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The Human Issues

3 Jan

How my job in an English school in Beijing has taught me to be apathetic.

You got ’em, I got ’em. The whole entire world has ’em. Issues! Yes they are out there and I hope that you understand this writing is operating on a certain level of factiousness.  It’s whether we admit them or not. The real conundrum lies in the “simpleness” of how we’re able to admit it. Can you admit? Can I?

But of course I can. They say that the first step to realizing you’ve got a problem is admitting you have one. Yeah, well I’ve got a problem. Am I gonna spill it to those faithful few who read this blog? Of course not. That would be mostly my family…maybe a few friends if I’m lucky. That would mean that the closest people to me would know my deepest darkest secrets, and what is healthy about that? I ask you. Some things need to be kept in the dark.

Exactly.

Disregarding that obviously sound logic at work, here’s the beginning of my issue: recently I have been a little more than slightly obsessed with drinking red wine (no particular kind although I’m partial to dry wines like Shiraz) eating some sharp cheese (an old cheddar from Kerrygold, imported from Ireland) and crackers (sesame seed crackers are the best in this case). It’s a habit for each night of the week I guess. Something that I treat myself with for making it through a day of rewarding working here in the great Beijing.

My sister, Kara, author of http://www.droppedspaghetti.com.au recently wrote about the issues with her job. And it inspired me to write about a few of mine. My post won’t be as funny and maybe not as poignant…but here goes.

I haven’t always been this way. Work never used to stress me out as much as it does now. Perhaps it’s because now, I’ve moved up a tad higher and I can see all the problems behind the facade of a smile and a flaccid compliment. This is what I know, it’s my experience in the “grown-up” world. Forgive my stereotype, forgive my bitterness and my negative thoughts towards humanity. How can I go against life experience?

Bias

So, I’ve read a lot about psychology and I’ve stumbled upon an article about  biases and how they’re categorized. As you most likely know, a bias is something that skews the reliability of anecdotal or legal evidence (fact or fiction). Further more a social biases (otherwise known as attributional biases) inhibits a person’s ability to interact in social construct.

In other words, each person suffers from a distortion on how we perceive reality. Doesn’t everyone love being able to say they suffer from something. My generation loves being able to say “I’m going through something.” Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth?

Biases affect us no matter how hard we try to guard them from entering our opinions.  A person can pretend, but the show can only go on for so long. And the truth is, nothing beneath still waters is truly as it seems.

Positivity is great, a toothy smile is wonderful but really it’s nothing tangible. It isn’t firm and stable; most people use it as tactic to “stall”. I’ve been fooled countless times by the compliments; they’re only words. Meaning is lost, most people say them to get what they need. Perhaps people are inherently good, perhaps they generally want to do the right thing. But it’s not a standard rule applying to humanity.

Nope. I’ve met enough people in my short span of life, who have proven positive assumptions about humanity to be misleading. Better to assume singularity, you could live longer. Am I bias?

Aristotle wrote: man is a conjugal animal, meaning we like to “couple” (find a mate). He also wrote that we are political, we like the law and he also wrote that we are mimetic (we’ve got imaginations and we learn from and enjoy using them).

Portrait of Aristoteles. Pentelic marble, copy...

Portrait of Aristoteles. Pentelic marble, copy of the Imperial Period (1st or 2nd century) of a lost bronze sculpture made by Lysippos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I agree with the last two of your theories Aristotle, I do not agree with the first. Some people are born to be: alone. Look at me. Observe aspects of my life. I am alone and I and absolutely fabulous. Am I bias?

You tell me.

It’s quite hilarious, actually because as a journalist and a student of pre-law, I’ve been trained to be unbiased. Ya, but what human can be? Guaranteed: none.

We journalists only write the stories that will gain the most readership, the most publicity.  And I have learned in my job at in Beijing, that awareness and communication is “fool’s gold”.  A hope warranted but groundless.  Am I bias?

Again you tell me.

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Clenched Teeth & Baby Faces

6 Dec

English: Beijing subway system Dawanglu statio...

China. Beijing. The land of many many people. They’ve got pulses. Hearts that feel.

So do I.

There’s a soft and steady tap as I walk under the bridge near Guomao (国贸); Dawanglu specifically. My only thought is getting home. “Gotta get home. Gotta get home.”

