written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Bye., originally uploaded by gofeetgo.

I haven't been silent. I just haven't been typing. Those who were keen might have noticed that for the past weeks or days that I haven't posted here I have been alive and kicking, or flicking, on my flickr page (click on it). My photographs are more my thing now because they are more about the joy of all the stuff that's outside me and junk. And its like if I can see it then I can feel it. But, my insides of late are more tangled and garbled, and somewhat dark. Taking pictures saves me. It really really does. Its more. Its so much more than ever before a salvation. Hokey huh?

Save it.

I'd like to write some kind of overall beautiful and personally revealing spiel about the trip as of the last couple months. And I will. Absolutely. Maybe I will write it on my 38 hour train ride across the country back to Beijing. I embark in two days. It should be written, but honestly, I think I've done a good job at documenting it through my photography. And I'd like to say that I am proud. I'm Proud!

And my thoughts about Beijing and photos that are yet to be taken there too, and about new places in America and elsewhere. And a whole lifetime of curiosities that continually save me from myself. And I know, you know, what I mean.

Love. Love. Bye.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

COLORS: Issue #70: Beijing

Finally, a new COLORS issue has come out and to my glea it is about Beijing. The photos are straightforward and sardonic in the classic COLORS way, and the stories are usually heart-rending. Actually, I have taken one of the same photos in the magazine. Can you guess which? For any Beijing friends reading this. Its a big recommend. For anyone really.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In the company of Me.

I haven't really bought "nice" clothes in years. I recall one time in college, needing some "nice" pants to wear to some thing I can't remember now. So I went to the mall, a place since 9th grade I haven't been able to take seriously as a place for actual shopping. Its contents too unsurprising and knowable before every flicking through the hangers. Each store, within itself, gives the shopper a promised continuity among its select identity. I’ll troll out the adjectives: Sophisticated. Funky. Rebelious. Feminine. Outdoorsy. Sexy. Trashy, even. And it’s a matter of which identity I decide to own for myself, that becomes a decision I’m too self-aware to make comfortably. And its not that I am or was repulsed by the MALL as an idea, I mean not anymore. I just don’t really go there, is all.
But choosing amongst the identities seemed so permanent, at least at the price. I purchased some linen pants from Banana Republic, which for one reason another appeals to the “worldly intellectual” that, yes admittedly, very much dominates my interests. I looked good in them. And as if (finally) I was attired in something appropriate --you know, suiting my tastes in classical and world music (but not “world” music), and capital L Literary post-modern writers, and something supplementing my interdisciplinary education in this, a interdisciplinary global international world, where being post-colonial is necessary but finding the colonial (i.e. Banana Republic beige linen pants) HOT! is understood, and is even code for the books we read.

But I didn't keep them. Wearing them with the tags, tucked in, I sat through the interview or date or whatever it was and performed (with my props) the sophisticated and attractive roles directed by my real inner self. Then I returned them, like a rented costume to the novelty shop. Not so much a fraud. More of a rejecter-turned-abuser of “the system”: I had the money to buy them after all, I didn’t look out-of-place in the store, but wanting still more, that is, to get away with everything my white lady privilege allows me without actually being the real white lady that is assumed of me.

Thinking that I'm creative enough with what ever I have, I mix and match. It’s a sensibility I have always had since childhood. Cowgirl boots and hot pink cotton pantsuits, I wore those a lot, according to my childhood pictures. But I mix and match in all realms of my individual whatever lifestyle: in food, in music, in perspectives, in the arrangements of materials (gathered from free piles and alleys and thrift stores) to make my room, my room. What attracts my eye. And that's that, that's core.

Digging into steamier piles of my former selves. I have plucked my groceries out of dumpsters, rambled with political rousers, worked grubby jobs for little money, have been intrigued by strip clubs, petty thieving and tresspassing, disparaged neighborhoods, Third Worlds, blight, and so-called ugliness, in general, whatever mixing with the "proles", becoming one myself, in appearances, though not in credentials. And all of my explorations outside of my socio-economic comfort zones have been really savory and satisfying. I really mean it. As if giving me tougher meat and gristle to chew on for much longer of a span of life so far, than the veggie smoothies that I would have otherwise too quickly digested, and in the end left empty. Not that I haven't drunken my share of those, too. And in plenty of company.

