Monday, March 31, 2003


Damn. A whole week of fun in the sun and now this. I've lived here for twenty years, so I know by now that it snows in April and May here sometimes, but seven months of winter is ENOUGH already!! I know better than to bitch about the weather, as it's senseless. But I'm bummed all the same.

Well, it finally happened to me. I've read about it on Annie's site and others.......

Somebody found my site while doing a GOOGLE search for:

Sexy Colonoscopy Nurse Duties

Oh my God.

That person needs to be locked up.

God only knows what types of weirdos are out in this world.


I had to make an apology today.

I only see Wanda once a week, if that, and this weekend when she arrived, I bombarded her with China. I couldn't shut up about it no matter how hard I tried. "You're obsessed!" she said to me. There could not have been truer words because I am obsessed but have to admit that it's enjoyable to be obsessed about China, a country that (if you love Asia) will get underneath your skin and draw you to return to experience it's smells, both foul and's beauty, both natural and man made and it's culture, both chaotic and serene.

If I haven't already mentioned it, I'm currently reading, "Dear Alice - Letters Home from American Teachers Learning to Live in China." The book is 326 pages in length and I'm almost finished reading it, having only gotten the book last week. Several of the letters remind me of my trip to Beijing last March and my memories are enriching, always bringing a smile to my face.

Today I read a letter from a teacher about the tea houses in Guangzhou, Guangdong, near Hong Kong. Reading that letter plopped me back in the smokey tea houses I frequented in Beijing and the surrounding areas. To the Chinese, tea is as commonplace as coffee is here in the states. In my hotel room, a large thermos of hot water was delivered every day, twice a day, along with clean tea cups and bag tea called "Scent ted" tea, which had the aroma of "eau de soap." But tea houses were a totally different experience.

I'm not sure if other foreigners felt the same as me, but the first time I entered one of these tea houses I was afraid how to act. Everything struck me as so ceremonial, the hosts dressed in beautiful silks and treated me with such attention and grace. The Chinese tea ceremony is only a vague memory now, a hazy recollection of gorgeous tea sets, different varieties of tea with exotic names, and the "three sip rule" for "HAPPINESS, LONGEVITY and A BRIGHT FUTURE." By the time I had entered my third tea house in two weeks, I discovered that my definition of "formal" and theirs are two totally different entities.

The Chinese spit, hack, dribble, smack, slurp, fart, burp and smoke openly in these ancient and traditional tea houses and suddenly my fear of how to act had dissolved into disappointment. Not to worry though, as by now, through my experience, reading and contemplation of their wild, exotic and chaotic culture, I have begun to accept these nuances in comparison to my standards.

The teacher in Guangzhou, Guangdong writes of his experience involving a traveling ear picker. He is in a tea house, observing a gentleman who moves from customer to customer, delving into the upturned ears of his client's with long-handled instruments, cleaning out their ears.

To most, the shear idea of this - coming from a culture that teaches you from a young age never to place anything bigger than your elbow into your ear - would only horrify. But, to me, I'm intrigued and can't wait to see one of these guys in action. I'd probably have to try it myself, although I keep my ears pretty clean with my own custom set of tools fashioned from varying lengths of wire and paperclip.

Odd? Not to someone like me who was born on the border of Mexico and grew up experiencing the poverty of a third world country. Hell, you don't even have to leave the U.S.! Just travel to any major city such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle or Philadelphia. You'll see people selling their wares and demonstrating their expertise in things the average citizen could not imagine. In Mexico, for a few pesos, you can get your picture drawn in cartoon caricature, participate in a electroshock competition for a free drink or purchase a trained butterfly which will sit on your shoulder all day (and be dead the next day).

So, today I am sitting here reading my book, sipping my cup of Longjing tea and reflecting on a culture I MUST return to, that beckons me and has a pull that I cannot resist. Please be tolerant of me while I sift through this obsession and reflect on what draws me to such a foreign and (as Wanda puts it) HARSH culture.