Guomao

I can’t lie, I’m excited about the 50 kuai bottle of wine I’m carrying in my right hand. It’s from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon, specifically La Cara. Not my favourite, it’s not the best, but it’s a red and I always enjoy hongjiu (紅酒) . Let’s be honest here, it’s a $8 CAD bottle of wine. Ha!  Definitely not the best. But I like drinking wine…what can I say?

I’m content. Happy. And things are seeming to go my way. Maybe work is not as great, maybe now there are problems and my boss isn’t the best. Maybe the fellow I like isn’t answering my texts, or whatever. Let’s be clear:

I don’t care. Meh…

I come walking at my jet speed; I learned it from my mother, and then I see them. I’m crossing the Dawanglu bridge and I see them. A tall Chinese man, very thin, chasing a shorter man around a small three-wheeled tuk-tuk so to speak.  Another man comes, he’s holding something. Staring is something I’m good at. So I do. I grit my teeth and I stare.

The third man holds a hammer and he starts hitting the shorter man with it. The tuk-tuk belongs to the shorter man. How do I know? He’s wearing knee-pads and his coat barely fits. He’s barely living. He’s surviving.

Soon there are ten short Chinese men running at him and then the short tuk-tuk driver is on the ground and they’re hitting him.  Crow-bars appear from no where, lead pipes seem to pop into their hands. They’re punching him. Kicking him. I’m still staring and they see me.

They say ” Foreigner, she doesn’t understand.” (她不明白.)

I do. I understand. But what can I do? What can I say?

Now these thoughts are floating in my head. After-all I am foreign. I am a woman. I speak Chinese but only on a basic level. Are these excuses?  What should I do? Dear Lord what should I do? I stare. I stare and I stare.

I stare as they carry this man to a van. I turn away and I hear screams. That’s all and there are a few others who are staring with me. They are native speakers. A man and I exchange a long look. But he looks down and continues to walk. There are people who can do something, but it’s not their job. “Why do something that you’re not paid for?” Why stick out your neck for someone who potentially did something wrong? Justice. It’s lacking.

So what’s worse? A land full of people who won’t take a chance? Or a person who could have stuck out her neck and didn’t? I continue to walk. Damn. DAMN. I am so angry.

Subway: Line 1 to Xidan. Subway transfer: Line 4. Renmin University (人民大學). At the Wangfujing stop a baby runs on. His smile is as big as his pudgy face. Soon he’s crying to his mom, stretching his arms up, he wants to be held. Carried.

His eyes meet mine and we begin to make faces, well I do at least. I puff out my cheeks, make a fish face.  Yeah that’s right. I went from witnessing a gang beating, to making a little child laugh.

The cuteness of the situation dissipates and that adorable baby becomes the annoying baby. Spoiled, loud, crying. I transfer to line 4 and then I see a mother and daughter. They are cold to each other. Uncommunicative. They don’t even talk. I think of my family.  I consider my father, my mother, my older sisters and my younger one. How on earth could I not talk to them?

I’m plagued with what I saw. I care. I care a ton. But it’s not enough that I simply care. It’s not enough that I’m crying on the subway home. It’s not enough. My compassion without understanding, doesn’t help at all.

I’m overwhelmed with a feeling. Shame. Shame is all I feel now. Shame then, shame now. Shame at being obsessed with my damn romantic life, with damn money and damn materialism, with my damn happiness. Happiness. I am desperate for it and that short tuk tuk man most likely…won’t know it for a while. That baby’s got boat loads of it, and that mother and daughter will have it but won’t know what to do with it.

Shocked at my nativity, astounded at how ruthless and heartless humanity can be, I won’t pass judgement. I don’t know.  My uncertainty about life is heightened and my humility has deepened. I can decide to be better, but I can’t hide the simple truth; I am humbled.

Die ahead?

Die ahead? (Photo credit: cobblucas)

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Date Yourself.

19 Nov
Drake Minibus, Kigali

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It has become apparent to me, over time that many people don’t think too positively about themselves. duh.

Even Marylin Monroe had negative thoughts. Even Gregory Peck. Justin Timberlake has negative thoughts and so does Drake. So does Barack Obama; so does Stephen Harper. Do not ask me why I picked these names, they simply popped in my head.

We’re insecure. We have low opinions about ourselves. A friend of mine said: “It’s not an attractive quality.” Ok got it. Another friend of mine said that I let people see it. Oops. At least these friends are honest with me.

