Archive for October, 2014

Pollution: The Worst So Far!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Yesterday, the pollution was OUT. OF. CONTROL. The worst I’ve seen since being in China, period.

The index!

The index!

Out. OF. *****CONTROL******

Do you hear me?

Even the Messiah Himself could NOT have taken *A SINGLE BREATH* in that madness – no matter how anointed He may be.

My eyes kept watering, felt like someone had their hand around my throat, and was irritable beyond belief. I kept falling asleep in my One on TWO class…Yes. ONE ON TWO…meaning there was just me and one other student and ONE teacher… WATCHING me falling asleep. I have *NEVER* struggled so hard to stay awake. Every three things she said, I was *OUT*.

I’m surprised she didn’t just kick me out of the classroom. Later she and some other people told me that the pollution can make people extremely sleepy – especially when you’re not used to it. That would explain her patience with me. I apologized profusely anyway.

Now I’m sick, my throat feels jagged beyond belief, and I sound like Barry White again.

I ordered several masks.

This pollution will not have at me!

That aside… it is amazing the things that I have to think about now… buying face masks? May sound small and silly but it isn’t…it’s learning how to function in a different environment….particularly, how to live in one. O_OMASK

This photo doesn't do what I saw justice! One day, I'll get a good day!

This photo doesn’t do what I saw justice! One day, I’ll get a good photo…one day!

Une belle ville, Nice

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

From central Paris, it is a 6 hour TGV ride to the Cote d’Azur. On Thursday, the train zoomed through the French countryside to bring me and my group to Nice. Nice is an incredible city that mixes old and new with ease. There are roughly 350,000 inhabitants and plenty of visitors. In the center of the city lies a large new park featuring fountains and mist, gardens and creative playscapes for children. I loved it, and spent a long time there.  But the best thing about Nice for me is its waterfront. There is a huge promenade where bikers, roller skaters and walkers mingle. There is another nice park high up on a hill that has a  ruined old fort and an amazing view of the whole city.  Despite the pain in my legs, I made the trek with my group.


Then of course, there is the Mediterranean Sea! The water is a gorgeous turquoise blue, and I had a lovely long swim (yes it was warm enough even at the end of October)!

This was a splendid trip, and I am very thankful that I went. Memories of the seafood, the warm weather, the park, and the beach will make the winter much more bearable!


Wait, WHAT!?: “White on the Outside…but in My Heart, I am Black”

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014 11: 50 PM

Tonight,  羽莎 [Yu(3) sha(1)] , my roommate, says to me, “I have another American friend! He always says “it’s all good in the hood, yo!” *she added hand movements, pointing in the air in a way that I’ve noticed common to Chinese people when they imitate rappers***


The People’s Eyebrow had NOTHING on how high my eyebrow went up, I’m sure…

My eyebrow hit the skies in shock. She came out of nowhere with this!

Then…she symbolized someone giving someone else “dap” (a handshake). She said that when he would see her, he’d give her dap.

I just stared and nodded slowly. 我明白你。。。 [“I understand you…”]

Then….she threw up some gang signs.

My jaw dropped…and then I started laughing in disbelief!

I said, 真的吗!? [“Really?!”] to give my mind time to recover from the shock!
…and to figure out how I was going to respond to that.

She was grinning and laughing at my laughter and my repeated “真的吗?”s.

I finally recovered – a bit- and said, “你的朋友是美国人马?” [“Is your friend American?”] …even though…I really wanted to ask if this guy was black, but I was not about to confirm stereotypes by assuming he was black – at least NOT to her face. O_O I decided to just ask questions and wait for her to say it.

Nothing could prepare me for what came next.

他是美国人。他是白人 可是。。。”He is American. He is white, but…”

My eyebrows hit the skies again….and I bit back a 什么?!?[”WHAT!?”] response, thinking “he’s white?”

