Sunday, February 26, 2012

TRUTH. (Shanghaiist)

I've got more street cred when it comes to dealing with the CCP than this Chinese girl ( blocked out her pic/name) living in capitalist, liberal, unblocked facebook land otherwise known as Salem, Massachusetts, USA.

I really don't know why I got so fired up with this. I think it was simply the words "one truth". Those can be really dangerous words in a world made up of so many different people. Given that China is run by a "One Party" system, there may be only one truth that is preached here.... but it doesn't mean that it's the only one that exists. It's certainly not.

This post was longer than this bit I posted here. There was more commentary by other people above what "Salem" posted and yes,  it was mostly anti-CCP comments. But I jumped on commenting about what she posted. 

*SALEM* was commenting on a funny picture that Shanghaiist had posted on its FB page about the "CCP". Then she said the words "one truth" ( ummm are we living in North Korea???)  and I got fired up and then #1. a JAPANESE chick ( blocked out her name) stepped in and #2. Japanese chick started talking about TIBET.  and #3. I knew better than to get in between China/Japan craziness and I stepped away quickly and quietly ( unless SALEM starts talking nonsense about Taiwan!)

  • I am a Chinese Communist Party member. I am pride who I am and what I belong to. You say whatever you wanna say. I do not care because whatever you say cannot change the truth. People can have 1000 different opinions while there is only one truth.
    11 hours ago · 
  • Katy Lucid ummm...What is the "one truth" .... who told you it was the truth? how can we scientifically 100% accurately determine it is the "one truth"? For example- it's true that FB is banned/blocked in China, yet both you and I are in China using FB. So it's "true, but it's not true".
    9 hours ago ·  ·  2
  • Katy Lucid meaning it's not 100% true - depending on who you talk to/depending on who has a VPN code to override the block.
    9 hours ago ·  ·  1
  • Katy Lucid There are many truths. The truth that the Communist Party in China is not perfect and is not always right is DEFINITELY one of them. Beliving in a "one truth" idealogy can bring about a lot of terrible things - Hitler beileved "one truth" that nearly wiped out an entire race back in the 1940's.
    9 hours ago ·  ·  1
  • Katy Lucid also @G-------- Chen , you are a Chinese Communist Party member who lives in Salem Massachusetts apparently. What makes you a credible source? .. I'm IN China.
    9 hours ago ·  ·  2
  • @ --------- Chen has CCP EVER apologized to Tibetans?




NOTE: Shanghaiist is a really funny/good quality website that mainly posts information and news stories relating to Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. I read it pretty regularly now. It's become my "go to" for news here. They have a link to their page on Facebook.  I'm not sure where they operate out of but wherever they are, Facebook is legal ( or they have a solid VPN code). If you are in China/Taiwan/Hong Kong or are just interested in sometimes true/sometimes just funny news coming out of here, you should definitely stop by and check it out!!! :)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Let Freedom Ring

*ok so, I KNOW that I said that my next entry would be about Thailand, but this has been on my mind for awhile. Thailand entry is soon I promise.  That Thailand entry is gonna be like good beef stew, even more amazing when it's been in the fridge and eaten cold a few days (weeks?) later. I promise. :) *

ALSO- I want to say that, the Chinese PEOPLE have been really wonderful and kind in general here. I've met GOOD people.  Being "Pro-Taiwan" doesn't mean that I'm "Anti-CHINA" ...I'm not "Anti-Chinese People".  I just don't like the government and the way that the government manipulates the people and the propaganda they put out. I don't like the censorship. Really, my day-to day experience has been very "middle America" here. Shopping Malls and Starbucks. It's not a "bad place", but I think that the Chinese people have the chance to step up and make it a better place..

ok, so that being said ...

I've never been to Taiwan.
I don't even think I've ever eaten Taiwanese food.
I can't tell you how to say anything in Taiwanese.

But I AM completely 100% Pro-Taiwan independence.
Like firm, undeniable,"the emperor is wearing no clothes" type obvious support.

I feel like it's time to write a blog post about it just because I feel like I post about it a lot on Facebook. Or maybe I don't. Maybe it's just because I follow "I Am Taiwanese, Not Chinese" and "Keep Taiwan Free" and I see so many things about it in my Facebook news feed. Either way, it's on my mind a lot.

