That China Girl

{June 1, 2011}   I did it!

No, not that. Remember the blogathon thing where I had to blog for a whole month. Yeah? Well, I did it! The proof’s over under my supposed picture on the right.

Kinda sweet that it happened on the same day I got back my first Chinese test and got an “A.”¬† I’m seriously doing a happy dance!

Fellow bloggers, it’s been fun. I’ll try to keep writing, but maybe not everyday ūüôā


{May 31, 2011}   So many words….

A wordle¬†cloud of my last month’s worth of ¬†blogging…..LIKE, wow!

Wordle: thatchinagirl

{May 31, 2011}   Why write it down?

I worried a little about putting all my thoughts out here in this blog.¬† I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.¬† I also was afraid I would come back later and think, why the heck did I write that?¬† ¬†But now that we’ve reached¬†the official end of the Blogathon, I’m kind of glad I took part.¬†

For one thing it will be good to remember the early days here.¬†No matter how vivid it seems now,¬†I’m sure I’d forget a lot of it if I didn’t write it down.¬† Chen Laoshi, my Chinese teacher,¬†told me a proverb¬†¬†that really ¬†captures this:

The palest ink is better than the best memory. 


This is a good thing, as the white ink in my blog, which even I sometimes found hard to read, could not be any more pale unless it was invisible.

I also found a couple of other Chinese proverbs I that I thought were inspirational for writers, so I wanted to share them with my fellow bloggers on this finaly day of Blogathon 2011:. 

  • For dealing with anxiety about where your writing is going, whether¬†it will ¬†sell,¬†or people will¬†like it,¬† the Chinese remind us:

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It  sings because it has a song.

  • On worries that you’ve got such a long way to go before you’ve completed your dream project¬† or made it as a writer:

Be not afraid of growing slowly.  Be afraid only  of standing still

Good luck, everyone, and happy blogging!


¬†P.S.¬† I know it’s kinda late to be saying this, but my blog does look better if you minimize the window.¬† Otherwise, so sorry, it’s pretty random layout.

{May 30, 2011}   What came before

Yesterday, when I was writing the post about my, you know, crush, I realized, I haven’t said much about my life before I came here.¬† Maybe for most people,¬†coming to a new country or school and having someone like that¬†paying attention to you wouldn’t be a big deal.¬†

For me, I still can’t believe it.


¬†Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was a total loser, or anything.¬† Back in Chicago, I did lots of¬†things during my¬†freshman year.¬†Sure, ¬†I wasn’t a cheerleader, but I went to some¬†of the games and the dances.¬† I usually hung with¬†Lesia,¬†Maddy¬†(at least until she¬†met¬†Tyson) and¬†Colin, when we could drag¬† him away from his¬†gaming pals.¬†¬† A couple of boys asked me to dance, like Big Al, who I towered over even at 5 foot 5, and some of guys from my math class who weren’t total rejects.

I’m kind of quiet, so I’m sure that doesn’t help.¬† And I can pretty much deal with whatever.¬† It’s that only child thing.¬† Dad’s always working, Mom has her moods, and I do well in school.¬†¬† I don’t need that many friends or distractions, I can hang by myself.

¬†So really if CC and Geoff had just blown me off that day.¬† Even if they’d done it after her party, when we all went back to school, I would have gotten it.¬† But there CC was on day one, wanting me to sit with her at lunch.¬† I guess part of it is that so many kids come and go with their parents jobs, that if you find someone halfway normal, you’re ready to make a friend.¬†

Mom and Dad¬† have been thrilled that I’m suddenly doing things like going to parties and talking to her about boys.¬†¬† I feel a little bit like Cinderella — I keep waiting for it to all go away.

{May 29, 2011}   Crushing

I promised I’d write more about you know who.¬† We’ll call him TC (too cute) just to be random.¬†¬† I don’t want to put names in here for obvious reasons.¬† I haven’t told anyone at my new school about this blog and I want to keep it that way.

Anyhow, TC is this amazing guy.¬† He’s from a Scandinavian country so he’s also got this incredible accent.¬† Sometimes I can’t even understand him.¬† He has blonde hair, but thick,¬†and he wears it spikey in the front.¬† His eyes are this¬†almost metallic light¬†blue, and¬†he stares¬†so hard at me when we’re talking that it’s difficult to look away.¬†¬†¬†He also looks super athletic with¬†broad shoulders, and these really strong arms, but lean.¬† He says he¬†skied a lot at home and I believe it.¬† ¬†

It’s still really surprising to me that we¬†hang out at all.¬† I mean, the first time I saw him he was driving¬†my friend CC home on a motorcycle, then kissing her goodbye. ¬† That was when I was new and didn’t know anybody.¬† Then CC had a party and she seemed to be flirting more with this Australian guy, Lachlan.¬† And when we all ¬†drove into the countryside¬†later on motorcycles, she immediately got on Lachlan’s bike and said I should go with TC.¬†¬† I still thought we were just friends, but at the end of the night he kissed me and said he’d see me again.¬† I can’t remember what CC and Lachlan were doing.¬†

While we were riding we were listening to this song by Evanescence, “Wake Me Up Inside,” and whenever I play it, I can’t stop thinking about him.

