Zoey – the end

Dating in China or anywhere else in the world, breakups usually don’t just happen in one swift moment. It’s not like one second you’re in a relationship, and the next second you are officially single and you can use a stopwatch to catch the exact nanosecond. No, it’s a fuzzy math sorta thing. It softly fades, it backtracks and starts again. There is no specific point, it’s not digital it’ is analog. It’s a fractal.

Autumn, 2010. I had come back from America, while concurrently trying to convince a girl from my hometown to come follow me to Shenzhen, ready for a new apartment and a slightly new life. This time I had a smaller more city-ish apartment off Shennan Road (the central artery of the city), near a park and it suited me well. The fancy high-rises aren’t me.

Just one roommate, an American fellow with his own business. He was a bad drunk but a very good roommate. He had his own thing going on, and we’d hang out on occasion and leave each other alone when necessary. No roomie pressure. I worked more, made money. Started writing again, researched for a certain story, that ol’ dream postponed since coming here was starting up again and things were looking good.

Meanwhile, I needed to settle things with Zoey. I simply said we were in a rut. Then, after pressed for more, I was completely honest about the other girl in America. Oh, that vague situation that turned out to have no real meaning. She cried, my own heart was stretched thin, and feeling like shit and hating myself I then concluded that I was a bad person.

With Zoey, it wasn’t even the first time we’d broken up. Yet it was the most serious reason so far. Was it final yet? No. Numbed, we talked about it too much and acted on it too little, just ended up continuing the same things. We kept in touch, fell into bed a few times. I wasn’t sure what I wanted.

She wrote me a letter that tore me apart, and she told me “I’m not ready.” I thought and I thought, and some on-again-off-agains from time time, and I gave in. I decided we belonged together and it was time for me to do the right thing and stay with her. And stay with her I did.

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Update: New Tattoo

As promised in my first post about tats, here are the photos of my new tattoo.

I found a little tattoo shop in Baishizhou village near my new place in Shenzhen and decided to go with it. My design idea was fairly simple, and I bargained a bit with the proprietor, which kind of makes me nervous. This is almost a medical procedure, why act like it’s you’re buying knockoff bags or something? Settled for 300 yuan, which I think is fair but not so cheap I’ll be afraid I’m getting hepatitis.

The design is a hexagram which represents the Anahata heart chakra, as per my long-running spinal cord design idea. To me, the two overlapping triangles are not necessarily the (more famous in the West) Jewish Star of David, but an important symbol of meditation. One triangle points up, towards “Heaven,” the higher realities we hope we can understand when becoming more enlightened. The other triangle points down because we all come from the Earth and we must get our affairs in order on this plane while trying to simultaneously achieve something higher. Right?

However, I decided to have triangles point from side to side, because why not. Something different. And, less construed to be jewy. The cosmic Left & Right, perhaps.

It is not finished. Still needs color, some more flashy designs, bells and whistles. This is just the outline of the more complex tattoo I hope to have in the future. But a decent outline I’m happy to show off.

So, why now? The answer is, I happen to be writing this while on my big America trip and I wanted to have something new on my person before going home. It was one of my final errands on the to-do list, along with packing and buying souvenirs.

And to answer the question people often ask, yes it hurts. Not that bad, but it’s an odd uncomfortable feeling on the back. The arms didn’t hurt that much, I recommend to everyone that you get a needle piercing through your shoulder or forearm before the backside.

That is my update.

Tell me: what do you think?



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SZ Daily: American expat to run marathon in Australia

running sanfran 2



DEE FULLER, a 33-year-old American from Erie, Pennsylvania, is one of Shenzhen’s most athletic and charitable expats. She is a fitness instructor and a bicycle enthusiast as well, bypassing rush hour crowds on public transport and instead biking everywhere, sometimes from as far as Luohu train station to Sea World in Shekou. Now she has made the decision to utilize her athletic prowess by running the Big Red Run marathon in Australia, which raises money to fund programs that help combat type 1 diabetes.

