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Guess what everyone?! I (David) am going to restart this bad boy! I know you have been frantically checking your emails and google searching for the blog for years, holding your breath in anticipation of another wonderful post from me and Erin. You can finally exhale. Obviously a lot has changed in the time that has gone by. This blog was started by a young couple living and learning about China together. We are still doing that, just more separately than before. We are no longer dating but still good friends, living only a few minutes from each other and still see each other a decent amount. It has been a year and half since we broke up, but I am glad we are mature enough to still be able to talk without (much) difficulty. She’s the best (I am also the best). 😉

OK, I am going to get more bloggy/emo I think, meaning I plan on just writing about whatever I feel like rather than explaining in detail my travels or some aspect of China. To quickly catch people up to what I am doing, I am still working for an exchange student company in Beijing. It is a decent gig, I love my boss and most of my coworkers, there is a decent amount of traveling involved, and it has some interesting moments. I live in a pretty nice apartment (very nice for Chinese standards) with my Finnish roommate and rabbit. I recently traveled to the USA for work, then went directly on vacation for 2 weeks to Singapore and Malaysia with my Chinese girlfriend (now potentially ex gf). I will try to add some pictures of my apartment and the trip to Singapore and Malaysia which I will describe a bit later. For now, I want to talk about pretty much the ONLY THING I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT FOR LIKE 3 WEEKS, which is the relationship with the Chinese girl I just mentioned. I told you this was going to get more emo…(if you don’t know, emo is a derogatory slang word for emotional).

Anyway, I met this girl about a year ago and we had an instant connection which is hard to explain (or could have just been I thought she was really hot and funny, but that isn’t very romantic). She reminded me in some ways of Erin, mainly in that she was unafraid to tell me what she was thinking or that I was wrong…maybe too unafraid because we fought A LOT at first. We had an on and off again relationship which involved some really intense, wild, but mostly stupid fights about nothing in particular, until finally last fall I couldn’t take the instability anymore. I asked her to be more serious or I couldn’t keep seeing her, and she agreed, which began our real relationship.

A lot of Chinese girls are not confident, meek, vengeful, and nervous to the point that they can’t stand up to the everyday pressures and demands of life. My gf has pressures from her parents/job/relationships, but deals with them as best as she can. She is the life of the party and easy to talk to, and unlike most Chinese people (women in particular), she is a PITBULL. When she is angry she is pretty much unstoppable and extremely difficult to calm down, which I liked most of the time, unless it was at me. An example of her confidence/fury/nature occurred at the zoo. The Beijing zoo is a fairly depressing zoo with horrible habitats for the animals, and the Chinese visitors are as poorly behaved as people can be when viewing animals in unnatural habitats. We made a good time of it, walking around the various exhibits, finally getting to the big animals section. As we looked at a tiger pace back and forth in his tiny jungle, a young kid on his dad’s shoulders poured coke onto the tiger. I tried to say something but everyone was laughing too hard to hear me. When he did it a second time, my gf went ballistic. She started yelling at the kid and then his dad then all the people laughing saying “This is why the world looks down on us”, “I shouldn’t have to raise your stupid kid” and “you are an embarrassment to the Chinese people”. I am rarely at a loss for words, but I could only watch in disbelief and excitement at her screaming what I wish I could have. When I say screaming, I mean SCREAMING. Nobody did anything to the poor tiger after that, and this was one of the first times I told her that I loved her. Chinese people NEVER confront strangers like that…it was pretty amazing and I will hopefully never forget it.

For months after this, things were pretty stable and we hung out more and more. She helped me in every way that she could…find a new apartment, get cheap furniture, teach me some Chinese…and my friends all liked her being around and could easily see why we were together. It takes a rare girl to put up with all of the stupid things that I do and say, but this girl did it and even liked it most of the time. She was my favorite Chinese person without a doubt, and of course she had her problems, but we talked and listened to each other and things kept getting better and better.

