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!

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. ❤

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.

Feeling Like a Human Again

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Mura Mezura

When I was a kid, and my grandmother was still alive, she sat me down on the couch and showed me a photo album full of pictures from her trips around the world. From Africa posing in the middle of the Serengeti with zebras in the background to a zoo in Australia where she cuddled a baby koala, grams knew how to live her best life while contributing her final years to valuable conservation efforts worldwide.

“Make sure you travel when you’re young,” she said, “when you get to be my age, everything hurts, and you need to stop for rest often.”

I took her words to heart. It was easy to do as a 12-year-old stuck in a small seaside city in Florida where the most exciting things were happening in internet chatrooms or the video games I played to pass the time between childhood and adulthood. If someone gave me a time machine today, I wouldn’t go back to those days. Life is happier and more exciting in Shanghai.

It took several years to get to this point. I moved out and got my GED at 16. I bounced around the U.S. until I ended up in upstate New York at the age of 19 where I stayed for four amazing years. The friends I made in college are for life, and I’ll always love them.

After I came to China, I finished my novel, and I had a lot of time to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t cut out for teaching kids. I liked club work, but it’s not something I can do after 30. Also, due to the increasing amount of restrictions in China, they aren’t letting foreigners work in the KTVs/clubs as freely as before.

During my prime KTV days, I hopped around from city to city with my Chinese friend. Technically, we were homeless. If you followed my blog, you’d know that I was living like this for years on and off. Homelessness does weird crap to your brain, especially when you’re in a foreign country. You tend to hold on tight to what little you possess. Since the end of 2014, everything I owned could fit into two suitcases. I didn’t dare to buy anything else, for fear that I’d have to pick up and move again soon.

After I got my residence card in Shanghai, I felt safer. I got an apartment and started filling it with things. Just last week, after almost three months of living there, I felt safe enough to buy a bath mat and a little plant for my desk. Maybe next month, I’ll buy posters. Next time I take a trip, at least I’ll know I have somewhere to come back to and I don’t have to carry all my possessions. I’m starting to feel like a human again.

 

The Top 5 Online Resources for Learning Chinese

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Learning Chinese is a challenging and exciting experience. Whether you’re planning to move to China or simply want to learn the language for fun, the following resources have everything you need to get started or brush up on your Mandarin.

The Chairman’s Bao

This is an excellent website for reading practice. They publish Chinese news articles and categorize them based on HSK level. If there’s a character you can’t read, you can simply highlight it and a dictionary will pop up in the sidebar. You can practice with one free article per day per HSK level.

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YOYO Chinese

Yoyo Chinese has a huge video library for Chinese learners of all levels. All of the videos use real-life examples and are simple and easy to understand. The Facebook page often posts free videos but paid courses are also available for a nominal fee.

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Chinese Skill

Chinese Skill is an incredibly useful app available for Android and iOS. The app’s basic features include Chinese listening, reading, and writing exercises. It even offers a story-based feature for intermediate and advanced learners. Best of all, it’s 100% free.

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Dig Mandarin

Dig Mandarin offers a variety of courses from several Chinese teachers. Some courses are free, others are paid. They also offer HSK prep courses at a discount.

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Gurulu

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Gurulu is a helpful resource for people preparing to take the official HSK test. Don’t be fooled by the rustic layout of the site. Multiple choice questions, listening activities, and sample tests based on the official format are all available here.