a blog in the smog

Beijing, day 730ish.

After nearly a month of beautiful weather, it looks like the smog is creeping back. I’ll say this for air pollution – I’ve never had a greater appreciation for blue skies.screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-5-50-14-pm

Being forced to spend more time inside – not to mention starting my deargodwheredidthetimego third year in China – has convinced me to start writing a bit about this whole experience.

After going through more stupid ideas and cringeworthy drafts than I’d care to admit, I’ve decided to just tell you up front that I have no specific plans for this blog. I know that’s not the sexiest hook in the world, but I’d hate to abandon my thus-far-successful postgrad strategy of wandering around randomly hoping for the best. [note: my definition of *successful* is basically having a liberal arts degree and not starving to death]

But generally speaking, I’d like to tell some fun stories, throw out some hopefully unpretentious travel and/or language advice, and provide a reliable and accessible source of information about life in the PRC.

After all, China is important. Anyone even remotely my age grew up hearing about how everything is made in China and they’ll surely own the entire world any day now. Comedians joke about it, pundits scare people with it, and politicians yell about it.

[some slightly more than others]

But – and Drumpf is a great segue for this – China is one of those really important things that most people don’t know very much about. Here is a super-professional graph I made to help illustrate this point:

Screen Shot 2016-09-11 at 4.48.56 PM.png

Of course, I’m not some kind of world-class authority on China. If you’re looking for expert, in-depth analysis, I’d start with the Sinica Podcast and go from there. I just – thanks to my aforementioned random wandering – happen to have developed a bit of real-world familiarity with the Mysterious East.

Between a general lack of knowledge and China being less-than-entirely-helpful when it comes to the flow of honest information, we get fed a staggering amount of disinformation about the place. On any given day, you might hear that Chinese people are walking cabbages instead of pets, how the government has outlawed Chinese women marrying foreigners, or that thousands of dead pigs have been inexplicably washing up on riverbanks in Shanghai. All three of those stories actually made the social media rounds at one point, despite only one being true.

So, yeah. Call it my selfless desire to spread truth and knowledge, call it my desperate attempt to not forget how English works – either way, I came up with the pun-tastic name, so this is happening. I hope you enjoy – check back soon for posts with some actual substance!

This is my working list of *starter* topics – feel free to comment with additional ideas.

Smog/How are you still alive?

Censorship/How are you even writing this?

Food/How many dogs have you eaten?

Language/How the hell do I get less awful at Chinese?

Working in China/What if I’m as nuts as you?

 

 

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