Thursday, December 31, 2009

Getting ready and set:

Accounts of many new adventures to come, but for now, a few resolutions.

1)Immersing myself in art-- living so close to museums and venues, there's really little excuse to not go and see creation occur. A mecca to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe really sealed it that I miss writing.

2)Exercise, namely yoga-- the fact is, my relationship with yoga has been a lustful one, practicing only when I need it.

3)Taking note of finances in a more organized fashion.

Hm. Nothing too witty here. Just wanted to make sure that I had written
something to document the turn of the decade. And Whoop there it is.

Monday, December 21, 2009

If you hadn't realized this..

...and were raising eyebrows, scratching chins, heads, other-body-parts, the titles of my New York posts are all songs, lyrics or titles having to do with the day of the week I was writing on. OH, you protest, I knew that.
Well in case you didnt:
Monday-- The Mommas and The Poppas
Tuesday-- was tough, so I gave up.
Wednesday-- Simon and Garfunkel
Thursday--Kings of Leon
Friday--The Cure
Saturday-- Elton John
Sunday-- Etta James


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A love to last past Saturday night

12/20 -This morning was probably one of the most physically exhausting of my life, dragging my suitcase through the snow, up and down, stairs and platforms alike. -Something fitting-- I walked over to the Sunday farmer's market, and Brian from the week before coerced me (it wasn't tough to talk me into the idea) to make a first snow angel of my life. And so we did, practically perfect strangers on a patch of clean snow in front of the Brooklyn Public Library, Cortelyou Branch. And I was on my way.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'm in love

-I chanced upon and danced upon a holiday milonga midtown. Funny to be a new face, quite an interesting dynamic, to be unstable (in regard to my quality as a dancer). Funnily it was leading other women that got me dances with men. Go figure.
-People are just so friendly in NYC.
-Thereafter, jumped from bar to bar with Dustin and Atiba. Truth be told, the scene was unimpressive for a Friday night. Or maybe we were going to the wrong places.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wind and wind and wound up over everything

-Ventured off on my own today, and had coffee in Union Square facing a fantastic view of the Empire State Building, electric blue against navy sky.
-Had a chat with a couple of dancers about the emotional lumen of tango.

-Met Dusty at Rockefeller for night time tree viewing.
-First time ice skating in at least a decade. I would feel its effects the next day, certainly

-With the help of the Village Voice, Dustin and I found an Afrobeat show played at The Knitting Factory in BK. Antibalas was incredible,and with its orange amber, dark grey energy, felt quite relieving. 9 piece bands do my heart good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Morning, 3 AM

Wednesday 12/16
-What fantastic gushes of wind, whipping my hair as we trekked ac
ross the Brooklyn Bridge!
-We broke on through to the other side, to NY Chinatown. A dinner of duck and string beans, and soup, was not enough for us-- we had to have a picture with said poultry as well.

-The Nuyorican Poet's Cafe is always a source of small fires lit up in my belly, to write and expel, and shout out about eyelids, and static, curly hair and hearts of palms of hands outstretched. I just have to pick up my pen now and then, and stop getting in my own way.

-Passionfruit margarita, and Sparks with flowers in the forefront.
-Making a splash at Splash with some fine fellas.
-Recovering at 5AM with dirty rice, mac & cheese, and a screening of
Paris is Burning.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Very few song lyrics of note with Tuesday..

Tuesday 12/15
-Slices of pizza and hellos to Miriam Arkin
-A new favorite place-- the market area in Grand Central.
-There's a certain place (47th between something and another) where the stores are filled with jewels, and streets are filled with Jews. I kid you not.
-Serendipitously strolling with Ryan Kasdin, to 30 Rock in the daytime.
-Incredibly ridiculously unbelievably (adverbfully) amazing chocolates.
-Delicious soup and sandwich from Wichcraft. (Exceedingly clever)
-Reading Laura with Michael as Jim, in the Glass Menagerie known as Pax Foods over tea. They call me Blue Roses.
-Judge Roy Bean, and almost leaving my cell phone in the bathroom. (Surprised? I'm not).
-Session 73, a four piece band, and an introduction to Balboa.
-Calves (Tyger tyger?) burning bright after a four minute song by that four piece band, after the introduction to Balboa.
-And Halal food-is divine.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So good to me.

