Saturday, March 31, 2007

i spoke too soon! they've taken blogspot away from us again, which is a darn shame. it also makes it a huge pain for me to read other people's blogs, doubly killing my time-killers. why, china? Why?! what did blogspot do to you?
also, the china branch of Lays potato chips, known here as 樂事 (le shi), or "happy stuff", in all its infinite wisdom has decided to change the main flavor of its china chip empire. when i noticed that the yellow bag no longer listed itself as "salt" flavor, but as "classic american" flavor, i figured it was just a change in wording. but i bought some, and they're actually a weird flavor that sort of reminds me of BBQ. I would like to say on behalf of the US of A that that is not our classic american flavor. give us back salt flavor!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

ugh, dandan and i are trying to plan our travels for the month of may. the first part of the plan is actually going really well, dandan is very agreeable about planning, and we've been able to find compromises for everything. but the last leg! the travel to tibet, is quite the pain in the ass. the problem is the other people that we were supposed to meet up with. specifically, this one chinese guy. because the girl that was going to take the train with him cancelled, he has decided he won't do it alone. first of all, grow a pair. second of all, for some reason it is our job to solve this for him. unfortunately dandan, trying to be nice and sort of joking, said he should meet up with us in yunnan and go to tibet with us. and he took her up on the offer! we've been trying to reneg, because honestly neither of us has ever talked to him before, and we're not keen to spend a whole month with some guy we don't know. and now it seems like he's even trying to back out of tibet and just do yunnan with us, which is crazy because the whole reason we even want to travel with him at all is because dandan thinks he knows a lot about tibet (i think she's wrong, but she's scared about travelling there alone, which is fair enough). but so now he keeps saying, well let me call the people i know in yunnan, because i only want to travel for 3 weeks. and we keep saying, no, you should really go to tibet, it will be so much more interesting. and i guess it sounds bad to say, but i really don't want to spend the majority of my trip travelling with chinese people. they're very different about travelling, very into staying on the beaten path. and they definitely don't chill w/ hostel people, which is what i want to do. i know dandan will be cool with that stuff because she has great english and is cool with westerners, but who knows about this guy. oh well, our plans seem to change every day, some we'll see how this works out. i'm so excited to hit the road tho.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

okay its funny that i just posted that, and now blogspot's back up again. hoorah! anywho, to respond to the two comments that i was just able to read.
raronauer- i am a wonderfully open-minded person, and so i have room in my heart for all kinds of pizza. i love it for the pizza that it wants to be, and for the pizza that it very nearly is (jerry maguire, anyone?). and while, of course, i will always prefer a superior pizza like grimaldis, i can also enjoy a nice mediocre pizza.
liz- i want you to think about what you've said. do you really want a 35 year old virgin to be your role model? sorry, no offense to 35 year old virgins, but i wouldn't really take dating advice from them.
hey blog, sorry it's been a while. the fact of the matter is, china has blocked blogspot again and i'm so angry i can't bear to go to blogger. well that's not exactly it, but when blogspot's down i feel like i'm blogging into the void, and i never see the words i type again. okay, that's also not true, because i can always anonymouse it (anonymouse, for those of you who don't know, lets you see blocked pages.) maybe it's because anonymouse doesn't let me see people's comments on my blog, or because i'm just too lazy to add the extra step of going to that site first to get to see my site. point being, i've pulled my shit together and i'm updating.
first of all, dandan's been reading the talmud. she's really into it, and keeps asking me if i've read it. also, she keeps asking me if my parents really put honey on my books when i was little. and for some reason she never believes me when i say no. haha.
also, the other night i went to see a drag queen/cross dresser perform, with my friend isaac who works in publishing. he's trying to get this chinese photographer/writer to write a book about beijing's gay scene, and the guy wanted him to come see this show. it was sooo awesome. the guy had on this huge amazing curly wig, and wore a dress that was lace on top and feathers on the bottom. he sang classical chinese songs, but he had this piano player backing him up, and i swear i thought he was going to break into showtunes at any moment. the writer guy had some flowers to give to him, but he just kept on singing and then it was late and we had to go, so we never got the chance to say hi to him, which was a shame. i believe tonight we are going to go to a party that the writer guy's company is throwing, so i'm thinking it will be an awesome chance to meet some crazy alternative lifestyle people.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

