Friday, December 19, 2003

In Memory...

As many of you, friends and colleagues alike know, a very good friend, fellow colleague, office mate and lover recently met an untimely and very violent death.

I am repulsed and revolted at this shocking news, finally passed on to me by a good friend and colleague who knew us both.

Six thousand, six hundred and eighty miles away, I feel detached and out of sorts with this situation, but as many of you know I had already begun to detach from the situation which I left back home.

This woman I knew and grew to love, whose name I will refrain from posting online, will be fondly remembered. She and I met about six years ago and through the years, we were able to share many thoughts and feelings together. She supported me when I was down and beside myself with heavy decisions, as I tried to support her when she was in the throes of indecision and fear brought on mostly by her tumultuous life with an ill chosen man.

She fell victim to a selfish, cowardly man, suffering from terminal “little man syndrome,� who wanted more of a possession than a wife, more of a plaything than a friend, more of a puppet than a soul mate. He, like so many controlling men, couldn’t deal with the fact that he was so much less of a man that he failed to hold onto a woman whose spirit could not be broken by his egocentric way of thinking and acting.

I knew this wonderful woman in so many different facets. She had many faults, like we all do, but most of us hate to admit. Behind her façades, she was a wonderful, caring, loving person who gave of herself to many people.

In the span of six years of friendship and about ten months of a more intimate relationship, we shared many, many laughs and special moments that never will never be forgotten and never can be replaced. She had a spark inside her that was so vibrant but she struggled with many demons, that only time may have cured.

Now, her life is cut short. May she rest in peace. Wherever you are my sweet woman, know that your memory will always be with me.


Sunday, December 07, 2003

Milly and Ann

Every morning, same time every day, Ann and Milly come to visit me in my office. Their classrooms are upstairs but they make the trip, for about ten minutes or so, to spend some time with me in the office every single day.

Ann strokes my beard. Milly hangs on my shoulder. They look about and ask me, “What’s this?”….”What’s this?” The two of them using every English word they’ve learned….Finally resorting to trying to teach me Mandarin.

I’ve taken to getting my work done early so I’m ready for them, giving them my undivided attention.

These two girls, along with the other bunch of students who are all so special to me, make this international venture worth it for me. If it were not for the kids, I’d never have made it here.

Milly speaks English well and she gets better day-by-day.

She’s like a sponge, soaking up English and wanting more. Ann, however, is Chinese to the core. Her pronunciation is lacking but she tries hard. She gets frustrated and shakes her head, her long ponytails swinging about, knocking down anything in their path.

Today, Milly asked me if I was happy. I turned towards her, cupped her pretty face in my hands and told her, “Yes, because of you, I am happy!!”

I’m not sure if she understood but she and Ann both smiled and said, “We love Jim!”

My God…my heart couldn’t take much more.

This is the reason I’m here. This is what I’m looking for.


Saturday, December 06, 2003

Chī fàn!

“Have you eaten?”

“No, not yet, but I’m getting ready to….”

In fact I’ve just prepared twelve boiled “mystery dumplings” from the local market. I call them “mystery dumplings” because these frozen delights are all dumped into large bins in the freezer section and labeled in Mandarin as to their contents.

I’ve had help from some of my Chinese friends who can read the labels but I can never remember the order of the bins. So, I go by sight. The folded ones seem to be better; typically pork or beef either with vegetable or not. I stay right the hell away from the purse-string looking ones because they are usually contain seafood and God are they nasty tasting.

In the U.S., I was an “EATER.”

I loved to eat. If I wasn’t going out to eat at a steakhouse restaurant or a Mexican food joint, I was downing Big Mac’s left and right at Mickey D’s, going for the Bacon Double Cheeseburger at Burger King®, or pointing to the biggest hamburger on the menu at Wendys®.

“Uh, excuse me….Can you Super Size that?”

Here in China, my taste buds, along with my appetite, went on strike. To get to a McDonalds®, Pizza Hut® or Kentucky Fried Chicken®, you have to take a bus to Guangzhou, over the highway for thirty minutes or risk your life on a motorcycle taxi ride to Xingtang.

Sometimes it just isn’t worth it.

So, I cook in my apartment. Spam sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, chicken gizzard-eggplant-green pepper-onion stir fry, pre-frozen, spicy dog kebobs….thus, my appetite has been reduced to nearly zero and I’ve lost a lot of weight. So-much-so that my pants finally fit as they should.

Plus, I’ve been sick for a month, if not longer. Every day I’m downing licorice pills and other assorted thingamajigs that the Chinese Traditional Medicine doctor gives me, but still my cough, general malaise and runny nose persists.

But this coming Friday it’s PARTY TIME!!!!

Me and my pal Sebastien are gonna paint Xingtang red!

I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I received an e-mail from someone I didn’t know, with the subject line: “Hello From Phoenix City!”

The e-mail was from a French Canadian guy named Sebastien who is working at the five star hotel here in Phoenix City. Sebastien saw my blog site online, which surprised me because I can’t pull up my blog at all. Evidently Sebastien got through by doing a search on

He’s got two co-workers named Tanka and Bala, who are from Nepal and we’re going out to Xingtang on Friday to kick back at one of the outdoor barbecue joints, eat, drink and look for Mary.

It’s such a pleasure to meet someone from my neck of the woods.

Sebastien is from Montreal, which is as close to New Hampshire as you can get, given being here in China. Sebastien speaks good English so it’s going to be a pleasure to sit back and enjoy good company and a good meal while conversing normally.

Things are looking up for me now after a long and depressing adjustment here….The hard-initial culture shock, depressing news from back home, Chinese red-tape, being robbed, feeling vulnerable and lost. But finally I’m fitting in here. China suddenly isn’t so bad. It just takes time to adjust to things.


Thursday, December 04, 2003

The China Post

Coming from a country where, “Going Postal!” means freaking out and turning on your co-workers in a murderous way, I’m thinking China must be the exact opposite.

The Postal Service here leaves a LOT to the imagination.

Honest to god I’m trying really hard not to be negative about my China experience, but dammit, it’s not my fault my native culture spoiled me!

The China Post, as its called here, is an interesting organization. It handles the massive amount of snail mail that is generated both in-country and out and serves the billions of Chinese citizens present here in this huge, overpopulated country.

In America, the U.S. Postal service, when its not creating murderous, seriously disgruntled employees, is par for the course regarding efficiency. Organization is its claim to fame and its motto, something to the effect that neither rain, nor snow, nor fog, nor any other inclement weather will stop the delivery of the U.S. mail.

China….well,………….suffice it to say it’s different here.

The China Post is a sketchy organization that does pretty much as it pleases. They open mail at will, take what they want, deliver what they want – when they want to deliver it, IF they deliver it.

When I first arrived here, my first contact with the China Post was at the selling center in Phoenix City. I had a letter to send. I had no envelopes or stamps, so I went to the China Post (with a Mandarin and Cantonese speaking friend) to mail it.

“No envelopes!” we were told. So I tried to purchase some stamps. “No stamps!” we were told.

Jesus Christ.

In the months to follow, I discovered that this particular office of the China Post opens when they decide it is convenient to open.

Too many times I’ve showed up at ten in the morning, one in the afternoon, four in the afternoon and so on….only to find the damn place closed.

When they ARE open, it is an experience in-and-of itself.

I bring a sealed envelope into the office, give it to the clerk and he weighs it. After weighing it, he peers at a sign in the lobby that’s virtually impossible for him to read unless he’s equipped with binoculars for glasses. Then he makes a split decision as to whether I need extra postage or not. Suddenly he points to a 2 Yuan stamp and holds out his hand.

Well, I began taking careful notice of this. I carefully counted the pages I inserted into a letter. Six pages was typically 6.80 Yuan. So, one day I showed up and gave the clerk a letter containing four pages and I was charged 8.80 Yuan.

Go figure.

What was I going to do? Argue with him in English?

I don’t think so.

But, the real nutcracker lately was the time I showed up to mail a letter and was told to wait while the clerk went to his motorcycle, removed his saddlebags of mail, fished out at least ten various size envelopes and handed them to me.

I looked at them, recognizing two of them. One was mine and the other was for the other foreign teacher here at the school, mailed from Seattle, Washington. The rest of them were addressed in Chinese.

At first I didn’t get it. Then the clerk sticks a sheet of paper in front of me and asks me to sign for these letters.

What the fuck?

Finally, I get it.

I’m a little slow in my old age, but finally I figured it out. These letters were for the school and this lazy ass wanted me to deliver them so he wouldn’t have to drive all the way out on East Guang Yuan road in Phoenix City.

