Archive for the ‘China Things’ Category

Ok so that may be a bit over the top a warning considering one only has so much power against getting sick anywhere in the world and then you have China with the pollution, second hand smoke, the ever mutating H7N9 (or whatever the scientists are calling it now) and all other usual risk factors, there’s only so much you can do unless you can afford the luxury of living in a bubble or walking around with your own oxygen tank.

This is part three of my China experience series..

I, thank God, never got seriously ill while there except for the common cold and I have my own natural treatments straight-from-my-mama, God bless her soul so I can avoid hospitals. I literally do not step into a hospital unless I truly feel like I’m dying and even then my sister or BFF has to literally beg me to (BFF Duties 101). This was a sentiment my roommate then and I shared. You can imagine the panic when one day I walk into our room and find her writhing in extreme abdominal pain. I was just from a short trip so I was exhausted and just planned to curl up in my bed and call it a night but fate had other plans. Another friend was with her at the time trying to figure out what to do next. There was a Chinese dude too who really helped actually…he just got on the floor where my roomie was and started poking and prodding, next thing you know my roomie (let’s call her Amani for the sake of this story) is up and rushing to the bathroom to puke. Later he explained it was some form of acupuncture and honestly it was a huge help as it de-congested Amani’s tummy. Chinese peeps with their magic hands ey.

So we got a shifu (taxi-guy), that we had met previously and made friends with and now I thank heaven we did. He lived very close to our school. I would actually advice every foreigner to have one of these if you don’t have a car of your own that is. I called the guy up, he arrived in 5 minutes and off we went to the nearest hospital, because that’s what you do when someone falls seriously sick right?; first aid then dash to the nearest hospital? We got to the hospital; picture four ladies; one in so much pain she could barely walk, two trying to help her walk and me armed with only one year of Chinese language, never having experienced a real rush-a-friend-to-a-Chinese-hospital saga. So you can imagine my panic when the doctor said she could not be treated there and that we should take her to another hospital that is bigger and has more specialized doctors. I thought all doctors are specialized in MEDICINE!?!?!?!So the guy explains that because of language barriers there is risk of misdiagnosis or something like that; note, I could only get the general meaning of what he was saying. They don’t teach you doctor-speak in your first year. Have you ever regretted showing off that you could order chicken without chilli in a foreign language and then a real emergency comes up and everyone looks to you because you are the  self-declared ‘language expert’.  But I knew there was no way we were leaving that hospital without treatment. So on the brink of tears I begged the good doctor to look at how much pain Amani was in and have mercy on us. Finally he agreed but reluctantly. Aren’t we all lucky that I am an emotional blob and my tears live at the edge of my eyelashes?

At first we all thought it was food poisoning but after we did the regular blood and stool tests, they couldn’t find anything aside from a few deficiencies in the blood so he referred us to another doctor after ordering an ultrasound. Oh and you have to pay at every step so I have no idea how many trips I had to make to the doctor’s office then the cashier and then the treatment rooms and all the way back again. Amani was all the while complaining I was being too slow and almost punching the doctor demanding to be prescribed morphine! Amani, if you are reading this please don’t kill me. Seriously though, one time she had her hand on the doctor’s thigh and I could have sworn I saw a scared look on the poor guy’s face like she was going to grab his balls and squeeze till they popped if he didn’t do something.  I kept reminding myself to ‘Keep Calm, She’s in pain’, and the many prayers I made that night was the only thing that kept me sane. There were a few moments that tempers flared. We were all scared and exhausted; Amani was still in tremendous pain and no one knew what it was. It was understandable.

They finally discovered she had gallstones. We had to spend the night in hospital as she got medication intravenously; I have never seen drips go that slow. Felt like one drop in 5 minutes. The first doctor came to check on us a few times that night, he still had a panicked look in his eyes as if he was willing Amani to not die; not on his watch anyway. He kept suggesting we go to a bigger hospital with English speaking doctors; I kept ignoring that bit of our conversations. My friend was getting treatment; I couldn’t care less what hospital we were in.

I’ve never spent that much time in an emergency room aside from watching ER, Grey’s anatomy and Hawthorne on T.V from the comfort of my couch. I love medical dramas I just never thought I would live one.  I saw one guy coding and being revived by our doctor (suffice to say my confidence in him shot up after I watched him save a life). The outpatient ward was a choir of snoring through the night. I saw drunks who had had too much and were sleeping it off.  Sweet old couples taking care of their sick partners, busted heads, other people in unexplainable pain, seemingly overexerted doctors mobbed by patients and patients’ relatives yet still managing to keep calm. The nurses were really nice and helpful. As the shifts changed in the morning for the nurses and doctors we heard weeping and wailing from a room close to us. I said a little prayer for the lost soul. A very rude woman sleeping in the bed next to Amani’s kept saying in Chinese; “What’s with all the crying? If the guy is dead, he’s dead, that’s it”. I was too exhausted to give her a dirty look.

Thankfully Amani was pain free by around 10am, we went back to see the doctor, he suggested she come back later for another round of treatment and that we may need to consider surgery in the very near future. I could finally breathe easy. Once my head hit the pillow that afternoon, I was gone, passed out till we had to go back to the hospital in the evening.

