Day 161 - Help Me Help You

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Approaching Fiction

I wasn’t planning on getting any time to work today, but game day was cancelled. Boom, an opportunity to create some convincing backgrounds for the main character profiles. A hobby of mine was to try and profile strangers, which made this activity easier than my resistance had me believe. Even while I’m writing this, part of me is telling me I should be working on the story and not writing out this post. The other half is glad that I have a sort of straight-forward project to write about, and that there’s no real expectation. But why do I feel there’s an expectation for the writing? Such ego. No one gives a shit about it. It doesn’t even exist!

Day 160 - It's Not You, It's Me

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

I enjoy a well-done display
New Direction

I started a new book, “Write, Publish, Repeat.” To be honest, I thought it would be just filler. Something I had just loaded up from Steve’s library, but probably wouldn’t take much from. Wrong. Wrong!

Geez, they had such good arguments and approaches to writing that are in line with everything I think about work and career goals. It seems to me that the effort I’m currently putting into blogging could be funneled towards writing fiction, probably with more benefits.

Day 159 - Police and Deportation

Friday, July 15th, 2016

If today was a game show, it would be called "Will he or won't he?" with “puke” as the opening category. I decided to choose the "he will" option. The power of fingers compels you!

You'd think 7ish hours later, I wouldn't have chuan spices in my stomach.
You'd think that said spices would make vomiting taste worse.
You'd be wrong on both counts.
Back to bed.

Day 158 - Tears and Hiccups Don't Sway Me

Thursday, July 14th, 2016
75 AQI

South East Season

Shimou is feeling hesitation to travel to Cambodia because of this thing going on in the South East sea. It’s nerves, nothing more. I hope.

What is this south east sea thing? An international court declare that the South East Sea does not belong to China. China has already firmly declared they would ignore whatever the court said. So, unless we go fishing or sailing there, we’ll be fine. Not to mention Cambodia doesn’t even have any shorelines facing that body of water. The entire country of Vietnam separates them.

Day 157 - Revelation

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
163 AQI

Mandarin Morning

Roll out of bed. Purple Smoothie. Coffee. Tutor Scott is showing up in 10 minutes. Hard to go from grog to bilingual.

Less funny translations today. Only one I’ve go for you is “to make drinks,” (zuò hē de dōngxī) which is literally “make drink things.” I did learn a couple things about Chinese culture, thought.

Day 156 - Who Needs Lungs?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
AQI : 70 Day; 30 Night

Who Stopped The Rain?

But really, it’s been raining ll morning and it’s fantastic. The pollution has been sitting around 150-200 AQI everyday. That’s shit, man. Not only is it 30ºC+, but you’ve gotta wear these masks? Damn, girl; that’s hot.

But now, it’s dropped down to around 70! I remember arriving and thinking that I’d need a mask on these days, and here I am breathing deep, “So fresh and so clean!”

Day 155 - How to Buy Things in China

Monday, July 11th, 2016
163 AQI

Buying Tape

When living life from behind a language barrier that does it’s best to keep people out of it, even something as simple as buying tape can be a chore. 

Steps to buying some mundane thing:

  1. Consult dictionary and double check with friends that it's the correct word
  2. Practice the word out loud a few times
  3. Practice a sentence
  4. Perform for a live audience
  5. Hope they have absolutely no follow up questions
  6. Say "tīng bù dǒng"

Day 154 - Accident on the Way to Brunch

Sunday, July 9th, 2016
160 AQI

It was Food Poisoning

After self-medicating enough to hold back the torrent of hatred that accompanies food poisoning, we head out and take a looooong uber ride to our destination. Traffic is nuts. We did make one pitstop at the bank on the way, where Dexter and I witnessed a slow paced fender bender. 
Beijing Traffic

A habit in Beijing is to just stop in the middle of the road, despite there being people trying to get through. They simply stop. Of course, this pisses off all the drivers behind them. 

