Sunday, October 29

The Love of my Life

This is the first post in a couple of weeks. Sorry!The main reason is that I have found the soul with which I will spend the rest of eternity, and I have been overwhelmed far beyond measure.Her name is Lillian, Chinese name Li Lin Ling (3rd, 2nd and 2nd tones respectively). We have known each other pretty much since I moved here in February, and we are very close friends. We are learning to do all kinds of different things together, and we are planning our future life together. There is an abundance of joy, intense marveling, and abiding peace. Even the craziness of The Mars Volta music cannot begin to touch the depths of this life-turn!

On another note, this is my second week teaching English in primary school instead of kindergarten. It's been a serious challenge, which I am appreciating. Today I discovered how wonderfully crafts can work in the students regular classrooms (half of the classes are in smaller groups in my own classroom!). So I will be resorting to crafts more in the future. There's a beautiful girl names Ingrid, who is an absolute storm of misbehavior! For some reason, though, I took an immediate liking to her, and today she proudly demonstrated to me how attentive and engaged a student she can be, and ran into my arms after class. These two learnings made today a wonderful, heart-warming day (not to mention a long conversation with my parents in the morning, and coming home to a delicious home-made dinner from my beloved hands in the evening!)The danio is happy. Posted by Picasa

Note: This post was written on November 9, but I have not had access to recently.

Tuesday, October 24


I've been eating the same breakfast for the last 6 years or so:
- Hashbrowns sprinkled with cheese (less cheese nowadays, as it's so rare and expensive in China)
- Dark bread (usually wheat, multigrain, rye, etc.) with peanut butter and jelly (natural, no sugar added, usually - also harder to find in Shanghai)
- Bowl of cereal (a muesli-type), with soymilk
I am probably one of those few people who can say with confidence that I have enough fiber in my diet! Sometimes I'll add an egg or some fruit (preferably grapefruit, my favorite - also uncommon in China, alas)

Since I've been in Shanghai, I've been enjoying the marvelous vegetarian meals prepared by auntie Fei or uncle Martin at NewBeat. They are amazing! especially the latter. The food varies so much! It's always white rice with an assortment of three dishes. The dishes are vegetables like potato, eggplant or broccoli, but often veggies I have no good name for: sigua, donggua, and lots of green leefy guys... also lots of tofu, soybeans, mushrooms and beansprouts. All of this is prepared in many different ways. What's more is we have some kind of fruit as dessert every time! watermelon, peach, apple, pair, banana, grapes, lychee, etc. I will certainly miss the lunches when I'm gone.

Dinner was usually eating out for the first several months. I could get decent restaurant food for 10-30 RMB ($1-4). Then I went through a phase where I snacked on nuts and fruits for dinner, with an added street food of some kind, like a couple of baozis (last picture on the left). On that note, one of the best things in my life is the sheer amount of fruits I have been eating on a regular basis. It's so affordable, so delicious, easy to buy and everywhere!!! Several fruits, like the veggies mentioned above, are completely new to me - never seen or heard of them! Over the last couple of months, I've been getting pre-made food at the local market, which I can just toss in the wok, with maybe some added veggies, ready in a short 2 minutes. 4RMB. Sometimes I'll hit the noodle shop for 5RMB. And then I eat out with friends sometimes, which is more like 25-40RMB.

 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21

Tuesday, October 17

In This Life...

Well, I haven't been able to blog recently... but at least I haven't been able to blog recently!

For lack of anything personal, I will share some pictures from my good ol' pal Logan, a bexy sitch I never made love to... somehow... or did I? He lives in Cali or something, and probably doesn't play basketball. In any case, these are pictures he took - except the one of himself, I guess. blablabla.

So that was Logan... or his pictures. It's late and I should sleep 'cause I'm going to the zoo tomorrow. for half-a-day. No two days are aleich. And you should be proud of who you are. because I am.

Who said that?!?

Take it from me... do it. Use your hands and do it. This is the end. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 5

Anji. Love.

By special requests:

1. "Please post pictures of Anji"

They are at my new photo site.

2. "Who is this girl?"

