Today is absolutely the best day of the whole year (so far). I joined some friends in the morning to watch the Xiamen International Marathon, which is kind of a big deal. It’s kind of hard to find 26.2 miles on an island that’s 7 miles wide at most, so we didn’t have to walk far (just to Baicheng) to find the marathon. We walked along the route for a while and then picked a spot to watch for our friends. In addition to some friends who ran the 5k, 10k, and half-marathons, I knew a couple people running the full marathon. Jimmy (the Swede) did really well, finishing in under four hours, but I was almost as impressed by my friend Hu Jing (the female ME I met) who finished the whole thing!
Watching the marathon was fun because it’s a mixture of serious runners (competing for the 50,000 USD prize), XiaDa students who signed up together, and ancient Chinese who are just that awesome. Just to illustrate the range, I counted 5 guys running barefoot, 2 guys running backwards, and at least 4 running in jeans (including one in a dress shirt as well).
We stood and watched for about two hours, cheering for the runners (and eventually walkers) as they passed. The Chinese favor the simple approach to cheering, which consists of yelling 加油 (add oil) over and over ad nauseum. I joined them except for when foreigners passed and I yelled loudly in English. We were standing next to a group of Xiamen students who cheered for anyone wearing a XiaDa tag, yelling 厦大加油, and since I am also a XiaDa student, I decided to join them. Unfortunately, they figured I was just repeating after them and I had to listen to them laugh at the stupid foreigner in Chinese that I understood perfectly.
After a delightfully lazy afternoon, I went out to Mass. I forgot my songbook but decided to sing all the Christmas songs in English, which was a really great idea I think. I fell asleep during the homily but, sadly, it probably didn’t decrease the amount I understood. After Mass, I met another XiaDa student from Romania who had come to Chinese Mass for the first time! I also finally got a good recording of one of my favorite parts of the Chinese Mass, their sung version of “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”, which I will post someday when I get to a free country.
All this was good, but then it got better. When packing for China, I selected about 20 pieces of sheet music, and I finally brought them over to the church and asked if I could use the piano after Mass. Their piano is gorgeous, by the way, plus absence has definitely made my heart grow fonder. It felt so good to play again and it was my favorite setting for playing the piano – alone in the church at night with rain falling outside, no one listening but God. I started off with “Be With Me” which was absolutely the perfect song . . .
Back at campus, I went dancing. There were very few people because of the rain but I think we were perfectly matched between men and women. I danced the entire two hours and was so tired when we finished. But . . . I still went to The Key with Leinira and one of her friends afterwards. We were invited to the table of three Chinese men, apparently friends of Leinira’s, which meant we got to drink watered-down cognac for free. The music was great as always, so the only damper on the night was the lack of street food vendors, also due to the rain. (Technically, though, that happened after midnight so it shouldn’t count against January 2nd.) They played one of my favorite songs, Jia Ho from Slumdog Millionaire, but instead of ‘jia ho’, I always sing ‘jia you’ (加油). So the day began, and so it ends.
Also, the date was a palindrome!! 01-02-2010. Enjoy!