Before coming to China, before thinking about coming to China, about a year and a half ago, I didn't know much ( and still don't know a whole lot) about "Forumosa" -  aka Taiwan ( another name that Taiwan goes by - it's Portuguese for "Beautiful Island". I know that.). I think I thought that it WAS a part of China. But kind of the way that "The US Virgin Islands" are part of "the US". I didn't think it was a "big deal" either way. I didn't know how differently and strongly both sides felt about Taiwan's "independence" and then I started to read and to listen and to see .... and I started to care.

Here are the facts:
Taiwan is a Democratic Country ( China is Communist)
Taiwan holds its own elections and has its own currency, flag, army, and government.
Taiwan does NOT have a seat at the UN and so is blocked from becoming fully recognized as an independent country.


That is all that I know for now. I know that President Ma just got re-elected. I know that he is trying to maintain friendly relations with China ( his opponent was very ... "Anti-China" and I think she could have made relations and any attempt at further independence ... worse.)

I DON'T know why China is so hell-bent on holding onto Taiwan. Claiming it. It's not even landlocked like Tibet is. Taiwan is a tiny little island .... just trying to "do it's own thing" in this big world.

My attitude is "if you wanna be free, be free". This applies to anyone/anything. If you have the money and resources and your own centralized government set up and happy inhabitants on your little island ... if you feel that you are just TOO different from the "other country" that is claiming you, then go and support yourself and BE FREE. I would feel the same way about Texas or California  or any other state that wanted to secede from the USA. Yes, I'm sure it would suck in some ways economically for the rest of us, the other states in the US - if we lost Silicon Valley and ... whatever else.

But I identify with Taiwan completely - and thank goodness no one has asked me my opinion here in mainland China because I would never deny it. I would probably say it nicely and quietly but I would not deny it. (Sometimes it's like that - when something is TOO true in my gut, I just can't deny it- like when my boss and I were talking about "boyfriends"... and I trailed off with "actually.. I date women.")

I feel a "kinship" with Taiwan. I feel like I can completely relate. My family is predominantly Irish ( a "small island" in Europe) and American. Both Ireland and America were once "owned" ( and not treated very nicely!) by England. But today .... they are free. When I look at them, I see 3 completely different countries, three completely different cultures, DESPITE the fact that the predominant language in all 3 countries is ENGLISH.  -- and all 3 countries "get along" ... we have all "moved on" and we're allies and friends today.

Although I am interested in the British monarchy, I feel no connection to it. I prefer my government. I prefer American tv shows and a summer BBQ over Britcoms and Bangers and Mash. I love Ireland and I do feel a connection to it. But I also feel like ... it's its own country. It's where my family came from, but it's not completely who I am.

I don't know why it can't be that easy with China? ... I would love to ask President Hu or anyone, why do you care so much? do you feel like you're "losing face" if you lose Taiwan? ... what IS it?

I have to add that it's really NOT something that comes up in conversation much here. I think mainland people know that ... Taiwan is "different". Even more different than Hong Kong or Shenzhen or any of the other "Special Economic Zones" in China. But it's not an easy pill to swallow, for whatever reason.

It's funny because I have one student here- 9 yr old Justin - who is Taiwanese. He has family in both Taiwan and California but he lives with his parents in Foshan, China. He's lived here since he was 4 yrs old. He speaks Mandarin and Taiwanese and English. He was born in California and speaks English very well.... and he is definitely "Taiwanese" and considers Taiwan to be another country. ( I didn't tell him that he was wrong either... ) One day he was talking about that and my TA told him - "If you say that here, people will be very angry". I didn't ask her WHY? at the time ... but maybe when the time is right I will.

it's ironic too because ... "Freedom" ( in English anyway, I don't know how to spell it in Chinese characters) is blocked on the internet in China. Literally, the word "Freedom". If I went and googled - "Freedom" online here - without a VPN code, depending on if I was on a PC or a MAC I would get "Internet Explorer Cannot Display This Web Page" or "Safari Has Dropped The Connection" and no page would show up. I've done it a few times so I know.

I think with time, things will change. But it has to be that "sit on your hands, grit your teeth and be patient" kind of time. It can't be "aggressive".

Taiwan, I don't really know you (yet ).... but I feel you.
I fully support you.... I "get it".

