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.