My Interview on Speaking of China:

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Please read my interview concerning my eBook Pearl River Drama for the website Speaking of China.

Many thanks to fellow Ohioan-expat Jocelyn Eikenburg for the interviewing me, and for appreciating my meager writings.

 

Interview with Ray Hecht on “Pearl River Drama: Dating in China”

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Presenting an updated cover of Pearl River Delta

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http://amazon.com/author/rayhecht

As readers should know by know, I have compiled together my Dating in China stories into a tell-all eMemoir. While you can read the blogs here for free, if you want to know even more to these stories and beyond then there’s a Kindle document for sale…

You can also read the eBook for free if you just ask, I’ll email it to you and a mere review on the Amazon link would be appreciated 🙂

The latest edition includes a bonus: the silent comic I drew last year. A friend recommended I add that, and I thought not a bad idea.

Previously posted here- https://rayhecht.com/2014/02/24/3/

I’d like to thank the very talented Jeridel Banks for the above design. The consensus is in, and pretty much everyone agrees this cover is much better than the one I did myself.

If you ever have any design or editing needs, please join Odesk.com and check out her profile: www.odesk.com/o/profiles/users/_~01a930cbc899bcc679

She comes highly recommended!

Ms. Banks’ writing can be found at at The Ends Don’t Tie with Bunny Rabbits via tiewithbunnyrabbits.com

Pearl River Drama: A Memoir

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQQIA26

 

I have now completed my memoirs, in eBook form.

You may be familiar with the Dating in China blogs already, but there’s more to the story…

I have decided to edit them, and put them out there as an eMemoir of sorts on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Press.

Yet, this is not just a simple copy-paste and proofread for typos. Since this version isn’t all out there online for free, I have written more to the story. Certain personal, more graphic details. Certain things left unsaid that would be unbecoming on a public forum.

Not to mention further chapter continuing where the blog left off, and an epilogue.

If you’ve enjoyed my writings this past year, you may enjoy taking a look. And if you’d like to write a review on Amazon yourself, I will happily forward you a copy!

Even if you only have fond memories of reading the previously-blogged edition and prefer to leave it at that, it would be very considerate if you shared some thoughts. Positive or negative, tell the world what you think. Link above.

Thanks very much to all you readers out there!

 

 

— —

When one nerdy, young American moved from California to China in the autumn of 2008, he had no idea what was coming. He knew there would be an adventure and it would have its challenges, but he didn’t know it could get that bad.

From the deserts of Black Rock City, Nevada, to the towering metropolis of Hong Kong, this memoir takes our humble writer all across the globe in search of love. Well, maybe not always searching for love, but in search for something.

It starts on a psychedelic trip in Burning Man, and continues in the “overnight city” of Shenzhen. That’s in the Pearl River Delta, among the densest megacities on Earth. In breakup after breakup, one lonely expat struggles to understand the Chinese mystique. Featuring an ensemble cast of international girls, he had many experiences and leaned a few lessons along the way. The story continues to further exotic locations: Beijing, Canton, Bangkok, Manila, Ohio, the ruins of Cambodia, and Seattle.

Once or twice, he may have even found love. And lost it. Hearts were broken. Minds were mended. All in a haze of romance encounters, online dating, and travel.

This is his story. Complete with travel photos, and quotations from “Seinfeld” and Mo Yan.

DATING IN CHINA

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DATING IN CHINA


(Table of Contents)

Firstly, from 2008 on:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

GUANGZHOU YEAR
In the city… the city of Canton…

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/
the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

Dating in China 2012 – 2013

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PREVIOUS MEGAPOSTS

Dating in China 1
From Burning Man to Shenzhen, covering mid-2008 to early 2011

My Guangzhou Year
In the city… the city of Canton…

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

 

Not to be continued.

–Thanks for the memories!!

 

Ray

Dating in China – The Very End.

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A picture of me I took yesterday

2013, as I keep saying, was my Epic Clusterfuck Year.

Online dating, star-crossed romance, stalking, embarrassments abroad. I had it all.

Meanwhile, my so-called ‘career’ began to slowly take off. I published many an article, worked as a copy-editor, got a certain book deal. I moved, I moved again. All the while searching for that perfect match, and when the search availed I started again, with more baggage piling up and more losses to show for it.