Monday 12/14
-Took an obligatory picture with two fellows from the NYPD, spent most of my day rediscovering my New York legs.
-Screwed up royally on the subway, because someone (Christine Lee) didn't notify me of certain things, and I didnt realize said certain things until I was.. in Brooklyn. So I got out, and screwed up again. Well played. But,
-New Yorkers are quite kind with people like me. :)
-Finally made it to see Christine Lee off of Bleecker, and am glad I did.
-Dustin and I slipped in to see a comedy show, which promised to be so much shorter than it was. In particular, most interesting was when this one Indian guy made a few Asian jokes and then some. He asked me if I dated Asian guys, I said no, as its a personal preference. But he jumped on that, and found me an unwilling ally as he made comments on the self hatred of Asian people, how "not even an Asian gay guy would date another Asian gay guy". He then went on to profusely use the words fag and bitch as they are verbally efficient, and one syllable. I think it went a little far. He used "fag" so often that it sounded like a hiccup, or the way some people use "like". Dustin and I did not applaud for him, and because the venue was so small, I like to think that he noticed it, that the couple sitting right in the front didn't bat an eyelash as he left the stage. In the context of a stand up performance, we as an audience do much face saving, by laughing, because silence is reminiscent to a comic of a kiss of death. But in very small but true ways, this is how a hegemonic culture develops. People make money and are put on national television, or the cable screen by saying things that people feel they have to laugh at, and thereafter, they are penetrated through to the privacy of our own homes, where people can laugh at racist, misogynistic, homophobic statements in the comfort of their own homes. And truly upsetting is that, this Indian guy's comments were probably the straw that made the camel finally say as his back was breaking, "Oh, well if a man of color can say it, who am I to not laugh?" all the while being relieved that it is now deemed somewhat socially acceptable.

If he was trying to be satirical, he needed to work harder.

There's such thing as white guilt, but is there anything reminiscent of what we can consider heterosexual guilt? It seems that we consider ourselves magnanimous for even letting queer folks exist, that there is no real sensitivity by heterosexual people of the word. It carries such less weight than certain slurs that get bleeped out on the radio. Marginalized cultures are of color, yes, and color combinations. (like a rainbow!). I think he felt that because of his South Asian heritage, he therefore claimed a license to be distasteful and offensive.

If youve read any sociological theory, Irving Goffman makes it his lifes work to hypothesize that we are actors playing on a world type stage. Shakespearean, yes, and more than that, its describes what we as concurrent actors and audience members do by laughing, and saving the face and performance of our fellow thespians. Dangerous. Gladiators and American Idol contestants alike, I despise standing ovations when unneeded, and this boy was exhibiting nothing brave, slaying no beasts. He in fact, acted as one.

The guy saw my face disgusted and sneered into the mic, "You look confused". I wonder if he was trying to regain face. I wonder if he was trying to recover himself as the down-with-the-people minority with the agency to be crass and uncouth. I wonder if his face would have fallen a bit if I had answered in front of the crowd, "I'm just embarrassed for you".

What a sociological marvel is this thing called stand-up comedy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New York State of Mind Dec 13-20, 2009

Bullet-points over Broadway, and 42nd St, and Herald Square, etc. (Kudos for catching the Woody Allen nod)

Sunday 12/13

-Sat next to an Orthodox rabbi on the flight-kosher bubblegum is delicious.
-After a bit of chatting, my eyes closed, and when I opened them, I saw Brooklyn.
-Golf courses look like splatterings of tawny paint on green canvas.
-Cemeteries are plentiful in BK- it's cheaper to be here, even in death.
-Welcomed into the city by a hilarious bus driver, drizzles of rain (which later became a large, fat downpour of rain), and an egg & cheese sandwich.
-After settling in at Dustin's, I decided to be a bit ear
ly to our date at the Jazz Standard.
-I was... 2 hours early, and since that was the case, I
-stepped into a bar by myself and sat there by myself for the firs
t time, but
-not for long. Made quick friends with the rambunctious neighbors and the bartender Steve.
It was just like Cheers. But not quite.
-Show itself was pretty impressive, though short. Pablo Ziegler and his pals played plays on Piazzolla, introducing an alto sax and electric guitar as two very new voices. But AP always lent very well to jazz, as it's extremely experimental and racy, even.
-Great first night ended with Dustin singing karaoke for the first time. :) You never forget your first.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Word Nerding

A Li-Young Lee poem excerpt to start:


"Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man..."

