Dating in China – Last of the POFs

logo

For me, 2013 was the most dramatic of years. It started slow, with early episodes displaying a simple lack of confidence and success. Then I tried to make up for lost time, and went too far. I found myself stuck in the quagmire of drama and heartache and stalking.

Throughout the year, while I did go to a whole other country for romance, in the meantime I tried my best to put myself out there and meet cooler girls, and was subsequently rejected multiple times. Chinese and foreigners alike. Former coworkers, girls I met on the subway, all those I met in real life seemed not to be impressed by me. So I went by the tried-and-true method of online dating, and that means the website of POF…

 

Sonia

Early into the year’s journeys, I emailed a pleasant helo to Sonia. She was an engineer from Iran who lived in the outer suburbs of Shenzhen. (A suburb in a Chinese doesn’t mean picket fences. It means desolate places near factories and far from the interesting, modern parts of the city.) We flirted and I invited her on a tour of downtown, with me as guide.

Being from Iran, it was very interesting to talk to Sophia about politics and culture. Nothing was off-limits. I was left with a very good impression of modern Iran, which sadly is an impression that many Americans do not get these days.

I could put out a disclaimer to everyone: Not only am I Jewish, I was born in Israel. It is my heritage and my ethnicity, but I don’t think of it as having that much to do with my identity these days. My father is American and I moved to the U.S. as a baby. I know no Hebrew. I am basically an atheist — I like to call myself a “mystical atheist” but no time for an extensive theological discussion here — and I feel great antagonism towards organized religion. I have zero interest in going to Israel and joining the military to fight for an apartheid state surrounded by brainwashed lunatics, thank you very much.

Culturally, the Jewish people have brought great advances to Western culture as well as science. I think history has shown educated liberal Jews going to America is a perfect fit. Politically and culturally, Israel is another story. It is a somewhat messier and more complex place, and I do not think history has shown that Zionism has accomplished much of anything at all. Well, too late now. The region is what it is. I do not wish to delve too deeply into controversial politics, that’s not the point of this blog. Just letting you know how I feel, just letting you know where I’m coming from when it comes to meeting Persian girls.

Sonia did not seem to be racist against Jews whatsoever. She came across as a very worldly open-minded person, and she gave me a hell of a chance. She did tell me that it was hell to be in Saudi Arabia, and Iranians liked traveling to Turkey so they could act out more freely. She was politically very much against Israel, and on that I pretty much agreed.

Iranians abroad, from my understanding, tend to reject theocratic-conservative values and do whatever they want to do as 21st century human beings. Sonia confirmed this. She had no issues with being the naively feminine sort; and yeah there was intimacy that first night.

She wasn’t my type, to be perfectly honest. Attraction-wise. A big girl albeit with a pretty face, but I’m simply not into big girls. What we had between us was an opportunity I wanted to experience, and hence we shared an experience. I have now learned on an intrinsic level that young Iranians are absolutely not religious fundamentalists, I know it as deeply as possible, and hey I hope that can be good for American-Iranian relations.

So, it definitely wasn’t any potential boyfriend-girlfriend dating situation and she knew it. I guess we were supposed to be fuckbuddies, as certain expats abroad like to do to pass the time, but we never ended up repeating the experience.

She invited me to her place to cook one another time, and it was very nice of her. But I didn’t like that area. I didn’t stay over. We made some other plans but kept cancelling and it didn’t develop. I don’t remember the details, but I do recall a text saying that it was over and she got mad at me. Perhaps I was dating someone else, perhaps there was some overlapping drama at that junction. It all became something of a blur in the midst of that year.

I hope I wasn’t too rude.

I hope I didn’t leave her with a poor impression of Jewish Americans.

 

Jing

I met Jing on POF, and we corresponded a while before meeting. Always too busy, she was yet another girl who lived far away, and even our first date when we finally did meet it was a bad date. Luckily, she gave me another chance.

Somehow, over the course of the year, Jing became my most stable friend-with-benefits. For several months, she was my most drama-free of dates and for that I will forever be grateful to her.

Continue reading

Girls and Boys, Voids and Voids – o.p. 08 vii

Girls and Boys, Voids and Voids

There’s a girl in Hollywood
Ecstatic behind her eye
Her heart bursts through veiny flesh
And there is void between her souls

While the worker bees slave for their queen
The royalty of dollars and dog tags
Bloody fingers typing
Enter data
For your queen
And you will be rewarded!

