The Journey IS the Destination

Traveling and seeing the world have always been on my agenda. I think that moving around when I was younger played a role in this desire. Even though, our moving was from one small Midwest town to another, I always managed to become friends with stellar human beings who were the exact manifestation of who I needed during those times and I attribute moving to the blessing of our paths crossing. Each has played an important role in building me up along my journey and I’ve remained friends with most (some in thanks to social media). Another motivation for travel came from doing so in my mind as a way to pass time during long, lonely days that were spent locked in my room (more about this in “it’s not a swastika, damn it”). I would envision all the people I would meet and role played in my head how I would  engage new friends; I, of course, always had them laughing. I imagined our meetings would be something life changing as were many of my friendships and the idea of adding such adventure and new friends kept me hoping against hope during many dark times. Daydreaming was a “skill” that helped me through hard times; I could be anyone I wanted and go anywhere in my mind, this “skill” pushed me to start running away from home when just imagining another world wasn’t enough and too much time spent in my reality had me depressed, suicidal and therefore in the hospital on several occasions  with cut up arms. Daydreaming helped me escape and played the biggest role in what helped me make it out of a small town in MN where the culmination of my home life (very serious abuse from a prominent figure in the small community) and my resulting escape to drugs, alcohol and people nearly ended me. Spontaneous travel has remained a goal since my official-fist-step into the “real-world” at age 18; a spontaneous escape it was and one I can look back on and believe God had a hand in. I laid next to a black garbage bag filled with my belongings; with a broken lease behind me I abandoned my apartment, leaving the walls spattered with food from the going-away party I threw for myself; I was rolled in sleeping bags in the back of a twin cab truck in route to CO on Christmas Eve., 1997. Janet Jackson and Celine Dion were the soundtrack as we sputtered down the highway toward Denver in the middle of that cold night. The drag queen “Mike” (stage name I can’t remember) who drove from CO to pick us up, knew every word to every song and he belted them out. My  new Mexican-gangster friend of a few weeks “Gabrielle” and his lesbian half-sister “Tammy” were in the front with Mike (they were all very overweight = no room for me in the warm cab). I’ve labeled the three for effect to emphasize my age and small town/sheltered upbringing, they were the first of their “type” I had ever met. Gabe and Tammy worked with me briefly at a turkey factory, where I met them through the factory mechanic who I had just started doing cocaine with/we were the night crew.  They came to town initially to help their aunt with her start-up Mexican restaurant which quickly closed in the small MN town with Norwegian taste buds.  I recall that the two became hard pressed to return home to Denver by Christmas, Gabe’s mother’s health was failing and their father was just released from prison. Despite barely knowing them, with little time and no Christmas plans or options to weigh, I concluded with ease that I should also go to Colorado. I saw it as my way out, I left family behind, but at the time I wasn’t afforded the luxury of having them in my life anyway. My mother, two young brothers and a sister were all stuck in a home with a destructive, abusive person and, for no reason, I wasn’t allowed there to see them, nor were they allowed to see me (just a small example of the mind games this psychotic-controlling personality would play; he separated my mother from everyone who loved her as is typical of domestic abusers, he had the dynamics in our family to the point where nobody said “I love you” anymore and as my sister and I were made to stay in our rooms he put on a show of “Christmas” making my mom watch while he and the boys opened gifts around a tree; definition of mental abuse??).  That was far too painful to watch, helplessly. So the pain pushed me in the direction I needed to go for that time in my life. It wasn’t the best, but it was better than the alternative self-destruction. We arrived in Colorado on Christmas Eve’s eve. Mike’s closet had the most sequins I’d ever seen in my life; heels, gowns and straight up tackle boxeS of makeup were the first things he showed me. It was the furthest scene from what was familiar and I was thrilled to be there. I loved how animated he was. My “travels” prior to age 18 were in many instances the result of my running away from home and riding in cars with strangers, usually ending with me in the back of a cop car. I still remember the trench coat I was wearing the night a cop caught me after I