written on the plane back to China January 19
I had originally planned on doing a daily journal during my cross country trip just as I always plan to make more regular journal entries. So here I am, truly on the final leg of my trip, on the plane back to China trying to collect weeks to months-worth of thoughts. I blame ADD.
So why did I drive cross country? Was it worth it? What did I hope to accomplish? These are the common questions that I got. But, honestly, it’s not that deep. I just wanted to do it. I wasn’t even extremely compelled to do it. There was no particular reason. I wasn’t “soul-searching” (a meaningless cliché term). The idea sounded more fun than just staying at home for 2 weeks. I wanted more interesting experiences, have cool stories to tell- just for conversational purposes, to make my life more interesting. I don’t know if I’ve really accomplished that. The experience was great. I don’t regret it at all, but nothing amazing happened. I don’t have any stories that would really wow even a casual audience. Maybe it’s because I discredit a lot of my experiences as unremarkable. Maybe it’s because I just don’t know how to embellish my experiences enough to make an interesting story. I didn’t get attacked by bears, have a threesome with supermodels, or have a paranormal encounter. I just drove a lot. I don’t know if I’m disappointed by that or not. I think had I gotten laid at least once, I would have had a much better time. I’m cranky after a month long dry spell.
My ride was a 2003 silver Toyota Highlander SUV – not a bad cross country vehicle especially since it was free to use. Finding the Auto Driveaway service was fortunate, because the other options – convincing someone else to use their car and go cross country with me or buying a clunker and fixing it up were much less likely to happen. Otherwise, I probably would have ended up staying home. I set out on Saturday January 4, much later than ideal, because I hadn’t prepared shit – a common theme during this whole trip and my whole life, for that matter. I think I even crashed at a friend’s since the previous night was spent drinking at a Korean bar with a bunch of friends. So I rush home after pho, shower, haphazardly pack, and head up towards Philly with New York.
Philadelphia – Yida and I meet up with Justin and 2 of his friends at their cool downtown apartment. We get really high, drink beers and get some really good food at Prohibition. Brisket sandwich was bomb. We head up to New York in Yida’s car.
New York – We get to Peter’s place in the financial district. It’s a sweet bachelor pad, I get high and pass out while Yida heads out to meet a lady at a bar. I tell him to get some pussy and not come back that night. He comes back. The next day, Peter is off to see his lady friend. Yida and I meet up with one of his friends for dimsum at Golden Cow. We get coffee, see Central Park and the MOMA, then check out a ceviche restaurant/bar for the redskins game. The ceviche was literally 5 small slices of fish for $17. Fuck that shit. Yida leaves again to chill with his lady friend. The scene at the bar was just a bunch of unattractive people - too weak and I’m too awkward for to stay there. I go searching for a Redskins bar, get confused on the subway a bit and get there in the fourth quarter when the skins have blown their first half lead and lost. It’s too crowded there, so I just take a piss and leave. My NY contacts are either unavailable or flake on me. So I just head up towards Times Square which was cool to see. It’s a lot smaller than I imagined. I eat some Chicken & Rice in the middle of it and people watch. Yida’s finally done and meets up with me to head back to Philly.
Philadelphia 2 – We get back to my car and I realize I left the dome light on for 2 days. The car starts up with no problem, luckily. It’s late in the evening and I hit up Justin for a place to crash. His place is unavailable so I check my poker app and find a lively game at Parx casino nearby. I play poker there until around 3am. The cocktail waitresses are hot and I fantasize about hitting on the Asian one in hopes of banging her and getting a place to stay the night to boot, but I know my game Is week and focus on the poker. I get sucked out on in some big pots and am down a couple hundred bucks really quick. I rally back and end the night up $40. I’m tired, horny, and dirty. I was hoping to win more to justify getting a hotel or finding a massage parlor for a shower and a handy. It’s too late in the night for that anyways, so I just start heading west. I get to Carlisle and decide to just pass out in the car in a diner parking lot. The sun’s up already and it’s cold as shit, but I’m exhausted so I still manage to get a few hours of sleep. I wake up for some McDonald’s breakfast, brush my teeth in the restroom, and get going.