It’s thoughts I think about often. Not about styles and identities, but the everyday originations of them. Most of the places I end up, I meet people of my generation and we seem to be getting our ideas from all of the same places, despite most of those places being the “alternative” to what is offered to us. But maybe it’s just where I end up that this is the case. Bicycle riding, cafĂ© sitting, local art and music supporting, independent store shopping, alley-picking communities like downtown Tucson and the other like minded, some what jaded ex-pat communities abroad. Suspicions are that the alternatives have becomes the visible and the desirable. In the end, I think there is something in-honorable about all that I have said, all these little things that I have admitted, are bordering on an uncovered insecurity worn like a costly pair of pants that now I want to take back. But I will do the good thing, and not. What's said is and has settled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


8:15am The two of them sat at the kitchen table. She eats "Fiber Pillows" and he scrapes at a burnt casserole dish. He says, "I dried your shorts last night. You owe me"She thanks him by smirking and filling her mouth with cereal. He kisses her forehead and leaves the dish on the table. When she's finished, she washes it reciprocally.
11am He walks into the hardware store with a catalog of safety apparel. He had circled an orange reflective vest. He follows a teenage employee down several aisles, more than necessary, he thinks.

12pm She locks the door to the house and lifts the flag on the mail box.
12pm He locks the car door and puts on his vest behind the dumpster in the Red Lobster parking lot. He has a tin whistle on a shoelace, which he places around his neck. He hikes up his pants. Takes off his glasses. Polishes them on his shirt tail, replaces them on his face.

12:15pm She parks in the Red Lobster parking lot, in the shade, next to him. She is wearing her shorts, orange with green piping. Her college track shorts. She texts him "Here."

12:17pm They meet under the crossing sign at the intersection. He pats her bottom and says "Ready, Betty?" She hops a little and takes a dip to stretch. Comes back up "Ready, Freddy."
12:20pm She squats down on the edge of the sidewalk and takes a runner's stance. He brings the tin whistle to his mouth. He watches the stop light. She watches the pedestrian crossing. She counts the cars in 3 seconds. Twelve.
12:21pm The whistle rattles pearly and spitty. She leaps into the street, sprinting in front of hundreds of stopped cars. Pumping as fast as she can to the end of the long, very long, 300 yard intersection.
12:22pm She doesn't make before the Hand starts blinking. A swell of honks.
12:23pm He waves from across the intersection of streaming cars. She nods and feels her back pocket vibrate. "Nice One. Almost, babe."
12:30pm She lines up again. Eyes on the road. 3 seconds. 21 cars. Its getting deep, she thinks. The whistle!
12:31pm She's out darting across the intersection. Someone yells out the window "Hey!" Almost there. Almost. Red Hand. Damn! She runs into his arms. And he toots the whistle just a bit from the force.
12:32pm "How many more you wanna do?" he asks. She jogs in place. Smiling, but shaking her head. "6 more?" she asks back. "Till the end of lunch?" "Nah" he says "speaking of lunch?" She smirks, jumping in place, "Honey, I wanna get this one."
12:35pm "Alright, then here you go get ready" She counts 25 cars. Whistle! and off
12:36pm She doesn't make it, again. As she stretches her hammies up on the pedestrian turn signal button box she hears the beep and wail of a police siren.
12:40pm Whistle! This time she walks back to him. The light turns when she's just barely in the middle of the street. She scuffles through the impatient right-hand turners. 5 honks.
12:45pm A heavy cop walks up to them and asks them what they think they are doing. He says "We think we trying to cross the street, officer."
12:46pm Police officer laughs a little and straigtens his expression. "You want to cause an accident?" "No" she says, "We're wearing orange so that they can see us clearly." She shakes her hips, her orange little track shorts."Yes, and officer, she is is moving across that intersection as fast as she can. Aren't you, honey?" "Well, yeah" she says "But I am a little stiff today" she rubs her calf. "What's going on here?" the officer asks again."Why don't you see for your self? Lights about to turn." she says to the officer, nodding to the light.
12:47pm The officer looks across the sea of traffic. The light turns. He blows on the whistle. The cop turns to him. He's grinning, "Go ahead" he says. The cop steps off the curb. An eager right-on-red honks. The cop hesitantly continues into the street. The Red Hand flashes. He's in the middle of the road. The cars flow around him.
12:53pm They wave at the cop. The cop brings his walkie-talkie to his mouth.
12:54pm They both turn and walk back to the parking lot, cutting through an island of prickly little trees strung up with strings.
12:56pm They give each other a little peck before getting into their seperate cars.
12:57pm "See you, Babe." he says "See ya. Hey what'ya want for dinner?" she says, putting on her black shades.
12:58pm "Maybe something quick from the grocery store." They talk through their driver's side windows. "Like what?" she says, squinting from the question.
12:59pm "I don't know? Whatever. Stuffed pasta shells?" She nods her head "Got it" and rolls up the window. Gives a little wave and pulls out.

