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China blog!   
09:56am 26/09/2010

Here it is! I will be posting most of my entries over there, at least while I'm in China. Please watch and enjoy.
07:02am 13/09/2010
  Pandora radio is not available from China. However, I would not like to be confined to only the music I brought with me on my hard drive. Any suggestions? Caveat: I dislike Last.fm.  
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08:30am 02/09/2010
  Okay, so I want to post more. Maybe tonight I will put up my new blog here on livejournal. We have been so, so, so busy. I stopped posting on Linguathon because what can I write? "Today everyone around me spoke Chinese all day long."

We went to a bar the other night where they celebrated Michael Jackson's 52nd birthday with a giant cake and everyone wearing fedoras and one white glove each. I have a video of a Chinese guy doing a perfect MJ dance to Billie Jean. I will show you as soon as I can circumvent YouTube.

One thing I have got to say for the Chinese: They don't give a damn how you butcher their language. They just start talking to you and no matter if the only thing you can say is "Wo bu hui shou han yu," (I don't speak Chinese) they will just keep right on talking, just keep going like "Oh, don't be silly, of course you do."
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11:54am 25/08/2010
  We switched rooms because the first one had many problems. The new one also has many problems, some of which can be fixed. Donald is scrubbing mold off the wall behind the bed, and also off the headboard of the bed. It could have happened in America, too, I think.

There is another girl from Oregon in our dorm. There is also a girl from Poland and a family from the Philippines. The internet is very unreliable. There is moldy water seeping up through the floorboards. I think in a few weeks this apartment will be livable.
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06:35am 23/08/2010
  Hello World.
I live in China now. Guess what? China is dirty. Except Wal-Mart, which is immaculately clean.
There will be more later.
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Zhong Guo   
10:55pm 16/08/2010
  Dear Diary,
Today I'm moving to China.
I'll let you know how it goes.
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Bye Bye Bicylce   
05:52pm 13/08/2010
  I feel a little bit heartbroken. I just sold my bike, and you know I don't have even a single photo of myself riding it. Just the stupid craigslist photo. I keep feeling like I want to go out to the garage, but why? No more sweet little blue and white Raleigh cruiser to take me up to campus or the Amazon Creek trail or even two blocks to god damn Safeway. The SUV of the bike world is how I thought of you. So big and chunky, if there was such a thing as compact parking spaces for bikes, you'd take up two of them. You didn't accelerate worth shit, and you were a bitch to peddle up hill. But damn, I looked good riding you.

No more carrying groceries on your handlebars, or one-handed steering while I try not to spill my cappuccino on both of us. Don't ever have to kick myself for buying a 2-by-3 foot sheet of watercolor paper and wondering how I'll get it home when all I had was you. Now some little old lady can ride you around the base of the hill by her house, 20 miles outside of anywhere anyone'd ever wanna live. Welcome to retirement, bike.
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How embarrassing   
08:54am 08/08/2010
  I dreamed the I owned a dragon whom I could summon by writing his name in the air with a magic crow-quill pen. A blue-grey Asian dragon would appear out of nowhere and I would jump on his back, grab onto his mane and we'd fly away. If I didn't send him back to the other dimension, eventually he would run out of energy and crumple to dust, but it would be okay because I could just summon him again.

As far as China anticipation dreams go, this is a lot better than the one about being stuck in the airport, or having food poisoning.
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02:20pm 03/08/2010
  Back when I was studying Russian, I looked everywhere for Russian music I could listen to, mostly to no avail. Russian pop music, unfortunately, is like a parody of American pop-music. Their videos even feature rappers wearing NY baseball caps.

One lucky night I happened to be talking to a guy at a bar about music, and he mentioned Leningrad. This band conforms to my ignorant romantic image of Russians as drunk, vulgar people with a lot of soul. To whit: The singer mentions his heart or his soul in almost every song. Also, while the band obviously knows how to play their instruments, they sounds completely trashed. I think their over-the-top vulgarity has a certain charm to it.

My favorite line in this song is, "You like women, but I just masturbate"

Den' Rozhdeniya"
The best line from this translates, near as I can tell, to, "It's my birthday. Everything's fucked. Cunt goes on the cock, bitch."

On the flip side, this is a sweet song about using his last ruble to buy a girl a piece of candy, all the while hoping she won't notice what a dirty hooligan he really is. Yes, he says "hooligan."

And hey, if you like them, they have their entire catalog available for free on their site: Here
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01:45pm 29/07/2010
  We will be leaving for China in less than three weeks, on August 17. Apart from many things to take care of, such as selling all our furniture, getting the residency permit worked out, and trying to learn as much Chinese language as possible, I feel sort of in limbo. The future after August 17 is a black void, a cloudy crystal ball.

I've never been out of the country before. I've always wanted to, but I'll let you in on a little secret: I hate traveling. I don't like waking up in a different place every morning, or wondering where my food is going to come from and whether it will be up to my standards of edibility (I do not consider McDonald's to be edible. That's a whole different post, though). I tolerate camping because I desperately love plants, but my heart does not skip a beat when I think of the insects, the dirt, the weather, the dirt, the absence of air conditioning, or the dirt.

But on the other hand, I am a strange person who enjoys moving. What kind of person enjoys such a dismal and depressing act? When I open a neglected desk drawer, or set myself to cleaning out a disorganized closer, I have to stifle a grin as I throw things away. I feel like a king as I survey my possessions, cruelly deciding who stays and who goes. I want to cut it all away. When I feel too full, I want to be empty again.

It's also not just material objects. When I feel like too many people know my name, I begin to get uncomfortable. They have expectations about who I am. They have an idea of me in their mind, a version of me is stuck, static. Tomorrow I may be a completely different person. I don't want to be tethered to who I was today.