Monday, February 13, 2012

Like a 5 to 10 second delay ...

Ahhhh It's been almost a month since I've posted a blog entry. I swore to myself that I wouldn't let that happen... but the truth is, pulling my head out of the clouds and getting back "to the grind" has been more WORK! ( mental "work" anyway) than I bargained for.

But realistically, I don't have any more money to spend being away on vacation ... so if I want to get back to being on vacation, I have to get back to work ( or win the lottery) and so ... the circle continues. 

I've had a full week of teaching classes, I've done laundry and bought groceries. Dust bunnies are starting to inhabit the "top to bottom" clean apartment that I left ( and returned to!) when I went to Thailand. So the "old groove" is back in full swing. I've returned to China.

I come from New York ( a 1hr 40 min train from NYC -Dutchess County- Mid-Hudson Valley), I grew up with January/February snow/sleet/freezing rain. As a kid I spent winter mornings after a heavy snowfall listening to K104fm or Star 93.3fm  on the radio waiting to hear "Arlington Central School District - 2 hour delay" or Arlington Central School District- now CLOSED" and I loved it because they went down the list in alphabetical order and Arlington was always one of the first mentioned. (though OCCASIONALLY they read the list backwards - from Z-A ... to appease the antsy Wappingers Central School District kids I guess. ;) )

BUT  this January/February - after experiencing the warm ( not too humid, just NICE) weather of Northern Thailand- I've found myself craving more warm winter weather! I spent my vacation wearing short sleeves and ( until I broke them working in the "ele poo" pile) flip flops. I got suntanned ( not burned!). It was heaven. I want to write a lot - about vacation. I feel like I'll probably break the entry up into 3 parts - just because there is so many different things to write about.

But this entry I want to dedicate to something else. I want to talk about "what you miss" when you live abroad. As far as we've come with - internet access and SKYPE and news podcasts, and having VPN accounts to access Facebook and other blocked websites in China - there are always things that you will miss out on that are going on without you back at home. Big things. "Life Changing Things". 

When something big happens in the news like - "the US Presidental Election" for example- I like to be there in the moment. Watching CNN or MSNBC - hearing the opinions, seeing the images, watching the polls come in. Then to talk with my family or friends about what we watched, what we think, what we feel, etc. I don't get to do that here. I don't really know what the complete "cable" situation is like in China. The only tv channel that is broadcast in English and shows any US or British news/info is CCTV-9. Over the past few months I've put together a small list of things that I've "missed out on in the world". 

1.) Cheery and Pumpkin dying ( my cockatiel bird - 24 yrs old, and orange tabby cat - 21 yrs old) within a month of each other. Pumpkin in late April, Cheery in late May.

2.) Babies growing into toddlers. ( my little cousin Jackson comes to mind - he's turning 2 on Feb 17th. I haven't seen him in 10 months. So, big changes there.)

3.) Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in England 

4.) The capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden

5.) Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage in New York

6.) The Death of Whitney Houston ( most recently - just two days ago)

7.) MOVIES - As far as "foreign (US) films" I've only seen "The Smurfs" and "The Green Lantern" here in China. I've heard that "Bridesmaids" is omgfunny/awesome/bestcomedyoftheyear!!! - ( and I guess I could download it but i LIKE the feeling of going TO the theater to see a movie before downloading it) but I don't think it was released here. So I'm behind on what's new.


I feel like, living abroad, living in China anyway, there will always be that "little disconnect". None of my friends here have talked about any of the "in the news" things that I listed above. Maybe it's not in "their news"? It's just... not on their minds for whatever reason. But for an expat like me, caring about these things, it's like the difference between a dialup internet connection and a high speed wireless connection. It kind of feels like you're receiving the information 5 minutes late. Like everyone else has already celebrated and/or grieved .... and you're just getting started. 

Luckily everyone I know and love in the US has their health (*knock on wood*) and is OK. Luckily, at this point in history we HAVE - SKYPE/email/Facebook to check in and make sure everyone is ok. When my father was graduating college, he wasn't so lucky. 