Jeeem the Postman.

Gotta admit I felt important that day. I wonder what that clerk would have thought if I’d pulled out a gun and wiped out all the administrative staff when I got back to the school?

(Things that make you go….”Hummmmm.”)


Monday, November 24, 2003

I’ve Been Robbed!

It was bound to happen sometime.

I’m 48 years old and I’ve been in some pretty dangerous cities and areas known for pickpockets and thieves, but I’ve been lucky until now.

It’s my own fault….backpack, zippered compartment, wallet in zippered compartment, crowded area….

I felt the guy rob me, checked my backpack, found my wallet gone and turned around and spotted him. I followed him and knew it was him because he kept looking behind at me and once I had him cornered on the street, he bolted and ran.

I chased him across one of the busiest streets in Guangzhou and luckily I didn’t get hit. Eventually I lost him, which I was told by the police was good, because most robbers have a weapon and will use it if cornered.

I don’t care about the money, that can be replaced, but the hassle of contacting my credit card company and the bank here in China was not a fun task. But, it is done and I am safe.

Lesson learned. Now I travel without a backpack and use a hidden satchel to carry my person effects and money.

It’s a shame that some people have to feed off others to make a living. I’d love to pound that guy into a pulp and humiliate him as much as possible if I had a hold of him, but alas, he is left to live in his misery of bottom feeding…


My Friend Derek

When I first arrived in Guangzhou, I was hot, exhausted, confused and suffering from that bewildered feeling that 16 hour flights have a tendency to produce. I retrieved my baggage from the baggage claim and then tried to find my way out of the airport.

I had to go through four people who spoke no English before I finally found someone to direct me to the exit. Discouraged, I headed through yet another check point amid all the stares, as mine was the only foreign face in that airport at that time.

Finally, approaching the exit, I saw a widely smiling face bearing a sign that said, “Welcome Jim Anderson!”

I can’t tell you what joy that brought me. China can be very intimidating and unfriendly at times and this was a welcome sight. This young man, whose English name is Derek, was to become my colleague, my friend, my confidant and at times, my royal pain in my ass.

This blog is dedicated to him.

Derek is 23 years old and speaks the best English in this school. He’s bright, pleasant, always has a smile to offer and his work ethic is phenomenal. Over the course of three months, Derek has been more than a friend. By all means and purposes, Derek was assigned to me. A virtual watchdog, to make sure I didn’t end up in jail or worse.

Sure, at times he’s had to endure my stubbornness, my anger, my frustrations and my nasty attitude in response to the Chinese methods and culture, but he has always stood firm in his friendship with me and has always helped me to see the brighter side of things.

Derek is leaving this school. He, like so many others, is tired and just plain worn out due to the demands this school puts on their Chinese teachers. Working until 12:00 midnight or 2:00 in the morning and then getting up early to ensure the kids get on and off the busses okay and line up to get to breakfast.

I’ve watched Derek slide downhill, like so many others here, his pleasant smile fading away week by week, until I was informed two days ago that he has put in his notice of resignation. I don’t believe this school realizes the loss they are about to endure.

The kids love him and refer to him by, “Mista Joe,” in regards to his Chinese name which I could not begin to pronounce. He is wonderful with the kids, a natural at teaching young children. He has been very helpful to me in all aspects of my job here but more so, he has been a good friend to me during my more difficult times here.

Derek might be 23, a mere child in comparison to my 48 years, but his philosophy in life and his helpful words when I was down and depressed after receiving some very hurtful news from home, has helped me to endure.

We’ve fought like an old married couple at times. His inability to make decisions versus my bull and thrash attitude, has collided many times but we always end up laughing about it later. I have learned much from this young man and I wish him well in his pursuits in life.

I will sincerely miss him.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Chinese Traditional Medicine

I am sick.

It’s no wonder with all the pollution, recent temperature changes, unsavory foods, unclean conditions and general differences of China as a whole. On top of which, I’m prone to pneumonia anyway and get a dose of it every year.

At first, I visited the primary school doctor here and received two boxes and one bottle of pills. Traditional Chinese medicine it’s called. Licorice pills and god only knows what else. I took them religiously, as ordered; to no avail,.I was still coughing my head off.

I coughed and coughed until I finally discovered that the pharmacy carries a line of cough syrups to combat that annoying cough. You wanna know what is GOOD about that? Well, I’ll tell you….

Madame Pearl’s COUGH SYRUP!

This stuff is great.

It contains 0.090% Codeine Phosphate, along with a healthy dose of Ephedrine Hydrochloride. This stuff grabs you by the balls and throws you into action! Yeah Baby!

“Uh Sir? I’ll take fourteen bottles of that stuff please?”

Life in China suddenly isn’t so bad!

But, I remain sick. Chinese traditional medicine reaches limits that I cannot handle. My colleague across the hall is sick too and this is a picture of the crap that she has to boil and drink.

I was brave one day and decided to try this “tea/broth”….I almost threw up.

God, I don’t know what is in this “stuff” but it is lousy tasting and awful smelling. It’s unexplainable what is contained in this bag of “stuff” you have to boil and eventually drink.

No way José!

I’m going to hold it out, eat wisely, down many bottles of Madame Pearl’s Cough syrup and try to get to bed early. Hopefully this ailment will get better before I have to seek out some Western medicine at my cost.


Monday, November 17, 2003

Image1 named j1smaller.jpg 'The kids were getting tired'
The kids

It’s impossible to thoroughly document my “China” experience in a few random bloggings, so I’ll try approaching the subject by posting a series of blogs addressing different subjects that are relevant to my life here in China.

The easiest subject for now, is my kids.

I say My kids because I take possession of them as they take possession of me.

Every morning, as soon as I’m spotted walking from my apartment to the office, the kids break out in, “Hallo Jeeem! How are you?” Or “Hallo Missa Jeeem!”

Even on my worst days here in China I can’t help but smile at the enthusiasm of the children. They brighten my day and give light to the dark days when I’m suffering from from the harshness brought on by this strange and different culture.

Some of them spew dialog from past classes…”Who’s got the ball?” Or the now-famous, “Bingo!”

“Bingo” is a puppet I created out of pair of socks given to me on Cathay Pacific airlines. I made a little dog out of the sock with some construction materials, glue and some vivid imagination and introduced my invention as “Bingo the talking dog”. Bingo is famous with the kids in the primary school, from grades one through grade five.

I’ve even heard some parents on the Phoenix City bus mention Bingo.

I’ve created two puppets, Bingo (a happy go lucky dog) and Brutus (a mean, nasty, angry dog who hates Bingo).

The kids will wander into my office, gather at my desk, see Brutus hanging off my cubicle wall and literally freak out, saying, “Brutus is ANGRY! I don’t like Brutus!” (Which usually comes out as: “Brutus is ANGRY, I doone like Brutus.” Ah…pronunciation in an Asian atmosphere!

These kids are awesome.

Some days here in China it’s the kids that keep me going. Unlike most American kids, these kids are gracious, polite, full of gratitude, humble, honest (sometimes) and full of smiles and happy remarks. I never hear backtalk, am never confronted with negative behavior nor do I have to deal with derogatory remarks or gestures.

But, these are kids we’re talking about and they are NOT exempt from mischief. They unscrew the drain cap from the sink drains, hide someone’s milk, steal someone’s book bag….but everything is in clean, harmless fun.

Lately I’ve struggled to stay upbeat here in China. Bad news from home, the massive Culture Shock of living in China, and the freaking pollution here….but the kids always manage to cut through my funk and they give me a spark in my step and a reason to stay here in China a little bit longer….


Sunday, November 16, 2003

Living in China…

Living in China is a freaking trip.

My senses are flooded with new, awesome, sometimes awful, smells, tastes, sounds, sights and feelings…..

Some days are good….really good.

Some days are bad…..really bad.

Things here in China are the same and yet different. When they are different, they are REALLY different, like seeing a tub full of ‘ready-to-eat’ dried scorpions or a container full of dried snakes…complete with heads, ready for the frying pan, at your local market. The open markets here would send the FDA scurrying for their rulebooks in a New York heartbeat.

However, above all, I’m a teacher and the children are both my focus and what keeps me together during the toughest days here.

The kids always have a smile, a wave, a comment.

“Hallo Mr. Jeeem! How ah you?”

If it wasn’t for the children, I’m not so sure I’d be able to keep my sanity while living here.

There are days when I wonder what the fuck I was thinking, moving to China.

