“It is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers,” – Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea.
Yang Jiang village, Guangdong, is a sleepy fishing town 160 KM southwest of Macau, 230 from Hong Kong, along the Pacific Ocean. The people here perpetually squint – it’s a very sunny place, with miles of beach and coast in every direction, but they catch the freshest fish in the world every day, eat well, and enjoy happy, simple lives. This is where I will write my next book, and this is where I decompress from a stressful year. Let me catch you up.
It’s been busy since March – the two London, UK interviews did come out, though, finally, and here they are:
They begin with the premise of “Extra-ordinary lives do not come by every day…Fascinated by what we discovered, this feature was born,” it was a nice boost to get high praise from the kind folks in London.
With that out of the way, I finished filming season one of my Xinhua TV show ‘Kai’s China Diaries,’ which was interesting and a fun break, and then jumped into a few days of filming at the Chongqing Foreign Language School to help produce a 60th-anniversary video, which made this spring a little different. It was fun to be working on multiple film sets at the same time, working on multiple projects. Here are three clips from the Xinhua show:
It went over very well; a couple days after it launched, execs in Beijing and Shanghai flew to Chongqing to take me for dinner and said that we’d hit about 10 million views on their native app in the first 24 hours, and they considered it a big success. We talked about a season two next year, maybe – we’ll see. I’m still hoping it will translate to some appreciation for my new novel when it finally gets released in China. The translation is done, the process is underway,, and the rest will happen when it happens,. I’ll keep moving forward until then.
In April, Xiaolin and I finally got COVID.
She came down with a day of body aches and chills, and I had a mildly sore throat. At the local doctor, he suggested we take a test – and low and behold, we both came back COVID positive. After three years of dodging it, it was a shock. By the next day, Xiaolin was already starting to feel better, but I got it worse. All in all, I had a terrible fever for about five days, which was receeded by the sun’s healing light, supplemented by antivirals. At night, it crept back and devoured me with startling ferocity. Xiaolin lost her sense of taste and smell for maybe two weeks but had it relatively mild. For me, the week of fever and sore throat, followed by a month of hacking cough, was as bad as it got. Pretty mild, overall, I think, but we are healthy, vaxxed, and full of vitamin D. I could imagine how that fever could spiral down to some scary levels and how it could have, in stronger and earlier forms, killed so many people worldwide.
A funny thing happened to China since then – we basically “got over it” – COVID might come back but it is pretty mild now and with our population density I imagine it kind of rips through most of the population at once and then receeds for a half a year or so. Masks are mostly gone – although I still wear mine sometimes in crowds or on the subway, but on the recent flight to the coast, I simply forgot and most people did too.
Finishing the school year was a bit stressful, but I did my best, negotiated a fine contract for next year – if you can believe it, my 10th at the school – and am now midway through July, relaxing in the sun and sea. I swim in the ocean every night, basking in its salt water healing, and marveling in its power and whimsy, and by day we eat fresh fish with rice and enjoy a simple life. Benben is with Jing and Cici, and doing quite well, from the daily updates.
I miss my Canadian family again this year – and hope the flights become something resembling fair and reasonable by next summer, but for now, this is the break I needed and it’s quite delightful. I think this place will serve my writing well, and hope that the new book – in all it’s glory, horror, and silliness – can flow out of me with the power of the ocean.
“Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the beauteous land.”
– Julia A. Carney