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谢迈克在中国 » About me

谢迈克在中国

Mike Shecket Goes To China!

The End

August 24th, 2008

I was going to have some fancy final post about world peace and love and stuff, but I’ve been too busy (or is it too lazy?) to put down my thoughts.  But I thought I should say that I did indeed make it back home, and here I am.  What’s next?  We’ll see.

– 谢迈克 2008年8月23日

Last movie in China

August 8th, 2008

The last night

August 7th, 2008

I’m in a hotel near the airport.  Actually, Air Force One just touched down a few minutes ago, just a mile or two away.  I’m enjoying the sounds of planes taking off and landing…it’s not an overwhelming sound, but it’s sort of majestic in its way.  Tomorrow, I’ll be on one of those, headed to San Francisco and my cousin’s wedding, and then back to Columbus.

It’s a bittersweet feeling leaving this country.  Of course I think there’s a lot of rotten things about the government, and there’s quirks of the culture that I’m not too fond of, and the food?  Mostly terrible, to be honest.

But what I’m feeling mostly right now is that I really want these Olympics, and by extension, the whole process of building a modern, prosperous (and hopefully one day politically free) China, to succeed.  I tear up when I hear “We Are Ready“, I love the Fuwa, and my fondest wish is for clear, blue skies for the opening ceremony tomorrow.  There are millions and millions of totally guileless, long-suffering people who are extremely emotionally invested in these Olympics and the success of China’s athletes.  We’ll talk about Tibet, Taiwan, the environment, Darfur and the rest in a few weeks.  My feeling is: let them have their moment.  It’s not their fault.

Goin’ back

August 5th, 2008

I wonder if when I get back to the US I’ll detect some kind of change in the zeitgeist that I couldn’t know just from following the course of events from a few thousand miles away.  A lot has happened in a year, and I’ve read about it, and I’ve talked to people back there about it, but I haven’t lived in the reality of August 2008 in the USA, and I wonder how different it will feel at a gut level from August 2007.

For starters, it’ll be interesting to see the bumper stickers.  A lot of them will make me fume, but it’ll be interesting.  That and maybe people’s T-shirts.

Tonight in Beijing

August 2nd, 2008

I just got back from trying to get a glimpse of another opening ceremony rehearsal at the Birds’ Nest (I, along with a crowd of thousands, caught a few bursts of fireworks while the police tried to usher us away, insisting there was nothing more to see).

On the way back, at a location of a Korean chain of French-style bakeries, I randomly ran into a couple of Algerians (who asked me to inquire in Chinese whether the bread had pork lard in it, which I did indeed know how to ask).  Now if it had been a Korean-owned Brazilian barbeque, that would pretty much cover all your continents!

A radical decision

July 31st, 2008

He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man.

Mao Zedong

I’m coming pretty close to deciding to skip the Great Wall.  I have a number of good reasons to not go, and a few bad reasons to go.  First off, who is Mao to tell me whether or not I’m a man?  He’s dead, among other things.  Next, it’s at least an hour and a half on the bus each way, depending which section to go to.  My general rule of thumb is that I want to spend at least as long at the place I’m going as it takes to get there and back.  And what am I going to do at the Great Wall for three hours with all the heat and humidity?

Next up, I’m not really into old stuff.  There’s a lot of relatively old stuff in the US that I could have seen.  There’s stuff from native cultures too that’s even older.  But it’s just not what I’m into.  I like new stuff…contemporary culture, art, music, architecture, technology.  If I’m just going to go somewhere and see something just because it’s famous, the sort of place that keeps coming to mind for me that I’d want to see would be Abbey Road Studios in London.  Go back fifty years and it basically has little or no significance, but it’s enormously significant in modern culture.

Probably the biggest thing is that I feel like from Mao to the guidebooks, I’m being pressured to do something that I might not otherwise want to do.  To be told it’s a “must see”, or that going there determines my worth as a human being, kind of inspries a kind of “Oh yeah?! See if I care!” attitude.  It almost seems like an opportunity to assert my uniqueness.