My grandfather and grandmother gave my father a trip to Europe for his college graduation present. He went all over - and I think at one point he even stayed with some family in Ireland. I don't know the full "itinerary" of his trip because I don't talk about it too much with him. I never asked him. But at the time, his father had cancer - leukemia - and while my father was in Europe - it got really bad and my grandfather died. My father never got the chance to say goodbye. At the time ( this was around 1968), they did not know where he was in Europe and could not locate him to tell him or bring him home. The family had the wake and funeral and they buried my grandfather before my father got the chance to come home and say goodbye. My father was technically his "only child" (though my father he has an older brother and sister and they are ALL family - my Uncle Stuart and Aunt Mary- but they were from my grandmother's first marriage - her first husband died very young- at 28 yrs old). I know that this, not being there, bothered my father and he grieved for a long time. I'm sure it felt cold and uncaring and I'm sure he had some anger toward his brother/sister/mother ... I know it bothered him ( because his first cousin, my cousin Maureen has told me, she's talked with him about it before). I remember when I would come home from college for Winter Break or Summer Break and then go back - my dad would ALWAYS cry ( my mom sometimes). I remember one time when I was leaving he was looking at me as if he was freezing the image of me in his mind, like god forbid - he would not see me again, or he would be gone when I came back. Safe to say now - we BOTH made it through my college years - and I've got a feeling that my Dad AND his brother and sister ALL have my grandmother's longevity genes - she lived to 99 - and I'm betting they ALL live to see 90 at least. 

But still, I don't want to ever be THAT "disconnected" or that behind on anything. You can make fun of me for updating my FB status everyday .... but I think it's a combination of my desire to flaunt/give the finger to the Chinese censors that I CAN connect ( despite the Chinese government's attempts to block it) and also reassurance for me that ... everyone on that side of the world is OK.

I am sure that I will have tears for a lot of different reasons when the wheels touchdown and I land at JFK in April. Grieving the death of Cheery and Pumpkin- my pets, happy and relieved to see my family, excited to see my friends, feeling a little scared and unsure - a little "reverse culture shock", grieving for/missing Lisa terribly who will still be here in China ( though I will have QQ on my computer to connect with her).

But I will re-adjust and remember and re-connect. I know it. I'll get back to eating "good cheese" that is not "Kraft Singles" and drinking coffee that is not "Nescafe" or "Starbucks" While also feeling confident in my Mandarin Chinese speaking, continuing to practice it at home in New York. In this way I will be helping to kind of "center" myself between my "two worlds" and also feeling MUCH more comfortable language-wise for my return to either China or Taiwan in June 2012 when I start my 2nd year of ESL teaching. 

I don't know if it would "be different" if I spent my first year teaching in China living in a big city - like Shanghai or Beijing. Would I see more "foreign- US- films"?, would I find/eat more swiss/mozzarella/cheddar cheese and a variety of breads? One year in China is barely scratching the surface.

and maybe ... the disconnect is good? maybe it gives me even more to look forward to/ask about when I go home?

(and speaking of movies, I definitely look forward to seeing BOTH "Titanic 3D" AND "The Hunger Games" in the movie THEATER when I get back to New York! They're both coming out around April/May 2012!)



Ahhhh It's been almost a month since I've posted a blog entry. I swore to myself that I wouldn't let that happen... but the truth is, pulling my head out of the clouds and getting back "to the grind" has been more WORK! ( mental "work" anyway) than I bargained for. 

But realistically, I don't have any more money to spend being away on vacation ... so if I want to get back to being on vacation, I have to get back to work ( or win the lottery) and so ... the circle continues. 

I've had a full week of teaching classes, I've done laundry and bought groceries. Dust bunnies are starting to inhabit the "top to bottom" clean apartment that I left ( and returned to!) when I went to Thailand. So the "old groove" is back in full swing. 

I come from New York ( a 1hr 40 min train from NYC -Dutchess County- Mid-Hudson Valley), I grew up with January/February snow/sleet/freezing rain. I spent winter mornings after a heavy snowfall listening to K104fm or Star 93.3fm  on the radio waiting to hear "Arlington Central School District - 2 hour delay" or Arlington Central School District- now CLOSED" and I loved it because they went down the list in alphabetical order and Arlington was always one of the first mentioned. (though OCCASIONALLY they read the list backwards - from Z-A ... to appease the antsy Wappingers Central School District kids I guess. ;) )

BUT  this January/February - after experiencing the warm ( not too humid, just NICE) weather of Northern Thailand- I've found myself craving more warm winter weather!