There are days when I feel connected and all the universe is one with me. (God help us)

There is no way I can explain this experience in one posting, but over the next few months, I’ll attempt to put China into perspective.

Currently, my perspective is….no one person can describe a country such as this. I’ve read book after book after book, prior to coming here. Books written by teachers, such as myself, living life in China…

None of them hit the nail on the head for me.

You need to experience China yourself; China cannot be, by any stretch of the imagination, encapsulated by one person.

Moreover… Annie….I have NOT eaten a Durian yet. However, they are present in the market and a person can smell them from five feet away!

My God, they stink!

Asia…..I love you!



Thursday, October 23, 2003

Hello All!

I'm here in Guangzhou and working at the Phoenix City Bilingual School!

I teach grades one through grade five and have around 300 students. My classes are going very well and they are fun.

At present the internet solution sucks, but soon we will be switching to a DSL connection for the whole school which will enable me to stay in touch more often.

Until then, please be patient and a warm hello to all my good friends out there!


Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hi all,

A short letter here as I'm rushed for time but I'm
here in China, safe and closing week one of teaching
my little ones.

I'm having a good time and my apartment and
surroundings are very nice. We are so new that we do
not have internet connections yet nor do we even have
telephones yet, but soon!

So, I'll be in touch.

First typhoon of the season hit Tuesday! Big winds
and big rain with some damage. Closed the school down
for a while!


Foods great!

Take care all,
Alias Jeeem

This is meg posting for Jim. It wasn't clear if this was to go into the blog but thought you all might be interested.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I'll be in the air, bound for Guangzhou, Guangdong - People's Republic of China in less than eight hours so I wanted to post a final goodbye before my next post and a new chapter in my life has begun.

My emotions are running the gamut right now so I'll be short and sweet and just thank everyone who has supported Jim's Quiet Musings this last year and more....

My new postings will certainly take a new form, from quite a different perspective. So until we meet again....


Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Hi everyone!

Six days remaining until I leave for China. My nerves are on end lately and I sort of feel like I'm walking around in a surreal world, bits and pieces of shocking reality hitting me suddenly, here and there.

Last night I surrendered my truck for voluntary repossession. I just can't seem to get away from debt, but looking back over the last couple of years, I'm closer now than I ever have been, if you don't count my school loans. I've heard a rumor that if you die, Stafford Loans will send a representative into oblivion, looking for repayment.

My schedule is tight the next few remaining days. Today is wood chopping and packing, tomorrow I'll have the car and will go get my hair cut and air myself out a bit, Friday is a day of last minute phone business and re-checks, Saturday is my last class in Boston, Sunday is packing day and some last minute work around the house, Monday I'll finish my packing, confirm my flight and chill with Wanda.

Tuesday is D-day.

I know I'll be a wreck Tuesday, I usually am before a trip like this and this one is just a tad more serious than most. Last minute checklists, arranging bags and waiting for Wanda to get out of work early so she can drive me to Logan airport.

I hate goodbyes.

I've always tried to avoid them and I never do weddings or funerals either. I guess you could say if it involves expression of emotion - you can count me out. But, this one I can't avoid, so I'm dreading it.

I've tried to put my feelings down on paper and tried to blog some of my thoughts about this move but I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not ready to do that yet. Too many mixed emotions. I've had my doubts about this move and I've been excited about it, sometimes both in the same hour.

Before I forget, I want to thank Chris Allen and Meg for volunteering to help keep my blog alive and whom I have made partners to my site, doing some posting for me while I am living behind the Great Firewall of China.

The research I've done on Guangzhou alone, is staggering. I've joined Guangzhou discussion groups, subscribed to an online magazine, "That's Guangzhou," and spent hours and hours reading my Lonely Planet guide and doing Google Searches.

First on my agenda once off the plane, settled and rested, is to find Beijing Nan Lu in the local dai pai dong scene and sit down to a steaming plate of one dozen freshly shucked and roasted oysters on the half shell with freshly chopped garlic and chili sauce, for a mere 30 RMB, the equivalent of about four U.S. dollars. YAHOO!

I've been dreaming of that for weeks now. Let's face it, as far as food goes you can't get much better (and cheaper) than the eateries in Guangzhou, with that Hong Kong influence, under the bright neon lights of Xia Du Road, Shan Xia Jiu, and of course Bar Street in Fang Cun.

I've been keeping up with other events in Guangzhou and plan to partake in the arts a bit too, something I've been lacking in most of my life, more out of something to do rather than a piqued interest.

I've also been monitoring the weather in Guangzhou, which can only be described as Hot, Hot, Hot, Humid, Hot, Humid and thunderstorms. All this brings back memories of the Philippines, getting off the plane, walking through an air conditioned international airport and walking into a wall of heat that you could slice through with a butter knife.

It took me at least two weeks in that tropical weather before I got really used to it, so I know the misery won't last too awful long. I'll have about four days to adjust to my surroundings before walking into a classroom of seven through ten year olds wondering what I'm going to do next.

So, will keep all of you posted and I thank all of you (Wanda-Susan-Meg-Sis-Larry-Bruce-Jenni-Deb-Dick-Tim&Judy-Lois-Terry and others in the U.S., Annie in Spain, Vangie in Joburg, Chris in Belfast, Peter in Scotland, Benjamin in Ghana, Ella in Israel, Rampyari in Oman, Esther in Kenya, Angie in England, Youngtack in Seoul, Wang Yu in Beijing, Sasha in Taiwan, Pim in Bangkok, as well as others who I'm probably forgetting) for all your help and well wishes for this bizarre journey I am getting ready to take.

I'll be in touch!


Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Well, that sucks. So much for e-mailing HTML. Any suggestions out there? That looks sort of dumb.

Well, at least e-mailing text works okay.

I've opened my blog to a couple of people I know and trust to be partners on the site and help out, from time to time with posting some of my blogging so I can stay in touch. Hopefully things will work out!



color="white">If you see this, it

I'm trying out the new feature using e-mail to post to
my blog and I think it's gonna work. Just trying out
to see if the HTML coding works.


Monday, August 18, 2003

A Beautiful Mind

I wish I could have posted a picture here but with some of my cancelations (bank account, internet service, et cetera) I don't seem to have that ability any longer. No problem as even if I did, once I cancel earthlink I'll lose most of the photo's on this blog anyway.

I've intended to do up a blog article on Chris Allen for a while, but the way life is sometimes, things seem to always get in the way.

Chris Allen, a.k.a. Zebulon Mysterioso, is the subject of my blog today, quite possibly one of the last blog entries that I will be able to put together before I leave for China, eight days from now.

As many of you know by now, without me getting into one of my yada, yada sessions life has been tough on many dimensions, most of them created by me in the first place. But, in all my travels and my run-in's with others through my life, I am one who does not easily trust and certainly approaches friendships and relationships in a cautionary way.

One of my biggest beefs in life has been the issue of machismo or macho behavior, which except for the purer Latino version which carries a bit of pride and culture with it, is just a bunch of bullshit to me. In this world, at times, being a man I have sought out friendships with other men, only to find the majority of them living in a dream world made up of macho bullshit, unable to connect on a deeper, more philosophical level with me.

There have been few exceptions in my life regarding this topic and much of my life, at some point after I became sober at age 38, I began heading in a direction away from that macho attitude (I call it avoidance) searching for a deeper connection in life. I've occasionally run across other men who are beyond the fake bullshit and who know how to connect on a deeper level, but either I wasn't at that stage of my life yet or they disappeared or moved, severing my connection.

Chris is one of the few exceptions. A younger gentleman than my elderly self, and living in a violence ridden city in Northern Ireland, one we've all seen plastered across headlines through our years growing up, no matter where on earth - Belfast.

Go figure.

It is here, online, that I met Chris. Some have said that online relationships/friendships are not true or real, but they are to me. Safe? Perhaps, but all the same very real and very important to me.

Our conversations over the past year(s) have always left me thinking and often have changed my course of values and morals in life, based on his reasoning. That is why I have titled this blog, "A Beautiful Mind," because Chris has one. He is a brilliant gentleman in my book and my life is richer for having met him. It has been nothing but pleasure talking with Chris and seeing life through his eyes via his well chosen words.

I've always desired to have a male friend that was beyond that macho attitude and narrow-mindedness that I have seen so often and I found that in my friendship with Chris. I've discovered that age really doesn't matter and I have quite honestly learned a lot from Chris through our written conversations. He's a traveler like myself, with wanderlust in his blood and he understands my pursuits, which is so purely evident in his words.

