Episode Seventeen

November 2012 – March 2013

Taking the sweet with the very bitter, this was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I will include some photos and the text for China Collage after.

When we first arrived in Guangxi, we rented an apartment in a rapidly developing area, thinking we could open a classroom there. One morning, I was delighted to watch a man delivery advertising to his business below. He as being helped by five little kids.

Guangxi is less-developed than Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. Above is a dog meat restaurant – a regional favorite – no I never ate any. Below is a goat meat specialty restaurant – yes, goat is tasty.

The architecture was influenced by the French when they controlled Southeast Asia. The old local style is narrow constructions.

Traffic on the road to my in-laws. The street is so narrow, and jammed with ebikes and motorcycles.

Street fruit seller outside what we call our “office apartment.” Hong’s older brother took it as his office later when we could only get a handful of students.

I worked for the top university in the province, and the abundant tropical plant-life was my favorite part of the campus.

I had some marvelous students. They were required to put on shows, and they truly enjoyed performing.

Here are my student performers. The boy on the right is class monitor, and as it turns out, quite a dancer. The boy behind him was one of the friendliest guys I ever taught. The girl at the back was an incredibly talented calligrapher.

One of my most graceful students performing a traditional dance. You never know what talents students have until you get to know them. And the young ladies playing the traditional Chinese instruments were amazing too.

This is my hospital room. In China, when someone goes into the hospital family members take care of their needs and are on duty around the clock in emergencies. All I can say is we tried so hard and I underwent a lot of invasive procedures and tests, but some things are not meant to be.


I was so proud to watch the unfolding drama and explain some of the election process to Hong. Chinese, understandably, have little interest in national politics – for reasons you can imagine, and I can’t write. It was a thrill to see young people vote in record numbers including all my kids. America today has awakened to the strength of diversity.

Could this have happened overnight or just waiting for a tangible way to demonstrate. I am so proud of this moment in time – hard to nail down exactly what it is, but today I introduced the spoken English power of Obama by first introducing Martin Luther King, and a video I have of Obama’s 2008 campaign, Dr. King’s speech with John Lennon’s Imagine – powerful stuff. I believe we can get back to the sunshine lit path of the future and leave our grandbabies a better world – to show the world once again what made America great, and to perhaps make the world safer and cleaner.

Here’s to the moment, let its light shine brightly.

Believing mightily in moving forward


I recently read this factoid:

The 100 richest people earned enough money in 2012 to end world poverty four times over.

The world’s 100 richest people earned a stunning total of $240 billion in 2012 – enough money to end extreme poverty worldwide four times over, Oxfam has revealed, adding that the global economic crisis is further enriching the super-rich. In the US, the richest 1 percent’s share of income has doubled since 1980 from 10 to 20 percent, according to the report. For the top 0.01 percent, their share of national income quadrupled, reaching levels never seen before.

“The richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process,” while the income of the top 0.01 percent has seen even greater growth, a new Oxfam report said.

When did it begin? Or has it always been this way from the times of the Babylonians and Pharaohs? So welcome to the dystopian brave new world, with the monstrous 0.001 % elite’s hands on thousand diamond studded golden whips against the ten thousand pampered backs of the 0.01 % privileged corporate elite who stifle the best intentions of the 0.1% with golden showers of riches harvested from the shattered bodies of the 99 % who must not look up for fear the heavens will fall.

The world is in the filthy hands of the elitist infinitesimally few. To counter this inequity our lives must be lived with meaning.

Big Wheelz keeps a turnin’


It was a shock to get the email that my sister had passed away. When I saw her last she was moving slowly and seemed to be in pain moving, and when my daughter saw her later, she was in a wheelchair, but only she said so she wouldn’t get tired walking around. And now I have spent this week trying to come to grips with the fact that she is gone. I know it is all too real. She was only 25 months older than me, but it seemed she had been stalked by disease for some time.

When I talked to my dad, he was stoic as ever. This is his way when faced with death since he has seen so much in his time. My sisters and brother were all together so they could find comfort. I wrote a short memorial which will be read at the funeral. I think it says all I need to say.

I have been thinking a lot about the past. Being here casts a strange light on everything back home. I feel like I have a hundred years left in me, but we never really know. There is some comfort in knowing that part of the world has changed forever because I have kids.

What plans I had for the week vaporized with the news from back home.


To try and have a baby, I had a reverse vasectomy twenty- four years after my original vasectomy. I agreed to this nearly six years ago, but would not do it unless we were married (long sad story I may tell one day). I am out of the hospital, and had heavy antibiotics for first time in my life. Doing well and mended finely. The general state of cleanliness in hospitals was a big motivator for leaving asap. Although this was a top university hospital in Guangzhou – one of most advanced cities, the lack of antiseptic conditions helped me understand traditional Chinese medicine better – you have to strengthen your body so it can fight. My heart rate had been seriously slowed for the six hour procedure – 30 beats a minute. The first day was the worse with an IV in one hand, a heart monitor on the other hand, oxygen plus medical vaporizer in my nose and mouth, catheter in my aching groin – so no movement, and precious little comfort. Hong was with me in same room 24/7 – actually 24/8. The spread of superbugs will come from here, but will devastate those who have lived in ultra-clean environs and had access to “best” medical.

Meditation was a great comfort to me, and I will take up more mind/body exercises. When calm the body can endure and my mind can see the here/now better than before. I can see for miles and miles.

My birthday this month – and happy to be rootin’ about on this good earth. I try to introduce the lads to my students and perhaps some of their ideals. Lennon’s give peace a chance and Imagine are projected high in my skull’s inner amphitheater – lighting the way on shadow-filled days. I walk through the shadows in order to stand once again in the light.

Out about and on the mend in a big way,

I am healthier, hardier and maybe wiser. My immune system picked up some good defenses I am sure after a week in the halls where one bucket of mop water cleans the whole ward.

*Note: The operation was a success but, so sad to say, the baby did not survive past the first trimester. Writing this note eight years after, I am still unable to put our agony into words, and probably never will.

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