As for me I'll have this: sedentary and sedimentary.
The latter refers to a geological process where eroded earth is swatted around and the pressed down to form a type of rock. It takes a long time to form said shale, or limestone, or sandstone, or enter-Googled-sedimentary-rock-here, but it does not take nearly as long to form adipose tissue. Ahem. Fat. And that is due to the former vocabulary word. Lately, I have been exceedingly sedentary. Sedentary in office chairs, car seats, on mattresses propped up on a pillow, in front of a screens and dining tables, kitchen counters restaurant table runners. And I have been doing very little running. It is.. a lifestyle, that of which I am thinking up creative and time efficient ways to combat and tear myself out of.

But, on the bright side of life that The Life of Brian tells us to always look on, I'm employed. I suppose these are my just desserts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Neath the cover of October skies

It's a marvelous night to update a blog. Since my last, I had applied for countless (ahem. 59 jobs), and wrote a plentiful number of cover letters to match. One job I didn't quite have to apply for was tour guide for a few family friends visiting California. It was almost unbelievable, how much I morphed into a banner for California Pride when put to the task of showing them around. (In the same vein, only after graduating from UCLA did I really wear the shirts, or hats, or what have you). Hm. I managed to discover a newfound love for Southern California.

Oh. And I did something that I had wanted to for a long while-- I rode the mechanical bull at Saddle Ranch!

In the middle of September I took a road trip with dear Alyssa up to the Northern parts of California, driving between cabbages and alfalfa, through garlic and turnips, and managed to be seduced by its breezes and slopes, lamb sliders, and tango steps in a cell space. I rediscovered an affection for Eggs Benedict, and shrieked driving up mountainous San Francisco streets. I can see myself living here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Palindrome year

Since China, and the most severe jet lag of my life,

I've been feeling a restlessness and anxiety that tickles menacingly like mucus lodged in the throat, the way only a recent college graduate with no immediate plans knows how to feel. I've hurled the adjectives "helpless", "directionless", and a number of other "less" words in the direction of chat boxes, journal entries, and mirrors.

Also, entry and update less. For this I apologize, to a wide world of maybe five readers, and myself. Sometimes time spent wallowing in self pity becomes enveloping. Looking through my paper-pen journal, I realized that somewhere in that time I managed to pick myself up and actually DO a few things.

So began the year 22, with Langston Hughes,and Jessye Norman, champagne and grapes (not champagne grapes-- they're too sweet for my taste). A week of celebrating continued with cleaning up the apartment in LA, my first traipsing through the Hollywood Walk of Fame (believe it or not, I had never been even with all the years here, my first birthday tango dance, and meals upon meals of delightful squeals. Tried a number of new restaurants, and went bowling. And that was only one week.

Not so bad after all. Someone snidely said that in palindrome years such as this, the second half mirrors the first. Well. If that first week was any indication of how it'd go, I wouldn't mind at all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Email 5

1) The last few days Ive been in ShanXi province, traveling with the rents. Adventures aplenty! a) I spent the earlier parts of my train ride to Taiyuan brows furrowed listening to the Scottish accent- Its really quite pleasant. I ended up chatting with a couple of people traveling around the world! What a thrill. The later parts were spent sitting up waiting for people on the train to just quit snoring. Aside from the chorus of bullfrogs, I find it easy to sleep to the lull of the sometimes gentle sometimes not rhythms of train on tracks, like jazz. It reminds me of a Michael Stillman poem--
In Memorium John Coltrane
Listen to the coal Rolling,

rolling through the cold steady rain,
wheel on wheel,

listen to the turning of the wheels this night black as coal dust,
steel on steel,

listen to these cars carry coal,
listen to the coal train roll.