Amani had to go on this crazy ‘gall-stone diet’ for some time but there was no more pain, just discomfort and exhaustion at the beginning. I never want to go through that again though. I already carry my heart on my sleeve and that day it moved to my fingertips. I was freaked out but at the same time I had someone depending on me so I couldn’t afford to freak out. I kept second guessing myself because of language barriers, wondering if maybe there was something life-threatening/saving that I didn’t understand and that if anything happened to Amani I’d always wonder if it was partly my fault. Sheesh, talk about being between a rock and an even bigger rock!

 

P.S: China for me was a ‘you live and you learn’ experience. I had loads of amazing adventures; most of which were non-life-threatening I promise. Haha! All worthwhile though. Have you been there? I’d love to hear your story. Look out for more posts on my experience in China!

She writes about everything. We were having an argument the other day. She had said something really mean to me. I was angry now,she was angry about a different discussion I had walked away from earlier. I don’t like engaging too much when am angry,I may say something I’ll regret to someone I love dearly and that is a bridge I’d never want to risk burning. I stopped talking and went on doing what I was doing;watching TV or something. She stayed for a moment then disappeared into the bedroom with her book. I followed her a few minutes later. I found her scribbling into that thing like her life depended on it. I did not envy the poor journal. I asked if she was ok. She said she was just thinking. She was so calm by then,it was actually a bit scary. I think her notebook always gets the worst of it. I heard about this guy one time. He came home late,his wife was already asleep.He quietly got into bed and fell asleep too. At around 3am he stirs a little and wakes up only to find his wife staring down at him with a calm smile on her face,saying nothing. The man got out of bed,packed an overnight bag and went to stay at a hotel for a few days. That’s how you get knifed in your sleep, he would tell his friends later. It was hilarious.

Anyway back to her.I went over to where she was and kissed the back of her left hand; she’s a sucker for affectionate physical contact. She put away her book,looked at me with that look that makes my heart melt. Are you ok? I asked again. No am not,she said and we finally settled the argument.

She got a call yesterday;from family I guess. It wasn’t a pleasant call. I could tell from her body language. I let her have a private moment. Aaaargh!! I heard her grunt after the call. She was not happy. Everything ok?I asked. Hmmm? She let out an absent minded reply then disappeared into the bedroom. I was at a loss; torn between following her to make sure she’s ok and letting her have some time to herself. I settled for a sneak ‘drive-by’ peek after a few minutes. She was writing. Her eyes were red and puffy. I didn’t hear her cry. She was clutching a pillow with her other hand. She does that sometimes;cries or screams into pillows so she doesn’t freak me out. Even when she’s going through turmoil she would still put my feelings into consideration first. She closes her notebook with the pen still open inside. She looks up at me and smiles. She is ready to talk because now she can do it without crying.

One time we were trying to get through an awkward conversation. She kept fumbling through her words. I needed her opinion and I needed it quick. I was getting impatient. Let me think please,she said and once again disappeared into the bedroom. I went in a few minutes later, I’m not the most patient person really but she’s teaching me to be. I found her seriously engrossed in her writing. I watch her from the door for a few seconds. She’s do beautiful when she’s serious. She turns everything else off when she’s in her head. She didn’t even notice me come into the room. I go over and lie next to her and just keep gazing at her softly.  She looks up at me and gives me the warmest smile. Would you like to read something I wrote? She asks. I hesitate. It’s ok,really,she says. I couldn’t articulate myself too well before but this is what I was trying to say. She passes me the book. I read through and almost tear up. I understand, I say and give her a peck on the cheek. We didn’t need to say anything more.

She has long discussions in her head sometimes; while we are talking like in the middle of a conversation then she gives me the conclusion. You know you actually have to say the words right? I tell her. She let’s out a loud laugh,apologizes and tells me what she was thinking. She’s weird.

She writes when she’s happy and she’s had the very best day. She writes when she’s angry and can’t even look at anyone. She writes when she’s confused and needs to work through something. She writes when she’s in a foul mood and afraid she may throw a big tantrum or say something mean. She writes when someone does something sweet and unexpected for her. Not even just for the big gestures; it’s mostly for the little things. You know the little things that make you know that someone really really cares? She writes when I do/say bad stuff too. Bad stuff about my present and my past. The stuff that makes her jaw drop and her face cringe. I can be weird too. Can I tell you something? I would say. She would know a bomb was about to be dropped. Ok,wait! she would reply. She’d cover her face with both hands and let out a tiny squeal. She’s an emoji waiting to happen that one. She’d then take in a deep breath; Ok tell me, I’m ready, she’d say.

She writes the dreams she remembers sometimes. They read like epic movies. She writes after failed job interviews and tough client meetings.  She writes when she’s wasted. Those read like comic books. You could practically picture her talking to herself in the mirror with this big bottle of something super strong in one hand and a pipe in the other. Don’t ask. She writes when she’s anxious and can’t sleep. When she has something really big to think through. She writes to get through awkward social situations. She’s a little shy. You’d think she’s seriously texting someone. She isn’t. She’s just writing about how awkward she is feeling and how she wishes she could just be one of those ‘life of the party’ ‘hit it off with anyone’ types.