This occurred while we waited, and another car was backing out with dubious amounts of room between. A man in uniform had been directing them, but they moved too quickly and touched the car that was blocking all the others. A woman from the assaulting vehicle gets out to inspect the damage, which was a scratch, at worst.  The cars in the procession start honking. The woman shakes her fist at them and yells something, presumably for them to shut up. 

Day 153 - Japanese Visas

Saturday, July 9th, 2016
150 AQI

Another scorcher living in the heat cloud. Aurora needs visa help at the bank, which Shimou had offered. Apparently, they need to show the Japanese Gov that they have lots of money in the bank and/or proof of owning property... or something. I haven’t fully been informed, but they have more paperwork for this 2-week visa than I had to gain entry into China. Then again, I had less paperwork, but it was all a much bigger, costlier pain-in-the-ass than all of theirs combined. Still, they’re envious that I can just stroll in, toll-free.

Day 152 - Life In China

Friday, July 8th, 2016
162 AQI

Typical Day in Beijing as a Foreigner

I step onto the  elevator. Two elders comment on my height - in Chinese, of course. Different from usual, they try to engage me - in English! We have brief conversation which reflects ones I've had all over the world. How tall? Basketball? We part ways on the first floor, echoes of their height discussion chasing me.*

I walk along the small square-tiled walkway as motorized delivery scooters whiz past. People of various ages linger, sleeping on benches, chatting in the sparse shade, or carrying parasols to protect from the sun as they walk. The air is thick with smog today, hitting around 162 AQI. The environment would feel like a ghost town, if not for the crowds. 

Day 151 - Beijing Rockets and Sad News

Thursday, July 7th, 2016
175 AQI


I start the day by satisfying myself. By that, I mean my OCD of closing access to the old apartment forever. I have to return the keys today. It’s funny how fast you can bond to a place. This place has insects, no AC in the living room, and isn’t very big. Yet it’s one of the only consistent things that has been here for me since I arrived. It’s just an apartment, silly.

One of these finishing touches involves trading our water coolers. The one we got isn’t to my liking, though it still functions... mostly. I already have a few things I need the school to fix and would rather not add to the list. The longer the list, the more likely they’ll put it off or forget one of the items on it. Let’s just solve this one ourselves…

Day 150 - Roundtrips and Coffee

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
175 AQI

They're seemingly nonsensical use of a giant, fake bird to go from one long pavement strip to another. Sometimes the prices seem to go up or down without too much explanation.

New Bedroom. There's another
2-3 tiles toward the wall to the right.
Example: Saturday is much more expensive than Thursday, by like ¥1600. That's over $300 CAD. A 3h flight for $300 on Thursday, or $500+ on Saturday.. Hmm. Usually Saturday is cheaper because people leave on Friday and return on Sunday. Who leaves on a Saturday? Then again, all bets are off because it's summer vacation. Shǔ Jià (summer vacation).

Day 149 - Final Day / Moving Day

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
120 AQI

As usual, unable to sleep on Monday night. Whatever, last day, I can sleep as long as I want from tomorrow until the end of time! Or August 22nd, whichever comes first.

As Promised. Look at that Dirtbag.

Part of the thing that kept me up last night was that I remembered telling my Chinese compatriots on Friday the negative side of the Chinese stereotype on Saturday, but neglected to mention the positive side. What a dick, right?

Day 148 - Tons of Tones

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Daytime Romance

Mild cold has finally packed his things, but is lingering for breakfast. I wake up without an alarm 15min after I planned. Josh has moved out, so it’s just me and the bugs. So romantic; It's nice having the place to ourselves. 

Day 147 - Comparing Japan and China

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

Don't we all?
Shimou and I went to Chinese Canteen again. That place is great bang for your buck. I kind of wish they had the nutritional content of their food, but.. nutritional facts? what're those? At least it’s definitely helping with building muscle, and my weight has stayed the same. Logically, that means more muscle, lost fat, right? right?! Should have taken measurements when I first arrived…

Japan and China

Over dinner, we talk about Japan. The kids will speak Japanese to me sometimes, though it’ll be a broken conversation that goes something like “hello!” “You’re welcome!” “thank you!” “let’s eat!”