A long-term expat, Fuller’s been in China for a full decade. After majoring in Chinese culture and psychology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., she first worked at a school in the states. Then, when the dean heard about her educational background in Chinese culture, which includes her thesis on Li Bai and Song Dynasty (960-1279) poetry — she was invited to teach in Beijing.

“I was in Beijing for 17 months,” said Fuller. “Then I was in Guangzhou for six-and-a-half years before ending up in Shenzhen.”

Although she studied the culture, she didn’t have any language skills upon arrival. Today she is fluent, but it took a lot of work. “When I first arrived, my Chinese students asked questions and I didn’t know how to communicate the answers,” Fuller explained. “I decided I wanted to understand more, and I immersed myself in Chinese. I mainly read children’s books.”

Six years ago, she decided to expand on her experiences by becoming a fitness instructor. “Spinning was my first class, and then I started to get involved in yoga and Pilates.”

Fuller also became a certified coach for the New Zealand company Les Mills. “I’m now a certified nutritionist. I have ISSA certificate.”

With Les Mills, she helps train Chinese instructors who will later teach international customers. Sometimes that means teaching the Western cultural perspective in addition to fitness techniques. “There is culture behind dance. From Latin beat to pop ballet, EDM to disco — it’s very important to know the culture behind it.”

“On May 29th, I’m doing an event at Tavern sports bar in Shekou to raise money for type 1 diabetes awareness,” continued Fuller. “There will be a raffle, lucky draw, and more.”

In July, she plans to go all the way to Australia to participate in the Big Red Run marathon, an intense 6-day marathon covering 250 kilometers that brings together volunteers from all over the world and raises funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“I want to get back to being involved in charity work. I used to donate my time in America with the Salvation Army and the Special Olympics. Since I moved to China I haven’t had as many opportunities. This is a chance to do something I love for a bigger purpose outside of me,” Fuller said, “It just feels good when you do it.”

More information can be found on the Big Ren Run website, bigredrun.com.au.

Dating – an American intermission

On an LA train. Note my long hair

After two years in China, two years of travel and adventure and yes dating, I was ready for my triumphant return to America. Some people like to go back to the home country often; every summer, every Christmas, every Chinese New Year. But with so many places to see in the world, and only so much free time as well as funds, I prefer an every-other-year approach towards seeing old friends and family. There’s not all that much for me in the States anyhow, to be perfectly honest.

I left my burgeoning/declining relationship and flew home. It worked out so that I was in between apartments, with boxes of clothes and stuffs strewn about various friends’ apartments back in Shenzhen. I was to live out of my suitcase for the whole month of August. Best month, for sure, to get out of the South China heat.

The trip proved to be rather epic. With a chill start, my good buddy who also happened to be my old roommate picked me up from LAX, that familiar Los Angeles airport I’ve been to so many times. Funny story how we became roommates; he’s a very old friend from Cincinnati (all the way back to youthful high school days), and after I’d already been in California a while one day I was surprised with a call and told me he suddenly decided to drive over to visit and move in with me. I said sure! I’ve since been long-gone, and he still lives in Long Beach to this day.

I even got to stay in my old apartment, in the center of the LBC. There wasn’t much nostalgia, no reverse-culture shock. At this age in my development, it’s quite easy to just pick up where I left off. I enjoyed relaxing for a few days. Went to the beach. Took the infamously shitty LA public transpot and met up with L.A. friends up in Echo Park and Hollywood. Went through various bureaucratic procedures at the California DMV and Chinese consulate. Nerd that I am, my favorite part was simply going to the big bookstores and sitting down and catching up on graphic novels. And, a bit of flirting with girls at bars, regaling of tales in China, and nothing at all came of that.

The high point was actually when I flew to the Midwest, believe it or not.