b) Tour bus drivers seem to all eat a nice big bowl of crazy for breakfast, washed down with a glass of "Im not afraid to die" But regardless, the first thing I noticed about ShanXi (not to be confused with ShaanXi) as I hurtled through on a gigantic tour bus? The mesmerizingly constant crops of sunflowers and corn stretching on for miles. I think it has to do with the fact that ShanXI doesnt get too much rain, and these plants are okay without. Yellow corona bursts. Standing tall and vigorous, they seemed to emulate the Terra Cotta Soldiers that I had seen less than a week before.

c) In the states, the obsession with youth and ageless skin has almost become a paranoia-- but I
was struck the the wrinkles in the faces I saw here-- like someone took string to tawny clay, still wet.

d) Group tourism in China is hot, sweaty and all in all, pretty irritating. If ever there is an "us vs them" mentality, it really comes up and gleams through here, when it comes to things like photo ops, and sitting down to eat first. Really ridiculous. Whats refreshing though, is seeing how forced togetherness (we all have to eat together to save time) over food manages to alloy all these crazy metals together.
Went to the shooting location where Zhang Yimou's Raise The Red Lantern was filmed in a town named PingYao. Movie magic it was-- at that point, it was just about the first Chinese movie I really saw. A beauty that was painful and wistful. The actual place looked all but desecrated.

f) Stayed in a noisy hotel room after Mommy Daddy and I toasted our adventures with some YanJing beer. The hotel was across the street from the ridiculously bustling and noisy train station. Perfect. That night I slept beneat whirring neon lights honking cars and chattering people. Taiyuan is kind of like New York City :) in that I can sleep to its sounds.

g) I breathed in air so gorgeously clean it could not dream to exist in Beijing at Wu Tai Shan,
home to a number of Buddhist temples and monasteries, Tibetan included. I myself am quite unversed in said religion, but just could not believe that clear brisk and strong air like that existed in China. It felt cool and familiar, like an LA Thanksgiving (without global warming).
Architectural marvels are plentiful in China-- we went up into Xuan Kong Si, a "Hanging" monastery. (Easily found on Google). It was built in the mountains some 1500 years ago.. and is still there. Still hanging. Still monasterical. :D Its pretty terrifying and wondrous and amazing to imagine-- how people did it.. who could really know? That and the YunGang grottoes took up our day. But wow.

Email 4

1) The last few days I have been in Xian, where the Terra Cotta Soldiers are housed. After a whirlwind type Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I just got off the train and am back in Beijing. Thoughts:
a) The majesty of the soldiers engulfed me. Maybe majesty is not the right word. Maybe the "gargantuan-ness" of the whole situation dumbfounded me. I forget the exact numbers but each soldier is more than life sized, and different, from the lift of their eyebrows to the curls of their lips, to the position in which their hand clutches a weapon to shield the dead emperor from harm. Basically, he started thinking about his death right as he was beginning to rule. Is that morbid, or just plain pragmatic?

b) Apparently, Mr Yang, the villager who found the soldiers when trying to dig a well was at the site, and if you bought a book for 150 RMB, you could take a picture with him. I did not buy the book, and I did not take the picture. Im not too sure I was completely convinced. But maybe it's like Santa Claus. People believe in things so that other people can get money and feed their families, and so on.

c) We went to Hua Qing Chi, where a famous concubine bathed in the hot springs...and where Chiang Kai-shek was shot at. (Xi-An Incident) I'd never taken pictures of so many bullet holes. This was my favorite event that day-- interesting that two such historical figures dwelled in such a place.

d) It is said that something over 70 emperors are buried in Xian, or at least the Shaanxi province, because the feng shui is wonderful. I smell a new Tomb Raider movie!!

e) I have fallen desperately in love with the Shaanxi dialect. There is something so song-like about it, and I could very possibly just listen to it all darned day. Its more gutteral and soft palate-ish than Mandarin-- some sounds remind me of Persian. Either way, I have taken numerous videos of it being spoken.