It used to be that I did my thing, make the ol’ money and moderately exercise and read books and study, and I was more or less productive. I was prolific, and nobody in the world knew. Then this year came, it all escalated, I had no more time to myself, and I know my craft suffered for it.

In the end, I had very little to show. Very little to brag of indeed.

And yet, it got even worse. The story was far from over.

And yet, I will not continue this story.

 

I thank all you readers for being interested in my petty life, and for letting me share and purge. It’s been very therapeutic. I do hope it’s been a good read.

Unfortunately, we are now catching up to the present, and it is still too soon. It is getting a bit too real.

It’s awkward enough when I’ve written these things and someone out in real life tells me they remember that time. I shan’t do that anymore. I’m not out to expose secrets here; I’m obviously not completely into anonymity either, but I do have limits.

So that is that.

 

Allow me merely be reflective upon a memoir’s epilogue not yet written.

Wait a year or two or ten, and I may get back to you in more detail.

It’s a shame, it would have made for some great writing… Woulda’ been ten blogs worth at least…

 

Sigh: One. Her. Pejorative Nickname. I had a whole internal dialogue about what pseudonym or pronoun to use and what level of respect is accorded, and I will not share the conversation with you! Sorry.

 

Nevermind that.

Look. I know I’m not particularly innocent. I know I’m not.

But there was one day I lost the very last shreds of my innocence, and I can never ever get it back.

I heard things I never heard before, I was told things no one else has ever since told me.

That lasts.

I am, however, so over it.

 

I’m slightly better at relationships since that time. A little bit. A teensy, tiny, very little bit. But slightly better nonetheless.

A better class of person has graced my own personage, and know that it is appreciated.

I learned about all I could learn from the scenario. Okay? Okay?!! Okay.

At this point in my life I’d prefer to play it cool. Grow somewhat, take things seriously, and simultaneously be cool.

To get over myself, as it were.

Enough already with the self-indulgence.

 

It is 2014. In fact, 2014 is almost over. It is an even-numbered year, and I tend to do better in even-numbered years. It has been a year of much reflection and evolution, it truly has.

I hope I can keep it up.

Soon it will be another odd-numbered year, and it will be hard on me and I’ll need all the help I can get.

There are new challenges to consider, new stages in life and amazing things yet to occur. There will be novelty. There will be grace. There will be magic and fire and art and power.

Time to seize this living thing.

 

The dealing-with-my-issues stage is over. It is now time to go go go–

 

 

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

Thanks again for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

–Ray

Dating in China – Last of the POFs

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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.

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Dating – Carmen, the Philippines

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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.

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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.

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Dating… the Stalker

2013 was my Epic Clusterfuck Year. I like to process it that way, because it gives me hope that other years will better. There’s no other way to describe it. I made some serious mistakes, and the drama caught up with me, and I hope to never go through that again.

I wish to reflect, but I hope I’m not coming across as whiney. My problems are my responsibility, I deal with them in my own way, and hopefully the point of this blog is not to complain but to look upon myself in the mirror as harshly as possible and grow from it. Hence I’m sharing.

I was travelling in January of that year. It was nice but it wasn’t my most confident time, seeing everyone else settle down except for me. Though I had fun. Some fun in America, that is. Then I completely embarrassed myself with a friend in Hong Kong. After that, I felt the need to rush into Internet dating. Two websites: OkCupid and POF. I’ll write about OkCupid next post. Mostly it was POF. Seems to be a fairly popular site in Shenzhen and China and Asia; I’ve met Chinese and foreigner women alike over that year.

Generally speaking, while Internet dating is obviously growing more mainstream, people who are into it tend not to be the cream of the crop. Me included! Some people are simply too busy or shy to pick up at the club or meet through mutual friends or whatever more natural methods, and other people are the desperate socially-awkward who use websites. I’ve been lucky enough to meet the cool people, for the most part. My luck was about to run out.

I lowered my standards, I admit it. I accepted anyone who would have me, and I paid the price for that.

It all started with a woman whom I shall now refer to as The Stalker. I won’t even think up a name.

She was a bit older than me, very thin, an independent businesswoman with various streams of income. You’d think she would have her life together, but you can never know for sure.

It was standard fare at first. Met up and went to dinner and walked in parks and went to some parties and got to know each other. She stayed at my house on occasion. It was supposed to be causal. I wasn’t looking for a deep relationship, and I said as much. We did specifically talk about it; we agreed we weren’t going to be boyfriend and girlfriend. I bloody had that conversation, I truly did. Like that ever works.

