---"The Ring of a Decade", Shanghai, 2019.12 | 《圈里圈外》摄于上海

Only a Decade

---"The Ring of a Decade", Shanghai, 2019.12 | 《圈里圈外》摄于上海

—“The Ring of a Decade”, Shanghai, 2019.12 | 《圈里圈外》摄于上海

 

“You are too short to teach.”

 

---"The View in a Classroom", Shanghai, 2019.10 | 《教室一隅》摄于上海

—“The View in a Classroom”, Shanghai, 2019.10 | 《教室一隅》摄于上海

 

A tall interviewer called me off the stage when I had just given my name. He gestured at me as if he was giving the death penalty. Teaching was the only iron rice bowl that would fit my circumstances. Now what was I supposed to do?

 

---"Teaching Kids Chess", Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

—“Teaching Kids Chess”, Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

 

Days before the 2009 Spring Festival, I desperately paid an agent who guaranteed me a teaching job. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, I took a smelly night train from Hainan to Guangzhou. It was a nightmare. I slept standing against a strange shoulder in the crowd without any awareness. Everyone was leaning against each other, except those who could afford a seat.

 

---"Teaching Kids Chess", Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

—“Teaching Kids Chess”, Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》樊老师摄于上海

 

The nightmare worsened when I arrived at a suburban dormitory provided by the agency. There were twelve bunk beds in a room and twelve people shared the same shower with a single toilet. Two days later, the toilet blocked. The shitty water ran all over the place. It smelled really good. No plumber would come till after the Spring Festival. Thus the daily instant noodles had no smell.

 

---"Teaching Kids Chess", Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》朱老师摄于上海

—“Teaching Kids Chess”, Shanghai, 2019.11 | 《教小朋友国际象棋》朱老师摄于上海

 

This pushed me to get a job sooner. But they all rejected me for the same reason – my small size and my weak appearance. Not until one month later did I find a school that was calling for half-pay volunteers. I took it immediately.

 

---"Watching Sunset", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《看日落》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Watching Sunset”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《看日落》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

The school was the Migrant Workers’ Children School in Shantou City. It looked like a small factory, but it had a nice cozy feel. There were seven classrooms for seven grades of students. All desks and chairs were blue plastic. All teachers were either retired or fresh graduates. At 5pm every day, we would each carry a bucket of hot water to the toilet and together stand on the squat for a quick shower. Of course, the sexes were separate.

 

---"Observing Series I", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列一》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series I”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列一》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

During the first week, two school buses took us to the three main areas where most of the workers lived. We gave them handouts like a communist would hold a farmer’s hands in the Mao era. There was a fascination in that, on the bus, I was reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and, off the bus, I was experiencing a meditative moment of walking into the irregularly shabby tents that were home to them. Especially the moment when a woman bent over the waste digging gold with her face covered by flies.

 

---"Observing Series II", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列二》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series II”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列二》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

This sight motivated me to teach more responsibly and to seek more diversities in life. I noticed that the parents smiled often and the children were happy. I found my students’ neat resonant reading voices tranquilly peaceful. I was totally drawn by these books in Chinese: The Interpretation of Dreams and The Second Sex. Meantime I focused my weekends on writing my Chinese novel – An Oasis in Wasteland.

 

---"Observing Series III", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列三》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series III”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列三》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

Life then was fulfilled with originality and simplicity. I had such complete satisfaction that I felt no ending was needed by my Chinese novel. It was a perfect year of teaching. The perfection nurtured me as an oasis of spirituality. I was inspired to experience more.

 

---"Observing Series IV", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列四》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“Observing Series IV”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《观察系列四》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

Therefore I moved to Shenzhen, working in sales till I quit to write two English novels within four years. I then came to Shanghai out of curiosity and tried to sell insurance. I stumbled into the art world.

 

---"To Be Remembered", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“To Be Remembered”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

However, my family claimed that I was absolutely wrong. They repeated it during my August family trip morning, noon and night. Their biting criticisms almost crushed me. I had to compromise with the idea of returning to education. Actually it felt more like the sand in my hourglass was running out and it was time to start over.

 

---"To Be Remembered", Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

—“To Be Remembered”, Shantou, 2009.12 | 《学生留念》摄于汕头民工子弟学校

 

Now I’m officially working for New Stage English and teaching international chess at different international schools. Because of this job, I have seen remote parts of Shanghai that I would never have visited.

 

---"I Love China", Shanghai, 2019.12.25 | 《我爱中国》摄于上海青浦世外国际幼儿园

—“I Love China”, Shanghai, 2019.12.25 | 《我爱中国》摄于上海青浦世外国际幼儿园

 

All this happened from 2009 to 2019. It is only a decade. Only a circle. How would you like to begin a new life, if you happen to be at the starting line?

