2017: Baffling, Billious, Bottomless Breakdown of a Country. Or: The Year America Died but Hasn’t Realized it Yet.

In the 1982 horror movie “Poltergeist” (“They’re here!”) about a family being haunted by ghosts, a parapsycologist explains “some people die but they don’t know that they’ve gone.” The climax of the movie involves lots of long buried corpses flying through the air.

OK. So it’s not an exact metaphor but I’m sure, in a few years, thoughtful people will look back at 2017 and make grave (get it?) pronouncements of just exactly what ceased to exist in America. We already know that political civility died but it was on “life support” for years anyway and Trump merely pulled the plug. Facts and truth certainly perished. Really, the only question I will pose is: Will there be anyone left alive in the upcoming years to write about just what went wrong in 2017?

Having said the above, 2017 was a good year for me. Number one reason, being, I don’t live in the aforementioned country. I only have to subject myself to the utter madness, when I choose. The psychosis that has descended upon the landscape doesn’t impact me unless I make a conscious choice to let it impinge. Being a concerned citizen, that means I do in fact let it in on an almost daily basis. However, living in China, If I choose to disengage, the madness of King Trump does not impose itself, unlike the befouled air of Xi’an. I can “change the channel” so to speak and no more Trump-trainwreck.

It has been an interesting year, having moved to Xi’an from Beijing in April. I feel very much settled in my home. The thought of having to move anytime soon would be, well, unsettling. I’ve been worried all year because I’m now at the age of 60, when the government can refuse to grant me another work visa which would mean I would have to leave China. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

Our company’s visa officer got in touch with the local authorities recently and she was told that if I take, and pass, a medical exam, there should’t be an issue. It’s vague but this does suggest, I’m good for another year. Having no health issues, that won’t be a problem. Whew! It looks Iike I will get at another year’s reprieve.

So, it appears I can look forward to another year in my self-imposed “golden exile.” In mid February, I get a week off for the Chinese New Year. As of this posting, Vietnam heads the list of places to visit. I’m eyeing: Hanoi, Danang, Hoi An and Hue. I think that Nancy and Sophie may also visit later in the year. If so, we’d head south to Shanghai, Hong Kong and perhaps Xiamen.

December was a very busy month here in Xi’an. Below are some of the Christmas related activities I was involved with. Since the big New Year celebration isn’t until mid-February, December 31 isn’t a big deal here. I’ll have a nice, quiet NYE dinner with my best bud. We do have New Year’s Day off so I’ll be able to see the ball drop in Times Square (who, in their right mind will spend all day in sub-zero temperatures to be there live?) as well as the Embarcadero party in San Francisco.

So, despite the Trumpwreck, I do hope that 2018 will bring better times for my fellow Americans.

“Ring out the false and ring in the true.”- Alfred Lord Tennyson

This is a big tree. It was on sale at Metro Market which stocks foreign goods. The price would set you back over $800 (USD)

SEGA mall, the largest in Xi’an. Our center is in the office building attached

Various Christmas scenes-day and night- of the plaza in front of the SEGA Mall. I would call it the heart of Xi’an


The first Christmas event I attended was a fund raiser/silent auction for local charity held at the Westin Hotel. I went with my manager, his girlfriend and my bud, Azara. I was outbid on everything but Azara won a dinner for two, which she claims she’ll use on me.

The lobby of the Hilton Hotel where we held an EF party on the 23rd

The English First Christmas party for teachers and students held at the Hilton Hotel

On Christmas eve day, our center held a party for the students. All of the teachers had to come up with an activity. Naturally, I chose, making eggnog. And yes, that did include various alcohols. None of the Chinese had ever tasted the concoction and many were very hesitant. However, the other teachers didn’t show any reluctance. A good time was had by all

“I’m agog over eggnog.”

Upon exiting the office building after our center party, I was met by the largest crush of people in the plaza I’ve ever experienced. It was, after all, Christmas Eve. There were so many people, the subway stop here was shut down because it couldn’t handle the masses

After the party at my teaching center, I went to the Gran Melia Hotel to join the teachers from our other teaching center at the Spanish restaurant, Duo, for their party. It’s one of the most expensive eateries in town with prices comparable to San Francisco.

The dinner involved a lively “White Elephant” gift exchange.

Wendy, enjoying the dessert platter

My bud, Azara and I wanted to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner on the 25th. Special dinners were offered at most western hotels but only on Christmas Eve. So we went to the Hyatt Regency in our neighborhood for their buffet which was as close to traditional as possible. Impossible quantities and selection. Also included was unlimited beer and wine. Azara, being Azara was able to communicate to the waitpersons to just leave the entire bottle of wine, everytime they came around. She also wasn’t shy about leaving with a couple of mostly full bottles. One of the key reasons I hang out with her.

Walking home from the Hyatt

Christmas night in our neighborhood

The only way 2017 makes any sense