A friend was asking who is this girl in the poem I wrote a few posts back. She was a beautiful, inspiring girl that I met only once! On another note, my love life, as it were, is taking an interesting turn. It's quite a bit crazy, multi-faceted, exciting and of course spiritually affirming. There is reciprocated love in my life, and I am traveling that road to finding my life-long partner. So much has been experienced, so much my dear reader will never know...

Sunday, October 1


Things to do with friends:

- watched a play about how crazy Shanghai is. It was quite creative and intriguing. It was also very poignant. I got to practice my Chinese!
- watched the new big movie, The Banquet - a Chinese remake of Hamlet. It was so gorgeous! Several deviations from the original, including in theme, personalities, and relationships. Much more intrigue and politics. No improvement, but still worthy of merit, especially the cinematography and performance.
- went out to a bar on opening night with free drinks - called LaLa Land!
- went out dancing to excellent house music - my first time since I've been in Shanghai!
- going to Anji in the morning for two days with two friends
- going all night to karaoke with some friends when we get back

It's vacation time! One week of partying and hanging out with friends in Shanghai

Life is sweet. Lamb agrees Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 21

Do Not Flee

Some 16 months ago I fell for a girl who already had a boyfriend. I always learn a lot when I find in someone the qualities I'm looking for in a life-partner. The way Javad put it, it's always nice to experience this, 'cause it reminds us that there are indeed people out there that match the criteria. On the one hand, I should obviously respect the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship existing, but on the other hand, what if something else is destined? Or in my own words,

To fall in love with one you cannot wed
Is better fate than to have loved and fled.

This is one of the 20 sonnets I wrote to this love interest:

Zonnet 5

Reverberating curiously between
Our hearts, a love traverses the divide.
By circumstance my heart from yours is wheened,
Yet still we find that you and I collide.

For in mine eyes thou seest thine expressed.
A swift connection binds our hearts in twine.
No selfish purpose hid, no wish repressed,
Nor ambiguity canst thou yet find.

If growth and learning be hereby attained,
If truthful love and happiness abound,
If to our lives these instances pertain,
If to inspection it remaineth sound,

Then let such magic foster as it would,
It can forsooth amount to only good.


To give credit to Brent's comments, I would do things differently now than I did then. I would remember that "Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it."

Thursday, September 14

I So Love Children...

I am frequently overtaken with emotion at my job, on the verge of tears. I contemplate the beauty of these young souls who are still in the beginning phases of their relationship with this big world of ours.

One thing that strikes me frequently is how "real" their experience is. It is rare for us adults to cry outright, or to scream out of fright, or feel completely overtaken by embarassment the way children do. However, the experience is as real for them as it would be for us if we had it right now. Those are the childhood memories we tend to keep, because they're so intense. But it's easy for adults to dismiss the instance as something children maybe "just go through." I frequently see adults, especially teachers, ignore children crying, or even yelling at them. My God! They are so sensitive and vulnerable! Every time this happens, it takes a toll on their whole life! I pine for their suffering, as I recall my own experience as a child!

There is a new class I teach on Thursday afternoon. They are 3-4 years old. They are a trouble class, specifically bunched together according to a perceived lesser potential - at least that's how it's been explained to me. There are difficult to teach. Their discipline and focus is very poor, and their ability to learn in hampered. But this is where the simple acts of love show the clearest effect. In the course a short 25 minutes, I saw how my love and patience empowered them to control and enjoy their own actions. I am so grateful to God that I have a job where I can so clearly see the effect of my own service. And according to friends' accounts, what I see is only a small portion of what I am actually bestowing.

Month after month, my mother's widsdom of a multi-decade teacher infiltrates my own methods and approaches. I always thought it was remarkable how every single day she could have so very much to say about her students and her classes. I never thought I might one day be so grateful for her endless stories and anecdotes! Today we taught a huge class of some 40 students (2 classes combined for their English learning, actually), which is exceptionally challenging. The majority didn't behave too well, which Jacqueline and I both feel should be corrected. How? Remembering my mom's wisdom, I thought of a punishment. I usually focus on rewards, but punishments are also useful. It's simple: we said that because of how poorly they were behaving, the class went very slowly, and therefore we had no time to play a game, which we know they all love.

