a transplanted life in China 

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Possessed

Published on February 28, 2009, by in Teaching, Travel.

possessed 1. spurred or moved by a strong feeling, madness, or a supernatural power (often followed by by, of, or with): The army fought as if possessed. The village believed her to be possessed of the devil. 2. self-possessed; poised I’m possessed by all kinds of things, notably the crazy idea that I should spend Sunday planning the lesson for my six upcoming classes. Every Sunday is the same: I procrastinate, get sidetracked, and finally resist this sensible activity like a kicking and screaming child. Part of this can be understood: in my case, a lot of teaching is intuitive; it falls into place or progresses logically from something specific that happens in class. When it comes to planning, my best ideas come to me while walking around the track on the athletic ground at school. I just can’t sit down and DO IT. Does this make me evil? Buddhism says that the misery we experience comes not from our experiences but our resistance to them. Amen. So here I am blogging instead of planning. The spring weather is gone; it was a faux spring. Now we have cold, wet, clammy weather, but the cleanest, purest air I’ve breathed since being the mountains of western Sichuan. Thank goodness for small favors. My childhood was marked by a love of the absurd, and, from my earliest memories, an overwhelming desire to get away. My first destinations were inside my own imagination, then I started expanding: I decided that I wanted to

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Paris sera toujours….

Feeling nostalgic:  boulangerie, Paris 1980     I demand a recount So, where do the visitors to my blog really come from? Recently, I claimed that my blog had been visited by 21 people from Reykjavik, Iceland. Then I started thinking: is that possible? Numbers can be misleading. Much of the data on StatCounter.com is based on page loads, or even on internet queries. Maybe only one person happened to do 21 searches, or just happend upon my blog site multiple times. It kind of burst my bubble. I won’t worry about it too much, though. I can always count on some creative number-crunching from StatCounter, such as its claim that most of my “hits” one day came from England. Then when I looked at the hits by city, number one turned out to be London, Ontario. As in Canada. Is that a permissible error, or does StatCounter need a geography lesson?

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I know you’re out there….

Published on February 23, 2009, by in Teaching.

…because now I can see where you are. Is that cool, or what? I’ve had snippets of information over the past couple of years – an email here, a blog comment there – but now, thanks to StatCounter.com, I can get daily pictures of where you are:     On Saturday afternoon, February 21, people from these countries were visiting me. What I don’t understand is the HUGE cluster of folks in the EU. Maybe it’s because most of the “traffic” to my blog comes from Google Images, so maybe they’re searching for photos of Chengdu. As much as I love seeing myself all over the cyber-map, I also get more cool details, such as what country or city you come from. I can understand 19 people from Chengdu, but 21 people from Reykjavik, Iceland? Farther down the list, I can start to guess who you are, in Tucson AZ (hi Kenton!) or in Los Angeles CA (is that you, Arturo?) In the middle of that European cluster is, of course, Gay Paree, where I can only hope that two of my fave Paris studs are looking at me, blog-ically speaking: is that you, David Lebovitz or brieuc75? So, for the first time since I started this blog in 2005 (before teaching in China was even an idea), I have a counter. Goodness knows I’ve tried to install one in the past, but I could never manage to put the HTML code in the right place. As I love to

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Linguistically speaking

Published on February 21, 2009, by in Architecture, Travel.

  An archaeology of words: layers of posters on a New York wall, 1980 Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through; First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do? Show Me, from My Fair Lady, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick LoeweA friend of mine once said of a woman we both particularly loathed: “Everything that goes through her brain comes out her mouth.” I may not seem like the type who harbors malice, but this woman truly had a case of verbal diarrhea [no, I won'tgive you the definition; it's rather obvious if you think about it]If I ever start another blog, it’ll be called Talk to the Hand I gotta hand it to you.  Gimme a hand, will ya?  Hand-me-downs Second-hand Rose. Glad-hand Hand job [whoops – did I really say that?] To be an old hand at something You’re in good hands Hand-picked   If you want to know the meaning of these expressions, try the Urban Dictionary.   Then we can move down a notch: To have one’s finger in many pies, fickle finger of fate, etc.  Since my students and I are now back in school, I feel an obligation to make my posts more, um, instructional. I inherited some of my grandmother’s love of words, so today I’m inspired by the book I’m currently reading: The Man Who Loved China, by Simon Winchester. It’s the story of

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Good news

Published on February 21, 2009, by in China.

We’re here, we’re queer…. Same-sex partners Zhang Yi (L) and Hai Bei speak to the media at Qianmen street on Valentine’s Day in Beijing February 14, 2009. For some in Beijing’s gay and lesbian community, Valentine’s Day is not just a day to celebrate loving relationships, but also a time to campaign for acceptance of homosexuality in society. [Agencies] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-02/15/content_7478013.htm For Valentine’s Day, the China Daily website [in English] carried a photo feature about same-sex partners in China, focusing on one lesbian and one gay couple in Beijing. I’m tickled pink to see more open coverage of gay issues in the Chinese press. Enforced invisibility can be one of the most cruel forms of prejudice, and there is a huge social stigma associated with being openly gay in conservative Chinese society. The press may pay lip service to gay/lesbian issues, but I wonder how much real progress there has been in the past 3 years, since the government shut down first-ever gay and lesbian cultural festival in Beijing.   more: A Hidden Life: Being Gay in Rural China