Wednesday, July 30, 2014


P.S. - Forgive the formatting, if it's weird.   I have to update the blog by email, since I have no other way to do so.  Everything Google (including Blogger) is blocked here.  

Yo ho! Yo ho! The Shanghai life for me!

Greetings bootleggers! 
I've had a great day today.  Went for a run and did some pushups and
situps in 91 degree weather which is as close to as miserable as the weather was in Iraq, and yes, I know, that sentence didn't make total grammatical sense but I don't really want to waste my precious time correcting it. 
Then, I had a great Chinese class with Zhu at MH
(no pinyin!) and then went to the tattoo shop and made my deposit.  Yup, gonna do it!  I sat with them for about an hour and we came up with a final design and size for the tattoo.  Pretty awesome.  Best part: I spoke with them almost entirely in English because neither of them spoke very much English.  These lessons are paying off...  I'm gonna sit on it (the design) for a couple of days, and then gonna set up the appointment for sometime next week.  I'm really going to do it.  Crazy.

I've also been watching a lot of Scandal Season 3 too.  Via Amazon Instant video.  It's great that I can watch it, but it's annoying that because I'm in China, my Prime membership doesn't work.  So while in the states, I could watch it for free, here, I have to pay $1.99 per episode.  But it's worth it: It's nice to be 'back home' again in the USA.  The scenarios are preposterous, and I truly hope that our government is not truly run in this fashion, but the drama and suspense and writing and characters and all that are just amazing.  Makes me smile every time I watch it. 
I am again so grateful to Frederic Lenoir and
his amazing book, "Du Bonheur".  It's one of the books I bought while I was living in Castres, France, and which is truly beginning to change my life: I love that Plato thought the search for happiness was foolish, since even murderers do the same.  Instead, one should live a good life, and one with values, and beliefs, and all that.  It makes the search for and the worship of God (as a higher ideal) far more relevant.  I really love it.  I love it even more because it helps me to realize that perhaps 'the search for happiness' is a fruitless ideal, a waste of time, and a psychosis-inducing chimera.  Something that just doesn't exist, and even if it does, is irrelevant (and perhaps not a very noble or worthy goal) because even the shitheads want (and sometimes receive) happiness too.

Right now, I'm gonna do some Chinese homework, and then pedal over to my French Literature class at 6:15.  This evening, gonna try to get TONS more done.  I am honestly considering turning my phone completely off so that no invitation or message by anyone can get me sidetracked.  I have a lot to do.  Time to get cracking.
A few things have been on my mind though.  About China.
First, I read in the FInancial TImes that almost
all of Hollywood is shifting now to a Chinese focus, because China has now become the biggest market for movies worldwide.  Just watching Transformers 4, and all the Chinese product placement and references, helps to illustrate this.  So it's ironic that I'm here in China now, because just like the Army helped my showbiz career before, perhaps my being here in China may  boost my movie career somehow too. 
Second, it's NICE here.  In Shanghai. In China.  Really nice. 
Genuinely a lovely place to live.  Yes, the pollution is bad, but it's not that noticeable except if you look up and see the gray sky.  (Though I must point out that today, all I see is blue, and cumulous clouds of puffiness, as afar as the eye can see.  Pollution today is the lowest it's been in months, and wow, it's nice).  But really, I don't think I can actually 'feel it' in my lungs or anything.  I think I (and everyone) was and is paranoid.  It's actually fine here.  Though I really miss the blue sky on a regular basis, that's a fact.  Beyond that, it's great.  Anything I can want to buy is easy to find.  There's an international bookstore so I can buy tons of brand new English books.  I can see great movies in the theaters, in English.  I have a wonderful apartment looking over the river, and air conditioning that works so well, and steady electricity.  I have a wonderful subway system here (much better than New York City because it's so new here), and the high speed trains are delightful.  I took a one-hour trip to Wuxi the other night, and it was a pleasure.  If I need a taxi, there is always one available.  There's an alliance francaise here, so I'm able to continue to improve my French.  There's a LOT to love about this place.  Heck, riding my bike home from Chinese school through the narrow streets I found a lovely watermelon stand, right there, ready to eat on chopsticks.  I stopped, and for 50 cents US money (3 kuai RMB), I was able to get half of a watermelon on a stick.  SO delicious.  I ate it right there, then got on my bike and continued on my merry way, weaving through traffic; scooters; pedestrians; and whatnot.  It's funny here, the transportation.  There are almost NO traffic laws.  People run red lights constantly it seems.  One way streets are such in name only.  No right turn?  Says who?  At first, it was very scary riding around here on my bike, and I would ride very fast, like I did back home.  But I've learned that fast is a recipe for disaster here, because while riding my bike, I have to: a) look both ways, constantly, when crossing intersections, b) never veer to the left or right, because a scooter or car or person might be right next to me, but unseen in my blind spot, c) always have the hands on the breaks, ready to stop at any moment, d) never make sharp turns, because I might turn right into a car or bike or person around the corner, coming my way, and this list goes on.  Now, though, it's fun. It's like a game every time I ride my bike: don't get hit.  Don't hit someone else.  Don't die!  haha!
OK, I've already written far more than I
intended.  The third thing I wanted to say can wait.  Today, day off.  Tomorrow, day off.  Friday, part-time begins so I don't have to be at work until 5pm (until 9), which is just amazing.  I'm glad I fought for it; I'm glad they agreed.  I am really looking forward to having this extra time to proofread the first draft of my novel (I finished it three weeks ago); and put even more effort into my language studies, and my PhD dissertation.   Busy bee over here.  Lata!
Thanks for reading!  J
Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bamboo Scaffolding

Today, while riding my bike back to my apartment from the Alliance Francaise (where I am taking a French Literature course), it began to rain.  Again.  I didn't mind so much because it was SO hot today.  90 degrees, and so humid.  The hottest day yet.  And the rain cooled me down completely, despite also soaking me.  But I smiled when I passed yet another construction renovation project on a building.  In New York City, the scaffolding is big, bulky, and made of steel.  Here, bamboo.  No joke.  Bamboo.  I was always told that bamboo was strong, but I never truly realized how much so until coming here, and seeing all these men walking five stories up on scaffolding made of... a plant.  

I've been here now just about four months.  Seems like I have lived here for years already.  I'm totally comfortable now.  I know all the streets.  I know the language.  I know how to get around.  I know where to buy things.  I know where the movie theaters are.  And where the least expensive places to eat are: I have to save up all my money each month to pay for my Chinese lessons, which are growing in number and expense each month as I get better and better.

I'm very close to getting my first tattoo.  My personal slogan: No Rules, No Excuses, No Regrets.  But in Chinese.  On my arm.  I'm pretty excited.

My PhD studies are coming along nicely.  I am now in the beginning stages of actually conducting my dissertation research interviews, and that's great news: I am one step closer to the end.  To finally finishing it.  Yeah!

It's hard to believe that I only have 8 more months here.  4 months went by so quickly.  Another 8 will go by even more quickly, I'm sure.  Very shortly, I will have to more fully make my plans for what's going to happen upon my return.

Anyway, I need to get back to work: I have about 50 Chinese characters I need to write over and over again for class tomorrow morning.  May the force be with me.

Monroe Mann, Esq, MBA <--my consulting and coaching firm <--my travel blog

Check out my new books "Battle Cries for the Hollywood Underdog" & "Romantic Suicide" on Amazon and  Read also my bestselling books, "Guerrilla Networking", "Time Zen", and "The Theatrical Juggernaut"!
Join my inspiring email list at and watch my music videos at