1:05pm Her phone vibrates in the cup holder. She drives with one hand and presses the buttons. Its a text "Love you. Good show 2day."
1:06pm He's stopped at light "We'll get it 2morrow. luv u 2."

6:15pm She places the pasta casserole on the table. They eat.
6:25pm There's leftovers.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Dali Gloat

charm's of staying a while
Here is my oppurtunity to actually evoke envy, rather than whatever else I was evoking in my earlier more unevenly happy entries. I am here, of my own decision (see below), in Dali, for the next month. I found a cozy, colorful bookshop/bar to live in for the low price of 30 kuai (4$?) plus an additional psychological tax born of the thin wall between my bed and a street of trumpeting 8 am buses.
The owner Zhang Yan is English fluent and doles out quite a bit of trust. Since it is more of a shop, than a guesthouse, I enter and leave through the glass doors in the front. She gave me the key and I am entrusted with locking up at night. Not that its biggie, but its a nice feeling to have someone's trust like that. So my room has a desk and she gave me some mugs with flowers in'em and that's just about all I need. Added to the niceites of having personal space is the frequent flow of travellers looking to watch a movie in the living room outside my room.
charm's of staying a while
As of so far, I joined a nice English guy who was watching Apocylpto and smoking a modest amount of pot; and eventually we went drinking and conversing at some yonder party. He's here in Dali for several months studying Kung Fu in the temple nearby. In the temple nearby, apparently, completely run (amok?) by children monks. He had some other interesting stories about former jobs selling bootleg t-shirts at stock car races in Japan, hawking sunglasses in Sweden in the summertime, and some passionate ramblings about mushrooms growing out the
brains of moths. And we both agreed that it was better to be on the roof of the party than
actually in it. Parties of the sort are frequent in this town of hippie/international hipster traveller types. And now being apart of the little household at the bookshop, I (and my new friends) are invited to future dinners and parties. There is even rumors (though playfully mocking in nature), of the "Rainbow People" trundling up from Thailand by foot to enlighten this tourist town with their wise hippie ways. And we're all staying tuned for that..

Resort/ Resorted to...

A week ago, I left Dali with the ambition to continue cycling for the next month down to the Burmese border to a town called Ruili. The geography and cultural landscape down there is reportedly more Burmese than Chinese, with Indian Buddhist stuppas and vast moonscape of volcanic cinder cones. I wanted something other than Chinese. Badly wanting.

