Dating In China

Since I broke up with my ex in October 2016, I’ve given the dating game in Beijing a shot and it’s been a whirlwind of funny/awkward situations, and moments where I can’t even think of how to respond. Here are some of the more “interesting” things that have happened while on a date

 “Already Ate”

Her: Let’s grab dinner at 6 on Saturday

Me: Sounds good!

In the restaurant on Saturday

Me: I’m starving, you hungry?

Her: No, I ate an hour ago

Me: Umm, I thought we had dinner plans

Her: Ya, but I was hungry an hour ago and didn’t want to wait. It’s ok, I’ll watch you eat

Me: …

 

 “Oh, Actually”

Me: So, drinks on Friday?

Her: Ya, perfect.

At the bar

Me: I think I’ll grab a beer. You?

Her: Oh, actually, I don’t drink, but I am so hungry, I think I’ll get Pho

So I sit there, drinking beer, listening to her slurp up Pho while puffing on a vape every other bite and blowing it right across the table. Before I can even start to wonder how I get myself in these situations, she says:

Her: Do you want to buy a vape? I sell them, it’s my side business

Me: Thanks for the offer, but I’m all set

Her: No worries! Anyway, it’s so nice of you to buy me Pho

Me: Sorry, what gives you the impression that I’m buying your food?

Her: That’s how it works, guys always pay

I’ve gotta start vetting these girls better before agreeing to go out

“So Strong”

Her: Oh my gosh, this mojito is so strong

Me: You can order something else if you want

Her: No, it’s ok, I’m just feeling like so drunk already

Me: Alright, well just don’t throw up on me

So we keep talking, and between stories she keeps commenting just how strong the drink is and how’s she feeling drunk and laughing a lot. This is her first drink, so I’m not concerned, but find it odd that she keeps talking about it. After we finish, we head down to the bar and the bartender says “Table 10, one beer and one non-alcoholic mojito”, at which point I turn to the girl and say “Sorry, what the fuck?”

She looks at me and shrugs: I thought you’d like me better if you thought I was drunk

Me: …

 

“Don’t Do Scooters”

Me: Hey, so we can meet around 8 at the subway station and I can pick you up on my scooter and then ride to the restaurant

Her: Sounds great!

At the subway

Me: Hey hey, ready to go?

Her: Actually, do you know any places close to here? I don’t do scooters

Me: … I already made a reservation, I thought you said riding on a scooter would be fine

Her: Ya, but I don’t do scooters, too scary

Me: …

 

“Height Requirements”

Talking to Chinese girls on Tinder (which you need a VPN for) can be tricky, but there’s one thing for certain - they’ll ask you how tall you are

Her: How tall are you?

Me: 180

Her: Sorry, that’s not enough

Me: What do you prefer?

Her: 190+

Me: Out of curiosity, how tall are you?

Her: 150

Me: If you want to date a giraffe, go to the zoo

“Couldn’t Wait”

Me: Hey I’m outside of the KFC where we agreed to meet. Where are you?

Her: I’m inside, hold on a second.

Her: Hey sorry, I was hungry so I got a bunch of stuff.

Me: We are literally headed to a restaurant right now

Her: Ya, but I wanted KFC

Me: …

2018 Timelapse

2019 Goals

As with each passing year, it’s customary, at least in the US, to make goals/resolutions. So, as is tradition, here are mine for 2019:

  • $5,000 to retirement

  • Sign new contract at Xinhua

  • Visit 3 new countries

  • Write another short story (sub 15,000 words) - Current short story “Here Then Gone” is with editor

  • Benchpress 125kg 5 times - Currently around 115kg maybe 2-3 times

  • Read at least 12 books - I’ve started writing a 10-word ‘thing’ for each book I’ve read since last summer, which can be found under my About me section. So far this year, I’ve read “Fatherland” and “The Chrysalids”

  • No fast-food

Xinhua Special: Xi's Speech at CIIE

Review of Contraception

Murder, Mayhem & More recently reviewed my novel, Contraception. Check out the review here

Gym

7.25

  • Squat - 115 - 2 reps

7.28

  • Squat - 120 - 3 reps
  • Deadlift - 130 - 4 reps

8.01

  • Squat - 120 - 2.5 reps
  • Deadlift - 110 - 5 reps
  • Deadlift - 130 - 4 reps
  • Deadlift - 135 - 2 reps

1,000 Pound Club

I'm at a bit of a stalemate with my gym. I haven't set any solid gym goals recently, so by the end of December, I'm aiming to get into the 1,000-pound club - my squat, deadlift, and benchpress should cumulatively be 1,000 pounds. 

