Quincy Carroll’s Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside is, on its surface, a tale of two foreigner teachers in China — the idealistic, ‘in search of the real real China’, young Daniel; and the jaded, booze-soaked, cynical old Thomas. For anyone who has lived in China, they are characterizations of personalities we’ve all met, and perhaps been, at some point.Read More
Just a quick little note to mention that Lost Laowai contributor Travis Lee recently had his short story, The Journey Through Nanking, published in Independent Ink Magazine. About the short story: During the Nanking Massacre, a young girl becomes separated from her family. With help from her spirit-guide, she must cross the warzone and overcome …Read More
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
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
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.