Episode Fifteen

January 2012 – May 2012

I will post the photos for this episode first and then the China Collage text below. At the end of this episode, I come face-to-face with Hemingway’s ghost in Shanghai.

These are a few photos of the Grand Canal. It is known in Chinese as the Jing (Beijing) Hang (Hangzhou) Canal. It is 1,500 years old and 1,100 miles long. It begins in Beijing and ends in Hangzhou because Hangzhou was the port for the silk road – land and sea. I lived a few blocks from the Grand Canal the entire time I lived in Hangzhou.

This restaurant is in the spot of the “Imperial Wharf, where the powerful Qianlong Emperor would moor his boat when he came to inspect Hangzhou.

Neighborhood gay bar.

Shanghai City Art Museum

Skateboarder shredding it in Shanghai park.

The ghost of Ernest Hemingway in Shanghai. See story below.


I know that the passing of time from our baby girls to young women is such agony and bliss. When my daughters had to turn and leave the day I left for China, the tears and heart rendering finality of it all was nearly more than we could stand, but they turned away and their woman-ness blossomed. These loving moment are the glimmering grains of our mortality twinkling in the eye of those to come – looking at us from the future.

We had a good New Year. Hong and I took a water bus down the Grand Canal – truly it is a city boat-bus that operates as part of the rapid transit system – 3 RMB – about 50 cents. It was fun. Then we walked back down the canal. It is a sort of anniversary for romantic old me as New Years Day was the day I first got an email reply from Hong all those years ago. She first appeared in my life during a tumultuous time and her gentler nature saved my life. My kids worked their asses off over the holidays. They are my guiding star.

My resolution – to be even more positive and focus on real love and moments of la dolce vita – the sweet life and do all it takes to return home with my wife.

From the near dawning of the dragon year I send a big blast of positive Chi (Qi).


Today is Lantern Day, which means the end of the Spring Festival – New Years – actually is a 12 day holiday. So outside my window the loonies once again are firing huge amounts of fireworks and firecrackers. Oh boy!!!! And file this under oh no they didn’t – but some political ass ran an ad during the Super Bowl that used a racial stereotyped character portraying some Chinese woman speaking in broken English to slam his opponent about job creation. What a dumb A*s.

flying above the fracas.


We do need to feel this deep emotions, cannot allow others to decide what we should feel or how we should react. The heart knows and it is not uniquely feminine. Guys have just as tempestuous an ocean of feelings as women, we just express ourselves differently, having had to adapt to our own biology in ways women will never understand. The life around us impacts us as deeply as it does the women with whom we share our time. Prayer is a powerful thing coupled with thoughtful meditations. Praying is not the exclusive territory of the church either. I believe we all entreat the all-mighty in our own way, even those who question the existence of God. In these moments of upheaval turn only to those who offer comfort and not the false hopes of “put on a happy face” and everything will work out okay.


Politics are swerving all over the map back home. I am trying to get my finger on the pulse of the nation, but man it is weirdness aplenty. For me, some of the top issues should be education, environment, energy and employment, not necessarily in that order. What the heck going on these days? Maybe the average person’s immersion in the media culture prevents them from viewing things clearly, but we need to reinvest in our future generations. I hear from my own kids about the sluggish economy and the lack of focus. They don’t have a clear view of the horizon because it is being obscured by crowds of distracted sleepwalkers.

We the people, that phrase keeps reoccurring in my head like a drumbeat. We (all of us) the people (and what we represent) must take the lead, we must choose wisely the leadership and pull back the curtain obscuring the Wizard’s unreality machine. See the truth of the media’s role in this and the puppet-masters of affluence and influence. It is everywhere. The swells of the titanic tidal shifts across the ever churning ocean of globalization are reaching epic proportions and are rapidly eroding the geopolitical boundary lines. There is a shifting of the tectonic plates upon which civilizations are sustained and due to our collective arrogance as a species we do not see the mounting impact of natural forces, but the impacts are increasing proportionally to our ignoring them. The poles are melting; frogs (ALL FROGS) are in danger of extinction; rivers run dry; spring comes earlier and earlier; entire nations are being consumed by the inexorable tide of climate change…

We cannot sit idly by. All reasonable people know this. We the people – of EARTH – must demand, we must act, we must change. I will not accept that there is nothing we can do. It is certain we cannot prevent this change from coming, because it HAS. We can however, as people, change. This is where education would be the key, but unfortunately the budgeteers have all broken off the keys in the lockers of knowledge by gutting education programs and universities, high schools, middle schools and grade schools. The crack in the foundation, which could have been patched, must now be replaced with a 21st Century materials, but I fear the very ground may give way before we as a species have had time to finish repairs. Let us put our heads together and act, and all the while, let us pray for our grand-babies and hope for a long line of descendants who, with our nurturing now, can have the good sense to right what is wrong without ever surrendering to hopelessness.

