oscillations and observations.

Baked beans, bananas, dark chocolate (of course) and one dirty old potato. I reach behind for my bag and catch sight of something rather creepy. A chicken claw peeking out of a plastic bag. The pointed nails curling in my direction. I shouldn’t be surprised really. They just loveee chicken claws over here. But still. To see one gripping onto the edge of a shopping bag is enough to make me squirm and laugh in equal measures. As a new-born veggie, I’m prone to squirming at the sight of any meat (even when I ate meat I couldn’t face it, hypocritical…yes) but chicken claws. Come on folks. What could ever be appetising about nibbling on some poor chickens foot. I once ordered chicken soup, back on one sickly winters day. I did not expect to find chicken feet floating beneath the murky surface, and yet that is precisely what lay beneath. I quickly fished them out and prayed no fingernails lurked beyond.

This is just one of many observations I made today that reminded me where I am and that no Siobhan, this is not home sweet home. It’s not like I needed the reality check, I mean I’m bombarded with the evidence daily, but well sometimes I daydream and quite frankly, could be anywhere. Well not today. Today I was definitely in good old China. And to put it simply, my opinions on that subject change as often as my daily food intolerances. Which would be alot.

An elevator door closes ON me as I enter. The old lady inside simply couldn’t care less. I pass little boys with shaven heads and spiky fringes, the latest fashion trend?! They carry guns. Toy guns. But nonetheless, guns. They fire them at a nearby crying girl, who huffs and puffs and continues sipping her milk.

As I get off the metro I squeeze my way through the crowds, dodging the oncoming traffic and puffs of smoke, which always, without a doubt, will float in my direction. By the time I reach the dinosaur park my chest feels as tight as if I’d just puffed my way through a whole pack in the time it took me to scramble away from the hundreds of electric bicycle men who, everyday, will try and intertwine along my path, hoping, but never succeeding in getting me to pay them to scoot me the ten minute walk to work.

I dodge spit, smoke, girls that hiss (really a girl hissed at me one time, just like a snake, I swear her eyes burned red, and I hadn’t even crossed her path), bicycles that like to pretend to run me over. Eventually I reach my destination and then I get the pleasure of queuing up behind approximately 50 people, just so I can ride the elevator, clock in before 8.44am, and successfully be on time.

But hey, I made the decision to come here?! And even if it’s not as comfortable as home, it sure makes for an interesting journey.

space girl in a dinosaur research laboratory.

Just another Thursday afternoon in the office, editing a brainy bubbly bug script when an incoming call shakes my desk. ‘Do not say ‘yes’ if a guy comes in and asks you to try on a skimpy space girl costume’ ummm….OK? Laughed at, processed, moved on. 1minute until clock-out time, when who appears, but Mr.Please try on my skimpy space-suit. I’m told it’s for a film. Yes, I’ll come try it on. Off I go to the executive suite, critical glances at my size, my shape, my face. The Chinese space girl is told she’s too fat. Yes, that’s right. So I take her place. Sometimes this country is too honest. I have to squeeze into this miniature silver space dress. On any other girl it would cover the bum, thighs etc. You can imagine. Powder brushes, pink shiny lipsticks, high ponytails, silky black gloves and boot-socks. Being whisked off to some superior office filled with business men and video cameras and curious glances. Given the ‘yes’ we’ll use you look by the floppy-haired,cap-wearing director. Then shuffling down the corridor at top speed, using both hands to cover my behind from being on full-view to the ushers snailing behind me up the winding, smoky staircases.

Friday arrives and I’m squeezed into the back of a car with make-up girls and P.A’s and scripts. We drive through endlessly, slow tunnels of pitch black, in and out of dreams, finally waking up in an industrial zone, the film studios. We hurry up the paint-fumed stairs, given black bin bags to wear on our feet. My mask is painted on, adorned with silver blue eyeshadow and again, a high ponytail. I scramble through the words in my head, stepping into the spotlight. 3D glasses covering half my face, staring into the camera against a backdrop of bright green. Take 4. Pass. Done. Jumps of excitment and scrambled lines of flurry finished. They’ll be dubbed over in Chinese anyway. All that will remain will be my silver face and expressive enthusiasm. I think.

