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.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Lay the egg quickly!

As far as I ever experienced, textoing (sending short messages) has never been popular in the United States. I’m sure it’s because calling people is just so inexpensive in the United States that there is no point spending all that time keying in a short message when otherwise all you have to do is press the dial button. It is in this fact that the US is quite unique. In all the other countries I’ve ever experienced (with perhaps the exception of Canada?), textoing is an essential part of everyday life. However, it’s the Chinese who have taken the texto to a new level.

I need to count how many SMS’s I send in one day, but I’m sure that I probably average somewhere around 30-50—it’s like all I do all day (besides teaching that is!). I think it’s partially a function of the fact that, for some reason, voice messaging is unheard of in China. If you call somebody and they don’t answer, the only way to leave a message is via text.

Because of this prevalence of textos everywhere, I feel like the Chinese have refined them to an art and even a cultural practice. Never before have I gotten so many messages to remind me that the weather is getting colder (which it is—reached 0 degrees Celsius on Thursday morning), and so I should “多穿衣服,” which means to “wear more clothes.”

Also, on every holiday, the number of messages sent seems to jump exponentially. Everybody must wish everybody else a happy Mid-Autumn festival, a thoughtful Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, etc. Of course, they don’t just send simple messages like “Merry Christmas.” Rather, I often get elaborate poems, or riddles, or jokes that I have difficulty following. They then get sent around from one person to the next, and so you end up with the same message from about five to ten people. My favorite Christmas one so far is as follows:


And here we go having to translate things again. I’ve mentioned before that I think translation is stupid, and that humor doesn’t usually translate well before, right? If not, consider yourself warned.

“Christmas day is almost here. Remember to hang a stocking on your headboard. That way, I’m sure that Santa Claus (literally Old Christmas Person) will give you a male chicken and a female chicken. This is because the male chicken will say “Lay an egg! Lay an egg!” while the hen will say “Hold your horses! Hold your horses!” I wish you a speedy egg.”

“What in the?!” you might be asking yourself right about now. But the reason this makes any sense at all is that, in Chinese, Christmas is “圣诞节,” pronounced “shèngdànjīe.” To lay an egg is “生蛋,” pronounced “shēngdàn.” To say the equivalent of “Happy [name of holiday]” in Chinese, one would simply add a “快乐”(kuaile), which literally means “fast happy” at the end. So, to say Merry Christmas, one would say “圣诞快乐,” pronounced (shengdankuaile). The confusion here lies in the fact that “快了” (note that the second character is different) means something like quickly, speedy, or something is about to happen soon.

And so, in a show of respect for Chinese puns, let me wish that everybody can lay an egg quickly!


Sunday, December 18, 2005


It was destined. The first time that my friend played this song for me, the only thing I could think was, “Oy, turn it off! It’s only the beginning of November, Christmas season won’t start for a while.”

“This song might have reference to Christmas,” my friend argued, “but that’s not what it’s about. Listen to the lyrics!”

And so I did, and so I have, and so it has become the song that, ironically enough, has come to epitomize this Christmas season for me. And so I share it with you all: “圣诞节,” or “Christmas.”

If you care to listen to the song, you can do so here.

#Merry, merry Christmas
Lonely, lonely Christmas
Lonely, lonely Christmas
Merry, merry Christmas
repeat *#
repeat ##

Which, since it is the lyrics that I want to share with you all, would translate as follows (note, this is my translation, and therefore might be inaccurate. I still don’t have lots and lots of practice with translating Chinese to English. If any of you Chinese speakers out there who read my blog—yes, I know you’re out there—want to offer any suggestions, please do. I’m especially confused by the “眼眶的泪温热冻结望著电视里的无聊节目” line.):

It never snows in the city I live in.
However, I can’t remember ever feeling so cold.
I miss the neon and crowds of people swept along the street by the busy season,
Taking happiness far away.

*Lovers who suddenly find themselves alone are most scared of holidays.
They can only celebrate alone by getting as drunk as possible.
Of all of the people I’ve loved, not one remains by my side.
Only loneliness accompanies me tonight.

#Merry, merry Christmas,
Lonely, lonely Christmas.
To whom can I send the Christmas cards I’ve written?
A heart shattered like the scraps of paper on the street.

I’m not answering the phone so that others won’t realize that I’ve spent the whole night locked in my room.
A gush of laughter sounds like grief’s music.
The warm tears streaming from my eyes are frozen by the senseless TV program.
I’m paralyzed on the sofa having become a non-feeling plant.

Who will come celebrate Christmas with me?

Now, having shared that, please don’t worry about me. Holidays are always the hardest time of the year when living abroad. One finds oneself in a battle of cultures where, even if there is some understanding of the fact that this is an important time of the year to most Westerners, life is supposed to continue like normal. Classes this week. Finals next. We must wait for Chinese New Year to truly celebrate.

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