It’s a pretty good deal
All you have to be is death

There is a faggot in the basement!
And he dances a chemical dance
to Rain Gods long forgotten
Lock him up
Or give him money
His shoes of icy spikes will kill us all
Make a choice

Stocks are traded, gold is hoarded
The where, her prince goes in in value
The applicants line up behind
No shortage of love
around here

Step in line for liquid freshness

There’s a drunk on the street corner
with dull stories, to trade for light
Beneath the city’s rainwater
Where stands a celebrity’s blindness
And a cop writes a ticket
and a guitar strummer sings
and a poeter bleeds poison
and a mother worries forever
and an addict mixes synthetics
and the Chinese bake bread
and a dog picks through the rubbish
and a bird crashes through windows
and a Spider dies for her children
and a bacteria colony lasts a thousand generations

and a child forgets your name

and a child goes silently

Don’t you know there’s a war on?
For whose sex is priciest?
And whose void is darkest
And our army will win
Because nature abhors a substance

And my love is conditional

And the world spins slow

And dreams are no fun
not when there’s work to be done

 

 

 

6/13/08

Occupy Hong Kong: A View from Shenzhen

Originally posted on Shenzhen Noted:

This is a tale of two occupations–in Tin Sau Bazaar and Central, the former artistic and the later political, but both explicit calls for social justice.

On Saturday night, friends and I crossed the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border at Shenzhen Bay and took a local bus to the Tin Shui Wai (天水围) metro, where we jumped on the light rail to Tin Sau (天秀) and it’s underused bazaar.

The bazaar itself presented the symptoms of hyper planning. Isolated near the Chinese border, Tin Sau is home to low-income and chronically under employed Hong Kong residents. It is also inconveniently located with respect to the Tin Shui Wai town center. In short, visiting the market for anyone but local residents is a problem. Tin Sau hawkers and residents had set up an open and low-capital flee market in any empty lot. The flee market catered to the needs of its immediate community…

View original 683 more words

New China Hand: The Elephant in the Room

Originally posted on The Guest Room:

IMG_9635

For those expecting a story about an elephant: sorry to disappoint. It’s a metaphor.
It’s Monday and of course NewChinaHand is replete with crazy stories from the Middle Kingdom, but this week they’re just gonna have to wait.

Following last week’s student boycott and protests in Hong Kong, Occupy Central organiser Benny Tai formally announced the start of this civil disobedience campaign at 1:40am Sunday and the results have already been shocking.

Tens of thousands have turned out in the government district and surrounding areas and the police seem in no mood for compromise, using pepper spray and tear gas on mostly unarmed protestors.

Of course, what’s surprising for us China watchers is that we’re allowed to see these events unfold at all: one reason that the ‘tank man’ photograph and video from the June 4th incident in 1989 is so famous was the tight restriction on reporting the events…

View original 84 more words

What the f*** is happening Hong Kong?

Originally posted on Basti in China:

Hong KongIf you don’t live in Hong Kong, chances are slim that you heard about what’s happening in Hong Kong. Unless you’re a news junkie that scans CNN, BBC, the New York Times, on a constant basis.

For those of you, who just saw the Hong Kong police throwing tear gas at students, a quick summary what happened over the last months and years.

View original 442 more words

Dating – Carmen, the Philippines

934796_506388899425950_1892063506_n

Paradisio beach

Although 2013 was, let us say, a bit of a mess –

… it wasn’t all bad. One of the most positive things of that year was my correspondence with Carmen.

I’d been emailing her for months before we’d even made any plans to meet. She was a longtime penpal, someone I could share the updates of my life with, someone who would tell me of her challenges and experiences. Time permitting, I like having penpals and someone to write long letters to.

I first met her on OKCupid. For some reason, I thought she was in Shenzhen and her profile stood out to me. She’s not Chinese, I thought. Yes! The algorithms led me to her, led me to Manila…

We wrote long emails about mermaids and books and music and movies. We graduated to gmail and talked about our personal lives. It was nice; talking about my issues of the day and sharing and going over my various fandoms. It was so refreshing that she got the pop cultural stuff, that she was from a culture so relatable to my own. I must say, I would come to appreciate the American/Western influence on the Philippines.

