I had a productive morning today, going out to West Gate to 办 some 事. I dropped off photos to get developed, ordered a new pair of glasses, ate lunch in a new cafe, and bought mangos (obvi). I also spent time fruitlessly searching for stationary. All I want is to write a letter on paper that doesn’t look it was torn out of a notebook that I use to practice writing characters, because I tore it out of a notebook that I use to practice writing characters! Is that too much to ask? How I pine for the embossed note cards I have at home . . . All of this is even more upsetting because the letter-writing in my future is not something I’m looking forward to. I leave for Jilin on the 20th and Fr. Zhao leaves for his studies a few days letter, which means my first major Chinese goodbye is rapidly approaching. Remember how I said I needed to learn to express my feelings in Chinese? Well, the time has come to express them, write them down, and put them in an envelope with pictures. Sad face :(
There’s still so much Chinese I don’t know, though; this becomes more and more apparent every day. For instance, I just recently discovered that ‘nou’ and ‘nuo’ are both valid syllables in Chinese. Learning a new pronunciation in English (i.e., ‘word’) is not that unusual of an occurrence even for native speakers, but after a year of studying in Chinese – with its 413 possible syllables (i.e., ‘words’) – it is kind of strange to be learning a new one. They sound funny to me – nou sounds English (just like our negative, ‘no’), and it seems like if nuo were an actual word I would have heard it before . . .
The lesson in Oral class today was about holidays. Specifically, it was a dialogue between a son and a father about foreign holidays; the son wanted to go to a Christmas Eve ball and that dad thought it was a stupid idea. I strongly disliked this lesson. Granted, I’m still harboring some grudges about being told “there is no Easter in China”, but still. The dad ripped on Valentine’s Day because the translated name (which obviously has nothing to do with a saint) contains a word that has come to mean a lover on the side. The son said he didn’t care about where the holidays came from because he just wanted to have fun without his family. It’s not enough that I have to watch my holidays commercialized by people back home who don’t care about their meanings, but I also have to watch them commercialized by people over here who don’t even know the origins. And then I have to hear about it in class.
This is kind of random, but I can finally sympathize with people whose names are always misspelled. You Kristen’s of the world, you Lyndsey’s, you Sara(h)’s, Cathy’s, and especially you Ashleigh’s – I finally get it. I lived 21 privileged, perfectly-spelled years as a Maria. But now that I’m a 马利亚, the world is a much harsher place. At every turn, I am called 玛利亚, 玛丽亚, 马丽亚, and other such variations – even by those closest to me! Yes, I feel your pain. But I also feel your joy when I receive a text message or email addressed to 马利亚. I let out a sigh of relief and savor that warm fuzzy feeling in my heart, because I am known – correctly.
Aleid and I went to the tailor this afternoon. There were a bunch of other foreigners over there, which is good for our tailor but kind of a bummer for us, as he’s noticeably busier than when we first started going there. Oh well. I ordered another pair of shorts and continued scoping out just the right fabric for my qipao. Get excited! We had dinner at a new place on DaXueLu with the best sweet-and-sour I’ve found in China – yum!
I’m finally starting to get into QQ (China’s version of Skype/AIM). Revelation: chatting with friends is way more fun than being creeped on by strangers. Who knew? I gave Yong Zhi a huge list of recommended movies, talked to the guy I kind of like, met a guy who is looking for an American to help on his thesis, and discussed my drinking habits (or lack thereof) with another friend.