Hey all, I'm not dead, just still without the Internet. It actually works for Saul, but not for Silvia, so the two of us just haven't had it. I'm working a lot, lot more, painting, studying, etc. Tomorrow I'm going to Tianjin, a city right outside of Beijing, with some friends to see an Austrian, who I don't know, perform something before he flies back to his homeland. Vague. I'll try to be more regular, but Silvy and I have no idea how to fix our internet.

We changed our visas, which are now six month F visas, which is a business visa. It's much smaller and faker looking than the visas you get outside of China.

My new job is wonderful. I've been working for the past three weeks with a company that makes online video games called "A Perfect World." My students are all management at the company, and I really enjoy all of them. My lessons are all centered around very American cultural things like garage sales, fast food, road trips, barbecues, etc. but add lots of new sentence structure and vocabulary. The students seems to love it, but I'm worried about losing momentum. Any ideas?

Tragedy: We bought a kitten off the street, all orange and yellow. He got sick in only a few days, and when we took him to a vet with all our Chinese books, we struggled with our bad Chinese and her bad English just to get the information that he had worms and will die. We gave him medicine three times a day, and really tried, but he died yesterday in a heap near Silvia's shoe nook and we buried him with his new green turtle cat toy. I'm very sad about this. Pets don't last in Beijing.

Other highlights of the last few weeks: eating enormously delicious piles of meat, bread, tomato and potato at our fav Xinjiang place, (Arabic Chinese) watching movies, scary police stuff, hutong Chinese lessons, oatmeal with guava, local, completely exotic, fruit sold in carts around our place, skewered quail eggs with "stinky" sauce, working 9 to 5, tofu soaked in duck's blood, some improvement with my painting skill, wildflowers, Masa, surprise visits, Beijing duck, a steady subway commute, teaching fairly well behaved little monsters on Thursdays, dinner at dazhongsi, etc., etc., etc...

I'm thinking of everyone.


I'm sitting in a nearby cafe with the unfortunate name "Hump," finishing a plate of creamy pasta with bacon, sipping Silvia's leftover, cold coffee, and checking e-mails since the internet is down at our place. Behind me are a pack of blonde girls and a black girl, all study buddies and chatting in very basic Chinese, to the left are a group of Korean guys smoking lots of cigarettes and directly in front of me are three Chinese businessmen talking about me and the aforementioned girls, thinking that we cannot understand what they're saying about us. (which is partly true.)

I'm starting to work a lot more, maybe too much, but once I get paid it'll feel incredibly worth it. When I'm not teaching, I'm painting, not making enough progress with Chinese, planning lessons, grading papers (reading essays is actually very entertaining) spending all my time between Silvia and Masa...

Saturday I went with Silvia, Masa and Saul to the strange, seedy bar area of the embassy district where they have a tremendous market selling phones, electronics, used furniture, clothing, junk, records and CDs, shoes... nearly everything. Saul found a few hard to find records, and Silvia haggled over but ended up passing up tiny, bright red apple mp3 player. Nearby there is a giant African themed club, one of the few Kosher restaurants in Beijing, American style eateries, slightly scary, abandoned nightclubs, and African drug dealers and prostitution after dark. The embassy areas and it's surroundings, like sunlituan, are always the most sketchy, most hedonistic areas of the city.

Oh, I sent out mother's day packages and letters, so please e-mail or post if you've received them!


I've been painting.


Got back today from yet another trip, this time to 司马台 (Simatai) and 金山岭 (Jinshanling) two parts of the Great Wall that are nearly connected, but are interrupted by a narrow river. It was just me and my girl Silvy this time, communicating in broken Chinese with the locals, sliding/falling down hills, sweating, climbing a billion steps. The trip was brief, difficult, immensely beautiful. 长城很好看。

Silvia has a blog entry
that goes into much more loving detail.

Overlooking 金山岭.

Ice cream break. We climbed very, very high up.

Blind musician outside of the circus-like entrance to 司马台.

Lots of corn stalk in a nearly abandoned village.