 

WeChat Image_20191229104559

 

Last article 上一篇: Our Pressures | 我们的压力

About Heather Cai:

Heather Cover

Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently teaching kids chess in Shanghai.

Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者蔡太莲所有!


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures

关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片

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How Can Art Be Healing

--- A test says my spiritual age is 108 years old and my psychological age 48,

— A test says my spiritual age is 108 years old and my psychological age 48,

 

For once, let me pretend to be that skeptical 108-year-old lady, who doesn’t care about national boundaries, religion, politics, class, race, color, language, gender and age. Pretend that this is self-experimentation. You open up to yourself in the dark. Your body melts into nothingness and your soul wanders freely. If you see your true self floating like a white dot, you might appreciate art. If art is the ultimate lifestyle of human beings, art is universal.
---"Layers of Us", Shanghai, 2019.11.29 | 《层次不同的我们》摄于上海

—“Layers of Us”, Shanghai, 2019.11.29 | 《层次不同的我们》摄于上海

---"Shades of Us", Shanghai, 2019.11.29 | 《深浅不一的我们》摄于上海

—“Shades of Us”, Shanghai, 2019.11.29 | 《深浅不一的我们》摄于上海

 

That skeptical 108-year-old lady is fascinated by anything relating to people, like human touch and human nature. She believes that knowing what we are is essential for knowing what art is, and reflecting on what we’ve gone through is necessary for reflecting on why art is powerful. She also believes that understanding hurt people with empathy is helpful in understanding what healing is, and exploring the true self is vital in exploring how art can be healing. 

 

---The Healing Art Exhibition, 2019.11.16 | 平生第一个艺术展

—The Healing Art Exhibition, 2019.11.16 | 平生第一个艺术展

 

WHAT IS ART?

 

Wikipedia says, “Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts, expressing the author’s imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.” But what do the illiterate farmers and that skeptical 108-year-old lady think of art?
---Sold, 2019.11.19 | 已售

—Sold, 2019.11.19 | 已售

 

Like my father, farmers might say art is bullshit. For they don’t have the concept of art and so understand life more pragmatically. However, that skeptical 108-year-old lady thinks art is everywhere, even in the hands of the farmers. She thinks farmers have been creating natural artworks in all seasons, such as cultivating rice terraces, without learning about art. She thinks farmers lack knowledge but not feelings, they lack opportunities but not talent. She sees art as the unseen turmoil behind happiness or beauty before chaos.
---Available, 2019.12.02 | 可出售

—Available, 2019.12.02 | 可出售

 

WHY IS ART POWERFUL?

 

Someone once said, “Of all the things in the world, I’d argue that Art, in its many forms, is the most inspirational. Art has a phenomenal ability to make us feel understood, empowered, and less alone.” And that skeptical 108-year-old lady would agree, art dominates her life.

 

---Sold, 2019.11.19 | 已售

—Sold, 2019.11.23 | 已售

 

WHAT IS HEALING?

 

Healing is not treatment but the process of transformation: facing our true selves, seeing the emotions and limitations that our past experiences have brought us, and then returning to a naturally happy state of life. Dr. Dipak once said: “When we can uncover our heart and allow the light of happiness to shine, healing is taking place.“

 

---Available, 2019.12.02 | 可出售

—Available, 2019.12.02 | 可出售

 

HOW CAN ART BE HEALING?

 

We all have unresolved wounds or traumas. When we are unbalanced, diseased, damaged or spiritless, how can art help heal us?
---Available, 2019.12.02 | 可出售

—Available, 2019.12.02 | 可出售

 

For me, there seemed always an inner drive forcing me to act. When I couldn’t breathe, I took a walk. When I felt trapped in a tiny square, I went traveling. When I felt lost, I reminded myself to connect with people around me and so reconnect with my self. When I felt empty or horny, I fed my stomach or pleased my body. When I saw a beautiful pattern from a tangled mess, I would smile to add motion to it with my imagination. You might ask, where does such inner drive come from? Well, listen to your inner voice. Be self-aware. Be mindful. Be calm.
---Sold, 2019.11.19 | 已售

—Sold, 2019.11.28 | 已售

---Special wooden box package for shipment, 2019.11 | 个性特制木箱装运

—Special wooden box package for shipment, 2019.11 | 个性特制木箱装运

 

IINNOO GALLERY & ELEVATE

 

