Saturday, February 24, 2007

Welcome (back) to Whitby. *shudder*

I might as well accept defeat and move on.

I've gone through all the stages of grief and the last one on the list is "blog". So here I am, telling you that I cannot go back to China.

Car crash. Lightning bolt. Baby crying. Whu-hat???

I won't go into great detail and admit to you all that I'm a terrible criminal with dark evil thoughts and a labyrinth in my basement, but close enough.

I picked up this job in China knowing that it was a sketchy deal, but once I got there this small concern became miniscule compared to the great times I was having. I was working in China illegally (technically, although I don't like to consider myself a total criminal) and I didn't even care. Work Visa who cares. As long as I could enter the country, have an awesome year long experience and exit the country with a clean record I was cool with it. Work visa, who cares? Unfortunately for me the Chinese Consulate in Toronto cared, because when I visited them last week to get this sketchy non-work-visa of mine extended for my intended re-entry into the country, they stopped me. The jig was up. The Chinese women who work there mean business, and I tell you, I haven't been stared down like that in a looong time.

"Excuse me while I deliver your 'request' to the head office," she trotted off, giving me a side long glare the whole way out.

She returned with her superior, likely the head of the Chinese Consulate, and the two proceeded to explain to me that what I was doing was illegal and it was their duty to tell me that if I get caught I face deportation, imprisonment, a hefty fine, etc.

I know for a fact that hundreds of English teachers do their thing overseas without a proper working visa. They take this risk all the time because it's actually not much of a risk. The authorities overlook it all the time. I was hoping they'd do the same for me for the extent of my stay, but it seems the authorities in Canada aren't as willing to bend the rules for little old me.

What to do now? I'm hoping my employer will have some sort of plan worked out by next week, as I've called her twice so far and she's taking her sweet time negotiating my future. In the meantime I've admitted defeat in my heart. The government of China wins this round, I'm afraid. I've started looking for work in the GTA half-heartedly, and it's slow going. It's cold outside so I don't feel like going anywhere, I'm slightly depressed so it's hard to muster up the motivation, and I keep thinking that this thing with China might just work out, so I'm a little bit hesitant to proceed with full force.

It's a messy situation I've gotten myself into. I was willing to give up this life in Whitby for a full year and now my escape has been cut short so I'm left to continue with the life that I intentionally shafted. Who wants to eat the cake that they threw to the ground? It's not the best metaphore I've ever crafted but it's exactly how I feel.

The one positive thought I have is "only 6 months until university". Let's hope it cleans up this mess I've made with my life.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Japan Super Highway: How you die

I know I know... I've been making far too many posts about Japan. I don't live there, I haven't even been there! But I love it none the less. An incredibly gripping video here that I guarantee you will watch for the full 14 minutes. This guy is insane!

Never to be stuck in traffic again.


Went back to my old highschool today to pick up my high school diploma and Ontario Scholars Award. Got the chills. That place is dead - or was dead - to me. I saw an old favourite teacher of mine and called him the wrong name. I was terribly embarassed and cut our conversation short because of this. None of the guidance councellors remembered my name or my voyage to China. I was too distraught at how quickly they'd forgotten me and my weekly visits to their office to remind them how far I've gone. High school is even more of a grey memory to me now that I realize how easily detatched I can become from it.

I had an excellent weekend full of Shakespeare and Korean-owned KTV downtown Toronto. I've discovered that life in Canada isn't all that awful, it entirely depends on who you are with. Also being in a multi-cultural city with no limits such as Toronto helps the cause.

Next weekend I'll take the train to Ottawa and visit my cousin at University of Ottawa, my future resting place. I have no clue what to expect from next year, but you can rest assured knowing that I'll keep you updated at least up to that point.

Wo ai ni.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Hilarious Japanese Game Show

The Future.

For the longest time I've been struggling over what path to take next year. I've been unsure of myself and what the future holds for me once my teaching contract in Dongyang expires in June.

But things seem to have fallen into place recently and I'm ecstatic. Really. I realize my writing has been less than enthusiatic lately, but I'm going to blame that on Canadian Culture Shock, not my life falling apart. Au contraire.

I have been discussing with my good friend Veronica the idea of her coming over to China for a few weeks near the end of my contract. She has a plan to follow through with (A big movie-type plan) before she meets up with me, but then I walk into the picture. If all goes as planned she will stay with me at my apartment for a few days leading up to the end of my contract, then we'll travel around China for 2 weeks, sleeping on beaches and benches and up in trees... Okay, perhaps we won't be roughing it this much, but money will always be an issue so we're likely to take the BUDGET hotels and hostels route.

Then I come home to a job (hopefully). I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one as it's the plan I'm most unsure of at the moment. My dad recently started up a new job downtown Toronto at Young and Eglington. He works for Canadian Tire Corporate now, some sort of Project Manager type deal. I've never had this sort of corporate connection before and I'm looking to milk it for all it's worth. I've already spoken to somebody at HR and my newly revised resume is floating around the building somewhere. Here's hoping that I won't be broke and lazy come summer upon my return from the far East.

