Month: December 2009

Happy new year



I’m staying home with a sore throat. I prefer to bring in the new year quietly, anyway.

This week I finally received my TESOL certificate (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from UCLA, after working toward it for 6 years. Whew.

I finished my Thursday class for the Going Abroad program today; the students are all either university teachers or postgraduate students. I’d invited them to have lunch after class, and they ended up taking me to a gala lunch at a local restaurant, close to the west gate of the university.

Today’s meal ranks as possibly the best I’ve had since coming to China. It would be hard to describe all the different dishes, but I’ll select a few: Beijing-style roast duck – the most tender, succulent duck I’ve ever eaten; two fish – one steamed, the other “spicy,” boiled bacon, a couple of bean dishes, beef ribs, vegetables, soup, and more that I can’t name at the moment. Next week I’ll be one of the examiners when these students take their final Going Abroad exam.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent at home. My new copy of Peter Matthiessen’s “The Snow Leopard” arrived from today – I’d read it years ago but felt the need to have another copy. Tried to watch “Julie & Julia” again, but just couldn’t; it’s OK once, but too superficial and contrived to sit thru a second time. Ended up watching Jean Cocteau’s “La belle et la bete” both last night and again this evening. I’ve also been reading Cocteau’s own diary of the making of the film, which is one of my all-time faves.

Back to my movie-watching and/or reading. See you next year.

Photo of the day – December 29

 what remains


I spent part of today worrying about camera exposure. I’ve never really grasped it, having never taken a photography course in my life. In gray, hazy Chengdu, getting a decent picture can be challenging.

Every once in a while I cruise over to the Shuijingfang area, just across Jiuyanqiao (Nine Eyes Bridge) from Sichuan U. I’ve been documenting the area and its gradual condemnation and destruction for 3 years. Visiting Huangsan Xiang (Alley) today, the hushed stillness of the area reminded me of a graveyard. The houses are vacant, most surrounded by brick “destruction” walls, and the sounds of the city seemed far off. Eventually I was shooed away by a patrolling policeman.

Due to my reduced teaching schedule, I had an entire free day today. I watched a mesmerizing film called “Under the Sand,” starring Charlotte Rampling, napped, had some coffee, and am now planning where to have dinner. Oh, the decisions we face in life.