Sunday, November 8, 2009

Back In Action

Now that my internet is functioning, sort of, it's time for an honest-to-goodness update. Things are going well here! I had a very busy week, full of teaching and learning and not sleeping and watching "Rosemary's Baby" over and over. I love that movie. Also, it was my wonderful papa's birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Robert Jay/J. Glass! (The famous Jay/J. controversy - just a little family inside joke). I miss you lots and I hope you had a beautiful day.

Some points of interest from my week:

SPEAKING PARTNERS: I had a second session with my lovely speaking partner, who I will call Anne. She's very smart and I felt badly because halfway through the English part of our session, she asked me to speak faster. I tend to fall into two modes of speaking, Normal Speaking and Teacher Speaking - and since I have freshmen, my Teacher Speaking mode is very slow and very articulate. But Anne is a junior, and she's really intelligent, and therefore doesn't need my drawn out, over-enunciated Teacher Mode of speech. Some interesting facts: she watches Gossip Girl to improve her English (I felt compelled to tell her that the show does not even closely resemble reality), she has a boyfriend, takes yoga once a week, and is a member of the Communist Party. It turns out Party membership is very competitive, and as an undergraduate you have to be at the top of your class to even be considered. At that point, a teacher has to recommend you, and other party members must vouch for you. I just assumed that membership was either open or even mandatory, so I found this to be very interesting.

QUIET WEEKEND: Jessica and Tae are both in Shanghai/Hangzhou this weekend on a traveling jaunt, which left Chris and I to our own devices this weekend. It was actually somewhat of a relief - our weekends are often a little too high-octane for me, plus we'll be going to Beijing next weekend. So I just relaxed and took care of some business, and Chris and I got dinner at the Xinjiang restaurant and watched "No Country For Old Men." I thought I would understand that movie on the second go-around, I like it for the atmosphere and the acting, but I can't say I totally get it. Chris and I started to talk about it, but I was distracted by the fact that I had to go to the bathroom every five seconds. Which leads to...

BLADDER INFECTION? I think I have a bladder infection. Or a UTI or whatever. I tried to hunt down some cranberry juice today, as I think that usually solves the problem, but it turns out Chinese stores don't carry it. Sure, they carry plum juice and blackberry juice and pear juice and jujube juice, but cranberry juice was nowhere to be found. I schlepped down to Trust Mart, but they didn't have it either. Frustrated, I left the store, and passed a little pharmacy-type place. I decided to give it a go, and asked for cranberry pills or something of the sort. She handed me blueberry pills, gesturing to my eyes. "眼腈?" No, no. "小便," I said, which means "to pee." She didn't understand that, so I awkwardly said in Chinese, "我想去厕所, 可是 我不能" which roughly means, "I want to go to the bathroom, but I can't." Or more likely, "I want to visit the restroom, but I can't." There was a glimmer of understanding in her eyes. She asked me if it was for men or women. "Women!" I said joyfully. Then they handed me a bottle of imported New Zealand cranberry pills that were so unbelievably expensive that I can't even tell you the price. Because I bought them. Because I decided that peace of mind was worth every penny. I just hope they work. Because tomorrow I have to teach my...

STUDENTS! I continue to love my students, while mixing up their names and being a generally disorganized teacher. Why do I love them? Because they say things like, "Martin Luther King once said, 'I had a dream.' And today, I too have a dream" when talking about the possibility of co-ed dormitories. Because they describe the experience of listening to the Backstreet Boys as magical and life-changing. Because they express genuine concern for me if I am sick, and sometimes laugh at my jokes. Because, for the most part, they are very smart and hardworking and sweet. Perhaps my feelings towards them will change in the coming months, but I'm going to enjoy this honeymoon period while it lasts.

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