Day 146 - Van Gogh Go

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
3/3 Mountains


The hangover declares today null. Drink from last night also seems to have held the door open and insisted on a brief visit from our good friend, the mild cold. Might as well invite these unwanted, annoying guests along for a ride to DQ.

Ice Cream and Evil

Aurora says I owe her ice cream. I don't, but ice cream on a scorcher? Who can complain? Whatever you say. It’s about time to try one of those exotic flavors of blizzards. Green tea and almond. I know Westerners often don't like green tea flavouring, but I dig it, man.

Day 145 - Canada Day!

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Happy Canada Day!

It’s Friday, so this’ll be an easy day! Also, it’s the last Friday I’ll have to work before the break!

Work day for my classes: battleship, battleship, battleship, homework. I wasn’t sure how much they liked battleship, since a lot of the kids just sat back and didn’t get involved, but when I took a vote of hands on who liked it, most said they enjoyed this new game. Maybe they just like doing nothing and sometimes spelling words...?

Day 144 - Preserving Life

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Damn I’m tired today. I stayed up much later than I should’ve because of the TV series “Fargo.” Heck, that show is better than expected, especially since the movie was middling*. “Better Call Saul” is also pretty great, though it’s far, far slower. 

Ratting Me Out

In class, the kids laugh whenever I speak Chinese and shout "you said Chinese! Erase stars!"  only to immediately take it back when I move to do so. The process of defining words simply is getting more relaxed and fun, somewhere between a game of charades and pictionary. Sometimes I'll try to help with Chinese words, which they'll laugh about. At least they enjoy themselves. 

Day 143 - Finals

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016
180 AQI

Wearing my mask during 180 AQI (air quality index; 0 is good) while all the locals aren't. Funny how the visitor is protecting himself, while the people living here - who will have the effects build up over time - aren't bothering. 

The day is kicked off with an early meeting, with some unwanted revelations: 

  • Dress code: dress down Mondays, business casual Tuesdays to Thursdays, Formal Fridays. Seems like I'll need to buy a warddrobe this summer
  • Thumb scans: scanning in and out when we arrive/leave
  • Mystery bonus and something about field trips

Day 142 - Lucky Relaxation

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
Smog Level
AQI: 150;  0/3 Mountains

I dread going to the gym, since today is the day I actually have to do cardio. I get it over with, and I’m on my way. 

The School's Zoo. Like many things in Beijing, the stalls change
unpredictably, and seemingly overnight.
After putting off and finally completing a cardio day, I saw an old woman walking her bike along the pathway in the community surrounding the gym. A bag falls off the back of the cycle and clearly spills it’s contents on the ground. It’s a sandbag, and the contents have largely escaped. I offer to help her scoop it back in, but since I don’t really know what she wants to do - and can’t ask her - I meekly give up. She thanks me, and says it’s not necessary. Oh well.

Day 141 - Sending Dollaz Home

Monday, June 27th, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3

Gah, the internet / tech in China is the bane of my existence. The blog being tucked away behind “The Great Firewall of China” doesn’t make my life any easier, but at least it means that the government will be far less likely to give a shit about what I say.

Gym Repellant

Going to the gym everyday is easy for me because I like lifting, and have built the habit around it. I actually look forward to going and plan ways to get it in there when I'm strapped for time. But cardio… is a different story. Knowing it’s cardio day puts up the blockades that I used to feel before getting to habit-level gym status. I procrastinate, and find reasons not to go. Today, for example, I didn’t go because I wasn’t sure if my stomach was upset or not. That part is true, but possibly exaggerated. Better play it safe than do cardio, right?

