Maria Holland

回来了 (I’m Back)

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 at 1:06 am

The last few days haven’t been so great.  If you find my sarcasm and bitterness funny, then don’t miss the last two posts.  Yesterday was okay, though, at least after I got my toilet fixed and I was able to shower.  Today was another little bit better – I even ventured outside! 

Pun, my Thai friend, is about the only person I know who’s still around campus this vacation.  We met up for dinner, which was just what I needed.  Since I left Beijing and put my iPod in, I’ve barely spoken Chinese; it’s been a nice sort of vacation although different than the one I just finished.  I’ve been feeling guilty about it (seeing as the purpose of my life here is to learn Chinese – by speaking Chinese), but between laziness and my still-fading annoyance with China I haven’t really done anything about it. 

Anyway, Pun and I started out speaking English tonight but after meeting up with his other friend we switched to Chinese.  It was surprisingly effortless and actually felt like slipping into a comfortable sweater.  Watch out, Chinese – I’m coming back for ya. 

 

There’s some stuff on my mind – nothing deep, but enjoy:

My favorite thing about Beijing (besides sledding down the Great Wall) was feeling like I was back in China’s northeast.  Not quite far enough to see anyone I care about, but far enough to see little reminders of my time spent up there – hearing 等一会儿 instead of 等一下, for instance, or seeing Chum chocolate on the supermarket shelves.  Soon enough, Hunchun, and I’ll be back.

I got an email the other day from the University of Tulsa Student Association announcing the band for this year’s Spring Fest.  It’s Owl City, who I happen to have fallen in love with since coming to China.  I’m not a huge concert-goer (despite my road trip to see Disturbed last year) but free concerts down the street from my apartment are a whole different deal.  The last two years they’ve gotten two great bands that I was really excited to see (Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles), and apparently they did a good job this year too.  I’m just bummed about it.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s not really about the concert.  It’s almost like this is the first time I’m realizing that all years were not created equal – that I’m not just missing a year at TU, I’m missing this year.  Obviously, this concert is the least of it all; I can’t imagine the everyday moments that I’m missing out on with my friends, and I don’t even want to think about the friends that I’m missing every day with.  I’ve been staying in contact with a lot of my friends as if I’ll be back any day to pick things up, but that’s just not happening.  Everyone old (i.e., over 26) in my life tells me that I’ll look back on this year as the best thing I could have done, but I think most of my peers should understand when I say that it feels definitive, forever, absolute. 

Sometimes when I think about living in America, I get tired.  I think telling stories, taking classes, asking directions, making phone calls, etc., and just feel exhausted, overwhelmed at the sheer impossibility or, at the very least, the prohibitive hardship of it all.  Or I find myself thinking about a conversation I had once, and just being astounded that it happened, that I communicated such a concept to another person.  Then I realize that in America, we use English with everyone we interact with!  And then I feel okay, until the next time I forget that I won’t be using exclusively Chinese for the rest of the my life.

My parents and I were sharing my computer for the duration of their trip, so I fell behind on my news reading on Google Reader.  I finally got it under control today and am quite proud.  It’s a strange thing, though, keeping up on the news solely through a computer.  I feel up-to-date on the strangest details, but I think I often miss the forest for the trees.  I don’t know that there’s anything I can do about this, either, simply because of my situation living in China.  The most striking example of this is the “Tea Party”.  What is this?  I seriously don’t know.  I remember some news about Tea Parties being held last tax day, but am totally lost as to how it has become a group of people hosting a convention to plan for the election of Tea Party candidates.  It just . . . appeared on Google Reader a few weeks ago, with no definition because I guess everyone knows.  At least, those of those living in America. 

My parents were in the air when the earthquake hit Haiti, so I was the one who told them of it and kept them up to date with the news coming out.  It was weird because I remembered May 12th, 2008, the day I took off for Poland, when another earthquake hit – this time in Sichuan, China.  I heard that there was an earthquake in China while we were in the airport, but we didn’t know any details until we landed in Europe, and even then they were sketchy and few.  I have to say, I’m still not super clear on the details of the Sichuan earthquake (although I’ll never forget the date).  I’m way more connected here than I was traveling in Poland, but it’s still a step removed from the 24/7 news frenzy I remember from home.  The two largest earthquakes in recent history, and I’ve been out of country (read as: out of the loop) for both of them. 

I did laundry last night, which is one of the most disheartening things I do here in China.  After two months straight of wearing black fuzzy leggings every single day, my once-white underwear is now a uniformly unappealing gray.  My long-sleeved shirts are now extra-long-sleeved shirts because they stretch out on the clothes line.  My only pair of khakis somehow manages to look more dingy with each washing.  And my beloved jeans, miraculously found at a thrift store but obviously meant for me, are on their last legs; apparently the slide down the Great Wall left the start of a hole near one back pocket in addition to ancient dirt stains on the butt.  I hope they all make it through the rest of this year, but almost none of them will make it home. 

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  1. I wish I could just send you a hug. I can feel your despair and I am looking forward to when you will be back. I started to write that at least you were missing our ice and snow storms, but that’s not quite enough consolation.

    You are right that someone under 26 has a different understanding of a year. Time mountains get rounder, less sharp with age.

    Your wonderful postcard is on my desk and it looks like a shining, red oz land in a distance place unimaginable in tiny Tulsa.

    The Tea Party seems to be a right-wing populist movement, dissatisfied with current administration and just noticing now (rather than for the past eight years) that the national debt has doubled. Sarah Palin is a kind of spokeman and at their convention, she called for a revolution.

    See what you are missing. I have been at odds with the movement since my brother identified with them (they’ve stolen him, surely, or he has lost his mind) and my classmate from ’66 used our classlist to solicit tax protestors.

    I hope you are saving all of these posts. I believe there is something wonderful in every entry. I see your journey as having a book inside.

    Your friend,
    N

  2. Thanks for this comment!

  3. Maria! I would like to say that you write very eloquently. I felt as if your experiences and your thoughts were my own. I see that your life in China has not taken away from your writing skills! lol

    I am so sorry that you are feeling a little blue at the moment, missing friends, and TU experiences. I wish that I could say “I know how you feel” but all I have to offer is that I am so impressed by you. I look up to you more than you could possibly know. I admire your passion and, by golly, your guts to go live in a vastly different foreign country and attend classes at a local university!!! You have really set yourself apart from the rest. This will be an experience to remember for a life time-I had to say it. I look forward to your return and I hope you will not hesitate to share most if not all of your stories…even if you think them to be uneventful :)

    I send you warm wishes kisses and hugs

    All the best!

    Alli

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, Alli – and the e-hugs :)

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