slipped on some ice while he was pursuing me on foot in some random town; I still think I would’ve gotten away had I not been wearing that coat. The thought leaves me with one of those breaths-of-relief, because who knows what would’ve come next had I stayed with those strangers who were getting a minor drunk, I shutter to think of it. On this occasion I was on the run from a girls-group home for “at-risk” youth (I was the one taken out of the home when I would call the police on my step-dad….messed up system). A counselor from a different placement had given me the coat, one of the many who failed to do their job of reporting the abuse that was going on at the hand of my stepfather (or perhaps she was one who tried and it was the system that failed)-either way she made me feel important and loved, today I’d thank her for the coat and for trying, if I could. I was so close to 18 at that point that the police didn’t send me back to the youth-home, they probably knew I wouldn’t have stayed put anyway…I may seem off topic, I guess I do write how I speak…there is a back story to the story that must be shared:) the details matter. The many brush strokes paint the picture, ya know?! So all of that was shared to validate my past which follows me like a shadow and is now starting to serve as a point of perspective/a light that reminds me how far I’ve come when I get clouded. I am now living that daydream of traveling for real and it isn’t motivated by pain or a need to escape. I really believe that I am getting paid back in a way for all that time I had to spend locked in my room, my own proof of God’s redeeming love. I have this extreme perspective that is being gained as certain things heal and revelation is introduced. To make a long-interesting story short..I ended up living homeless in CO. after some close calls while realizing the disturbed sort of person Gabe was. Thankfully I had the internal drive to get away from him and his family… The ‘insert popular mexican last name here’  men in that family had the name tattooed on their stomachs, like Tupac had THUG-LIFE  beginning with the father who spent time in prison for murder and drugs, his kids, of which he had many, followed his example despite him never being there for them. Even then, having grown up without any help or communication from my own biological father,  I thought it was disturbing how desperately his kids vied for his attention and how they idolized him. I share this story [in brief] to lay a foundation for an important point that without the back story, would fall short. Ultimately, my “traveling” to escape pain is the very circumstance that brought me to my point of finding faith …faith is important in this story because without it, I would’ve cut too deep. So, 2015!! Christmas eve was spent in Beijing, China. I taught a class that day because it isn’t common for Chinese people to celebrate Christmas and it is most certainly not a holiday recognized by the government. So just before class, I quickly bought some sour skittles as a “present” for the kids, upon delivering the gift (unwrapped and tossed across the table to them) they all announced (in very adorable broken english) that it was the first Christmas present they’d ever received, they were completely thrilled. I immediately wished I had put more thought into the gifts and perhaps…at least, wrapped them. This gave me perspective: Despite our circumstances in my home growing up, my mom always made sure she gave us a heartfelt/thoughtful present for Christmas and even though we had someone in our lives trying to suck the love out she did what she could, even in poverty we received very thoughtful gifts that she always worked hard to give us, she would do without to make sure we had what we needed. This is a small story about my experience abroad that has made a big impact on my ever growing love for the life I have (I can say the same about everyday so far).  It is funny how the reaction those kids had to a bag of sour skittles could make my view on the life I’ve lived/am living seem so simply beautiful. My imagined experience of traveling abroad being life changing…was accurate. My mind is being blown daily, I use to struggle a lot with self-hate and have had a really hard time shaking some of the abuse I experienced by that step-thing, but I am illuminated by the perspective I am gaining and now with my shadow repurposed as insight, I see the divine interventions in my life. I realize my privilege and blessings more profoundly. I am meeting beautiful beings who are opening my heart. I am blown away by the big-big-world and the so very different ways people have to live or choose to live. I am overjoyed and inspired to make an impact and I appreciate who I am and what I have more than ever. This has been everything plus a bag of chips, but here the chips are flavored like shrimp, are disgusting and there is always a background noise of people hacking up phlegm while you eat…..such is life:)

