Monday, 15 March 2010

Nail Gnashing

I’m currently being a bit of a bad student and am 逃课ing, so I decided to come to the café downstairs and write a blog about nothing in particular; train of thought like.

The weather is beginning to pick up. I was kind of banking on this because my heating has been broken for the past two weeks or so, but I was struggling to find the motivation to get someone to fix it. I have been sleeping in my duffel coat and three pairs of socks and spending as much time as I can in other people’s houses, cafés or at work. The forecast is gradually getting warmer and will reach the dizzy heights of 25-29°C by the weekend. Nanjing changes seasons very rapidly (spring and autumn only last a week or so), so there is little doubt that I will be complaining about sweaty armpits and mosquitoes in no time.

I have finally managed to find myself a tutor I can afford. At 35元/hour he is a bargain and I have my first class with him tomorrow. The classes organised by the university are all very well but there are quite a few people, over twenty I think, and it’s just too easy to get lost in the crowd. I have also managed to get myself a language partner, and the fantastic news is that her English is terrible, so I have to speak Chinese to her. In fact, a few times I have had to force her to speak English to me (when it is her turn to practice). It’s wonderful! So often a language partner will insist on speaking English most of the time, but Mona and I; we work well together. We’re going to the movies soon. I’ll help her through an English movie and she’ll do the same with a Chinese one. This was how I learnt Spanish and French way back when, so hopefully it will work here too.

I’m still trying to find work in Spain during summer. I have some links with a hotel in Marbella, but frankly that is the last place I want to end up. Far too many leather skinned, chiwawa-carrying, liposuctioned Brits there for my liking. I want to go somewhere where there are some actual Spanish people. I am going to get in touch with a couple of people I know in Barcelona (my favourite city on the European mainland) and see if they can have a look around on my behalf for bar work or some kind of temping agency. I will literally take anything. I did apply for work experience at the British embassy in Madrid but never heard back from them. I’ll follow that up, but I am doubtful.

I have been reading up on the Digital Economy Bill recently and am planning on making a video about it. Before I do I am trying to make sure I am as informed as possible so I can lay into it properly. I am a user of an awful lot of the services that are going to be affected, probably negatively, by this bill, and I think it’s really important we are aware of it and debate it openly. I don’t like that Mandelson seems to be trying to rush it through the House of Lord before the election. Expect that video on RWO before the end of the week.

Speaking of videos, I do apologise if anyone is hanging on for more JazzainChina content. I do have lots of footage to upload (including all the Japan footage, which I am considering making yet another new channel for) but have been über busy with classes starting again, trying to find a job and a tutor, and generally living. I will try and upload some soon, but I refuse to make a commitment as to when this will happen.

Just looked back on this blog and decided it needed a picture, or something, so here is a picture of when I went on a bike ride (one that lasted far too long) to see the plumb blossom... blossom. You can see I carried George the Ukulele 2.0 with me too.

In completely unrelated news, I am trying to stop biting my nails. I have managed to reduce the gnashing of my fingertips to a gentle nibble on all fronts apart from on my thumbs, which are still as hacked to dead as they always have been. Baby steps though, eh?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Climbing the Mountain

Can I first say thank you to all the lovely people who either tweeted me about or commented on the last blog post; you’re all lovely and giving me far too much praise that I definitely don’t deserve – but thank you. … Apart from Dave who is, as ever, a sarcastic little git.

I would like to now talk about China, because the Internet has been unfairly left in the dark about this rather large aspect of my life for a while now. JazzainChina is being ever so slightly neglected and I don’t blog on here nearly often enough.

Classes have started again. 8am starts are once again the kryptonite to my Superman, although I am pretty sure I understand an awful lot more than I did last semester, which can only be a good thing. I did have a mild breakdown just after coming back from Japan. The “Oh good God my Chinese is shit” panic attacks seem to be a regular part of life here, but I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never got my knickers in such a twist that I have wanted to quit – it has only made me more determined to climb this bloody huge mountain. Learning Chinese is definitely the hardest challenge I have ever set myself.

After the last mini breakdown I dusted myself off and decided to do something about it. I am now working at a hostel a friend of mine manages. I am her token western barman. The pay is rubbish (the equivalent of £1/hour) and customers are thin on the ground, but I get to practice with my colleagues and it’s a few hours a week where I get to read something behind the bar – whether Chinese related or not.

