Monday, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
November 10, 2009
The other day, I was riding the bus to work and I saw the cutest thing. Three old ladies bounced onto the bus, literally. They were laughing and giggling like school girls. They climbed into the front seats which left their feet dangling in the air. So imagine please, 3 seventy+ yrs old ladies, feet swinging because they are too short to reach the floor, giggling and whispering like 13 year olds. I thought about how long they must have known each other and all the memories they must have shared to be that close after all this time. In China it is very common to see young girls walking arm in arm down the street even 4 or 5 at a time. I imagined how long they have spent walking together arm in arm, through marriages, children, grandchildren, sickness, deaths, etc. It is a special thing to have friendships like they appeared to have. I treasure mine. Even though I may not be near enough to walk with them arm in arm or laugh and giggle together, in my heart we are together every day. I miss you Milissa, Rayna and Sharon!!!
This is an expression I learned today. It means looking for something which is right under your nose. It translates as 'Riding the horse to find the horse'. In America we say, ‘If it had been a snake, it would have bit you’(In the South, anyway). Today two of my students' parents took me to lunch and then dropped me off at a donut shop (Dona Donuts- a knock-off of...what? ) and here I sit. The donuts, by the way, are not why I came, they are not very good. The place has WiFi and is usually not crowded. Anyway, I had been hunting for my sunglasses all morning and suddenly in the car, the kids started playing with my hat and I grabbed it. Guess where I found my glasses? If it had been a snake, it would have bit me! 骑马找马！哎呀！！AIYA!!
By this time you have probably read Frank’s account of our field trip so I won’t have anything new to add except pictures. Our school took us on a free field trip to a local lakeside park. We had the opportunity to spend all day talking to people in almost complete Chinese. I don’t think I have spoken that much Chinese in one day since we arrived. The weather was perfect and I did not dress for it. I was bundled up in a sweater and hat with handwarmers just in case and ended up cooking in all of it. One of the students brought a Frisbee and we played in the recently watered, muddy grass and somehow managed not to slip. I thought for sure, I would be the one but, for once, I escaped with only muddy hands. They had a lunch set out for us of barbecue stuff on a stick. We are pros at cooking outside, thank you mom and dad and so our lunch was soon underway. We got a kick out of watching other tables’ lunch go up in smoke or burst into flames. Maybe we should have helped but it was more fun to watch other foreigners offer to help only to make things worse. The only item we were hesitant to try was the “hot dogs”. Let me rephrase that, I refused to try them because been there done that, and sweet weird tasting hot dogs on a stick just ain’t my thang! Frank, the least adventurous eater of us all, was the one who learned the hard way. One bite was all it took and into the trash it went. Our teacher was surprised. “This is American food. We never had hot dogs in China before the western influence.” We had to explain that like many western things China tries to imitate, it lacks a certain….westerness. The only western thing about them was their shape. After lunch we all retired to a huge field where some played soccer, threw the Frisbee or participated in silly games. I got the highest student record in the chopstick ball bearing game. Pick up as many ball bearings as you can with your chopsticks in one minute. I reached 24. The only person higher was a teacher, Chinese. Pretty cool! We also could write characters, identify measure words or answer Chinese riddles. Every time you won, you got a ticket and they could be used to buy prizes. My teachers huddled around me and even though I had no clue what some of the answers were, they would tell me so I could get more tickets. Mind you, I was doing pretty good on my own but they were having more fun trying to get me as many tickets as possible. There was an enormous teddy bear that was 35 tickets which I was getting close to but didn’t want. Want am I going to do with a 3ft tall dust magnet? They really wanted me to get it though. It felt weird to take their tickets when I didn’t win them so in the end I split them with a friend and we both got a smaller teddy bear and a bunch of little things. We spent all day at the park, enjoying the sun. I even got some crocheting done. It was very relaxing. For dinner they took us to a large restaurant that served farmer’s fare which is, we discovered, what we have been eating regularly since we moved here. On one wall was an enormous picture of Mao. The food kept coming and we ate until we could eat no more. This may have been the only field trip I have ever been on where I actually learned something.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We went to a western restaurant for dinner last tonight. We ate Chinese food, ironic. I t was really good, but the interesting part was watching them load up food in a van for a catered party. The servers brought out plated dishes and just set them inside the back of the van. No saran wrap, no chafing dishes, just the plates of food on the floor of the van. One wrong turn and the family dog will be eating very well tonight. How Chinese.
We are starting to get into a routine now and I find it hard to have time for myself. We have class until 12 every day. Mon. and Thurs. I work after lunch and then Saturday and Sunday as well. Somewhere in there, I have to buy groceries, clean house, study and prepare for all the classes, do my own personal study regime, practice Chinese out and about, do laundry and so on. I feel the weeks flying past me and I often can’t remember what day it is. Today, Frank was sick so we canceled our plans for the day. I came home after work and cleaned house and did laundry, without getting shocked. Yeah, that’s still not fixed. By the time I finished, it was time to go to dinner and I just got back in a little while ago. I don’t feel overly exhausted, just confused often, as if I were spinning with a blindfold on. I have a calendar in my bag , and one on my phone. Any other suggestions for better organizational habits? I really enjoy my classes, the ones I teach and the one I learn from. Because of my progress with the language, my courage has grown and I find myself talking to strangers more often, without waiting for them to speak first.
I took a different bus the other day, just to see where it went. An hour later, it still hadn’t pulled into a main terminal. I got off at what I thought was a hotel to find a restroom. It turned out to be an ornate mall just for watches. That is to say, there were two floors, glossy tile floors, an immense chandelier hanging down two stories and in every shop, there were watches. Imported watches, Chinese watches, all expensive. There were no other customers. The bathrooms all had western toilets which was a pleasant surprise, and very clean too. (This is very important to us here). The place was fancier than a five star hotel and only the guards, janitors and salesgirls were enjoying it. I have never seen that much attention given to a watch.