Episode Fourteen

August 2011 – December 2011

I will post photos first and then the text for China Collage.

I really had a great time teaching the kids about Halloween. They made masks and trick-or-treated for the first time. Word got around the neighborhood and a small group of kids from hour building showed up to trick-or-treat too – I had candy waiting πŸ™‚

This is Larry (the heavy kid). He lived a few buildings over, and used to come hang out at our place early, and sometimes show up on days he didn’t have class. He liked to sit around and read books. He would ring the door buzzer downstairs and ask, “Chuck are you home?” I could see him through the video camera. Even if I didn’t answer, he would still wait until someone opened the door.

My university students had a poster contest. They were on display right inside my classroom building at the Foreign Language College.

Traditional candy making on the ancient Hefeng Street (been a commercial center for over a thousand years).

We tutored a family friend in TOEFL, and to celebrate his good score, I made burritos and bought a cherry pie.

I was part of the One Day on Earth documentary project. These are students in the dorm – groups in all my classes made mini-movies.

My iPhone 2 – imported “somehow” from Singapore (mostly authentic πŸ™‚

August 17, 2011

From the ethersphere,

So I am sitting here in my man size Superman underoos and Hard Rock Chicago t-shirt with double dragons wrapped around guitar and pondering the stream of time. There is a churning flow of supernatural powers beyond our eyesight, and yet we can feel their presence, sense the goodness and grace of a benevolent power. I feel the divine just off my fingertips sliding and swirling through level upon level of a hyper-reality. Some days I sit here on the opposite side of the earth and peer down at my feet, imagining my thought-pulse rolling like a deep wave down through the white hot core, surfacing near someone I care about, and perhaps a whisper of a breeze will strike the back of my children’s’ neck and they will think of me. It is strange but at times I still feel as if I am standing out in a vastness beyond my comprehension, temporarily unable to determine the direction home. But I still my thoughts, listen for the echoes and trust in the gifts with which God blessed me. I have to believe in something intangible but oh so real – faith in ones dreams.

August 19, 2011

north by northwest

My adult life, since fatherhood sprang up on me, has been responsibility, etc. – okay that is fine, I would not want to be any other sort of man; but now, I can’t say middle-age (feel much younger, and plan to live to 150 ((androids, etc.)) – because age classifications are meaningless, I want to be in a place where my physical, mental and spiritual realms blend better, meld into a wondrous light to shine upon the path ahead.

By teaching together we are trying to bridge our two cultures for a “Greater Century” – as I think these small bright spots can make the 21st Century a greater century, if our two nations put aside political wrangling, economic subterfuge and misunderstandings and truly get to know one another. The motto for our little classroom is “Making the 21st Century a greater century one family at a time”.

I want to do my best to make this world a better place for all generations. Living with a foot in two cultures, I think, I hope, I have something to offer this world of ours. I have wonderful moral support from my kids – they are the shining stars in my heaven. So we will do what we have to do to meet the requirements, but it is more than a bit frustrating.


The Vice President is here this week, and his more relaxed American approach has had a positive impact. He went to a local noodle shop, and many Chinese couldn’t believe leaders would step into their average world. Our new American ambassador is Chinese-American – former governor of Washington, and his buying his own coffee and carrying his own luggage has already made a splash as well.

Keep it real – cause that is all their is anyway -the Real.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Here in China the economic investment numbers are staggering – what they spend on infrastructure, and what they plan to do to terraform the country – most of the flow from large river diverted to flow north in order to supply parched northern provinces, massive urban projects – China will build the equivalent of ten cities the size of New York in the next decade. Giant cities built from scratch, but many of these stay relatively empty because Chinese have little outlet for investment except real estate, and real estate is the largest source of revenue for local governments. This rapid development is also a giant societal problem between the connected and the disconnected.

From the far fetched East


On 11-11-11 I am having all my students make a video, as part of this global project – One Day on Earth. We are one of the few groups in China doing this, and the two directors of the project, and two others, have contacted me to ask if I need anything, and to say they are very interested in the results of having so many Chinese students try to do this. Extra work for me, but I feel the need to inspire and cajole them towards a brighter (I hope) future.

From the rapidly developing side of the tracks.