But what this post is really about: University. I only learned today that I've been accepted to University of Ottawa for this fall. I'm stoked. Screw U of T. Screw Western. I'm heading where it's cold and cultural (not that there aren't enough Chinese people at U of T). Also I've been given a scholarship that I didn't even need to apply for. What Luck. Actually I'm going to call this one hard work on my part, not divine intervention or voodoo or luck of the draw. I worked my ass off my last year of highschool and this is my reward.

What would I have done if university was not an option? I had planned this one out too. I've actually written my 10 year life plan already, and I have 2 versions of it. Plan A is the one I'm following through with now that I'm going to University of Ottawawa. But Plan B could have been quite an adventure as well. I'm not about to divulge to you my inner-most dreams and aspirations, but I'll give you a hint: it's called the Island of Women. Had I not gone to university, I would have headed straight from China to the Coast of Mexico. To this tiny remote little fishing island only 5 miles long, where I would have searched for a teaching contract at one of the 3 elementary schools on Ilsa Mujeres and soaked up the sun right above the equator for a year or 2. It's nice to have these kind of options. But it's also nice to not have to resort to Plan B. It's always better to be pale than golden brown - at least they say so in China.

They even have whitening cream and powder for your face!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Beijing temps hit 30-year high

BEIJING, China (AP) -- The weather in China's capital has been unseasonably warm with temperatures hitting a 30-year high, state media said Tuesday amid concern over the country's soaring greenhouse-gas emissions.

China, already the world's largest producer and consumer of coal, is expected to surpass the United States as the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter in the next decade.

The China Daily newspaper said Beijing's temperature hit 12.8 degrees Celsius on Saturday -- a 30-year high for the date -- prompting an early spring, with frozen lakes melting and trees blooming...

Read full story

And according to my trustworthy sources (or source, ie Andrea) in Shanghai, the weather there appears to have been above 20 degrees for the past few days. People walking around in their shorts and t-shirts, she says!

Forget the fact that it's caused by destructive energy sources, I have something to look forward to!


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Since you're wondering

As much as I have loved being able to spend time with my family and friends for the past week, I can't help but feel a tad overcome by this feeling... this culture shock.

Canada is an incredible country, true. Almost all of the problems that I faced in Dongyang and the surrounding area could conceivably never happen in Whitby, my hometown. Things are simpler here, quieter and more decent and straightforward. But there was a certain method to the madness that I must confess I found quite alluring in China. There's something so meaningful and inspiring about finding your way out of one of the several hundred problems that China throws at you. Here... there's nothing. Just some snow and ice and Tim Hortons and a smartly-heated house (as opposed to the icey cool air and tiles in my apartment overseas). Things have been looking rather bleak to me.

On a lighter note, taking full advantage of the quick wireless internet I have available to me on my laptop at the moment, I have some things to show you. Pictures that I never found the time nor energy to post at the Internet Cafe I became so twistedly attached to.

A new take on the school cafeteria - total chaos.

A wall of snuff bottles and other stuffs, all handpainted from the inside.
Me chilling in a real uncomfortable wicker seat in Shanghai.
This picture must be enlarged to find the humour in it. A notice to backseat passengers in a taxicab.
I'd like to think of this as me bargaining for a good deal, but I think we all know that I was only driving down the wildly inflated price a tiny bit.
The best part was when he flew into the air via rocket propulsion. What a babe.
On top of the world! Well, almost... it looks pretty high up.

Where much of Jet Li's film Hero was shot, in Hengdian, about 20 mins from my city.

And the movie poster for Hero, where you can see the same buildings in the background.

And that's all the input I have for you today. More soon.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Tower of...

Thought I'd kick start my Canadian blogging session with a cute video from New Years this year. One might wrongly assume that this vid was taken after the countdown, after everyone is coming down from their cheap booze binges and celebrating with a traditional Chinese song - but it was only eight o'clock. However it is true that these people were thuroughly sloppy and not ready to go home just yet. Yeah KTV!

Also posted above is live video footage of me trying to get my bearings within a huge rubber ball! Impossible! ... not to mention dangerous.

And above is the film that I just returned from seeing at the Local AMC (one of the perks of being home!) called Babel. I loved the movie upon seeing it, but there is nothing worse than having a tonne of crap reviews ruin your perspective. After watching this trailer it's obvious the theme of the movie is miscommunication between cultures and languages, but that's just not the message I got after watching the film. Oh well, it was a fun experience none the less.

Also, what's with Japanese people? This movie completely makes them (especially the young girls among them) out to be anti-conservative and totally out there in terms of drugs/sex/drinking/lifestyle etc. If all this turns out to be true, I guess that means Chinese and Japanese are even more different than I had thought.

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