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Coffee

In the 1970’s I was tasked by the military to teach medics the stages of grief written about and popularized by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. Disbelief, Anger, Denial and Acceptance are all part and parcel of loss and Ross gave us a viable way to understand emotions in confusing circumstances. Some counselors and friends through the years have used them as a way to help mourners and disease sufferers cope as they journey through tragedy. But, sometimes…

I am not ashamed to admit that I have been stuck in anger of late about many losses that have occurred around me and concerning the pain and difficulties of my own condition. No news or change of status has affected me more profoundly lately than that of “Coffee.”

Huang Cui Xiang, Coffee’s real name in print for the first time as I promised to protect her anonymity , was a saint long before she became ill–as you will read below.

I am reside emotionally and mentally in the hospital where I  saw her battling heat, pain and worry: She was not fretting about her disease, she was concerned about her studies. She had spread her school books on her bed and took every free moment she was not debilitated by chemotherapy to read her lessons. She was determined to graduate on time with her class.

That was two years ago. She carried her books up and down long flights of stairs (no place in China is well equipped for anyone handicapped) and developed a strong walk and great endurance despite an ill-fitted and heavy artificial leg. She took extra classes, enrolled in an off-campus French language translators course donated by one of her school’s most caring foreign teachers, performed an internship at HSBC bank and did, as she intended, graduate with her peers.

The cancer fought back over the last two years and six months ago Coffee’s cancer resurfaced  and she returned home to continue the fight. But in recent weeks the disease spread to her lungs and she was rendered unable to speak. She did text message several times.

Many people wanted to rescue her emotionally and, with good intentions, they would send her new cancer fighting recipes and words of wisdom and encouragement. Coffee, who was already resigned to the inevitable, simply replied, “It is too late for that.”

Her last communication, just days before I had planned to visit her at her home in Yingde, China was simply, “Goodbye.” She died last week. The message was Coffee’s last lesson for me– and one she had been trying to teach all along with a smile on her face and never a bad word to be said about anyone or anything: Take life on life’s terms and give your all to every moment of it in pursuit of something you cherish.

I know she is gone, and I accepted long ago Coffee might leave sooner than she should, but I am still angry. I am angry at myself for not doing more to help her, angry that I was not able to see her before she left and angry that I don’t feel the world is a better place because she was here– Coffee was forced out much too soon…

Coffee, rest in the same peace you knew even in adversity.

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My first post after hearing of Coffee’s illness:

I went to the hospital a few weeks ago to visit one of five of my students afflicted with cancer this last year. And my heart hurts since returning.

A former student called me to ask if I remembered another classmate nicknamed “Coffee.” Of course I remembered the 1/500 treasure: A delightful girl with a fervor for learning, who had been a second year English major in the school where I taught. I try to remember most of my students, but Coffee was easy: She often emailed me with serious questions about cultural issues and after several meetings, at her request, we changed her English name to one, at the time, we thought better suited a Business English major. I later felt I was wrong and, unlike other students and associates that I address by their Chinese, I have never called Coffee by the new name I foisted on her.

And I remembered that pretty young Coffee came from a poor rural family and had an older brother and sister. It was this knowledge that especially dismayed me when I was told that she had been diagnosed with bone cancer. I knew instantly that not only would she suffer ostracism associated with being handicapped in China–It it is an enormous social burden that she would not be able to afford to lighten–but the costs would prevent treatment that could help minimize her disability in this difference-vigilant culture. Her father, aware of the same, took more than half a day to accede to the surgeons requests for a consent form to remove Coffee’s leg. He thought it might be better to let Coffee die rather than face shunning for a disability.

It takes no special education to know there is shame and hardship ahead for his daughter and family. Please don’t judge him harshly. He loves his daughter and has already invested his life’s savings to see her through three years of college. He is back at home while Coffee’s mother must pay a daily fee to maintain all an day and night vigil at the hospital. They live two hours and many, many years away from China’s third largest metropolis.