Now, I’ve mentioned before how OkCupid never seemed to work for me. My theory is that the format of the profiles results in too much detail, and extensive lists of similar hobbies makes for more platonic friends rather than romantic attraction. The air of mystery from the vague profiles of that other sites always worked much better for me.

Carmen was the one and only ‘success’ story I’d ever made on OkCupid. I eventually deleted my profile there, and she will forever remain my OKC one and only.

Besides being fluent in English and familiar with my general music and tv shows, she was quite international. She’d been to America, even California specifically, and regularly goes to Hong Kong.

Beautiful exotic face. Tall, elegant. Literary. Worldly. Cool indie style as well. A bit Catholic, a bit family-oriented and relatively conservative compared to my mainland China scene these days, but that’s okay. All in all she seemed perfect.

And, get this, she worked as a journalist. A professional writer. A humble newspaper tagger, but she did often travel to foreign countries on writing assignments. How amazingly cool is that?!

One time I mailed her a fun gift: I was uprgrading iPod nanos and thought about what to do with my perfectly-good old generation made. So I decided to share all my favorite songs and made some customized playlists, and I mailed it to her. Although a sort of hand-me-down, I think that was about my greatest gift idea ever.

Finally, May Day holiday was was approaching and I decided to try to be serious serious and we planned a vacation. I bought a plane ticket to Manila. She helped set up everything else, and an itinerary was formed.

It was the first time I’d ever traveled so far to meet someone online, let alone going to another country to meet. The first time I was ever in Philippines, unless you count the airport transfer in my 2010 trip. Honestly, I was never particularly interested in the country. Sure I had some Filipino friends in California, I was aware of Jollibee. I’m a big fan of Neal Stephenson’s historical novel Cryptonomicon. Beyond that, it wasn’t high on my list of Southeast Asia travel destinations. Yet destiny sent me there and I went for it with all my heart.

It’s always nervous to meet someone for the first time, and this was exacerbated by the pressures of travel and planning. I asked an old friend for advice; he had met a girl like this in Australia before. He gave me some solid talking to, and said not to force anything.

I packed. I prepared. I flew. Jetlagged, she we met for the first time outsideNinoy airport. It was somewhat weird. It was mostly chill. Ears popped, hearing all distorted, and one already feels surreal after landing. I do think it went well.

We took a taxi to the hotel. She had an American accent. It was pleasant, and felt natural, and we talked and talked and got to know each other better. We ate my favored Mexican food that evening. She even took me to comic shops! (I’m very impressed by Manila’s many English bookstores and comic shops, even better than Hong Kong. Not only that, but this perfect trip overlapped with freakin’ Free Comic Book Day.) What a keeper. I enjoyed Manila, the upper-class part anyway, because it was basically like America. That may be shallow of me but that’s the truth. The thing about the Philippines is that it is a mixed culture with a varied history of colonialism, and the influence today is clear.

WP_000854

Free Comic Book Day

She lived with her family, as Catholic family-oriented Filipinas tend to do, and bounced back and forth from the hotel to her place. It felt natural to kiss for the first time, and then to become more intimate as the night progressed.

Continue reading

DISNEYLAND – old poems 2008 vi

SAM_0044

DISNEYLAND

I write love stories, for stupid children

Happy faces make happy places
Buy shit you don’t need

Let’s spin in the tea cups
and dance and pee and sing

(And buy shit we don’t need)

I’d be so madly in love with you
if only you had good posture

Life would be so great
if only the government would give me more free money

And I’d write a happy ending
if only I was any good at that.

 

 

5/2/08

Vegetarian Oasis

Originally posted on Love, Shenzhen:

A vegetarian oasis to explore in Luohu

SAM_1171

SAM_1222

Source: SZ Daily

In the past, many viewed vegetarianism as strange and faddish. Nowadays, properly planned vegetarian diets are widely accepted as being nutritionally adequate, and may help in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

But, alas, ask any vegetarian expat in China and they will perhaps tell you that they don’t find it easy going out for a meal here. Most restaurants seem to put meat in everything. Having previously lived in health-conscious California, I find constantly explaining “bu yao rou” (I don’t want meat) to be frustrating.

Luckily, there is always the oasis of Bao’an Road South. The strip north of the iconic Diwang Mansion is lush with Buddhist vegetarian restaurants — great for both devoted vegans and tourists seeking that sort of spiritual Eastern experience. Right in the heart of Luohu, the restaurants are full of monks and Buddhist statues…

View original 669 more words