We decided to travel to Singapore and Malaysia during the Chinese New Year because her family was not in Beijing. Traveling with your significant other elevates the emotions in my opinion, and as I definitely experienced with Erin and my family, there are going to be some tense moments. We had a few fights, but nothing too bad, and overall the trip was great. We were both a spectacle for most of the Malaysian people we saw in the rural areas we traveled, especially her wearing a bikini or short dress. The Malaysian women wore long pants and head scarves so it seemed that the Malaysian guys appreciated seeing her wardrobe choices. We really explored a lot of both places, and neither one of us was ready to go back. Things were serious between us, but also seriously good. I still had one lingering doubt throughout the relationship. I had a slight nagging feeling that I was going to crush her the longer that we dated.

I am 28 and 1.5 years out of an 8 year relationship…I still need some time to meet people and figure out what I want. She is 32 and talked about wanting kids before she was 35, even saying that even if we were not together, she would want to have a baby with me because my genes are the best she has encountered (go Jacobs/Stewart DNA!). I thought there was only a small chance that I would marry her, which had less to do with her and more to do with my maturity level. I am simply not ready to make that commitment to her or anyone and I don’t think I will be for years, if I ever will be (sorry family). People tell me this changes when you get to around 30, but I don’t think I will be ready by then either. Anyways, we had a long discussion about this and for whatever reason I decided it was best if we broke up. I consider myself pretty logical and try to be “tough”, but I was a wreck for days, crying more than I had in years. She did everything right, treated me so well, and I still hurt her in the end. She put no pressure on me but I do think she understands where I am coming from. We haven’t really talked in 3 weeks, but like I said before, she is on my mind constantly. I am worried if I meet any girl in China, I will never even give them a chance because they won’t be as good as she was to me. That is pretty much where I am at today…no idea what to do, want to be with her but sort of feel like I should end it for the reasons I explained. My friends are tired of hearing about it, but when it is the only thing I am thinking about, what can I do? If anyone still reads this blog, give me some advice! Haha.

Well…hopefully this is the first of many posts that I make in the near future. I also hope you keep reading and I will keep you updated on any exciting developments in my life. I am not sure she will want to, but if Erin wants to post again, I hope she does. Take a look at the pics from Singapore and Malaysia…the famous Merlion, swimming monkeys, Langkawi island, and some pics of the lovely girl I just discussed. Hope everyone is doing well, peace.

Recently we have felt like we are meeting more people in our community, which leads to interesting/exciting get-togethers. Our friends on the food street know us by first name/food order, and if by chance I come home alone, our neighbors are quick to ask, “Da wei, na li?” (Where’s David?!)

Last week I taught my English Corner on Friday night, and decided on the theme of going out to eat. I taught the kids how to ask for basic utensils, a table, a menu, the check, etc. I pretended to be the waitress, and they ordered what they wanted. (The previous week I taught them how to make Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, which we made and ate in class.) The kids (ages 5-10) did really well, and were really excited when I invited them out to try their skills at a “real” dinner after class. 9 kids and 9 parents joined David and I at our favorite restaurant in Tangshan, a Uighur place that specializes in large plates for sharing. I’m kicking myself for not bringing my camera, but it was a really fun night of eating and practicing some new restaurant vocab. Most of the attendees were English Corner regulars, and the nicest kids, so it was nice to be able to get to know them better. After dinner, the kids weren’t ready to let us go home, so we moved the party to the park, where we walked around and played some games. It was hilarious to watch David outrun 9 kids at once. Two of the moms also invited David and I to lunch the following Tuesday, and fortunately I remembered the camera.

