Maria Holland

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

In Which Maria Cooks Chinese Food

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2010 at 1:37 am

Maybe it would be easier if there was one place I could identify as ‘home’, leaving all others to be ‘not home’.  But as a second generation Army brat, that’s not the way things work.  I was born in Columbus, OH.  Ft. Sill is the home of the Field Artillery and thus has been the occasional residence of the Holland for decades.  We’ve spent 15 years or so in Minnesota, but I now tend to refer to it as “my parent’s home” instead of claiming it for my own.  Tulsa feels like home in a lot of ways but my recent return did remind me how transient are the things that make it feel that way.  And then there’s China – and two places there, no less.

What I’m saying is that, no matter where I am, there are a lot of places for me to miss. 

There’s a girl here at TU, a Physics grad student, who went to XiaDa.  We exchanged a few emails and became friends on facebook before I left, but we didn’t actually meet until the second week of classes or so.  It was so much fun to talk to her!  I could hear the southern accent that I found so annoying but now identify as familiar, and we were able to talk about really specific things from Xiamen!  Between that and all the people heading back for another semester, I am definitely missing it a bit.

I’ve had a thing for hamburgers (medium rare and dripping, preferably) since I got back, so I haven’t been too disconsolate over the lack of good Chinese food in America.  I guess it’s mostly like I felt when I was in China – the food was good, so I didn’t usually crave things too badly.  The worst, though, is when someone mentions a food and you realize that you couldn’t get it even if you did want it.  I mean, I had not thought of tang yuan since I came back, but when 汤圆 came up in my flashcards today I felt like I would kill for just one.  Mmmmmmm . . .

I haven’t been to a Chinese restaurant since coming back, but I have been working on my cooking skills since getting back to TU – after all, there’s only enough free food for about 5 lunches a week and maybe a dinner or two.  One night last weekend I invited a few friends over for my Chinese cooking debut. 

IMG_3442

On the menu:

  • 木须肉, or Mushu Pork – Pork, egg, wood ear (a kind of mushroom), carrots, ginger, and garlic
  • 地三鮮, or Eggplant, Potato, and Pepper
  • 西红柿炒蛋, or Egg ‘n Tomato

IMG_3443

It was my first time cooking with eggplant and I didn’t cook them nearly enough, but I thought the Mushu pork was amazing and the flavor of the egg ‘n tomato was good too. 

A few days later, I tried again.  This time, I made:

  • 宫保鸡丁, or Kungpao Chicken
  • 红烧茄子, or Eggplant Braised in Soy Sauce
  • 西红柿炒蛋, or Egg ‘n Tomato (a staple!!)

I did much better with the eggplant this time, cooking it until it went limp with deliciousness.  That dish tasted almost like China!  The main difference was that the recipe called for a pound of meat, which is approximately 17 times more meat than I’ve ever seen in it in China!  The Kungpao chicken was not nearly spicy enough AND I forgot the peanuts, but it tasted good if you didn’t know what it was supposed to taste like. 

IMG_3459

This dinner was a lot of fun because the guests were my roommmate, Alli; Liang Huan, the girl from XiaDa; and Kristin, a friend who just returned from study abroad in India.

There were parts of both meals that I wasn’t 100% pleased with, but the second was better than the first and, according to Newton’s Method, that bodes well for future attempts!

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Spaced Repetition Systems

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2010 at 12:19 am

I’m planning to write sometime about the resources that have helped me most in my Chinese studies, but here’s a short bit about perhaps the most important.  Anki is a flashcard program that uses a Spaced Repetition System.  Basically, each time you answer a flashcard you rate how easy it was.  The program brings the hard ones up again soon until they become easy; the easy ones get longer and longer intervals. 

It’s great for learning Chinese because characters like ‘video recording’, which I can never remember is 录像 or 录象, come up every few days, while I won’t see the super easy ones like “you” for a year or two.

There are a lot of other reasons why it’s great.  The graphs that show how much time you’ve spent reviewing and how many characters you know from which levels of difficulty!  The ability to add pinyin hints when writing characters!  The online sync!

But right now I’m realizing that it’s great because it works.  I’ve been using it for over a year and have learned over 1,900 characters.  Yes, I also took classes and lived in China – but as far as being able to write characters, that is almost all from my diligence with Anki.  You’re not going to get fluent with flashcards, and you have to have sources of input for your flashcards, but you also don’t learn to write thousands of characters by hand just by riding buses and going shopping.

Also, it’s great because it works efficiently.  When I was in China and adding hundreds of cards each week, it was sometimes a lot to keep up with.  I spent at least a half-hour most days looking at new cards and reviewing ones whose intervals were up. 

