I a ton of stuff today, for about 200 dollars total. If I can remember correctly, I got: 2 lamps, 5 light bulbs, a filing cabinet, a bedside table, a coffee table, a TV table (not that I have a TV yet), a letter tray, a package of double A batteries, a wheeled shopping bag thing, a set of sheets and a book about IKEA.
On the way back from a trip to IKEA (Yay!) we passed a church that was having a WWF-style wrestling match in a ring in front of it. On one hand, I was curious, and wanted to take pictures. On the other hand, it freaked me out and I thought we should stay away. A church where members see pile drivers and smashing somebody’s head against a turnbuckle as good worship activity … well, I don’t even know what to say about that.
I’d like to say more about where I am and what I’m doing, but since the time I got snitched on for complaining about work I think I should be more discreet.
I will say I’m at one of the many, many small schools in Ohio. So far I’m surprised and impressed by some things here. I’ve found people really courteous and conscientious. People are also much more physically fit here than I have seen anywhere in the US since I left New York. I’m not sure why that is. Are Americans getting healthier, or is this peculiar to the town where I am? I guess most of the students are from within state, from pretty well-off families. However, that doesn’t make them radically different than lots of the students in Michigan, who were much less in shape.
R.I.P. to a fine fellow and fellow Chinese student I knew as Bahb. From time to time I think of his story of how as his grandmother got older sometimes she’d revert back to speaking German.
Today while I was at a departmental party UPS delivered my mattress and put it in my apartment building’s office, which was closed for the weekend by the time I got back. I called the emergency maintenance number and the worker agreed to come open it up for me. He helped me take the package to my apartment and I thanked him sincerely for coming all the way from home to help me. He said, “Actually, it’s all right, because it got me out of having to watch a ladies’ movie with my wife.”
I’m in Ohio now. I got here on Saturday night. I’ve actually gotten an apartment already, set up a phone and home Internet, etc.
The actual trip here went surprisingly well. I got my whole security deposit back (despite not completely emptying out and cleaning my apartment :/) and then Curtis helped me get my bags to the airport. Unfortunately, Mao peed in the cat carrier, but even that did not smell as bad as I expected. She was quiet in the airport and did not yowl on the flight at all. The people in the Pudong airport were really nice and took us to a private room immediately so they could search the carrier. The security in Chicago did it too, but I had to wait at least fifteen minutes for a supervisor, and when that person never showed up two ladies from the normal security people came and did it. Mao was good and didn’t scratch me or try to escape. She was just too freaked out, I think. Despite the delay at security, and despite having to wait a long time for my luggage, I was still able to get my connecting flight because it just happened to be delayed. Even when I arrived at 11:30 p.m., the vet where I was going to board her came and opened up the place to let me drop her off there.
I’ve been throwing out a lot of stuff, and today I came across this quote from a professor at my old school, ECNU (East China Normal University):
“You should learn to read with many kinds of people. You may feel they are dirty and poor, but if you stay with them, you will find it is not so. This is the spirit that libraries bring to people.”
I heard this on a news broadcast, but unfortunately did not get the professor’s name.
I’m continuing to get ready to move. Today I’ve gotten rid of the last of the unwanted books as well as a lot of plastic stuff from the kitchen. I also had a “Oh no! What have a I done?” moment where I started questioning my decision to move. I was thinking that my favorite thing to do in the world is tool around crappy or weird places in China, taking pictures. Then why am I going back to the US? It’s partly because of feeling unwanted and depressed. I’ve had these feelings like, “Screw you all! I’m leaving!” But if people don’t care about me, who am I hurting but myself? It’s not like my leaving will have an impact on them. Still, I know I am in a really bad head space and have not been happy at my job for some time. Getting out, and getting a change, is likely to be positive.
I had this strange experience today where I all of a sudden got really sad and started crying. I was at the hairdresser’s, trying to explain what I wanted, couldn’t find the picture I wanted to show him, an employee who was doing nothing was standing there staring for no reason, crowding me. I just started to feel sad and overwhelmed.