That spring, my beloved old flame Julia came to visit me from abroad. I was so excited. And I had to be completely honest and told my new date that a previous girlfriend was to stay at my place and I think we should break things off. Nothing romantic came of Julia’s visit, although I was extremely happy to see her and show her around my current life. Well, it was as good an excuse as ever to get over this woman and move on.

The first time The Stalker came to my apartment crying, I had no idea what to do. What a terrible feeling. Was I guilty of some horrendous crime? How was I supposed to handle this?

When she started demanding that we meet once a week, it was initially just annoying. I wouldn’t necessarily mind staying friends, if it was natural and organic, but she made it into this chore. And I’m busy; I don’t see most of my friends as often as once per week so why should I focus so much more attention on her?

I tried my best to gently push her away. While simultaneously letting her down easy. She begged me to be with her for three months or she’d die or something. I said no way. That’s ridiculous, that’s not how it works. I still answered the phone, replied to her messages, read her rambling emails, and met up from time to time. This lasted months and months and months. It didn’t work at all.

This strategy to let her down easily was a bit ill-conceived.

This ‘friendship’ I was stuck in was no fun at all.

Suicide threats in particular are a real downer.

Before I get into the suicide threats, here’s a funny convoluted story. Coulda’ been a sitcom plot:

Some people just attract chaos to them, you know those kinds, for some reason  they always have a dark cloud of complications hanging over them (I dare hope I’m not that kind of person). So The Stalker had a sort of stalker of her own. There was some creepy guy that would call her and harass her, that was her own issue from before she even met me.

She decided to tell this guy that she married me. Then she asked for my help. I’m not above pretending I’m in a relationship with a platonic female friend so guys at parties won’t hit on her and so on, that can be a thing, but the lengths this particular deception went to were getting ridiculous.

There is no sucker in the world like me, I can’t believe I agree to things like this.

It’s like this. Chinese people really like to take wedding pictures. More than they like to have actual wedding ceremonies. You see these studios all over the place, where they seemingly take pictures of the couple in European cafes and pirate ships. So she paid a photography studio and I spent a hellish 5 hours waking up early and going to this studio and dressing up in their wardrobe. She promised it would only be two hours. My lord I hate having my time wasted. Hours of makeup and changing clothes and going outside and faking smiles. I can’t believe I had to have a cheerful face through it.

She always was a black hole of time. The endless conversations all night. Morosely and silent long walks to bus stops. Making me meet her at train stations after her random disappearances. She loved taking my valuable time – time I could be doing something productive and happy – and making it all about her darkness.

 RaypicWell, I suppose I got some good pictures got out of it

If she thought this photo session was some way to seduce me, she was way off. It really pissed me off. After it was finally over with, the more I thought about it the more I realized how stupid I had been to get in this situation.

Later she gave me the picturebook thing and they were jut cheap remnants of the stupidest memories ever. She put them on her Facebook or something, I made sure she didn’t tag me, and I went along with it for a while.

Occasionally she’d buy me gifts, like clothes. I didn’t like that either , it made me uncomfortable. She wasn’t going to win me over, ever, and if only she could accept that and moved on long ago. Instead of letting it turn out the way it did.

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*Not* Dating – America (Canada), Hong Kong

I like to think that my life is just a collection of in-between stuff that doesn’t count, while the times that I travel are when I am truly alive.

Or is that my real life is simply peppered with the travel episodes, which are more like fill-ins that don’t count towards the greater narrative arc?

In any case, after some unimpressive hookups, I was ready. So ready. Travel.

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Ok it’s not the best picture of me in a suit, but just imagine…

America (plus Canada)

My biannual trip back home. Every other year, that’s plenty for me. And, my best friend was getting married!

I was the best man. It was a big deal.

I seem to always travel for weddings these days. That’s cool; it’ beats funerals.

So, I flew to Seattle. My first time in the Pacific Northwest. Over the next few weeks, I would travel to Portland and Vancouver as well (being my first time in Canada). As well as stopping by my hometown Cincinnati, of course. It was right at the cusp of 2012 and 2013, and it was damn cold. I saw winter snow again after years on end in the tropics, and I’m not quite used to it. For the most part, like the last time I went back to the real world West, it wasn’t that big a deal reacclimating.

