His Sharona

Jeremy made some movie magic.

This is footage from a student presentation we stumbled into. October 1st is National Day, so this is, um, celebratory. The music happened accidentally, but it works so well. Enjoy!

Good Eats, No Meats

I returned to Nordica for dinner last night with some friends. We intended to catch their weekly BBQ, but we got there too late so we ordered off the menu. I had a very tastey mushroom quiche with a side salad for 18 RMB, and we shared a bottle of white wine (the brand was Great Wall, I think?) for 80 RMB. For dessert, everyone got a brownie except Karina who ordered the carrot cake which came with a great citrus frosting. Yum! Recommended, but next time I think we should arrive closer to 6:00 p.m. so we can do the BBQ (35 RMB) — of course, I might prefer the quiche to the meaty BBQ.

We poked around the loft area a little after dinner. There were several galleries/bars/tea houses that had a crowd — primarily local, from the looks of things. The paintings were not overwhelming, but it was really exciting to see art happening in Kunming. There were some really cool spaces — converted old buildings — and lots of nooks and crannies with very colorful, comfortable-looking courtyards. I would really like to explore the area more during the light of day.

Anyway, it was great to play after a brutal week of classes. The expectations at this level are a lot higher. I’m writing tons — both practicing characters and I have two essays due next week. Whoah! I was so exhausted by the end of classes on Friday, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I need to learn how to pace myself. I totally neglected to study for my Friday classes so I was embarassingly ill-prepared — which of course made even more anxious during class. Bah. I think it’s surmountable, but I need to get my act together. Thank god I have the weekend to regroup.

Jeremy had a potluck dinner with his classmates last night. He prepared jambalaya with little shrimp (a New Orleans dish) as well as a treat for Roshashana, apples and honey. How very ethnic. That, of course, was the name of the game — everyone brought food from their home country. Sounds like it was an incredible feast! Jeremy especially enjoyed Caroline’s contribution of cheese and French bread. Sounds heavenly.

Contagious Love in Kunming

Opening Reception for Contagious LoveI attended the opening of an art exhibit this weekend. Wow, Nordica is a real art center with a gallery and performance space. I was really impressed. The reception was for Contagious Love, an exhibition about AIDS in China. HIV/AIDS education is really growing in China, but from some of the stories I heard the other night we have a long way to go. HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through sex, yes, but it can also happen by sharing needles. In fact, this is what scares me a lot. Hospitals here have been found to be using dirty needles: China’s dirty needles risk ‘daily’ infection, BBC News, November 2002 – sorry this link is blocked for those of you in China). Anyway, there is a lot of focus on Yunnan Province because the cases of infection are expected to double by 2010.

Here’s an interesting article from The Toronto Star about Bill Gates giving gobs of money to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS in China. (It also refers to President Hu Jintao’s recent visits to AIDS patients.)

This exhibit is a great introduction to some of Kunming’s really talented artists. I took photos of a couple of my favorite pieces. Of course I wanted to get more shots, but my little camera clunked out after a while. Anyway, I also got a couple shots of the space as well.

The Contagious Love Exhibition runs through October 12 at Nordica in Kunming, Yunnan. Here are directions to Nordica.

Birth Control in China

Birth Control in ChinaI was really getting nervous about my dwindling supply of birth control pills, but this is China, right? They have the famous one-child policy, so birth control has to be available. Of course, in the US you have to have an exam with a physician before you can get a prescription for “the Pill.” However, today I learned that in China you can buy birth control pills over-the-counter at the pharmacy! Still, there’s always some fear that you’re not getting the real deal with drugs here, so it’s a little frightening.

Today I bought two months worth of birth control for the awesomely low price of 19RMB/month (~$2.50). The brand is Marvelon with 0.150 mg desogestrel and 0.021 ethinylestradiol. It’s actually different from my current prescription. I was using Ortho Tri-Cyclen®, containing varying amounts of norgestimate (0.180 mg – 0.250 mg) and ethinyl estradiol (0.025 mg). I’ve never been on this particular dosage of estrogen/progestine, so who knows what it will do to me.

Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of research online. Google pointed me to this page containing lots of nice charts and figures. I found that the brand Marvelon is equivalent to Desogen® or Ortho-Cept® in the U.S. That’s good, right? And I was relieved to find Marvelon had an English website (a Canadian one) in addition to their Chinese website. Very useful.

I’ve been far too embarrassed to ask anyone to help me with this, so I was madly searching online for some discussion about finding birth control in China. But the information for English-speaking foreigners living in China somehow doesn’t touch on the subject of oral contraceptives. Everyone’s full of advice about a lot of things, but I couldn’t find any discussion of birth control pills — where to start looking or what the process would be like. (I imagined having to go to some awful hospital for an invasive exam.) So, anyway, I feel obliged to mention my experience online.

I started out by walking into a pharmacy and showing the pharmacists the packaging from my current prescription. They were completely baffled, and I failed to look up any related vocabulary before beginning the conversation, so I left. Then I tried calling one of my teachers: “I have a very embarrassing question to ask you…” She couldn’t figure out what I meant, so finally I went home and looked up the word “birth control”: 节制生育 (jie2zhi4 sheng1yu4). I called her back, armed with this new knowledge, and she instantly understood. She gave me a different term — 避孕药 (bi4 yun4 yao4) — and sent me back to the pharmacist. Huzzah! They had both “the Pill” and emergency contraception. Wow.

I know this is kind of personal stuff to broadcast so publicly, but it’s really very important that information about birth control isn’t buried. I hope it helps somebody out.