Did I mention I love my job?

On another note, it's been raining for four days. I love rain, but this time there's another meaning, and I have to finish a mission before the rain leaves, which gives me possibly another two days to complete a task which will most likely change my life. One day I might share i

Sunday, September 10

Last Resort

So I got a membership at a gym near my home, as a last resort, since I have not been exercising since I've come to Shanghai. I was trying to do capoeira, but it didn't work with my schedule.

I've started working on three different performance projects - some friends have been asking me about this, since I am a performer, after all... I have to make slow progress at this point, because of my heavy schedule, but it's nice to make some headway.

The new semester has started, and it's great to be back at the kindergartens, especially to be once again with some of my classes from the Spring.


How about a poem! a love poem!

Beneath the surface of your smile there lies
A mystery, which no detective's eyes,
However keen, could e'er elucidate.
How can your smile so bright illuminate
In one sweet hour a world as big as mine?
The secret lies in how you did define
The meaning of your life when as a child
You looked up to your teacher's face, so mild
And kind, and recognized the peaceful way
That you yourself would choose to be and stay.
Today, like many other days you teach,
Your light has shone on one you tried to reach,
And I am thankful for the smile I feel
Is spreading on my face - so warm and real.
I hope and pray you always will bestow
Your happy smile on those you get to know,
Because our world can seem so very dark
With so few acts of love to make their mark,
But smiles like yours can bring a kindling spark.


danio's song of the month

Gnarls Barkley - Smiley Faces

What did you do? What did you say?
Did you walk or did you run away?
Where are you now? Where have you been?
Did you go alone or did you bring a friend?
I need to know this 'cause I noticed you're smiling.
Out of the sun, having fun and and feeling free.
And I can tell you know how hard this life can be, but you keep on smiling for me.

What went right? What went wrong?
Was it a story or was it a song?
Was it overnight or did it take you long?
Was it knowing your weakness what made you strong?
Or all of the above. Oh how I love to see you smiling.
And oh yeah, take a little pain just in case.
You need something warm to embrace, to help you put on a smiling face.
Put on a smiling face.

Don't you go off into the new day with any doubt.
Here's a summary of something that you could smile about.
Say for instance, my girlfriend she bugs me all the time.
But the irony of it all is that she loves me all the time. Oh, see.

I wanna be you, whenever I see you smiling.
'Cause it's easily one of the hardest things to do.
Your worries and fears become your friends and they end up smiling at you.
Put on a smiling face.

Wednesday, August 30

Profile: Edward

Profile: Edward Giles

Beauty & Strength:

Edward is agreeably a one-of-a-kind soul, in a unique relationship with life and other people. Growing up in a violent and confusing environment, he has always embraced life as a stream of power feeding his spirit, so he can soar in new directions. The simplest of events take on profound significance as they interact with the constellation of pieces of wisdom, which he has gleaned from his grandfather, Islam, Sufism, Freemasonry, and the Baha'i Faith. He is most kind-mannered and gentle, with an amazing ability to converse at great length in abstract concepts, all the while keeping it grounded in reality (though the interlocutor may find it challenging to draw the correspondences).


Edward once showed up at my home to talk to my dad and me about spiritual truths, which he had been investigating. He soon became an integral part of my life, as we slowly reached across the distance between our worlds to gain mutual understanding. On the one hand, I always feel like an apprentice in his presence, as he shares his various thoughts, many of which are encapsulated in a few simple word plays. On the other hand, I feel like a light that has found something to shine on, as my own thoughts find validation in his attentive ears.


Edward has been serving homeless and poor people through a local church in Richmond, and he has been developing his relationships with family and friends, sharing his great wisdom (which unfortunately are lost on many misunderstanding or overwhelmed ears).


Edward will certainly continue to guide and inspire others with his great warm heart! It may even be within his lifetime that people learn to turn to his words for growth and comfort. He or someone else may also gather some of his compiled wisdom in writing.

