Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Beijing Update

I'm a news scribe. That's the job they gave me here at CCTV-9. I can't say I enjoy it so much as I can't say I much enjoy Beijing. (Even the shopping is mediocre.) This time around, playing Melanie Griffith Banderas, I am prevented -- by my own unjustifiable reluctance -- to feel a connection with my birth city. The streets are sometimes familiarly immaculate, yet they are not particularly enviable. The word "facade" bubbles up everytime I peep out the bus window. ("Half-assed" would be too honest.) Parks have admission. City grass can only be looked at. Everything within the city-limits have been haphazardly painted over; historical monuments glazed with a blinding sheen. No one says what they mean. I work at the country's propaganda mouthpiece.

It's lonely being a foreigner.

I've made a few friends at work, co-workers mostly. The Chinese pretty much baby new interns as they settle in. I don't like this Mother Hen method, too impatient to memorize my job description before laying a finger on a keyboard. I'm skeptical of my time spent here, yet overall, I am grateful for this opportunity to be doing something new.

Every few days, MArt and I talk on the phone. I've been helping out a new girl, Lindsay. China, unlike the Oprah-fied West, doesn't really contain a self-help gene. Since only crazies can lead the crazed, I'm offering what little guidance I can give. It's amazing the kind of creative advice I can dole out over buns and noodles and some sort of fermented tofu shit with beans.

Works like absinthe.

Returning home, I saw a movie poster for Mission Impossible: III in one of the subway tunnels. The guy framed in the firey background looked like Tom Cruise, but hell, even I know Tom Cruise doesn't have the body of a Russian bodybuilder and Guile's haircut from Street Fighter. Dude, I eventually realized, the Chinese photoshopped the Tom Cruise! I don't know why it felt so ridiculously weird. Maybe it was the too-tight mandex shirt (in black, natch), but seeing how my chinky hombres view white people is earth-shattering! It's like a cigar might only be a cigar, but it comes pre-lit and dipped in macho juice.

***

They've been showing my news packages on the 8 o'clock news. Hehehe, so cool!

No comments: