the upcoming election and what it’s revealed

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For anyone who’s read more than two posts on this blog has realized, I don’t offer much personal information on here. I don’t use full names. I generally talk about places and events rather than the specifics of my life. You can easily glean some information about where I live, went to school, and what kind of work I do, and probably have an idea about my personality and what I care about, but I try to stay away from current events and issues like politics. But … I just gotta chime in.

This election is driving me nuts. So forgive me, but I feel the need to rant. Last year, when Trump announced his run for president, I was living in Shanghai. All my non-American friends were joking about how crazy it was and what it would be like if Trump was president. I laughed it off, because Trump as president? What a complete joke. It was a complete farce. At this point, however, it’s no longer funny. It’s just frightening and saddening and frustrating. Was I living in a blissfully ignorant bubble before? I never knew there was so much hatred and divisiveness in this country. I never realized how close-minded, how naive, how sinfully prideful, and how ill-informed so many Americans are about how the government works and what’s actually going on in the world. Are Americans truly the “stupid, uncultured Americans” that the rest of the world stereotypes us as?

This evening I was on the phone with a very fast-talking man who was taking a survey for CNN. Normally I don’t bother with phone surveys, but since I’m just chilling at home and this election cycle has made me so aggravated, I answered. Who am I voting for? Hillary. What is your opinion of Trump? Unfavorable. What is your opinion of Hillary? Unfavorable. Who do I trust more? Oy. I reluctantly answered: Hillary. Who shares my values more? I couldn’t pick one. Neither. Do you think Trump’s comments in that video are reflect his opinions as a whole? Yes. Are you registered? Yes. With a party? Republican. Position? Conservative.

I vote on the issues. Honestly, I do. So it might seem weird, maybe even blasphemous to some hardcore right-wingers that I’m crossing the aisle. But I’m not alone. Yes personality is playing a role in my opinion, but position is far more important to me. To put it simply, Trump’s positions are not only infeasible, but dangerous. I’m not voting for Hillary as much as I’m voting against Trump. I’m not voting for liberal policies as much as I’m voting to avoid World War III. To avoid nuclear war. To avoid the loss of foreign alliances. To avoid a downfall of our national security. To avoid a civil war. To avoid a collapse of our economy. To avoid a loss of progress and talent. To avoid martial law and riots and internal destruction. To avoid a culture of fear and distrust. I’m voting to maintain the tenuous balance we have now. To maintain a semblance of rationality. To give us some stoppage time to re-evaluate.

On Sunday I watched the second presidential debate with some friends. All of them are Democrats except for one. My Republican friend and I commiserated. He’s not voting. He said he can’t vote for someone who he doesn’t believe in, a position which I respect, but can’t bring myself to hold. It is extremely disheartening to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton when I don’t want her to be president, but my desire to keep Trump away from the presidency outweighs my desire to vote for someone I believe in. And that makes me truly, truly sad. During the debate I was muttering and yelling and stress eating like mad. And mostly at Trump, at a guy who is supposed to be “my” candidate and represent “my” side. My Democrat friends, not all of whom are Hillary supporters, were also complaining throughout the debate, but even if they don’t wholeheartedly endorse Hillary, they’re still on board with the broad strokes. They may sympathize with my situation of voting for someone I’m not gung-ho about, but I don’t know if they fully understand the internal conflict, to have someone you are so against be labeled “your” candidate. I usually don’t get so worked up about the election, because although I disagree with the liberal position, I see their stance, I understand their logic, and I respect the candidates as people. I just usually disagree with fundamental ideas of what constitutes an unalienable right, or to what degree equality can or should be enforced, or how much faith you can place in people’s innate goodness. But I have always seen most candidates as people striving to improve this country who just happen to have different ideas than my own. I can’t say the same for Trump.

As much as I am a proud conservative and believe in low taxes, small government, and states’ rights, the United States of America is a nation for a reason. The federal government exists for a reason and it has its role. In today’s global economy with global issues of terrorism and refugee crises and political upheavals every which way, we may look to the protectionist, closed-border, xenophobic idea as one that would solve all our problems. And, like communism, it does seem great. But, like communism, it’s perfect only in theory. How do you expect our multinational corporations to function? How do you expect a nation built upon immigration and diversity to function? How do you expect the United States of America to give up on its own American dream? How do you lose so much hope that you give in to the fear?

gin and tonic and a square glass

I’m a fan of gin and tonics. That I will freely admit. I’m not sure when the good ol’ g&t became my go-to drink, but by the time I got to New York and met roomie J who always had a ready stock of Hendrick’s, I had pretty much completely transitioned from beer (back in my Texas undergrad days) to wine or gin and tonics. This is to say that I have experience with gin and tonics.

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I don’t mind if you play with it a bit, like Logan Punch’s pretty darn amazing rosemary gin and tonic (servied in a mason jar mug!), but what really gets my goat is when someone takes a perfectly good drink and does something super weird to it … like putting it in an annoying square glass. This was at a local bar somewhere in the French Concession and the drink was mediocre but the glass made me sad. I know it seems persnickety and square galsses do look cool, but they aren’t easy to drink out of! Who wants to drink from a corner? Awkward. Please people, stop it.

dear ikea, I hate you

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Ikea. The value! The range! The actually decent quality and design! But then there’s the crowds! The ridiculously long path! And today, the lack of things in stock!

It’s been a long few weeks. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed with work, but the other night I decided to stop by Ikea after work to pick up a few things. It’s pretty out of my way, but I’m swamped with stuff most evenings and weekends and I always overestimate how much I’m going to enjoy an Ikea trip. It was supposed to be a quick trip, so I decided to enter through the checkouts and loop around the marketplace in order to avoid the showroom. I wanted to pick up four things. Three were out of stock. Argh. I was so frustrated at that point I just said “screw it” and dropped my yellow bag with one item in a corner.

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Then I did what any normal person would do in such an unfortunate situation. I got myself some consolation Swedish meatballs at the restaurant. And the meatballs were overcooked. Sigh. Seriously, Ikea? Seriously?! Right now I hate you, Ikea. Not ready to forgive you yet.

how to kill an art fair in 10 easy steps

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It’s been a busy month for art fairs in Shanghai! First there was Photo Shanghai, then SH Contemporary and Art in the City, and now West Bund Art & Design. Photo Shanghai and Art in the City were both successes. West Bund Art & Design is bound to be a success. SH Contemporary? Well … that was a nightmare I would much rather forget … if only I could.

So, because I’m still incredibly annoyed by how the whole thing went down, here’s a guide how to kill an art fair in 10 easy steps, as learned from SH Contemporary. After the debacle that SH Contemporary was, I’m pretty sure it’s dead. Actually, I’m pretty sure it died before the fair started but the organizers decided to prop it up, slap some make-up on it, and continue on as if nothing was wrong despite the obvious smell of decay so they could avoid refunding everyone. Does that sound morbid? Well, it was a pretty depressing affair.


Here goes (in no particular order):

1. Avoid media like the plague. Communication? Social media? Press mentions? Not necessary. Why on earth would you want to publicize an art fair? If you are approached by media or industry people who want to promote your event and bring in high-level clientele, feel free to ignore them.

2. Give your exhibitors exercise in extreme runaround and futility. After you collect their tens of thousands of RMB, feel free to waste their time. Make them fill out lots of information (VIP lists, exhibited works, catalogue information), harp on them for not filling things out properly, then promptly ignore it all.

3. Stall. See how much mileage you can get out of the phrase “in a few days” or “let me check on that and get back to you.” Over a month without offering any response? Congratulations, you’re winning!

4. Allow rumors to run rampant. A few weeks before opening, have a curator quit. A few days before the opening, have people saying that the fair might be canceled. Instruct staff to stonewall exhibitors with a form message and have organizers pretend like nothing’s wrong. That way the art world can bring out its catty claws and turn into a giant gossiping machine and spread even more rumors about the people in charge. That’s sure to burn all your reputations.

5. Respond to complaints with “If you don’t like it, quit.” Customer service is totes overrated.

6. Sell admission tickets for 120 RMB, over twice the price of tickets for the better organized and publicized fair that happened at the same location the week before – that’ll ensure low attendance!

7. Don’t update your website. Keep up information from two years ago and include no information on the current exhibitors. And during the fair (and even after), keep the giant “Apply Now” button on the main page. That’s sure to confuse everyone!