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HAH, GAYYYYY

Update: I am sick again;(, a cold this time and the pollution is now quite noticeable so I have to be careful and wear a mask. Despite these hurdles I am still so very happy to be here. I love the teaching gig, the kids are completely adorable, even when they are being little stinkers. Despite what you may think about Chinese students, they do not act perfectly, they can be off task too, especially since the program I work for is an English class in addition to other classes these students already take. One of my  students recently decided to respond “Gay” to every question asked in the class, whether the question was directed at him or not. “That’s gay, he’s gay, because gay,” and then just randomly he’d say “gay, gay, gay”….and so on. He must have seen this meme:

 hagay

To which I respond:


 are-you-fucking-kidding-me-rage-face-meme-template-blank-1 angry-no

A few of them have thrown out these other words, “fock” and “sheeT” a few times too, I try to focus on the students who are on task, but if they are too demanding of attention with their attempts at using poorly pronounced expletives,  I just point out the fact that they are not saying it correctly and if they were to pay attention they would learn how to pronounce things more accurately. I may just have to educate them on how inappropriate it is as well, it is difficult to express the principles of prejudices associated with derogatory language when culture and language are so different or limited, but I will try. I am not even sure if being gay is against the law in China. It is difficult to tell, this culture is a very hands on culture, as I walk down the street I see women holding hands with arms linked and men with their arm around each other, everywhere. There definitely is a smaller personal space quota here, I was on a train the other day during rush hour and it was beyond my understanding why 40 people would shove themselves onto an already full train, all I could do was laugh maniacally at the top of my lungs at the discomfort, absurdity and inability to do anything about it. Chinese people don’t care and a lot of them are tiny so any personal space you leave for yourself they will fill it. I have been surprised though to see so many tall Chinese people, this would be another example of a stereotype that has been defused since being here. Not everyone is short and not all Chinese students are perfect and it is NOT as extreme to be a Christian here as I had thought, I actually had an Asian man come up behind me singing “Hallelujah” the other night and then he proceeded to tell me about Jesus and love and some other Chinese stuff I couldn’t understand, he was so filled with joy, it was kind of endearing ….Anyway, I do know that the government blocks a lot of websites here, so it is difficult to imagine where the kids pick up this stuff/language, many of them have been to America, perhaps this is a factor. I do recall working with an African man back in the day, he had moved to Minnesota in America for college. He told me that when he arrived he was very disappointed to find only snow and frigid temperatures and no women dancing outside of his airplane like they do in some music videos he watched before arriving. He had this idea that America was like one big music video, no clothes on anyone, disgusting (Home Alone quote intended). Television tends to highlight the less admirable parts of American culture. Anyway, I am an educator now and I will enjoy finding creative ways to educate the kids about my culture as well as the language. Teaching is a nice refresher too. I am looking forward to learning some more Chinese.  I really enjoy the accents, they make me smile, it is like listening to a game of MAD GAB, which is just about the funniest game I have ever played. Let’s try:

Fur Chin Ollie Foil                                            

Wand Doll Iran Dense Hence

Or this one, that we saw at the train station on our vacation?!

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Funny, RIGHT??

I do have to share also that I am in a new stage of “culture shock, ” I have only recently learned about these stages and I feel my good friend who connected me with this job will be happy to know that I did look at the material :). My neurological and endocrine systems are debilitated, over stimulation has me worn out and run down! Hence my current cold and recent illness, but I am doing a lot of self-care here and taking it easy most of the time. The pace here is nice and I am enjoying the personal journey into my soul as well as this cultural experience!! I am in a defensive stage of culture shock, I think. I am quite embittered by some of the filth here and people are so pushy. It is common to see little children pooping and peeing in public, which is an unfortunate practice in my opinion, especially when public toilets are very easy to come by. My friend pointed out that under no circumstance should you put your purse in the front of a shopping cart, you know, the child seat part, because kids here, while being potty trained run around with slits in their pants so they can just go wherever and whenever needed. I really hate this, it is so absurd and unhygienic. I watched a grandma help her little granddaughter diaherrea poop all over the sidewalk behind an unknowing crowed of people, while I was sight seeing in Shanghai. After seeing this beautiful skyline I am sure these tourists just ended up trampling through the mess. It is no wonder why these people take their shoes off at the door and are in the habit of wearing ‘house shoes.’ I miss the Minnesota nice right now and personal space. This culture has me in a position where I need to assert myself beyond what feels natural, but I view it as a growing experience. You have to get used to people staring here too, they don’t even avert their eyes when caught, it is so absurd to me, haha. When I catch someone staring now, I stare back and then I find myself in staring contests with Chinese people throughout the day, it is a little amusing. I’ve even had a request to be in a photo with a Chinese woman while touring the Summer Palace..haha. (The other woman pictured is my roommate, not that aforementioned). I also went to the Beijing Zoo which was quite disappointing actually, the animals all seemed so sad and people were feeding them human food, despite the signs that clearly said not to and this was really irritating. If people could have a voice in China I am sure there would be an animal activist group picketing for better care. The cages for the animals were so fake, filled with plastic trees. Fake, plastic anything is just depressing. So here are some photos, anyway: Summer Palace Photos:

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He had crackers stuck in his quills.