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– a passive recipient –

Flatulence, Pestilence, Irreverence

You made me sad one time and I will never forgive you
You’re a joke and you toke and a slow pole troll too
Deserving of perfection, not introspection
Know what I know and shut my ears if I don’t

I deserve, I deserve, I deserve

Anything short of enlightened Buddha-hood bodhisattva cosmic-one-ness

Will not do.


Your Limerence is limited by my lies
my telepathy
Your insignificance is confirmed by my trite
my right
by right
I’m right
Your plight has no bearing, no empathy

Die already. Why drag this out?
An inconvenience of lessons not learned sentencing not sentenced.
It’s cute when I pout.



Go away
Every day
I deserve
Every way

I pretend
You ghost, I boast
Lie, Lime, Limer, Limere—DON’T SAY.





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I have six tattoos. It’s a hobby of mine, albeit it’s an expensive hobby that I don’t get to indulge in often enough.

Each one is meaningful to me. I put a lot of thought into them and I have no regrets.

For a while, I was doing one per year. Then I stopped for several years. In anticipation of my big travel plans coming up, I want to get some new ink! What to choose, what to choose…

Let’s discuss. But first, the background on my present state.

I got my first tattoo when I was 21. It was the Disinformation logo:

A little out of order, keep in mind

That’s Disinformation Press, the counter-cultural alternative media publishers. I was very into them at the time. Read all their books, such as EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG and YOU ARE BEING LIED TO among others. See the website Disinfo.com, which is unfortunately not what it used to be. The logo is supposed to be red on white, but I was told black is better and I do think that works.

The only disappointing part was that people would always ask my why I tattooed the Napster logo. So annoying. Thankfully nobody says that anymore, because Napster is no longer a thing. These days, occasionally someone says it looks like a cat not a devil’s head, but I’m still for it.

Next, I got a simple Icthys, otherwise known as the Jesus Fish. Why would I get this, you ask? Well there’s more to this fish than you know. One theory I enjoyed purports that it is a map of three-dimensional holographic reality by superimposing two flat circles which are Gnostic meta-universes (perhaps Heaven and Hell). Thank Grant Morrison’s the Invisibles graphic comics series for that. However, that interesting theory doesn’t hold up to further research. In truth, historical records show that various ancient pre-Christian civilizations used this symbol as a female fertility symbol. Turn it sideways, clockwise. Get it? It’s the most graphic of female parts, right there!

I decided to keep going with that pattern, I wanted to cover my body with various occultic logos from all over. Next stop, that most meditative of endocrine system metaphors, the chakras.

You might think I regret it how it turned out, but I don’t. Yes I’ve been accused of having a tramp stamp.

Damn I was so thin back then

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Zoey – the beginning

Birthday video 2010, my life circa that era

Dating in China, Hooking Up in China, when does it become Having a Stable Girlfriend in China?

After much patience, it became.

I think I have a pretty nice story of how I met Zoey, as these things go. An average workday, I took an early-morning bus, sat next to her, and started reading my paperback of The Great Gatsby. Not my favorite novel, though I enjoyed the recent film, it was only a paperback I picked up because you can get classic novels in English cheap at local bookstores. It even had the Chinese name, 了不起的盖茨比. She saw it, and started asking me about the book. Cool! I’ll keep in touch with this chick. We discussed the Chinese title and how 了 throws me off because it can pronounced either ‘le’ or ‘liǎo’

We exchanged phone numbers. Later she told me that I looked so young, and she thought I was a college student. I don’t know if she took me seriously as a partner yet. In any case, she was more than willing to correspond with me and it was a start.

I wish I could say I approached her and it was love at first sight or something. I have a vague memory of trying to sit next to a good-looking girl on the bus – because don’t we all do that at times, just a harmless split-second preference – but I don’t usually try talking to every pretty girl I see, at least not without psyching myself up first. Besides, on cold approaches I wouldn’t even know if she speaks English or not. So, it’s a bit passive that she talked to me first, but I think I did well in talking to her back.