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8. Turn in the licensing paperwork to the government way beyond the deadline. That way, behind-the-scenes foreign consular intervention will be required, entangling even more people into the headache. Oh, and this way, once the fair is finally confirmed, there won’t be enough time for works imported from abroad to get cleared by customs (3 days required) and you can have lots of empty walls for the VIP opening and have some booths installing during the first day of the fair! Visitors to an art fair love being bombarded with sounds of drilling and hammering, right?

9. Allow an inexperienced Italian with insignificant connections in China to run a fair … in China. Fill support staff positions with well-meaning but woefully inexperienced Chinese who have no idea how an art fair works. And have an English-only catalogue … in China. Basically, ignore the fact that this is supposed to be a substantial art fair in a major city and instead treat it like an afterthought that is beneath you.

10. Don’t allow exhibitors to sell any works at the art fair. At the fair, right before the opening, tell all the gallerists who paid tens of thousands of RMB that even though they signed up to participate in an art fair, they’re actually only participating in an exhibition rather than a commercial event. That’s sure to piss off all those gallerists to the point where they’ll form an extremely active WeChat group to very passionately discuss legal action against you!


Heads got chopped at the conclusion of the fair, but it seems like the people whose heads should’ve been chopped managed to escape the guillotine, while those who actually tried to help got scapegoated. There was some great artwork on display, but only because there were some good galleries attending. The organization of the fair was abysmal so attendance and sales were much lower than expected. The booth fee and transportation costs added up to a sizable chunk of change (and I can’t even imagine how much the international galleries ended up shilling out), but in all honesty, it’s not just about the money. Each gallery put in so much effort, that to have the organizers treat us so disrespectfully and completely drop the ball was extremely gutting. So yeah, I’m still steaming.

printing cmyk

I got to say, getting things professionally printed is kind of cool but oh so tedioius. Clicking ‘print’ on your home computer this is not. CMYK for a long time was an annoyance (since I usually work with digital-only), but it is pretty cool to adjust colors in actual print and see the difference on paper rather than just the screen. However, it is super annoying to have to compromise on the colors when they’re perfect on the screen. No printing or controlling the color image by image allowed, it’s four pages at a time, honey.

And the process takes forever! Just give me the book already! Seriously! I spent six hours at the printer’s, and probably did a total of about half an hour’s work. The rest was waiting. And I’m still not happy with the colors. Le sigh.

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my annoyances of the week

It’s been a bad week. Here goes:

  1. Design Shanghai 2014 was running from February 27th through today, March 2nd, but I wasn’t allowed in because I didn’t have a ticket. Can I buy a ticket? No. You must already have a ticket. What?! It’s the last day of the event and the first day I’ve had off. Argh. I was really interested in seeing it, but now I’m just annoyed.
  2. Old Navy has come to Shanghai, but there was a crush of people and I couldn’t find normal spaghetti-strap tank tops. At Old Navy. Aren’t plain t-shirts and tank tops the core of their business?
  3. Wagas delivery goes off-line when it rains, because a bit of rain is simply insurmountable. Oh sure, they’ll still deliver – if you pay CAB FARE for the delivery guy. I’m sorry, but I’m already paying your extravagant prices for a sandwich … and it’s just rain.
  4. On the weekend I occasionally tutor a woman in oral English. Usually we meet for two hours, but today she only wanted to meet for one hour. As it is I’m tutoring her for peanuts (way below my normal hourly rate) and it takes me 40 minutes round-trip, which makes that ‘tutoring session’ a complete waste of time.
  5. My fridge is basically empty. The grocery store nearest to my apartment closes at 9 PM and I normally get home around 8 PM, but Wednesday I got home at 9 and Thursday at 11. This week I’ve had McDonald’s twice, KFC once, and ramen noodles twice. Ugh.

But you know what makes everything better? Flowers. Mental health flowers. In front of my apartment building there is a flower lady with a little cart of flowers that I’ve passed by many times before, but this afternoon I stopped and bought some. 25 kuai (about 4 USD) for two small bundles; I didn’t bother haggling. Ah, best investment ever. They make me smile.