The hospital was without air conditioning and in desperate need of paint and renovation, but I knew that even this questionable house of healing was more than she could afford. I met her mother, a woman who has obviously labored hundreds of long days under the sun, and immediately knew that finances were going to the biggest single factor in Coffee’s treatment and recovery. And worse yet, the hospital’s worn facade was a metaphor for the growing disparity between rich and poor in China that has enmeshed Coffee and her family–and just at a time when they had hoped to improve their station in life through school. The rich are living, and living well, while the poor are dying for want of health care. Coffee was smiling and genuinely optimistic during our meeting. She could already navigate, on crutches, the area from her bed to the common television alcove down the bleak corridor. Her leg was removed only two weeks ago, but Coffee is far ahead of the healing curve. I am told that Coffee attended class up until two days before her scheduled surgery and today she shared, in confident and relaxed English, that she intends to go back to college next semester even if it is during her chemotherapy. I believe her. The school, with no handicapped accessibility, no air conditioning, overcrowded dorms and mind-numbing class schedules, is all she thinks about. She will finish college even if her post-graduate chances for good paying work have been diminished. If I could have bottled one-tenth of one-percent of the courage that issued from her today I could sell it and fund a cure for her disease. But, the best anyone has been able to do so far is take up a collection for her at school: Her classmates, no better off financially, have raised about $600 USD for her care. She is still several thousand short of what she will need for a manageable new leg alone. It is with great sadness that I announce another courageous soul will join the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women. I gave that title to a group of women who met during chemotherapy and have intuitively done health and healing in the face of HER2 breast cancer with bravery and even laughter: they watch sunrise together, meet for tea and inspiration and helped each other through hard times with meager resources, but hopeful hearts.

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Whose enemies are they? Pt.1…

Last week during a visit Zach, the Monk in the Sycamore Tree, looked more like a Catholic priest in a open air confessional as we spoke through the screened window separating my porch from the living room. He explains his occasional habit a “3-minute meditation” meant to take him out of his everyday orbit and force his mind and body to accept an alternate reality and the revelations that emanate from such a departure.I am quick to call it a “bullshit excuse” to revisit what he’s missing and has been lost in his life,  bad or good, and quick-cure his loneliness–part of a need to stay tethered to the forces that shaped him.

Vengeance

In between smokes (Zach, not me), we watched “Cold Case” on Hong Kong TV together earlier and, as usual, fell into an unstructured dialectic dialogue ( an argument) brought on by a show many criticize as vapid and simplistic. Anyone who can justify smoking a cigarette as a pathway way to understanding Dharma (the confluence of the active and passive nature of Universal Law) can certainly conjure a personal philosophical treatise on a prime-time TV show.

I cry every time I watch Cold Case. I am a sap and especially affected by music. They use popular  music in  cold Case that is so widely known that is part of our collective consciousness; it is well chosen and stand-alone it frees emotions previously confined to solitary spaces in memory (OK, that is my bullshit excuse for the day). I regard Cold Case as I do Ghost Whisperer: It as an allegory meant to instruct us that to seek the healing of long-suffered wounds is a natural necessary element in personal happiness.

Zach says history is tired of being relived and we should command the sweetness of release from sadness and pain through prayerful self-examination in the here and now. He believes that to replace bad memories with the flood of endorphins and enlightenment that come from meditation actually cauterizes anguish. He said, as has another of my friends, that other people’s enemies are not his adversaries and that Cold Case encourage people to hang on to the past and fantasies of revenge. And where I applauded the investigators that brought closure and consequences to the guilty this week Zach saw it as a fight (albeit fictional) that he’s glad he can avoid in similar real life encounters. He has no need to bear a grudge against malevolent characters–invented or real.

Last week I helped create a sting that jailed a Chinese gang member who had scammed my friend ( a charity director in China ) a week earlier and then was dumb enough to try it again.  I was as angered and incensed as was my buddy: He is my friend, and via my worldview, I owe him allegiance to him should I perceive he has truly been wronged. His enemies are my enemies. Zach was quick to point out that a budding celebrity in social media had,in the past, covertly asked me (on no less than 7 occasions) to help her retaliate against people she claimed had wronged her in some way. It turned out that this minor star had duped all of us in her tiny constellation and I had wrongfully shut out some good people. I admit to being wrong and brought to where I was by a gifted siren, a sociopath who feigned being wronged for whatever narcissistic pleasure. It does not mean that my core desire to be an advocate or protector of my friends is inherently wrong.

