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…


While taking a shower, the floor drain... doesn't. Drain, I mean. By the end of my shower, there's a good inch of water at the deepest parts of the slant. So I'm forced to try and pry the drain open or pull out whatever hair and blah is clogging it... while naked. That fails, miserably. With gunk on my hand, I retrieve some disposable chopstick. Crouching in my shower sandals, keeping my balance in this inch of former shower water, I shove them in and out of each of the drains openings until the whole thing is accidentally pulled from the socket. Problem solved!

Returning Keys

I waited in the shade while buses came and went. One pulled up, opened its door, and a man emerged. Not bothering to step off of the street before holding his finger to one nostril and blasting clear the other, he then rotated to the other nostril. This, as Jen dubs it, is called the “Beijing Rocket.”

Kindness of Strangers

On the bus, I watch a woman struggle to get her baby boy and his stroller up the steps, proceeding to park herself near the front of the bus. The boy is adorable, looking flabbergasted when his mom fastens his stroller’s seat belt around him. He then cries out “gah!” and reaches toward an old woman sitting near him. She scowls in disgust and averts her gaze. I can’t help but laugh, which is muffled by my pollution mask and further hidden by the sounds of traffic and bus engine.

Grab lunch for the wallet-erupting price of ¥16 across from the school. Man's gotta eat. I arrive to give my keys back and The Big Boss is in the room. “Phil! What are you doing here?” she growls, lunging for my throat. I huck my key on the ground, yelp, and tumble down the stairs, out the door.

End of Year Dinner

Tonight is the end of year dinner for all teachers, Chinese and otherwise. They had two rooms, and segregated us. Helena, Aurora, and Bunny joined the "otherwise" table.

Sad news: Aurora will not be returning next year. This is the last time we’ll be doing something in a professional capacity. Sort of. 

The restaurant was a “cook it yourself” chuan [chuar] place. Chuan, if you recall, is meat and other such things on a skewer. Here, they brought troughs of coals, placing them in fitted recesses within the table. There were motorized machines that rotated the food for you while it cooks. Pretty cool. Very hot.

Professional Inquiries

Dan had asked all of us what we found to be the biggest hurdle to beginning our career as a teacher, and which was our biggest achievement of this term. Mine was the transition to being an authority for the first, and the noticeable (albeit short) improvement of the problem kid who I have been giving opportunities to behave well.


This week, I had progressed from full beard to a goatee-mustache combo, to just a mustache, and my final form today: clean shaven. God, help us. Just to give you an idea of how positively you’ll be compared by Chinese people, take a stab at who you think they compared me to. It’s a celebrity, and he’s one of the avengers. I said I disagreed, but would take it anyway. Bunny, Helena, and Aurora all said that I looked far better completely shaved than with a beard. I don’t think I’m ugly, but I’m by no stretch of the imagination on par with Chris Evans.*

After a long conversation and lots of chuan, we left the building. Outside, we find a guy sitting on Jen’s bike, playing games on his phone. She considered setting off the bike’s alarm, but thought that was letting him off too easy. Instead she walked over and got mad at him. 

Moments later, a bicycle with 7 people rode by, breaking the record that Jen had been keeping, she said.

What a time to be alive!

*Remember: if you’re average or OK looking, you may still be considered good looking in China. Despite getting lots of our media with some of the best looking non-chines people you can possible see, they still somehow compare you to them. Shimou said her cousin saw an average looking Caucasian woman and her cousin was blown away by how beautiful she was. Shimou, having lived in Australia for 2 years, wasn’t as impressed.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
kāfēi guǎn
[kah-fey gwar]
ròu chuàn
[row chwar]
Remember folks: when in Beijing, N's at the end of words often become shorter and transform into R's. n=r.

Editing Music

Chandelier (a capella)
Twisted Measure

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