Current Stats (7.21) @ 90kg

  • Benchpress - 115kg - 253 pounds - 1 rep
  • Squat - 110kg - 242 pounds - 5 reps
  • Deadlift - 130kg - 286 pounds - 3 reps
  • Total - 355kg - 781 pounds

I know, my legs are weak, but I'm also working to not bulk up too much because I don't want to look ridiculous when I wear pants. Will update every few weeks or so and see what progress has been made.

Current diet - I recently bought a lot of canned salmon, tuna, oysters, and sardines and I try to eat at least one tin per day on top of regular meals. I stay away from sugar, soda, and fast food, but everything else is fair game. I'm working on trying to cut beer out of my diet, but I'm not a UFC athlete, few beers are still ok. Every two weeks, I'll buy a bunch of fruit and vegetables, blend them in a blender with a bit of water, put them in small ice-cube trays, freeze them, then in the morning, I'll dump a handful of them along with a can of coconut milk into a blender and make a smoothie. I use a silicon ice-tray and the process couldn't be easier.

Supplements - I have a protein shake following my workouts along with two servings of amino acids. After lunch, I take fish oil, a vitamin-B supplement, and a green tea extract pill. 

France for the win!

France

Picked France to win the World Cup before tournament started, could not have asked for a better final match. Glad to see my boys come through and finish strong.

tOolYOgoufW7SQyDdNolClyZlsxl5CLe90cQKqkbSN8.jpg

Update

  1. My current visa expires in 5 days, and in that time, I need to apply for a new foreign expert's card and a temporary 3-month visa, which will give me enough time to then later apply for a year visa.
  2. Started my new job at Xinhua News Agency which is a completely different atmosphere than the last place I worked. There are a ton of people constantly moving about, TVs are on, and lots of work to be done, but I like being busy. 
  3. Signed another year contract at my apartment in Andingmen. It's still a 20 minute scooter ride to work, and moving is a pain. 
  4. Listening to a lot of Caloncho lately, a talented Mexican musician
  5. World Cup games in China play at 8pm, 11pm, and 2am. So far, I've caught most of the 8 and 11pm games, and stayed up to watch Germany barely beat Sweden. I've got France this year, but I hope Mexico wins. 
  6. I designed and printed out a giant calendar (2x1 meters) that covers the next 16 months. Every time I look at it, I think about what I want to accomplish in that time.
  7. Trying to plan next trip, but can't start figuring things out until I get my new visa
  8. Feeling a bit isolated lately as I think about how long I've been away from family and friends. I've always been independent, but lately I've been thinking of settling down and what I want to do with my life. Currently, I've gotten as far as coloring in countries around the world that I don't want to live and slowly narrowing the list. Sorry China, but you didn't make the cut. 
  9. Thinking about buying the new iPhone in September, but I think Face ID is fucking stupid and unless it has a fingerprint scanner, will most likely stick with my current phone. A life update about my thoughts on a new phone, riveting stuff I know. 
  10. Started watching "Peaky Blinders". So far, so good. I also recommend "The Rain", a Danish Dystopian tv show. After watching it, I fell into a blackhole on Wikipedia about the linguistics and origins of the Danish language. 
  11. Overall, things are going well. A lot of goals were accomplished recently, such as finding a new job, saving money, publishing my book, and getting a new visa. With so many long-term projects finishing at the same time, I sort of feel a bit empty, almost like I have nothing to do. Besides work and gym, I really don't. With that said, I'm working on flushing out an idea for a new book and aiming to finish a short story soon. Once I get my new visa, tangible evidence of stability, I'll work on setting some more long-term goals that I can work on throughout the year. I'm results-oriented, I thrive on achieving things. 