Zach drew a parallel to how we deal with China and its enormous need for charity. The western press, he said, revels in stories about wrong-doing and has no use for humanitarian tales of need or triumphs of the spirit from people in a country we have been duped into loathing. ‘Your two years of efforts to raise funds for victims of poverty and disease in China have yielded you less money than was spent today to pass out free drinks at Google Headquarters’. It seems your friends are not many people’s friends either.” And with that we both laughed though mine was tearfully distracted by knowing five people I know personally have died and one is waiting for the end of her life because I have not been able to rally kindness as well as others have rallied hate.  And while Zach himself has volunteered countless hours of comfort to cancer and earthquake victims he is right: My “friends”–rather my friend’s problems–do not belong to anyone else even if I think they should.

Cold Case is focused on wrong-doers finally paying for their past transgressions. But, we never see how they are punished for deeds. And often we are lead to believe that even the perpetrators received some measure of peace because they could not chant away feelings of guilt with a mantra of lies or just causally walk away from secrets that their conscience wouldn’t let them lock up down some dark corridor of memory. Zach thinks Karma (Karma Niyama) –in plain speak the everyday consequeces of someone’s actions–more oten than not rules in cold cases. Me, I think that the scumbags seem to win far more than the good guys because we are basically an apathetic people too concerned about meaningless aspect of our own lives–our “personal branding” as my sociopathic friend calls it. If we take the position that truly moral fights belong to someone else we leave human beings exposed to packs of emotional and materially hungry jackals. On a larger scale we allow for holocausts, the murder of Jewish and Palestinian children in Gaza, the clogging of rivers with bodies in Rwanda, and we become accomplices in genocide. On a smaller scale we are disloyal and selfish and might as well be holding the metaphorical knife that wounds our friends or their families if we don’t take a stance once we are recognize the truth. A Sichuan earthquake survivor told me, with a gravity that pulled all warmth from my body, that his idea of charity was now a sincere wish to die– to save those that worried about him from more trouble and frustration. He is like the women I have met in the cancer burdened Pearl River Delta who have hidden medical reports from their families in order not to bring them the financial pain of treatment bills.

Zach went on quietly to tell me about a meeting between the Dalia Lama and a group of western psychologists a few years ago: The western intelligencia advocated the expressing rage and saw anger as healthy while the Dalai Lama pointed to objective studies of bliss that showed his followers to be happier and more fit than those who divested themselves of rage through retaliation or outburst. I agreed, but pointed out that the cost of selfish devotion to one’s own bliss was condemnation of the opportunity for healing by others.

Zach,who left today after giving me a warm and sympathetic hug, has a religious and spiritual imperative to follow that I respectfully disagree is a good one. In the new rage that is social media we twitter-borgs tend to judge people by the company (Company? Say rather a brigade, batallion or division…) that follow us on a site. And we are loathe to challenge those with influence for two reasons: we want their blessing (and maybe some of their followers) and we are afraid to become victims of their displeasure for fear of losing some of our own social capital. We have turned from offline friends and global neighborhoods to “followers,” numbered minions doing forced labor in our personal branding camps. It has become easy to lose one “friend” when there are 2,000 more still in the fold. When I “tweeted” to 2,000 followers that a newlywed American in China had his money and documents in the Beijing aiport only one person, a Chinese travel agent with meager personal reserves, offered assistance.