f) I have a strange enjoyment for talkative taxi drivers. In Xian, it's much cheaper to take cabs places-- and I have thoroughly loved sitting and listening to them.
g) Traveling with Nancy Wang has been both surreal and incredibly wonderful--It's such a joy to take on a new city with friends. Many times during my stay in Xian, I honestly could not believe that I was there with her! What fun!

h) I rode the train by myself on the way back. To be honest, I was apprehensive. All the stories that my relatives told about girls being kidnapped and worse played into my mind, but I have to say that it felt pretty darned safe. Again, thanks to Chinese school and my parents, I manage not to sound like a complete foreigner, and was struck by the easy cameraderie of people in an overnight train. Played card games for 2 hours with men who upon first glance, were kind of scary looking. Pleasantly got back to Beijing. Now, Beijing things.

2) Went to a flea market and spent some 5 hours there. No kidding. 5 hours. But I have decided that I would like a victrola for my home. It wasnt actually the jewelry, or pottery that I liked best, rather I preferred the old telephones, and typewriters.

3) My milonga experience--that of which Im sure you're dying to know about.. was "eh". I imagine its because 1--it is a pretty newly established milonga and 2--it was raining the hour before. But either way, I made a few new friends over a Tsingtao beer, and got to practice leading in a big mirrored, practically empty room. Pretty darned okay.

4) Got a copy of Barack Obama's autobiography for the train and ended up finishing half of it before I even got on. His writing is incredibly calm, yet passionate-- what a guy! I'll have more thoughts on it soon.

Email 3

Which fish would you rather eat?!

1) I am just not used to seeing.. un-neutered dogs. People here own small dogs. Dachsunds, Bichon Frises, and of course Pekingese. There doesnt seem to be an initiative to lop off the reproductive bits of the animals, but then I figure-- these animals dont really get to run away and proliferate anyway. Thought that was a funny little anecdote

2) Now on the people proliferating: I dont think theres anything like a CVS where the drugstore is separate from food items. So, condoms are just next to soaps and toothbrushes and other such things. Condoms in China cost 41 RMB (average) for 12. Basically, that's about 8 bucks. It seems even MORE stupid not to use protection. An uncle and I were talking about prostitutes in mining regions in poorer areas of China-- there ought to be some sort of initiative for condom usage. Will think about it more.

3) In the States, I realized that first names are generally more "in common" than last names. Meaning, we differentiate, like, "Which Mike?" "Oh, Mike.. Baker" In China, its more like, "Which Dr. Liu?" "Oh.. Liu ZhengGuo". Thought about that when I sat in on rounds in the radiation oncology department yesterday.

4) My medical Especially in the realm of oncology and technical things, such as "CT"...but cancer is devastating in any language. Today's rounds were strictly in the chest-- esophageal, lung mostly. Saw one patient whose lung cancer had metastasized to his brain, which manifested as a (plegia)? of the left side of his face. Upon neurological exam, you could tell the deficits came from the facial nerve mostly. But his eyes moved with the following of the doctor's finger, and there was no ipsilateral deviation of the tongue (which means that the hypoglossal nerve was okay). I breathed thanks to Arnie Scheibel and Neuroanatomy 102. But the patient-- looked just so tired. Radiation is tough and wears on the body so.

5) If all goes well, tomorrow will be my first milonga experience. When dancing in the States its very rare that people invite others to dance using the "cabaceo"... an initiation protocol using well directed eyes. Im not sure in China what a smile and good morning in general during the day means. In the US, its a pleasantry, but I noticed that I sort of avert my eyes. When I look straight at people, I never see theirs.

6) I adore the subway. I think I've said this before, but theres no feeling quite like stepping down into the subway station into the cool, kissable below, the dark, sordid underbelly of a city.

