Episode Three: March-June 2008

This photo was taken as the booming city was encroaching further into the countryside. I think it is one of the best photos showing urban development in China

5 Mar 2008

I was just interviewed today by the local TV news. I attended the ribbon cutting for China International Animation Festival for the magazine. The boss made a deal for advertising money by promising I would write about the event. My reputation and modicum of ‘fame’ are growing according to my fellow editors. The other day, I interviewed the Vice Minister of Propaganda – Nice ominous title for a pleasant middle age woman.

I teach out in XiaSha area a one hour bus ride from downtown. The local government is constructing a massive new area with about 220,000 students at various campuses. The farmer’s fields directly across from my classroom in the new campus are plowed using the venerable ox/buffalo in the same manner used for millennia. The juxtaposition of the buffalo/ox driven plow and the modern city being built – well it is poetic and ironic. It was cool watching the buffalo plow from my classroom.

My students laughed a little at the sight of their teacher taking pictures out the window of something they feel is commonplace. They are not very sentimental about leaving behind the hardships of the past for modern conveniences. I suppose it is like my dad when they moved from the Kentucky countryside to the city. He never longed for the outhouse, especially in winter. In many ways, Hong’s generation is like my dad’s in their pragmatic approach to life in general.

My schedule is rather grueling, and it seems I am always working. On Tuesday – get up 5:30am, ride bus – 6:45. Class 8:05 – 9:40. Then I have a long break with no where to go; class 1:40 – 3:10; another long break with a class from 6:30-8:10pm. One hour plus bus ride home which arrives at 9:30

This is a roadside restaurant serving workers. These begin as street carts, then a shack, and if it is good enough, eventually they rent a space.

My neighborhood fruit market. I enjoyed watching the master fruit seller select the best fruits.


I have the Universe’s guidance, and my inner strength. I found something within myself during the time I had alone here. It sustains me now. My dilemma is can I look beyond the past and see the future for what it can be. Behind one door there is heaven, the other hell. I have been at this juncture before, but this time I see the lights of heaven and must pull my hand away from hell. There was a lot of conflict recently in our relationship.

Our culture’s are different – saving “face” is critical. I will not allow the turmoil of the past to be resurrected in my life. We have had a conversation that revealed enough. But I would not allow myself to push it into an accusatory condemnation. There was a moment when the line was drawn, and she asked if I believed her. Behind her eyes there was the glimmer of realization of what we both could lose, and her coming to grips with what our relationship should mean. Yes, in the end I opened the door that leads to the heaven of trust. The wound healed quickly. I an not the same person I was before. I have found peace.

Zen Temple

Since that moment, when I chose the positive path, our life has been brighter. The change is as if a light has finally gone on inside her. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but I do not feel it is, the next morning my agent wrote to me that he will be in London next week. A major publisher still has my book under consideration, as he has had no reply from them as of yet – over a year later :-).
I am well. I am walking on a path shown to me by God. I suppose it is karma as I have tried to live my life in a positive manner. We all face difficult choices in life, and I feel the positive rush of having chosen love. It was true love in every sense of the word, when I answered “Yes” to the question, “do you believe me?”

Father’s Day 2008

It was a nice Father’s Day – the girls called and talked to me for an hour. Hong and I found a “Western” steak place – free salad, glass of wine, bread with a steak that has macaroni (no cheese) and a fried egg. We had some Cantonese food along with it. It was Great. The sirloin was cooked European and Chinese style – Steak sauce and some hint of ginger. It was really very nice. And then we had long walk home. Found it by accident – because Pizza Hut was full – hadn’t had American food in about five months.

Local special dish called: Beggar’s Chicken

I am trying to develop an apt description of the local culture. So far the description involves: the depth of the ocean, moldering and festering, and something called “frame dragging – which is when a large mass basically drags space and time along with it. China’s mega-economy is dragging the world along with it.

16 Jun 2008
As I write this, it is 11:30, and I am waiting for Hong to finish washing her hair. When she finishes, I can quickly shower and head to the solid firmness of my Chinese bed. They make the beds hard here – good for the spine, etc.. But for the first few weeks it causes temporary paralysis – perhaps so they can sprinkle the brain detergent into my ear without a struggle.
A while ago I took some Thai stomach medicine, called “Fishing Pills”. It has the odor of moth balls, vicks vapo-rub and creosote (which one of the actual ingredients). They are potent little balls of southeast Asian meds. Traditional medicines do work, just more slowly.
I have been tearing away my own preconceptions here. Now that I have rooted myself in many different areas like a good tenacious American weed. I have gained some hints, some little clues about this ancient land. On the bus to campus, I have taken to writing in my notebooks. Which is difficult on a secondhand tourist bus with bad suspension in insane no-holds barred traffic. And then I get five hours of sleep before slipping back out into the maddening crowd.
The edge is just illusion – step off and fly – or plummet – depends on how much gravity you carry around with you.

Introduction Back Episode Two Next Episode Four

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