I am certain of few things in life, but one inescapable truth we all share is our responsibility to the future generations which carry our blood in their veins. I sit here in this tiny room before going out into the gray dampness and send out my positive vibes to those I love. I am ass-deep in the backwash of the global melting, the mishmash of globalization has created a witches brew in which I daily wade. Heed not the simpering media-culture, instead listen to that soul-pilot within.

Light the light and let it shine through the murkiness. We must be lighthouse keepers some days. Today is one of those days – I feel it behind my rubbery eyelids, as the rains (~six weeks worth off and on) peck away at my windowsill. I’m going to need two pairs of socks today.

Off to the races of rats and men-folk let’s see who scuttles the fastest towards uncertainty.

sputtering but gaining altitude and attitude


From the land of one hand clapping,

We are taking a two week break from teaching kids. It is the Qing Ming holiday, a time for honoring the ancestors, so Hong has gone home to pay respects with her family. I have to work this coming weekend to make up for Monday, Tuesday days off.

whirling round and round


It think maybe there is a primordial sense we have about unseen terrors or future events which are broadcasted somehow to our deeper consciousness. The unshakeable feeling that signs and portents are there, like tea leaves or oracle bones cast upon the ground and we must pay close attention to the small hairs rising on our necks, that cool breeze snaking up our backs and the trembling of distant stirrings felt in the sole of our feet and

tingling on our scalps.

The Chinese have an expression. He sees through the red dust. Meaning someone who sees through the bustle of the everyday, sees past the whirling life around and focuses on the world they know, the world they can comprehend and know to be concrete and real.

When I started at the university, a farmer used to use an ox and ancient plow to plant the field across from the College of Foreign Languages, but now, there are more than a half dozen 50 plus story buildings rising on the same spot, all of which did not exist in June last year when I finished classes – having been started in less than two months, and now rising to over 50 stories. Change is a mantra here – infrastructure expenditures a mania of a sort.

April 18, 2012

some goodness

Last year on 11-11-11 I had my students make videos of their day – tell their stories to the

world, as part of the One Day on Earth project. It is a global project connected to the UN, Red Cross, World Wildlife and many more. People in 192 countries participated, and we were one of few in China. My video uploads were quashed, but I managed to send in several. So the directors of the project told me some of the video I submitted is going to be considered for the global movie they are producing. The previous year the project participants videod on 10-10-10.

I was invited to the United Nations for the global premiere of the One Day on Earth film (10-10-10 version). It is this Sunday on Earth Day Yes!!! It will be premiered in the UN General Assembly. So I was pretty psyched up about that. Unfortunately, globe-trotting is not in the cards yet. But I think I might print out the email and frame it.

May 04, 2012


I am closing in on the magic point of frustration when teaching begins to be a total grind and no longer is inspiring – for this semester. I am teaching British Lit to English majors and few if any of them ever read – the assignments or outside reading. They are incurious and feel put out by the likes of me asking them to learn the language they are supposed to be getting a degree for studying.

I hit the students with this great stat – Google Translator translates more

text in ONE DAY, than all the human translators translate in ONE YEAR.

Ponder that for a moment. So then I follow up with, “What makes your abilities better than Google’s software? So, why would I as an employer hire you to translate, when you can translate close enough just like Google, which is free?”

I stand on the backs of giants trying to toss pearls before me – TS Elliot, WB Yeats and James Joyce – three titans of 20th Century British Literature all in three weeks. It is a prelude to my swan song for the university. My teaching rating has been consistently high, especially this semester – the students rate the profs each semester – secretly, for I never see them, but hear second hand from sycophantic profs and staff who suddenly say hello and casually mention my students rated me highly.

This summer I will need to take some time off and catch my breath. I had to go to Shanghai to apply for a new passport – it was nine years ago this summer that I went to Beijing – so much has changed since then.

From the land of the occluded sunshine,

May 11, 2012

the spirit’ll move ya

I had to send you these pics of my spirit encounter. I was in Shanghai to get my new passport – YES!!! and we decided to celebrate one of Hong’s birthday she has three 🙂 The official one (the one her dad wrote down on certificate later, after not quite remembering which calendar he had marked; her biological one which is next month, and her lunar one, which a person needs two slide rules, a Ouija board and a one-eyed soothsayer to calculate. After deciding to sit and take a breather in the megacity, I encountered a spirit.

Yes, Earnest mutha-f**kin* Hemingway – emerging from, where else, a bar on the pedestrian walking street where the foreigners flock. Holy heck, and of course he was drinking a beer – a northern Chinese beer. It was a lucky day. I have to say I consulted the I-Ching and was advised to give money to beggars I encountered – several, as is usual. I carry spare change with me most times, and the book foretold something indescribable would take place – I think a happy lush of a ghost is a good omen.

From the backstop of history

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