He had crackers stuck in his quills.

lazy polar

lazy polar

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cool sculpture at the zoo, it was huge!

cool sculpture at the zoo, it was huge!

Hungry Hungry

Hungry Hungry

Not sure about this one.

Not sure about this one.

Camels are just so cool.

Camels are just so cool.

Other tourists were trying to feed this guy a freaking hotdog!! I told them that it was inappropriate, but they spoke Chinese and didn't understand my english.

Other tourists were trying to feed this guy a freaking hotdog!! I told them that it was inappropriate, but they spoke Chinese and didn’t understand my english.

I like this guy..vultures just seem like they are plotting something epic.

I like this guy..vultures just seem like they are plotting something epic.

cool, blocked off, stairway

cool, blocked off, stairway

This guy HATED US!!!

This guy HATED US!!!

The Birds have it made!

The Birds have it made!

SAD PANDA:(

SAD PANDA:(

NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM

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It isn’t a Swastika, damn it.

On my way to the gym last night I saw some Asian people doing the GANGNAM STYLE dance down the street, like, that’s a thing, If you’re thinking of visiting…

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At the gym I learned that they have a legit Strip dance class, all the moves of a strip dance, but none of the striping. I also caught a young dude video recording me walking down the hallway toward the weight room which is next to the room where the strip dance class is held. He was sitting on the bench recording my reflection in the mirror, so the screen was facing me as I walked down the hallway. My knee-jerk reaction was to get in his face and say “NO” very clearly and very loudly which I did. I don’t have the language to tell the staff at the gym that it happened, but I hope I made the guy think twice about what he is doing and my only regret is not flipping him off in the recording. I am not concerned with my image having been recorded on some random’s camera. I am covered up at the gym, but some of those girls, jeez, you’d think they were going stripping…oh, they kind of were. The gym is sweltering and there is no sanitizer available to wipe down the machines. If I acquire some sort of communicable disease, it was at this gym. Speaking of disease, i’ve been sick more than usual since coming to China, I tend to have a clean bill of health, but that was not the case last week. I started off my Fall Festival vacation basically peeing out of my butt for 24 hours straight with a fever. That was miserable. It did not ruin my vacation though, so that is a plus and my roommates were very caring during that time. It is horrible to be sick when you are far away from home.

I had fun on my vacation!! I traveled by plane to Shanghai, then by train to Hanzhou where there is a very popular and beautiful lake. It was very busy with Chinese tourists, who are worse than other tourists because these people are PUSHY! Pushy in the worst way. I was standing at a window to pay for a ticket, money out and actually communicating with the cashier and 3 Chinese people tried to push in front of me. This is NOT uncommon, I have read this in trip guides and seen it first hand multiple times. If you’re standing in a line in China you have to be assertive or people are going to jump in front of you and you’ll never get to the front. Despite some annoyances, it was worth the trip! We also got bumped from a lower grade hotel to a 5 star hotel at no extra cost!! Here are some photos from the adventure:

The trip was great and my friend from Minnesota made it even better!! She has been in Shanghai, China for almost three years. It was about time I met up with her here! I am now feeling like Minnesota is home more than ever and that feels very good, I have kind of been trying to find my place in the world for a very long time, I feel that coming to China and exploring new places and the culture here has lead me to a deeper understanding of myself in healing ways. There is something about actually exploring the world, rather than just daydreaming about it, that allows your heart to recognize where home is.