CC’s hard to figure out.¬† All the guys flock around her at school and she seems to like them.¬† But some days she gets into these snits, where they’re all tiptoeing around her like they’ve done something wrong.¬†¬† I’ve seen TC having what looked like serious conversations with her when she gets all moody.¬† He says, that’s just CC and when she gets like that she just wants extra attention. ¬†¬†

I don’t care, as long as she doesn’t decide to want him.¬† He hasn’t kissed me again, but I feel like he wants to.¬† When we all hang out in a group and I’m sitting near him, there’s this real tension.¬† And he always wants me to ride with him.¬† Mom says most guys are really fast, so I’m lucky that he wants to take it slow.¬† I don’t know, cuz sometimes when I’m near him I feel like I’ll melt if he doesn’t do something soon.¬†

I’ve had crushes before, like on this guy Conor who was a lifeguard at our pool.¬† But¬†that was more from afar.¬† He didn’t¬†even know who I was.¬†¬†To have someone as incredible as TC paying attention is something I never imagined happening.

Oops.¬† I just realized today that I missed the day where we’re supposed to¬†post about our 5 favorite places to write.

That would have been Tuesday.¬† The thing is, I’ve mostly been writing this blog sitting up in my bedroom, which is kind of boring.¬†Okay, I look out on a bridge, but it’s a fake one,¬†like you see all over China. ¬†So not real inspiring. I did write a couple of posts from a Starbucks near the school.¬†¬† They call Starbucks,¬† xia be ke¬† (sheeah bock-uh) here.¬† Here’s one in the Forbidden City.¬† I haven’t made it here yet — the one I go to is more Western-looking.

That’s pretty common with foreign company¬†names — that the name in Mandarin often sounds similar.¬† And for people’s name’s as well.¬†The Chinese try to find characters that sound phonetically like the word does in English.¬†¬†¬† Like¬†the name¬†Mary would be Mali —¬†since they don’t really have a word that sounds like “ry.”¬† Another boy in my class is¬†named Jack,¬†and his¬†¬†name becomes¬†Jie ke¬†in¬†Chinese,¬†which does sort of sound like Jack (with an “uh” at the end).

For last names, they usually shorten it to one syllable, since the main Chinese names, like Wang, Li, etc. are all one syllable.¬†¬† The last name¬†my family uses¬†is Hu,¬† kind of like the Premier Hu Jintao.¬†¬† I gotta say it’s easier to spell than Hutchinson.

So my name is Hu Taiyu.¬†It looks like this:¬† ŤÉ°ŚŹįšŅě

Yeah, I’m still learning to write it.

My Chinese teacher Chen Laoshi says that my name is similar to a character in the famous Chinese story Dream of the Red Chamber.¬† Since I haven’t read the story yet, I don’t know whether that’s good or bad.¬† Do any of you know of this Hu Taiyu?

{May 27, 2011}   OMG: The Sequel

Dad was here.  And he wrote a LETTER!   I am so sorry.  All that business stuff is BEYOND boring.  I told him, but he said he wanted it to be EDUCATIONAL. 


At least now,¬†both he and my Mom have¬†had their chance.¬† Dad says it’s good I have this blog so we’ll have our early memories of China¬†written down.¬† I’m not so sure of that.¬†¬†

¬†It was interesting to read what he had to say though.¬† Especially since it’s not always what I hear.¬† He’s¬†all¬†I’m¬†Mr. Positive and I’ve got it all worked out.¬† But sometimes it doesn’t sound that way.¬†¬† Like when he’s trying to communicate with our driver¬†Mr. Wang and it’s just not happening.¬†¬†Dad’s face is turns¬†fuschia and¬†I¬†worry¬†the vein in his neck is going to explode.¬† And sometimes after I go up to bed, I can hear¬†him and Mom¬†talking.¬† Then it doesn’t sound like his Chinese¬†partner is Mr. Wonderful.¬† It sounds sometimes like he’s Mr. “I’ll-Do-What-I-Want-And-You’ll-Just-Deal,”¬† and Dad has to just smile and tell his bosses back home that things are going great, even though they’re not so great.

Right now he’s got this book on his bedside table:

Dad’s big on positive thinking and visualization, so maybe this is what he’s trying to do.¬† I just haven’t heard him like this with other new jobs.¬†¬† I guess I always figured his success was easy — he’s never had anything but, or says Mom, he wouldn’t have gotten all his promotions.¬†¬†

¬†Somehow I’m afraid this place is going to be different.

Hello there.¬†¬† Ross Hutchinson here.¬† Taya tells me she’s been writing in this column every day for a month, which makes me so proud!¬†¬†Boy, has she¬†stepped up to the challenge of living in a new country.¬† She’s made some really nice friends — rather quickly actually. If I remember correctly, she attended a party our very first week here.¬†¬†¬† She seems to be adjusting nicely to school, as well.¬† And learning Chinese.¬† I wish I’d had that kind of opportunity when I was her age.