I didn’t know at the time that this girl would become one of the main women of my life, one of my deepest relationships.  I didn’t know that I would stay with her all year and beyond.

Zoey was great. Very outgoing, very positive, not the shy type at all. Cantonese. Slim body type. Big smile. She changed her hair often. She had permed black hair when I first met her, then dyed it auburn, then straightened it, then cut it short and curled it. She was fashionable, not in the pricey wannabe way but in humble off-brand Chinese expressive sort, my kind of style.

She wasn’t very worldly. I know that she has since traveled abroad (I think she’s already emigrated, more on that later), but at this period she was fresh out of college working a trite office job and hadn’t been to Hong Kong yet. She was decent at English and we could communicate, but she wasn’t the super-fluent type. When I’d be distant and we would fight, she’d revert to Mandarin or Cantonese or even Hakka if she was really mad. We watched many movies together and I introduced her to a lot of my native pop culture. She was very open to learning more. She was a sweetheart, a perfect companion, exactly who I needed then and I didn’t even know it.

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Weekend Chinglish

It’s that time time again. Here are some lovingly-flawed translations for you to enjoy, the unique mix of East and West that results in China’s most treasured of contemporary cultural heritage: Chinglish

Have a good weekend!

Indeed, hasn’t every lady felt that way at times

Ah Baiyun Mountain of GZ, I do love you

Please always consider the life of plants… I knew there was something evil about being a vegetarian Continue reading

‘Hooking Up in China’ – Playing the field…

A sketch of yours truly, with Beijinger artist

Dating in China might often be more accurately called Hooking Up in China, and in late 2009/early 2010 that was the kind of thing I was looking for. With varying degrees of success, mostly that is not succeeding, I had a myriad of experiences and lived and learned and notches on the bedpost and so on.

At that stage, I was a bit frustrated. My brief romance was lovely but unfulfilling in one certain way. Meanwhile, all those other expat guys constantly bragged about getting laid. I shouldn’t complain, but I wondered why I wasn’t quite keeping up. Eh, perhaps those guys were exaggerating as us bros tend to do. Really, I rarely saw the guys with a new girl every week, nothing like that. Much would be said in passing, well after the fact. Or maybe they knew better than to take girls out in public? Who knows the truth, the truth is a quantum superposition with multiple perspectives. Men round up and women round down and all realities exist simultaneously.

I’m diverging. Whatever, still I yearned. I asked out girls. Went on abortive dates. The proverbial gold-diggers (who can’t get much out of me, I’m sure not their kind of guy). Bad Christmas parties. Friend-zoned. My schedule sure got complicated. Slowly but surely, I got slightly better at the picking up chicks thing.

And so I began my evolution/devolution into the asshole I am today, or so I’ve been accused.

Here are a few of my so-called successes. Annie. Sky. Lulu. Even friendly Hailey. With so many girls in this post, please let me reiterate that these are fake names…



Annie was a platonic friend, a short Chinese party girl who danced all night with the expats. Continue reading

Your Weekend Chinglish

It’s not easy writing one’s memoirs, consistently producing something decent to read multiple times a week. What else may I share with some interested readers out there, I asked myself… got me thinkin…

Hence I decided to start a new series: every weekend I will post some of those “Chinglish” pics I like to take from time to time. I have quite the collection. Goes over well elsewhere. What do you think, funny?

If you aren’t aware of the Chinglish phenomenon, here’s the introduction. It is becoming more and more international in modern China, and they like to write signs and menus with English translations. Sometimes they don’t go as planned, and brilliant hilarity ensues. Enjoy.

And no disrespect meant to my Chinese friends. This is a very cool aspect of modern China, the random poetry that comes out of attempts at translation. Most of us expats are saddened when they clean up and replace with these signs with boring good translations. We love Chinglish, it’s great!

Lactating bitches… Who you calling a bitch??

Battle and end of, no water Continue reading