Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Back in tha hood

Well Blogspot has been liberated, and for some reason I can't access my Wordpress blog, so I've migrated back. Not a whole lot new to report- classes are going well, even though I'm just regurgitating lesson plans that I developed years ago. I've found that I'm a pretty good teacher (meaning that kids stay awake in my classes and tell me that my lessons are interesting...whether or not their English skills are improving, I'll leave that up to the CET test gods). I do enjoy teaching when I'm actually in the classroom, but when I'm pulling my reluctant ass out of bed in the morning, I would relish any job that didn't require 8 a.m. attendance.

It's been a little difficult being away from Megan. She stays with me on the weekends, but during the week, it gets kinda dull around here. There aren't many people to go eating and drinking with, foreigners or local, though I have met a few fun characters. I just feel so much happier and relaxed when she's around. Here's something I've noticed: I'm a metalhead through and through (this isn't what I've noticed, this is just the introduction). My computer speakers are constantly pounding the walls with hammering guitars and drums, even when I'm going to sleep. But when she's here, I have very little desire to listen to heavy music. One of our hobbies is downloading pop music together, and I enjoy watching her dance, which she loves to do and is pretty damn good at it. I'm so thankful for her and I treasure every moment I can be with her.

I've gotten a little bit of tattoo work done on my right forearm, just to fill in some empty space. I think it looks really cool now, kind of like a little garden. It's still healing, but when it looks all purty I'll post the finished product. I'm like the most non-threatening tattoo enthusiast ever. Everything is animals and vegetation and Chinese writing. I guess the pointy tribal designs on my back and shoulders and the flames on my right arm are edgy. Whatever, it's all good.

I'd like to have a moment of silence for the death of summer ......... Okay, now that that's finished, let's mourn for the specifics. No more:
-late nights eating duck and beer at the outdoor restaurants
-tank tops, tiny shorts, miniskirts
-ice cream
-enjoying being outside

Now for the positives:
-jackets and coats (I love denim jackets and black coats)
-enjoying warm beer
-hot pot
-wearing the scarves Megan knit for me
-lots of festivals, Western and Chinese
-warm nights under layers of blankets with my sweetie

I really love warm weather and sunshine and being outside at night, and I hope this winter is a quick one. Global warming does have a few advantages :-) . Well, I don't know how long Blogspot will stay unblocked, so whether or not this is my final transmission, I leave you with this: China is like the geeky MMORPG-playing fantasy nerd at college, who wishes he was popular with the jocks (the world heavyweight countries) but could be appreciated for his own talents (such as playing MMORPGs with exceptional skill). Of course, the jocks would never let him into their circle based on such "uncool" talents, so the nerdy guy attempts to update his fashion and starts playing sports, and eventually becomes capable enough to attract interest and then reluctant acceptance from the jocks, though only based on his abilities and not personality or humor. However, the nerdy guy still feels out of place and wishes that the jocks would recognize and admire his true talents.

This allegory reflects China's awkward yet powerful position in the world. China is wildly in love with its consumate culture, and rightly so, but the world isn't as impressed with long-cherished traditions, excellent calligraphy skills, and finely-honed recipes as Chinese people are. To the world, these are mostly novelties or distractions for tourists, but the Chinese feel that their culture deserves worldwide recognition beyond a level of "oh what a lovely watercolor painting." Yet China hasn't gotten recognition based on its own cultivated abilities, so it has had to adopt world, and specifically Western, strategies for acceptance into the world clique (capitalistic strength, industrial innovation, Western-style entertainment). Of course though, nothing would make China happier than if the world appreciated kung-fu, mooncakes, and the West Lake as much as it does.

As an American, coming from a country synonymous with "cool" and "free" and "adventure," I have to remind myself not to see the attitude and actions of China as pathetic attempts at acceptance, because everyone wants this, and I have just never known what it's like not to be accepted. This is why the Beijing Olympics are such a triumph for China, because to them it means "finally, the world is letting us play too."

These past two days, I've watched two very gripping films, both of which I've seen before but felt compelled to watch again: Narc and Harsh Times. Narc is a terrifying bad cop/badder cop thriller and Harsh Times is a Christian Bale-powered L.A. gangster flick that sometimes strains credibility and overuses urban slang, but both films are superb and tragic character studies that will send you scouring bit torrent sites for bouncy Japanese dance pop to drive away the misery.

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