so this weekend i went rollerskating at a chinese rollerdisco, which was a pretty awesome combo of being superchinese and very 1950s (america, i guess, cuz we weren't being sent to the fields to work like the peasants). it's been a while since i've gone to a nighttime venue that caters exclusively to chinese people, and it really is a kick. aside from certain unpleasantries like the awkward warmth of the skates when we put them on and the fact that chinese guys will grab your hand so you'll skate around the rink with them, of course. also, chinese people mostly suck really bad at rollerskating, and they're not afraid to take you down with them. but, you know, the more you skate, the better you get at avoiding their hands and they reach out to grab you while they're falling. and you learn to skate around them when a pileup occurs on the floor. we boozed up a bit before we went in, but once inside there was no drinking. which was probably better for all involved. okay, i thought i'd have more to say about the experience, but come to think of it, i don't really. i would recommend it though, if you're ever in the Xizhimen area.

Friday, March 23, 2007

a new discovery- watching live footage of bands that i'm really into on youtube is awesome. currently watching the video for stars' One More Night. that lead singer lady may not be hot, but i'll give her credit for putting her all into the sexy attitude. I tried to put the actual video in, but youtube hates me. also, here's Calendar Girl. such a sad song, but really beautiful. Elevator Love Letter's another favorite, though in this video the singer girl looks like she aged 20 years somehow. okay i could keep going, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

so for those readers who are beginning to grow concerned about virgin girl (and by girl i mean 35 year old, the one with the gay brother,) she had the first of her three blind dates this sunday. she gave him a mediocre score. apparently he's very rich, earning about 1 million kuai a year. and a nice guy. but when i asked how he looked, she was said, "he seems shorter than me". and i asked," what? is he shorter than you?" and she said "no, he just seemed like it. but he's taller than me." judging from the motions of another chinese coworker who was standing behind her, this means he's fat. oh the chinese, they have such interesting ways of putting things. so he wasn't bad, she said, and she told him that she's very busy for the month of march, but that if he wants to ask her out he should do it after then. this is her very clever way of allowing herself to go on the other two blind dates she has set up, and if they don't wow her, return to short, fat, rich guy number one.
so i've finally gotten a new ipod, for those of you who remember how back in november i was robbed of my old one (thanks mom and dad!). and it's so great to have it again, i'm not really sure how i survived these past months. first of all, it's great in the morning shuttle when i'm just too tired to try to understand my cheery coworkers, whether they're speaking english or chinese. today i sat next to the guy who always has his ipod, and felt completely at peace with the world. second of all, i love listening to mood music when i'm on the street- for china, i think that the garden state soundtrack tops my list.
yeah, i know, welcome to 3 years ago, but don't judge me. i have a habit of getting into music just after it's popular. and when i get into music, i get really obsessive, i mean listening to a song 20 or more times a day. for instance, when i discovered the song Digital Love (the week of graduation), i actually listened to it on repeat for an entire weekend, including the 4 hour trip home. but i've discovered in the long run, people don't really notice, because we are still able to share the same nostalgic joy in hearing the song, like this saint patricks day when the song "float on" came on, and even though i got really into it during spring semester senior year and everybody else liked it, i dunno, the summer before, now we can all sing it together.
the ipod will also be an awesome companion during my five weeks travelling in southeast asia, which is approaching rapidly. i've had to do some long train rides sans pod, and i'll tell you, it makes it a lot more difficult to ignore the old, spitting chinese guys staring at you if you can't block it out with some soothing tunes. and now i've got video to boot, so i can look at johnny depp, (or rather keira knightley but i'm picturing the screenshot that's on the apple website) instead.
so hurrah for technology, and who knows how we lived without it?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

back in business! well maybe you didn't know that i was out of business, but for the past week i've been cooped up at home with the flu. this was my first time being sick since i've started working, and really its terrible. every day i would wake up and feel like i should try to go to work, but then i knew i just couldn't. and i was freaked that my boss would think i was just playing hooky or i wasn't that committed to the job or anything. but i guess he understood, probably helped by the fact that i came in on wednesday and then had to go home because i felt like i was gonna throw up (and probably looked like it).
andddd, on a completely unrelated note, i have discovered that there is REAL pizza in beijing. well i mean, i didn't discover it, someone told me about it, but now i know that it's out there! unfortunately, it's in Wudaokou, which is on the other side of Beijing. it's the area that has Beijing University and Qinghua University and all the other universities, otherwise known as the trendy hipster area where all the college kids hang out. and so this pizza place, called the Kro's Nest, has these huge pies that actually look like american pizza. i'm not gonna say its good pizza, or that it's real new york pizza. it reminds me of the pizza that we used to order in college. but, despite being from brooklyn, the home of some of the best pizza in the world, i am not a pizza snob. i accept all kinds of pizza. and there are even certain other pizza places in beijing that i don't mind. and so i will be happy for this small victory, a reminiscent flavor that brings to mind the magnificent pizzas of my homeland.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