Let me expound:

While on the trip to Shanghai, I found someone who has the same tattoo as me. He has it on his forearm, mine is on my neck. I asked him about it, because, why not? I’ve traveled across the world and found someone with the SAME TATTOO AS ME! That’s wild, so I inquired. He and I seemed to be about the same age, he shared that it had been his first tattoo and I shared that it had been mine as well. Our reasoning was similar, it was something we had chosen out of random book of clip art at a random tattoo shop (in Denver for me, when I was 18, I also got the spiders on my ear at this time, both of which I paid for with spare change form people I would ask on the street). We both settled on a Chinese character that held the meaning of ‘one’s self or one’s own path’ and it held a somewhat spiritual meaning for each of us. I was studying about Taoism (living in harmony with the path) at the time. Our interaction was brief and I still wonder if he has ever been questioned about the tattoo by someone who has mistaken it for a swastika, because I have, many times and some have given me a really hard time over it.

I remember when I was doing a traveling magazine sales job, soon after getting this tattoo, which was soon after living homeless in Denver. I was knocking on people’s doors to solicit these magazines in cities from the midwest to the east coast.  I took this job because It provided ‘housing’ which was one crappy rundown hotel room after another. One friendly lady, on a rainy day in Michigan, opened her home and invited me in for tea, she was so nice. I had this whole spiel and her kind reception made me start to feel a little bad that most of it was a lie. On this sales crew we went around telling people we were students trying to win a trip. I wasn’t a student and to be honest and I was only a high school graduate because I managed to bring my GPA up from an F to a D-. I never really gave a shit about school because I never really felt like anyone there gave a shit about me. This perception formed after many years of being treated like I was in the way or not worth loving by a parent figure who really never should have been given the job. He was a prominent figure in our small town and behind our closed doors at home I am sure people would never have suspected that he was terribly emotionally and physically abusive. Despite my attempts to tell people, they wouldn’t do anything, hence my feeling that people didn’t give a shit about me. So, needless to say this was a kind gesture on the woman’s part. I didn’t view myself as a young person who anyone listened to nor was I someone an adult would want in their home let alone someone to sit down and have a conversation with. Feeling very special for a moment that someone was so kind,  I got settled in. As I was warming my hands over my tea and feeling some bit of elation that an adult cared to share time with me,  she spotted my tattoo.  She asked if it was a SWASTIKA! At first the question gave me a flash of memory from when I was much younger; I had been staying at this Catholic Hospital where my step-dad had to complete something for his practice as a doctor. There was a nun at this hospital who came upon my sister and I playing in the hallway and as she hovered over top of us she observed that we had lipstick on, some kind of lip smackers or something; her face contorted as she spoke and her voice conveyed condemnations when she made a questioning type statement, “You’re wearing lipstick?!” rhetorical as it was I was near tears in having to respond,  “yyyy-es”. That was a creepy moment, I remember it vividly and that nuns voice became the voice of every condescending and self-critical attitude going forward. Her voice as well as my step-father’s. I have gone through many years of life with this underlying feeling that there was something wrong with me as a person and I have never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I had these messages built into my subconscious from a very young age; “I’m not worth the time, I make it hard for people to love me, I am frustrating and I don’t deserve to enjoy anything because I am such a terrible kid/person.” This really became engrained when my step-dad would lock my sister and I up in our rooms for days. We would get up for Saturday morning cartoons and laugh too loudly and the man would send us to bed for the rest of the day which would turn into us being in bed for the whole weekend and eventually there was a lock on the outside of our bedroom doors. We were locked away from the world given the message that we were too bad to enjoy it. My mother was working a lot when this was going on so she didn’t know how bad it was and for a few years when he would punish us excessively she would just sneak behind his back and give us a break; like when he would ground me from showering because I had gotten water on the floor, she would let me shower when he wasn’t home, or sometimes when he would ground us to our rooms, she would let us out, but there was always this fear of getting caught, so it was never really enjoyable, I learned to prefer staying in my room just to avoid the terror of being caught outside of it or the consequence of being sent there for nothing. It was my way of controlling the situation, staying out of sight and out of mind.