7)In Chinese there is an idiom, which translates into "People mountain, people sea" literally. It basically means that people are so densely packed they constitute the magnitude of mountains, and vastness of oceans. Beijing is ridiculous in this way. It took almost 30 minutes to go about half a mile through WangFuJing, a main shoppiing area. People dont heed traffic signs. Cars dont heed traffic signs. Its really, more than anything a big ridiculous game of chicken. Crossing a road. :D

Email 2

1) Karaoke is serious business here in Beijing, complete with buffet style snacks/drinks (non-alcoholic) and percussion instruments (tambourines, etc) I wonder how to say "maracas" in Mandarin. I went with some 30 of my mom's friends-- these are people she hadn't seen for some 40 years. During the Cultural Revolution in China, she went to the Chinese countryside, as mandated by Mao, and ended up becoming intensely fast friends with her compadres- If you were to ask me to find a group of this many people 40 years from now.. I have to say, Im not sure that I could, reason being that there really isnt a bond as strong as that between those you have suffered physical exhaustion with. In America, possibly college friends would fit that description, but truly, it was moving to see all of them together.

1a) The Chinese lifestyle sometimes w
orries me. Karaoke is never done standing, much unlike the situation at my favorite K-Ok spot-- the Gaslite. After a large meal, people go to karaoke. And after that, they do some other sitting activity. It becomes kind of like the US where a certain group of people are quite sedentary out of economic mobility. It seems that the poor are really the ones whose bodies might benefit. There's so much food everywhere-- it sickens me to see all the KFCs and McDonalds. I'll think more about this one.

2) Last night my parents and I went to the RenMinDaHuiTang (The Great Hall of The People) for a concert. I've always appreciate
d Chinese folk music, but last night was more than wonderful, to be there with my parents. My dad has always been more of the music afficionado, between my parents, and it was such a lovely experience to witness him enjoying the performance.

3) I stuffed my face with about a pound of dumplings today. I made about 3, I ate about 30.

4) Went to the Olympics-made-famous Birds Nest and the Water Cube 2 nights ago- quite a sight.

5) Something heartbreaking: This morning on the bus I offered an old man my seat. I've written before about old people and buses, but today he said to me, that he felt badly about going out of the house, afraid of "tian ma fan" which basically means, "being a burden" Thought about it a good deal.

6) Something musically miraculous happened-- One of my favorite songs on the iPod shuffle-- Better Get Hit In Your Soul. Although its said to exude the mood and and mood swings of a Sunday Black Baptist Church service, it's always been my big city song, rumbling of cement pavements and traffic lights.. I was walking through Beijing and as the song was playing, a construction worker's hammer became a perfect metronome for the song. Incredible. My face probably glowed with delight.


So basically, for a month in China, I had no facebook, no blogger, and very little internet. What I did have, was food, family, and INCREDIBLE FUN! But with what internet I did have, I sent a series of emails, numbered with thoughts and observations on the motherland. Now that Im back, and battling a vicious case of jet lag, I figure my time is best used updating said blog.

Email 1:

Thought maybe you wouldn't mind hearing a few thoughts of mine as my first of four weeks in China draws to a close.. Forgive the mass-email format of the letter, please!!

1) My internet access has been sparse and spotty. For this reason, I havent quite been good about sending emails. I'd love to know what you're thinking and doing and what not!

2) Public transit is..wonderful. Getting on a bus or train in Beijing now gives me quite the feeling of being in New York City-- its easy breezy and beautiful to zip off to various locales. Knowing the language is a plus..thanks to all those years in Chinese school. I think I'll try to spend a day just riding buses. Plus, now it's incredibly easy with digital cards that you can just swipe! Obviously my dad is very worried about this since he still thinks Im a dumbass. One of the more wonderful things about Beijing is its general respect for the elderly. I almost cried on the bus one day when I saw someone offer their seat to an old man. There's a certain sweet nostalgia about older Chinese people-- maybe the way they joke about poverty, or gap toothed smiles, and still-wide eyes. It's a knowing, and a sincerity and depth that people can only exude when theyre quite young, or very old.

3) In the summer, Beijing sees a number o
f intensely cathartic summer rains, where the sky will ferociously outburst torrents of rain and then quit-- almost like a child when he first falls down. It wails for maybe 15 minutes and then its as if the clouds get distracted. Maybe I'm getting older, but I find it quite moving. Other than those (which provide for pretty cool air), it's been sticky. Stick-to-your-ribs type sticky. I used to wonder why my relatives weren't big on hugs. (As you know, Im a champion hugger!) I now have come to believe that its always a combination of things-- among them disgust for intense heat and adhesive sweat. Makes sense.