check it out- Broadway's gonna hit China. And I, for one, am very excited.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

as i was getting coffee today, i ran into the girl with the costume designer brother. i asked her how she was, and she replied that she was great, that yesterday she'd been taken out to dinner. i asked by who, and she replied "what is the english word for a man who is your brother's best friend, who you take as a brother and he takes you as his sister?" seriously. the girl with the costume designer brother. sister, where i come from, that's your brother's partner. but apparently its something they do in china, and i mean not just when your brother's gay, because they do have a word for it. i don't know, maybe i should ask someone else about it.
why does the Times keep printing bullshit like this? it really boggles my mind. i was going to write a post about this the last time they wrote a similarly inane article about some scientists who, after spending lots of money and time researching, had come to the conclusion that people who were madly in love and had their hearts broken were dangerous. thanks, guys. now, the shocking news that people laugh as a social instinct! oh my god, sherlock. wait, so in some situations people laugh at things that aren't that funny? nooo.
does sarcasm work in a blog? i'm not gonna do it anymore. also, did you guys know that the character of House in the tv show House is based on Sherlock Holmes? You know, the whole hating people but liking to solve the mystery thing. And the name is an allusion- House sounds like Home. Homes. Holmes. I've been watching a bit of it, though its kind of tough because we like to watch things in marathons, that is very intensive 1-2 week periods where we go through 4 or 5 seasons of a show. And after about 3 or 4 episodes of House, you sort of want to give up. on life. so where does that leave us? instead we've switched to Prison Break, which Dandan told me a million times that I had to watch, because it is soooo good. no. no, it's not. i think she just likes the main guy. which is fair enough, because he is a handsome dude.

Monday, March 12, 2007

sorry i haven't been blogging as much lately, as the weather gets nicer it seems i have less to complain about. but i will share this. riding the bus home friday, i was talking to mafeng about the next language to learn after english to be successful in business. one girl shouted "japanese" from the front of the bus. i was about to say the one thing i know in japanese, which is "gay bar wah, doe ko deska" ("where is the gay bar?"), but decided against it. then mafeng shared that he knew one thing, and started speaking some japanese. sidebar: japanese sounds so cool! anyway, i asked him what it meant, and he said "we are all workers here together." those communists! they don't ever stop!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

aww, today on the train ride home i jokingly asked Mafeng if his son could talk yet (he's like one month old). he said no, but that "when he used to cry, it was only in one tone. now when he cries i can hear several tones." and another chinaman is born.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

on the way home from work today, one of my chinese coworkers sighed and said, "i want some pizza." my ears perked at this, because pizza is my absolute favoritist food in the world, and i was excited to find a chinese person with a real taste for it. "you like pizza? i asked her. "yeah, and you can get it so cheap." "What!?" i've found pizza, but its always at western prices, which are about three or four times the cost of a chinese meal. "yeah, only 15 kuai." "What!?" that would be incredibly cheap. "15 kuai, yeah and you get three pieces." this is sounding good. "and it comes with something else," nice. "it comes with.. fish cookies."
oh, shoot. crashing back to reality, i realized that any pizza that comes with fish cookies isn't going to be worth a damn. and if any of you were thinking that might be goldfish or cookies shaped like fish or something, no. fish would be the key ingredient. i've never had them, but i've been burned enough with things like that. again, i felt the distance growing between me and coworker.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

