Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CINDERELLA's got nothin' on me!

I can hardly believe it, but I definitely got the job singing Jazz at the club "Block 8"
wow. I went to meet the owner and manager, and to hear the band I'd be playing with. He bought us all bottles of pink champagne- it was like an urban fairy tale. Now, of course, the hard part starts and probably the biggest test to my perfection complex. However impatient to rehearse and work on songs, it doesn't always work like that in Chinese culture. I think this in itself is going to be a huge adventure. Well, at least it should have a good soundtrack! Check out the promotional videos on the club's website (sorry if the sound is choppy- it's not the best video player) :) http://www.block8.cn/

Monday, March 24, 2008

to Be someone

I'm surfing on a different couch now, so I haven't had time to take pix for upload anything new. Of course, much has happened in this last week. I began work at the hospital in earnest, and it is actually quite rewarding. It's also kind of funny that part of my job is teaching people how to smile.

A few days ago I was walking toward Sanlitun, past the Worker's Stadium, feeling quite dejected. I'm suprised I haven't felt this way more, but being a big girl in the States...you can imagine, sometimes I feel like a behemoth here. Anyway, I passed these huge piles of windows, being ready to be put in some unsuspecting building and looked at my reflection- struggling with imperfection. All of a sudden I felt completely alone, like a little planet orbiting nothing, just drifting along by myself. A small sting of tears started in my eyes when the most incredible thing happened. Not a huge thing, but profound in it's relation to my little moment of self pity. I went to pass someone on the small sidewalk and he stopped, taking off the bandana covering his mouth and saying, "hey, I know you". It was the hot guy from the improv class two weeks ago. I actually ran into someone i know on the streets of Beijing. holy cow, then I put my iPod back on and the first words in my ear were from Tracy Chapman, "I have a feeling that I belong...I have a feeling I could be someone, be someone...be someone". I stopped in wonder at how blatant the universe can be sometimes when it tells you to "get over yourself" because you are definitely an important part of everything that is or will be. I turned the street corner and smiled at the world around me, happy as myself, with nothing to prove.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

fo real

good god. i'm in "pizza hut" but they're not serving personal pizza anymore, so i got clam chowder.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gig & The Dugout

The day dawned cool and clear. The sky blue and even a few clouds dotting the horizon.
After a brilliant lunch at this little outside courtyard I went home to get ready. The nerves started a bit, but they were held at bay by excitement as the elevator rose to the 50th floor of the Capital Mansion, the tallest building in Beijing! The night was clear and a carpet of lights and moving neon swam below me like something out of BLADERUNNER. The Englishman was on guitar, the Frenchman on Bass. We toasted with champagne then I went to the mic.

so, i wish i had some more romantic imagery for you, but basically, we were background music and when i went up to the mic it shocked the heck out me because of all the dry air and static electricity! :) It was a great first event, so I was relaxed and had a great time with the singing, even though we had only had one rehearsal. One of the big sponsors and club members came up to me and said what a good job we did and he loved my voice (Whew!). he bought us a bottle of champagne at a club we ended up at. It was a great night.

Needless to say, I was a little bit groggy the next day when Lidia and I had to get up wicked early to get to the hotel where Gan (her husband) was staying. But after the queasiness died down, a sense of disbelief came over me which I just couldn't shake for the whole day!!!

I grew up on American League Baseball, but Major League Ball just the same, and here I was, on a bus with the coaching and medical staff for the San Diego Padres. oh my god. i couldn't believe it. We came in through the team clubhouse and basically we got to hang out in the dugout while the Dodgers then Padres warmed up. HOLY COW. I mean, Treavor Hoffman was two feet away from me, and Joe Torre was about 20 yards away. wow.

So, Lidia had her big camera, and when the game started, she slipped around the side, and I followed, to a little on field press box. Oh wow. I still can't believe I watched a good part of the game from the field- right at 1st base. I was positively giddy. and to make it a completely surreal day- you'll never guess who threw the first pitch!!!! **** JET LI **** !!!!!!!!!! I mean, I've had a crush on him for about 10 years! he was like, 10 feet away practicing his "first pitch" and I still can't believe it. What an incredible day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Forbidden Commercialism?

I'm in Starbucks at the moment, which is always slightly surreal to leave. I took the bus in to work this morning, which was actually kind of exciting (mostly that I got on the right bus and it took me where I wanted to go!)

So, the same night as the French juggler and Spring Cakes, I had the opportunity to look at some old pictures of Kemin's (my friend who is directing OLIVER) grandmother. She and her husband met at school, he a conductor and she a violinist. The husband went to Russia to study at the Tchaikovsky Academy and is now, sadly, deceased. but she did some Peking Opera (the pictures were amazing) and both she and her husband had been put in prison during the Cultural Revolution because of their music. It was pretty profound, looking at their young, hopeful faces, holding on to their violin and cello as though the future would be so bright. How could they know what they would have to go through? Very humbling.

