The Salty Foreigner in China Rant

A new theme, a new look, a new cold and icy season. OK, winter is here in Beijing and we are all starting to get… what’s the word for it? Christmassy? Irritable? Irritably Christmassy?

Anyways it’s pretty cold out right now. I still ride the bike to work. As long as I remember to wear my long underwear, winter jacket, and a scarf I keep warm.


I want to get out of here. Really, I can’t take it anymore. For so many justifiable reasons it feels like my head is splitting in two all of the time. (And not the kind of splitting when it feels like a headache. The kind of splitting when it feels like your literally going insane because you can’t accept reality.)

I don’t want to speak Chinese. I don’t want to eat Chinese food. And I especially don’t want to listen to my Chinese boss.

I suppose these are the fruits of international life, developing an expatriate complex, and eating at subway everyday.

OK, I admit it. I am just being a stereotypical, salty foreigner.

Yes, this country is different and there are many things I will never completely acclimate myself to (nor should I want to- for that matter). Yes, I am treated very differently, almost like an alien at times, and it is so very outrageous, isn’t it?

Well, all in all its not such a big deal. The whole thing will be over soon enough anyways. I mean, I will either leave the country or die. I suppose those are my two options.

And the whole time, while I am bitching and moaning and skyping my parents back home to tell them that I can’’t possibly finish out this contract, people are out there… foreigners and Chinese, having the time of their lives.

Isn’t that just… ironic?

Yes, ironic. Quite ironic. This whole damn thing is so fraught with irony that if you were to ask me who planned it, I would say no other than William Shakespeare himself. But, please forgive me if I don’t laugh.

No, I have got to take myself less seriously! Study more Chinese. Go out with the locals. Visit the hutongs. Do Taiqi…

No, I refuse to do Taiqi. I would look ridiculous out there in a white gown, making those gestures with my hands. You know the ones.

As you might know from my previous post, I have started studying Chinese again. I can say that does make the entire world of difference. Not only does it give me a goal, but it also connects me to the world that I am living in.

Is there a correlation between me not studying Chinese and falling into a bit of a depressive spiral? Well, I guess god alone knows that truth. That is, assuming someone up there is watching us. I wouldn’t be so bold as to tell you, my dear reader, what to think.

Taking care of my apartment has also been a good way to fend off the depressive spiral. Moving things into their proper places, sweeping the floor, cleaning the hair out of the drains, keeping my dish sink empty, and countless other little chores that I can do help me to stay sane. I guess that even if I will never be a complete member of this society, I still have my home.

Being there for other people.

Last week I was in an absolute rotten mood for Thanksgiving. When we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. I completely ruined everything when I said, “the bill” (as I need it for a tax write off), and the fact that we were eating at an Indian Buffet (which I thought was slightly ironic, albeit was a little bit of a stretch).

It takes a very salty foreigner indeed to use the gratitude period of a perfectly cheery Thanksgiving dinner to equate happiness with his individual tax exemption benefit and a nation’s history of oppression.

I have to be careful. Sometimes when I think I am being funny one half of the room thinks it’s clever and the other thinks I’m drunk. I guess there is just a little part of me that wants to see any happy moment in life shatter. I have been that way ever since I was a kid.

The point of that whole tangent is though, I can’t stick myself alone in my apartment all week. I need to go out and see friends, have dinners. That kind of thing. Be there for other people and in the minimum, complain together. It’s just better that way.

I’m happy to say that today it feels like I am coming back out of the spiral. I am feeling like me again. Maybe it’s the writing. Maybe it’s the fact that I have decided work can be a positive, if I decide to approach it like that.

It’s not easy for me. It’s not exactly the way that I am used to behaving. But the alternative is being an angry curmudgeon (why does it seem everyone is using that word lately?) and engaging with the all too alluring downward spiraling, depressive cycle, of expat blues in China.


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