darn china and its unbeatable chinese wisdom. following the spring festival, and the warm weather it brought with it, i assumed that spring would be right around the corner. yes, i know that western wisdom dictates that march 21 is the official beginning of spring, and so it should be about two or three weeks before the weather starts to be springlike. but the chinese said it was spring, so i believed it. imagine my horror when it began to snow saturday night, and the temperature has been below freezing for the past two days (actually it wasn't horror, i love snow and i was really excited because i thought i'd missed beijing's only snow of the winter while i was in new delhi. but it's the principle!). to my dismay, winter is going to make a last push before it gives way.
oh, but so here's where chinese wisdom is unbeatable. on the bus on the way to work today, after walking through some cold and unkind winds, i complained to my chinese coworker about it. "the chinese say it's supposed to be spring now, we just had that damn festival!" she smiled in this ironic way that she has (i'm not a big fan of this girl, she's superserious and pretty religious and also whenever i tell her i'm going to mcdonalds she says "how can you eat that? its so unbelievably bad for you."), and said "oh, of course. there is a chinese saying, 'snow on the lantern.' sunday night was the lantern festival, it traditionally snows on that night." What!? nobody ever mentioned that to me before. sometimes i wonder if they don't just make up some of those sayings when they need to support their arguments.
but man, i was ready for winter to be over. it's funny, i've never had such a bad reaction to winter before. i mean, growing up in ny and going to college in pennsylvania, i've seen some cold winters. but i've never really had that sort of malaise and depression that can come with winter. here, i've been hit with it hard core. maybe it's because its windier and drier than the other places i've lived. whatever the reason, i've spent the past two months in a bit of a slump. i don't get home from work until pretty late and then the thought of leaving my apartment and walking into the cold dark windy beijing night was just too much for me. of course, there were other reasons for the down mood. i started working very long hours at a pretty boring job, someone i really liked left town, and, as always, i'm not entirely sure what my goal for being here is. anyway, i didn't realize how much the weather was affecting my mood until last week when it really started to feel like spring. all of a sudden, i just started to feel happy. no real reason, but i was excited to go out and hang out with my friends, and the feeling of living in the city started to excite me again. so imagine my dismay when all of that was ripped away from me with one icy blast of wind. grrr. also, today is my six month anniversary of living in Beijing. if i think of it, maybe later i'll write my thoughts about that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Also, happy chinese new year! (i dunno, dandan sent it to me so i thought i'd share)

Oh, I wish I'd been there. at first i didn't know how i felt about the Fuwas (Friendlies). when i first got one in my mcdonalds happy meal, i thought, "what the hell is this creepy looking thing?" and then, when i learned their connection to the olympics, i thought, "jesus, how chinese. they have to have 5 mascots instead of one, and they have to make them all weird looking." but each day, i grow more and more fond of them. and damned if i'm not gonna buy the movie that stars them.
today on the way to work, something amazing happened. well, it seemed amazing to me, it would probably seem both boring and unimportant to most people. as i walked toward the escalator to exit the subway, i noticed that instead of the normal mass of people pushing to get on, people were heading toward the escalator in a calm and organized fashion. and once on it, they stayed to the right if they were going to stand still and left the other side open for people in a hurry!! this is something i'd always taken for granted in the states, but i never imagined that chinese people would get it down. see, chinese people have this mentality that they don't want to chi kui, which means sort of to lose out. so they always rush everything, particularly in transport. but maybe all these efforts to make the subway more "civilized" (wen ming) are finally taking effect. this could be big for china, really big. hooray civilization!
my day (rough estimates on the timing)-

10:00- I arrive in the office, and find my boss in a cheery mood. he tells me that he's been up all night.
10:30- Boss, who sits at the cubicle next to me, shares the information that he got completely hammered last night and left his coat and ipod at a bar.
11:00- as I try to make a list of all fifty states in ten minutes on a website linked from gawker, he starts peering over my shoulder and shouting random guesses.
11:30-our department has some sort of a disagreement with another department about a poster or something, and he tells me and dandan to go "rough them up."
12:00- as he makes the transition from drunk to hungover, Boss becomes increasingly quiet.
12:30- lunch! Boss slumps on the couch and talks about how nauseous the food makes him.
1:00- back in the office. now Boss's eyes are bloodshot and if we ask him a question he just looks at us sadly. the next hour and a half passes in silence.
2:30- Boss, apparently having had enough of the day, says he is leaving early. I try to comfort him, "You're only young once, eh?" He sneers at me (because he's about 35), and shuffles off.

i haven't really had an office job before, so I can't say for a fact that this is one of those "only in china" occurrences. it seems a bit out of the ordinary though. maybe it's because he's british; they seem to work drinking into the average work day in a way that americans can't quite measure up to. it was nice to have a very merry atmosphere in the office while he was still drunk, but then when he left i had to do the work he was supposed to do for the day. so all in all, i hope it doesn't happen again.
also, i've learned that chinese people say that korean men's bodies are too "short-legged," apparently because they sit on the floor instead of in chairs.