Thanks to everyone who bought my book, talked about it, or liked my post online about it. I never expected to sell a book, it was always about seeing if I could create a physical manifestation of an idea. Now I know I can, which for me, means a lot more than selling 1,000 copies, which would also be cool but let's be real, not likely to happen. 

Chinese FA Cup Quarterfinals (Beijing 2 - Shanghai 1)

IMG_E3877.JPG
IMG_E3888.JPG
IMG_E3874.JPG
IMG_E3872.JPG
IMG_E3866.JPG
IMG_E3880.JPG
IMG_E3879.JPG

Whiz Buzz

Contraception promoted on Whiz Buzz Books

Last Day

Today was my last day at China Today, after having worked as a reporter and editor for one year. I'm grateful for everything I learned and look forward to starting work at Xinhua News Agency on Monday. So far, the plan is for this to be my last year in China, but at this point, I'm just trying to make the job / visa transition as smooth as possible.

White Skin Obsession

An article I wrote for China.org about China's love for white skin

Book of the Day

"Contraception" is featured on Book of the Day

Contraception - Print Available

Print version of "Contraception", a story about overpopulation in the future, is available from Amazon and can ship worldwide! Get your copy today!

amazon.com/author/degenhill

Single Mockup - White.jpg

Article on China.org

I wrote an article here about the most complicated character in the Chinese language

Microfiction

We have a section in the China Today magazine called Microfiction. To be frank, most of these articles are terrible, because a lot of meaning and symbolism gets lost in translation, leaving a bare and often confusing passage. I suggested I write one, focusing of course on China, and after I wrote it, was told that only Chinese authors could be selected. So, here on my blog (the scrapyard for rejected magazine articles) is the microfiction I wrote. 


Ming was six years old the first time he flew a kite. His grandfather had taken him to an open field on a hill, overlooking the city below them. Ming had received his kite for his birthday and flying it had been all he talked about for the entire week, until finally, on a sunny Saturday, it was time to fly his kite. 

“Hold on tight”, said his grandpa, placing the string wrapped around a piece of wood into Ming’s hand.

“On the count of 3. 1…2…” before his grandpa could finish counting, Ming took off, running across the green grass with the kite flapping behind him. Just as his grandpa had told him, he slowly let the string unwind from the piece of wood until the kite was now high above him, dancing among the blue skies and fluffy white clouds. Ming stopped running to gaze up at his red and yellow dragon-shaped kite that now soared over the city, like his own personal guardian. His grandfather walked over to him and placed his hand on his shoulder.

“Look grandpa, look how high it is!”

As his grandfather looked up at the red and yellow dragon that contrasted against the bright blue background, he smiled, thinking of the first time he had flown a kite so many years before. 

“You’re a natural,” said his grandfather, looking down at his smiling grandson who held onto the wooden stick as if it were the most important thing in the world. After a while of the kite zig-zagging in the sky, it started to falter and eventually came crashing down on the green grass of the hill. Ming looked up at his grandfather with a look of confusion and sadness. The elderly man chuckled as he knelt down on one knee to look at his grandson. 
“What’s the matter?”

“It’s over,” said the little boy quietly.

His grandpa smiled and said, “This time is over, but nothing lasts forever. We can try again in a bit. Go run over there and get your kite.” Ming raced across the grass as the wind blew against his face and picked up his dragon kite, pausing for a moment to look up at the sky from where it had came. He then ran back over to his grandpa who had already started wrapping the string around the wooden dowel.

“Sit with me for a second,” he told Ming, who sat down next to his grandpa as they both stared down at the city below them. 

“Nothing is forever,” began his grandpa, “And nothing should be.”

“But what if I like it?” asked Ming.

“New things will come, which will bring new opportunities and new experiences. A long time ago, this city was much smaller, there was no subway system, and people still road horses on the streets. But now, what do you see?”

“I see cars, and big buildings, and big signs, and people with phones, and trains.”