Saturday, March 29, 2003

Laowai Jeeem

It's kinda difficult for me to see myself as a teacher, let alone a teacher in China, but it's gonna happen. I recently followed a link here and there and stumbled upon a website for the Boland School in Feng Xian, Xu Zhou, Jiang Su province - about 500 km from Shanghai, China. They offer an intensive four week course for the international and Chinese TEFL, which would be a real door opener as far as employment is concerned.

All I do is register with them, fly to Shanghai, take a mini bus to Feng Xian and get started. I've checked a couple of references from graduates of the school who recommend it highly. One of the references was/is like teaching experience what-so-ever and she is doing fine. So, I'm gonna do it. The school places their graduates in jobs, should I chose to go that route but then I'm also working through an agency in Beijing called China Services International who places teachers.

The house sale is moving along at snail pace, the first buyer having backed out. Two showings today so I'm packing up and going up to the upper part of Smith River to walk and listen to my mp3 tunes until they are gone. I'm selling stuff left and right and my hope is to walk out of here with only a couple of boxes in the back of the truck. Selling all my stuff and throwing the rest away is a tough venture. But, like George Carlin says, "It's just stuff! Wherever you go, you drag "STUFF" with you and then when you get there, you just pick up more 'STUFF."

Can't take the crap to the grave with me, so mainly I'm just keeping my clothes, some pictures (memories), my laptop (of course), some books (what I don't sell at Amazon) and my cats. Although it's workable to take the kitties with me, it is a royal hassle and they end up in quarantine for a month. Besides, I've heard that song by Weird Al Yankovic called, "Cat in the Kettle."

I'm busy lately with all that is going on and I'm into the third week of my new exercise regimen of doing my warm-up and stretching exercises and walking 2.3 miles a day. I'm feeling full of energy lately, which is good. Life has some interesting twists to it sometimes and personally, I enjoy mine. Some people think I'm nuts but then most of them have hardly been out of New Hampshire.

More updates to follow.....stay tuned!


Monday, March 24, 2003

Zebulon Mysterioso's got a new look going on....I like it, everything is in one place. Zeb is an interesting fellow, there is not much of anything that doesn't seem to interest him. Deep philosophy, wit, cunning and the unanswered questions of Northern Ireland....a must see and an interesting read, if not only to amuse yourself and fill a void in your vacuumless mind.

He's to Belfast what William James was to America...


Sunday, March 23, 2003

I pulled the plug on my "Interesting Blog of the Day" and the other heading of "Interesting Blog of the Day that didn't quite make the grade."


Because NextBlog sucks.

It's like this little baby blog search engine, programmed to search for the most bland, boring, political and foreign language blogs imaginable. I found that I was wrapping way too much time up in pouring over boring blogs, waiting for them to load and then clicking the NextBlog button again. Nice concept but I found better results following other people's links on their own blogs.

I'm a tad busy lately, packing up my house and getting ready to move. I'm gonna sell most of the stuff and so I placed an ad in the local paper for "House Contents Sale" which will go in sometime this coming week. That'll have the damn phone ringing off the hook for a while.

The bank guy is coming in to inspect this Monday and then things will be moving quickly. I'm finding my emotions running high and low lately and I'm just looking forward to walking out of here for the last time, money in my pocket, paying off my bills and freeing myself of an enormous amount of responsibility for the first time in a long time. My plans to move to China and work are progressing nicely. Should hear something about my placement next month.....

"If you're ever in Tokyo and want the best view of the city, go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku. You can go up to the lounge at the top for free, and the views are spectacular. Also, if it's night and you can get a corner away from other people, it's a nice place to kiss for a while..."

......Information of inestimable value.


Friday, March 21, 2003

I don't know about you, but I'm always up for a laugh. Click HERE for an oldie but a goodie. Takes forever to load but it's definitely worth it.


Saturday, March 15, 2003

Just a quick note of thanks to the folks who bent over backwards to help me out on my college research paper. My project was a success and brought me a top grade. Although it wasn't the most popular presentation, it surely was a pleasure and a learning experience for me. Learning about cross-cultural communication has always been an interest to me and the material you all came up with showed me just how diverse this world is, even when it comes to speaking English, the universal language.

