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!

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