Derek, International Man of Mystery

I am the sort of person that wonders about things. If I read a book about baking, I wonder what it would be like to run a bakery. If I see a TV show about astronauts, I try to imagine what it would be like to float in space. I am by nature, a curious person.

When I watch movies or read about my favorite authors I consider celebrity, and as a result I've always wondered what it would be like to be famous. China has given me the chance to find out. And its been a sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing ride.

On Tuesdays I attend a school function called English corner. Students from around Jiang Han Uni and surrounding schools come to chat up the twenty something of us that speak English. For every one of us English teachers, there are usually twenty Chinese students crowded around, staring and asking awkward questions. And most of these students are girls.

Now I said that China has taught me what it would be like to be a celebrity. I think it would be more accurate to say its taught me what it would be like to be a prey animal.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" one girl asks me. I smile. There is one of these every week.


The response is a chorus of giggles and exchanged glances.

I usually try to change the subject when that question gets asked. I'll ask something like, what's your major, random student, or what kind of movies do you guys like?

"What do you think about Chinese girls?" someone ventures, ignoring whatever it is I've said.

So the dance goes. Chinese girls are aggressive.

One week, a girl, one of my students no less, shot this question at me.

"How do Americans flirt with one another?"

"Well..." I tried to give her a straight answer. Most of you know I'm not exactly the expert on romance.

"If someone was flirting with you, and you liked it, what would you do?"

For all the talk about how subtle the Chinese are supposed to be, I think some people missed the memo on their own culture.

Another girl cut in with "What qualities do you find attractive in girls?"

When I go to English corner I tend to try to find a wall I can place my back to. It gives a false sense of security. I have a fear that one week I'm going to come to English corner and have a net thrown over my head. And I'm not the one who gets it the worst (or best depending on how one looks at things). My friend Dan sort of encourages (to a limited extent) this flirtatious behavior. I kid you not, five girls (who refer to themselves as the Five Flowers of Wuhan) took Dan out on what we have interpreted as a joint date. All of them flirting with him, and playfully vieing for his attention.

You know, as awkward as it can be sometimes, there are some wonderful things about Chinese culture. It'll do wonders for a person's ego.

I'd like to think its the Derek brand appeal that generates this reaction, but that doesn't account for it all. There's something appealing about all foreign guys to Chinese women, and I can't really explain to you what it is. Maybe we're exotic. Maybe we seem adventurous. More than once I've had students remark that they couldn't imagine a more exciting life than the traveling lifestyle many foreign teachers have adopted.

Regardless of the reasons I continue to enjoy/endure the endless torrent of questions about my love life that I receive at English corner.

"What was your first girlfriend like?"

"Do you like long hair?"

"Are you a virgin?"



Life goes on. I've been sitting on my butt doing nothing for the last couple of weeks. As regular readers are aware, I've been up to my eyeballs in work, at least up to a couple of weeks ago. After I got done with work, I decided to sit around and do nothing for a while. Its been nice. I've gotten a little bit of reading done. I can't recall what I mentioned last, so I'll throw the last few at you. Feast for Crows by George Martin, 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea by Jules Vern (which was fantastic), and Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy have been my recent reads. I'm still reading Clancy. Next up.... something else. I bought a bunch of fantasy novels recently, so I'll probably start in on one of them. I've never really read much Fantasy (relatively speaking).

If you've got any recommendations ( I really need to start reading more non fiction btw) feel free to leave them in the comments section.

My plan was to start my regular writing cycle back up today, but that was a bust. Hopefully tomorrow.

Oh, fun fact: George Martin, one of my favorite authors is going to be doing a book signing in Indianapolis while I'm home. That was cool to find out today.

Anyway. Hope life is treating you all well. Peace out.


Technical Difficulties

Dear faithful readers,

I apologize for the lack of posting for both last Sunday and next Sunday. My parents have come into town on top of my busy work schedule. As you can imagine, I'd rather spend time with my parents than writing my blog.

I will resume posting a little over a week from now on a Sunday. I hope you'll tune back in then.

Till then.