4) Don't worry too much for me, b
ut from the first full day we were in Beijing, I have had at least one alcoholic beverage. Its a pain to explain to restaurants that you want ice cold water, (that of which is a given in the States as you know) so "beer" is just as easy to say. I've also managed to imbibe some Chinese red wine-- which is abnormally sweet, and something called "er guo tou" --distilled from sorghum. Something like 46% alcohol. In my book, just a bit short of rubbing alcohol. And with liquor comes immense amounts of food.. seafood, innards, etc-- It makes me wonder and quite worry about the cholesterol levels of Chinese people. Or at least, rich Chinese people. Here, Grandpa and I are sharing our first of many beers.

5) Food is so manageable price wise that it seems economically dumb not to eat. My favorite stuff however, is still the street food.. equivalent to the pretzels, hotdogs and hallal of NYC. I've taken a number of pictures just of the dishes I've eaten. I've managed to develop a taste for frog. :)

6) Something bothersome-- it seems that this younger generation of Chinese people (in Beijing, at least) carry a most intensely self righteous sense of entitlement. I've discussed this a bit with an uncle of mine and we made mention of the fact that people born after 1980 in China are all only children. All sights: fiscal, emotional, etc are set on this one kid- in regard to getting into college, and having their success realized. There's an immense pressure, and it maybe translates into other
spheres as well. At the Shanghai airport, I waited well over 20 minutes standing at a station to check my email while people absolutely ignored any semblance of a line. 4/5 of these people on the computers were kids who were playing World of Warcraft. I notice this too in a cousin of mine too. Maybe it comes from their parents' generation, having to share everything. I think there needs to be some sort of social volunteering initiative in China. I'll think more about this one and report back.

7) On dancing. Apparently Argentine tango is not a big thing in Beijing. A contact of mine said that it was a community of maybe 100, most of whom are foreigners. Not that I mind, of course. I'm going to my first Beijing milonga on Saturday, I hope. Dancing, or rather, social partnered dancing, is not something terribly ingrained into mainland culture of the Han Chinese (meaning, there are a number of minority groups who do it from a young age)..which is probably why I took to Middle Eastern and Latin American cultures so easily. I think I'll try to go to a salsa thing outside too, this weekend. I'll have to see about the hip swiveling abilities of my countrymen!

8) Haggling. Ah. Well-- It's hard not to. After 4 years of college and learning about outsourcing and witnessing how poor people can be-- I had resolved to not haggle, and just pay the price given. But it seems as much a cultural thing as an economic thing. I've managed to become pretty good at it, over the years. Wonderful.

9) My parents and I have taken walks just about every morning in Beijing- its just about the only time that we can, (such that the temperature is bearable). It's pretty spectacular. Interestingly, I bump heads with my father much more than I have with my mother (not literally) this trip.

10) Went on a run in Beijing in the morning-- it doesnt seem like something that a lot of people do. I really dont generally like running-- but in urban settings it can be incredibly enlivening. On really hot days, I do some yoga and manage to perspire profusely without trying-- its a spectacular season for sweating!

11) Tomorrow Im going to walk around with the nice people from the radiation oncology department at the cancer hospital where my mother and grandmother worked. I imagine I'll have a lot to learn about patient care in a different cultural situation, and cant wait!

12) I've been waking up at 4AM. Just about every day. One of these days we'll go to Tiananmen Square and watch the soldiers hoist the flag up. That's about the only time I feel safe enough to ride a bike in Beijing.

Other than that, Im doing quite well. Usually I break out in hives, but thanks to a spectacular suggestion from a certain doctor friend of mine, I have been pretty okay. Mosquitos seem to have bothered me less this year than most. I'm getting used to being around such a large extended family and focusing on eating everything I possibly can! Will return to you a blimp! :D

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On traffic.

On more than one occasion, I have been told, whilst baffled and have subsequently have told to the baffled, that tango dancing is very reminiscent of something such as "glorified walking." It involves keen sense of balance, considerable consideration of weight negotiation, and proprioception.  It also begs for some small inkling of what I do not have when it comes to walking, glorified or not, through urban sprawl: intrepidity. 