So, without going on too long here, I tip my hat to you Chris, my friend on the other side of the Atlantic ocean and I thank you for your friendship, no matter that we've never met. Connections can come in many forms on this earth and I'll take what I can get......thank you.

No doubt we'll meet one day my friend, as previously mentioned, perhaps in a tea house in China, sipping Longjing or Emperors tea, or in a small cafe in Venice, getting chatty as the caffeine laden expresso begins to flow in our veins and catching up in person for all the years at a distance.

Thank you my friend, for being there.


Thursday, July 31, 2003

On a more spiritual note....

Here are a couple more pictures of our trip to New York.

First, the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Wanda and I took a walk down fifth avenue and did a brief tour of this remarkable structure. They don't make em' like this anymore, it seems. The architecture is phenomenal. Click HERE to read more about it.

This picture was taken from the Chinese consulate.

These people were gathered across the street from the Chinese consulate of New York, in silent protest of the ban on Falun Dafa, a type of qigong practice, incorporating exercises, meditation and self-healing, which is spreading like wildfire around the world. Read more about it HERE.

All-in-all, our trip to New York city was quite an adventure and one that I will not be forgetting anytime soon.


Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Only in New York city....

"Beware! Assholes Inside----->"

was etched into the concrete sidewalk outside a health club on forty-second street. Wanda and I made sure we used caution and avoided the assholes.

This photo is a classic.

It was raining and here we found at least five New York City cops grouped around their buddy's vehicle, trying to open it after he had locked his keys inside. I wanted to get right up close and take the picture but didn't want my camera confiscated or hit in the face with a nightstick.

I've managed to access my files on my FTP site (it proved to be just too damn challenging) and I've set up a blog site with the rest of our New York City trip HERE....just be patient for all of them to load.



Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Well, with twenty-eight days to go, I'm running into all sorts of problems with this blog thing and unfortunately, I don't have the time to mess with it.

Wanda and I have returned from New York and the visa process went smoothly. We had an awesome time and quite the camping experience. I've got some great pictures, but unfortunately the new FTP site doesn't seem to work and earthlink has gone and screwed with things.....yet again.....And now I can't access my website space where I've uploaded my new .jpg files.


I'd play with it but I just don't have the time. With school pressing down on me and having to tie up loose ends before I fly out, blogging just isn't in my high priority status. I'll continue to give it an occasional good-ole-college-try when I have the time but I don't know how much that will amount to.

Annie!! If you read this, I apologize for not being around when you called...have a safe trip and write me when you can! (My good friend Annie, who lives in Kuala Lumpur is taking the leap and moving to Spain/Portugal to be with her fiance, Radouane) So, again we're crossing paths in the air!

Thanks to all of you (Meg, Chris, and others) who have offered your assistance in the blog department. Keep me in mind. As of right now, I don't have much time to devote to tinkering with this thing. I may take you up on your offer Chris, but don't have a clue what to do.

There is really no way I'll have the time to switch over all the pictures in my archives, so when (and if) I can get access to my files on earthlink, I'll post the New York pictures.

Of late, my series of inoculations are done. I stood in the campsite in Cold Spring, New York and shot up myself with the last series of Japanese encephalitis and rabies so now I'm good to go. I've got an appointment tomorrow morning to have bloodwork done at the VA hospital in Manchester and an appointment on August 5th to have it read.

They feel my thyroid levels are a little low and want to check them before I leave. Who knows, maybe they'll put me on some thyroid medication and I'll drop a few pounds! Ha! That will be the day.

School is going well. Last Saturday in Boston I taught my second practice teaching class of advanced students. They are a delightful bunch from Colombia, Venezuela, Japan, India, Poland and Brazil. Next Saturday I'm teaching the second half of a two hour session of the beginning class.

I'll post updates as often as I can and I thank you all for your patience (like you are sitting there anticipating my every post.....Ha!).


Thursday, July 17, 2003

Forty days to go before I fly out of the U.S. bound for Guangzhou, Guangdong - People's Republic of China. It's kind of like a dream at this point. Like I'm going to wake up, shake my head and say, "Whew! That was a weird dream."

Thank God I've got some focus lately, working on my lesson plans for school and tying up loose ends before I fly out. At times I try to reach deep inside myself for answers but they never come. This drive I have to move to China runs deep inside my veins but it can't be brought into words to describe the reason behind it all.

I just have to do this.

I realize the possibilities awaiting me once I get there. I may hate it and wish I had never gone. Actually, I feel I'm prepared for that feeling. I got a taste of it during my trip to Beijing last March but found that the best way to combat the feeling was to get out and get busy. I plan on using the same strategy once I feel it in China.

I'm also prepared for the time of my life. After reading Peter Hessler's book, "River Town - Two Years on the Yangtze," I have found myself getting ancy about being in China again. Although I wrote a travel journal of my thoughts and experiences while in Beijing, I couldn't quite capture the wonder and joy I felt during my long days walking, touring and sight-seeing while in China last March.

I'm hoping I will be able to capture that wonder this time. I plan on writing down my thoughts every day, as Hessler did and I like his idea of having a Chinese desk and an American desk....Studying Mandarin at one and writing English at the other.

This coming Saturday afternoon I'm teaching my first real class at BAE. I had fun interviewing the prospective students last Saturday, people from places like Portugal, Japan, China, Columbia & Brazil. I found myself comfortable with them and found them all to be very polite, humble and gracious.

BAE advertised free English classes for the students so our TEFL class would have students to teach. I'm excited about it really and looking forward to really getting into the meat of things. Typically, for me, I don't like the make-work that is involved (Learning objectives, rationale and the paperwork involved...) and just want to "DO" it and not have to think about it so much.

Next Monday Wanda and I will be traveling to New York state to camp out for five days. We'll be heading into the city on Wednesday to Grand Central Station and on over to 12th avenue and the Chinese Consulate to obtain my visa. Yet another step in this great adventure.

So, being so busy lately, I'm finding solace in cutting trees out back and making firewood. It's hard, sweaty labor but it helps me clear my mind of worries that keep popping into my head and threatening to mess with me.

I'll check back once I return from New York...


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

"Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you...

Philosophy my father taught me while I was growing up.

It's a lie.

Words do hurt. Words plus actions hurt even worse.

Later in life I was told, "Nobody makes you feel make the choice to feel that way."


Some of these philosophies appear to be designed for people incapable of caring. Robots who are programed to be strong, unfeeling and uncaring. I feel I'm stronger than most, based on my experiences in life....BUT, I still care, I still trust, I still want people to like me. When I give that up, I'll die.

It's not realistic really, but I would love it if everybody could just get along. I'd love it if everyone could speak kindly to one another and everybody could trust and have understanding for one another. It would be great if there were no such thing as resentment. If people could smile more.

Forgive and/or forget.

It is my experience that some people are inherently cruel. I used to feel angry with them and would end up wanting to put them in their place (revenge) but finally (I think) I'm beginning to feel sorry for them.

In the last couple of years I've felt myself hurtling towards a desire for inner peace. Many of the things that I do or that I'm planning to do are part of this plan. Call it old age or call it a new beginning, I am just starting to realize that we're all in this world together and life is painfully short.

"In order to get love you must give love..."

I will have to change a lot of my old habits. I will have to let go of some of my protective mechanisms. I will have to re-route my old schemas. I will have to learn more tolerance and acceptance.

This ain't gonna be easy.


Thursday, July 03, 2003

"I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda. Propaganda in the West is carried out by experts who have had the best training in the world -- in the field of advertizing -- and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency ... Yours are subtle and persuasive; ours are crude and obvious ... I think that the fundamental difference between our worlds, with respect to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours ... and we tend to disbelieve ours."
Soviet correspondent based five years in the U.S.

I'm not a very politically minded individual. I suppose the reason for that would be found in this question, "If everything is going alright in my world, why question what the government is doing?"

I'm getting to a point in my life where I care less and less about what people think of me and more and more about standing up for what I believe in.....following my heart, I guess you'd say.

Yesterday I stuck my neck out and expressed my true feelings to a friend who lives in Michigan. We were discussing the topic of patriotism and a mutual acquaintance of ours who is an ex-Marine living in China.

Normally, in the past, I wouldn't have expressed my views. I would have kept my mouth shut because some of my views on patriotism tend to be very "Out" of the proverbial box of American society.

There is nothing in life, in my opinion, more powerful than the fear of other people's opinion of oneself - once you give that fear power. To bear your true soul is to leave yourself exposed and raw.....vulnerable. Growing up in American society I learned all to well that you have to be careful what you say unless your goal is to become a hermit.

