After three years guiding our asses around Boulder bars and breweries, Alexandra Sieh packed her beer-soaked bags and headed to Beijing. That was a year ago. Lucky for us, she's sent back all sorts of absurd adventures via her rebranded column, The China Monologues, and will continue to ship new tales priority status from across the Pacific for her second year abroad.
Here's a few words from the expat herself.
Philosophers hate her! What's your one weird trick to keep the existential crisis at bay?
When Asia's utter chaos or strangeness threatens my already precarious hold on sanity and reason, I turn to this multi-step process: 1) Plug in my headphones and flip to my old-school guilty pleasures. 2) Turn my meditation beads through my fingers, pushing to each bead with a new breath. 3) Force my face to smile in a way that's as least creepy as possible, though ultimately probably looks a lot like a toddler passing gas.
Give me a haiku inspired by something that pisses you off.
Pushing and shoving,
I use my tall frame to slow
The subway jackass.
If you were 6 inches tall, what animal would be your mighty steed?
The way I figure it, I'd have a whole band of merry animal friends. My teacup pig would be the intimidation factor and top-notch mighty steed. For long-distance travel, I'd turn to the swallow (African or European — I'm still not sure).
If I rifled through your fridge, what's the most scandalous item I am likely to find?
It all depends on how frisky you want to get with my roommates' vegetables ...
What is your preferred method of disposing of the body?
Enjoying a day, "Weekend at Bernie's"-style, and then leaving them propped on a bench somewhere. "See you later, dude," I'd call over my shoulder, making a clean getaway.
What college-level course are you qualified to teach?
Panic Travel 301: Designed for the "Holy shit, I'm way out of my comfort zone in this country and I still have eight days to go — thank God I'm so clearly not from this country," style of traveling.
In this course, you'll learn:
• How to point and raise your eyebrows in the most inquisitive way possible when asking about prices, ordering, etc.;
• Tips for long layovers in unhelpful foreign airports;
• How-tos for when you're stuck in the illegal, jury-rigged middle seat on some Southeast Asian bus;
• Advice for how to handle even the most blatant pointing and laughing from local residents.
New this year: A weekend seminar for best practices in all sorts of Asian bathroom conditions.
What is the best flavor of Jell-O shot (besides snozzberry, of course)?
If I could, I'd absolutely be slurping down Jell-O shots made with soju, that deceptively powerful liquor pouring out of Korea.
What euphemism makes you grin like a demented middle schooler?
I've always enjoyed saying, "Well ... that's unique," to underplay a situation, outfit, decision, etc. To quote John Mulaney: "Aw, I love how you'll just wear anything." This tickles me. It's also absurdly relevant in Beijing.
Aside from stress relief and lowering blood pressure with the power of purrs, what little-known medical benefit do cats provide?
Mummies' clear abhorrence of cats is a huge plus — not that I'm overly concerned about mummies or anything. I'd say the obvious medical benefit they provide is a test of willpower and muscle control. Because when a cat decides it wants to sleep either next to you or on you, you're not moving until they want to. You're just not.