The Blind Fortune Tellers (Lu Jun’s story)

– They roamed the streets of her hometown, knocking their sticks along to lay a path in that endless shade. What they could not see with their eyes the cards showed them by touch. Lu Jun was little when her mother made them show her her future. They rambled on for awhile, illshapen words boiling down … Read More »

The first time I used a squat toilet

– Is successfully using a squat toilet a sign you’ve “adjusted” to life in China? I never grew comfortable with squat toilets, and the more public they were, the worse shape they were in. The absolute worst was in a public restroom in a smalltown bus station, where you had rectangle-shaped stone holes, side-by-side. No privacy. … Read More »

A few signs your MA in TESOL program is a bad choice

– I’ve given some thought to doing an MA in TESOL. After all, I taught it in China, liked it, so why not earn 5,000 RMB a month instead of a mere 4800? All I need is a golden ticket. Luckily, I found one, via a Google ad on a message board. Upon seeing the heading, … Read More »

wet alley (nong tang) © china.sixty4 on Flickr

The Outdoors Poetry Exercise

– Keith, already suspicious of John, is doubly suspicious now that John missed their dinner appointment. On a rainy Friday, he wonders about John’s motives for being in China, as he implements a fresh idea into the classroom: a poetry exercise, where the students go outside, and use English to write a poem about what they … Read More »

Keep It Simple and Stupid

– Our hero is John, who is wandering through life without purpose. This wandering led him to a humanities degree, then to unemployment, and finally, to the great refuge of unemployed humanities majors: ESL in China. Though Wuhan later becomes an existential swamp for John, here at the beginning, everything is new and exciting. This is … Read More »

The China-Wide-Web

– As I write this, I am listening to Radio Free Asia, a podcast which I subscribed to on iTunes with no hassle. After I finish writing this, I plan, just for shits and grins, to run a Google search on Liu Xiaobo and proclaim my love for a free Tibet on Twitter. When I first … Read More »

Jack at McDonald’s

– Jack finished his last class and coming out the door he lit his first cigarette of the day. At his apartment door, Jack crushed his fourth cigarette and took the fifth inside. He checked his phone messages. Then he stepped back out and lit number six and headed to McDonald’s. Read More »

The goodbye (but not farewell) China post

– I’ve been resisting the idea of doing a “goodbye China” post for awhile now, just as I resisted the idea that I was leaving China. I remember clearly what it was like the summer before I left America. Those initial emails, the excitement, the trepidation. The realization that my options were a) go to grad … Read More »

Love, with Chinese characteristics (a conversation)

– “You need to understand,” Walter said, lighting a cigarette. “Chinese love is real love.” “And American love isn’t?” Nick said. “Western love,” Walter said, “is not real love. Not in the Chinese sense. It’s not. Their love is deeper, truer.” “Yeah,” Nick said, “I can see what you mean.” He could too. One night at … Read More »

The 7 Year Laowai: Part 7 – Safety

– I had an English class once where this girl interrupted me to ask what I thought of Japan, and without waiting for an answer, proceeded to tell me that Japan had killed many Chinese people, that they hated China, they were jealous of China. Then she went into Korea. Korea “stole our culture”. You’d think imitation the sincerest form of flattery, but not this girl.

I didn’t know what to say. On one hand, listening to this recorded message, it dawned on me that I was 12,000 miles away from everyone and everything I had ever known…and that according to some people, this, this, blind allegiance, blatant censorship, and self-checking all in the name of “harmony”…this is the next superpower.

On the other hand, she was speaking. I take what I can get. Read More »

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