Pittsburgh – I see signs for Pittsburgh and decide to stop by with absolutely no plans. I’m trying to reddit, yelp, google things to do there while I’m driving, but nothing really intrigues me. I’m still thinking about getting a AMP table shower and handy, because I’m alone, horny and fuck it, no one’s there to judge me. The city of Pittsburg looks awesome. I really like the architecture of the bridges. I randomly drive into the city and spot Heinz field and just go towards that. I see signs for a casino right next to it and find that they’ve got some poker games going. I nap in the parking garage for an hour or two. My FB from China txts me and we chat a bit. I sense some drama brewing. I’m probably not in a good state of mind to play considering I’ve slept so little and have been driving for so long, but whatever, it doesn’t take that much brain power to beat the low limit games – or so I think. Most of the players are ok, not good, but not terrible. I’m card dead and run like shit and lose 2 buyins, my stop loss. Again, was hoping to win a little bit to justify staying in a hotel or getting a massage, but that doesn’t work out so I hit the road again for Chicago.
Niles, Ohio – Decide that I really need some more rest so I download the priceline app for a cheap motel. I stay at the Days Inn which was really not bad. The outside of Niles was very quaint and cute, with just one main road, a lot of churches and older buildings. I should have taken some photos. I get some Arbies for dinner, and relax in the hotel. I call up the chick that I met clubbing a few weeks earlier, in hopes of fucking her when I get to LA, but realize that she is boring as bricks. I shower in the morning and head off to Chicago.
Chicago – I get to Wesley’s place, aka “The Castle” in the city which is just awesome. It’s a little outside downtown in the south of the city in the Hispanic area. He’s converted a huge garage into a workshop for building mopeds. Above the shop is gritty area where drifters will come and stay as well as a mini skateboard ramp, so gnar. There are dozens of bikes strewn about outside the shop. We climbed the ladder to the roof where there’s an excellent view of the city skyline. The actual living area that he shares with various artsy people is modern, clean and comfortable. I enjoyed staying here and may consider moving in if I can find something to do in Chicago in the near future. The people there are really nice, even the cops. We got pulled over for speeding through a school zone and got let off with a warning. The fuck. I’ve never been let off with a warning my entire life. Wes is his usual self, energetic, talkative and a bit crazy. Hanging out with him is entertaining. We split some weed and get high for a couple of days. We get some good BBQ (brisket sandwich again), pork chop sandwiches, and polish saussages. We hit up some bars and a barcade full of 90s arcade games. We play some turtles in time, Simpsons, Mortal Kombat, and pinball machines. I get like 5 free games in a row playing pinball, after going a lifetime without ever winning a free game. The games are also cost less quarters than they did back in the day. That was really nostalgic. Wes is doing well for himself and I’m glad to see it. His FB is hot and claims that he’s getting all kinds of pussy including a Hispanic stripper as his last gf. Awesome. A little jelly. My sister finds a friend for me to stay with in Colorado so I’m off.