But mostly that's all water under the bridge. My friend in Michigan agreed with me, which surprised me and gave me more strength. I found myself thinking of Salman Rushdie, albeit an extreme example in comparison, but given the mindset of most Americans nowadays, not too far off the mark.

Looking back over the years, in regards to patriotism, I remember receiving my propaganda early in life, in grade school. It wasn't as if patriotism was a new concept to me though, as my father had spent 27 years in the military and was a retired military officer. My first memory of patriotism's pure power in our society was the public hazing (by both teachers and students) which I witnessed during a school function in 1969.

A young boy who was a Jehovah's Witness refused to stand for the National Anthem. I remember feeling bad for the kid, who was publicly humiliated, but I remember eventually joining in with the humiliation because I had to be a part of the pack.

I wish I could apologize to that kid today. I'd like to be able to sit down with him and tell him what I feel now. Not so much for him, but for me, to free myself of that hypocritical feeling. My father, although a military veteran like myself, was bitter towards the American government. He didn't make it a habit to broadcast his dissent, especially in his travels to the VFW (Veteran's of Foreign Wars) club, but he talked to me about it.

My dad told me that I should "open my eyes" to what was happening around me and if there was something I didn't like, rather than bitch about it, I should write a letter to my government officials. "They are people just like us," he'd say, but emphasizing that we, the people, had the power.

I wonder.

I recently took a trip to the Veteran's Administration Medical Center to get my travel shots for my up-coming trip to China. While there I visited an old friend (an employee) who told me about all the cut backs in the Administration and how the Veterans were pissed. I got pissed too.

I volunteered to join the military but they still have selective service here in America and if you're drafted, well.....

So we can fight for our country, often against our will, but once we're done with our "obligation" we have to endure cutbacks in our Veteran's benefits?

Fuck that.

Something's dead wrong with that picture. What it tells me is it is far more important to our government to spend money on cover ups, rockets, bombs, tanks, carriers, and expensive high technology to assist the oxymoron of military intelligence, than it is to take care of the very people who have served their country.

There is no doubt in my mind that somewhere, somehow, my name is on some "list" within some governmental agency because of my strongly voiced opinion. So be it. I'm not leasing myself out to any state, union, society, country, government or cause anymore.

Cause I'm a Worldian now....


Wednesday, July 02, 2003

This is the happy face of a graduate!

Monday night was my final class and now, I'm finally the proud owner of a bachelors degree! Given my sordid past and coming from a family where mom & dad both had only a sixth and eighth grade education respectively, I'm pretty proud of this feat.

In fifty-six days I will be flying out of the country, heading towards a lifelong dream to live and study in China.

In a recent e-mail from one of my soon-to-be colleagues in Guangzhou, it was mentioned that the idea of actually moving to China and teaching there hadn't quite jelled yet....I can definitely relate. It still seems as if it is a dream.....but the countdown begins.

Today I scrounged through my Beijing scraps and managed to come up with well over 250 RMB leftover from my last! Good thing too, cause the currency thing is getting pretty damn tight!


Tuesday, June 17, 2003

This is the English Primary School near where I will be teaching in Guangdong, China.

A very interesting thing happened to me this morning while checking my e-mail on YAHOO. I received an e-mail from my friend Jeff Sikkema, author of "China Tales" living in Shanghai, China, introducing me to Scott, a soon-to-be expatriate who will soon be teaching in China.

I also received two e-mails from individual visitors to Jim's Quiet Musings...who will be teaching at the same facility in Guangdong as myself. Well, at least living in the same complex anyway. So welcome to Sheena and James. Not sure where Sheena is from but James is from Edinburg, Scotland - flying to Guangzhou at the same time as me, just about.

Small world huh? At least from a Google prospective....


Monday, June 16, 2003

I'm hoping to continue this blog while I'm in China but quite honestly I don't know if that is going to work out. The reason I say this is because I remember last March while I was in Beijing for two weeks, accessing the internet through the business center at Xindadu Hotel in Northwest Beijing...

I was never able to access blogger while there nor was I able to access my e-mail through the Earthlink website. It seems China has another Great Wall in it's midst.

The Great Firewall of China


The People's Republic of Proxy

Hopefully things have changed and I can manage to keep this site going, but in case I can't I am posting this message now so people don't just think I've dropped off the face of the earth when my postings grind to a halt.

I'm taking my laptop and most likely sending my printer and scanner ahead by sea freight. I've already looked into internet hookups, which we have available but it'll cost me about 150 RMB to have my own hookup in my apartment through China Telecom.

I'm wicked busy lately with my research paper for Social Psychology but that will be over soon, with class ending on June 30th. Meanwhile, my TEFL class on Saturdays is going pretty good and I'm learning a lot plus having fun.

The rest of my free time is devoted mainly to reading reaves and reaves of material about China. Some is informative and some is a waste of time. I hope to blog soon about one of my recent disappointing reads.


Saturday, June 14, 2003

These are the apartments where the teachers live, who teach at the Phoenix Country Garden School and the Guangdong Country Garden School. Looks like we get a little terrace! I can keep my pet cricket and my pet bird there, along with my little mini garden to liven things up!

For those of you who are interested in sending me letters through the post, while I am in Guangdong, here is the address:

Jim Anderson
Phoenix Country Garden School
East Guang Yuan Road, Guangzhou
Guangdong, China
Zip code: 511340

If you've got a minute or two, drop me a line. I'm sure that at some point I'll be suffering from culture shock and perhaps even homesickness, so your cards and letters will be very welcome indeed. Otherwise, I'll be hooked up on the internet at the soonest convenience.


Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Phoenix Country Garden School

I've signed a contract for employment in China!

Things are beginning to piece together. I've signed an employment contract with the Phoenix Country Garden School in the Shunde District, Foshan City,
Guangdong, China. I'll be teaching 7 through 9 year olds in this relatively modern looking, pleasant school in Guangdong Province, China, beginning on September first. I reserved my flight yesterday, flying out of Boston to JFK, then Vancouver, BC to Hong Kong and finally a tiny little forty minute flight from Hong Kong to Baiyun airport in Guangzhou where one of my colleagues will be meeting me.

I'm leaving the later part of August, shortly after completing my TEFL certificate course in Boston, so between then and now, I'm gonna be a busy, busy boy. A lot of thought went into accepting this offer for employment and I can truly say I looked at several angles before making my final decision. My contract will be for a year, beginning on September 1st, 2003 and ending July 1st, 2004.

I considered a University in Jiangxi Province and another in Yunnan, but Phoenix Country Garden School had the best feel to it. I picked a province south of the Yangtze River for the sub-tropical weather as I am NOT partial to the cold weather of the north. Also, teaching children from ages 7 to 9 will be a good learning experience and hopefully a good start for my first year's teaching experience....

I know I can hear some of you snickering out there....Chris? Annie? Shirts? Others?

My good friend Anne Charmaine and I have been missing each other lately, just barely, when she calls from Malaysia. Annie mentioned in one of her e-mails, that the Chinese have a saying, "if you are able to catch a person who is always on the go, you will win the lottery." Hummmm. Do you play Annie?

Annie and I passed each other in the air, like two ships in the night, way back in 2001 when she was on her way to Portugal and I was on my way to the Philippines. It seems we will be coming close to doing that again soon as she is flying to Spain soon, this time on more of a permanent basis. Funny how peoples lives can change so quickly. I can sympathize with her in all the planning and preparation that it takes when not just planning to visit a foreign country, but actually live there.

I'm going to try to post more frequently now, since my Social Psychology class is finally winding down and I've already begun my TEFL course in Boston. I hope to post some pictures of the teacher apartments where I will be living and the sister schools in the Shunde district, soon.


Monday, June 02, 2003


Yesterday the whole bunch of us headed down to Boston for a day of fun and to plot out my route to the Boston Academy of English, which I'll be attending for the next three months of Saturdays. We arrived with time to spare and as luck would have it, the weather forecasters were wrong. We began our day strolling around the Boston Common and once 10:00 a.m. rolled around, we all got to take a tour of my new school, which seemed personal, friendly and convenient - albeit a bit hot and stuffy in the classrooms.

After our Boston Academy of English tour, we began our day in the Boston Common and wrapped it up at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with a rather personal act of participation in "Davey the Clown's" street performance. All-in-all the day was a wonderful one and at around 5:30 p.m. we all headed home, a bunch of tired-but-satisfied day trippers.

Click HERE to see more photos of our day and the antics we shared...



Saturday, May 31, 2003

Per request of my big sister Shirts....