I started to cry, and Eddy my hairdresser asked me what was wrong, and I told him about how I’m moving, all the stuff that’s going on, all the stuff that’s happened since I’ve come back here. He was very nice and talked about how he’s sometimes very unhappy here in Shanghai since people are so different than up in his hometown by Harbin. He said he hoped I’d feel happier after going back to the US.
I started to feel all sentimental too, like “This is the last time I will see Eddy, the last time I will get my hair cut here,” etc. Really, there are a lot of nice people I know just in passing, and I’ll feel sad about not seeing anymore. I will even miss the Amazon delivery man and the family who run the quickie-mart near my building.
Hello to whoever visited from Bayankhongor, Mongolia!
I’m slowly getting closer to being ready to move. Actually, I’m having trouble getting everything as done as quickly as I’d like, but hoping that since I started out early everything will be done on time. Tomorrow I plan to try to sell some books at a secondhand bookstore, although it’s not totally necessary for me to do that. I could just leave them at work. However, because some of them are hardback, I was thinking I might be able to get some money for them.
One awkward thing happened. This woman I work with wanted to organize some sort of party for me and for another colleague who is leaving. We couldn’t agree on a day or time, he lives in Minhang and I live in Xujiahui, he doesn’t like Chinese food so we had to try to find someplace not Chinese. Finally I got a bit irritated and told her I don’t actually need a party and really didn’t mind if it didn’t happen at all. She was mad, I think, and cancelled it. Then she was very cold to me today and didn’t chat.
That seems to be the way it is when people move. Last time I left China one person told me at the last minute she was having a breakfast for me one morning after I had been up late hosting a party myself. She wanted it to be at a place which would take me 1 1/2 hours to go by subway, or to take a long and expensive cab ride (if I could even get a taxi). The restaurant served food that I was not super keen on. Even though I said I could not go, that I would be too tired, and if she wanted to do something for me I would like it to be near my house, the person did not listen. In the end, I never even went. I was just too tired, and it was too far to go. I felt like the party was not for me, but for the person giving it. Parties are like that a lot, I think.
I’ve had an idea for a submission to Arrested Westeros for a long time — at least a year. Today I finally made it. I went to submit it, and it turns out the person who does the site wants you to use her Photoshop template, and if you can’t, she’d like you to just describe your idea to her so she can make it herself. I was a little disappointed, but I’ve done it, and now I just have to wait and see what her reaction is, and if my idea will end up on the site.
Stay tuned! I’ll post a link immediately if it’s accepted!
This is a quilt I was making for a baby’s crib. It was nearly done when I came to China. I was going to finish it when I came here, thinking that if things worked out well between the Dog Man and I, I would eventually use it for our baby. However, now there’s no Dog Man and no baby. I’m taking it back to the US unfinished.
The solid red parts of the quilt are a fuzzy chenille.
My friend Zhao Jian Rong, who I always called the Dog Man, believed in Pu Sa, who is a manifestation of Guanyin Buddha, so I went to burn offerings to her on his behalf last Thursday. I went to Jade Buddha Temple because online I saw they had a statue of Pu Sa. Actually, I had been to the temple a couple times before, once with my friend Joe, when he was accompanying the Rocky Mountain Ballet on their Chinese tour. That time, we burned an offering for Joe’s dad, who had just died of stomach cancer, while a Native American dancer named Shonto Pete chanted a prayer for him.
Anyhow, I went to get some of the “hell money” and paper ingots at the temple store. The lady explained to me that the ones I was originally buying were actually for another deity, so they directed me to one which were specifically for Pu Sa. I got quite a big package of them (fifty or sixty in total). I was supposed to open them up and make them be shaped like a gold ingot, and then put them into a furnace. It was not so easy, but I got the hang of shaping them after a while. A Russian family kept taking pictures of themselves at the offering cauldron while I was doing it, and they took pictures of me too, which is kind of not cool. I just ignored it and concentrated on making the offering.
Last week when I was at the home for blind & visually-impaired kids, I taught one of them how to get the CD player to play the same song again and again. After we listened to “Black Cat Police Chief” like fifteen times in a row, I thought, “Man, I bet the ladies who work here are not going to be happy about this.” I think total, we listened to the song close to fifty times. I got there today, and lo and behold, that CD was nowhere to be found. Today’s song was “Hey Lolly Lolly,” which I think we listened to about twenty-five times. Will the CD be there next week? Only time will tell!