She is a writer so I let her write. She’s always real th herself and the world in black and white. Maybe if I let her be real in her journal,she will always be real with me. Sometimes that may mean waiting half an hour for a one minute long answer. I don’t like the wait but I’m learning to because it’s always worth it.

You’d think we somehow copy paste these race-related stories off of each other as foreigners who’ve been to China but you would be wrong.

Every foreigner interacted closely with in China with an exception of none and more so black people have at least one of these stories. This is the second post on my ‘The China Experience’ series. Look back with me through 2011-2014 when I was studying in China. Enjoy….

Do you remember the first time you discovered you were black? I do. I was teaching at a kindergarten in Beijing for a few months in 2012. Yes, I have imparted knowledge in young minds and influenced the great minds of tomorrow. You may be inclined to applaud me right about now, go on, I would applaud me too.  So I walk into my first class and the kids’ eyes couldn’t be any more widely open in shock. One kid was totally freaked out and wouldn’t sit anywhere near me. My glass ego decided to try to convince me that they were reacting that way because I was new; a stranger. That argument flew out of the window when during the break and many breaks there after I would be bombarded with questions about my skin color from both the kids and the Chinese teachers alike.

“Why are you so black?”

“Were you born like this?”

“Why am I white and you are black?”

”Why is your hair weird?”

When the questions were from the kids, it was ok, they were young, not much exposure; it was forgivable that they asked me the same thing every single day. I decided to have a little fun with my answers; (more…)

This is the first post on my ‘The China Experience’ series..

The year 2011 felt like a roller coaster ride for me. I started the year in a job I hated and wasn’t in the least bit good at. April came, my resignation letter with it. I didn’t have a plan B so when China came knocking, I did not think twice. I hadn’t planned on a master’s but then again I had no plan so I thought , why the heck not. New country, new people, new culture, new friends I couldn’t resist discovering a new-ish me. These are a few of my firsts…

Playing the ukulele: Kind of happened out of sheer necessity.. I was going through a really dark time, I needed to get my mind off it because I literally thought I was losing my mind. So my friend Danielle, God bless her, suggested playing an instrument and as soon as I started expressing interest, my other friends give me an ukulele as a birthday gift! One month in and I’m playing actual songs, even played it during worship for some time at church. So in many ways, it saved me.

selfie time

Playing the ukulele

First solo performance, just some random school contest thingy;didn't win but I looked smashing!!

First solo performance, just some random school contest thingy;didn’t win but I looked smashing!!

Spoken word and poetry: First time I tried my hand in poetry was when I had just finished elementary school, waiting to join highschool. I had two months of holiday, we had just moved to a new house, I was bored out of my mind so I decided to try poetry and it sucked so I decided that i’d quit while I was ahead and appreciate poetry as a spectator. Then China happens, then a girl happened, then one day am writing a piece for a duet of a song she had written and asked I write something to go with it! Of course I was beside myself.

Singing: Ok so some time back before China, rumor had it that I have a nice singing voice, I just never made much of it. I mean you hear people with amazing voices and decide that maybe yours should remain in the shower. But, shock on me I have done a bit of singing while in China at my church and people actually think I have a pretty good voice. I joined the worship team after my super-talented friend, asked me to join with her. We were inseparable then. We did a few duets together, she has one of the most powerful, versatile voices I have ever had the honor of listening to and the fact that she even asked me to put my voice next to hers was unbelievable. Our voices went really well together and we would switch it up too so yeah I guess in the process, I gained more confidence in my own sound. I was even the lead singer in a band; ‘Andy and the string theory’. We had, Andy on the bongo drums, Danielle on violin, Lindsay on guitar and vocals and me on ukulele and lead vocals. We only performed just the one song in just the one concert and it wasn’t as good but still it was pretty cool! Definitely a first for me.

photography for jonny

‘Weeding’: Maybe I shouldn’t expound on this because big brother may be watching (reading). I’ll summarize; I did it, it was ahmazzing, I loved it in every form; baked, brewed, rolled, chocolat-ed,shisha-d.

Locked my hair: This was definitely the highlight. I had always wanted locks since I discovered the pain of hot-combing and blow drying at full power and braiding and general combing of my very kinky (4C is it?) hair was just no longer worth it. I had short hair from age 12 to age 18 then twists (own hair) all through college. My hair and I always knew one day we would have locks. Opportunity knocked with the admission letter to a university in China. I would be out of my father’s house (strictly no locks in my house) for three years! In a country where I knew no one and no one knew me, they had nothing to compare me too, what they saw was what they got and I got to dictate exactly what that was. So  the day after I undid my braids (4 months old; there were really not so many options for African hair in China and I did not want to go through the struggle again not when for the first time in my life I was really free to do anything. Pretty ironic considering I was in a communist country where most freedoms are only given as the government sees fit and even then, just in manageable pieces ).

It has been 4 and a half years since and I could not be more proud. I look at myself in the mirror and smile every time, even on bad hair days. I finally found my look and I’m keeping it. Photoshoot1