To be continued…

Chinese Monks,Chinese Proverbs,Confucius Slept Here,Cross Cultural Training,Student Suicides China,The Unsinkable Ms Yue

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Blog of Dreams



The Dream:

Our dream is to travel in 2007 to every mainland province in China. During this journey, it is our intention to chronicle the everyday lives of ordinary Chinese citizens. Our motivation for the trip came from a group of women known as the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women. The LOECW was comprised of 5 women from various walks of Chinese life—wives, semi-professional women, a bookkeeper, and a student. The one thing they had in common was advanced-stage HER2 breast cancer. These women, with little access to formal education and less information from outside sources about the disease they had contracted, naturally and courageously combated their disease with friendship, enthusiasm, meditation, and what medical care they could afford.

One member of the original group has survived, and a newer, younger member has been added recently—a 22-year-old student who lost her leg to bone cancer. Both of the survivors lack the financial wherewithal to apply standard medical treatment to their illness. We devoted time and energy from our blogs and lives to raise money for members of the league. As a result of our initial efforts, we were able to extend the life of some members, and we enabled the student to purchase a prosthetic leg.

During this first effort, we began to think about other Chinese people left behind in the wake of this huge industrial growth. Around this time, we also met Thomas Stader and Laurie Mackenzie, two expats who have devoted their time, talents, and treasures to Chinese, educationally and economically left behind, by giving them access to life-changing education. Our meetings sparked Yanzhi Liu’s interest, as he was (and still is) a board member for the US-based group The Reading Tub. Because we are educators and bloggers actively involved in search engine marketing optimization and education, we sought to find a way to organize the entrepreneurial energy of the people we met and turn it into a force that would help us, and other people, realize the dreams we now hold dear.

We decided to experiment, via the Blog of Dreams, by asking students in our global internet marketing class to take a hands-on approach to global marketing by contributing to a positive world awareness of China while aiding worthy causes. Students immediately drove a brand new blog to the number 23 position (out of 75 million) in the Favorites section of Technorati, the premiere blog aggregator in the world. Students ensured that one of our blogs was nominated for and eventually won Best Asian Blog in the Annual Weblog Awards. This blog already held dozens of top ten slots in search engine slots for keywords related to China business. So, with this kind of early momentum, student commitment and huge volunteer support, we knew we could create a project that would make a difference in other people’s lives via the Internet.

The Dreamblogue is a simple concept. We will contact people through PR Web, Blogger News Network (BNN, for whom we write), Google News, Social Networks like Facebook and our volunteer network. We will also promote an Internet MEME that asks people be to share real dreams for themselves or someone else. After a specified period of time (maybe once a month or once a quarter), we’ll select a contributor who will win a prize donated by one of our charitable sponsors. We hope to give away vacations to China, scholarships for study abroad, equipment, Software and cutting edge gadgets that will appeal to our broad demographic. We want to attract a Postsecret-type (http://postsecret.blogspot.com) interest in our blog that will drive enough traffic that we can generate advertising revenue to give to educational and medical concerns. We also plan a book about China for expat and business newcomers.

The blog will use Feedburner and Blogads as its primary advertising revenue resources. The number of ads that we allow will be limited: no more than 1 ad in our feed, 1 ad in our posts, and 1 ad in our blog ads. All of the money generated from these sources will go directly from Feedburner and Blogads to the charities we support—we will never directly handle the money.

The other advertising that we will be present on the site will be for other corporations and institutions that sponsor our adventure, and those ads will be top listed display ads in the sidebar of the blog of dreams.

Any educational concerns that join us as sponsors for the trip will have direct links on our site to translated pages or individual websites that will advertise to Chinese students and more importantly, their parents. We will do all of the search engine optimization and translation and ongoing support for these.

The Blog of Dreams will have videocasts, podcasts, a China picture contest (to be turned into a coffee table book) , a weekly Chinese horoscope, weekly Chinese recipes (also to be a book), and most importantly, the daily dreams of people from around the world. In all, the Dreamblogue has been created to be a tool of understanding and a place where dreams can be spoken into reality. We also plan a book bout

Click on the stamp above and head for the Dreamblogue. The first thing you can do to help is favorite them in Technorati and then link to them if you have a blog.

