A Poem – A Little Perspective

In high school, I often wrote poetry. Some of it seemed decent at the time but it was really bad in retrospect. I wanted to try again, having gained experience and a larger vocabulary. I know that it is still bad, but what I write comes from my heart. This is one is about birth (today is my birthday) and is dedicated to my Maman, who is both with me and not with me. ‘Till I see you again.

A Little Perspective

White and cold*
Hands extracting.
Wrenched from home
Uncaring of my tears.

Pulled, prodded, pricked
Weighed and measured
Is that all I am?
A use for ruler and scale.

Where is the love?
Slapped and cut.
*whispering* Even down there.
This world harsh and bright.

They said out was better
Than in. Here was better
Than there. Yet, I cry.
Because they lied.

I want to go home.

*This explains my lifelong fear of white people.


Foreign Service Test

I had the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test) on June 14. It was an interesting experience, as the test was at the Beijing Embassy. This was actually my first time to go to the US embassy, even though I have lived in Beijing for 3 years in total. I went to the consulate in Chengdu once, but this was much different. It still has the same intense security, both Chinese and American, but the embassy is so much nicer inside. I guess that is to be expected since it is only 8 years old and cost us $434 million. Anyway, I had the test with about 15 or so others. Since Beijing only offers a single testing day, my reservation was moved to that time – 8:30 a.m. At the time, I thought I did rather well on the job knowledge section and the English section, but felt uneasy about the biographical section. Also, I was not finished with my essay and knew that part could definitely trip me up.

I finally received my grade. Here is the breakdown:

Job Knowledge:                       61.7
Biographical Questionnaire:    42.65
English Expression:                 59.56
Multiple Choice Total:               163.91
Your Essay Score:                    5

Because I scored above 154 on the total, my essay was graded. I needed at least a 6 out of 12 to pass to the next round, the PNQ (Personal Narrative Questions). So, as you can see, I failed. I looked at a website that listed results from 139 test takers in 2013. My Job Knowledge was quite above the average, about 5 points. My English was also above average by 5 points. My biographical section was 15 points below the average. The average essay score was 7.28. So, I know what killed me.

Writing seems to be the bane of my test taking experience. I always thought of myself as a decent writer, but this test has dealt a couple of blows to my ego. This is the second FSOT that I have participated in. I passed the first test with a similar multiple choice score, but with an essay score of 6. I then failed the PNQ, which also involves a great deal of writing.

Although I have to wait another year, I am not giving up on this. This is partly due to my inherent obstinateness, having aptly earned the title “pigheaded” in the past. Also, this is a job that I desire to do. I have always wanted to perform service for my country. When I was young, this desire revolved around military service. As my physical limitations (weight and eyesight) denied me that, I am looking for other opportunities. I will continue to do so, because I feel that this career has a meaningful purpose.

For the next test, however, I know what I must focus on.

Horseback Riding

Last Saturday, I went on a horseback riding excursion with three of my friends – Tammy, Bret, and Bao. We rode a bus out to the nearby countryside. There were several activities that we could have participated in, but we were there for the horses. This was the second time I was on a horse. The first time was in Mongolia in 2007. I don’t know if I can say that I enjoyed then. I also cannot say that I enjoyed it this time either.

Luckily, my friends made it enjoyable even if the riding was not. We had disputes with the owners over money and guides. One of the guides kept asking me for money. Silly man. I don’t give out money to just anyone. The other guide leading Bret and Tammy was drunk, even though it was only about 1 pm. He at least was on a horse. Bao and I were led by our guide, who was on foot. Several things irritated Bao about this. First, she was an accomplished rider back in Germany and felt that the guide was unnecessary. Second, she also felt that the horses had been taken care of indifferently. Third, she had to listen to me talk the entire time.

I talk a lot when I am nervous and/or in socially awkward situations. Bao was very patient with me and just let me blabber. I was very nervous and afraid. Not because of the horse, but because I have a fear of heights. A deathly fear. A fear that emerges even when I step on a chair. Ok, horses kind of freak me out too. But, I will not be kept down by my fears. I have plans to bungee jump and skydive one day. A small step though it may seem to someone else, I got on the beasty’s back and rode a little bit. Then I got off and walked, because God gave me feet for a reason. My friends were able to gallop about for a while.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience. Here are some pictures:

Me riding a horse.devbao2 horsegang

Bret and Tammy with their intoxicated guide.

Pinotage Restaurant and Bar – Shunyi, Beijing

A friend from church talked several of us into going to a South African restaurant in Beijing, Pinotage. I was a bit hesitant because South Africa somehow does not scream out to me “awesome gastronomical experience.” I could not be more wrong though. It was a great place to eat. We had appetizers of Boerewors (a SA sausage), samosas and this type of bread stick with a savory sauce. I ordered a Caesar salad, a strawberry smoothie, and a Chicken Kiev. All of it was delicious, especially the chicken. It used a curry sauce instead of the traditional herb butter. I also tried the dishes selected by my dining partners. Each dish was excellent.

The only downside to experience was that it was difficult to find. It is out in Shunyi, which is quite far from where I live. There is one in Sanlitun, but we went to this one because of better reviews. Also, we had to get a taxi because it is not close to the station. This was not detrimental to the dining experience, however. I definitely recommend this restaurant to Beijing foodies. Unfortunately, I neglected to take pictures.

Address: Lane Bridge Villa Compound, Laiguanying Donglu  来光营东路9号