I have also started meeting up with and spending time with people whose English is really shit, thus forcing me to speak Chinese. The way I have managed to wrangle my way into doing this, is by going on dates. A high point for me was when I had an hour and a half conversation on the topics of Taiwan, tennis, Tottenham Hotspurs and various other things that don’t begin with T. During this time, English was only spoken for about 10 minutes. Granted, a lot of what was said to me went over my head, and I was told that my Chinese was very bad, but this is leaps and bounds from where I was at the beginning of the year. I believe I have the right to be proud of myself. Obviously if I am actually interested in the person I am on a date with I will of course speak in English; speaking like a retarded five year old isn’t hot.

I’ve also started chatting to and hanging out with my flatmate a lot more. We get on very well I think, and it’s a shame we haven’t done this more often.

I’m trying to make more of an effort to talk with the guys who I box with. I have found myself saying 听不懂 a lot less. Today I had a turning point in this department. My teacher told me that I was boxing well. This is kinda a big deal; I have always been the weird skinny 老外 that was paired with either the girl or the fat guy in the class (no offence to fat guys or girls). He then sat me down and asked me if I would tutor one of his friends in English. It’s almost like I got a reward for not sucking. God knows I need the teaching money at the moment as well.

I am also pretty certain that I am going to come back here after summer to do another year. I think I am on track with my Chinese so that Manchester University would be more than happy to take me back, but I am not yet content with my level. This might seem a little radical for some people but here are my reasons. I have a chance of getting a first (the highest grade awarded for a Uni degree in the UK) but it is a very slim chance. I’ve decided that I want to give it a shot, and I don’t stand a chance unless I make my Chinese amazing. I also set the bar very high for myself. I want my Chinese to be at least as good as my Spanish by the time I graduate, at this rate I won’t make it by the end of 2011. I’m applying to defer a year at the moment, and looking into scholarships to fund it.

But all in all, morale in the camp is up. 慢慢来.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Re: Coming Out

Over the weekend a lovely young man from Northern Ireland by the name of Adam posted this video coming out as gay to his viewers. May I first tip my hat to him for having the balls to do so; coming out to thousands in a YouTube video takes guts. I would also like to express how important I think his decision was not just for his viewers, but for the rest of the community on our lovely little video sharing website.

It is a well known fact that YouTube has never been short of gay men. The glory days of Perez Hilton, GayGod and William Sledd dominating the top positions on the subscription lists are all but a distant memory, and the 5awesomegays and WHATTHEBUCKSHOW still carry the great homosexual baton with pride.

So why am I saying that Adam’s coming out video is so important? If anything, isn’t he a bit late jumping on the wagon? And surely there are already plenty of Gay role models for YouTube viewers to watch and admire, aren’t there?

Michael Buckley and the 5AGays have always been, and will always be, gay centric channels. What Adam’s video has proved, is that you don’t have to make ‘gay’ videos to be gay and make it on YouTube. 5AG and Buck do a wonderful job at representing the community, but if you don’t want to label yourself as a gay channel, or talk about celebrity gossip, there are few places for a Gay viewer to look for inspiration to make videos.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this, and he mentioned that he had never made a “coming out” video because, if he were straight, then he would never think about making a video telling someone that he slept with women, why should it be any different because his preference is men?

He has a point, but then you watch a video like this, posted as a response to Adam’s.

Adam’s decision to go public with his sexuality clearly had a profound impact on this guy. It’s given him the hope that maybe he can do the same as Adam, and come out to his family and friends. It feels weird me saying this, but as people who have put ourselves in the public eye, it is almost our responsibility to tell people about our journeys, so as people treading the same path behind us have a smoother ride, so they know that it’s all going to be okay at the end of it all.

I identify as bisexual. The reason that I have never been public about this is because I have only recently begun using that term to describe myself. I didn’t know whether I was gay for a long time, but eventually it made sense that I did in fact like both, and should use a label to express that.

Everyone who knows me well enough knows about my sexuality and I am incredibly lucky that the worst reaction I have ever had to telling someone has been when the mother of a friend of mine told me that I was ‘greedy’. “Why can’t you just pick one and stick with it!?’ My parents have had to hear me come out to them twice, once as gay, and again telling them that, ‘sorry, but I kinda like girls too.’

Some of you may see this blog as a bit of a cop out. After all, nowhere near as many people read this as watch rhymingwithoranges, or even JazzainChina, but I have my reasons. RWO is now very much a news and debate channel, I haven’t vlogged on that for years, so a coming out video just doesn’t belong there. JiC is a travel blog and, again, the kind of video this requires just wouldn’t belong. This blog is the most personal thing I post on the Internet, this news (if you can call I news) is very personal, so this is where it belongs.

As Adam said, you can be appalled and unfollow/ unsubscribe if you like, that’s your problem, not mine. And as for anyone who is struggling with coming out themselves, or in trying to find a label, don’t rush it – and just know millions upon millions have gone through the same thing you have and came out the other end okay.

All the best.