Seattle seemed surprisingly average. I expected it to be more liberal and crazy. I don’t mean grungey stoners everywhere, but a few more rock show flyers and headshops would have been nice. Mostly it was average white people and average suburban settings, the kind the world imagines from American television.

My best friend picked me up and I proceeded to stay at his place in Tacoma. We went out to bars there, bars in Seattle, as I met his lovely fiancé and social group as we traveled around Pike Place Market, home of the world’s first Starbucks, and further lame tourism.

WP_000154Starbucks, bleh

We celebrated New Year’s watching fireworks explode atop the Space Needle among the office workers. 2012 had come and went and the world did not explode as much as I’d hope. Sure the world is always evolving, however slowly, yet cosmic paradigm-shifting Singularities may be asking for too much.

Going to my hometown to see my family was uneventful. I took a week out to fly to Cincinnati, Ohio to see my mom and dad and sister and brother and several old friends. Ate food. Saw live music. Went to more bars. Some of which in Northern Kentucky which is still greater Cincinnati. The old friends who stayed in Cincinnati tended be the kind of people who just never leave home…

Remember Gwen? It was nice to see her again. She drove me around and invited me to her house and we caught up. Hung out with her growing son… And then met her new boyfriend. I sure didn’t have the confident swagger I had back in 2010. But good for her. Since then she isn’t the most active Facebook user to keep in touch with, but I have heard that she moved to the West Coast and I support her for that.

When traveling back home, it’s all about the people you meet. Still, when traveling back home, for me, a lot of it involves bookstores. To be more specific, a lot of it involves reading comics at booksstores. One of my favorite things to do in America is to simply go to Barnes & Nobles and sit down and catch up on graphic novels.

Naruto, One Piece, 20th Century Boys, and more manga. Transformers, the classic sort. I started to get into Judge Dredd. Fables, for Vertigo fix. Justice League & Aquaman by Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder’s Batman, Wolverine & the X-Men as authored by Jason Aaron. The indie masterpiece Habibi by Craig Thompson was a favored read.

Then I flew back. The wedding was underway. My friend immediately took me to Canon Beach, Oregon. Famed for that scene in the Goonies. A beautifully scenic beach town, though too bad it wasn’t the summer. We took residence in the hotel and rehearsed and set everything up, met some familiar faces and many more new ones. It was weird to see his family in Oregon, his mom and sister who were mere background when I was a teenager and we played video games in his house. It’s weird to meet your friend’s parents when you are an adult. I never know whether to call them by their first name or not.

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Goonies forever, remember?

It was good as weddings go. I can totally rock a suit, it’s a shame I wear a tie so seldom. There was the big party. Dancing. Photos along the shore. High-pressure afterparty. Staring at the stars at night. I made a brief speech, as my duties pertained. Now, according to movies, weddings were supposed to be a good place to meet girls. Let us just say it didn’t work out that way at all for me. I was not at all at the time of my so-called game. I’m not complaining, simply taking note.

And that was about it for Canon Beach. There was another old friend in town for the wedding, a great ol’ companion who followed me to Southern California and the place ended up suiting him more than it did me. He’s still there, living the good life.

While in Oregon, me and old friend decided more travel is always a good idea and went out to explore Portland. There was the proper super-liberal town I was waiting to see. Vegan donuts and graffiti and homeless people. I really loved Powell’s Books! Funny thing about Portland, it has the highest per capita of strip clubs of any city in America. Strip clubs where couples go and girls enjoy having a drink and it’s like a normalized bar-restaurant. With naked lady dancers. Contrast that with the gay bars there; while everywhere else I’ve lived has gay bars full of hip straight people, in Portland the gay bars are for real gays only. That’s the core of what I made of the city: strip clubs full of women patrons and gay bars with men only, and I found that odd.

Moreover, don’t you love the show Portlandia?

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Literally Portlandia

An interesting anecdote crossed my path. At a certain strip club, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a face that I swore I recognized from the news. It was MCAFFEY, the antivirus entrepreneur who was accused of drug-crazed murder in Belize and had recently escaped back to the United States. I was so starstruck, and I freaked out. It’s one thing to see a random B-list celebrity on the street in Los Angeles, it’s another thing to see someone fromthe news in real life. My friend made fun of me for shrieking and making such a big deal about it. I didn’t go up and ask for a selfie together, and that may have been a bad idea considering he had probably recently killed a man. Or he would’ve hacked my phone or something.

