Proposals & Explosions

Chinese New Year 2012 has just come and gone. Happy year of the dragon! I want to wish all my readers a happy new year and hope that this is an amazing year for you all–one to remember and one to look back on fondly. It’s fitting that I’m posting this story now as it happened exactly 3 years ago…   …read more.

Locked in Dread

After the New Year celebration was over in 2009 and I was back in Beijing, my six months in the country (my longest stretch up until that date) were coming to an end. I found myself packing my bags to head back to Canada with a sense of… well, there’s no other word: dread. I was going home with a…   …read more.

Remember or Never Forget? (Part 1)

Back in the first wave of being with Guo Jian in late 2007, before anything ever changed in my life in a dramatic and drastic spun-out way, back when I realized that I had fallen in love with someone who had these strange body parts called testicles (and they’re really funny looking things, I have to say!) and I was…   …read more.


Remember or Never Forget? (Part 2)

That night after the perfect morning in Beijing in early December of 2007, I dreamed of us on that same bed waking up in the morning light, and then a small child of about three years old running from the other room and bounding into bed with us as though we were the child’s parents. I remember the dream clearly…   …read more.

Bitterness Valves

One of the first people I shared the news of my engagement with (after my family, that is) was my ex-partner. I wanted her to know before the news found her along the grapevine. Grapevines can strangle trust. Besides, we had been best friends for over twelve years (our relationship plus our earlier friendship) and I wanted such an important…   …read more.


Pleasantries & Peace

There are certain words in the English language that, in Western culture, are fairly important for peaceful relations between people. They are “thank-you,” “sorry,” “excuse me” and other less important but equally pleasant additions like “good morning,” “good night,” “How was your day?” etc. Between lovers, the most important one is, “I love you.” In Chinese culture, words like the…   …read more.



I had no idea how important wearing rings would be to me until Guo Jian resisted the idea. After our engagement in his hometown that New Year’s, 2009, I bought him a ring from the jewelry department in a fancy local mall. It was a simple gold band with some silver inlay that he really liked and that suited his…   …read more.


Absentee Confetti

Getting married in China is not officially the fanfare and the ceremony; first you have to “dengji登记.” This is the act of getting your marriage certificate and, often, is all people do to signify their union. The next stage—a wedding—is a choice. In Chinese the expression is to “ban shi 颁示” or “make it public.” Some people get married but…   …read more.


Tomb Sweeping

The first time “Tomb Sweeping Day” arrived in China while I was there, I had no idea what people were talking about. Guo Jian described it as China’s “Hallowe’en” and I was expecting costumes and candy. It was spring of 2009 and we were back to visit his parents in Shandong. As per the translation of the holiday (Qing Ming…   …read more.

Pic by Spencer Tunick

Getting Naked

  On my second trip back to Guo Jian’s hometown, the family announced one night that we should all go to the bathhouse. I had experienced a Chinese spa before and so I imagined a similar environment of whirlpools and various scented hot tubs. Basically, a collective bathing experience between men and women—in swimsuits. When we arrived at the place,…   …read more.

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