A spinoff in proper "Rhoda" style of my patented e-mail blastograms, this blog was created with the intention of keeping friends and family updated on and amused by my life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thought for the Day

Ohio's official state beverage (yeah, I didn't know there was such a thing either) is: tomato juice.


Queueing it Up

My friend Afton, who just recently left the fair country of China to pursue interests in the middle of nowhere US just sent me this very interesting NY Times article on queueing in the newly opened Disneyland Hong Kong. Who knew that the Chinese actually knew how to line up. I know I'm amazed!

The Ultimate Body Language: How You Line Up for Mickey


Monday, September 19, 2005

Fêtes galore

Well, it’s been almost two weeks since my last post, and it therefore time to try it again. The main theme this time: celebrations, for these past couple weeks seem to have been full of them.

I guess it all started on my birthday (which was the seventh, FYI), which started out less than exciting, but ended quite well. As it was a Wednesday this year, I had to go out to YangPu (the far away campus) to teach from 8:30-12:30. This meant being on the 7:30AM bus…meh. While teaching, it started raining quite heavily, and it hadn’t let up by the time class was over. Having accidentally left my umbrella in a different classroom on the main campus the day prior, I had to walk about 10 minutes through the rain to get to the cafeteria sans umbrella (though with big head…sorry, reference is to a Chinese nursery rhyme). At said cafeteria, the server proceeded to drop my lunch, although he quickly apologized and got it for me again.

The evening, although getting off to a rough start, proved much better. After the restaurant at which I wanted to dine couldn’t guarantee us a reservation, before I taught my afternoon class, I went to a restaurant near my home and was able to reserve a whole room for the 23ish of us. The Chinese banquet we had there was exquisite, and I quite enjoyed myself. I’m not usually in the position to have a large group of friends together for my birthday, as I’m usually just arriving in a new place, so I was really quite happy. After that, it was out to our local pub (the Speakeasy), and to top off the evening, a trip to Windsor for some hardcore karaokeing until the wee hours of the morning. All in all, a good birthday.

The tenth was Teachers Day in China, which would have been nice, except not a single one of my students even wished me a happy teachers’ day…We did have dinner over at a friend/other teacher’s house, so we did at least celebrate appropriately amongst ourselves.

The eleventh was our next opportunity for celebration. That morning I woke up and turned on the TV only to find that about 75% of the stations were covering a THREE HOUR speech given by Hu Jintao in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the War Against Japanese Aggression (AKA, WWII). I watched some of it, finding the dramatics interesting. My favorite part: an elderly, uniform-clad man sitting in the audience with his fist on firmly planted on table in front of him and visibly asleep.

That evening was also another of my friends, Jen’s, birthday. Sucky day for a birthday, ay? Anyway, we went out to a Portuguese restaurant in Kundu (the party area) of town, and drama aside, had a good time. Being us, we then went to a club in the area called Top One, and again, rounded out the evening with a trip to the karaoke joint. We’re so predictable.

And most recently, the eighteenth this year was one of the two major holidays in China—the Mid-Autumn Festival. The day started at 10AM with about 10 straight minutes of air raid sirens. I might have been worried except that I had read an announcement posted at the entry gate to our apartment building saying that we would be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the end of the War Against Japanese Aggression again this week with a minute of silence... How Chinese is it that the minute of silence was punctuated by screeching sirens? At the very least, they managed to make sure everybody was up at the time.

As you might know or be able to guess, the moon plays an important role in celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival which is also known as the Moon Festival. Thus, I didn’t do much anything exciting until the evening. Normally, if I were actually Chinese, I’d be headed to a family meal (much like the way we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US), but as I’m not actually Chinese (you’re surprised, aren’t you?), we ended up just having dinner with some Chinese friends, and then walking around Cuihu (Green Lake) park accompanied by 小熊 (Maurice, my dog). It was über crowded even though the pervading clouds obscured the moon for most of the evening. Luckily, there were enough little electronic lanterns playing “Happy birthday” that we could find our way through the night…

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I’m Alive, I Swear!

Okay, so the last time I posted I was sitting in my dad’s car at a Seattle ferry terminal using my brand new wireless connection to post. This time I’m sitting in Chapter One, a cafe below my house in Kunming listening to “Tragedy” by the Bee Gees(?) and other disco favorites and posting yet again. I can’t believe it’s been so long!

To recap briefly, my last month or so has been good, if not crazy/busy (are we noticing a trend). Shortly after my last post I went to some Whitman friends’ wedding reception on the beautiful island of Bainbridge. It was great times and I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in quite some time. But my grand US adventure did not end there, oh no. In fact, it was only beginning.

After spending several days on Bainbridge, seeing a David Gray concert in Seattle with my sister in the meanwhile, I traveled in a whirlwind-like fashion down to Portland, Coos Bay (which is almost in California for reference), Philomath (podunkier than Walla Walla and Greeley combined), and back to Portland. Again, I spent lots of good times with friends and family, ate and drank too much. After that, it was a race up to Seattle to pick my dad up at the airport, which I even managed to do on time :o). After several good days in Seattle, including some Salsa-ing, it was up for a quick visit to Mt. Vernon and beyond, passing through the US/Canada border sans problème/without any problem.

The Vancouver to Beijing flight went pretty well, and I was even able to sleep (which is abnormal for me on planes, although I can do it basically every where else you’ve ever wanted to—just as I’m about to fall asleep I always feel like I’m falling). As Air China has wont to do, my bags arrived about an hour after touchdown in Beijing broken…at least it gave me something to take care of during my four hour layover there.

I arrived in Kunming to the sight of my two new roommates for the year: Chris and Andrew. Both of them are Whitties over here on the same program I was on last year. When we pulled (almost) up to our apartment, I discovered a 文林街 (WenLin Jie, or Culture Forest street) with less Wen and even less Lin—it is currently undergoing a major overall/widening. So, trudging up a dirt path that looked like it could be in the middle of nowhere rather than the middle of a city, I arrived home.

And boy has the construction been fun…or something. Andrew was busy buying furniture for the first few days he was here, and as if carrying a wardrobe up 8 flights of stairs isn’t difficult enough, getting it through the construction site was. It took four of us to carry it over a pile of small stones, down a small dirt path bordered by none other than the troughs they were digging to put in new sewage lines, over a manhole covered with a plank of plywood that we had to jump a foot down to get on and then finally inside. Talk about an obstacle course. But, as I like to say, if you’re not about to die while you’re in China, you must be doing something wrong.

Classes started last week, and have been going well so far. I’m taking Chinese classes in the morning (except for Mondays and Wednesdays when I teach at the campus 45 minutes out of town) and teach in the afternoons. Put all the hours together and it’s like having a full time job, and who does that?! But I really do enjoy my classes. I’m teaching American Culture and Society in addition to my English Composition and Oral English courses, so that’s really fun.

In the end, I’m happy I’m back. People have asked if I feel like I made the right decision to come back to Kunming, and all I can say is that I’m happy to be here. Does it mean I wouldn’t have been happy in Taiwan, absolutely not. But already knowing people makes life so much easier, and I do really like my apartment. So, what's there to complain about?