Breckenridge, Colorado – I drive 15 hours straight towards Colorado. Driving through Nebraska was just pure thick fog. During the drive I was endanger of running out of gas in some remote areas, but lucked out, running into gas stations just in time. When I was just an hour away, I ran into a whitewash snow shower on the mountain. That jolted me awake as I was pretty afraid for my life at that point since I couldn’t even see the road. When I got to his place, I slid down the icy driveway and hit his friend’s car. Luckily there wasn’t much damage. I slept for a few hours and all the dudes there lent me a bunch of gear and discounted lift ticket and did a couple runs at Breck. I was beat from driving, underdressed and cold, and wasn’t adjusted to the elevation yet so I only did about 5 runs. I had an awesome pork loin meal while there. The dudes there are huge potheads. They were doing hits of hash oil all day. They also had about a hundred plants growing in the basement, legally I might add. They shared a jelly candy with me which had me ultra stoned. We watched Trailer Park Boys. Tommy took me to the dispensary the next day to pick up some edibles for myself. I wasn’t allowed in the actual weed room, but had a glimpse in to see all different kinds of weed stored in separate glass jars like an old fashioned candy store. And then I was off. Then I realized I forgot my hat, went back, got it, and then I was off to Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City – I contacted my students from China over QQ and they welcomed me to stay with them. They made dinner for me when I arrived and we talked a little bit. They’re still not extremely talkative, but it was good seeing them again. Amy insisted that I meet up with her to hang out. I didn’t know how to feel about that since I was still bitter about not hooking up with her. I was still getting mixed signs the whole time. She was enthusiastic about seeing me, but wouldn’t invite me over to her place. At this point, I have dubbed myself the friend-zone king. SLC had gotten dumped on just days before I arrived and the streets still had mountains of snow on the sides from plowing. It has a small time feel there, probably because it actually is pretty small. The bars have mixed crowds: bros, hipsters, old geezers etc. We went to a cool sports bar to watch the Falcons Seahawks game, I ate one of the jellies and gave Amy a small piece also. We were soon stoned off our asses and she wanted to go home. I also shared a gummy with the bouncer. I probably should have just kept those to myself, but I’m such a nice guy. Amy and I still should have fucked. I literally told her that when we were hanging out in VA, she still wants to hang out. Why aren’t we fucking? Fuck! She has a double chin anyways. My students have been complaining that American food sucks, so I find a good Mexican restaurant on yelp and treat them to dinner. It was tough because most places are closed on Sundays, but it was a good choice. They seemed pretty satisfied with their meals. The gummy had kept me stoned all day. Got some rest, took Eric and Lily to class early in the morning before heading towards Portland. I forgot my hat again.
Portland – the 11 hour drive to Portland was absolutely beautiful. I drove through just about every type of terrain. I saw mountains, canyons, plateaus, rolling hills, plains, and lakes. Getting into Oregon, Mt Hood is always visible in the distance. I gave the car a quick wash and delivered it to the lady. Portland seems like a cool little city. A lot of fixies, too bad I didn’t stay there. The lady took me to the airport where I stayed overnight. The fucking Frontier desk was closed by the time I got there so I couldn’t get my boarding pass that night. I had a hot dog, tater tots, and tea at the airport restaurants. The staff there was really nice. I talked to the tall, dark haired cashier chick for a while. I would have considered trying to fuck her, but she looked like a high schooler. I crashed on a bench with no armrests in the airport. I probably would have gotten decent rest had it not been for the vacuum that came around every hour. By 6am the airport was busy with passengers so I was up by then. After checking in I chilled in the library like area with free wifi. What a cool airport.
Wow that update-less month went by fast. I suppose I just got caught up with work which leaves less time for the usual lazy-accomplish-nothing tendencies that still exist. I do, however, feel great about being so busy. Having things to do feels like my daily life here is more important or significant although, the only actual significance may be the wad of Mao's in my pocket.
In the long run, if I can keep this up, I expect to really start shedding some of my weaknesses (time management, procrastination due to fear, social anxiety among important strangers, lack of a routine). I've been slacking off on going to the gym which will have to change soon, since that gym membership was probably one of the most expensive things that I've had to pay for here. And other things. This calls for list time...
- get back to the gym twice a week at the bare minimum (setting the bar low, I know)
- write and send postcards.
- write some update emails to friends and family
- figure out my visa situation (one last attempt at work visa, else pick a school for student visa)
- Start and read a book all the way through (instead of reading the first few chapters of 20 books and stopping)
Other than these, I've got tons of little tasks that need to be done at work, at the apartment, at school. It's really hard for me to focus on any individual one to get them done. It's like a hard drive in need of a defrag. I guess this is presented as a new challenge.