The top one I got done (partly out of spite, once I'd left home at age 17) in El Paso, Texas and had to beg the guy to do it cause he was pretty messed up. The bottom one was done in San Diego, California when I was 25, in the Navy and bored one long evening.

Contrary to popular belief, I was stone cold sober and clean when I had both of them done. My plan is to get both of them covered and extended (in length) when I move to Asia, with more of an Asian style of art.

-Jeeem (exposed)-

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

I just purchased a digital camera.

Not your "run of the mill" digital camera, but a tiny little thing with all sorts of bells and whistles that will fit into the palm of my hand with room to spare. I also got one of those "memory sticks" that will hold about twenty billion photos and short, fifteen second movies. Cool beans. I fired it up this morning and took a picture of myself, utilizing the "self-timer" feature.

Yes, that is how I look in the early morning. Scary huh?

So, I'm pressing forward towards my goal of moving to China by September. I've enrolled with the Boston Academy of English in Boston, Massachusetts, for my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate and I begin classes June 7th. College classes at CLL and my TEFL classes will sort of overlap for a bit, but hopefully I'll be able to keep my head above water. I graduate from BAE in late August, taking classes only on Saturdays.

The rest of my time here has been spent working on my mid-term exam at the University of New Hampshire library and putting my research project together. Things on the home front have been a bit difficult, mostly through the rough integration of Jim's World with Wanda's world, but things seem to be leveling out. I've primarily lived a solitary, independent life for the past twelve years so being under the roof with three females, (Six, if you count the dog and two cats) was an adjustment to say the least.

Nothing much more to report except for happening upon a rather interesting chap, Stephen Savage from Australia who is engaged in some rather interesting international travel. I was contacted by Steve, through PLACE TO STAY dot net, having totally forgotten that I had registered with the site when I owned my last home. So, after a couple of e-mails back and forth, it seems Steve and I may still cross paths if he ventures this direction on his way to New York, before I head East.

If you want to follow Steve's progress during his travels, click HERE and it will take you to his website.

Pretty interesting stuff.

Till we meet again,


Friday, May 16, 2003


"Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism.... Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others."
Emma Goldman

Last Saturday morning two Jehovah's Witnesses showed up at the door. I greeted them, shook their hands and ended up talking to them for at least an hour. Afterwards, I thought of the lesson I learned a few years ago after having made a derogatory comment about Jehovah's Witnesses. The woman I was living with at the time asked me point-blank: "Why did you make that comment about Jehovah's Witnesses?" My answer was not convincing, having no rationale other than pure prejudice.

I have since learned to respect Jehovah's Witnesses for what they believe and for devoting their lives to bringing their belief to others. I also learned that the people knocking on my door were good people and that my feelings for them in the past was based in an unfounded prejudice which I had adopted from others. Prejudice is passed on from generation to generation, family to family, person to person, often without rational thought or reason. So, it is up to each one of us to reverse this process by teaching kindness.

I'm sure I have mentioned it before....the lesson I learned from one of my client's at the prison. When confronting another individual, ask yourself three questions before you open your mouth and if you cannot answer "yes" to every question, keep your mouth shut. The three questions to ask yourself are:

1) Is it kind?
2) Is it necessary?
3) Is it true?

Recently, in one of my Social Psychology classes, my professor made the statement that we, as a race, are more cruel to one another than any other species. He supported this by showing a video on the subject, which was rather shocking and embarrassing. Americans and Western Europeans were used as test subjects, which made me wonder what would have happened if other cultures had been tested.

Americans, Canadians, Africans, Europeans, Indonesians.....

That got me thinking. Am I an American simply because I live in America? Does living in a particular country give you the label of that particular country? Am I patriotic? Supposedly, an element of democracy is the ability and "freedom" to speak out against one's government without retribution. Americans have been doing just that, speaking out against their government, for centuries. Is it truly without retribution though? I'm sure my name is on some damn "list," in some agency, just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

Emma Goldman's statement is true. On a smaller scale, while growing up I used to brag about living in the largest house on the block.

Like my revelation of prejudice, I have, over the course of time, come to the conclusion that I cannot limit myself to the confines of patriotism. I now call myself a "Worldian," staking my claim over a broader area, yet still remaining in the confines of our planet earth, which we as a species are slowly destroying. Perhaps in the future I might broaden my horizons and become a Universian.

While talking to those two nice people last Saturday, I remembered an acquaintance of mine who remained seated at our high school pep rally, during the playing of the national anthem. He was not only ridiculed for his actions, he was severely beaten by several bullies who were present at that pep rally. He was a Jehovah Witness. I told my Saturday visitors about this and asked them why they don't stand during the national anthem. I liked their answer and realized for the first time that it wasn't meant as an non-patriotic act but rather as a personal statement of what they believe.

There was no pressure to try and convert me last Saturday. I spend an hour having an intelligent conversation with two people who were nice. I enjoyed it and thought of the number of times I slammed the door in the face of innocent people knocking at my door. I apologized to them for my actions in the past and we chatted about world peace. Some might call it insignificant, but I believe it is a start. Heck, wars start between two people, why can't world peace start the same way?

Day-by-day the sides of my "box" become more evident as I try to throw my leg over the side....


Saturday, May 10, 2003

Based on a couple of recent comments from people I actively correspond with, I feel the need to write a disclaimer of sorts.

But first, I must say that it interests me how the majority of U.S. citizens I correspond with, view life in such a linear fashion. By linear, I mean Black and White, Right or Wrong, Either/Or.

What ever happened to the middle ground?

It interests me that individuals see things in such a limiting fashion and I wonder where they picked this up along their path of life. I say "U.S. citizens" because it is my observation that people from other cultures, even other individualist cultures, often do not think this way, at least in my experience (God help me when another linear thinker gets ahold of that comment).

Linear thinking, or the inability to understand the interdependences or web of relationships of our complex world, is in my opinion, the lazy man's way out of having to put some effort into his or her thought process. Critical? Yes.....but I regress to a time when I too, thought in a linear fashion and still do at times. My trouble is not so much with the linear thinker as it is the linear thinker who wants to place me into their "square one box" or their proverbial "cardboard conservatism."

No wonder we, as a group of individuals in this world, often do not get along. Have you ever thought about the number of times you have been misunderstood? Most likely you were often misunderstood and didn't even know it, walking away with a smile on your face, when had you known what the individual you were conversing with thought you said, you would have taken the time and patience for an elaborate rebuttal, ensuring the person walked away with the correct meaning in his or her little head.

Linear thinkers just don't take the time.

When I make a statement about my beliefs, my morals, my values in life, I am not talking or thinking outloud in a linear fashion. I am not right nor am I wrong. I am not good nor am I bad. I am not either nor or. I just am. I do not practice any of my beliefs or philosophies in a puritanical fashion for I still run some of my old schemas in my head, as others do, but I can say I try to stick to my guns. I'm not perfect nor have I met anyone who is perfect. We all strive to be the best we can be, or at least one can only hope we do.

"In this postmodern world, cultural conflicts are becoming more dangerous than at any time in history. A new model of coexistence is needed, based on man's transcending himself." -- Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic

Take the time to is a standard ingredient in the mechanism of communication.


Thursday, May 08, 2003

My house finally sold!

I will be closing the deal tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. and will walk away with enough money to pay off all my bills and still have some mad money to play with. I've decided to consolidate and have already begun to sell off most of my possessions leaving only what I can pack in a few suitcases or ship to where ever it is I am going, as the remainder of my life will be devoted to traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. Dragging around a bunch of crap or having to store my stuff just wouldn't work out.

Today is a blustery, rainy and cold day. A good day to head out to the library and do some research on my college paper, which will be entitled, "Living Outside the Box - A Lesson in Social Deviance." I'm adjusting well to my move and finally getting settled in and comfortable. My future plans are still intact and in answer to many peoples questions, here is the latest....

I will be choosing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course either in the states or abroad, within the next two months and as soon as my last class in college is over with, I plan to sign up for a TEFL course, fly out to attend it and pick up my TEFL certificate before August rolls around. Then, I'll have another look-see at the China situation. SAR's has most assuredly dampened my plans a bit but I do not suspect it will be around forever so I still plan on heading to China in September if not late August.

I will be selling my truck in July because I won't need it anymore and it is a rather expensive monthly payment for the luxury of having a four-wheel drive truck and hopefully, the rest of my life, I'll be in the position to never have to drive again and will just shift to public transportation. I will be obtaining an international drivers license though, just in case.

News flash!

