Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Perils of shopping in China

I walked into the Gap on West Nanjing Road before meeting a girlfriend for dinner and started thumbing through a stack of khaki-colored short shorts.

Sales lady: Miss, how big are you looking for?

Me: Ugh, probably too big.

She laughs and pulls the biggest size they have out of the pile (which is, wait for it, a whopping size 6).

I head for the dressing room and pull 'em on - wondering if shorts a la sausage casings will ever be all the rage.

Looks like I'll be wearing skirts come summer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coming to a magazine stand near you

If you live in Shanghai, that is.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Check out the little man

Help the kid get a million hits (he asked me to post here). Have a listen. Miss you, baby bro.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mission Accomplished

My third cover story is filed and being laid out on the page over the weekend. I think it might be my best piece of non-fiction yet. Not to toot my own horn, I'm just sayin'. Mostly I'm proud because it's a China story full of human drama that I haven't really seen much written about in English.

Unfortunately, I still have a couple smaller things to finish writing over the weekend (all the copy goes up to our censor in Beijing Monday afternoon). 

I was the first one in and the last one out of the office today. To reward myself for all that work, I watched the third episode of Toddlers and Tiaras tonight - God forgive me. What a strange, creepy American subculture. This is so me next Halloween.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I still don't understand, but I'm learning

One of the hardest things for me to understand is how Chinese people aren't totally livid about the authoritarian state in which they are governed. Forget the important stuff like right to assemble and freedom of religion and just think how emasculated you'd feel if the man was preventing you from watching YouTube or even doing boring old job networking on LinkedIn.

I don't usually talk politics with Chinese people. It's not polite and most people don't have much to say.

However, the other day I was interviewing a school teacher whose parents were zhi qing. They were sent to one of China's poorest provinces as teenagers and made to spend their entire working lives there. They didn't have a chance to go to college, and they lived much more limited lives than they would've had they been able to live in their native Shanghai.

The teacher said several times that his parents were dealt with very unfairly - that he hated his parents history.

His school is located next to some government buildings. He told us occasionally a small group of people will come to protest outside - perhaps about the fact the government is demolishing their home and they want more money, something like that. His reaction, he said, when he sees this is that he wants to say (but never does), "Back off you guys. You are protesting over some small amount of money. My parents gave up thirty years."

Since he brought it up, I had to ask ... and it was awkward because I was asking through my co-worker/translator, and the question was impolite. But basically I asked something like: Your parents gave up thirty years. What happened to them was very bad and unfair and it was the government's doing. These protesters, they also think they're being treated unfairly. Do you think the government is more fair now?

To which he responded, "some people always have to sacrifice," which kind of reminded me of this quote. That was the end of that subject.

In the past month I've interviewed a lot of Shanghainese people whose parents were sent out to poor provinces during the Cultural Revolution. The people I'm interviewing grew up in the countryside and their lives too were affected by sweeping government policies. They all say about the same thing: I am a stronger person. I'm more adaptive. I can adjust to situations better because of the hardship I've already been through.

No one was on a hunt for justice. No one seemed to be dwelling on the prime mover of all this unpleasantry. They were all just better adjusted to the hand that fate dealt them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two Cuties

Twin baby girls I snapped in the street the other day with my iTouch.

Aren't they too adorable?

I told their mom that she was very lucky - a standard thing to say to any Chinese person in Shanghai that happens to have more than one child.

"Hai hao," she replied after a moment, which is like "eh, okay."

And then I look at this picture and think: Yeah, imagine how much time it would take to get one kid bundled up like that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Leslie plays sports writer/foreign correspondent

Hey, look at me, I'm freelancing: Wang pushes the NFL's boundaries 

You can also read the fruits of my 3am Usher interview here: Oh. My. Gosh.

The other day my dad suggested I discontinue this lil' blog and it made me a sad bat (a phrase I adopted after Billy came home from day care with a black paper bat that was scowling one day oh so long ago).

Every other entry I'm apologizing for how few and far between my entries are. Part of the problem is I hate to come home and stare at the computer after work. Another part of the problem is a lot of the hilarious work shenanigans and commie bullshit that I run into on a regular basis isn't exactly public blog fodder. Then the final part of the problem is that I really devote a lot of energy to my job and it's hard to come home and write inspired posts.

But I'm not going to shut her down. I'm just going to continue posting when I can. I recommend those of you living in the stone age (*cough*family*cough*) join the young moderns and start using Google Reader. Then you wont have to be so disappointed when you come visiting my lifeless blog.