Once I had this crazy idea to call for an artist like those who called for a marriage in the blind date corners. It impulsively moved me to Shanghai, where I met many artists from many countries. Every time when I visited a gallery or a museum, I felt safe and alive. When having someone to talk to or to listen to, I felt loved. Gratefully, IINNOO Gallery is like my mother bringing me to this art world and Elevate my father watering me to grow. 
---IINNOO Team @ Exhibition: Infinite Repetition, IINNOO Gallery, 2019.03.01 | 《无限循环》开幕展小组合照@黑白之中画廊

—IINNOO Team @ Exhibition: Infinite Repetition, IINNOO Gallery, 2019.03.01 | 《无限循环》开幕展小组合照@黑白之中画廊

---With Elevate Team @ Exhibition: Confront Abstraction, 1929 Art Space, 2019.11.02 | 《抽象对峙》开幕展上与阿黎微忑小组合影@1929艺术空间

—With Elevate Team @ Exhibition: Confront Abstraction, 1929 Art Space, 2019.11.02 | 《抽象对峙》开幕展上与阿黎微忑小组合影@1929艺术空间

 

December 7th, ELEVATE will be hosting a whole day of events at one of the biggest and best theatres in town. And I’m very happy to be involved.
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Note: To build a mutual Literature & Art community, Heather has now opened her personal channel (WeChat ID: Heather69) to her fans, who are following HeathersChamber. No cheaters!
Last article 上一篇:  My Very First Publication | 平生第一次出版
About Heather Cai:
Heather Cover
Heather is the daughter of a subsistence rice farmer from Fujian Province, China. She tells stories from her experience as one of the poorest. She writes her dream to share with the world, a very personal place. She has now written two English literary novels and is looking to being published in the UK. Her passion is a splendid cocktail or milkshake of word, image, music and art. She likes collecting books, DVDs, papers, stones, shells and leaves. She desires for all forms of natural beauty. She is currently teaching kids chess in Shanghai and serving as Sergeant-at-arms (SAA) for Shanghai Leadership Toastmasters Club.
Copyright © 2018-2019 Heather Cai. All Rights Reserved. 所有版权归作者蔡太莲所有!

 


Follow HeathersChamber for more original poems, essays, prose, drawings and pictures
                                关注阿太的密室,订阅更多原创诗歌、散文、随笔、画画和图片
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Rain Girl

White and Blue

White and Blue

The girl in the rain, once was a sort of boy who only hung out with boys. A number of times, she would do all different things in the rain, alone or with someone. The midnight before graduating from high school, she couldn’t control herself but led a bunch of boys running in the rain on the road. It was all dark. But she wasn’t afraid of the darkness. she was suddenly afraid of growing up and leaving an old place.

In the darkness, along with the boys, she laughed, cried and screamed; she lifted her face up, welcomed the rain pouring down; she kissed and tasted the rain; she sensed the freedom of the rain; she felt behind such freedom was sadness. The rain comes and goes, just like people coming and going. She really enjoyed how the rain washed something away from her heart and added something else to her mind. It was exactly the same feeling as how people gave her memories and she was afraid to lose them.

When leaving a place, she was always the last one to leave. She sent off everyone. She then quietly left alone. She even pictured her future without people coming and going. But she knew it was her sheer illusion.

Later she became a woman. The feeling never changed. One late night, thinking of leaving another place, with an impulsion she couldn’t help walking in the rain, alone. It was a dark street. The rain made her wet all over.  Even her brain was soaked. This time, she didn’t laugh or scream. But she did cry in silence. She tasted the rain more deeply. She opened her mouth, let the rain fill in naturally. She then would swallow a mouthful of rain, as though the rain was not rain but beer. She drank one mouthful and another. Until there was a motorcycle coming towards her. The driver waved, whistled and asked if she wanted a ride. She shook her head continuously without looking at him. Apparently, he was disappointed. As a result, he suddenly sped up, drove a circle around her with one hand touching her tits roughly. For the moment, he was a ghostly dark shadow and she was so horribly terrified that she couldn’t see anything. The only sound she could hear was the engine from the motorcycle. The only thing she could smell was the cigarette from his nostril. The only thing she could feel was the dirty hand that she was not fast enough to push away. Once she could see something, he already disappeared in the darkness with only the sound left. She wished she could cut off that hand and have it feed the pig.

Since that night, she stopped walking in the rain in the darkness by herself. But tonight, she had the same feeling. She walked alone in the dim light, missing the rain. Passing through the crowds, she felt as though she was the only one moving. Stealing a glance at the others whose eyes were as emotionless as a dead fish, she wished she could take a cold shower in the rain.


This blog is to remember a great Penguin in a particular way.