This morning I went over to meet with one of the dancing men and give him some American music. Unfortunately, the only song he ended up copying to his computer was “Midnight to Moonlight” (thanks Dad!), because all the music I brought is “not clear enough”, covering the beats sometimes. I’m still really glad I went, though, because I got to talk to him about music and dancing. Also, apparently he goes dancing somewhere on Monday nights and offered to take us sometime . . .
This evening I forced myself to go out for dinner; the weather is still cold and rainy and it is entirely too easy to stay inside. I went to Baicheng (the gate nearest to my dorm) and got on the first bus that came by. As I was wondering what exciting places it would take me to, I realized it was pulling into Nanputuo – its terminus. I had just paid 1 kuai for a ride around my campus . . . fail. I tried again, ending up somewhere (still haven’t figured out exactly where) where I ate some delicious Sichuan iron-skillet beef.
While I was walking around looking for the nearest bus stop, I saw something that struck me as very odd. After thinking about it for a second, it struck me as odd that it struck me as odd. What was it? A Hummer. I mean, it seems like a quarter of TU students own them, but I certainly had not seen one since coming to China. It looked so ridiculously large, but then again, most personal cars do, now! I’ve definitely become accustomed to my living situation here in China, and when I remember that I – at 20 years of age – purchased my very own car, it seems downright crazy. Then again, the idea of public transportation that can get me anywhere on my island for 14 cents a pop seems crazy when you’re living in America . . .
On the way back from a trip that featured a complete lack of interactions in Chinese, the bus driver started talking to me. The first couple questions are always easy to handle; even if I don’t catch a single word, I usually just answer “America”, assuming that they asked where I’m from.
Unfortunately, beyond the cursory introductions I didn’t catch much. I know that we talked about black people (although I don’t know why he brought it up) and managed to agree that Obama is China right now. That was about it . . . Unfortunately, while everyday Chinese people are very interesting to me and, generally, interested in me, it’s very difficult for me to talk to them. Between dialects and accents, I just 听不懂 (listen but don’t understand).
I know I’ve already expressed my unhappiness over the weather, but it’s seriously cramping my style. I had been excited about the Leonides meteor shower for over a week now, but it’s just not happening. It was supposed to be really big this year, especially in Asia, and I just happen to live by a beach . . . but the sky is totally covered in clouds. So. Lame.
There is some silver lining in my cloudy day, though. I emailed Deacon Joseph and heard back from about the trip to Shanghai for his ordination – I can go!! They’re leaving on Thursday the 3rd, doing some pilgrimage to some mountain on Friday the 4th and coming back on Saturday the 5th after the ordination. I’m going to try to stay a few more days to make the trip more worth my time and money, and I’m really excited about it all!
I’m up too late tonight. I’m still trying to fill in the gaps in my vocabulary created when I skipped ahead a semester, which is taking quite a bit of time – we’re talking probably 500 words here! It’s an interesting position to be in, though, looking back at such a large selection of vocabulary to study on my own. There are some words that are definitely important and I need to learn, but there are also a lot of very specialized words that were probably quizzed on once and certainly won’t be on the final.
So, basically, I get to pick and choose. This is such a unique opportunity! I am literally creating my own vocabulary, choosing the words I will be able to use when interacting with Chinese people. If I’m not interested in a word and don’t think it’s worth my time, I don’t have to learn it. If I don’t want to get into a conversation about a certain topic, I can facilitate that by willfully not knowing the applicable vocabulary. It’s certainly harder to do this in your native tongue, but I’m enjoying this opportunity to control my tongue. Language is so powerful!