A Year in China–Part I

8/18: LA to Shanghai. Am I the only one who enjoys 12-14 hour flights?

Watched “blackish,” “Pet Sematary.” Read LA Times, New York Times. Studied Chinese.

Did sets of squats.

Looking forward somewhat to Shanghai but anxious about training being interrupted by bad air quality. I should be positive.

In typical Chinese fashion, Guilin pops up at airport. I had no idea she’d be there. At home, she had a wonderful dinner waiting for us, complete with 20 heart candles on the table.

8/19: Back to work. Don’t have a classroom home now after moving. Only teacher who had to move whole-scale😫.

But I must make a new home. I will.

Cleaned a lot. Sanitized with soap and water.

Thankfully, our boss is into short meetings and gives us a lot of time on our own. I need it. Others are planning lessons and units, while I’m cleaning.

Met new Intersport crew at 19:15 by East Bund. Brand new running store about to open. I’m happy to be one of the 9 or 10 folks helping lead training sessions, starting next Monday.

Tonight, we ran 5k course for Friday’s race. Beautiful night. AQI around 72.

Got home late but it was a fulfilling day. Met new colleagues at work and had reunion with running colleagues. Watched some of “Dexter” and read about 1.5 pages of Archie before dozing off.


What does one’s Apartment look like in China after workers connect water pipe to water meter? This is what I came home to today:

At least the pipe is nice and new.

August 21: In the “secret” courtyard off HongMei Road. My Indian dinners, Japanese places across the way. Thai. Buddhist shrine next to Hindu shrine. New Zealand restaurant. Tacky nude female sculpture in a new tiny garden. Spa. Sushi place.

This is one of my favorite little nooks in Shanghai.

Never crowded, with just the right amount of action–and the occasional film shoot. My apartment about 5-7 minute walk away.

It’s good to be home.

8/22: Where in the heck do I put my trash? Recyclables?

Where did the trash cans go?!

I was gone for 7 weeks and the world here changed. Everything here at lightning speed.

The new Shanghai recycling law went into effect on July 1st and now a park bench and ashtray are where some trash cans used to be.

Sooner or later, I’ll need to figure this out. Meantime, my colleague Myriam told me trash can only go out at certain times, such as from 6-8 p.m. Only on certain days, too??

Discovered the cans hiding in a completely different location, out of sight. They are now being strictly surveilled.

Drifting around my neighborhood, carefree, I just discovered some nice goods in a little market I’d never really explored before. Found Vitasoy for only 13元, but expiration seemed to be on January 9th of this year. Oopie.

As usual here, lady went from stern face to big smile and friendly nature as I practiced some meager Chinese. People here are so interested in foreigners. By and large, they seem to have a mostly good impression of the USA, as well. I wonder how long that can hold.

The State machine is at work. My girlfriend already sent me a photo of a “Hong Kong citizen” holding an American flag at a protest. And she asked why Americans are instigating violence there.

8/23: Longxi Road train station. Switching to Line 11 soon–Disney Resort is Terminal Station. Going to race alongside Yellow River (smaller version) on East Bund.

I am in Shanghai, CHINA

What is happening here?!

Was great being a part of the grand opening of Shanghai’s first ever InterSport store. 27 now in China. Our German friend Robin has hooked us up to a new coaching-training crew and we had our first race tonight. Brutally humid. A race volunteer was a bit off course and most of us–80%+?–ran 4.69k rather than 5k.

But although time can’t be remembered much, I managed a win. Gives me some added confidence.

Great hanging out with folks afterwards. One of those Friday evenings that may as well not end. That’s why I got home and stayed up till 01:10.

Compare this with Monday’s photo. How quickly things transform here….

8/24: Ventured out into Pudong to pick up mine & Guilin’s race packets for the tower race tomorrow.

Ran a short 7.5k recovery run beforehand in stifling humidity. Ran past a man sleeping upon the back of his little trailer, attached to his vehicle. You know, those old school recycling/moving vehicles that are commonplace here.

As he napped, two friends snuck up and draped a white canvas sheet over him completely, as though he were dead.

He stretched his legs up into the sheet, trying to escape, as he hurled Chinese back at them.

One friend filmed the scene with his phone, a huge smile over his face. His friend and him laughing.

I couldn’t contain my smile as I ran past.

It was so innocent. Innocent fun.

Such a safe place, God Willing. No gun violence. No school shootings.

A certain innocence still pervades here.

It was a moment so refreshing.


JinMao Tower run. 88 floors…done.

Guilin and I were on the attack. In an absolutely stifling oven of a stairwell, we weaved our ways around legions on death marches.

My fifth tower run–a common race genre here seldom see in USA. I’ve now run the 3 tallest buildings in Shanghai. Just need the Oriental Pearl TV Tower to round out the Big 4.

I’d hoped for a Top 10 money finish, but took 24th for a Top 25 spot.

Time was relatively better than all but maybe one other tower run, or perhaps even my best, relative to number of floors. Not for sure yet, but 14:50 for 88. Took me a bit over 21 minutes for 100 floors in my last tower run–up Shanghai World Financial Center (the bottlecap building).

Guilin ran just over 24. She’s tough. I know how determined she gets heading towards a goal. Love it.

For some masochistic reason, I love these tower runs.

And nothing beats the views from the top; especially when the AQI is 38.

8/26: Monday. First day of the 2019-2020 school year. I’ve come a heck of a long way since this time in ’05 on Webster Ave.

Crazy, these twists and turns life brings. I love the roller coaster.

Two classes today of brand new middle schoolers. Sixth grade. What may be nightmarish in BX–middle school😱😱😱–is so quaint by Shanghai private school standards.

Tiny little folks, usually the boys, who actually are quiet when I need them to be and can sit respectfully through our 80 minute periods.

Granted, it’s Day One. But so far positive incoming intel from homeroom teachers.


8/27: Woman’s backpack, on train:

Do you feel tired? Wnana Sleep?

come and hold me to sleep


8/28: They’re still kids. Full of energy. But they DO know when to listen. And if they know you are getting upset with them, they stop. Almost immediately. Nearly all the time.

Even the 6th graders this morning–essentially, still 5th graders–were aghast when I told them I had 20 year old students before in The Bronx who did not even bring A pen or A pencil to class. Forget about having a notebook.

If there’s one thing ingrained within the psyche of every Chinese child it is this:

Pencil Case

Usually large, fancy, filled to the brim cases with countless writing instruments therein.

Many kids also carry specialized art supplies, including Exacto knives.

Fascinating, really, to see young folk getting those out, so nonchalantly. But here it’s just different.

There is no cause for alarm. The kids use their little “knives” (razorblades in actuality), then put them away.

No one gets hurt.

And so many of them are really, really great artists. Needless to say, art classes are not cut from schools here. At least not around these parts of Shanghai.

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