Details, details

These photos of architectural details are some more of my “archive” images. Since I have a birthday coming up soon (no gifts, please, just cash), I may shop for a new digital camera.

My favorite Chinese decorative motif: the “cloud” design

I’m writing this post on what would be Thanksgiving Day, if I were in the States. It was a cold and wet day, and my classroom floor this morning was littered with open, drying umbrellas. I finally found out how to work the heaters in my apartment, and I had a toasty nap this afternoon, after starting to re-read The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Scary creatures guarding a bridge on the Funan River

I had a moment of clarity today; don’t worry, it doesn’t happen often. I suddenly realized that the month of December is my double birthday month: it’s when I celebrate my chronological age (51 this year – ouch!) and also my sobriety date. I will turn Sweet 16 in my new life without alcohol. It’s a miracle. At the end of this semester, I will also celebrate one year of experience as a teacher.

My first-ever teaching gig was at Aspect International Language Academy in Whittier, CA, summer 2005. That was a 2-hour subway and bus ride each way, every day. Next I put in some time at Poly Languages Institute in Los Angeles. That was a rough time, working two jobs and six days a week. In China, I taught the English Summer School this July, and now I’m a “regular” teacher for the academic year.

Carved and painted support posts, River Viewing Tower

I have to admit that this first semester at UESTC has been VERY difficult. It’s produced all kinds of challenges: emotional, intellectual, creative, and professional. I’ve had to literally create an English course for postgraduates from nothing, with little guidance. I’ve learned what works from trial and error. I’ve learned to teach without textbooks, handouts, photocopies, or anything besides a PowerPoint presentation and my own voice and gestures. On top of that, I’ve dealt with culture shock, and the residual feelings of leaving my former life, and virtually all of my material possessions, behind.

Roof details, River Viewing Park. I believe this is the Pavilion of Poetry Reading and Recitation. Every home should have one.

In the midst of all these changes, I have to remind myself to practice gratitude for all that I have: for the person I am, for new life I live, for my students, and for my challenges.

Life is nothing if not interesting. I got a sweet email message from my friend Puba today, who is now in Lhasa:

ni hao !
i pu ba , la sa, la sa is gude, o k, baibai

Bye-bye [baibai], Puba!

Decorative support on a railing, River Viewing Tower


To be able to question or ponder the meaning of life is quite a privilege.

One of the most effective practices I have discovered, one which seldom fails me… is the conscious cultivation of gratitude as a state of being — a gratitude state of mind….I find myself in a general state of thankfulness in which all my problems are again viewed with perspective.

-Christian de la Huerta, Revolutionary Wisdom/Q-Spirit (author of
Coming Out Spiritually)
Posted on: Gay Buddhist
Open Forum 11/22/06


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s