ABOUT US:
Who we are:

Lonnie Hodge is a writer, educator and SEO consultant with over 20 years of experience working and living in Asia. He is a past recipient of America’s highest honor given to a poet: A National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Writing. Because of the Unsinkable Ms Yue’s constant inspiration via, her courage in battling cancer, Lonnie, along with David, were compelled to create The China Dreamblogue.
Lonnie has done SEO for corporations and bloggers large or small. His work for non-profit groups is done without charge. To date his clients hold over 30,000 keywords indexed in #1 positions on major search engines worldwide.
Lonnie has been a lecturer worldwide on topics related to Humor and Wellness, psychoneuroimmunology, Psychopharmacology, Personal Communication, Asian Culture, International Trade, Search Engine Optimization, Marketing, ESL and Personal Growth and Development for Universities, small and large businesses, The Kellogg Leadership Program, The Fetzer Institute and more…
He is a Professor with over thirty years of teaching experience at Universities worldwide including: Baylor University, The University of North Carolina, The U.S. Army Academy of Health Sciences (while he was a soldier during a few of the Vietnam years), The University of Maryland and Business/Technical Colleges in Asia.
He is currently one of China’s leading Trade Specialists and Consultants. He is one of only two peer- reviewed and accepted SEO specialists in China.
David DeGeest is a teacher, blogger, and educator in China who regularly assists in the editing and writing of OneManBandWidth. He holds a degree in mathematics and English from Grinnell College. He came to China as the recipient of a prestigious fellowship from Grinnell’s Office of Social Commitment. In the past year, he has edited a motivational memoir and an international Bonsai book. He has devoted his time to learning Chinese, language and literature, Martial Arts and SEO while promoting the Dreamblogue.

More information will follow tomorrow.

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Intermediate Yueyinglish….

A few months ago I posted about The Unsinkable Ms Yue’s uncanny ability to render herself understood in any circumstance. I have often used her as an example in my classes to encourage students to forget perfection and work toward progress instead.

ms yue

I long ago set out to catalog the elements of style in Yueyinglish a rare and unusual sub-dialect of Chinglish unique to the only surviving member of the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women. But, I had not seen Ms Yue for some time and heard her and David using an expanded vocabulary that the aspiring Yueyinglish speaker should know.

Some new vocabulary:

curse=of course

turnf the off=turn it on

turnf the on=turn it off

QQ=cute

newshin=new

long time ago=it was intolerably long

cookie the rice=prepare a meal

waidter=weather

rainling=raining

have the small?=do you have change?

you the one people go?=you are going alone?

only the talking, talking!=don’t get upset I am just discussing this with you

craysheen=insane

Seeulateragulator=later gator

OK, now for some practice sentences actually overheard in Guangzhou:

So, how was Spiderman?

Long time ago!

How about the actors?

The movie one people QQ. The girl no beautiful. Bad the man craysheen da.

I am sorry we got out so late

Only talking talking ma. I go one people home and cookie the rice.

The movie house was crowded

Yesu! The man no tunf the on the cellphone.

So you want to go with David to see another movie?

Newsheen the movie, curse! You the one people want to go?

No, David would love your company. See you later

The waidther no way! Rainling! Take a taxi. You have the small? Seeulateragulator.

For those of you anticipating your YYSL certificates: You wait me, OK?

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The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women: And Then There Was One…

league of extraordinary women

The original League lost one more extraordinary woman this week. Ms. 珍 (Zhen) , first from the right, succumbed to breast cancer that spread to her liver for want of appropriate treatment. (There is a still a way to help and it doesn’t cost you anything*)

The unsinkable Ms. Yue is the remaining survivor of her chemotherapy group. None of the women to date have been able to raise the funds needed to acquire the very expensive drug Herceptin needed for a chance of staving off the disease. It is the only available agent that can treat HER2 breast cancer in early and late stage development, butverg wholesale runs $45,000 for a course of therapy–more than ten years worth of an average teacher’s salry in China. This blog has raised only a fraction of the monies needed for these brave ladies.

I was given great life lessons by Ms Zhen, woman who remained ever positive about her chances for recovery. I have no doubt that she survived long past expectations because of her zeal for life, the friendship of the other League members and Chinese traditional medicine combined with what western medicine she could afford.