Didn’t realize there was a stigma on being open. But sadly there is, people judge by what they see and hear from you. Can you catch me while I’m thinking negative thoughts? Nope. But when I voice them; yes you can.

Mental  note: Keep feelings/thoughts to myself.

We continually, measure ourselves to an arbitrary standard. Everyone does it, but it’s whether you notice it or not is the difference.

Your opinion affects me. Everyone’s opinion affects me. But especially those of the people who love me most.

Only because of my insecurities.

My human need and want to please. If I’m not making you happy, than why on earth would I do what I did? Why else would I challenge myself?

For my own gain; to impress myself? No. It’s to impress you, to impress the world. To “stick it” and shout; “Yeah I’ve completed that challenge. What next?” For my own happiness? Perhaps I benefit, but really truly I gain nothing if you aren’t or the world isn’t impressed.

Many people feel the same way.

Some people know, others have heard. Why not make it public? I am an insecure person. BUT who isn’t? The difference here being…I let people see it. Oops. Perhaps I should hide myself a little more from what people see. I used to be really good at that. Maybe I reverted to the opposite extreme.

Where on earth is the middle ground? Did a little bit of research.

There is a significant lack of self-acceptance in our lives. 

We insecure beings have aspects in our lives that will never be good enough. For example, if I think I’m not physically attractive, that will be the hole through which my insecurity flows.

Negativity. It becomes the worst ruler of how you see yourself.  We attempt to hide these faults, but they soon begin to eat away at our perceived confidence.  Soon the person that we’ve built ourselves to be, comes crashing down and we are rubble.

I met a fellow who literally apologized for everything he did. His name was Karl. I could not stand him. Only because I saw qualities in him that reminded me…of who? Myself.

Yeah and he was frustrating. Only because he was quite awesome and didn’t need affirmation. So why should he always apologize?  I mean he was wonderful, why apologize? He was desperate, but he didn’t need to be.

If you’re reading this, you should then infer that I know; I am pretty great. Yup. I am very awesome. And I know it. No doubt about it.

BUT more importantly. So are you. How to make ourselves realize this?

Okay so here is what you and I must do. Let’s work together on this.

Accept ourselves.

Believe and see our weaknesses as aspects that are beneficial to who we are. We are specific, and our weaknesses are what make us human. We are not going forgetting about those things, actually our vulnerability is what makes us beautiful. Are you open about your faults? Good.

Reform it.

Stop it.

Stop thinking those negative thoughts. They’ll not help you. You already know how lovely you are; let’s start from there. Now, put what you see in a positive light.

Make peace with your demons. List everything that has been a deep insecurity, look at each one, work on accepting them and simply come to terms with them. It’ll be hard. But nothing worth doing in life was easy. Am I right or am I right?

We’ll do it together. Arrive at what are our limitations, treat them as attributes and move on. That is all we can do as humans.

Confused? Ok I’ll break it down into one simple sentence:

Get to know yourself first.

Note: I’ll come back and edit this when I’m not sooo tired.

F-dora

3 Nov

So, now I am back in Beijing. If someone were to ask me on Monday if I was glad to be back. I would bluntly reply, “No.” But then maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday, if asked the same question…I’d probably say the same thing.

Come on it’s still only the middle of the week. Cut me a break.

Thursday comes around and that same person asks again, “Tricia are you glad you came back?” I’d say, “Yeah, it’s super great! Couldn’t be happier.”

Yeah, you see, and I’m certain it’s the same for most foreigners living abroad, it’s a day-to-day thing. Maybe for some a week-to-week thing, others a month-to-month…you get my meaning. All of the above to say that well we’re here and not dwelling on why we came back. We should focus on the moment.

Here and Now.

Right now…here and now. I mean if we’re going with this whole “focus on the moment” thing;

I am currently:

  1. Listening to Def Leppard
  2. Wearing a fedora, alone in my apartment
  3. Drinking some wine (it’s cheap stuff)
  4. Writing this post

Seriously. You think I’m joking? No, not even. I even went to the trouble of taking a photo of myself. Here:

Mhmm. Let’s address my current situation.

1. For starters Def Leppard, has been my “go-to” band for music. 80’s rock for something sparks a something in me. Allows me to pretend like I’m in a band or that my life is a musical.  They make me feel awesome when I’m going for a walk, when I’m blowing off steam and even when I’m in the mood to reminisce. I particularly love the song: Pour Some Sugar on Me. Great song. Love it.

