Strangely enough, I’m mentioned in the Wikipedia-esque Chinese version of a German science engine! Both Mary Frances Berry and I are listed as scientists, and my blurb appears above hers, even though my achievements are miniscule in comparison.
Since I got here I’ve been experiencing a weird phenomenon for the first time. When a migraine is coming on, I start “tasting” metal. The thing is, the sensation isn’t coming from my mouth. What I mean is, I can tell the taste isn’t being generated from anything I’m eating or drinking. So I’m experiencing a sensation that registers as taste although it’s clear it’s not taste at all, just a product of my brain, and as I experience it, I know that’s all it is.
A few people have asked what I think about my new school and about being back in the US. I haven’t written too much in here. One reason is I’m trying to be discreet because I once got in trouble about something I wrote about my old US school.
But, here is something I wrote to a friend/old colleague of mine yesterday:
This school is super-interesting — kind of strange. The American students are very, very polite, but on the other hands it’s a huge party school with all sorts of heavy-drinking related incidents each weekend. Despite the weekend binge drinking, the students seem very health conscious. There are always students jogging everywhere, and generally they are very physically fit. The school is pretty far south in Ohio, but yet students here are really accepting of homosexuality, whereas in Bloomington, which is a few hours away, there was always a lot of prejudice (while I was there, anyway).
As far as weird stuff goes (and this is something I did not tell my co-worker), there are signs around town, like on the library door, the courthouse door, and even city buses, that people are not allowed to bring a firearm on. My students were astonished that something like that is even needed. I was pretty surprised too. My friend Pilot P. said that lately a lot of people have gotten really militant about open carry rules and so they are carrying guns around scaring people.
I just ordered the new Alexander McCall Smith novel!
In other writing news, I’ve finished and polished up my first Half-Horse Boy story and mailed it to some friends who wanted to see it.
Ugh! Tonight walking through campus I came upon this girl being harassed by a guy she had broken up with. He was restraining her, wouldn’t let her go, etc. Meanwhile, nobody was doing anything. I started coming up, and the guy left. I talked to the girl, who was crying, tried to get her to make a police report, etc. She wasn’t willing, but after I talked to her I called the campus police myself and described the situation. While I couldn’t give her any names or clear identifications of the people involved, I did ask them to have an officer near the library exit extra often in case the guy returned and came after the girl when she left the building. The officer said he’d have extra patrols around there and send some officers on walk-throughs to make sure everything was okay in the building and see if they could find the girl and talk to her. From what she told me, the situation has been going on for a long time. I am hoping that she will decide to talk to the police after all, or that her parents, who she told me she was going to call, will get the campus police involved. This sort of stuff shouldn’t happen.
I’ve registered for three different catalogs with an online company with three different names: once as Ms., with my full name; once as Sir, with just my initials and last name, and once as Dr., with just my first initial and my last name. Now I’m going to wait and see if I get junk mail and what kind I’ll get with each name.
Want to read a whole Web site full of uncorrected machine-translated Chinese science and technology articles? Well here you go! Why not start with “Recent Findings you are going To Kick out the Breakfast from Your Table due to Recent Findings” and then move on to “The Day with a “Made In China” Stamp On Your Backs You Walk Home Made By 3D Printed Vertebra”? Thanks to Mr. G for alerting me to this great resource!
After all the things that happened in China I have to admit I started looking for omens when I got ready to leave, and when I just arrived in Ohio. One of the last days I was at home when I turned on the TV I found a broadcast of Ute Lemper signing Kurt Weill’s “Surabaya Johnny.” It’s one of my favorite songs, and I wondered if it was a good omen for the future (although it did also turn out I had missed an Ute Lemper performance in Shanghai). Then I got here, and on the first day walking around, I saw four deer just walking around, crossing the road in front of me. I wondered if that was a good omen too, because they were deer (Animals! Exciting!) and there were four of them (four is my favorite number).
Today I saw a deer again by my apartment building. It was doe, and was eating leaves. Then I noticed there was another animal nearby. I wondered if it was a groundhog or something. Used the zoom lens on my camera to take a picture, and then made that as big as I could to see it. It turns out it was just a cat, hanging out in the meadow with a deer nearby. I would have liked to stay and watch if they interacted, but I was afraid of making the deer nervous and driving it away, so I went back to my apartment.
(P.S. The deer at the picture at the top are ones I saw in East Lansing when I helped Kimi move to her new apartment.)
From a piece of spam sent to this blog:
Do you possess an hourglass composition? Congratulations, you can wear every little thing you want and still look huge.
To my visitor from Teresina, Brasil!
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.