Ms Zhen, a victim of cancer and an ailing health system in China, leaves behind a loving husband, a boy 14 years old and a girl now 19 year of age.

In memoriam Onemanbandwidth and The Dreamblogue will not post new entries for the next three days.

*Head over to http://blogofdreams.com and favorite the blog in Technorati and also lin to the trip. It takes five minutes and the right people benefit.

Asian Women,Cancer Journal,Charity in China,China Photos,Chinese Medicine,Human Rights,Personal Notes,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,The Unsinkable Ms Yue,中国

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The funniest man in China….

Who:

Attended Cathedral Chorister School, Durham with Tony Blair ?

Who was awarded the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1982 for the 1981 season?

Who once crashed his MacLaren F1, a supercar valued at more than $1,000,000, into the back of a stationary Mini Metro, valued at around $600 USD (the damage was not severe)?

Who was one of the guests at Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles (you would have to have a sense of humor) wedding ?

You know you have been an expat too long when you can discuss, in detail, such trivia about the above referenced English comic, and revered Black Adder member, Rowan Atkinson.

And he has a new movie out:

Mr Bean in China

Ms Yue, a child of the revolution, does not know who the Beatles were, my students would not know Winnie the Pooh from the Pope (he looks like a really old bear, but with a hat, ae?), but even teenage girls would trample Justin Tiberlake enroute to getting a look at Mr. Bean’s mole-like mug. I am headed to the movies tonight to see what all the new fuss is about despite being offered the DVD version by every Chinese person I know. I might even do a review.

I once wrote, in a now lost post, about the Chinese sense of humor. Yes, it has its subtleties in speech (They love and study word play), but good physical stunts are valued over a talented tongue (sinocidal: hands off!).

And it is not just because of language (or my not being real funny) that I have to exaggerate body language or vocal tone to get a class to smile. Here are some examples of some pictures from that lost post that have endured on the net because they still tickle the national funny-bone here in China:

computer addict china

toilet humor

china humor

chins cupid

34.jpg

35.jpg

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Maybe it was the Chinese tea….

Chinese medicine

China Hands, the expats who have spent several years here, all have one or more stories about questionable medical care in China. One visit to a traditional hospital and a diagnosis of “Palpitation of Hyperactivity of Fire due to Yin Deficiency,” or “Deafness Caused by Exogenous Wind-Evil,”or any other kind of malady for which you might be prescribed snake bile as a cure, is enough to spook any newcomer.

I have long been an advocate of Mind-Body and Non-Traditional Medicine. The iatrogenic (In short: and illness caused by the treatment of an illness) issues caused by many Western drugs had me looking for other solutions. After reading, in Surgeon-Writer Richard Selzer’s book Mortal Lessons, about the uncanny diagnostic abilities the Dalai Lama’s personal physician, Yeshi Donden I was, and am, convinced that there are a great many Eastern healers with skills we sorely need to learn.

But, for all the stereotypical Hollywood hype like Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and its sixty-second healings of fractures, poisonings and such China has a long way to go to return to its traditional roots. Medicine, like everything, has industrialized and mediocrity and greed are more easily diagnosed than illness.

The unsinkable Ms Yue was told that her X-ray showed no abnormalities and they prescribed some herb to help her with some lymphatic pain they attributed to one of the four elements or Feng Gunk or something…. But, a month later she visited the formidable Zhongshan University Hospital in Guangzhou and was told that her X-ray revealed major calcifications indicative of late stage breast cancer.

Another friend nearly died last year when told that his double pneumonia was a simple cold while I was diagnosed with “fatty liver” (they think most westerners only have bad liver scans due to excessive drinking) when I actually had contracted Hepatitis A. In every instance we paid for useless medicines in addition to the questionable diagnostics. With the new industrialism has come cut-backs in medical funding and socialized health care benefits, so the doctors and clinics are looking for ways to make the rent. And they are doing creative diagnostics and treatment for big bucks while many average Chinese are considering suicide in lieu of expensive treatments.