Then I heard the rest…

。。。可是他告诉我他的心是黑人“ [“…but he told me in his heart he is black.”] *she says with the BIGGEST grin on her face and laughing*

I stood there blinking stupidly…. And then I laughed! Unnaturally loud…partly because this was HILARIOUS, partly because I was in shock, partly because she was genuinely amused, partly because I couldn’t believe I never figured out how to say “What the hell!?” all this time I’ve been in and out of China.

…but the shock didn’t end there…I asked her…. 你说他是白人马? 。。。。为什么他告诉你他的心是黑人? [“You said he’s white?….why did he tell you that his heart is black?”]

我们一起看 The Wire. 我不知道 。。。* she threw up the gang signs and pointed around to symbolize rap music *** 可是我们一起 看 The Wire wire-poster然后我看 *pointing around and throwing up the gang signs* * 他告诉我那个意思”

(We watched The Wire. I didn’t know…. * she threw up the gang signs and pointed around to symbolized rap music* saying “It’s all good in the hood!” but we watched it together, then he told me the meaning of the show)

I blinked…Goodness! I wish someone had taken photos of my expressions.

I kept thinking “What the hell!?” in my mind but I felt like it was a GOOD thing that I didn’t know how to say that in Chinese.

I wasn’t angry though…I was just…shocked and amused ALL at the same time! Goodness!!! I could NOT stop laughing… haha. That maniacal laughter when you don’t know what else to do BUT laugh.

I explained to her that not all black people speak that way…and that I would love to meet her friend. In my head I was thinking… “Yes, I would sure love to meet this guy indeed…” Hahaha!!! I was AMUSED at the idea of an introduction…and I could tell him in Chinese that I’ve heard SO much about him…and if I could borrow his seasons of The Wire. HAH!!!!

She said he’s already gone back to the U.S.

“Of course he has….” To be honest, I felt a bit deflated at that news! I was ready to make fun of him a bit, hahaha!!!

BUT can we talk about the REAL issue here!?

Her introduction to black people was The Wire… no…not a good way to INTRODUCE. That show was AMAZING…but not sure if someone who thinks that he is black in his heart can explain to her….wisely…what she was looking at. Yes. That’s a nice way to articulate that bit… -_- O_O!!!

I met Yulia….just last Thursday… but I can tell that we are going to get along EXTREMELY well. …ESPECIALLY after she told me that Marvel and DC are extremely popular in China and that she loves Batman.

I was like “WHAT!?” We excitedly talked about our similar interests in DeathNote and some other Japanese shows and manga. We talked about Collagewhat was popular in the US and in China. We are going to see Guardians of the Galaxy in Chinese soon! We decided that we would go comic book shopping together.

Did I already say that I loved this girl?!

What I do know…is I am going to be sure she doesn’t have a certain view of black people.

I can’t stop laughing in disbelief…The WIRE!?!? He started her off with The Wire. …and the person starting her off is white, from OREGON, teaching her how to say “It’s all good in the hood, yo!”, how to throw up gang signs, and saying that he may be white on the outside but in his heart, he is black??!?

Stop the madness. Goodness!

Her curiosity is so intense though…I’m going to cleanse her of the nonsense.

*face in palm*

The Wire!? Really???

The Wire!? Really???

Day 1 of Midterms Down!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Just gave a 7minute speech on China’s political structure in front of a panel of three Chinese teachers. After the speech, they each asked me questions.

It went well!

One of the questions: 你觉得美国能不能用中国政治的结构?”Do you think America would or would not be able to use China’s political structure?”

Had a good time answering that one…I gave a thorough answer about the differences between democracy and socialism and the nature of American people, how the State Council and the Congress differ. etc etc.

Day 1 down!

People Walk in, People Walk Out, Some People Remain

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

It is true that as you go through life, you reevaluate people. This is natural and it is necessary. Some people walk into and fall out of your life. Some people remain there.

Sometimes it isn’t as easy as walking in and falling out. It can be an emotionally draining process or something that can be easily done… Easy or difficult. It always depends.

As your interests change, as the life around you just changes, the people that you gravitate to can change. What you once didn’t value becomes one of the most important things to you.

