China is for Lovers

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Image via Flickr [Iselin]
Three months back in the U.S., the place my mother birthed me. The country I’d called home for twenty-three years. I think about China every day. Amid these ponderings, I realized what life in the states is missing: 人情味 (rén qíng wèi). Though I know what it means on a visceral level, Pleco’s definition, “human touch; human interest; empathy” doesn’t capture the true meaning of the word. There’s no decent English translation because this concept doesn’t exist in Anglo societies.

人情味 is your neighbor asking if you’d eaten around lunch time. It’s your friends sending you reminders to dress for the weather as the seasons change. It’s a shop owner you met once on a business trip asking about your children. It’s the three-hour buffets followed by a night of drunken karaoke with your coworkers. It’s the police officer you feel comfortable approaching to ask for directions because you know he won’t get aggressive for no reason. It’s the ability to easily forgive others for the sake of communal harmony. The list goes on.

Recently, I made a Facebook post that triggered a ton of backlash. I’d said I don’t like people from other countries who take on the negative traits of Americans. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things I like about my country: the fresh air, beautiful scenery, down-to-Earth people, and organization, just to name a few. However, I also dislike the view of humans as a commodity, being measured by our productivity, and my generation’s lack of commitment. People aren’t held–and don’t want to be held–to higher standards and that can make for a pretty sucky society to live in at times.

I dislike that life in America is mainly about convenience. Fast food, most people looking for hookups instead of relationships, having to hold down more than one job because the wages aren’t enough to live off of unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, celebrity, or engineer. With increasingly limited options, it’s easy to see why millennials and Gen Z have become despondent. It’s difficult to care about anything in a society that kicks you when you’re down until you can’t get back up.

I like to carry the warmth of China in my heart. My friends continue to wait patiently for my return. What a joy to have experienced 人情味 in this lifetime.


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The World Keeps Turning

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Image by Flickr [Andra Brinzaniuc]
I’ve had this blog for almost three years. And while it’s brought me a lot of personal fulfillment, it hasn’t actually earned me a cent. In fact, I lose out on the web hosting fee every year. I’ll admit this is my fault. With my SEO and content writing skills, I could have monetized this blog a long time ago if I had the motivation. Well, I’ve got it now.

I came back to the states and for the most part, everything and everyone stayed the same for better or for worse. Unlike in China, things move very slowly. People I’d drifted apart from grew closer and people who I’d been close with might as well exist in another galaxy.

I’m trying to look at this period of time as a chance at self-improvement. I had a lot of distractions back then that I won’t have for the next six months. This is a healing journey, not just for myself but for the relationship between me and my family as well as some of the people I grew up with. This is a chance to finally leave a place without having burnt every single bridge on the way out.

No one knows what’ll happen tomorrow. Everyone’s busy making plans for the future. Potential mates and employers might inquire about where you see yourself in five years. I’m tired of thinking that far ahead. If I can get through the day, it’s nothing short of an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated with the most robust bottle of rum in my cabinet.

Cheers!


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Reverse Culture Shock Is a Thing

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Image via Flickr [Kacper Gunia]
Temporary circumstances have forced me to return to the U.S. I’m unable to leave the country again until at least October. I’ve been back for a little over two months and I still keep waking up wondering why I’m not in China.

I left my hometown for good at the age of 19. Most of my friends are in New York, where I went to college, and China, where I lived since I graduated. I’ve got no one except my parents by my side in this swamp.

Being back here is a blessing and a curse. Seeing my family again after three long years has helped me a lot. The downside is that there’s no way for me to earn a living in this town. It’s impossible to find work and I dislike the environment to the point where I’ve become seriously depressed.

I keep telling myself that it’s temporary. I’ll get out of here. I have friends around the world. Asia will still welcome me back in 2020. I know that when I go back to China and eventually to Southeast Asia, I can’t go back to the KTVs. Other business ideas have floated around in my head. Every time I get a good one, I write it down and I reach out to a friend who might be able to help.

In the meantime, I’m getting a lot of thinking and writing done. I should be finished with the manuscript of my second novel before I leave. It’ll be over soon. It’ll all be over soon.

My Previous Episodes of Reverse Culture Shock (2015-2016)

No Place Like Home: Los Angeles 

No Place Like Home: New York

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day by Muhammad Faizon

It’s that day again. I’m single but I’m happy. I’m blessed because no matter where I’ve gone in the world, I’ve managed to find my people: the friends who understand and support me no matter what. I’m grateful to be able to spend valuable time with the wonderful woman who raised me before it’s too late. Finally, I’m thankful for each and every one of you, dear readers.

This Valentine’s Day, I’m offering you a piece of my heart. The first person to comment gets a free, personalized, signed copy of my novel: Grasping Feathers. Feel the love. ❤

Meet Our Guest Blogger – Gina :-)

Hi Everyone!

