The best way (sometimes the only way) for me to stay awake during class is to eat. Recently the snack of choice has been these excellent orange gummy snacks that I found at the supermarket, but today I tried something new. A friend pointed out a different flavor of Oreos that I hadn’t tried before – Lightly Sweet. It’s so typical; America has Double-Stuffed Oreos and China, whose main sweetener is red bean paste, has Lightly Sweet Oreos. Anyway, the cream filling is almost identical to the original in texture, but has basically no flavor. The cookies, which are my favorite part, are still sweet, so I actually think they’re pretty good. I’m just a little hesitant because, while I know that pure sugar is not the most healthy thing to be eating, it might be better than the mysterious non-sweet pasty substance used in China’s Lightly Sweet Oreos.
After class, I went to finish my shopping. I first went to check out a new store by West Gate that was rumored to have large sizes – even for people as big as ME. I know, right? Anyway, this Meters/Bonwe place is amazing. They had nice-looking clothes, and even had the gargantuan sizes that I require. I bought a super cute jacket that was on sale for 60% and, even more incredibly, found a pair of pants that I fit into. This victory came as I tried on the third pair of successively larger pants, starting with one that she describes as “very big”. Seriously, China is enough to give anyone an eating disorder.
I didn’t find a cheaper or better-looking winter coat, so I went back to ZhongShan Lu for the one I had looked at yesterday. With so much of the leg work out of the way yesterday, today’s shopping was almost a joy. It was a freakishly beautiful day today – I believe we broke 70 F – so I really enjoyed the time outside walking. On the way back to campus, I further indulged by buying two more scarves at the shop by West Gate; their beautiful scarves, only10 kuai ($1.30) each, are definitely a guilty pleasure for me here.
This evening I was running late for dancing so I got chuar (barbecue, kind of) to-go. Two sticks of chicken, four quail eggs, and two sticks of potato slices, all cooked in spicy soup and heavily seasoned. I ate as I walked through my beautiful campus, sipping on warm milk tea with tapioca pearls, wearing my new warm winter coat and listening to Christmas music (I know, right?) – one of the best dinners I’ve had in China.
Dancing was fun, but I felt a little bit out of it. I found out today that the first of my ex-boyfriends is engaged, which makes me feel very old! I feel like time has stopped for me since I came to China, while it has continued ticking for everyone else. A lot of things contribute to this – the 13-hour time difference, the lack of familiar seasons, the foreign pattern of school semesters, etc. – and today it made me feel really melancholy. But then, as I was sitting on the couch feeling old, I looked out at my Chinese dancing friends, who were in fine form today – unusually social and friendly – and thought that maybe being old isn’t so bad after all.
After dancing, I had the pleasure of witnessing someone else getting set up with someone’s kid. Lester, my Filipino 帅哥 (good-looking older brother; hottie), is #1 on the potential son-in-law list of every Chinese woman in the dancing group. They were talking about one woman’s daughter, who conveniently is the same age as Lester, and quite obviously trying to set up a date for her with Lester. Lester’s Chinese isn’t as good as mine, though, so he just kept nodding in that way we foreigners do when we don’t understand what’s being said. Eventually I started acting as interpreter, to save him from getting into something that he didn’t want. The women are taking him out tomorrow and I’m not going to be there, so I told him to stay sober, not to sign anything, and listen closely for the words 女朋友 (girlfriend) and 老板 (spouse). Can’t wait to hear how that turns out!
I’ve spent much of the day packing and otherwise getting ready for Shanghai. I leave tomorrow morning and will be back sometime on Monday (they bought my tickets, so I’m not super clear on the details). Again, I won’t have my computer, so don’t expect any big blog posts. Please pray for my deacon, all others getting ordained this weekend, and all clergy throughout the world!