So, I was already in a thoughtful mood when I went to the Forbidden City yesterday, even after passing a 5 story McDonalds. But back to the Palace... It was so crazy to think of who had walked over the ancient stones on the bridge to the, then impenetrable fortress. Imagine my shock then that is was not only overcome with tourists (I was prepared for that), but all the grotesque trappings of a tourist "destination". Cheap souvenirs, cameras, baseball caps...I mean really, Baseball caps???? And every 5 seconds someone was coming up trying to get us to go on a rickshaw ride in some Hutong. Sigh. where was the reverence? But I guess I understand it too, it's economy. sigh. It was impressive though, and a little eerie to be in Tiananmen Square. There were guards everywhere, shouting for people to, "move along"...of course they were shouting in Chinese :) So, we got back on the subway, and holy cow, the crush of people was worthy of Tokyo. there were "handlers" outside the subway doors to push people in before the doors closed. But finally I made it back to my bus back home to snuggle on the couch and read my new book (man, i love the bookworm- it's also a lending library!). Well, tomorrow is my singing gig and then Sunday is the Dodgers vs. Padres game. life is back to...um, normal...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yin and Yang

What an amazing two days. Different as could be. Yesterday everything seemed to go wrong:
a cab driver actually made me get out of his cab after I got in, then there was an awkward moment at work (honestly, office politics already???), there was a tremendous traffic jam, and walking to the bus stop a man said, "hello, how are you" in English, so I thought he wanted to practice his English. Nope, he wanted to sell me porn. Really! as I walked away he ran to catch up and was pulling dvds out of his jacket. sigh. so, I jumped into a cab and spent money i didn't have just to get away. Emotionally spent, I saw the pink ball of sunlight like an alien planet through the smog. I almost cried, but then I remembered that everything is part of the adventure. good and bad.

Today, on my way to OLIVER rehearsal, the bus dropped me off in front of a Ping Pong park!!! it was amazing. All these, mostly older, Chinese people battling it out in between rows of apartment buildings and a corrider of lovely trees, and surrounded by chain-link. Quite a site to behold. An ancient man passed me very slowly and smiled and nodded and everything seemed so perfect. I found Kemin's house (the director) and he and his very cute friend from South-Africa and I bought some ice cream from the shop and waited for the rest of the actors to show up. That started the "carnival" that was my evening.

It was great fun to work on a few characters and scenes for the play (i love this stuff) and then afterwards we went to Kemin's granny's house for dinner. they made "spring cakes" (kind of like a thicker "moo shoo pork", but totally different) to mark the beginning of spring. Kemin played Beethoven on the piano and I beat the South African twice at a board game similar to "connect four". :) Dinner was amazing, as usual, and then four more people came in who are in a Chinese Circus school!!! The girls are from Mexico, one boy is from Hungary (but lives in Austria) and the fourth was a sweet kid from France. Lively talk, good food, Chinese soap opera on the telly, and then Kemin got the French guy to juggle (WOW)- he is amazing!!!!!!

So, i wasn't surprised on the bus ride home when a girl got on with a bag of popcorn. The whole bus smelled of the "Fair" and we passed over a bridge where the canal was dotted with red lanterns which reflected in the water. I could catch glimpses of the moon half full, like it was about to spill and all was right with the world. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WORK, IMPROV, and a club called BLOCK8

Today I started work at the hospital (Beijing United Family Healthcare), and they wanted to start a new English program with me as the instructor- and maybe to help with the customer service training they are trying to start. (the best news, though, is that they are taking care of my visa...) So, since people don't like "training", I made up the "English Language Hospitality Club"... what do you think?

I hope it goes well. at the moment I'm working about 6 hours per week starting in 10 days, but with some hour for preparation. It's so interesting with the cultural differences because the Chinese staff are very shy and even if they have problems, they would only say, "oh, everything is fine". So it will be a learning experience for me to on how to draw them out subtly. I think this hospital is going to be the main medical facility for the Olympics. What a crazy year this is here.

Tonight I went to an improv class near the drum and bell tower (such beautiful buildings!) and it was so cool. they did half of the games in Chinese (i was totally lost of course), but they were still really funny! Afterwards about 10 of us went to a little local place around the corner and got 7 plates of food, with everyone having a "40" size beer (except me because i don't like beer- which makes me a total alien in the expat community)- and the check came to about $25 USD.
wow. I expect the same prices at "Wasabi" when I get back!!! hm.

But the biggest news you will have to wait for, because I don't want to jinx it until I see a contract with my name on it. But i will tell you it has to do with a nightclub called block 8...http://www.block8.cn :) Beijing really is an amazing place.


One of Lidia's friends owns this club and they have a HUGE, red pool table. Which I lost on severely. Wine + Gin & Tonic = very bad pool game. (*don't worry dad, I'm not becoming an alcoholic...yet...)

The girl next to me, Eva, was a professional pool player who now works for a production company putting on events like the Rolling Stones and Backstreet Boys (but not together) :) ~ Her boyfriend we will just call "Crazy Todd"


The building to the left is where I stay right now. The apartment is on the 5th floor. There are no 4th floors in any building in China- it's the number of death. No 13th floors either. Good to know. It's just near the 4th ring road and...wait for it...IKEA. :) so funny. Evidently on Friday and Saturday nights people go to the IKEA cafe on dates. Like it's fine dining!!! I can't wait to go!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


This place was a lifesaver. It's an expat bookstore/coffee shop that has wireless and tons of amazing books. They are having a literary festival next week, and I'm going to volunteer for it!!! I get to take care of Christopher Koch who wrote, "The Year of Living Dangerously" which they made into a movie with Mel Gibson. And there will be some amazing talks by some incredible authors. Maybe I'll get inspired to actually be a writer one of these days...hm. http://www.beijingbookworm.com/


If you take the #62 bus to the Yonghegong subway stop on 2nd Ring Road, you will see the Llama Temple. I haven't gone inside yet, but it's so beautiful, especially as the sun is going down. Today was a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine (unlike the previous day when it was like walking through a cloud of smog...ugh)

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Lidia and Gan took me to a brilliant Tibetan restaurant with amazing food and a wonderful cultural show. I ate Yak jerky and mushrooms cooked in Yak butter!!!! actually really good! :) I'm starting to eat more spicy foods. Holy cow there are some HOT dishes here.