Thanksgiving and Melancholy

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and ZUCC teachers and friends had a great meal at the Holiday Inn. 148 rmb per person is pretty steep, but it was all you can eat (and all you can drink), and the food was top notch. I had at least 5 plates. I was hurting. It was all worthwhile.

There was great turkey, with gravy. There was cranberry relish. There was pumpkin pie. There almost wasn’t mashed potatoes, but Heather, having read my account of Thanksgiving at Holiday Inn last year, fixed that problem. She called ahead and requested mashed potatoes at the buffet. As a result, there were mashed potatoes, and they were good. There were tons of other non-Thanksgivingesque selections as well, such as sushi, steak, “roast beef salad,” and pasta. But we were all happy to see the Thanksgiving traditional dishes represented.

So I guess now it’s back to Chinese food every meal, every day.

Regarding the melancholy, there are a whole lot of factors contributing, and it’s a strange mix of emotions. I have already committed to a move in early January, and I’m not looking forward to leaving Hangzhou and all my good friends here behind (look at Greg’s sweet Thanksgiving post). Yet it’s time for a change. So there’s a lot of excitement and uncertainty too. I think I’ve found a great job, but it’s not quite finalized yet, so I don’t want to announce it publicly.

Also, next month I take the HSK. That’s the big Chinese “TOEFL.” I have been skipping too many classes lately and not studying nearly enough. It’s time to really buckle down. If I don’t get an 8, I’m going to be sorely disappointed and pissed at myself for not working harder. I know I can get an 8.

Also, I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s partly because I don’t have much time for it, but also because lately I’m feeling a little unhappy about the whole deal. I’m not sure why, exactly, and it’s hard to pin down the exact emotions, but I have some vague ideas.

One of the biggest changes to the “China Blog Community” of late has been the addition of Living in China. It’s a community blog in every sense of the word, and the founders did an amazing job. The site looks awesome, and there are new posts frequently, on a wide range of topics. The site is just so professional. It deserves every hit it gets.

Still, there’s something about it that feels strange. I agree with Richard’s assessment. I suppose I really like the process of browsing blogs, and I’ve never been a fan of RSS feeds. Now it kind of feels like if you don’t have an RSS feed then you’re out in the cold. I guess the need for RSS is an inevitable development given the tremendous surge in the number of China blogs. But I still feel a little bit like the Wal-Mart of China blogs has arrived, if that makes any sense.

I’m not trying to criticize Living in China, though. What they’re doing is great, and my reaction is strictly a personal one.

Along those lines, though, it’s been disturbing to me seeing the personal, nasty side of the China blogs. Attacks on Glutter, Hailey…. Why is “who’s right” always the most important issue? Why do blogs tend to encourage raging, ruthless egos?

I guess I just miss the good old days when everything seemed so intimate and friendly. But things change, and that’s fine. For the time being, though, I’m very content with being pretty quiet. But I’ll stick around.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Hey Homey! (Happy Belated Thanksgiving by the way) Sounds like you had a major feast, heading back to the Holiday inn for the 2nd time since last year’s festivities together (w/wilson and Nic)! Just got home from a relative’s family get-together dinner with my fam and totally enjoyed the yum food (that’s one of the few pluses of being home for the holidays) with all the trimmings
    Hey I can totally understand feeling bummed about leaving Hangzhou, perfectly normal. I know right now, that I really do miss Hangzhou, China in general (at least you’re not leaving China yet). Hang in there, enjoy the rest of your year there w/your Hangzhou and ZUCC peeps! Look forward to hearing about your new job to be Best of luck!
    Helene | Email | 11.28.03 – 1:31 am | #

    From Sinobling:

    I would like to say that I am thankful for the weightroom on campus here at ZUCC for keeping my body cut and muscular for all the women I’m not fucking. I stay in shape for myself, and for the fact that it’s hard not to look in the mirror when I’m masturbating in the bathroom, and let me tell you I’m looking good oh YEAH!!
    Wilson | Email | Homepage | 11.28.03 – 3:36 am | #


    Let’s quote the infamous Matrix series: “What has a beginning, has an end.”

    Also, let me share two philosophies that have explained a lot of things to me in the past few weeks:

    “What one man can DREAM, another can DO”.

    “Just give it time”.

    John, as long as you are behind the CBL, I wouldn’t worry too much about what the others do (hearing about the egos reminded me of the flame wars on Dave’s ESL Cafe) – just keep doing what you do best – and that is kicking ass in Chinese and excelling in everything that is China in realtime and online.