Lastly, I imagine that when I tell people that I went to China, they’ll always ask if I went to the Great Wall, and I’ll have to explain why I didn’t.  But I’m going to have to explain to people why I was in Beijing in the summer of 2008 and didn’t stay for the Olympics.  Not to mention why I decided to uproot myself from the US and live here almost a whole year.  So if people want an explanation, who cares?  I can give them one or not.  It’s not, in itself, worth the time, expense and inconvenience to do something that might not even be fun.

I came to China to get to know the language and the people, and I’ve done that.  I didn’t really come here to look at walls.

A nice day

July 29th, 2008

There was a thunderstorm last night, and today it’s cooler, and though it’s cloudy, I think the smog broke up some.  I’m hoping for more of the same in the coming days…I’m supposed to go see the Great Wall sometime soon.

Oh, and I finally got a haircut!  They really did their darndest to keep those little hairs from getting everywhere, but as always, close but not quite.  It was nice, though, to get both a before and after shampooing.  Total cost: 38元, or about $5.60.

Two more weeks

July 25th, 2008

It’s really hot in Beijing, and it takes a long time to get anywhere.  Did I already mention this?  My plan, more or less, is to do the Great Wall, and then I’m not going to push myself to do any more touristy things if I don’t want to.

I’ve already had a whole bunch of “wow, I’m in China” experiences, seen a ton of things, learned a little of the language (not much at all, really, but enough to make me happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish) and made some friends.

I’m pretty much ready to go back at this point and start figuring out what to do next.  I was looking at pictures from my mom’s house back in Worthington the other day, and it looks so cozy.  There isn’t a single piece of furniture here or in the last two places I stayed or in my apartment in Guiyang that’s as cozy as about five or eight chairs in her house.

That’s a big choice, isn’t it?  You can have a settled, cozy, domestic, but potentially boring life, or you can have an adventurous, mobile, risky, but sometimes…itchy life.  I think it’s much easier to move from the latter to the former, though…it’s hard to imagine planting myself in a home and filling it up with junk only to sell or throw away the better part of everything I own again and take off and go vagabonding again.

And on the other hand, I think so often about adopting cats…but can I really commit to living the same lifestyle, or even in the same country, for 15, 20 years or more?

Maybe when I get back, I’ll stop wondering and worrying…maybe I’ll kiss the ground and realize that I never want to leave again.  But I don’t think it’s likely…I think this stuff will take time to figure out.

July 15th, 2008

Today, I saw Dead Chairman Mao (still dead) and the Big Old Empty Place…once again, I have been forced to contemplate which I dislike more: sunburn or sunscreen.  Meanwhile, I have completed two-thirds of my Beijing-area tourist Duty.  I never have to do those things again unless I really want to.


As usual, after I’ve had a blog for a while, it tends to become a chore instead of a diversion…especially when there’s a lot of monotonous steps involved turning cool and interesting photos and videos into something that can be seen online (cropping, resizing, file conversions, uploads…ugh).

Generally speaking, however, I have done the following things lately:

  • Seen the pandas in Chengdu and Great Buddha in Leshan
  • Climbed up and down a lot of stairs and went–that’s right–ice skating in Chongqing (actually, I think you can go ice skating other places in China…Beijing for sure…but it still blew my mind)
  • Arrived in Beijing, got set up in an apartment
  • Managed to figure out the neighborhood and the subway system
  • Found an Indian restaurant and took a walk around Beida (北大), also known as Peking University

Maybe I should have set my camera to take web-size photos (except I want the big ones for archival purposes), or maybe I should have bought a camera that makes videos that properly upload directly to YouTube (although again, I wanted to also be able to make DVD-quality video).

Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for the big kickoff of my test prep business for when I get back…my non-compete agreement is finally up as of about two weeks ago, and so I’m getting my website, craigslist postings and Google ads ready.

Copyright © 2007-8 Michael H. Shecket. All rights reserved.