Taya asked me if I would write a a bit here for her a couple of weeks¬†ago.¬† I know her Mom wrote that one, but didn’t want you all to think I don’t care.¬†¬† It’s just been a very busy time¬†for me.

I don’t know¬†if Taya told you, but I’m the general manager here for Avia Tech, a Chicago-based firm that¬†design customized landing systems¬†for aircraft.¬† It’s a great time to be in China because¬†the airlines here¬†are building up their¬†fleets as more and more middle class Chinese¬†families are¬†able to afford air travel.¬† And boy do they want to see the world! ¬† We’re fortunate to be in a joint venture with Hangtau Group, which has been integral to the airline industry here.¬† They have also been very welcoming to me, and very agreeable to work with.

I know a lot of Americans have a hard time making the transition to doing business in China.¬† I’ve read a lot of books about it and heard the horror stories.¬† But in the short time I’ve been here, I also think I’ve come to understand why a lot of people fail.¬† They expect too much, too soon and they’re not willing to work within the Chinese system and adapt their business practices.¬†¬†It’s clear to me that you have to be patient and learn to be flexible.¬† I think my years of experience in different corporate¬†positions back home (at Motorola, Microsoft and V-Tech)¬†are paying off now.¬† As we used to say when I played football in college, ”

My company has also come here with a very clear and detailed business plan.¬† I think that helps avoid the missteps.¬†¬†Our connections help too.¬† Mr. Zhang at Hangtau Group seems to know¬†everyone in the agencies we work with.¬† My one surprise is that not knowing the language hasn’t been as big a barrier as I thought it would be.¬† We have a translator, Ms. Tan (yes, like the author of those novels my wife loves), and she is excellent at bridging the gap between not only Mr. Zhang and I, but the rest of the staff as well.¬†¬†I’m a pretty good observer of people, so it’s interesting how often I can tell what they’re thinking or saying even without knowing the language.¬† I can handle some courtesies, like saying xie xie and ni hao, etc., but I also think there is a lot of your basic personality you can convey even without words.

We have a lovely home in Imperial Estates and a very nice¬†“ayi” , Lili,who cleans the house and cooks all our food.¬† Her meals are¬†tremendous and I always try to let her know that by saying,” hao chi,” when we’re finished eating.¬† I also have a driver named Mr. Wang, who gets me to and from the office every day in this crazy traffic.¬† I’ve started to get used to making calls and working on my computer on the way in, but sometimes I get distracted by something crazy going on on the roads.¬†¬† Last week, for example, the back door of a truck bed flew open and a dozen cages filled with pigs fell out on the street and created quite the circus.¬† Fortunately, I don’t think any of the pigs were hurt, but the driver was yelled at by quite a few people.

The one thing that bothers me — and I think Taya, you would agree with this — is the air.¬†¬† I’m a former Division 1 athlete and I like to get in a good workout — running, biking, etc.¬† But on some days the pollution has been so bad during my runs outside, I’ve worried about what I’m doing to my lungs.¬†¬† There’s a health club I can use if I get there early enough.¬† It’s full of weight machines and treadmills and such, but it’s usually crowded with other residents.¬†¬† When I’ve been here a bit longer, I’m going to see if we can’t perhaps get a machine in the house, or even down here in one of the empty offices, so I can keep up my workouts.¬†¬†¬† I need a clear head to do my best here and definitely have to find a way to work off stress.

Thanks for letting me visit.¬† If you have any questions about working in China, please¬†don’t hesitate¬†to ask me.

Yours truly,

Ross L. Hutchinson

 Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Avia Tech Corp. 

{May 25, 2011}   Crane mania

It’s impossible to go anywhere in Beijing and not see a construction crane looming in the sky somewhere over you.¬†¬† In case you haven’t heard, they’re doing a lot of building here.¬† Duh! There’s a kid in my class that seems to be fixated on this though. He’s gone nuts in art class painting nothing but cranes. He paints them as birds. He paints them as towers lifting peasants off the ground. He paints them as weapons. I’d take a pic to show you, but he’s kind of a goth or maybe a stalker… so I’m like seriously not wanting to draw his attention.

Anyway, these pics my give you an idea.   Imagine the one at the top done in feathers.   Or the bird above with metallic lines instead of white fluff.  You get the idea.  What do you think?  Weird or art?

{May 24, 2011}   Character study…

Not much time to write today…. I’ve got my first test in Chinese –Putonghua, we call it here. Right now, I’m trying to memorize characters, and I keep confusing words the character for “I: with another one that looks just like it.¬†

¬†At the moment, I think I know like fifteen characters and what they mean.¬† The challenge is writing them.¬†¬† You can’t just copy what you see, you have to do each line (they call them “strokes” in order.¬†

I think this guy here gives a pretty good introduction to how confusing it is.

BTW: I only know a few of the characters at the left, but I thought the picture was cool so had to go with it.  

Anyway, I’ll give you all an update after I finish tomorrow.¬† Wish me luck!

et cetera