I really don't know anything about China, actually. When I try to summon to my mind an image, I see misty mountains where beautiful men in changshans practice Wushu. It's not exactly a romantic image I can take seriously. For me, China does not have any expectations to live up to. It must be new. And it must not have any expectations of me. I think if this happens, we will get along well.
Jun Togawa   
11:14am 22/07/2010
  I like it when other people put music on their LJ, so I thought I'd reciprocate. I'm probably not adventurous to know any music any of you haven't heard of, but possibly...

I was lucky to discovered Jun Togawa the other day. The style is technopop like P-Model, only imagine if their vocalists were a 9-year-old and an opera singer who were actually the same person.


Continuing through the Jun Togawa discography, I found this:
Panku Sanagi ka no Onna
I just loathe Pachabel's Canon, and it sounds like Togawa does, too.
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10:57am 20/07/2010
  Today I feel like the world is an 8/8 creature with trample and I'm a 0/1 creature with fluff. I hope fluff is one of those game-breaking abilities...  
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Take a right at the tympanic membrane   
09:52am 04/07/2010
  Donald's dad owns a little piece of land up in North Georgia, a very, very rural place where people really do say "Y'all hurry back now, y'hear?" One day he's going to build a cabin on this land, but for now they have a trailer.

I was asleep in this trailer when I had a strange dream, very fragmented, which involved putting something in my ear. I started to sit up when I heard this loud buzzing sound, a sound that seemed to be coming from inside my brain. Then some kind of movement like something crawling around inside a tunnel. A bug had flown into my ear while I slept and gotten stuck. I woke Donald up and turned the light on, which drove the bug crazy. He tried furiously to escape to the light, but he was quite stuck. Meanwhile, I sat in wide-eyed terror, and not knowing what else to do, I decided to believe this was a nightmare I would wake up from at any moment.

Donald shined a flashlight at the side of my head to see if he could see it, but it only made the bug buzz more energetically, believing itself to be closer to freedom. Then Donald turned me over on my side and poured icy cold water into my ear to flush the thing out. I must have worked. I didn't hear it anymore and was able to get to sleep.

The next day, with the lights on, as we were discussing Laura's pocket-sized sharps disposal which she uses for acupuncture needles, I noticed a otoscope sitting innocuously in a pencil jar. If only we had known!
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09:58pm 01/07/2010
  Greetings from Atlanta. A strange place which is not so much a city as an endless collection of strip malls. But if you know where to look, they can yield good things.

Somewhere in Decatur is a strip mall which contains not one, two, or even three, but four Ethiopian restaurants within 100 feet of each other. We chose the one called "Desta," which means "happiness," or so they've told us. My first time trying Ethiopian food led quickly to a second time, which would have yielded to a third time today if I wasn't currently in a trailer in rural Georgia. Let me describe this marvelous food.

Ethiopia is, I hesitate to say the oldest, but at least one of the oldest extant cultures in the world. This is the place where human kind originated. The food...how can I say this? It feels like the food humans were born to eat. The bread is called injera, a yeasty flatbread somewhat like a crepe, which they let culture for a while before cooking so that it gains a sourdough kind of flavor. You use this in place of a utensil to scoop up various stewed meat, beans and vegetables. The spices in these stews reminded me of Indian dishes like dal makhani or saag, but somehow a little bit simpler. They had a stewed collard greens with so, so, so much garlic. I don't think there was anything more to it than that, leaves and garlic, but it was perfect.

Many times a delicious meal means unfortunate consequences, deliciousness coming so often in the form of cheese. I have eaten many wonderful things in my life, but rarely have I had a rich meal so balanced and hearty as an Ethiopian meal. If there is an Ethiopian restaurant in your city, please do not hesitate, but go there immediately. You will not be disappointed.
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04:13pm 02/06/2010
  Totally got my passport in the mail today! Sweeeeeeet!
AND I got a Hepatitis A vaccine, and an H1N1 vaccine. Take THAT viruses! Showed you.
09:10am 31/05/2010
  I can say things in Chinese! Important things, such as "I am drinking tea" and "I am not a cat."

We've got the closets in our apartment separated between stuff we're selling/donating, stuff we're storing at parents' houses, and the minuscule pile of stuff we're taking to China. So far, that pile consists of a scanner, some pads of paper and pen nibs, various board games, a camera, and Shardik. You know that silly question, "If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 5 books, what would they be?" Just change that to, "If you were stranded in a foreign country with humanity's most convoluted writing system and could only carry 5 books on the plane, what would you take?" and you have my situation. Feel free to answer that question, btw.
closest to book burning i've ever gotten   
08:35pm 20/05/2010
  We are culling our book collection in anticipation of moving. Many good books will be sold, in particular classics because those can be found at any public library in America.

I don't know how Ayn Rand found her way into my book collection. I was reaching to put her in the "for sale" pile when Donald grabbed the book out of my hand and said "We're not selling this." He proceeds to dump it in the garbage. No, I think, that's not right. So I put it in the recycling. I think she would like that even less.
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12:59pm 10/05/2010
  Dear Diary,
Today I applied for a passport.
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12:30pm 07/05/2010
  Showing a prop from a previous scene is a good way to transition into a new scene. How long did it take me to figure this out?  
10:15am 02/05/2010
  I'm reading His Master's Voice by Stanislav Lem. Damn.
It makes me want to write something in first person, because you're free to go into so much philosophizing and dig into every facet of the character without that artificial scaffolding, "plot." I love it when a character is describing himself. It breaks all the rules of fiction, but it satisfies something more basic. After all, real people can sit and listen to their friends talk about their problems for hours. Structure is important here, like in an essay.