I headed on the road west through the mountains. The road went for the most part alongside a river, though at varying elevations. I left at the unproductive hour of 3pm and by 4pm was out of the city and making way on a perilous slice around several bends. Its windy season here, and this coupled with the twisty geography of the canyon made the winds impenetrable. So I kept going and debated turning back, but then came across a nice looking cluster of condos, not usually seen in this part of the country. On the backside of the condos was the standard old village with restaurant and seeming hotel. They informed that if I were to stay the night I was to stay in the condos. As it turned out it was the "Phoenix Hotspring Resort," a "nutrious for body oasis" for "corporations and families" alike. I walked passed the "Dress Appropriate" sign wearing shorts, sneakers with hair in a gritty-wind-blown shamble of a pony-tail, and into the muzak-drowned glimmery-gold reception area. After some pleading, the cost of the room, pool, gym, breakfast included was 450 kuai, a ridiculous luxury considering my usual price range of 30-50 kuai. So, I did it and I spent an out-of-the-ordinary/pleasurable night swimming in warm (though not hot) pools and bathing in my huge in-room sauna, and lavishing (turned languishing?) as much as I could in the huge size of my room, sitting room, and two porches. It was of course too much, and after a week resting in Dali, I wasn't really in need of the pampering, and I debated whether at most moments I was appreciating as much as I was supposed to. After a while of flipping through the tv channels and laying my recently purchases books out on the clean white bed linens, I found myself sitting at the desk staring at nothing in particular, bored and a bit lonely. I wished to be back in Dali or some kind of civilization with internet access to bypass the lonelies with an internet movie. I really wasn't appreciating.

The next day, I felt pretty great and my clean surroundings put me in a good mood and I headed off down the road, in the good mood. And in cheery spirits I went mostly down hill on a smooth, beautiful (though truck-trafficked) road and I thought This is so good that it worries me And sure enough, a few miles down the road, the road turned to pointy (actually stupidly pointy) cobblestones. Not letting this disaster get to me (cobblestones are the worst of all road conditions in my opinion, as they impair a nice downhill (when on a loaded touring bike they make it unstable, so you have to ride the breaks a little and you end up with tingly nubs for hands)) I kept a clear-head. It only lasted about 5km and then went smooth again at a little spot with a truck stop. I asked about the road continuing onto Yongping and was informed that it was absolute crap, which it, as it turned out, really really was. I caught a rickety bus and instead of putting my bike on the top rack they, because it was easier, thrust it down the aisle onto the arms and legs of the other passengers. So I sat in the bucketing bus, clutching my bike and bracing the frame with my legs trying to keep it from slamming into the people around me, having it slam into me instead. I contorted so while sitting with someones rooster between my feet. And at one point its neck became wedged underneath my front tire, like a guillotine, which I was just barely in control of. Like baubbled in tin rattle, I watched in horror as the rooster tried to wriggle its body from underneath it, clucking wretchedly and drawing the stares of presumably its unconcerned owner. I despite all this was still in a good mood and I smiled at some lady and she smiled back, compelled so surely at my immodest posture wrapped around my bicycle.

The road smoothed and I asked the driver if the rest of the way was good and he said yes . So he dropped me off, I ate some chips and headed up...

Hour later I was still heading up and I thought when is the damn thing gonna go down. At this point the river turned to a trickle and I was going upstream of it, which was an indication of how long I still had to the top. For as long as it trickled down I still had a ways to go. Eventually, I saw a rusty barely-legible sign in Chinese telling me the town was still 50 km away. Yeah, but up or down? was the crucial question. It was 3 or 4pm, leaving about 4 hours of sunlight.

The road climbed higher and ever higher into the tree line. I looked down at the the crease in the mountains where the creek would be. A truck passed every so often, but infrequently enough to suggest this wasn't a road preferred by the locals. I grew hungry, having stupidly eaten only chips and a Popsicle for lunch. The road was so steep that I had to push my bike up, so I was just crawling along and very wearily so. I asked some locals living in remote clusters of shacks here and there when and where exactly does the mountain turn down hill. 20 km more they kept saying, every 5km or so, telling me again 20km more. I didn't know what to believe. Very hungry and with little water I resisted eating my only food (which if eaten would probably just choke me), my bag of fiber cereal. A bit whimpery and frustrated I came across some young girls in their yard and asked if they had some food or water and they said yes, but then cruelly started laughing (at me) and I walked away pissed off, glaring at them. Could they not see that here in the dwindling twilight far from the mountain top, in the wind, pushing a big bike, that I, a foreign single gal looking like pretty nervous, could use some hospitality. Bitches.