So, anyway, back to the lady who accused me of having a SWASTIKA on my neck;  it was the first time I had been asked that and I said “no, of course not” and she clearly wasn’t listening to my response because she immediately lost her shit, her face contorted and she shoved me back outside of her house so quickly I could hardly tell what happened. Her screaming out the door that I should be ashamed of myself and some other mutterings could have made me realize that the lady was bat-shit-crazy! Maaaaaybe she was Jewish, maaaaaybe she has a very dark family history related to this symbol or is really passionate about WWII history, I mean, it is a very horrendous part of our history, but moooostly, she was just CRAY-CRAY or drunk. I can look back and know now that I didn’t bring that on, but at that time I had a pretty low self-esteem and it sort of broke me to be pushed like that. Rejection for something she mistook brought up the world I had left that treated me this same way, the world that I felt mistook me and treated me like some nobody, like someone who could only produce an F or a D, like somebody who didn’t deserve to laugh or enjoy life, like someone who should be locked away. That world was dark. So I stood there in nowhere Michigan , in the rain, wishing I had a different life, again. I had no other options though, at  19 I had sort of lost contact with my family due to this abusive step-father asserting some very unbelievable boundaries with me right after I had turned 18. He had decided that I wasn’t allowed at the house where my mother, 2 young bothers and little sister lived, again, for no good reason, just because he could and I think he enjoyed taking away all that I enjoyed.  My mom stayed because she feared she would lose custody of my brothers. I understand this now, but at the time, I was hurt and angry, anger that I mostly took out on myself. I had to make a change, I was stuck in a cycle of self-destruction because there was nothing in that small town for me other than reminders that I was a nobody and what I had to say didn’t matter. All I had were these false comforts from the pain like alcohol, drugs and parties, but somehow I wanted more for my life. It was a blessing in disguise that I was pushed out of town in this way. I can’t even imagine who I would be if I had stayed, living in the shadow of the graphic abuse by a man that was undeservedly respected in this town, just because of his title, “Doctor.” I had left because it was so devastating to have been limited in my ability to  see my own family unless we met up at a store or something, in secret, behind his back. It was no surprise though, that it came to that, because this man spent his time trying to make me feel like I wasn’t worth loving, like I was in the way and like some nobody. It was an abusive environment that I left. Now I look back and having grown in my ability to love myself and also having a masters degree in counseling I can find the nun and the swastika lady situations distinctly amusing, but I am still sorting out why my step-dad acted like that. China has been eye opening for me and healing in some ways too because when I arrived here I found myself stuck back in the subconscious cycle of beating myself up for enjoying something and God helped me tune into the fact that I certainly don’t need to beat myself up for enjoying my life, that was something engrained by an abuser and he isn’t in my life anymore, so I get to move past it. I get to move past what was and with new vision I see the sadness of it all, that these people were so short sighted. They missed an opportunity to have tea with, to be a father to or to get to know a totally great person and It doesn’t even look like a swastika, damn it!!

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Aside from some obviously ignorant attributions, I like this tattoo. I like it because it really is a symbol of my spiritual journey. A journey from self-hate wrapped up in  a deep belief that I was a mistake to now someone who knows that I am here for a reason, a beautiful reason and I am ever growing in my ability to love the being that I am.

I will continue this in another blog, it has been quite a journey!!

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TMI, I know, but impressive.

I was left with only one option after I arrived at work this morning and finished my coffee. Blasting a deuce in a squatter potty is not easy nor relaxing. It is a bit of a workout and the risk of injury or thought of backsplash is enough to make you sweat. If I could use a toilet like they have at the Chicago O’hare airport in every public bathroom, I would have a stress free life. Take a moment to google a video of said toilet and then erase the thought of me blasting deuces in this situation….

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And think of me comfortably doing so in the other;)

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I might starve here

Blue Eggs photo 2-2,Fish…Head photo 3.

I almost started crying at the grocery store. There is no English written on any packaging except for SNICKERS and they sell pig snout, fish head, chicken claws and sea cucumbers for a lot of $. I don’t know how to feed myself in China!!! Jimmy Johns, HELP!!