A recap of the month： I've been getting busier with AmCham. We hosted another event which went pretty well. I wrote a speech for one of our BoGs, which actually turned out to be really great. He kind of botched reading it and probably only had 10% of the room's attention, and even fewer could understand him. But, it was a good speech. The event went well, I brought my business cards, and I networked a little better this time, though still pretty awkward and I can hardly remember anyone I spoke to. Baby steps.
I presented a proposal to completely revamp the AmCham website, which our BoG's loved. Then I realized that I'm way over my head and very unqualified to take on this task. They gave me a small raise for it though. Like really small.
I'm really lucky to have landed that gig a the jiongji software company. I get paid really well to write sentences, and they like me enough to let me do voice acting for an hourly rate. Sometimes I can work from home and it's super flexible. Combined with my other salary and much lower rent, I no longer have much financial pressure. Now to save enough money to travel.
I've finally made my way to Dave's Oasis for poker and I really regret not being there sooner. J H C... these guys are terrible at poker. I've made a lot of easy money in China, but this must be, by far, the easiest. My wishes for going back in time to play poker have been granted. I've played there 4 times in the last month and I'm up 15 buyins. Not only are they bad at poker, but this game brings together some of the worst people in the city. Some of them are just batshit crazy degenerates, the rest are just assholes. Pushing and shoving, verbal abuse every night. One of them looks like Will Ferrell and actually is as retarded as his movie characters (combo of Anchorman, Zoolander, and Taladega Nights). He is so retarded that it went from comical to just astounding. Last night he shoved all in preflop around 20 hands in a row, sometimes not looking at his cards, would get stacked and would just rebuy like it was nothing. We ran out of chips at the end of the night and had to start using the dealer and big blind buttons. Apparently he does this with every paycheck and even by the end of the month when he's completely broke, he shows up at the games on a stake. Un fucking believable.
The alcohol consumption that goes on during this game is moderate to heavy to insane. Winners of each sit n go buy mandatory shots for every player, which often turns into double shots. Then another game starts. Of course players are also drinking during the game. If there's enough action to get to a 3rd or 4th sit n go, everyone is trashed, including myself, not that playing poker with these guys requires any higher level thinking. But damn, does the game slow down at that point. People that are too drunk to stand are attempting to do side pot math, arguing about who-the-fuck-knows, and trash talking in the most uncivilized illogical manner I've ever seen. I've pretty much been the mediator every night I've been there to keep the game going faster than 15 minutes a hand (because it's so profitable).
Anyways, it's a great way to supplement my income, so I can focus on other things... while being able to smoke as much pot as I want... which has actually lessened.
Last week, during the Chinese National holiday/Autumn Moon Festival, I made a pretty late decision to head to Shanghai with the gf. This holiday is one of 2 major holidays in China making it one of two of THE worst times to travel within the country. Leaving the country is incredibly expensive, and traveling to any tourist area within the country will leave you swimming among an increased concentration of the Chinese hoard. The Great Wall saw hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. That said, the city of Shanghai was not too bad at all. The weather was nice and I caught up with old friends, Jeff, Cass, George, Mark the Shanghai bboys. The gf did want to do some touristy stuff, so we did a day trip to Hangzhou, Zhejiang. The best part was being out on Xihu lake away from the masses on land for about half an hour. The rest of the time was pretty uneventful.
Back to Shanghai, there were a few nights of raging, hash, weed, coke. I was unprepared for the number of foreigners there. Some bar areas were completely occupied with them making it not feel like China at all. I was also incredibly annoyed by the number of ABCs there. Maybe because, here in Chengdu, I feel like a somewhat special novelty as there aren't that many here. But I guess, just the cliqueyness of it all reminds me of that I disliked back at home. Getting stuck within one social circle is so limiting to the kinds of people that you can meet and consequently the ideas and experiences that you can have.
