… He died an old man in a cold Chinese hospital an entire hemisphere removed from everyone and everything he had ever known. Surrounded by strangers, he couldn’t even have read his own obituary.Read More
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
“How can someone who exists on the fringes of a society understand that society?” Jack said. “You’re a laowai, a wai guo ren, an outsider. You can’t understand pigs without shoveling pig shit, you shouldn’t even fucking eat bacon. How can you be an expert on death without taking the occasional life?”Read More
…that look came upon his face. It stuck there as he went over and bashed the usurper right in the eye with a Lego block.
A black look grotesque enough on a five year old’s face, when seen on the face of a sixty-four year old man…I think Matt noticed too. Or maybe he was just hitting his stride. He took Xia Yu’s hands and started dancing with her.
He was fired a month later.Read More
“Freshman?” Jack said. “The first I taught freshman English, all the girls came up to me after class and asked if they could come home and fuck me.”
…and we never had another group dinner.Read More
Seven years of my life are gone. Looking back, it doesn’t seem that long, but I guess it was a long time. I always find myself nagged by a single, ugly feeling: that I wasted my time. That no matter what I did, I never used it wisely enough. For all the stress my rebirth in China brought, there was a lot it did away with. I had time plenty to write a novel, to learn a programming language, hell to learn a real language. What did I do?
The ‘what ifs’, those are the worst feelings. Those are the ones that haunt you. I read somewhere that you will regret your virtues more than your vices. I can’t say that I disagree with that. There are things I did when I was younger that I felt horrible about at the time, but as I grow older, I don’t feel so bad anymore. Maybe it’s the positive you can draw out of even the worst situations…or hell, maybe it is just getting older. Wondering what more you could have done.
Those first few years were the worst. You enter a period in your life where you can’t say for sure what you’re doing or even who you are. Each day the same as the last, they blur together like a flipbook. You can only see flashes of what you did, what you were. Little isolated fragments that do nothing to illustrate what happened and everything to add to the mystery.
“Why do you come to China?”, my students ask me, which is pretty much “What’s a nice laowai like you doing in a place like this?”. Well…I suppose I came here for a better life. I suppose. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to know what I was thinking. Look at it like this: I was treading water in the middle of the ocean, waiting for a boat to come by.
China just happened to be the first.
I was a foreign teacher in China for seven years.
They say life is too short. Well, then they ought to come to Wuhan, China.Read More