.....Wanda has sent for her passport and will be receiving it soon in the mail! There's no turning back now, as we both plan to travel and teach together once the kids are grown. I still laugh when I think about my perfect partner being right under my nose all these years without me even knowing it. I think everybody ought to be friends with their mate first, prior to engaging in a more serious relationship, although ours was NOT a planned thing by any means.

I recently received an e-mail from my childhood friend Debbie, who now lives in the tornado devastated western part of Missouri but is miraculously okay. Deb told me she envied me my freedom and doing what I want to do in life. She is a good pal and I've known her since third grade. Deb is embroiled in an abusive marriage, on many levels, and I used to fight with her about it telling her to get out and to focus on being happy. I don't do that anymore because although she listens, she still remains in that relationship. This thought got me going on some of my theories again....

Although many of my good friends and acquaintances tell me they envy me in what I'm doing, there are an equal amount of people I know who think I'm nuts. Thus, the reason for my research paper on "Living Outside the Box - A Lesson in Social Deviance." You see, no matter what you do in life and no matter how you come by it, somebody will agree with you, somebody will envy you, somebody will disagree with you and somebody will think you are nuts.

I am not entirely taking credit for fulfilling some sort of life's dream. My life has taken me in many different directions and only ten years ago, the path I had chosen was taking me to sure destruction. William James was a determinist thinker, postulating that everything was in the big plan and no matter what you do, say or think, it was meant to be.....predetermined.

I don't believe that. I think that what you do, say and think is what determines where your big plan takes you. There has been many times I've made a decision and thought to myself, "Wow, was that ever stupid," but the direct result of that "stupid" decision had a major impact on something else that happened in my life at a later date. Sometimes that major impact was good and sometimes it was bad, but it always taught me something. I think everything is somehow interconnected.

So, in remembering that, I've gotten off my soapbox with Deb and although it's hard to see her go through the unhappiness and fear she is putting herself through, I have to just be a friend and support her decision, even if her decision is to do nothing. Nothing, in-and-of-itself, is a decision. Perhaps there is a reason for it all and perhaps it will bring her to a better place eventually. It's not about how quickly you get there, it's about getting there. If she never gets there, well.....I guess I need to still just support her like a friend should and never try and force my expectations on her.

So, my decision to free myself up from material pleasures, choose a life of travel on a shoestring and immersion in foreign culture may lead to my death but then something is going to lead me there eventually and when my time comes up, I'd rather be DOING what I love rather than just TALKING about it.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

Calista - Star du toilette

Dave's at it again! This time with a genius rendition of his resident shower spider, aptly named Calista. Go check out his posts of Thursday, 20 March and Friday, 28 March, to read about the "tough bitch" who is easily the 21st century version of a Charlotte who's ditched her corset for some tight fitting lycra.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Scientists at CDC and other laboratories have detected a previously unrecognized coronavirus in patients with SARS.

This new coronavirus is the leading hypothesis for the cause of SARS, however, other viruses are still under investigation as potential causes.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a crown-like (corona) bottle-cap appearance when viewed under a microscope. These viruses are a common cause of mild to moderate upper-respiratory illness in humans and are associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and neurological disease in animals. CDC scientists isolated a virus from the tissues of two SARS patients and then used several laboratory methods to characterize it. Examination by electron microscopy revealed that the virus has the distinctive shape and appearance of coronaviruses, and genetic analysis suggests that this new virus does belong to the family of coronaviruses but differs from previously identified family members.

A first on "Jeeem's Quiet Musings," is the rare electronphotomicrograph of an elusive CORONAVIRUS, never before seen by the public, shown below....


Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger.

If you take a closer look at that definition then cut and paste it into everyday life, the whole context takes on a different tone. You cannot get through life without the possibility of suffering harm or loss, or facing danger; the very definition of risk.

Now take a look back through your life. Try and remember the various times you actually suffered harm, loss or were exposed to danger.

I can think of many. But my life was anything other than conventional.

I grew up in an alcoholic home, was beaten by my parents for the smallest transgression, lived in a violent and hostile neighborhood, found solace in my own intake of drugs and alcohol, watched both my parents slowly destroy themselves, became involved over time in the chaotic lifestyle that comes with doing and selling drugs and drinking oneself into oblivion every night to escape the fear of what the next day held in store for me.

Risk, back then, was just a part of life. Then suddenly, relationships came along and brought with them a different type of risk. I got hurt. Things didn't work out. I felt pain. Fear became a comfortable friend. I found out that sometimes emotional pain far exceeds the pain brought on by physical harm. Then somebody said, “Nobody makes you feel guilty, sad, depressed, mad or hurt. You make the choice to feel that way.”

You mean I can turn these feelings on and off? You mean that harm, loss or danger is a matter of my own perception?

Could it be?

Risk, in and of itself, is an individual experience. What is risky to one is a walk in the park to another, but one things for sure….if you don’t take the risk, you will never know.

Now imagine what your life would be like right now, if you could totally erase all the harms, losses and danger from your past life. In some cases, I’m sure, it would be an improvement, right? But never in all cases, unless you have chosen to live a life of total destruction.

We learn best from our mistakes, or at least I must say that I have. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had never gone through all the crap that presented itself to me over the years. Some of it I asked for, some I didn’t, but it still came to be born out of my choices in life and some of it just happened out of chance....perhaps, or the odds at the time.

I would not be able to experience the love I now experience had I not lost in love before. I could not have the perspective I have now on the world, had I never traveled to places beyond. I would still be in the same job I hated, had I not taken the risk, with no place else to go, of quitting and freeing myself of a burden that was slowly killing me.

Recently, in my college night class, I was given an assignment to predict where I would be in ten years and what the world and our society would be like in ten years. A simple assignment I initially thought, but on closer examination, it wasn’t so simple at all. It was totally impossible.

Oh, I could have fudged the assignment easily, but I really put some thought into it. I approached the task by taking a peek back in time to ten years before today. Once I was there mentally, I gave myself the same assignment, “Where will you be ten years from now?” My answer was not a pleasant one.

You see, ten years ago I did not have much hope. I was in a lot of trouble and was facing a prison sentence. I did not want to live anymore and I was tired of all the pain I had endured. My outlook was shortsighted and I would have looked upon my professor’s recent assignment disparagingly.

But you know what? Things worked out pretty good. If you had told me ten years ago what I would be doing now, ten years in the future, I would have laughed my head off at you. I had no clue where life would take me, where my own risks would take me, but had I not taken those risks back then, I wouldn't be where I am now.

I took many risks in the last ten years. Most of them led me in the right direction, some brought harm, loss and danger. But, all of them taught me a lesson. I finally learned that even in the face of the worse circumstances and the greatest pain, there is a greater lesson to be learned. I learned that avoiding risk lessens the possibility of harm, loss or danger but the greater lesson is that with harm, loss and danger often comes the greatest payoff in life experience.

Without risk no lessons are learned and life cannot be fully lived. Many people have been hurt in relationships or have had their trust severely damaged, only to make the decision to never trust again and to stay away from relationships entirely. Either that or they place so many “rules” or “conditions” upon their relationships, that you can’t call it a relationship as much as a dictatorship.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes risks are disguised. They aren't always as clear as we might think. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut instinct and hold your head up high, forging ahead, even when everybody else is telling you to do otherwise. Some of the greatest gifts I've gotten in life came directly from risks that I took despite the advice others were giving me.

I loved powerfully once. Or should I say “differently,” than I was used to at the time. That love lasted eight glorious months and then it was over in the blink of an eye. I was devastated and paralyzed. Once the initial devastation and paralysis lifted a bit, a deep, dark depression set in and then came the anger.

I went to a counselor because I knew I was a ticking time bomb with the potential for self-destruction via substances and alcohol. Sometime around the forth or fifth session, my counselor asked me to leave the anger, the projection, the sheer hatred I was feeling aside and to just focus on the positive things I had learned in the relationship.

I didn’t want to do that. I wanted death, destruction, revenge, blood and gore. It took me a while but I got through it. I’m able now, to call upon that process, which helped me see that I often focus on the negative and not the positive lesson I learned from the harm, loss and danger of life. I learned that I had choices…to throw the covers over my head and stay in bed, avoiding risk…or take on a new view of life as being risky but having many rewards.

Five months ago I stood up from my chair in my office and made the comment, “I just can’t do this anymore.” I was full of fear, walking away from a paycheck and venturing into a risky undertaking to make more money. My plan didn’t work out as I would have had it, but little did I know that my decision would bring even more happiness than a fist full of money.

I’m still not out of the woods yet by any means but I’ve learned just how little control I do have over things and the little control I did exercise…..the decision process that brought me to this point, brought much more positive light into my life than I had ever bargained for.


