An American Abroad – Part I: Epidemic.

I think one thing I never realized, or identified with when I was stateside was that I was an American. Of course, you know this when you live there, when you make jokes about how awful your country is, or in relation to Canadians, but when you live abroad, it becomes a marker of your identity.

When I was backpacking, your nationality was part of your introduction: your name, your nationality, a major city someone knew from America, and what brings you there.

Now that I am stationary in China, American means what comforts I seek (sugar for example, is a marker of American tastes). In the past few months though, I have felt a strange sort of patriotism, or at least horror, as I am asked nearly constantly about my country by others. I’d like to talk a little about my national identity and how it has affected me the past few months.

Continue reading “An American Abroad – Part I: Epidemic.”

On Chinese Poetry

For the past eight months or so I have been near obsessed with Chinese poetry. Last November, I was speaking with a coworker who was very much into Chinese calligraphy when we talked briefly about Chinese poetry and a name kept coming up: Li Bai. I poked around and found a very good biography done about his life, little did I know that Li Bai, the wandering poet, would set me on an adventure that would take up most of my quarantine in 2020.

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Red Balloons Over China

Note: People’s Choice Award Winner, Defcon 27

It was spring, and Beijing was finally pushing off the last of its winter blanket, a greyish brown haze that laid over the city. This search for the clowns was given to me by my editor, along with a last-minute flight from Los Angeles, a last-minute screenshot of an Instagram post from one of our travel bloggers, a last-minute “investigative journalism” pitch for the last minute of my career as a journalist.

I was on the search for the intersection from the photo, strange characters on the street sign over the girl’s head, partially covered by the red balloon tied around her wrist, a Prada shopping bag hanging loosely from her elbow, and of course full faced, almost comical, clown makeup, and a red nose cutting through the smog of a Beijing winter in a mockery of Rudolph.

Holding up my phone to another street sign, the character that looked somewhat like a chair wasn’t present, and, chagrined that they sent me, someone whose only interaction with China was takeout, ducked into a nearby coffee shop proudly called “Peace, Love, Wander” and stood at the bar waiting for whatever I managed to point at.

“ICP?” A young girl said next to me, pointing at the photo on my phone.

“ICP?” I asked back, wondering if she was speaking English, or Chinese just happened to sound like it.

“The photo, they’re from the ICP.”

My mind halted, was the Insane Clown Posse popular in China? Was it popular anywhere? “Like, down with the clown ICP?”

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