Reuters, via China Digital Times has a great story about the decline of routine Chinese medical care. “A group of Chinese reporters came up with a novel idea to test how greedy local hospitals were — pass off tea as urine samples and submit the drink for tests.

The results: six out of 10 hospitals in Hangzhou, the capital of the rich coastal province of Zhejiang, visited by the reporters over a two-day period this month concluded that the patients’ urinal tracts were infected.

Five of the hospitals prescribed medication costing up to 400 yuan ($50), the online edition of the semi-official China News Service (www.chinanews.com) said in a report seen on Wednesday. Of the hospitals, four were state-owned.”

Me? I see a western MD in Guangzhou then go to Hong Kong to stock up on tried-and-true medications (many of the ones you buy in stores in Guangzhou are fakes) and make sure my medical evacuation insurance premiums are paid up….

For those of you interested in a medical text that does a good job of integrating Eastern and Western approaches take a look at Traditional Chinese Medicine by Professor Chen Keji, MD.

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Zaijian

chinglish

Books have been virtually replaced by blogs. But, puns aside, many of them showcase the transformative elements Pablo Neruda* suggests as essential to written art in Ars Magnetica:
“From so much loving and journeying, books emerge.

And if they don’t contain kisses or landscapes,
if they don’t contain a woman in every drop,
hunger, desire, anger, roads,
there are no use as a shield or as a bell:
they have no eyes and won’t be able to open them….”

Here I have I have tried to smooth the stubble of memory, share poetry, attempt humor, journal my social conscience, and reconcile my longings while shoutng to you in some far-off room. I leave here absolutely bewildered that anyone, other than my long-suffering friends, ever returned to listen. I am grateful you did.
Continue Reading »

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English, Chinglish and now Yue-Yinglish

I am one of those people who actually enjoys tests, especially those that challenge my verbal or reasoning skills. In basic military training, sometime not long after the time of muskets and canon balls, we new recruits took a language aptitude test. It was basically an examination that determined whether or not we could make sense of an invented language. It asked us to extrapolate from one bit of seeming gobbledygook to the next and then build sentences based on recurring patterns of subjects, objects and verbs. Such is communication with the unsinkable Ms Yue.

MSYUE

I wish I could teach my students the secret of true communication that Ms Yue has mastered. Too, I wish I could help self-absorbed colleagues understand that a lack of established vocabulary is not a lack of intelligence or sophistication and does not have to hinder a conversation. Ususally I chide the expat, who knows bupkis about what is being said, for not honoring someone who probably speaks two-and-a-half languages fluently and several dialects within them, for being so ethnocentric…

Ms Yue could understand and explain Quantum Physics given enough time! Mu Mesons and Quarks might translate into something pretty hilarious, but if you were humble enough to enter her world you might actually learn something new.

Ms Yue is the bravest person I know and not because she is emotionally fighting cancer better than any patient I have ever seen in battle. But, it is because she has a fierce determination to learn, and then connect with, new worlds of information and adventure.

In contrast, my students, in the middle of a speech, will look to classmates to rescue them and find the right word for a sentence while Ms Yue will simply invent one. The students seek to have a command of English vocabulary; Ms Yue already has a command of communication skills.

One student last week stumbled through a date and ended up saying one-nine-seven-oh for the year 1970. He got the exam’s highest grade as much for his creativity, sorely lacking in Chinese college students, as his boldness. He did not reach out for help; he solved the problem himself.

Some very simple examples of Yueyinglish:

Check in = Exchange
Ki = Ticket
Laundry = Clean
This (while pointing to her heart and then mouth) and this , no same = Untrustworthy
One more = Do it again, repeat an act
The near = close to
Me the = mine
You the = yours
Where = what and sometimes who and how
You me together = we, us
The man = him, he or any person of male persuasion. The ultimate personal pronoun
Later = then, so or after
Crazy = funny, nuts, ridiculous
You wait me = Wait for me
No way = impossible, not, no
Try Try = Eat it you foreign wimp
Boy love the boy = transsexual, drag queen, effeminate man, gay
Open = take off, turn on, make use of