3D film complete. A daze of Indian feasting and ‘The Way’ and white Chinese wine. Snuggles, then an early morning call. Please can you come back to the studio for another film shoot. SURE. Sunday morning comes around and off I traipse to the basement of work. This time took longer. This time was hard work. This time I was suspended in mid-air on a shaking, moving platform, which I had to be attached to (for safety reasons) by a harness. Flying through space, being laughed at by audiences, feeding new-born baby dinosaurs fresh from a cracked egg, being chased by a big daddy dinosaur and screaming whilst covering my head with my notebook. All in a day’s work right?! Hairspray sticky hair, a strange blue-almost airhostess-like scarf tied around my neck, flying on this shaking rotating mechanism, as you do, all the while grinning and giggling at baby dinosaurs being born.

Well, if this isn’t food for the imagination, I don’t know what is!

emergence from the cartoon chrysalis.

The 1st of January. A cinnamon smelling cafe in glitzy Hong Kong, waiting patiently for sleepy friends to awaken, I vowed I would write every single day this year. We all know that didn’t happen, but enough of broken written promises…time to make up for lost words and creations…I have been embarking on a new journey and it has been wonderful so far. A new year, a new beginning, right? I packed up my ballet shoes, a stolen pink sparkly bow, a ‘fame’ mix-c.d and skidaddled out of my colourful kids’ gallery. A few last squeezes from Cola, Cherry and my other mini allsorts and off I went.

Sometimes you just have to follow your dreams. Even if it means giving up on something else that is oh so lovely. I would really regret it if I hadn’t jumped at this chance as it has brought so many amazing opportunities in such a short time. I am now a cartoon. A cartoon voice actor to be precise. And let me tell you, it is FUN! If I think back to the days when I was a little menace watching my cartoons, I always stared and listened in awe at the cute little voices coming out of these colourful images. How on earth can I grow up to be one of these? Well, by finding an advert online and going for an audition and getting the job, that’s how.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy decision. Ask anyone who had the pleasure of listening to me debate it night and day. During my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia (stories of that special time coming soon) I changed my mind daily. Apologies Emma. But on one particularly chilly Thursday night/ Friday morning, I awoke and sitting bolt upright, I decided. I must take this job. I must become a cartoon. And voila. Here I am, sitting in my futuristic glass-pod/studio bedroom in my ultra-cool 15th floor apartment, complete with a rain shower and a purple velvet chez-longue, feeling pretty happy that my inner-cartoon wannabe pushed me to do this. Maybe all along I was going to take it, but I thought about it long enough that’s for sure.

I should inform you, whoever you are, that I now live in Shenzhen, the baby of China. She is a young city. More on that later.

Cliched this may be, but in Guangzhou I was just crawling around, just like a squidgy pea-green caterpillar, waiting, waiting for something to happen. Moving to Shenzhen, becoming a cartoon, has been quite a transformation for me. I feel free. I really do. Well as free as one can possibly feel living in good old China ;)

But me and Guangzhou are still good friends. We left on a good note. From strawberry fields with baskets upon heads, to crazy K.T.V sessions, to nibbling yummy vegetables in little water villages, we had a jolly old time. And of course I will return there often. Guangzhou will always be my China ‘home.’ That old charming city will never fail to charm me back. His winding alleys of pottery-cladden figurines, star-shaped rice served with a ‘you should speak Chinese all the time’ smile, to his delicious memories of love and brownies and blue fish and ska and rainbow towers.

For now though, it’s time to proceed and make a new relationship, one with this little baby city. As she grows, her hidden gems will reveal themselves and slowly but surely, she will become just as cultured as her big brother, Guangzhou.

So far, so good Shenzhen.