It was a nice getaway and it also made me realize how different Chengdu is from a first-tier city like Shanghai, how much room there is to grow and the potential role I could play in shaping that growth. I hope to take advantage of that and make that impact.
BACK TO MY ROOTS
decided to head back to LJ for my more private entries. I realized the tumblr isn’t really for blogging as much as it’s for reposting pictures.
∞Posted on February 24, 2012
SO LONG, TWENTY ELEVEN
2011 was a rough year and in that sense, it was a good year. All the bullshit, the US Dept of Justice essentially destroying online poker in the US when I finally began to break some ground, having ~$3000 locked up in limbo on Full Tilt and the revelation of their shady accounting practices, busting my ass off as an unpaid intern in Richmond seemingly for nothing, racking up another bunch of credit card debt, deciding to pick up and leave the country, adapting to a new culture, and learning that being on my own is very challenging. There are valuable lessons to take away from all of this.
The larger the obstacles, the greater the achievements to realize.
The last week of the year has been especially tough. I’m really struggling financially but, although I hate to accept assistance from my parents because I know they have it hard right now too, my parents are really saving my ass, and I’m grateful for that. At the same time, the shame from not being able to support myself at this age is motivating me to get on my feet.
I will accomplish great things in poker this year. I’m becoming obsessive in self-improvement. The books Talent is Overrated, and The Talent Code have me thinking about intensive, deliberate practice for improving in poker. I will spend more time away from the table doing really tedious and painful analysis of my play to improve the way that it should be done.
Brendan, my new Brit friend, who is a ginormous body builder has me motivated to focus on my health and really bulk up. This will give me more energy all around and endurance to think optimally when I need it. Not to mention, since my fat has pretty much melted away due to the China lifestyle (145ish lbs right now), then it’ll be really easy to get ripped. I’m looking forward to the pain.
And in love, well, there was plenty of new pain and there was the residual pain from old stubborn wounds, recently reopened. More on that later. I guess all I’ve really learned is that I still don’t understand what I’m trying to make my love life out to be. I don’t even really think I need one. So in the next year, I think it’d be best if I made myself “emotionally unavailable,” for the sake of having more time and energy to focus on things that are more important to me.
The pain is what makes me stronger. It’s cliche, but actually realizing what this means and being able to apply this to specific areas of my own life is the first and hardest step to getting to where I want to be. And I really want it.
Bring it 2012, I will consume you.
∞Posted on December 31, 2011
RDY TO GRIND
∞Posted on December 18, 2011
Without fail, every single time I enter into an elevator with a Chinese person, they go trigger happy on the “close door” button. They can’t stand having the doors open for more than 2 seconds max. I have had people standing in the back lurch forward and reach around me to hit that button after they realize that I will be making no effort to do so. I’m pretty sure that button doesn’t do anything. I’ve trolled these people before by hitting another inconsequential button upon entry like “1” when it’s already been hit. Gasps fill the crowded metal box. LIKE OMG WTF YOU HIT THE WRONG BUTTON QUICK! *HIT CLOSE DOOR*!
∞Posted on December 18, 2011
WHERE I FIND MYSELF AT 27
Happy Birthday, self. Look around you. Is it familiar? Did you ever think in a million years you’d be a teacher in China? Still pursuing dreams of being able to grind it out?
Reflecting on aging another year is kind of refreshing. I still feel young and I’ve got the “Do Whatever the Fuck I Want” mentality. There could be some improvements made here and there, but overall I’m happy with the state of my spirit.
Celebrated my birthday by hanging out with my new friends, foreign and natives. It was pretty quiet, just dinner at an Indian restaurant followed by brews at Macchu Picchu, and then chilled at Charlie’s. El’s roomate’s weed is not good, but I guess i’ll get by on it temporarily.