Token Couplet:

On this soul's open oceans only odes
To you and life are heard - in hidden codes.

Sunday, August 27

The Breeze is Wafting


I love white tea! I've been hanging out with the lady at the tea shop down the street from me. She so sweet and welcoming. I've been learning lots about tea, and getting lots of free samples! She and her daughter are from Anhui province, just West of Shanghai, and they've been here for over 10 years!

One thing for which I am particularly grateful is the fact that none of my friends here complain about their lives or their jobs. While it's possible they keep some things bottled up, the main reason is that they are simply not inclined to complaining about things in general.

I also love that when a friend introduces me to one of her or his friends, this person immediately also assumes the role of a friend to me - in a "a friend of my friend is also my friend" kind of way.

Shanghainese is so much fun! I only know a few phrases, and I'm focusing on Mandarin, but it's a really cool sound, and it gets huge laughs whenever I attempt it.

A funny lesson in the 5th book in our NewBeat English series teaches the sentence, "The breeze is wafting." This is to follow "The sun is shining",

Monday, August 21


Zhuhai is such a very beautiful city! Unfortunately, I didn't really take any pictures. This is a view onto one of the many Zhuhai mountains, from my hotel room:

Guangdong food - yummie!

Touba (my school's director) and I were lucky enought to meet and have dinner with Rainbow's sister, who lives in Zhuhai (Rainbow is a NewBeat teacher).

Sandy and Adrian, from Macau - a beautiful family. This picture was taken by Julia, their daughter.

For the family consulting training course, we had a dinner together, where people took turns performing or speaking for the group - it was a delightful group indeed!

As I have mentioned, I was sick the whole 10 days in Zhuhai. I went to a doctor, who performed what is known as cupping, where they put suction cups at different strategic spot on my back to purge toxins from my body. I can't seem to get the picture to come up, so it's been divinely censored

Suzhou visit with friends

And now, to Suzhou! So cool to go to these beautiful cities back to back like this! The first picture I want to share is one of old people dancing, as they are wont to do at all time of the day. This is at around 7AM, and they were having a grand time!

As opposed to the cheap, do-it-yourself trip I had made with some friends to Zhu Jia Jiao, this time Tian Tian, Zhang Han and I took a tour bus, which means that we were steered around, going to a few select places, half of which are just touristy commercial spots aimed at getting us to buy various products for which the city is famous... like stone tea pots and silk products. This is a picture of our tour guide in action.

We visited a few beautiful gardens, which seem to make up a significant portion of the city's layout.

Throughout our visits, we had a few opportunities to watch and listen to beautiful young women playing traditional Chinese music on characteristic instruments:

My two companions took quite a few pictures themselves!

Haha! I got her:

I had several other pics, here, but having trouble loading - sorry! Maybe I'll start a Flickr page...

Hangzhou visit with Grandma

Yippie! Time for Hangzhou pictures. Although this is funny for starters, the next few pictures are from my favorite restaurant in Shanghai, which they also have in Hangzhou. They have the most delicious Thai food, and live performances (instruments, singing and dancing). Their outfits are great, and they have some many fruit foods and drinks!

The main feature of Hangzhou is West Lake:

Another big attration to me is the only place I know of where I love to shop! It's a night market with lots of arts, crafts and trinkets. The pagoda in the background is also a principle landmark:

I was very excited to go to the market for a second time:

A few clothes in my wardrobe are from this shop:

Next time I go, I want to buy a couple of this guy's amazing stone-carved tea pots!

This is a picture of our breakfast, which we picked up on the street market right outside the hotel:

Linyin Temple is the next main attraction after the lake:

This girl is just so cute!

I love this woman's dress, but I couldn't get a good shot of it!

There's a whole set of paths going up the mountain. Last time Javad and I walked to the top together. So many stairs!

Did I mention it was a beautiful, no-clouds sunny day?

This was a neat arrangement of rose paintings at a cafe we stopped out before leaving Hangzhou. It reminds me of our promotion for the production of The Rose Knight last summer. Posted by Picasa