They’re by Jacopo Rosati and will take you back to your youth!
The Childlike Joy of Comics Rendered in Felt
Today I went to play with the kids at an orphanage for blind and visually-impaired children. There is this one kid, Tom, who is almost ten and is totally blind. I was sitting in the playroom and he climbed up on my back and started feeling my neck. Then he asked me what was wrong with it. I was like, “How did you know there is something wrong with my neck?” and he said, “I don’t know.”
People say here that blind people make the best masseuses because of their sense of touch is extra-sensitive. It’s interesting that he knew there was a problem just through touch although he didn’t have any training and couldn’t put his reasoning into words. I guess it proves that what people say about this is true.
Tonight I gave the Dog Man a call, even though he was so strange and distant last time. Partly I wanted to find out if he wanted to me to return the quilt and other things he had lent me before before go back to America, but another big part of it was that I wanted to know for sure if it really was him I talked to last time. It didn’t sound like him at all, and I was wondering if it was actually his older brother, who is really mean, and who I could imaging lying to me about Alice.
The phone rang about ten times before somebody answered, and the person on the other end sounded really strange. I asked who it was, and it turned out it was his other older brother, the one who is nice but who seems a little slow. He said his brother wasn’t there. I took the opportunity to ask what had really happened to Alice, if he still had him or not. He said “He got sick, so he gave him away” — but in Chinese, he, she and it all sound the same, so I asked who got sick. At first I thought the dog was sick, but then it turned out it was the Dog Man. I asked what was wrong, and it turns out he had lung cancer! I asked if I should go see him, or if he didn’t want to see me at all. I couldn’t understand the answer because his brother speaks unclearly. He said he was not there, and I asked if he was in the hospital, and the older brother said he was dead. I was like, “Really? Really?” because I couldn’t believe it. He was like, “Don’t worry about it.” I was like, “Wait? What?” I was wondering if I had misunderstood the whole conversation, because the older brother seemed so nonchalant. But we kept talking, and according to the brother, he really is dead. I guess the cancer was why his voice sounded so strange last time he talked to me.
I don’t even feel upset now. Maybe a little nauseous. It’s so strange. I almost don’t believe it. The older brother was so chipper on the phone. He didn’t sound sad at all. He is not quite right in the head, though, although he’s sort of a nice guy.
Am I in shock? I don’t know. It’s all so strange.
My big news is that indeed, I did get the job I interviewed for. I accepted it. I’m a bit scared of making the move, especially because I’m going to go from such a big city to a small town. I’m also starting to think of all the mistakes I made while I was here — why didn’t I do this, why didn’t I try that, why didn’t I get in touch with that person… but it’s not healthy to think that way. I did need a change, and now I’m going to have one. I’m hoping to feel more happy and fulfilled where I’m going. I think because I will be in an ESL department I will feel more valued and less stranded than I do now, which will be nice.
Today on impulse I called up the Dog Man. On one hand, I’ve felt sorry that I hadn’t talked to him in a very long time. On the other hand, he hadn’t talked to me either. I called today and barely recognized him. I wasn’t even sure it was he I was talking to or if it was his brother. I asked how Alice was, and he said he had given her away! Apparently, she bit somebody, so he had to get rid of her. Then he was like, “Well, that’s it. Okay. Bye.”
It’s the end of an era, officially, I guess. When I came back the Dog Man was so different I felt like he wasn’t even the same person I knew, and now he doesn’t even have a dog anymore. It was because of Alice that I met him in the first place. He didn’t even want to talk to me either. So, our friendship is gone, too.
It’s sad. He changed so much. I wonder if I should have worked harder to pull him out of the depression he was in because of his dad (or anyway, that’s what I think he was going through). He was just so angry and dirty, though, and I couldn’t say what I wanted to say. My Chinese wasn’t good enough.
I hope Alice is okay. I worry that something else really happened to her, like she was put to sleep. I wish I had known what was going on.