Helen and Jack are two of David’s best C3 level students, and they come to my English Corner every week. They have no problem trying to speak only in English…their confidence is really incredible. If Helen’s mom weren’t so nice, I would probably try to bring her back with me. Once Helen asked me what kind of hair I have, and I said “curly.” When I asked about hers, she replied matter of factly, “mushroom hair.” hahahaha Jack is quite a character, he loves to dance and prance around, but sometimes his excitement for answering questions in class leads him to dominate the lesson. However, the two kids and their moms were incredible hosts for lunch. In honor of having myself, David and Candy over for lunch, the moms had begun preparations the night before, and one of them took off work as a doctor to finish cooking on Tuesday morning! As you can tell from the photos, it was an incredible spread…even the canned peaches were homemade! Mostly we talked with the kids while the moms cooked, and we tried to help a little bit with a jiaozi (dumplings). We couldn’t even convince the moms to eat with us, because they were “too excited” to eat. They researched special vegetarian dishes for David, and sent us home with nearly all the leftovers. From this and other experiences, we can truly see pride and dedication that the Chinese take in serving as excellent hosts, and we had a great time.

I have also included a few photos of the summer BBQs that our manager, Eddie, hosts at the school. He has his own little BBQ pit outside, and we usually end up grilling, drinking and playing darts for a few hours at night. The meal usually involves skewering hundreds of hot peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, mantou bread, lamb, chicken hearts and beef. Eddie has a special oil/spice sauce that goes on all the ingrediants, and makes everything taste exactly like typical Chinese Kao Rou. You can find similar BBQ set-ups on nearly every street in China, especially in the summer. I also have to admit that the chicken hearts taste pretty good, but I generally prefer the veggies…but they take such a long time to cook!

Other than teaching at the public school, One on One sessions are another aspect of teaching that I have enjoyed. Usually I only have students for a few weeks before a big English test or competition, but they tend to be high-level speakers that are genuinely interested in the English language and foreign cultures. I usually run the class by presenting an idea such as, “What does it mean to Go Green?” or “How is Western business culture different than Eastern?”, teach some relevant vocab, and then have a discussion that focuses on fluency, while I take notes on some of their common grammar mistakes, which we can expand upon as review for the next class. This week I finished up with Charles, who was by far my best student. He attends the Tangshan Foreign Language school, and is one of the top 5 students in his class. Charles is, in a word, awesome. He’s the type of kid that is completely self-motivated, and you never have to tell him twice to fix a grammar error or do his homework. Fortunately, his family is very supportive of his international education, and I was helping him prepare for an English interview that will hopefully allow him to attend high school in Singapore. We discussed issues like how he will adapt to living in a new country, a religious environment, and why the school should choose him.

Ironically, Charles asked me the other day about the meaning of the word, “awesome.” I explained that it meant better than good, like great, but was common slang. The next day we were talking about his responses to the question, “What do you think about religion.” Charles responded, “Religion is OK.” I explained, like a good English teacher, that OK isn’t an adequate description of a complicated subject. He thought for a second, and then I saw a spark of recognition in his eyes, “Religion is awesome!” he proclaimed. I had to laugh. This young Chinese kid, who has had very little contact with any sort of religion, proclaiming that it’s awesome! We brainstormed some more adjectives that may better suit his experiences. Charles finds out in a few days if he will attend the school, and I think he has an excellent chance. In fact, I will be a little heartbroken if he doesn’t make it.

Singapore is an educational haven for the Chinese. Although there is some variation in statistics, at least 70% of Singapore’s population is Chinese, and many students aspire to attend schools here because of the excellent international education the country provides. Similar to Hong Kong, Singapore was controlled by Britian prior to WWII, it changed to Japanese rule during the war, and then reverted back to British rule after the war. After the second British rule, Sinapore merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, and finally in 1965, it became its own independent republic. Singapore has used its many advantages (separation from conservative ideologies, rapid industrialization, position as the busiest port in the world, and adoption of progressive policies such as adopting English as its primary language) to invest in an education system that has achieved international recognition. Singapore is considered one of the “4 Asian Tigers”, along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is also said that if you were to pick one Asian country whose streets to eat off of, it should be the clean roads of Singapore! I personally think it will be really interesting to watch this country progress, as it controls so much of the resources for China and the world.

The movie about the 1960s Tangshan Earthquake (Aftershock) came out last week, and it plays with English subtitles in the theater, so we plan on taking our first trip to the Chinese movie theaters soon. Busa and Billy also arrive in less than three weeks…so we’re laying low til then!

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