Finished the verification process with Poker Stars and it’s just a matter of time before I get back on the grind. It needs to come sooner though. I’ve got rent to pay next month and I could use a few more comforts, like heat. Anxious to get back on the grind. I’m already thinking about what goals I should set. I could go for the gusto - Supernova Elite, worth over $100k before winnings. Would take 14 hours/day of work at the very least. I have other goals though, MBA, teaching, getting fit, travel, learning. Regardless, poker goals will not be set low. I may turn into a hermit but this is the true test of how much I want this.
2008 will be epic and I’m in China. What the fuck.
∞Posted on December 18, 2011
不存在 (IT’S ALL GOOD)
I’ve become really disgruntled lately. I think the small amounts of misery have finally gotten to me. Despite having moved into my own place which is significantly more comfortable and the internet is usable, I’m finding other things to hate. It’s an irrational kind of hate too, but I can’t help it. It’s just the inconveniences of the culture. Visa issues in China are not uncommon; experiencing them firsthand is fucking irritating. After 4 months of people promising me that it would be no problem I’ve still had to extend my current visa on my own coin and then when they finally get their shit together I’m going to have to pay again to get my student visa.
Packing up and heading to Malaysia or home crossed my mind a few times. While I was going through this, it’s gotten cold, I’ve been poor, and hungry. I would literally be starving now if my parents didn’t send me a couple hundo. They must have sensed the desperation in my voice as I told them I would be ok. This food money is my Xmas present from them. Thanks 妈 and 爸! Paycheck coming in a few days but it will be short due to borrowing money to pay for the visa that I wouldn’t have had to get if they weren’t so incompetent. Picked up a nice nicotine addiction this week too chain smoking the stress down.
But, whatever. 不存在, as they say here. Things will look up. If anything this was part of the experience that I wanted：learning the Chinese business culture (slow, inefficient, vague, and requiring knowing people in high places to get shit done). Hating on the dense population of spitting, staring, slow walking, idiotic scooter horn honkers is irrational. Chinese people aren’t assholes on purpose; courtesy just isn’t part of the culture. It would be hard to be nice to that many strangers on a daily basis anyways…
On the upside, I could have my Poker Stars approval as early as next week. I’m going to stay optimistic about getting back in the grind, then balling it up soon. I’m averaging 1.5 numbers a weekend which doesn’t mean much more than I’m semipimp here even though I’m reluctant to call any of these girls because I’m scared of the Chinese Crazy. It’s getting pretty nippy here and I’ve yet to turn on the heat nor do I really have enough winter clothes, but I’m getting by.
To give an idea of how poor and ghetto I’ve been living: I didn’t have any money for dishes but I hit the jackpot when I discovered the previous tenant had left 3 bowls, a pink plastic spoon, and a pot full of grease. The pink spoon was my only utensil for weeks. I bought a 9RMB nonstick pan from IKEA which has cooked almost all of my meals. Learning to cook rice without a rice cooker has been my most valuable new skill this month. For about 2 weeks I was eating only eggs, rice, ketchup, and hot sauce. I ate over 4 dozen eggs during this time. Since then I’ve added in oatmeal, PB&Js, some 麻辣 instant noodles (getting kind of sick of the numbing 麻 flavor), poor quality ground beef, and some veg - onions, green peppers, garlic, ginger, carrot, tomato. IKEA has really been my best friend for little odds and ends. My cutting board is a random piece of wood tile.
My Thanksgiving here was more than I could have hoped for especially since I was almost literally starving that week. It was really warm sharing all the delicious grub and beer with new friends despite most of them being non American. Good sports those Brits, Aussies, Canucks, and Chinamen. That night really lifted my spirits.
I was lost in my teaching job for a few weeks, not really having any idea what an effective lesson plan would be, but I think I’ve had a eureka moment today in finding the perfect balance of teaching them what they actually need to know with just enough enjoyment to keep them interested.
So I should start classes next semester. Poker should be underway soon. I can slowly start making my place more comfy. A fuck buddy might be nice, but ideally I could just learn to do without and focus on my shit rather than my dick (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). Once I’ve got my money right I can start traveling around China and enjoy my time here. I’m just getting over the bump and it’s all downhill from here.
