi and note that a total absence of buses and marathon runners. So the cab took me home where i checked my computer, and realized that instead of Beijing International Hotel, I was supposed to be at 
Shenzhou Beijing International Hotel. I'm worried about missing the 3am bus, but arrive and learn that it's actually a 5am bus now. Huh. 

My suspicions are confirmed when we arrive at the Jinshanling Great Wall that I'm at a totally different great wall marathon than the one I thought i was attending. (there are 2, virtually identically named runs). Ok fine, no prob. This one's smaller (200 runners instead of 400); it way more budget (only getting 1/2 as many safety pins as req'd to attach race bibs), it's almost entirely on the wall, as opposed to major chunks in farmer fields and roads). 

It's also way less organized, which is no biggie except that many runners including myself missed a 6km leg of the race. So that kinda sucks and throws the results into the compost bin. So i feel little pride in being told i was 16th place out of like 70 runners. How the hell could i have run 42k of stairs in 4h20m? 

The course is pretty bloody hard w/ huge staircase ascents on beautiful old crumbly chunks of the wall and slippery sandy descents on rock-ridden trails. Pbly one of the most dangerous marathons on the planet. Risk of injury is dangerously high, though at the other GWM, there's more chance of falling off a cliff to one's death. The GWM course is pbly more beautiful, but the GWCM course really gives you a pretty full on grasp of "The Wall". 

Anyhow, for my 36k run, i felt pretty darn good, considering. Despite many times of looking up at stairs that disappear in perspective and thinking, "You're JOKING. FUCK RUNNING." 

I crossed the finish line where hardly enough people were gathered to even notice, let alone clap. talking w/ some 1/2 marathon runners, they asked me how i felt. "Good," i shrugged. Moment later, i  hopped on the early bus back, forgetting about any of the post-race activities/celebrations.

That's the scale of progress between my 1st and 2nd marathons. From a sense of I-Can-Do-It accomplishment to Whatever-Just-Another-Race nonchalance in less than a year. 

And frankly, that rocks. 

Photos: Yes, those are all pictures of the actual running course.