November 17, 2011

the skinny

The time has come to discuss the Grand Canyon of our society – the 800 pound gorilla, the pink elephant – what is that smell? That is the smell of Change (capitalized) – the purging of the once life-sustaining, now toxic, defining characteristics of our national identity. My thoughts are weighted down with befuddlement as I stare at the shadows on the wall of what were my perceptions of my nationality now stretched to their limits by a creeping acceptance of newborn reality.

The lines are drawn, for me they were etched in my flesh twenty years ago, when my ex-wife chose bank balance over love, cash and house over home and family. Twisting in an iron cage -suspended over the darkness of dead aspirations, I refreshed my emaciated soul and stood strong for my babies – three, five and seven years old at the time. So innocent it hurts even now to think of the look of terror reflected in their eyes as their world turn to ashes.

Finding my job with the university and government gave me back dignity – for a man without a job, represents nothing superior, and displays few redeeming qualities save resoluteness. I was able to struggle to create a safer world for my kids. But then, after years, a sledge hammer blow was delivered to my skull and I was turned away, cast out into the whirlpools and eddies of the rising tide of the coming economic tsunami. Three kids in college and no job, no saving, colossal debt like a razor in my peripheral vision – I suffered two extreme cardiac episodes, with no health insurance, and stumbled further out into the existential wasteland. I suffered two near fatal cardiac episodes. As I fell gasping for breath in tiny sips, heart galloping in my chest I had an epiphany and I was saved.

Now in a foreign land, I have reconstructed a life.

What is our future? Where do we go from here? We first give thanks for all the Creator has provided, including this magnificent mind with which we struggle against ignorance and strive for understanding. Bless all humanity in hopes that we can all work together to fashion a brighter tomorrow.

Your man in the East

December 01, 2011

Here, I had McD’s for Thanksgiving lunch and roast beast and mashed taters for dinner.

I had a dream the other night of a red-tailed hawk perched on a old gnarled hedge-apple fence post, rusty barbed wire grown into an old dark tree trunk, deep cloudless sky and a prairie in autumn – big bluestem, black swallowtails – I think it was the prairie besides the lake back home – I used to meditate out there after I lost my job. A supernatural calling perhaps, as it was Mark Twain’s birthday.

ready for takeoff

December 15, 2011

Believe me here in the land of the dragon it helps to know I have friends who keep in touch when I am far from home. Although they say home is where the heart is, some days my heart beats in several places – according to the fluctuating strength of my resolve.

Woke up this morning thinking of my good friend’s analogy of my life flowing like water, it is true even more so these days. Lately I have been challenged by the unseen hand from the shadows not once but numerous times. I was involved with the UN sponsored video project -One Day on Earth. I had all my students make videos of their lives – many chose to make small plays, love stories because the young people have created a brand new holiday 11-11 is called Singles Day here, since the two 11’s are reminiscent of two people standing beside each other.

So I began to upload them. I got about eight uploads completed, problems with connection kept interrupting. Encountered network problems, chalked it up to bad hardware on my end. I fiddled with the hardware and reset, etc. So plugged directly into the wire so I could get max speed on upload – had about 40 vid segments to upload before the deadline I got up at 4:30 AM to pour out my students vids -they did a great job with the editing, acting, capturing their lives. NO DICE!!!!

I hammered away at the locked digital door with all the methods I knew – tried and tried to finish uploads to absolutely no avail. The directors of the project offered several alternatives, but none functioned. So in the end I flowed away from the situation – changed somewhat in my outlook for this generation, but not completely.

I sat in the cold room with the dim sunrise creeping in the window, and I sang the first verse of “This Little Light of Mine”.

This time of year, part of my mind tries to turn towards the dark holiday when my marriage imploded, but a larger portion of my soul counters with the warmth and light of the true nature of the universal spirit of humanity, for I believe we, all of us, are here in this life to brings happiness to and comfort one another if we can.

To live as fully as we can we must learn the nature of Why.

Discover love and joy wherever they may be found. I feel the solid barriers between me and my ever-shifting course, but I do not surrender to the discouraging words; although we cannot define the indefinable we can know of its existence. Let the laughter of children lift our sorrows and may we join together to raise our voices in praise of the divine – for if children can be happy all is truly right with the world. From our little space, our light filled corner, we will discover the happiness ahead and continue, always, to believe we are here for more than ourselves.

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