Saturday, April 19, 2003

"Coming back to your angle on the engineering flaw during the construction of the penis - I guess the MAN UPSTAIRS was not a very good engineer eh? You may be right. Maybe that’s why his Son gave up his profession as a carpenter and became a healer and a teacher instead."

Woody Loh brings up an interesting question...."Did God mess up the human design? And if so, did he do it on purpose?"

That God....what a comedian!

I suppose you would have to approach this ponderance from several angles, taking into consideration evolution (Darwin's theory anyway...) and what our society has created along the way. Did God screw up or is the human being engaging the body in acts not meant for the design prototype?

When I was in high school, I had a biology teacher named Jim Lamb who was pretty heavily involved in research on the pineal gland and was dissecting some poor lizard, native to the New Mexican mountains and peering at it's innards through the use of an electron microscope at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Dr. Lamb was a small framed, hyper individual who was married to an Asian woman....not that being married to an Asian woman mattered but it certainly got my attention, having been raised in an "Asian" environment by parents who had lived in Asia a good part of their lives. I was interested in what Dr. Lamb had to say and made many visits to his office to pick his brain.

Dr. Lamb had a theory....that humans, in the far off future would be devoid of fingernails, body hair, an appendix and the sacrum. He said these "parts" were kick backs of evolution and that in today's modern world we didn't need them. Makes sense doesn't it? What I could never figure out was where Darwin left off and God picked up the ball. Or vice versa. You see, I was raised in a Southern Baptist environment where "Darwin" was a bad name. The "Big Bang" theory was not a viable option as far as the non-drinking, non-smoking, non-farting, non-cussing, non-dancing Baptists were concerned.

I was confused as a kid. What was right? Both the Adam & Eve theory and the Darwin theory sounded good to me, a case of early incongruity. But, as a kid I had other, more pressing matters that plagued me like hightops or lowtops? The six-million dollar man or The Incredible Hulk? So, my confusion became suppressed for the time being.

Pan a few years ahead....

After my short but "no big deal" stint as an astronaut (just kidding...that one was for Chris), I began working as a surgical a.k.a., "Operating Room Technician." Really, it was "No Big Deal" and it was fun, witnessing the human body all ripped open and glistening organs and tissues exposed for all to see. My favorite surgical services were general surgery and eye surgery, the latter due to the cleanliness of the field and the simplicity of setting up the instruments, which were all intricate and tiny.

My least favorite service was orthopedics. This was way too much like carpentry and I practically failed at shop class in high school. Screws, pins, reciprocating saws, chisels, drills and the like. It was brutal. But, being a well-rounded CST (Certified Surgical Technician) and having to carry an on-call beeper, I had little control over what came through the Emergency Room doors in the evening.

My favorite orthopedic surgeon was Dr. Ratchet (name changed to protect the guilty). He was a kind, soft spoken, elderly man who wore a large, wooden cross around his neck. Naturally, to me this symbol meant Dr. Ratchet was a man of God who did not drink, smoke, fart, cuss or dance. He had devoted his life to the honorable profession of medicine and had undergone the hippocratic oath.

Well, as fate may have it, one sunny afternoon I was beeped. A college football player had injured himself during a game and had blown out his knee in the worse way. I arrived at the hospital, set up my gown and gloves and went off to scrub as the circulating nurse was preparing the room. Dr. Ratchet sidled up next to me and peered over his half glasses at me....

"Sports Medicine," he said.

"Huh?" I replied.

"My specialty. I'm only slumming here, bidding time until I can open my practice." he commented.

"Ah...I see," was my intellectual reply before rinsing and backing into the surgical suite.

The patient prepped and draped, we moved up to the field and I handed Dr. Ratchet his scalpel blade. (This was well before the advent of fiberoptics) Up went the tourniquet cuff and the time was recorded, then Dr. Ratchet began to cut. We entered the knee and soon we were swimming in irrigation fluid, the glistening surface of bone gleaming in the overhead lights.

The surgery shifted from exploration to a complicated ACL repair (Anterior Cruciate Ligament to you laypeople). Sweat beaded on Dr. Ratchets forehead as he manipulated the knee to and fro, the alert circulating nurse prompting Dr. Ratchet from time to time to turn away from the sterile field so she could dab at his moist forehead before a bacteria laden drop of sweat was allowed to drip onto the sterile field.

The majority of the case complete and the repair being tested, Dr. Ratchet broke the silence in the surgical suite with:

"God sure fucked up when he made the knee!"

The anesthesiologist snickered....

The circulating nurse harumphed....

I was in shock. What blasphemy!

Mentally I cowered, waiting for the bolt of lightning to come out of the ceiling and ignite the anesthetic gases used to keep the patient under. But nothing happened that afternoon. We stitched the kid up, placed a bandage on his knee, wrapped the leg in ace bandage and placed his leg in an immobilizer. He was ushered out and I began breaking down my set-up when Dr. Ratchet came up and thanked me for my assistance.

"Yup," I managed....

...somehow feeling that my opinion of this "Man of the Cloth" had changed....along with my feelings about God. Now I had doubts. Perhaps God wasn't as "perfect" as the Baptist's had initially taught me....perhaps "Sports" weren't a part of the game plan.....perhaps Jim Lamb was right and we were just a kick back product of evolution.

Well, I'll probably never know the true score, but of late I've got more pressing concerns to deal with, such as....

Pissing a straight stream.


Headin' into the final stretch....

Twelve more days here and then I'm gone, like the wind. Picking up Jims World and moving it to a new location after ten years in the same spot. That is the longest I've ever stayed in one place in my life. Currently, I'm sitting here in my middle room, surrounded by boxes and clutter but the rest of the house is beginning to look vacant.

It echos now.

The bank assessor came by today and it looks like the closing is right around the corner. A lot can happen in five months. My days remain organized and peaceful in the midst of all this chaos though, as I am careful to structure every day the same so I will have some grounding to look forward to. My routine is getting up, checking and sending e-mail, showering, doing my workout and stretching exercises and then making my JeeeMcmuffin.

A JeeeMcmuffin is easy just half a sour dough English muffin, toast it, top it with some mayo, a slab of cheese, fry an egg and throw that on there, sprinkle it with a little onion salt, some pepper and table salt, fry up a greasy pork sausage patty and toss that on there and PRESTO! A JeeeMcmuffin. I swear, on a clear day you can hear your arteries hardening.

Then......I go for my walk. I'm up to five miles a day now. I was doing four up to last Wednesday and suddenly thought I'd bump it up a notch. Well, let me tell you....that one extra mile makes all the difference in muscle pain. Yessiree! Been a bit stiff lately but I'm pressing on. For the next twelve days remaining here I'm gonna stay at the five mile limit until I move and then we'll see.

I've started my last college course on "Society and the Individual," and man is this class interesting. Right up my alley with the recent conversations I've been having with Chris, who is sharing his Belfast Philosophy with me, concerning the separation of Church, State and the Individual. Some interesting perspectives are discussed in my evening college class, which brings my life of social deviance into a better limelight. My research paper will be titled, "Living Outside the Box - A lesson in Social Deviance."

But all that neat shit aside and back to the food thing.....

I love food and I hate dieting. So, in my class the other evening, the professor showed us a taped lecture series by a famous Social Psychologist who was talking about stress and how to manage it. She quoted Red Fox as saying, "What do all those health nuts do when they are in the hospital dying of nothing?" Makes you think. Then she said something that really hit home with me...."Can you imagine eating low fat food when you're pissed off?"

Ha! Never! So there, I've got a brand new outlook on life.

Speaking of new outlooks, a recent forwarded e-mail landed in my lap and had some really nice thoughts in it that I thought I'd share with all of you...I'm not much one for regurgitating things found on the internet, but since some of these applied to my life and my philosophy, I thought I would include them in tonights blogging...

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve
great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, respect
for others and responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is
sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great

7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take
immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of
your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get
older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a
second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the
foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with
the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go some place you've never been

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in
which your love for each other exceeds your need
for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in
order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Some of these really hit the nail on the head for me, especially the lessons I learned in the last five months, which relate to some of these thoughts. But, the one that really hits home is number one. I am hoping to blog on the subject of risk someday soon, as my life has been filled with it and I consider myself a risk taker of a certain sense. I have embraced risk and I've tried avoiding it, suffering anxiety and stress on both fronts, but finally realizing that risk does not include anxiety and stress in the package deal, it is something I created all on my own.

Number 19 is pretty cool too!


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