Special thanks goes out to Chris in Belfast, Annie in Kuala Lumpur, Sasha in Taipei, Benjamin in Accra, Angie in Cumbria, Vangie in Joburg, Youngtack in Seoul, Rampyari in Muscat, Jenni in Michigan, Colin in Sydney and finally Kimie in Tokyo. If I left anyone out, blame my addled brain. You all were such an incredible help to me that you will just never know how much I appreciate it.

For those of you out there who are interested in this delightful subject, the oddities of language, including slangs, dialects, symbols and the like, you can always do a Google search as there is a ton of info on the net. Or you can peruse Zebulon Mysterioso's site (sorry folks but I cannot disclose his's TOP SECRET) for his threaded discussions about cross-cultural communication. Plus, if I have the time, I think I might add a little of the info I found, to this blog site at a later date.

See ya and thanks again!!


Friday, March 14, 2003

I've been busy.

Given my unemployed status for the past four months and six days, that's saying a lot. I'm getting royaly sick of not working. Never thought I'd say that, but the days have a tendency to run into themselves and if it wasn't for school on Wednesday nights, I'd lose track of my days. My last class for this semester was held last night and I've signed up for my very last class.....period, beginning in April. After that, I am gradumakated.

About a week ago, I made a decision. Sell the house or risk foreclosure. I called a local realtor, filled out some preliminary paperwork, and just today signed the sales agreement on my first offer. The guy is from Massachusetts, loved my place and didn't even counter offer. Now it's a waiting game. If everything goes hunky dorie, I'll have to be out of here in five or six weeks. Great! Only problem is my head is spinning. Somebody stop the earth and let me off!

I've lived here for nine years. This coming April ninth will be ten years. It's gonna take a while for things to soak in. This house is part of me......hell, it's Jimsworld. Wanda recently told me something her dad had said to her a ways back, something about having to move on and leaving the house he had lived in for so long, with all it's ghosts and memories. That got me thinking about this place and it's's memories both good and bad. So, I guess he's right. Things change. Sometimes you have to move on.

I haven't blogged here in quite a while as I've been busy completing my presentation for my last class and entertaining revolving door realtors. It's always been in the back of my mind, so tonight I decided to write down what's been happening. I initially began this blog more than a year ago last November, to keep a record of my going's on so my pals around the globe could see what I've been up to. It has evolved to sort of a platform so-to-speak, to air my laundry and speak my peace, something my good friend Annie says a Malaysian would never do in public. Ah....well, so much for our individualist culture.

Tonight, I think this blogging is more for me, than for my readers. My head is mixed up and I feel detached, confused. I probably need rest, but I couldn't sleep if I tried. In addition to my idea to sell my house, I also got the idea to inquire about overseas jobs. At first I saw a couple openings while doing a search of Federal job sites and suddenly a small voice came to mind, one that spoke to me while I was in China last March.....if you read my journal of my Beijing trip, you will remember the pretty little Chinese lady who sat with me one bright sunny day and asked if she could practice her English.

I remember her telling me about the number of jobs in Beijing, open to Americans, teaching English as a second language. "I don't have those qualifications," I told her. To which she responded, "Of course you do! You are an American!" It seems that if you have a degree and speak English, you qualify. So, I went on another Google search...

I was amazed at the number of University websites and websites for private schools. I whipped up a standard letter of inquiry, put together a condensed resumé and began e-mailing some of these institutions....

The response was amazing.

Everyday, several times a day, my e-mail box fills up with responses from Universities all over China. Some of which I never contacted but they got my resumé and letter forwarded to them from another institution. As I am writing this, three more offers have come in from Jiangxi province, Guangdong province and Heilongjiang, province. It is almost overwhelming but definitely exciting. Most of you who know me, know that one of my greatest loves is culture and travel. Just the prospect of traveling to China with the goal of teaching over there and having the opportunity to attend classes in Mandarin, is a dream that makes my heart flutter.

Most, if not all of these Universities and institutions supply the work visa, travel expenses, living expenses and health insurance to name a few. The salary is nothing to get rich on, but you can definitely live comfortably on it. Several Universities and private schools in Hubei province want me NOW, as is, whether I have no experience or not. Contracts vary, from six months to five years, but standard is a year with the possibility of renewal.


