Friday, September 01, 2006

What am I doing again?

Culture shock. I guess it's starting to hit me now, but not what most people think of when they hear "culture shock". The fascination stage is over and I've moved into the sinking stage - looking around and shrugging apathetically. I'm starting to think "Why exactly am I here?", and that's not a good thing.

I'm glad that Duncan and I are going to check out tai chi quan on Monday. I need to feel a sense of actually being here, imbedding myself for the next 7 months. I can't do that by simply teaching because I'm surrounded by the English language, other foreign teachers and an environment that is not very Chinese. This gives me a strange "half in, half out" sensation; I'm in China but not reaping the benefits of that.

Part of it is that I haven't been anywhere: Beijing, Qinhuangdao, or Tianjin. I will try to go with Michelle the next time she heads to Beijing, and hopefully Alistair and I hit Qinhuangdao (chin'juan'dao) before the summer weather fades, as it's by the sea.

I just need to step out of this shell and do things. Tang Shan isn't exactly the place to be, but it is a great access point to many neat areas nearby. Seeing Nan Hou (the park) was nice, and I need more outtings like that. I should go check out the mini-mountain to the north of the school at some point, maybe on a day with less humidity and a breeze. It's quite a climb. It would give me a sense of doing something different.

Anyway... I need to dispel this feeling of waiting. To do so, I have to be doing. Most of this bleh sentiment comes from the fact that I arrived in a busy period, and now things have slacked off and I have no clue what to do with myself. I have a few classes during the weekdays, and a few at the weekends, but I'm not doing 30 hours a week at this point. Closer to 15-18. If I can't fill in that time with activities or hobbies outside of my apartment, I will slip quickly into a rut and that's what I came here to escape.

Rant over. Time to plan for my VIP this evening. Maybe I'm just having a crap day.


Alright, so the day ended on good notes. My VIP was cool. I have never seen someone so enthusiastic. He wasn't reserved at all, which is what ought to be expected. Most VIPs don't want to talk; they want you to do all the talking while they nod or give one-word responses. This guy stood when I came in, greeted me as best he could, and for the rest of the lesson he said everything I said, trying to assimilate it. He learned quite quickly, and it was neat to watch him scrawl English words on the scrap sheet I gave him. He'd think in Chinese, then write the word in English on the sheet and try to communicate what he meant. He absorbed quite a bit, and would follow me to the board if I was trying to draw something or explain an idea/concept. He just amazed me. Though his skill is considered Basic, his earnestness and willingness to progress was staggering. He just rejuvenated my own enthusiasm and overall regard for the human spirit.

Then I had a funny/cute bus incident on the way home. I was standing near the rear door, as per usual (I'd rather stand than sit), and a seat opened, so I said "Ni hao?" to a young woman standing near me and gestured to it. She shook her head vigorously and said "No, you" (or maybe "thank you") and pointed to it. I laughed and said, "Bu, bu. Ni." and pointed to it again. She went bright red and again waved her hands at it for me to sit. Well, she went as red as she could, I guess. So neither of us sat. Then the seat behind it opened up and she looked at me and grinned shyly. She continued to track me for the rest of the bus-ride, staring quickly away when I caught her doing it, and smiled when I got off. I gave a nod and a wave, and off I went. It was just one of those moments when everyone around you loses that faceless quality and I could see the individuals. See the trees for all the forest, per se.

Strange what a difference a few hours makes.

WTF?! Kelly just sent me this! Words can't describe.


PG said...

LOL! OK, before I comment on your post, I MUST comment on... NEUTICLES!

What a load of crap! OK, I had my dog neutered. If you're not planning to breed your dog, it's the only responsible thing to do. Otherwise, in an urban setting, doggie eventually gets out (when in heat, a dog's IQ jumps to Genius level when it comes to escape & evasion) to have a little fun, and your dog ends up getting someone else's pregnant (and they are not picky about breed, so pitty the chihuaha who encounters a Great Dane...).

Anyhow, my point is that the dog doesn't care about fake testies, the owner does! Macho men cringe at the thought of losing their own testies (OK, I cringe at the thought too... ouch), and want their dogs to look, what? manly? The point is, by neutering them, your are cutting off the production of hormones and altering their personality. Slapping in some fake balls ain't gonna change the ugly truth!!!!

Ahhhhhhhhhh... OK, rant over....


PG said...

And now, back from the intermission...

Well, I am glad you are not letting yourself settle into a rut. You are absolutely right. It's easy to go anywhere and to let yourself stick to the "boulot-metro-dodo" routine... (that's a french saying for work, bus & sleep), and end up never discovering anything about the place you lived in. That's true about moving to a new city or province in Canada, or to another country. Some military folks are really good at that.

I hope you get to see more trees, less forest, and get to discover a bunch of awesome places and people in China.

Loved the pictures of the garden. Keep posting more!!!!


Wayward Mind said...

Yeah, I just need to plan more things into my life. There are a few things in Tang Shan I still want to see, and many places I will see in the next 8 weeks, especially if Steve and Nika visit and we roam Beijing and west of Beijing to the Hanging Temple and Yungang Caves.

Winter may be a bit sucky for trips to places, but hopefully I'll well into doing tai ji quan and taking Chinese lessons. Maybe even learning the zheng, a Chinese lap harp. It's the instrument the blind guy is playing in Hero, in the chess house.

The Devine Mrs. B said...

Kelly on Neuticles: I think Neuticles are for owners of dogs to feel better about what they've done. Dogs don't seem to have self esteem, so likely they don't identify themselves by the size, or existence of their nuts. Certainly there's no Cosmo for dogs detailing the ideal size, fur coverage, hang and swing ratio etc. IF neuticles are the only thing that could convince an owner to neuter their dog I think it's OK, but really, it's more for the owner than the dog. My dog (the best dog in the world) Dexter was neutered on Thursday and seems to be completely fine. He doesn't seem to miss his nads, and is the same goofy, energetic klutz he was on Wednesday. 100% Neuticle free (although I had to veto my husbands request on this :-)

Kelly on Patrice: Keep bloggin! I love the posts!

Wayward Mind said...

Werd. The neuticles thing is still just weird, though. I mean what the hell? Fake testicles for canines... I just can't get over that idea. I bet Andrew wanted them for Dexter so he could say that his dog had fake nads. It's like buying some oddball gadget: it's for the prestige of simply having it and causing conversation. :)

Of course I'll keep posting! I find it very therapeutic to put all this stuff down and share it with the people I miss. It also means I don't have to email the same thing 100 times, and if people want to be bothered to know what/how I'm doing, they can do so of their own volition.