Maybe the reason for why I desperately cling to them relates directly to the fact that many of their songs were used in the musical movie Rock of Ages. I watched that movie on the plane ride back from Canada. I was hysterical and I needed something to make me forget…and I was handed a musical. What better way to forget sadness, than to sing through it?

2. Wearing the fedora bit. Well I’ve always wanted one, wanted to be like Marlon Brando, or like Frank Sinatra in “Guys and Dolls.” They are so suave and untouchable it seems. And as pitiful or as amusing as it sounds. I kinda would like to be like them; suave and untouchable. You call it lame, I call it “super-cool.”

3. Bought at the 7-Eleven for about 30 kuai which is roughly 5$ CAD. Good stuff. I am not ashamed. I am also not being facetious.

4. Well, just felt like writing. Haven’t been in the mood lately and suddenly the thought struck me…why not write a post.

Really this post is about nothing.BUT I guess the message I’m trying to send is that I’m okay with it. I am. I mean it. Sure it might not be the most awesome way to spend a Saturday night. But for me the combo (Def Leppard, a fedora, cheap wine and writing) is parfait.

Now this is turning into a self-help post. So if you’re feeling; well alone. Find a combo that transforms  you from a regular drone into a human being and just go with it. All ’em haters (love that term and have always wanted to use it!) will say things; but really, they’re jealous. You’ve found a spark and they’re still searching for it.

Now that’s metaphorical gold that you can take to the proverbial bank.

Men from Back Then

6 Oct

First off, how about my title? Great isn’t? A real zinger. It even rhymes.

Moving Along

Stemming simply from watching the Presidential Debate two nights ago,  I began to think about my guy. I hadn’t given him much thought at all lately. Perhaps it’s time I paid him a little attention. Okay let’s be superficial. Or how about you read my superficial post. Sound good? Wonderful because, I really want to just reminisce about men from the past.

Ladies

Don’t you wish men still held doors open, or pulled out our chairs at the table? You might say “No, that would be too awkward.” That is simply because you’ve grown accustomed to the opposite of a gentleman. You’re not used to chivalry and so when it’s offered to you…you automatically decline. I know I would too. But as I said, we’re not used to chivalrous fellows.

I know some women will say, “I can do things for myself. Who needs a man to hold open a door?” No one is forcing you to give up your job, bank account, or independence. I’m not saying to give up on the feminist parade. No. I am merely suggesting that when courtesies and manners are shown, we stop to appreciate them. After all wouldn’t it strengthen women to allow ourselves to enjoy these things. It takes a strong person to be humble.

Can of Worms

It’s easy to say we don’t need a gentlemen, because everyone else is shouting it at the top of their lungs. It’s difficult to say we need them. It hurts our pride. Who ever wanted to admit they needed someone? Nobody. A stronger, more confident woman would accept chivalry  because she knows she is independent without having to announce it.

Picking up what I’m laying down? Basically I’m saying the gentleman has disappeared and wouldn’t it be nice if they returned? But also if a man does offer his arm, wouldn’t be nice to accept it without having to constantly assert our independence.

Done. Can of worms closed. Now…

Whom Can’t I resist?

I’ll give it to you straight.

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A bit of a rebellious, an outside the box type. A little like James Dean.

Dapper, chivalrous; in other words a gentleman. For example: Cary Grant.

Agile and quirky, like graceful Gene Kelly.

Witty, intelligent, a petit sarcastic. Maybe he isn’t the most attractive of men, but William Powell wins with his clever speak and fearless composure.

With a smile and blue eyes, with a talking lilt and confidence like our Paul Newman.

Tall, funny, gracious, happy. A joker. A lot like Jimmy Stewart.

Now let’s combine these factors together, to create one great chivalrous, witty and handsome gentleman. Think for a moment and consider have you seen such a fellow strolling the streets of your life? Probably not. He’s been extinct for so many years. Chivalry is for dinosaurs and manners have become fossilized.

All of this to say it’s amazing what the Presidential Debate can bring to light. Many now consider where to cast their vote. Some have changed opinions, some have remained steadfast. I?

sigh

I have discovered the type of fellow who has long since disappeared. I have rediscovered the gentleman. And ladies, (all of you who are reading) I think it’s time you rediscovered him too.

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