Now your test:

I laundry the ki so later check in no way.
I washed the ticket so there’s no way to get another one.
Together you me you me watch where the boy love the boy DVD?
Which Queer as Folk video are we watching together this time?
You the soup the pig meat xue try try no way? Try try.
You are not going to eat the pig’s blood soup I ordered you? Get over it!
The before the no same the man drink the coffee house the near wait me?
Are you going to meet me close to the place where your untrustworthy breakfast partner lives?
Open the shoes. Close the den.
Take off your shoes and turn out that light.
Where the crazy?
And what is so funny?

And all of these are accompanied by perfect facial gestures, sound effects like Cantonese tsk’ing (used for everything from displeasure to amazement), and exaggerated body language.

She bade goodbye today to a visiting fellow from Grinell College in America, a young man the age of her son, that she had come to care about and look after as though he were one of her own. Some problems, out of his control, with his visa are taking him home much sooner than expected. So, with sadness and anticipation in her voice that could bring tears to a native Yueyinglish speaker’s eyes, she simply said:

Later, one more, China. You try try, Ok?

Safe journey David. Please hurry back.

**********************************

Have you visited my renter this week?

Asian Humor,Asian Women,China Expats,China Humor,Chinglish,Intercultural Issues,Personal Notes,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,The Unsinkable Ms Yue,中国

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A Poem with Faith in Wellness

BREAST CANCER AWARENESS

SOUNDTRACK

(a work in progress)

When the agitated syncopy
Of your thready heartbeats
Stop to amass a clap of thunder
Over a crashing surf
And you fight The waves
With Cuchulain’s sword

When your body betrays you
And depression is an frail umbrella
In the hot sun of lament

When ravenous silence
Is acrid steam from a bitter ocean’s crest
Or when you think you are
One simple syllable
Shy of a symphony
Remember the lullabies of the past
Conduct them into the present
Lay awash in the fragile swell of hesitancy

Compose reconciliation
Have faith in the God of the metronome
The will of the tides
The gift or accident of nature
That gave you ears for
And a comradery with
The murmurs, sobs, roiling
And wicked playfulness of the ocean
And the weather it dares to rebuke…

for W.L. and Ms Yue

 

American Poet in China,Cancer Journal,Chinese Poetry,Personal Notes,The Unsinkable Ms Yue

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How Long is a Cancer Year in China?

THE UNSINKABLE MS YUE

I think cancer years, the 12 month periods we endure when we or someone we know is battling a disease, are agonizingly longer than normal. And during those years our bodies seem to age in accordance with our perception of the passage of time distorted.

I was scouring old posts about The Unsinkable Ms Yue to add on a new site meant to raise funds for her and The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women when I came across the draft of a poem written one year ago.

The good news is: Ms Yue, though in some discomfort and worried about some lymphatic swelling, has cowed cancer for a full year. Her hair has grown back to the extent that she can almost tie it back with a band. Here is a written toast to Ms Yue, one of dozens of poetic anniversaries that will serve, by comparison, to happily distance her from disease.

AFTER BEING ASKED TO CUT HER HAIR

When she called, yesterday evening

or the night before, I had to walk

into the thick heat of Southern China

toward our prostitute of a River, beautiful

after dark and flattered by artificial light. I found it

especially hard to breathe because she reeks

of factory smoke and poverty.

During the day, the sky, one grey cataract,

ignores the whore whose name no one speaks

with longing in their voice The water was unlined:

a corpse without worry as I began to prepare

a place in my memory for what I would destroy

perhaps forever: The hair, the forty-five years

of silk still glistening with the kisses

of an adoring mother and vigilant father

She asked to me conceal the evidence

of the waning of the infinite. I was told to cut

and shave the perfect blackness, the magnificent

mystery of the history of moonlight, fires,

and the wind that has run fingers

through the remembered and the forgotten.

“Love is so short, forgetting so long”
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American Poet in China,Cancer Journal,China Editorials,China Photos,Poetry,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,The Unsinkable Ms Yue

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