Sunday, February 28, 2010

Downtown's āyí

Our downtown āyí cooked for Chairman Mao. Whenever we thank her for her amazing food, she just yells at us. "{If you like it so much, eat more!}"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Classes

I now commute Saturdays to the downtown school in oder to teach four classes there. Starting out with new classes, you can easily forget that you have to teach the students I don't know and I don't remember and then encourage them for such responses. Never ask, "Do you understand?" They'll most likely say yes.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Sharon, my coworker, to me, regarding the six Kaifaqu Western teachers: "You are a male. The others are female. What's the feeling?" She held out the pretend mic of her fist.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Before the Lunar New Year break, we had a culture lesson on Valentine's Day. Today I saw a valentine one of the kids made:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I don't like this
I like flute

Encompassment and Representation

"China's 1.3 billion people are officially 96 percent Han; the rest range from Tibetans to Naxi to Manchus, categories fixed after the 1949 Communist revolution." And now there are minority-themed theme parks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Obligatory Pictures near Interesting Things but Not of Those Things

outside "the longest underwater cave that can be traveled by boat in the world" (accordin' to the sign), in Benxi

Lunar New Year, with fireworks going off everywhere, plus movement of all kinds, including all those pictured actually running around each other, save for this instance, some of them lighting stuff with cigarettes and then laughing maniacally

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hǎo What Now?

And while in Benxi, I tried a shirt on. I meant to ask Linda's mom, "{Do I look good?}" but I asked her, "{Am I delicious?}"

Monday, February 22, 2010

On Benxi and Beijing, Further

Benxi was more fun than Beijing because we spent much of the time with a family, much of that time further divided into time at the table and time not at the table. Linda's dad wanted me to light the fireworks. He liked me, Linda translated to me, because my at-table-to-not-at-table ratio was high. It was weird to him and his wife that the Americans kept saying "thank you" so much, he indicated. The word blessed, as popularly used in these few days away, was translated as "hǎo," "good." At restaurants, out of respect, one was to leave the chairs facing the door free for the host. Who exactly the host was was a few times debated.

As I said before, we spent the time in Beijing sightseeing. The Forbidden City reminded me of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, in Seoul. The wind on the Great Wall was so cold I had to wear my face mask.

It's good to be back in Kaifaqu, in my apartment on the thirteenth floor, at eye level with the continuing fireworks.

Expats, 5

Back at the hostel, a woman from Estonia we roomed with was mad that none of the Chinese and only a few of the Westerners knew where Estonia was.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Last night I tried snake wine, a pond-water-looking alcohol with, yes, a fucking snake in it. The first shot was bad enough, but the second was worse, with a large chunk of either root or, well, snake that slid against my throat in a way that had me running to the bathroom, where a woman was cleaning the toilet, and so I had to will myself not to puke. No, sir, I wouldn't recommend the snake wine.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


"Judge Keeps His Word to Immigrant Who Kept His"

On Benxi and Beijing, an Opening, Admittedly Brief but Being at Least Something of What Happened While I Was Gone, and It's Morning Now

"I packed my suitcase and threw it away."

It's the seventh of January (lunar), and I'm still being woken up with fireworks—you know, going off in the middle of the city, in all directions, marking the reopening of businesses.

stupid-early morning in Kaifaqu

The trip to Benxi and Beijing was good. In Benxi, we were hosted by our coworker Linda's parents, who were extremely kind. Her dad planned breakfasts while we ate breakfasts, offered me cigarettes as soon as I was finished eating, and poured beer after beer into everybody's cup, even of those who were supposedly not drinking. I was called by my Chinese name, 韩烨 (Hán Yè), the entire time and lauded for my eating and drinking abilities.

The Fourth of July ain't got nothing on the Lunar New Year. All of Benxi was lighting off day and night. There was one point when all of us were out with explosions everywhere and I was lighting shit with a cigarette and giggling my silly ass off, feeling maniacal. There are pictures somewhere.

And did the usual what-you'd-expect touristy stuff in Beijing: the Forbidden City and the Wall and all that.

Friday, February 19, 2010


another Korean translation of "Antarctica," this one by 정희경 and me

and in the spirit of re(con)textualization:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Expats, 4

In the Beijing hostel, a Spanish man and I talked about our love for Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Two Portuguese people talked about having been required to read him during school.


While walking on this wall, I mostly thought about my brother.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Be Back on the Eighteenth

In a few hours, I'm leaving with the Kaifaqu Western teachers and some of the Eastern teachers to spend New Year's in Benxi. Then we Western teachers are headed to Beijing for a bit.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Ted's moving to Shanghai tomorrow. I wish him well.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Maybe I'll go back to the States next year and just keep returning to China in the summers.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Last Day with the Tots

Super Tots 2A

Tiny Tots

Friday, February 5, 2010


A ladder for our school, some have argued, would be too expensive, but

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The teacher showed his student the character for "one":
"That's easy!" the student said and wrote the character.

The teacher showed his student the character for "two":
"That's easy!" the student said and wrote the character.

The teacher showed his student the character for "three":
"That's easy!" the student said and wrote the character.

The teacher started to show his student the character for "four," but the student stopped him and said, "I know how to write it. I don't need you to teach me."

"OK," the teacher said, "your homework for tonight is to write the character for 'ten thousand.'"

The student spent the entire night writing ten thousand lines.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Expats, 3

There are three Western kids—six, six, and five—playing here at Jayland, waiting for their parents, who are in culture training downstairs. I talk to them quickly, naturally. It's so weird for me at this point to be understood by anybody under like fourteen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


"Lyndon says he shall cherish the day when love and right and wrong and responsibility…are understood…to be nothing but arrangements of distance…

"My husband has stated publicly that America, too, his own America, that he loves enough to conceal deaths for, is to be understood in terms of distance."
—Lady Bird Johnson, in David Foster Wallace's "Lyndon"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Explain Why You'll Be Right Back

I hate when I get into a cab drunk, forgetting I don't have any money, in a country where I don't speak the language.

Last Night, after a Hard Week of Work