I’m Gina, a friend of Elizabeth and I’ll be writing a few blogs on here to keep you entertained while she takes a little break. 🙂 Just to properly introduce myself, I’m an African American woman living in South Korea (in and out) for the past 7 years as a student and an English instructor. I’ve visited about 30 countries now and my life gets pretty wild but within reason haha Recently, I went back to my hometown Chicago to start a non-profit organization for underprivileged women to travel for educational and research purposes. I believe there should be more women out here having fun travel stories to tell and experiences to share 🙂

Speaking of fun stories, here’s a taste of what my life is like: skydiving, intellectual disagreements and of course…there’s a guy involved. Check out the blog below!

#71 – The Sugar Daddy In New Zealand 

The Game Plan for 2019

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‘Tetris Master’ by Adra Braeden

Thank you to all my friends and followers for helping me to get through such a challenging time. Some of you may have stumbled upon this blog and wondered what it’s for. If you read through the archive, you’ll find an eclectic collection: part travel diary, part creative writing, and part personal life lessons.

Though I’m currently restricted from traveling until at least September, I’ve decided to work on the second novel in my Hymns of Null series, revamp my marketing strategy for the first novel, obtain sponsorships via social media, and live vicariously through other travelers/influencers until I’m able to set sail on my own again.

In the meantime, I’m in temporary need of financial assistance. My Venmo is @wca2102 or you can scan the QR code below.

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Donations

  • Anyone who donates $5 or more will have their name displayed on the sidebar of this blog for one month plus a link to their preferred website or social media.
  • Donations of $15 or more will receive the fixed blog link plus a shoutout on Facebook and Twitter plus a personalized “thank you” via Snapchat (@wcadventurer).
  • Donations of $50 or more will receive all of the above plus a personalized, signed copy of my novel.

Services I’m offering

  • Amazon reviews of your book
  • Ghostwriting (fiction and creative non-fiction)
  • Story outlining
  • Proofreading
  • Personalized one-to-one creative writing classes via Skype
  • Personalized interviews to highlight/promote your social media business (mainly lifestyle, travel, and subculture genres)
  • Traditional and self-publishing assistance

*For price quotes and additional details, please email me at angelblessing121@gmail.com

UPDATE 1/1/2019 1:34PM EST

I’ve created a cash app as well. Add me and we’ll both get $5! Win-win!

*Instructions on how to claim your free $5

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Thank you and Happy New Year!

The Art of Not Giving a Sh*t

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‘Balloons’ by Andrew Hedges

The people who care too much are the most miserable. I can tell you a lot about misery. I’ve been in that state of mind since the day I was born. In fact, my Dad used to tell me that I was an unhappy child. I almost never laughed as a baby. Sometimes, Dad would spend a half hour making animal noises and contorted faces just to get me to crack a smile.

I spent my entire childhood in pretty much complete isolation but that didn’t stop me from taking up social causes as I was always a justice-minded individual. I used to accompany my grandmother to the seabird sanctuary in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’d marvel at the wide variety of feathered critters from flamingos standing on one leg in the sand to owls perched on a crooked tree branch. We went to cat and bird shows together and discussed the differences between various species. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that these shows were no place for animal lovers because they put an emphasis on whatever breeds were fashionable at the time. This encouraged breeders to cater to the market; often in unscrupulous ways.

Later in life, I took up human rights causes as well. I developed an interest in renewable energy and the accessibility of clean water in developing nations. I emailed my politicians about anti-hate crime legislation to protect the LGBTQ community. I criticized my parents’ church for sending missionaries offering only “Bible-based” aid to developing nations instead of proper education and no-God-attached resources. The list went on.

In college, I stopped giving a shit in other ways. My human and animal rights work got overshadowed by my new-found love of anarchist philosophy and I questioned my professors about our curriculum’s lack of real leftist literature such as ‘No Gods No Masters’. I also got more and more interested in transgender rights and body positivity. My off-campus sorority, Zen Haus, started as an anarchist collective and eventually grew into a legitimate 501c3 non-profit organization: specializing in creating space and support for up-and-coming artists of all mediums.

I graduated and moved to China. I think it was China that finally made me stop giving a shit. The first guy I liked here turned me down to get married to a Polish girl. Come to think of it, I’m glad they ran off into the sunset together. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a shitty, podunk town living a life of poverty thousands of miles away from home. I like the big city.

Recently, there’ve been some Facebook posts discussing race relations in Asia. When I first came here, I admit, I cared way too much about what these local men thought. I wanted them to like me because I liked them. I liked that they paid a lot of attention to their girlfriends by holding their bags, asking if they’ve eaten, taking them clothes shopping, never complaining about picking up the tab at the restaurant and/or movie theater.

However, I realize now that all around the world, people are just people. They aren’t inherently good or bad. They simply have their own tastes and preferences and I’m tired of letting them get me down. I look in the mirror now and I love myself. I love my brown skin, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. I love my slightly curvy physique and the little belly I’m working on turning into abs with my 3x a week workouts. It took a long, long, long time to get to this point: the point of no longer giving a shit what anyone else thinks; if they like me; if they think I’m pretty. It took 28 years to build enough confidence in myself to say: I love me and I love my body. If you don’t like it, too bad.

I’ve refocused on my passions. I won’t throw my writing career to the wayside again. I’m in competition with no one else but myself. That’s the art of not giving a shit.