But you know, I’m gonna miss this place. Huge.

And I will miss our Chinese friends even more. Jet-lag smacks me pretty hard, but it’s already starting to ease a little. (I can face my keyboard with only minimal dread.) The general disorientation of farewells, uprooting and re-entry into a previous context will soon fade; the cleaning and painting and purging of our house will be over in a few weeks.  I believe and hope that I haven’t left China forever, and that I’ll see some of our friends again, but I know that for too many I’ve said my last goodbye. That’s how it happens, though I’m not much good at accepting it.

I’ll write more about it. I imagine a four-part goodbye: to the teaching work at two Dalian universities, to the new legs that China gave to my long-dormant basketball playing, to the wonders and remarkabilities of that tremendous country that is so suddenly front and centre to the world’s future, and to our sharing of the Baha’i vision with new and lasting friends. (I want you to hold me to this promise.) For now, for recently, I’ve only posted a couple of things.

In “At First Glance”, just below in this main section, you’ll find a piece I could have titled “Fear and Loathing on Huangpu Lu”. I probably was more than a few centimetres from death, but I stared at that speeding car from way too close and from the seat of my slightly soiled pants.

In the “It’s All About Sports” section, there’s this retrospective on the stunningly high level of basketball played by the San Antonio Spurs in winning the NBA championship. We still don’t get it, and with LeBron having dominated the North American sports headlines even after losing, even during the World Cup, my essay isn’t going to change anything. I tried, anyway.

“On Second Thought”, the place where I put ideas I’ve pondered and worried over longer, was just the spot for an older piece, one that didn’t find publication back in 2007 but still tells a story of faith and commitment that you might find touching. (It still touches me, but pain isn’t everything.)

And, it being World Cup season, with Germany and Argentina itching for a fight — but without violent or military intentions — a few days ago I quoted a fine American writer, Brian Phillips, who mused about what the Cup does that no other human activity can match. That’s in the “He Said/She Said” section.

Please note also that the so free and easy to SUBSCRIBE it’s almost sinful button is still just over there, top right.

JH [dot] com is on Twitter @JamesHowdenIII. It keeps followers up-to-date with what’s happening here, plus the usual Twitter smorgasboard of observations, pass-alongs and faves, and of course you’re welcome. 

Thanks for looking in. If you’re new here, read on to find out more about “Sport, Culture and Other Obsessions” that I’ve been writing about

“At First Glance”, where you are now, is the default weblog of this site. Below my last China rant is one of my “Better Read Than Never” book reviews, on Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrieas well as a report on the discouraging evidences of male cowardice and misogyny that we saw in Santa Barbara, California, preceded by sunnier essays on two hunks of Chinese acreage I have recently loved, and several hundred other things. AFG is about everything that makes me stop and write.

Reflections on athletics appear to the right in the “It’s All About Sports” section. The most recent article was on SpursLove, plus a two-part series of questions about the NBA playoffs, and adventures in running and playing basketball in China, both my own and those of the increasingly hoop-crazy youth culture here. ALL the games and all the excuses for sweat-stained excellence interest me, because there is much more to sport than dunks and grunts and numbers.

The third major portion of is called “On Second Thought”, where you’ll find the “For a Change” piece, another blast from the past (2007) on citizenship and climate change, my BEST OF 2013 list and an older essay from the Howdy archives, called “Smokers Get All the Breaks”. I also recently posted an old “lovers in a (slightly) dangerous time”memoir from a honeymoon year in Quebec. Articles in this section are sometimes longer, and usually more fussed-over and less time-sensitive. I let readers know in AFG (where you are now) when I’ve posted there. Also, for those who like quotations, “He Said/She Said” is a growing compendium of wisdom, argument or fun from other minds than mine.

Thanks! Share what you like with friends, and anything you don’t like by emailing .

Comments (3)

  1. I understand and can commiserate. I still miss China. I admire your ability to write through the heartache. I think mine’s still a bit too broken to form words, but I’m gettin’ there. All the best to the fam!

  2. Pejman

    By C.P. Cavafy

    As you set out for Ithaka
    hope the voyage is a long one,
    full of adventure, full of discovery.
    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
    angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
    you’ll never find things like that on your way
    as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
    as long as a rare excitement
    stirs your spirit and your body.
    Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
    wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
    unless you bring them along inside your soul,
    unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

    Hope the voyage is a long one.
    May there be many a summer morning when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you come into harbors seen for the first time;
    may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
    to buy fine things,
    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    sensual perfume of every kind—
    as many sensual perfumes as you can;
    and may you visit many Egyptian cities
    to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

    Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
    Arriving there is what you are destined for.
    But do not hurry the journey at all.
    Better if it lasts for years,
    so you are old by the time you reach the island,
    wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

    Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
    Without her you would not have set out.
    She has nothing left to give you now.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

    • Gorgeous! Poetry and the Odyssey in some poor blogger’s Comment section! I am humbled and moved by this, and by especially *this*: “as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, / as long as a rare excitement
      stirs your spirit and your body…” These are my aspirations, ennobled and poeticized. Thanks are inadequate but nonetheless gratefully given to The Mysterious Mr. Pejman.

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