I've decided to just focus on selling the house right now and getting packed up and out of here by May. Wanda and I are going to drive up to Toronto to meet my pal Sasha from Taipei, Taiwan who is currently traveling and studying across Canada, sometime in May and then my schooling is all done in June. God only knows where I will end up and I can say I DO NOT like that feeling. I've promised Wanda that I will not do anything regarding this China thing, until at least September. Plenty of time to think.

I welcome all of your suggestions but then I think I know what they will be. I've gotten myself to a good place in my life where I'm sober, clean and happy and have the best friends around the world that anybody could ask for. I've always gone on the pretense that change is good, but realistically I have found that at first, it sucks. What sucks about it typically is jostling out of that rut we all get ourselves into at times. That familiarity. Familiarity is good, but after a while it brainwashes you into thinking that that's all there is.

Well, enough for now. I feel better already just having written all this down. Things actually feel pretty good. My realtor turned out to be the mother of an old friend whom I haven't seen in a long time. I'm going to save myself from foreclosure. I'm going to walk away with a sizable amount of money in hand to pay off some of these damn bills. I have friends who support me. I have a woman who loves me for me, not somebody she wants me to be. My cats still let me pet them. I, the son of parents who only made it to eighth grade, am going to finally graduate with my bachelors degree.

Life is better than I thought....


Saturday, March 01, 2003

Starting a Revolution...

I'm not much of a holiday person. Except for Christmas and Thanksgiving, the other ones you can pretty much bag, in my opinion, except for getting the day off or getting paid double time and a half, I used to think they were pretty useless and ridiculous until recently.....

Valentines Day is one of those useless holidays, or at least it has always seemed that way to me. Hell, I go into the local pharmacy to get a couple cards and some candy for the kids and in one isle there is Valentines day hearts and candy and in the other isle there's Easter stuff. Isn't Easter in April for fuck's sake? Holy cow. Anyway, I wanted to really give something nice to Wanda and her kids for Valentines day, for as cynical as I can get, I still have a heart. Wanda, on the other hand, easily topped my candy and card routine....

That Friday she arrived with a freaking shopping bag full of stuff. We sat on the couch and got re-acquainted, diving into some Thai food, New York style, eating out of the cartons with chopsticks and then she pulled out her shopping bag full of gifts. I must preface this story by saying that prior to this event she had e-mailed me wanting to know which of my five senses I valued in order of which I would give up if I had to. I responded and this set the preface for her Valentines gift giving extravaganza...

Her idea was to tickle my senses, in order, of which I valued least to most. My first was taste, then smell (as they pretty much go together) then feel, then hearing and finally sight. Although I cannot go into detail on this blog some of the more (ahem...) private items she presented me with, here is a sampling to give you an idea....

For taste: Various rich chocolates and truffles.
For smell: A cranberry scented sachet to place in my clothes drawer, a very fragrant candle to burn and other interesting things.
For touch: A wooden massage tool that can be used on sore muscles.
For hearing: A cassette tape Wanda made of relaxing and romantic music.
For sight: Nice frilly stuff that is a tad unmentionable here.

Totally blew my mind. Brought a new twist to Valentines day for me.

As most of you know, I have penpals in many corners of this Big Blue Marble. A couple of them asked me about Valentines Day and how my holiday went. My pal Sasha from Taipei, Taiwan was flabbergasted when she heard of how Wanda and I celebrated the holiday and my friend Rampyari from Banepa, Nepal - now living in Muskat, Oman was equally amazed. It seems Valentines day isn't celebrated the same or has as much emphasis in other countries as it is here in the U.S.

So I'm proud to say that my girl is someone too special for words and she reminds me on practically a weekly basis how lucky I am, injecting more and more joy and perspective into this cynical body of mine than a body can handle at times. I know that our holiday experience spurned many an inquiry in other, less romantic parts of this world and probably got some guys asking, "Just who is this Jeeem guy and his girl Wanda?"

We've started a Valentines day revolution perhaps.

God help us during Easter.

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