∞Posted on December 7, 2011
HATE LIST 2:
I hope these don’t become more frequent as that should be a sign that I don’t belong here in China, or perhaps the first world has turned me into too much of a bitch.
Lack of quality in everything Chinese made. This has appeared on my last hate list, but I’m re-emphasizing it. The brand new sofa/futon that they gave me in my new apartment appears to function as a futon at a glance, however basic knowledge of physics reveals that it would be impossible to put much weight on the side that has absolutely no support. Testing it out caused a screw to fly out from somewhere underneath it. Not to mention the color scheme is clearly not from this time period and it’s hard as bricks to sit on.
Lack of intuition in everything Chinese made. Simple things like cafeteria tables and stools are difficult and uncomfortable to sit on. They say that chairs in China are made by people that don’t sit. I just tried out my new washing machine which requires me to manually turn a water faucet for the machine to fill (the handle of which broke off in my hand as I quickly tried to shut it off when the leaky water hose sprayed me). Then after the machine is full of water, it closes a valve causing pressure to build up in the hose if you don’t turn off the water at precisely the correct time, and hoses bust. What the fuck is the point of a washing machine if I have to sit there and babysit it? I may switch back to hand washing.
The provided computer chair exploded on me this morning after about a week of use. As in all these miscellaneous plastic parts just fell off the bottom.
It’s absolutely astounding how shitty everything is. As I was writing this it occurred to me that the water drainage on the machine is probably equally as shitty. I just checked. There’s water everywhere. Fuck this.
∞Posted on November 23, 2011
HATE LIST 1:
In the summer, they open all the windows in vain to attempt to cool the indoors. Hordes of mosquitos take this as an open invitation. Don’t these things cause disease?
In the winter, it’s cold as fuck. They open all the windows because who the fuck knows. Mosquitos here apparently can still survive the temps and take this as an open invitation.
Quality. It does not exist. Who the fuck designed the doors in this top notch engineering school? They suck to open, they suck to close, they’re loud as fuck, and they look stupid.
Customer service. It’s the best here in Chengdu out of all of China and even still it hardly exists.
Open sewage. It smells like stagnant water mixed with piss and shit because that’s exactly what it is. You can usually smell your way to the bathroom, often unintentionally.
I can’t get enough of fried rice. There is crack in it (or MSG).
Local IKEA reminds me that there are still people out there that can design something useful, simple, beautiful, and affordable – but it sure as hell isn’t the Chinese.
∞Posted on November 19, 2011
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE OF THINGS
On the personal side of things, my family is really starting to feel the sting of the recession now. I got word from home that Dad’s business has been on the decline since the dotcom bubble and every subsequent bursting bubble has knocked down our household income lower and lower. There are many lessons to be learned from this, but, often they aren’t exactly clear. Money will come and go equally as quickly, so it’s important to always keep in mind where happiness really comes from. These things will differ from person to person, but money should never be the answer. That being said, at the end of the day, money is still remains a high priority – for the sake of survival and to make sure the bills get paid. We have to make sure the rent is paid, the unlimited smart phone data plans, the premium gas for our luxury cars, the fiber optic high speed internet connection, the college loans – this is our current situation, our definition of needs for “survival.” The idea of not having these things in upper middle class suburbia is almost unthinkable. This reality, which must be shared among an increasing number of Americans, now, has become silly to me. I want to say that I’ve gotten a sense of perspective from my two and a half months here in Chengdu, but not really. I can’t say that I’ve really experienced poverty, though it exists all around me. However, the majority here does live with less. We’re really all the same though. We work to make a buck to have more and live better at the end of the day. Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s easy to get depressed about not having more money. What the fuck am I ranting about? C.R.E.A.M.