But now that I’m back in the States, my sources of input have all but dried up and I’m not really adding anything new.  There’s just those same 8,807 cards that I’m stuck with for the foreseeable future until I either return to China or actually start reading on my own.  Because of the way SRS works, I have to spend less time each day to maintain this body of knowledge.  The words that are hard for me are getting easier and easier with each repetition – and their intervals are getting longer and longer.  This means less cards to review each day.

Since school started, I haven’t spent more than 20 minutes each day.  If I keep at it, in three months I’ll have about 20 cards coming up for review each day, which should take just a few minutes to go through.  Yeah, every now and then I forget an old one and it goes back into the pool of stuff I see frequently, but for the most part you see cards just when you need to see them – just before you might forget them. 

I’ve been pretty good with Anki since I started using it, but there have been some breaks.  The longest one was nearly a month and a half – and ended just over a month ago, which makes the low numbers listed above even more impressive since I had a pile of 3,000 cards to go through. 

Because I’ve been so pleased with Anki in my Chinese studies, I’m using it with other areas.  I have an Engineering deck now, too, which contains equations, concepts, constants, and code that I find myself forgetting and relearning in between each relevant class.  I’m adding to it as I review my notes from the first three years of college, and am hoping it will prove as useful in retaining this knowledge as I’ve just talked it up to be!

How China is Like a Meth Lab

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I just spent a few hours of my afternoon in the basement of Kep, the engineering building at TU, locked in a death struggle with Mathematica.  And it reminded me of my life in China more than anything else I’ve done since I returned to the US.

Mathematica is a computational software program used in many of my engineering, physics, and math courses.  It’s like a graphing calculator on steroids.  It can solve anything, graph anything, and put anything into a table.  It is perfectly capable of doing all these things, but the average person is hard-pressed to perform a calculation like 2+2 on the first try. 

(Sound familiar?  China is the most populous country in the world, the second largest economy, and I couldn’t successfully check out a book from any library in my city.)

When using Mathematica (or any other programming software), the user must master a certain syntax to communicate with the software.  Mathematica is case-sensitive, freaks out over punctuation of all kinds, and even requires a special combination of buttons to evaluate an expression.

(In this analogy, syntax = red stamps on paperwork.  If you’re missing one, don’t even bother.)

My roommate and I were working on homework for our Introduction to Numerical Methods class.  (We call the class “Meth”; thus our assignment is a “Meth lab”.)  We had to use the bisection method to find the zero of a function.  This basically consists of choosing a range on either side of someplace you know is a zero, dividing the range in half, figuring out which half the zero is in, and repeating until the ranges are tiny enough that the error is within a given tolerance. 

Alli was both more familiar with Mathematica and further ahead than me from the start, so she finished while I was still struggling with it.  She helped me decipher error messages, redefine functions, clear variables, etc. 

It was getting pretty frustrating.  What could possibly be wrong in my 5-line Do[If[ ]] statement??  I double-checked my square brackets, counted by squiggly brackets, and was still flummoxed.

Finally, Alli leaned over and, pointing to the {n,1,nMax} statement that was closing my Do loop, said I was missing a comma.  I added it in, pressed shift+enter, and a table of values appeared below, converging on the zero of the function at 0.31706. 

The feeling I had at that moment – the combination of the exhilaration of victory and the annoyance at how hard that victory was to come by – was so familiar to me from my year in China.  I kind of hate that feeling, but I also kind of like it – because, seriously, doing calculations in Excel is so commonplace that I barely get a high from it at all anymore.  In the same way, ordering food or making a phone call in America is nothin’ but doing the same (successfully!) in China is an indescribable rush. 

What Was On My Mind (IV)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Goodbyes and my return home, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland is done with finals, including the one where I had to talk about my favorite holiday for three minutes. I am now done . . . with kindergarten.
July 13 at 11:11pm

Maria Holland wants to play Apples to Apples more than you could possibly know. I will be home in 7 days, by the way . . .
July 15 at 1:31am

Maria Holland still 5 days before I leave, but maybe tomorrow’s goodbyes will be even harder :-/
July 15 at 11:50pm

Maria Holland i’m ready, i’m ready, i’m ready (said like Spongebob). Three days left, just packing and last-minute adventures remain! But yeah, I’m ready to go home.
July 17 at 4:31pm

Maria Holland for so long, I was going home in 七月份 (sometime in July). Then it became more specific – 20号 (the 20th). Last week it was 下星期二 (next Tuesday). But now we’re down to 后天 (day after tomorrow). It’s crazy!!
July 18 11:23 am

Maria Holland is in that period where I don’t remember clearly the great things about home and I don’t notice the annoying parts of life in China anymore. All I can think about is the friends I’m leaving here . . .
19 July 3:28 am

Maria Holland is, according to my calendar and plane ticket, heading home in 6 hours. Don’t ask me, because I don’t quite believe it.
July 19 at 10:47pm