“That’s right,” said his grandfather. “And one day, maybe those things will be gone, and instead, there will be something better.”

The little boy smiled before asking, “Like when I tear a hole in my pants, mom buys me new, better pants?”

“Exactly. Now, why don’t you pick up that dragon and have another go. I’ll watch you from here.”

The little boy excitedly grabbed his kite in one hand and picked up the string in the other. Then, before smiling back at his grandfather, he one again raced across the hill, slowly letting out the string and releasing the kite until the wind caught it and launched it upwards. As Ming’s grandfather sat in the grass and watched his grandson chase the kite high above him, he too understood that change was not only inevitable, but beneficial. He thought of how quickly China had changed, and although he wanted to hold on to how things were, he understood that a new generation, including Ming, would be the force to drive China forward. 

“Grandpa, look! Look!” shouted Ming, as they both stared up into the sky to see the dragon hurtling past them. His grandpa smiled and nodded, knowing that the enthusiasm, curiosity, and spirit of Ming’s generation would lead China to new heights, just as each generation had done before. 

Chinese Rap + Chinese Reggae

Grammy Festival - Beijing 2018

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
IMG_3428.JPG
IMG_3429.JPG
UCBR0742.JPG
IMG_3431.JPG
IMG_3434.JPG
IMG_3432.JPG

Got tickets to the Grammy Festival  at the Changyang Music Theme Park in Beijing over the May-day holiday weekend. Got to see One Republic, Phoenix, Daya, Macy Gray, Carly Rae Jepsen, James Bay, and Pharrell. Amazing festival. Everyone sounded great, the artists were on time for their set, weather was nice, and despite the venue putting ice cubes in the beer, everything was perfect. I always forget how nice it is to do things that break up the routine

WWU - China's Social Credit System

Let’s talk about it. Here are the facts:

The idea of a social credit system first appeared in a document from the State Council of China published in June 2014. The country aims for everyone in China to be enrolled in a vast national database that compiles fiscal and government information by 2020. 

That system isn't in place yet. For now, the government is watching how eight Chinese companies issue their own "social credit" scores under state-approved pilot projects, including Sesame Credit, a subsidiary of Alibaba (they run Taobao). Other companies include China Rapid Finance, which is a partner of social network giant Tencent (they run WeChat). 

A national database will merge a wide variety of information on every citizen, assessing whether taxes and traffic tickets have been paid, whether academic degrees have been rightly earned, overall financial credibility, spending habits, criminal records, and social media behavior. After 2020, each adult citizen, along with their identity card, will also have a social credit score.

The purpose? A social credit system puts people's past history on record, with the goal being to build a better and more fair society. The intentions of the new system are not only economical, fighting fraudulent practices, but also moral. The Chinese government hopes to promote among its citizens socialist core values, such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard, and avoiding extravagant consumption. The government wants to evaluate the behavior of its citizens in various other areas as well, with the aim of “strengthening and innovating social governance.” For example, buying too many video games, as stated in the document, would lower your credit score because those who play vids aren't being productive members of society. 

A citizen’s score affects their eligibility for a number of services, including the kinds of jobs or mortgages they can get, and also impacts what schools their children qualify for.

Opinion

This is all sorts of crazy. Not only will the government have access to every data point of what makes you, you, they’ll also be able to control (even more so than they already do) what actions its citizens make simply by saying - “Doing *insert behavior* will lower your social score”. Most Chinese people I’ve talked to, including those who write about politics, have no idea about this system. In the same vein that I support President Trump, I hope this system fails so the government can rethink its approach to how it governs its citizens. 

I tried to pitch this story to my boss, and as usual, needed to highlight the “positives”, and I came up with this:

China would be the first country to implement a social credit system, compared to other countries who simply issue a credit score based on fiscal responsibility. The system will also use many of China’s high-tech achievements, including big-data research and face-tracking technology in order to track and maintain the social scores of its citizens. Whether the system will work or not remains to be seen, but China’s ambition for the project is worth commending.

However, it wasn’t quite enough as I was told, “The June issue is already full…”