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don’t even care that the photo is out of focus. Well, maybe just a little.

i just can’t take it

I’ve been told that I’m really sensitive. I’ve been told that I cannot hide my emotions at all. And then I’ve had people tell me that I’m an excellent liar. I’ve had someone tell me that it looks like I live a charmed life. I’ve had a teacher tell me that the phrase “still waters run deep” describes me. Basically what all of my rambling boils down to is that I just want to scream at someone, but I don’t … because part of me just will not let myself let go like that.

It’s the third week of school and already I feel like I might randomly snap and strangle someone. It’s happened before; it really might happen again. I know everyone has those moments when he/she feels out of place, completely misunderstood, like an outsider. And it might be better for me to speak up rather than merely letting things show on my face or build up inside until something bad happens. But I guess I trained myself a long time ago and old habits are hard to break.

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buying chinese

Today was kind of sucky. I planned to check out the Xujiahui Cathedral this afternoon, which, after a whole lot of wandering, did not happen. I have no idea how I could have missed it, but after half an hour of walking up and down the same roads (after half an hour of walking to the area), I gave up. Before the cathedral, I was on Panyu Lu, looking to see if I could find the mirrors of the mirror war (described here) but no luck on that either. Very frustrating. Oh, and did I mention that it started SNOWING while I was walking? Yeah. Thankfully not too cold. Stopped by a little park, which was nice.

By that point in time, my feet were killing me. So I did what I normally do when I’m kind of stressed out. I bought stuff. Went to Ikea. Didn’t buy much, just some candles and containers. Had some meatballs and tiramisu too … their tiramisu ain’t good. Whatever. Meatballs (Swedish) and tiramisu (Italian) at Ikea (Swedish) in China. Heh.

Now to explain the title of this post (and the picture below). Went to the grocery store. They were out of Nutella (Italian), but there was this jar labeled “Hazelnut Chocolate Spread.” Well, that’s essentially the same, right? Except it’s a Chinese brand. Hm …. Then looked for some peanut butter. Skippy (American). Hey, that works. Except the packaging was Chinese. Hm …. Oh well, bought ’em both. Then went to the local fruit stand. Picked up some oranges, picked up some grapes. Then they got rung up. Oranges: 4.3 RMB. Grapes: 34.6 RMB. Wait, what? I really wanted grapes so I just bought ’em. Looked closer at the sign. Oranges were local, grapes imported from the US. Yep, I need to pay more attention to signs.

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hello again (sort of)

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

Whoops. It’s been quite a while since I last posted. Felt like I needed to write though … for fun, not essay-writing for class (because that’s not fun). For anyone reading, I feel like I should warn you that this post is pretty much just going to be me complaining. Because that’s what I do when I feel like this.

Work is work. Wow. Revelation. I feel so rundown and exhausted. Kids need to learn that it is NOT OKAY to cough in people’s faces. I haven’t been feeling too great for the past few days and I am completely blaming the kids. I give them tissues, I tell them to aim for their elbows, but nope. I get paid decently and my job isn’t bad at all, so I shouldn’t complain, but COME ON!

Usually when I go grocery shopping I go in with a short list of the things I absolutely need and then just buy whatever else sounds good at the moment. Since I haven’t been feeling well, I haven’t been feeling hungry, and therefore didn’t buy much when I went to the store. For dinner I ate a corn dog (yay microwave!) because that’s all I could really find. My lunch for tomorrow will be yet another turkey sandwich. I have eaten so many turkey sandwiches since the beginning of the semester, it’s disgusting. But if I’m buying a loaf of bread, a head of lettuce, and a container of turkey, I pretty much have to eat turkey sandwiches all week or everything goes bad/stale/icky.

I want to take NyQuil and sleep a good sleep, but then I probably wouldn’t be able to make it to my 8 AM class. That’s kind of a catch-22. If I want to be alert for class, I need a good sleep (which only NyQuil will give – darn coughing). But if I want to make it to class on time, I cannot take NyQuil (which would knock me out for at least 10 hours). Ugh.

Then there’s school. Need I say more? I cannot wait until Thanksgiving. I am going to relish that break so much. Oh, and my wallet currently has $2. It’s just past 11 PM and this college student is off to take a long hot shower, crawl into bed, and hope that the world magically turns into cotton candy in the morning.