Exit, pursued by a bear

For a while, it was all the rage for expats to write a “Why I’m Leaving China” essay on the way out. For Mark Kitto, it was a slightly bitter diatribe about the futility of assimilation. For Charlie Custer, who left in quasi-clandestine fashion, it was more like a heads up that he was gone,…

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Confessions of a book hoarder

It could be worse. I could be compulsively stocking up on Spam in preparation for a doomsday sharknado. I could be saving every food delivery menu slipped under my door in case they become collectibles. Although, come to think of it, a bit of that off-the-deep-end hoarding could be a great way to get on…

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On poetry and purpose

A few days ago, I read an article on The Atlantic that struck a chord. In it, author Sherman Alexie reveals that a single line of poetry inspired him to dedicate himself to the arts. Bang. It was right there. It was waiting for me. People talk about “that moment when you just know”—I don’t think…

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Salad bar sociologist

When I was a kid I used to love family outings to Sizzler, although not really because of the salad bar. I mostly looked forward to the soft serve machine adjacent to the salad bar that they (abandoning all sense of logic and decency) allowed children to operate unsupervised. Thanks in part to health and…

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Hello Kitty, goodbye liver

They released an official Sanrio sanctioned Hello Kitty beer in China, and I drank it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome, internet. Rumor is that there are at least 4 flavors, possibly 6, but currently I could only find two of them at my local 7-11. The one on the left is lemon-lime and…

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Always say yes to karaoke

This past Saturday night, we celebrated Alex’s last birthday in Beijing. It was carried out in the traditional fashion – eating meat on sticks, followed by fancy cocktails, followed by a marathon karaoke session, followed by dim sum at 6am. I only made it to the dawn because I switched over to Red Bull and…

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I scream for ice cream

“Hold on a minute, I’m just negotiating an ice cream budget,” is an actual sentence I actually spoke recently in the course of doing my job. Since then I’ve been traveling around sampling the city’s frozen options (which it turns out are mostly gelato and not ice cream) and taking flavor and ambiance notes like,…

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Repetitive motion

Beijing is perpetually under construction. This isn’t some sort of grand metaphor or anything like that. Spend enough time here and you’ll be able to distinguish the make and model of a drill within three floors of it being used. It’s so prevalent that it took six years of constant noise before neighbors realized that…

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Taste test: Oreos vs Faux-reos

Speaking of Instagram (how’s that for a day-delayed segue?), I recently posted a photo from the market on my street that people had a lot to say about. Living in China, you get used to the things you buy being almost like the real thing. Back in 2005, my prized possession was a pair of…

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