Maria Holland The good news: I’m in the land of free internet (and it’s amazing how fast facebook is when you don’t have to pass through a proxy).
The bad news: This land is called Hong Kong and I’m stuck here for the near future. Cathay Pacific FAIL
July 20 at 12:00pm

Maria Holland is going to be optimistic, even after the fiasco of last night. I’m adventuring towards home (Hong Kong is, after all, one step closer than Xiamen) and may – or may not – arrive tomorrow at 6 p.m.
July 20 at 4:27pm

Maria Holland Well, so much for that plan. In addition to everything else, Cathay Pacific has lost my baggage so no other airline will accept me. If this keeps up, my return is going to be a birthday present for my father (or, even worse, a wedding present for Rachel!). If there is a hell, it is surely managed by Cathay Pacific.
July 20 at 11:08pm

Maria Holland will get home at midnight IF this typhoon warning turns out to be nothing and we get off the ground within the next hour. We’ll see . . .
July 21 at 3:02am

Maria Holland is home! It took 48 hours and one suitcase didn’t make it, but in a way I’m surprised it even went that well. Cathay Pacific made me miss my flight, took 3 hours to find me a hotel, lost my luggage, made handwritten tags for it once they refound them, and made up a flight number that didn’t exist. Considering the lightning storm and typhoon as well, it is quite remarkable that I made it at all!
July 22 at 2:07am

Maria Holland is home, and the last bag made it tonight as well. Unfortunately, it was apparently mauled by a bear and run over by a plane en route to me, but it’s about what I’ve come to expect from Cathay.
July 22 at 11:31pm

Maria Holland three days ago I had to be in my room, plugged into a lan, and signed into a proxy to access facebook. now I am writing this from my blackberry . . . crazy!
July 23 at 11:52pm via Facebook for BlackBerry

Maria Holland everything is just as I remembered it. Minnesota summers are gorgeous, my mom’s cooking is the best, Americans are really polite, and I can’t park. Only differences: my bed feels soft by comparison, and Rachel Middlebrook is married!
July 25 at 1:32pm

Maria Holland would like to thank goodwill for allowing me to put off my return to American prices for one more day. Three dresses for $7 (40 kuai) each!
July 26 at 12:53pm

Maria Holland successfully stayed up the entire day, but the only emotion I feel is tired. Even 14 hours of sleep can only do so much, apparently. Better luck tomorrow . . .
July 26 at 10:19pm

Maria Holland don’t have to lock my computer while I’m at home; every time my parents try to use it they end up asking me how to “get rid of the Chinese”.
July 28 at 12:04pm

Maria Holland realized today that the last 12 months of my life have been the best 12 months of my life. This is a challenge that I hope the next 12 months will be able to rise to!
August 5 at 10:47pm

Maria Holland is finally back at TU. There’s a huge building outside my apartment that wasn’t there before, I can’t walk from KEP to ACAC, and I’ve only seen one familiar face (and she is a freshman!). At least QT and Blue Bell are just as I remembered!
August 18 at 8:57pm

Maria Holland was afraid my year in China hurt me as an engineer but it turns out that’s not the case. I was the first to figure out the design problem Tiptop gave us!! All because I have no qualms about peeing in public (or at least talking about it). Squatty potties and split-bottom pants FTW!
August 24 at 1:21am

What Was On My Mind (III)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm

The end of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland heard someone say “Not gonna lie” today and, not gonna lie, it made me realize how long I’ve been away from America.
May 12 at 11:35pm

Maria Holland is still delighted every time I realized I can speak and read Chinese. Does it ever get old?
May 15 at 12:36am

Maria Holland It would have been nice to know we were climbing a mountain after Mass today, because the clothes I usually wear to Mass are generally not the best for mountain climbing. But, I’ve now climbed a mountain in peep-toed sandals and a skirt and feel more Chinese for the experience.
May 16 at 10:00pm

Maria Holland is spending the night at the church on Gulangyu. I’m planning a peaceful and quiet night, praying for Uncle Daniel and Robert, Nick, & Lonnie on the anniversary of their deaths. Glad we got to know you, Daniel.
May 18 at 5:12pm

Maria Holland had a beautiful night on Gulangyu. I took in a violin concert, savored the silence of the island broken only by piano music, slept three doors away from the choir loft of a century-old Catholic church, went to morning Mass, and had porridge with the bishop.
May 19 at 9:46am

Maria Holland got a SEVEN on the HSK!!!!!! I could theoretically go to college in China . . . but I think I’ll head back to TU and finish up there.
May 19 at 11:55am

Maria Holland it is May 2010 and, just like May 2007 and May 2008, I am making my way to the northeast of China. It’s almost like going home . . .
Meat sticks, I’m coming for you. Get ready!
May 20 at 2:54pm