∞Posted on November 19, 2011
I AM NOT A BLOGGER
I’ve violated my own rules about keeping up with blogging pretty flagrently. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not a blogger. The main reasons being I’m too self conscious about the entertainment value of the content (as if I’m writing for an audience rather than for only myself), and also I’m too distracted when I sitting at my computer.
Fortunately, I’ve found an apartment to move into which requires me to put down 9000RMB tomorrow, therefore putting me in dire straits financially; so much as to have prevented me from being able to pay for my internet connection. So I find myself without much else to do, but to relieve the blockade of thoughts and ideas that I’ve been meaning to blog about.
I will present them in the order that they come to me before the sleeping supplements kick in and knock me out.
Pin showed me an interesting website (youarenotsosmart.com) which promotes yet another social economics/dynamics book - my favorite genre as of late. One convincing article was about how Benjamin Franklin manipulated an opponent from being spiteful to an admirer by way of the psychological concept: [in my own words because I can’t pull up the article] internal conflict leads to justification.
ie. Ben asked for a rare book from the hater, as they were both afficianados of literature. The hater did Ben this favor, which conflicted with his feelings towards Ben. The resulting justification was that he actually did like Ben and they became great friends.
Abu Gharib guards justified torturing captives by believing that they actually hated them.
Self-fulfilling prophecy type stuff. I’m going to keep this in mind in my never-ending battle for self improvement. Therefore this blog should really be titled, “I am a blogger.” Other nots I will correct: I am a dancer> I’m not really a dancer, my Chinese is excellent> my Chinese sucks. wait. am I applying this concept correctly? meh. anyways.
Teaching is turning out to be fulfilling. It’s challenging and frustrating trying to get over the language/cultural barriers in order to teach. There are the bad apples that remind me of myself when I was their age (and reminders that I’m getting old). I’m starting to see the roots of the Asian stereotype of quiet, studious, passive, confidence-lacking. Convincing them to participate is hard. Convincing them to speak up is tough. The Chinese education system promotes strict rote memorization and rarely stresses creativity and critical thinking. I want to break this mold for their own good as they attempt to enter the Western world, but I don’t know if it’s possible nor feasible.
I’m looking forward to playing online poker again and I’m hoping for a smooth start.
On the drama side of things… it’s been interesting. I always seem to say that I won’t be getting involved with any drama, but I’ve got too much testosterone flowing through me. I got involved with a girl that I shouldn’t have. I’ve been pretty successful in cutting that off as of late since her fiance will be in the city soon. yikes. The Chinese girls that I find attractive are few but they exist. Figuring out the game shouldn’t be difficult in theory, but there’s a cloud of cultural shit to get through. All in all, if it requires too much effort, I’m not for it. Especially while the Asian world is trending away from marriage, China remains the outlier in having a strong “marriage-y” type culture. I’d hate to prove all my teasing friends and fam right by getting hitched to a Chinese girl. Not that I wouldn’t given the perfect cirumstances; I just hate being wrong.
The quality of everything and anything Chinese-made really is shit. There’s a market opportunity here. I will find it. I also wonder if Chinese people like “Chinese-ugly” - the tacky, faux-rich, white tiled, gold plated, flashy look. Is it just a cultural thing? Or a silly trend resulting from the speed of the accumulation of Chinese wealth? Anyways, websites like taobao, and software like QQ look like spam from the 90s. Utterly bogged down by bullshit, ugly and unusable. Will there be a [profitable] movement towards usability?
Just started paying for Chinese classes at the Mandarin Corner, and I feel that my Chinese learning is accelerating.
I had to choose between my cell-phone bill and my internet this week. Living poor kind of sucks, esp since I’ve been getting used to having late night fried rice almost every night especially since I’ve found weed. This is a terrible habit. I’ve also lost a few inches off my waist. I need to start working out. I’m feeling weak and don’t like looking like a stick.
Communications with anyone outside of this city has fallen off as expected. No need to really get upset about it.
I’ve amassed a small library of ebooks that I’ve been putting off even starting. Ironically, I gave a lecture about procrastination tonight.