Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gentleman in Residence - Jess: Four Improbable Things I Do Every Day (In China)

Friendly Gentlereaders: I am proud to introduce Jess, who will be the first poster in our new Gentlemen in Residence series.

For the month of October, inagurual GiR Jess will contributing posts about her very exciting (and improbable) life teaching English overseas in Nanjing, China (population: only half a million less than NYC). You can also read about her adventures at her own blog, jesseract. But for now, we've got her here, so read on below and give her a Gentlemanly welcome!



Hallo, Gentlemen! My name is Jess, and I'll be guest blogging from China every Sunday for the next month. I moved to China largely because I'm impetuous and make poor decisions when I'm bored and unhappy (see also: joining the Navy, moving to D.C., breaking up with various boyfriends...), but I've been told that what I lack in rationality I make up for in bizarre adventures.

For my first post I've decided to give you a broad overview of my life in China, using, of course, a list. Enjoy!

4 Improbable things I do every day

1) Squat to pee

Everyone who reads my blog (or my Facebook, or my Twitter, or talks to me on IM, or has met me on the street and speaks English) is probably really tired of my complaining about the squatters. But I can't help it. Day-to-day, my life is not that different from life in the U.S. But every time I go to the bathroom and I'm confronted by a porcelain hole in the floor, it's a stark reminder that I am no longer in Kansas. I mean, even in Kansas they use toilets.

What, you want comfort? Capitalist pig!

2) Stalk white people

I am alone, adrift in a sea of Asian faces. I have found myself going blocks out of my way because I'm stalking white people in Nanjing. This has, at times, backfired, like when I followed a whole group of white people around the Nanjing museum for 20 minutes before I realized that they weren't speaking English, were actually Italian, and were beginning to wonder if they should alert the authorities about the crazy short girl who was ineptly attempting covert actions.

It's exactly like this, but in China.

3) Use chopsticks

I know what you're thinking: "Ok, Jess, I'll give you that squatters are gross, and, well, stalking white people isn't exactly normal, but you're in China. Even Americans eat Chinese food with chopsticks, even if they do it so poorly that they end up flicking pieces of broccoli across the room."

Yes, I agree. But I have only to show you one picture.

The horror.

See? Chinese people eat *birthday cake* with chopsticks. It's weird. Also, using chopsticks seems to have impaired my fork-using skills. By the time I get back to the U.S. I'm going to have to resort to shoveling the Chipotle burrito bol I've now been craving for 42 days into my mouth using my hands.

4) Carry toilet paper with me

Every time I reach into my pocket and pull out my little packet of toilet paper, I think, "My grandmother would be so proud of me."

Seriously, though, public bathrooms don't supply toilet paper here. What this means in practice is that upon the insult of the squatter is imposed the injury of having to dig through your pockets or your bag in order to wipe; precariously balancing so you don't actually pee on your clothes or touch the disgusting floor of the squatter. This obviously does not apply to boys.

Basically, what I dream at night.

One interesting thing, though, is that the Chinese have taken this opportunity to prove that capitalism trumps all: when you're walking on the street and you're approached by a guy who wants you to visit his club he's going to give you a little packs of toilet paper instead of annoying flyers. See, Americans, Communism, much like moving to China, is a better idea than a reality!

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