On July 24, 2010, little Nolan Z Carver entered the world at 2.9 kg. He was slightly premature at 35 weeks but he's looking good and we expect to bring him home soon. Tina's doing great- the delivery only took 7 hours from water breaking to birth, and she's getting her strength back quickly. The baby's beautiful, and that's not just me as a dad talking :-). He's got a high nose and double eyelids but still has the Chinese softness in his face. We're very happy and praying for smooth sailing. Pictures and more info to come!
Everyone knows the streetwalker scene from "Full Metal Jacket," and to many Westerners, that's become the quintessential Asian image in their mind- sleazy, cheap, and readily available. And if that's what you want, you certainly can find it.
From the male perspective, two central elements of a good time are beer and women- both of which are quite abundant in China. Yet despite China's vast size, scenic diversity, and varied Chinese and expat population, most guys limit their entertainment to these two pursuits. The beer is cheap, and there are throngs of women for all manner of amusements. China seems like a man's paradise, and in some ways, it is.
When I first came to China in 2005, I was intoxicated by the girls and the nightclubs. For the first three years, I was quite a party animal, rockin' and rollin' at night and shaking off the mental cobwebs in the morning. I was in a serious relationship for part of this time but even when I was single, it wasn't hard to find company. After I moved to Xiamen, I met the girl who would become my wife within weeks of my arrival, so my fishing days were over. I would still enjoy boozy nights with her or with the guys, but after we got married and purchased a home, nights on the town soon became a luxury. Actually, I began to lose interest in the club and bar scene, which seemed mostly for the purpose of hooking up, and since my train had already left that station, I felt a bit distant from that crowd.
Now with the baby's imminent arrival, my mentality has really changed and I'll rarely drink heavily these days, usually pulling the plug after three or four beers. I don't know, I just don't feel it anymore. I've had my fun and now it's time to make sacrifices for my family. But it doesn't really feel like I'm giving anything up. I look at my buddies fawning over their newest pretty plaything and pounding the bars every other night and they look genuinely happy and I'm happy for them too, but for myself, I like my more moderate mentality. Everyone's got their own flavor and I'm not going to judge anyone as being irresponsible or sleazy, because we've all been there are some stage of our China journey. I just wish there were more entertainment options besides boozing it up and chasing tail. For all you guys in cities with decent music and art scenes, consider yourselves lucky.
As for me, I've learned to really appreciate a nice cold beer and some spicy barbecue on the beach. I'll take that over a throbbing discotheque any day.
As a university teacher, I'm on the forefront of Chinese young peoples' awakening to the world. In grade school and primary school, their lives are a bland regimen of study and androgynous uniforms and prohibitions on dating. Once they get to college, they realize that the hard part is over, their parents aren't breathing down their necks, and they can wear and do whatever they want. And they do.
Of course, with each successive generation, the previous generations grumble in their beards about the current generation's lack of morals, fashion sense, social responsibility, etc. And looking at the current generation, dubbed the Post-90's generation, they certainly appear more open, flamboyant, and narcissistic than previous generations. But are they really?
I'm at the age where I still remember my teenage years clearly but I'm also experienced enough to realize that most of the issues, angst, and turmoil that I and all other teenagers went through was mostly lame crap, but when we were teenagers, we couldn't see beyond ourselves and trivial issues were all-consuming to our self-focused minds. Our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, ad infinitum went through this too, and the current generation in China is also going through this. They simply have more tools to indulge their narcissistic tendencies and more opportunities for rebellion. The sauce changes but the dish remains the same.
So next time you see someone who looks like this walking down the street, remember that you went through the same fog of youth. It doesn't mean that everything is okay, but we were all in the same boat once, and in the end, it always sails to the same destination, no matter what the old geezers say.