The people who you didn’t notice to be significant become extremely significant. Some of the people who were once significant become less significant. You meet new people and you begin that process of getting to know someone and something new. That newness can be the most comforting breathe of fresh air. That newness can be challenging.

Sometimes those new people become the ones who get to know the person you’re becoming,  the new and improved version of you…while some of the people you knew simply do not get you anymore. Or do not seek to understand you any longer. Or maybe never did in the first place.

It is from that time, you start to notice the people who were always there and which ones, in particular, are keeping up to speed with your changes, adjustments,  and enlightenment with an open mind.

Because you’re in a time where so much – and everything – is changing  ALL at once for you…and  there are no pauses…and you are struggling to figure out how to balance it all…what to stand up against and what to just let flow even if it means some discomfort.  You thought you were in this new place for one purpose… Now there’s another purpose. It’s just one added thing…but that one added thing has several subsets. That one thing is extremely challenging and will inevitably define you.

You are on your way to becoming less of the person you once were…in some areas…and  you’re hoping that that is a good thing. You’re in this new place for one purpose. Or so you thought…now there are several other life changing reasons that you’ve left home on the list…and it’s like, “How the hell am I supposed to make all of this happen?”

And when the fog clears and everything sharpens…

….those who have always looked at you with an open-mind, who haven’t just said they see your growth but have allowed themselves the capacity to understand it…become some of THE most important people in your life. They likely already were, but a lot of the time you have to clear your own fog to see anything else.

This process…of people walking in and out, making new friends…it is  exciting but sometimes can be exhausting. It isn’t easy when the people you thought were the stable bits in your life become less of that or just are not that anymore… Sometimes it is easy getting to know new people who become the new stable bits in your life …and other times it isn’t. Other times it’s like “damn, I have to start from the beginning…”. Most times it’s like, “You’re all you’ve got.”

As draining as all of this can be, the exciting and unexpected parts of the process very rarely come with dull moments, that’s for sure. Those exciting and unexpected and maybe even galling parts of the process do not come without their lessons if you are willing to be perceptive enough to receive them.

The reasons why people walk in, walk out, and remain in your life can be exhausting to think about.

But… maybe, sometimes, there isn’t anything to think about to the extent that we do…

Because it’s natural. This will always happen… but the frequency at which it happens, I believe,  changes as you become more and more sure of what you wholeheartedly NEED in people in order for them to be as close to you as you allow them to be.

These past two years have probably revealed the harsher lessons on this topic… This year, in particular, has been the biggest struggle…because I am particularly facing these growing pains while I’ve been stuck in a different country.  Or on my way to the airport.  Unsure about the standing of certain people who I value highly in my life while surrounded by the unfamiliar.

As always, when something becomes so personal, the answers are hard to see even if they’re in front of you…and other times the answers are right there but because things are so personal, you don’t even know what you’re going to do with the answer in front of you….

(I am perceptive. Always have been. I always know what I am supposed to do…I just don’t find it exciting actually doing that something depending on the situation.)

Every choice has consequences. Every single one of ‘em.


“What to do?”

Because something must be done.

UMW friends abroad!

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Yesterday, I had a great surprise. Patrick messaged me to tell me he was in Paris! So this morning, we met up near Rue de Rivoli. We tried out Cafes Verlet, which is a gourmet shop that offers hundreds of varieties of coffee. We had a great time reminiscing about UMW days while wandering around the first and second arrondissments. We also made sure to enjoy a crêpe, some organic desserts, and the Jardin des Tuilieries. This morning made me realize that I love to travel with friends; it’s fun to share new adventures and new observations while comparing them with back home. For example, we laughed at how open Parisian society is to semi-nude photography (which appears in nearly every metro station) versus in America where violent imagery is more acceptable. In a few hours, I am headed off to Tuscany. I’ll be delighted to see Eynav, who is studying abroad there. I’m sure that with her as well, I’ll have a great time comparing European norms to norms back in the States.  She will show me the best of Florence, and we’ll have some great memories when we’re back at UMW next semester. Also, many people have given me enthusiastic reviews of Tuscan food. I’m looking forward to sampling gnocchi and much more.