Wednesday, March 9, 2011


 The time is ripe, and my fortune has turned.

Medical Update: I went to see the doctor again today to have my post-surgery bandages removed and get an ultrasound done (everything's fine). I'm still in a little pain and, as things heal, a rather maddening itching, but there is good news:
  • I can "start sports again" next week. I should not that I will not be doing so - partly because I don't play any sports and partly because I don't really believe I'll be that shipshape so quickly - but I think it means I will soon be able to move about much more comfortably.
  • I should be completely 100% my old self (but better!) in "2-3 months."
  • I can start taking regular showers again this coming Wednesday. FYI my last shower was 9 days ago, last Monday night. Hey, what can I say? Doctor's orders.
Update on the Man: I've gotten my visa application in, and I should theoretically have a 90-day visa in hand by the end of next week. I have also re-registered my residence at the police station, without the late registration fines I had feared, and gotten the forms I'll need to go back and re-register for a third time myself as soon as I get my new visa.

Money Update: I have, to my chagrin, become part of the horribly ineffective English-teaching machinery in Beijing. I have a job teaching a 10-year-old girl about a 2-minute walk from where I live (2 hrs/wk; first class didn't go terribly well); a TOEFL class lined up about a 45-minute subway ride away (I don't know anything about TOEFL. I'm learning.); a potential SAT Writing class at the latter location, to begin when SAT fever takes hold in April (I fancy it will be easy and I may even be quite good at it); and the recording job that I relied/waited on for too long has finally come through with the first hour of work for me tomorrow. With preparation and/or commute times taken into account, I'm working at roughly $15 (100 RMB) per hour, which is significantly lower than I had imagined but still pretty damn good. My goal is to ensure that I have enough money in my bank account by the end of my time here to buy plane tickets to Zambia and then back to the U.S. (to be safe, around $2,000 USD, including a visa); that way, if it turns out that I don't get any of the Yale scholarships I applied for (I should find out within the month), I can still go and work for a hotel there that has offered to give me free food and lodging, plus a stipend. I think I should be able to manage that with about 10 hours of work per week over the next three months, plus some half-forgotten temporary expenditures (airplane tickets to be redeemed, an apartment deposit to be collected) that will be returning to my eager hands before I go.

Entertainment Update: I'm finally going to the library tomorrow, accompanied by the wonderful Joy Sun, to borrow Anna Karenina and East of Eden: I've meant to make a little bit of English-reading time each day but until now I just haven't gotten around to the complex task of borrowing books from the National Library. (FYI: Worst large city library I've ever been to, and I try to see as many as I can.) Also, I'm (re-re-re-)watching Season 1+ of "The West Wing," acquired in full (and very solid quality) on the street. I have nothing but respect and awe for whoever translated seven seasons of witty, political, specialized, reference-laden dialogue into the Chinese subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

There are still things to be worried about - namely, that my passport/visa/500USD are in the hands of a sketchy company, and that I still need a lot of information from my parents before I can fill out financial aid forms (hear that, Dad?) - but I'm feeling much better about my prospects in general.

And then, of course, there is my Chinese learning, which lately, while it hasn't completely fallen by the wayside (I still do about 5-6 hours of study-type learning, five days a week), hasn't lived up to all that I had intended it to be when I planned this semester. One of my consolations is that the medical issues and financial aid mess are issues that could have just as easily set me back on my studies in Taipei - and I'm still convinced I'm 5x as motivated here as I would be over there. Although I'll have to I'll be dropping one day of tutoring per week starting this coming week so that I have time to work and review what I've learned, I'll also be doing my best to slip back into "intensive mode" this Sunday to get the most out of each one of my 4.5 weekly study days.

Consider yourself: updated.


  1. Glad to hear your medical issues are in the rearview.

    Time in transit and cost of transit are important considerations when looking for work... remember, though, that a 45-minute subway ride can be productive. Chatting with fellow passengers, or reading the daily 人民日报 might spice up your subterranean commute.

    Your comment about subtitles in the West Wing reminded me of an old Evan Osnos article.

  2. Glad to hear you're getting better now, Ethan!

  3. Update duly noted! You're in the trenches, man, and I respect you for it.