McAfee really was in Portland in January of 2013. Look it up.

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Dating in China – Yuki, gross

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Not that this was the same time period, but here’s me in Tokyo!

I sincerely try not to judge people.

I really do. I try, and I don’t always succeed, but I try. Intellectually I know I shouldn’t be judgmental.

When it comes to sexually promiscuous women, I can be torn. On the one hand, we are all adults and we should be free to do whatever we want. Me included. Some people express themselves sexually and they are healthy about it, they want to give themselves pleasure and society shouldn’t force arbitrary rules causing unnecessary shame. It’s simple, really.

Yet, there is on the other hand: how some people seem to warrant further psychoanalyzing to see why they are having all that wild anonymous group sex. Certain peoples with issues and acting out. Can’t help but wonder what’s wrong. Or at least, can’t we be morbidly curious about why people are the way they are?

I still have some enlightening to do myself…

Honestly, I don’t even care that all that much. It’s not my business. Let me start over. This is all from a totally amoral standpoint.

I simply don’t want her to text me those pictures of her fucking multiple men, and often pictures of her fucking those multiple men at once. I’m just not into seeing that. And she kept sending them unsolicited again and again. Emails, text apps. Skanky invitations (for lack of a better term), I’d tell her to leave me alone, and she continuously pushed at me and pushed at me the most graphic sexual imagery possible.

That’s weird, right?

 

Yuki

I don’t think it was a moment of desperation or anything like that. A mere moment of playfulness. Not particularly special or anything.

Well, after online dating for so long, the odds were in my favor that eventually I’d meet someone off and the drama would begin.

So. I was single now and feeling frisky one day, as single men tend to do, and I messaged some lady on POF and said I was doing a survey on hand jobs. Rate your skill 1 to 10. Funny much?

She was apparently intrigued and messaged me back.

Yuki was my age. She’d done some kind of trading business. I know she’d been to Vegas before and was internationally-minded enough. Her ‘name’ was a Japanese (Chinese people rarely use their real names when speaking English to foreigners, they usually choose a Western name but some people do like to be called something more exotic). She wasn’t all that hot. She was curvy for a Chinese woman. She was quite willing. How was I to know it would turn out bad?

After a latenight dinner we took a taxi to my house and so on. Whatever. We met a few times after that I guess. It wasn’t like that memorable. She wasn’t supposed to have turned out to be this big a deal still bothering me today.

Some time passed, there was no indication that we should become a serious couple, and one day she asked if she could stay at my place for several days. Um, what?

She had been telling me she was looking for a new place, looking to move. She was just in-between. It happens. Or, does it?

It was terrible. I can be such a sucker. I laid out some ground rules, and I let her bring over luggages and crash. She went out to work or something in the days, and then came over at nights and left many dirty dishes and crap lying around.

Worst of all, she was always around. My whole personal routine was interrupted. I like to be alone most of the time, to be honest.

I do invite people over from time to time. I’ve written about Couchsurfing, for example. Thing about those situations though, is that there is a plan beforehand. A specific date of when the guest leaves, an endpoint.

Yuki soon overstayed her welcome and I told her she needed to get out. This wasn’t cool. She needed to get the hell out of my house.

It was hard to read this person. I mean, she’d been abroad. A moderately middle-class Chinese woman, I’d suppose. Didn’t seem like she was broke. It’s not hard to find an apartment in Shenzhen, so why did she need to be in-between like this?

Was she actually homeless, drifting from man to man’s houses? Or, just desperate for human contact?

I don’t know. I don’t want to know too much. Just stop taking advantage of me.

Then, another day a month or so later, it came eerily close to stalking.

That time she came over without warning was unacceptable. I hate when women do that. I have a routine, I need to be alone to be productive. I don’t like surprises. Sure I let her stay over, but I told her in no uncertain terms that she could never ever come over unannounced again.

When I later moved, I made it a point to not forward her my new address.

And lest you think I’m some pig rejecting an innocent Chinese girl who only wanted to be my girlfriend… Then the explicitness began.

