Hello, pictures?

One of the problems with digital cameras is that everyone who owns one has a slew of nearly unseen, under appreciated jpegs sitting on his/her hard drive. Without negatives and basically no space limitations we can just take a lot of pictures.

I'm watching a great German documentary on the Yangtze river. The director's grandparents had traveled to Sichuan in 1911, traveling the length of the river. The director attempted to "re-see" the place, only to discover how vast the changes have been and how altered the space now is. You sense her disappointment with her over-hyped, slightly pretentious journey because what she really discovers is vast, grey, decaying block housing and people moving up the cliff side, abandoning the already devistaed ruins of what was there is 1911. Anyone coming to China expecting to see endless temples and untouched pavillons on mountaintops should have been here before 1959.

Also, speaking of neglected jpegs, here are a few gems (and oldies) I found hidden in Ariel's files.





Money burns.


Cool air.


Nail biting.



Last weekend we helped move Silvia into her new apartment. Lots of overstuffed bags later and we're almost done. When you move you realize how much clothing and socks you have.

Her neighborhood has a great open air market, absolutely huge and very hidden in the hutong alleyways. Every vegetable you can think of as well as household goods like brooms, notebooks and blankets. Lots of staring too, which is always plentiful and free in China.


Silvia's 平房 (traditional style apartment) Kitchen and bathroom to the right, and one giant room with a comfy bed.


This is the French designed China National Opera House or "the egg." It's now open for public gawking.

A mall at 西单。 Lots of cheap junk in this area with fancy brands off on another street. We're naturally in the cheap junk area.


大脸 (or "big face") courtesy of Ariel.

I don't think I've previously mentioned our awesome kitty 大脸. (This kind of translates into "big face," but trust me that his name is great in Chinese, not so "big face-y") He's a tremendous, lazy, docile meowing ball of hair that we love. He also loves to lick plastic bags, cuddle under blankets, run away and hide under couches. Lately he has taken to sitting on laps at unexpected moments.

This past weekend we helped Silvia move into her new 平房, which is a style of housing that is more like a small house rather than an apartment. It's mostly one very big room with a kitchen and bathroom near the entrance. She's living in a great, very authentic Chinese neighborhood with vendors selling year of the rat paper wall hangings, handmade shoe soles and steamed rice bread outside her door and a HUGE, grimy outdoor daily market for basic household things and produce right in her area. She's also got some good restaurants and DVD shops, so she's just about set.

Next week I'll be in America. I feel like I'm returning to the promised land; a land of shoes that could fit me, a language that I speak, digestible food and my family. I'm terribly excited!


Sick. *~*

Yeah, so I've been sick with a strong cold or flu the past few days, hence the lack of posts. Actually, Ariel and Silvia aren't well either, although both are recovering faster than me. I'll make up for this absence soon.




(Hey all, I made an error that Harumi pointed out below. It's corrected now.)

So, it's official: I'm coming home! I got the tickets yesterday.

I'm going to NYC first, and I'll arrive Feb 30 Jan 30 and leave Feb 4. My flight arrives in Miami on Feb 4, 7:30pm and I leave back for Beijing on Feb 15.

Mom - I'll send you the flight info later today.

Everyone - Let's plan a party or dinner or something!

***(Sadly, Ariel isn't coming with me.)***


Last year I came to China. What have I done in a year?


packed for China.
celebrated Spring Festival.
found an apartment. (more like "we" found it...)
got hired with a tutoring company.
learned more Chinese.
started teaching my current boss.
discovered my blog was blocked.
first saw the Beijing art scene.
cooked for the first time in a month.
met some friends.
gave thanks.
started dating a local boy.
went with him to 爨地下.
made plans.
painted more.
missed home and made some changes.
saw family.
somehow *happily* got Ariel here.
went to 平遥.
helped made a new house together.
painted again.
documented my commute.
got domestic.
started getting really domestic.
got sick.
started finding abandoned places.
started changing the tone of my posts.
celebrated Christmas.
went to Shanghai with Ariel.

Not bad for a year! More adventure to come.
I've been really into pomelos, which are also called Chinese grapefruits. They are the largest edible citrus; gigantic boulders that can feed three people generously. The outside flesh is spongy and smells very rich and rindy when you peel it. The taste is like a super light grapefruit, sweet and sour, a very dry citrus with huge segments. If you find them somewhere, buy the ones with an indentation on the stem (a "female") because the taste is usually better.

Also in season is hawthorn berry, a very popular Chinese berry used frequently in medicine and juices. During Spring Festival, people buy tremendous skewers of haw on large sticks covered in hard sugar, much like our candied apple. (They're called 冰糖葫芦 in Chinese) It's also eaten dried or used in special teas. The flesh is very soft and the texture is a little like cooked sweet potato. The taste is sour and complex, almost like tamarind and apples mixed together, although it's quite original and fairly incomparable to other fruits. You buy 'em by the bag. Absolutely delicious.

What's your favorite fruit? Post.
This weekend was nice: lots of painting, some cooking and I ate 鱼头饼 (fish head with pancakes, yum!) with friends. I feel very back at work.

Miami people: I'm planning on getting a plane ticket to come around February 6 through the 17. (more or less) I'll keep you all updated, but I should be getting one within the next few days.

I'd like to give much overdo thanks for the letters and packages I've gotten over the last few months. I had another mail issue at this complex I'm living in now, but it should be solved and I'll be getting mail more timely now.

Billie: Thanks for the cards and lucky dollar! Marie: Thanks for the Christmas card! Chad and Cat: Thanks for the chocolate! Mom: Thanks for the great, readable, constant posts & e-mails! Dad: Thanks for the spectacular racist/great b-day card and lots of letters and thoughtfulness! Linda: Thanks for the turkey day card n' love! Gram: Thanks for the Christmas gift! Isa: Thanks for the letter and art!


Me at 豫园 (Yuyuan, a garden in Shanghai)