We were spoiled our first week, our boss wanted to show us all of his favorite places to eat. Ive had delicious food so far, I’ve even tried DUCK! I skipped the opportunity to try pig hoof stew at one dinner, I thought about it, so that’s exactly similar to trying it, it counts. Here are some photos of some of our feasts here!! Good company to boot:)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA image photo-3 photo-4 photo-5 photo-6 photo-7 photo-8

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Slap dat Buddha Belly

So, it gets very hot here in Beijing, it’s humid as ship and I have been walking many miles a day here so I am sweaty and sticky and smelly all the day long. Another truth, traffic is insane, I am risking my life every single time I cross the road. It has never been truer that there is safety in numbers. I have learned to cross the road with other people. I follow the crowd weaving around; motor bikes, scooter bikes, bikes driven by grandmas, bikes driven by grandpas, garbage bikes, recycling trikes, delivery bikes, good for nothing bikes and most carry more than one passenger all aside from the cars and buses, oh my! I’ve learned you only take “taxi-taxis,” never the black wanna-be-taxis as they might be human trafficking taxis. My sister told me not to get sold or stolen while in China, so I will only ride in real taxis or on the really clean subway (that isn’t sarcasm, it really is clean, except for that one staircase by line 13 that smells like urine). Here there are humans, millions and millions of people EVERYWHERE and there is no order for the people traffic, “red light, eh, stop if you feel like it, but proceed if that is what the crowd is doing even if you’re walking blatantly in front of vehicles that clearly have the right of way.”photo-2

Even with lack of order there seems to be a nice flow here, people seem to be traveling at a content, but purposed pace and none seem too burdened.

Also, here in Beijing there is a thing. A thing that is a thing in China is a very big thing because there are so many people doing the things. One bewildering observation I have made of the things here, while out and about showering in my own sweat, is of Chinese men cooling themselves by folding up their shirt to expose their bellies, all of them, young and old all over the city. At times you even catch one playing with his belly button or slapping his big Buddha belly, I have to admit, when I see them, as sweat is running down my swass crack, I feel completely jealous. If I were a Chinese man, I’d be The Man with the friendly chin hair, slapping my buddha belly and I would hold extreme direct eye contact ALL THE DAY LONG.

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Chin Hair and Stereotypes, but mostly Chin Hair

As I was preparing for my trip to Beijing, I found myself anticipating the freedom of growing out my chin hair while in China. Really, I was just looking forward to the opportunity for laziness in this regard. It is kind of a pain to be diligent in plucking because I have better things to do and it never really makes a difference anyway. Yes, I have chin hair, more than one and they do what they want despite my efforts to keep up. They elude me and seem to be on some grow juice.  The chin hair always find a way to grow undetected until they are long and glistening. It is never convenient to get rid of them either; they tend to go unnoticed until I am out and about, far away from my tweezers or “chin hair chopsticks” as I will now refer to them. Sometimes they are long enough to grab between two fingers, but it feels like such a scene to attempt to yank the thing out in public, I always get caught. I had imagined that coming to China I would find nothing but free-range chin hair. I thought this may be nice, they do what they want anyway and with society on my side I could be free of the burden of grooming my chin. But now I am here and…it hasn’t seemed necessarily encouraged. Sooo, I am a little thrown back.
I “grew” this stereotype while working at a sub shop in Saint Cloud, many moons ago. The sub shop was next to a Chinese buffet, I didn’t eat there often, but I did see the employees fairly often as the two restaurants shared a hallway that lead to the restrooms. The hallway smelled like Chinese food and bread mixed together in vomit hiding in some cranny. It seemed to always be the case that when I would enter the hallway to go to the restroom I would run into, “Chinese Chin Hair Man” with whom I could never make direct eye contact (which is how I feel people look at me when my chin hairs break free, they just stare at the hair), I was only able to STARE at his ONE, EXCESSIVELY LONG, black chin hair as it FLOWINGLY waved at me from his mole. I am sure he observed my expression as this….

chinhairexpression

So, naturally I assumed that ALL Chinese men ALWAYS grow long hair out of their chin moles as a sign of some sort or a thing that China men do, like a coming of age or something. Now having been here in China for a week, surrounded by many, many “CCHM” I have yet to see any actual chin hairs undulating or intimidating me. So, really, I am just surrounded by Chinese PEOPLE, millions of them and now the tables are turned, they are looking at me like I have a dangling chin hair. So, ultimately, I guess I have found freedom because chin hair or not I don’t give a pluck who is staring!

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