Now, I’m not necessarily opposed to sexting. I may indulge in such from time to time. But when the unsolicited nude pictures started, and were then followed up by pictures of sex with other men’s dicks, I had to politely ask her to stop. She can be exhibitionist all she wants, but don’t I get to inform consent?

And they kept on coming. Dick pics. Other men’s dicks. More dicks. Then two dicks at once. Then a video. Then more.

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Dating in China – Jeanie, girlfriends

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Finally cutting the long hair, an era ended. She took the picture

In the midst of my general soul-searching of late, I realize that I put too much prudence on the idea of having a girlfriend. As opposed to the specific individuality of a person and how her personality and vibe would match with mine. I tend to rely too much on false hope, without any real foundation, and reap the consequences of such later. This kind of thing may go for this episode.

Mid-2012. I was meeting girls from time to time, whatever. I wanted more. I wanted a partner, stability, someone to hang out to always be there to hang out with me. Tired of the chase, I wanted the idea.

I met Jeanie on the ol’ website. She thought I was interesting, and funny! Believe it or not.

She was Chinese; she was educated and worked in some international company. I think she made more money than me.

She had the most perfect skin. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman I ever met, but she was the most beautiful woman I ever met online.

The problem with meeting a partner online, I always say, is it’s not a good story of how you met.

But who really cares about the stigma of dating online that in this day and age?

I suppose the simple truth of why it didn’t work out is we didn’t have all that much in common. We ran out of things to talk about. I’d repeat myself. There wasn’t that much to confide, not that much to be deep over.

For a while, we did have a pleasant routine. She was always busy with work, which was far away in Luohu. We went to all the cool dating places early on, such as when we went to the top of the KK Building – tallest building in Shenzhen. I tried taking her to parties but she wasn’t into it. The rave was a particularly bad idea, she was so bored. There was one cool episode when she babysat me tripping on smuggled psilocybin chocolate at Lianhua Mountain.

But sooner or later, every weekend would roll around and she would be too tired to go about town and she just wanted to chill in my Meilin apartment. I suppose nothing wrong with that. Just the two of us tended to be quite nice. We watched a lot of Mad Men.

I was very serious about writing back then, and spent most of my free time on my novel. I didn’t need to be a super fun-time-all-the-time social butterfly type, and she didn’t want that from me. My popularity in the Shenzhen scene was waning. “Didn’t you move to Guangzhou?” everyone said, unaware that I’d been back for a while and uncaring. Which suited me fine. I was in my own little world.

We did travel once. We only went to Zhuhai, but we did go there together and it was nice.

Zhuhai is beach town two hours away from Shenzhen. I’ve been there several times. It borders the former Portuguese colony – and current gambling pit – of Macau, and is one of the four original Special Economic Zones of reformed China. (Shenzhen, by the by, being the first of the SEZs.)

Zhuhai happens to be her hometown, and she was visiting her family one holiday three-day weekend and I decided to tag along. After her filial duties, I bused over and met her at a hotel. She showed me around some islands and we taxied around to eat and to shop and to see the sights. It’s a fun place to explore at night.

“Welcome to Zhuhai,” she said on the hotel bed.

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Dating in China – Emma, online

SAM_1371Not directly related to post below, but when I went to Taipei later that year. The mood seems to apply somehow

Spring of 2012. Upon returning to Shenzhen, I was in a bit of a dry spell. Or rather, continuing a bit of a dry spell. Life was going well enough, I was productive and working out often and biking and writing and generally getting used to my newly familiar setting. Self-growth, nicely, for the most part. But I guess I was out of practice in one regard. It happens.

Various rejections. In person and online. Whatever. Finally, I decided to take some dreaded pickup advice. Ach, that whole thing. Off and on I must admit I’ve been into that. Not something I need consider these days, but at the time I figured why not…

I went on POF and made a new profile. I took a blurry picture of myself in goggles and a funny hat – a bit apprehensive that anyone might recognize me – and proceeded to create the most ridiculous profile possible. The kind of thing you can’t even mock, a total caricature of an entitled prick who thinks he’s some gift to women and is totally arrogant about it. All intentions put out there. It is total bullshit, and I’d have no need to do this thing nowadays, but it was the time to rack up experience. What can I say?

“Run away,” I wrote. “If you know what’s good for you.”

That’s called disqualification, or some such shit.

Wouldn’t you know it? The damn thing actually worked.