This occurred to me quite stoutly when I was crossing the street last week to reach a lunch destination (which was quite delicious).  Anyone who has strolled with me knows that once the little walking man has pranced out of sight and an orange hand appears, I heed the sign.  No sprinting across the street. No frantic bounding to the other side.  These are both permutations of something I and I'm certain most people are acutely fearful of: looking stupid. Plus, cars are bigger than humans on the whole. (I imagine that I can overturn one of those smart cars if exceptionally enraged).  There is something so intensely bothersome to me about sneering disapproval or even thin filmy veils of disparagement: from people I know, from strangers on the street, as well as dance partners. Perhaps this is also why my leading efforts in tango have not been so successful: I've been terrified of being hit and seeming hopelessly maladroit. 

Im leaving for China on Sunday and will come to a new type of milonga, one of honking cars, overcrowded buses, innumerable bikes: a whole city of drivers.  Although I will seek to cut a rug in studios and shake a leg in clubs to be sure, this time will be a thoroughly new exercise in driving and leading myself in this foreign metropolitan dance. 

a tango nuevo indeed. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On choosing.

Choosy Moms (and now amended to Dads) choose JIF. I couldn't even choose a font that I liked for this blog. I went through numerous templates for backgrounds. The blank box for the title of this post saw me frantically deleting permutations and combinations of letters. I came pretty close to breaking a cold sweat. Neurotic, I know. I'm the worst at restaurants.

But truly, this can be quite the opportunity to develop a fluency with my fingers, and cool water stream of 21 year old musings.

As for what's going on in the world:

A) After my initial stunned reaction to Michael Jackson's passing, I proceeded to spend a good amount of time on YouTube and iTunes listening to the songs and watching the videos which fed me in my good-music diet. Inclusive of the Jackson 5, I've decided that my favorite MJ songs are, (in no particular order)

The Love You Save, I Want You Back, Human Nature, Man in the Mirror, Remember the Time, P.Y.T., and Rock With You.

He gave the world at large such an unprecedented vocabulary for music and movement and performance. Incredible. Thanks MJ. I hope Neverland is full of splendor.

B) Being in Thousand Oaks is.. something else. I'm more than excited to go to Westminster Free Clinic for the first time in a while and just appreciate the quiet small miracles of medicine that happen on Wednesday nights. Nothing fancy, just people caring for and about people.

C) Spending time with my parents has been a riot. I think that our China trip together will really allow me new lenses with which to see them and study them, interacting. I went through my journal entries written in China four years ago after high school, and am itching to see what I'll write about after college.

It's easy as 1-2-3! (ABC, that is)

Friday, June 19, 2009

About Time.

UCLA runs in weeks, 10 of them, and I have come to organize my life in just that type of system. With every 1st week, I'd marvel at the amount of free time I'd have after another ten. Here now, is that free time promised after my very last Undie Run, after twelve ten week stints. It has been a week since I securely fastened the cap and slipped on the bag of a gown to walk across stages smiling in stilettos. I figured I'd spend it fashioning a blog like I had meant to, auspiciously 7 days post the end of my college career. In that time, I have (among other activities) packed and unpacked, eaten, slept enormous amounts, danced, cooked, and written haiku.

Five Haiku for Five Days

Monday 6/15
Cardboard boxes now
contain years of myself
merging on freeways

Tuesday 6/16
Haven't had TV
three of four years in college.
I missed Jeopardy.

Wednesday 6/17
WeHo street corner
Taking blood pressures again
I am home once more

Thursday 6/18
Gorgeous artichokes
smiled at me from Trader Joe's
So I took them home.

Friday 6/19
I ruminated
twenty minutes storming brain
to give it a name.

It is about time that I began this electronic blog. I've been strictly paper-journaling for all of college, but thought maybe it'd be a nice gesture to share my experiences after college for those interested. The blogspot seems to herald something more grown-up than the Xanga I had not-so-religiously tended to in high school, signaling some semblance of adulthood. It's something like attaining a qwerty cell phone keypad. Something like that.