    • Wilson (November 28, 2003)
      Wilson | Email | Homepage | 11.28.03 – 3:42 am | #

    I have visited Living in China two or three times and visit Sinosplice about once a day. Keep plugging away but be nice to the Korean grammar girls.
    Tim H | Email | 11.28.03 – 4:06 am | #


    Maybe I’m a little behind the times, but men generally don’t masturbate to their mirror reflections, do they?!!


    It’s the melancholy of leaving your friends, period. I experienced the same emotions when I left China (and I still feel it occasionally). But what can you do but move on? You’re making the right decision. To paraphrase every cheesy self-help book around: Life is about growth.
    Da Xiangchang | Email | 11.28.03 – 5:33 am | #

    I agree with you that one of the best things about our little community at first was how cozy and intimate it was. But I think a lot of people were looking to become bigtime blog players, and China is one of the last frontiers. But sooner or later the world always comes around to China. It always has. So I can well understand those who want to position themselves.

    But I think you’re right–we are losing our innocence.
    Prince Roy | Email | Homepage | 11.28.03 – 2:05 pm | #

    oh yeah, and good luck on your HSK.
    Prince Roy | Email | Homepage | 11.28.03 – 2:23 pm | #

    I like intimacy and everything, but it’s also possible to get stuck and left behind just sticking to a small group of people.

    Also, just for the record, I’m not looking to be a big blog player. I just think the community as a whole has been ignored.

    And, yes, that the sinosplice network doesn’t have RSS feeds is leaving you guys behind. Typepad is now the one I would recommend for new bloggers based in China.
    Adam Morris | Email | Homepage | 11.28.03 – 11:38 pm | #


    Sinosplice is how I found that other people my age were living in China and seeing the same shit I’m seeing(both the good and the bad). I also agree with you about surfing around to other blogs. I really appreciate all you have done to make it easier to find other China bloggers. Good luck on your test, your move, and Happy Thanksgiving.
    doom | Email | Homepage | 11.29.03 – 2:20 am | #

    Yeah, I know what you mean by the “Wal-Mart of China blogs”. The problem is scalability and intimacy seems to be mutually exclusive. The more people (voices) you have in any given space, the harder it is to build trust, intimacy and have deeper conversations. Perhaps there is a solution for this; perhaps not. But if I have to choose between scalability and intimacy, I’d definitely choose the later.
    Andrea | Homepage | 11.29.03 – 3:09 pm | #

    can i just ask quickly what you are actually giving thanks for? Thanksgiving was always a bit of a mystery for me…
    Ben | 11.29.03 – 9:30 pm | #

    Thanksgiving has something to do with the pilgrims thanking the Indians for saving their asses by introducing the turkey and other New World foods. All the pilgrims and Indians got together and had a nice feast, and that was the first Thanksgiving.

    It’s interesting, but these New World foods eventually got to China which caused a major culinary revolution.
    Da Xiangchang | Email | 11.29.03 – 11:22 pm | #

    I guess blogs “tend to encourage raging, ruthless egos” because people can and do say what they want. Did you really think that things would always be “intimate and friendly” when you’re trying to create a community about China?

    Having a comment system on a blog is a choice, so if comments get too wild and it’s too hard to ban each individual, then comments should be turned off, at least for awhile. Some people mind a lot (like Jenny who’s obsessed with Michael Jackson), and others don’t seem to care at all (Sarah Lane, cable tv personality). If Hailey and Glutter stop blogging because of comments, then why don’t they just turn them off?
    Jessica | Homepage | 11.29.03 – 11:22 pm | #

    Wow, lotsa comments. I should respond to a few.

    First, I want to say that what I’m whining about is not competition. It’s about a transformation of what the “China blog community” is, and the forces which decide which blogs get noticed.

    I don’t think blogging should ever be about “making a name for oneself,” because, come on, get serious, it’s just a blog.

    That said, thanks everyone for the kind words and encouragement.

    Ben, I would say that nowadays Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for everything in good in one’s life, and not necessarily to God. Non-believers also celebrate Thanksgiving.

    Jessica, in the case of those two bloggers, it didn’t stop at comments. People also sent insulting e-mails.
    John | Homepage | 11.30.03 – 2:09 am | #

    Why is it that some people need to have their voice heard? I find some people’s quest for more hits for a their china blog to be massively pathetic and a glaring sign of insecurity issues. Parents didn’t pay attention to you? Got beat up in high school? I write for my friends and family and whoever else thinks its worth the webspace it takes up. Otherwise I could care less if my “voice” is heard or that “the community” is paid attention to.
    Carl | Email | Homepage | 11.30.03 – 2:44 am | #

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