The next bend which was indistinguishable from the last. That is, apart from the shack with three snapping, barking dogs scampering around in a plume of dust of their own making. They saw me creeping along and decided to, all three of them, follow me at about 3 feet, while barking, growling and foaming like the crazy, idiot beasts they were bred to be. In my state of weary exhaustion I mustered up enough strength to yell obscenities at them while still trudging along.

Oh gosh, it just gets scarier, unpleasant and worse as the sky went dark and semi-trucks barreled from behind. A tried to wave down the odd car, but no one was willing to help me out, or maybe they just couldn't see me. I got to the top to find that my sharp descent (20km or so) was on unsealed gravel, in the dark, with my little flashlight fashioned around my handlebars with a hairband. I wasn't set-up for comfortable, safe night-riding, which I admit was just dumb.

A came across a semi having some trouble with his hydraulics or something and he pulled out in front of me going at a pace that I could trail him by, using his break lights as a guide to the path ahead of me. But sure, as he puttered along the back of his truck was spewing burned rubber and toxic fumes. I had to wrap a scarf around my nose and mouth and squint my eyes from the bits and pieces. Got down into something of a wide valley where I could see illuminated, on a far away hill, what looked like a erect cucumber wearing a bandanna. A beacon of the town? A beacon of hope. Descending more through a ill-lit row of shacks I stopped at the first shop I saw and bought some food and water. And soon the concerned ladies running the shop put me and my bike in the back of some guy's tuktuk carriage and he drove me the 5 km along a very flat, well-lit, smooth and wide boulevard to a cheap hotel. I was happy for the unnecessary lift.

I stayed 2 nights in the hotel, the next day just recovering my strength. I had "bonked" on the mountain, meansing (I think) that all of my energy stores had depleted and it set me up for some hard-core exhaustion. The next day, my chest hurt, but I felt pretty good, like super strong, despite actually being quite weak with soreness.

So...I wrote some friends about my harrowing adventure, and felt better, and thought not of writing about it until now.
I tried to leave the nothing-special town of Yongping by bus still continuing on my way south. I went to the local back to find that the ATM was sealed up with crinkled tin foil. The lady inside said it was the only one town. And it being not my bank a non-ATM, human-to-human transaction was impossible. I had 15 kuai, enough for half a bus ticket or half a hotel-room, either way staying in town wasn't going to get me money. Whereas, going on the next bus to any other town was a slight hope. I went into the bus station and walked my bike around to whatever bus plus bus driver was sitting there and asked where they were going. As it happened none of the buses were going south (my preferred direction) and all of the buses (one bus) was going back to Dali! So I showed the bus driver my empty wallet and literally said something like "Please, I have big problem. My ATM card is not okay here. Yongping has one bank. But in Dali it is okay. I have the most money in Dali. I give you money in Dali, okay not okay? Sorry. Thank you." Then he waved me away, in a way that said "Yes, whatever, shut up." And I got in the full bus, and we eventually headed off on the free-way, going a steady, unshaky, 70 mph skirting those mountains that scared me good one day previous. And it was the best bus ride on a cheap old bus, ever; and, I took the fact that it was the best and that "I had to anyways" go back to Dali, as fortuitous reason to say to self, Yeah I can stop cycling now. Its really enough.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wait to be written

, originally uploaded by gofeetgo.

Because I don't want to think about it today, but it happened in those mountains. And here's the day of and before and after...If its any indication that I'm still good as gold, and with maybe a bit harder resolve. (Sorry for the suspense)

Now I'm here. It's a city called Yongping and it's okay...

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson