Old Version
Essay

Then right after the extended May Day holiday, suddenly it was all back to work. The drills and jackhammers started that morning. Pent-up renovation demand burst like a dam. I have never really understood why when one buys a new apartment in China the whole thing is ripped apart - the flooring, all the fixtures, even the cement under the floor is drilled up

Wherever you are in the world, you hear the anecdotal reports of people’s visa woes. Friends had recounted all kinds of tales about the teachers lured over to schools with promises of sponsorship only to be left on tourist visas, bosses who tried to hold on to employee passports, and people who’d unknowingly overstayed. But I wasn’t teaching, my company was legit, and this wasn’t my first rodeo

The tai chi group is back, clacking their fans and gliding in loose linen while blaring “Once Upon a Time in China.” Kids scoot by, grannies perambulate infants – all in masks, now so strangely normal. But so far none of the aunties have appeared for their evening dance party. Good.

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As a childless adult that works on a laptop, it has mostly meant sitting in my Beijing apartment, compulsively refreshing social media and simply trying to fill time. Frankly, as an increasingly boring married person, this isn’t too different from my normal life, except with the knob marked “dread” turned up all the way and the knob marked “options” turned way down.

Eating feeds into every aspect of society, from shaping the way friends and family greet each other -“Ni chi le ma?”, “Have you eaten?” -to symbolizing support for a city in crisis

One of my favorite shots was a King Kong-sized bride smiling and dangling her hapless miniature husband by her fingertips in mid-air. In another, a husband posed traditionally with his conservatively dressed wife by his side, furtively looking at another woman, who was his wife dressed in a sexy outfit