Day 140 - Getting Wings

Sunday, June 26rd, 2016
Smog Level: AQI: 75-125; 1.5/3 Mountains 

Shimou and I decided to try out a new restaurant and café that I had spotted on the bus during the week. It looks pretty cool, and it’s within walking distance! …But there was an unexplained U-lock on the door handles. It's shockingly common how that's the lock mechanism for many shops, including the mall itself. Whatever works, I guess.

Chinese Accent

Day 139 - Windsor KTV

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Smog Level: AQI: 50; 3/3 mountains 

Going to the gym after writing a little and eating even less. Motivation is waning, but some of the tricks from “Smarter, Better, Faster” will be put to good use when this coming break happens.

SMART and Stretch Goals

It talks about SMART goals, which I’ve mentioned before - including the drawbacks of them. SMART goals only allow you to aim for smaller, tangible things, but not bigger dreams where you would have to it out as you go. Those would be called “Stretch Goals” and the combination of the two is key. A goal you have no idea to reach, and SMART goals to build the bricks that raise the structure. SMART goals without Stretch goals can lead to writing down mundane, "nothing" tasks just so you can get the little dopamine-fueled joy from checking something off your list. Best not to do that.

Day 138 - Mandarin Massacre

Friday, June 24th, 2016
Smog Level: 3/3 Mountains

Somethings off...

There’s more traffic coming and going, actual guards directing it, and more non-teachers/students on campus. Just enough to be noticeable. Some of the students are also dressed in costumes, and non-uniform outfits.

Turns out it’s grade 6 graduation. Must be kind of sad, since I believe that’s when they finally part from their teacher who had been with them since grade 1.

Kid Humor

My classes are the same old. I’ve noticed that they all find it hilarious whenever one of the student’s names is read out in the stories. I’m not sure if this is just something kids find funny, or maybe because Chinese names will almost never be read out in a random story.

Day 137 - First Witnessed Accident

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3

Preparation and Explosions

One of the pains-in-the-ass about being in Beijing is the lack of potable water. No water this morning means no coffee or tea for some morning pep. No milk also means no smoothie. I’m just so prepared.

On my way to work, I was crossing the 6 lanes of morning traffic with my other commuters to see a low-speed scooter collision. A small-scale nuclear explosion catapulted both drivers straight into the air. At first I was worried, but the fact that they both landed, got up, and immediately start yelling at each other gave it more of a comical twist.

Day 136 - The Best Gift

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3

Drawing and Languages

Learning to draw is kind of like learning a language. You need to figure out how to express every conceivable object that you think you’ll need to use, and, like a drawing, words are just symbols for things that exist in the real world. Learning a new language is like learning a new medium or style, depending on how different the language is to your original one. I was thinking this while trying to give drawn examples of what words mean, and how I can’t speed draw dimensionally-accurate chairs very well. I can do a mean fridge, though!*

Day 135 - Validation

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3 Mountains

So a business idea I had seems like it may be plausible, though I had some initial doubts. Enough that I didn’t gun hard for it, also because Shimou was really dragging her feet to help me. This is also ignoring the adjustment to international displacement.


Generally, if you have a business idea, it’s good to "validate" it by seeing if people would be willing to pay for your good or service. In this case, I know that Chinese people want training in English with native speakers, and I know that they would be willing to pay more than minimum wage in Canada for the privilege. The hours are somewhat inconvenient, and they tend to only pay in Chinese Yuan (RMB), which can be difficult to convert. But what if I can collect the RMB on this side, and dispense Canadian currency on that end? Collect a small fee for the connection and conversion of payment and I might be onto something.

Day 134 - Some News

Monday, June 20th, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3 Mountains

Cardio Commitment

After much procrastinating, I hit the gym and do my first day of HIIT - High Intensity-Interval Training. How I don’t miss it. Today is also the absolute worst day to start: It's smoggy as all get out, it's hot, and very humid. To boot, the gym appears to be saving money on AC by shutting the door to the bike room. I did a short spurt, and was drenched after 25 minutes.

Ready to get to school, I’m stepping on the elevator when Tad messaged me: Did you hear the news?