Thing was, I was funny. Nobodytook it seriously, they just enjoyed the crass humor because was something different than the usual horde of desperate lonely men on dating sites.

First, I met a nice girl named Emma. I peaked her interest; we chatted for a while.

I do like communicating by email. I am in control of my thoughts, no awkward pauses, and I can edit accordingly before hitting send. People usually get my sense of humor, although I sometimes can get myself in trouble. Naturally, the emails then upgraded to phone texting. Which is a medium I am also well experienced in though not my preference.

Everybody has their own preferred method of communication. Some people like long phone conversations. Some, a dying breed, write actual letters. I guess even my breed’s long emails is slowly becoming endangered. Most everybody is cool with just texting these days, for sure.

After texting upgraded to talks, we made plans. She bussed over to my neighborhood. Upon meeting in person, I immediately had to give up the facade and just act my usual dumb self.

She’s cute, I though. She was short. She wasn’t a knockout, but she had a certain style about her I could appreciate. I took her to a little whole-in-the-wall pub, escalated and so on, made out a bit.

She was a Chinese English teacher. That is, she’s a Chinese person who works as an English teacher. Hence, her English was rather good. We had good conversations. I liked talking to her.

My dateable standards definitely preclude fluent speakers of English only. Though I’m studying Mandarin as much as I can, to go on dates and make a human connection I need to have real conversation.

I don’t get that breed of expats who fuck girls they can’t even talk to, but those are a muddy breed indeed.

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Dating – Back to Shenzhen, China!

SAM_1062A symbolically-numbered birthday, lookin lame. Note long hair at the time

 

In February of 2012 I had been living in the megacity of Guangzhou (Canton) for one year. My search for companionship had yielded mixed results. I had a bit of fun, sure. But nothing ever seemed to turn substantial, and I was getting lonely.

That, and my favorite bar had closed down. In no hurry to leave China whatsoever – I’m still here for the long haul – I decided that the path of least resistance was to go back to Shenzhen. It was the city I knew best, the city I had people in, the city that’s next to Hong Kong (while simultaneously still a Mandarin-speaking insanely developing mainland locale). I just wanted to go back.

I went over and spent a day apartment-hunting. First I had some bad results from online recommendations, then I simply utilized those real estate office guys you see around, and I found the perfect flat in the middle of the city. I soon met the landlord, signed the lease, and went back to GZ that very night and moved in a week later.

It was the best apartment I’ve ever lived in. I stayed there are year-and-a-half, which is quite long for me. For whatever reasons, I tend to move a lot. About every year I get anxious and seek out a better place to live. Yet, so far, I haven’t found anything better that that amazing apartment. Sigh, I do miss that place.

It suited me. Unlike other places I’ve lived in China, it wasn’t too glamorous. The place had character. It was, of course, cheap. It was a one-bedroom and living room, roomier than those big one-rooms. The building had no elevator, but that’s okay I lived on the first floor. It was close enough to downtown, but just a bit outwards of Futian District in the quieter Meilin neighborhood. There was a subway station nearby with a line led directly to the Lok Ma Chau border to Hong Kong. And only a 30 yuan latenight taxi ride to the obvious weekend haunts of Coco Park. It had everything going for it.

I unpacked. I redecorated. Life went on. I got a gym membership in the area, I biked around and explored and discovered my new favorite restaurants. I celebrated my birthday with a few friends. I met new people and hung out with some Couchsurfers; with my conveniently-located new apartment I could host and invited more than a few travelers to stay with me.

My writing was kinda-maybe starting to take off, and I kept myself busy freelancing. I visited Guangzhou a few times, on assignment of sorts for a magazine. Mostly, I worked on my novel and slowly but surely I was to take that more seriously. It was a productive time in my life.

Oh, and I traveled to Taiwan. (I traveled to Japan the most recent trip, by the way. I apparently skipped that part in previous writings. Well there was no hooking up to be had there. That trip to Taiwan was the last time I both stayed in a hostel and stayed at a Couchsurfer’s, with the coming of a symbolically-yeared birthday I decided I was too old for this kind of backpacking travel…)

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DATING IN CHINA – MY GUANGZHOU YEAR

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Canton Tower
I was there, man

 

 

Previously: DATING IN CHINA – MEGAPOST 1
Covering the years 2008 – 2011

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

 

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

Dating – China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

Stayin’ upbeat

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