Maria Holland is in Hunchun, the (0,0,0,0) coordinate of my life in China! I’ve been living with Xiao Zhang and Xiao Li, visited Mob Boss and MacGyver, eaten at DongFang and am currently preparing for an epic Shell birthday dinner complete with my cake and homemade dairy products like you wouldn’t believe.
Be jealous.
May 23 at 4:43pm

Maria Holland is in Hunchun at the farm today, for the third anniversary of my first day in China, and the third International Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Please join me, il Papa, and Christians around the world in praying for love, mutual understanding, and unity (both spiritual and political) between all 基督徒 in China.
May 24 at 8:34am

Maria Holland met up with Zaibin, my very first Chinese friend, today and we went to see Goose Lady!
May 25 at 8:52pm

Maria Holland has spent nine months in China!
May 26 at 10:31pm

Maria Holland is going to Xiao Zhang’s to learn how to make jiaozi and sugared potatoes! This means no internet ’til Sunday night though . . .
May 27 at 3:21pm

Maria Holland it is 10 a.m. in China and I’ve already stolen someone’s identity and broken the law. I’m currently sitting in what seems to be a love motel that I have rented by the hour. This has been a great trip . . .
May 30 at 10:39am

Maria Holland is back in Xiamen, happy to be out of Jilin but already missing Hunchun.
Also, how is it almost June??
May 31 at 10:52am

Maria Holland I live on a tropical island. Today is the 2nd of June. I wore my winter coat to go to dinner. One of these things is not like the others . . .
June 2 at 9:42pm

Maria Holland taking advantage of the rain to have the laziest day ever. Entire day spent in pajamas – check. Lunch delivered – check. Dinner delivered – check. Four seasons of Psych on DVD – check.
June 3 at 8:38pm

Maria Holland found out that Chinese people think mixed-blood babies are exceptionally beautiful and smart. Whatever. It’s when it turns into a matchmaking service designed to match me with a Chinese husband that I start to mind. Also, does EVERYONE have to participate? Random old man on the street last night, I’m talking about you . . .
June 5 at 2:56pm

Maria Holland watched Iron Man 2 (钢铁侠2) in theaters today and then bought both 1 & 2 on DVD immediately afterwards, for less than the cost of a movie in America. Sweet!
June 6 at 8:49pm

Maria Holland enjoyed an hour-long massage for $5 this morning. Yeah, I’m doin’ alright.
June 8 at 11:09pm

Maria Holland has still not bought return tickets. Maybe I’m not quite ready for that step . . .
June 10 at 12:52am

Maria Holland has pancake mix, dried pasta, marshmallows, chocolate, nutella, condensed milk, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and most of a bottle of gin . . . . and I am determined to use all of it before I leave this country, despite lacking an oven or any discernible kitchen.
June 10 at 5:41pm

Maria Holland had a great time watching the opening game of the World Cup. It’s a weird feeling, though, probably like what Harry Potter felt upon discovering this whole other world that only cares about one sport, a sport that you’ve never heard of.
June 12 at 1:01am

Maria Holland US vs. England in our first World Cup appearance – at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday/school night? Why certainly!
June 12 at 11:12pm

Maria Holland needs more soccer-related vocabulary if I’m going to continue watching the World Cup in China. Tonight’s 生词: “draw” = 平. 我为美国加油! (I’m cheering for America!)
June 13 at 5:01am

Maria Holland Tomorrow would be the perfect day to leave Xiamen, because I just had the perfect Last Night in Country: singing French drinking songs on a bus that we flagged down at 2 a.m. and convinced to take us to a bar.
June 18 at 3:39am

Maria Holland is gearing up for a showdown between America and Slovenia – basically, me vs. Kristina. 美国 para ganar!
June 18 at 8:41pm

Maria Holland is really getting this football thing. Not getting the whole sleep thing, though. The two may or may not be related.
June 19 at 3:19am

Maria Holland is ready to go home, I guess. Everything is moldy and I’m tired of it. 30 days seems just about right!
June 21 at 11:06pm

Maria Holland has the Stomach Clench of Death. Come on yogurt, work your magic . . .
June 22 at 2:23pm

Maria Holland and this is why I’m loving the World Cup: sitting in a coffehouse, watching the England-Slovenia game and reading updates on the US-Algeria game, with friends from 3 of the 4 countries next to me. The US goal in the final minutes to win the group didn’t hurt either, of course!
June 24 at 12:38am

Maria Holland This may be the best line of its kind since “save a horse, ride a cowboy: “Although I’m a cowboy, I only drink milk in bars. Why don’t I drink beer? Because it’s bad for your health.” Courtesy of a Chinese cowboy song, “Cowboys Are Very Busy”
June 25 at 2:52am

Maria Holland taking a nap in my U.S.A jersey before the game. Sorry, Africa, but I hope Ghana’s out after this . . .
June 27 at 1:08am

Maria Holland Xiamen has a way of making up for Bad China Days. I had a very successful trip shopping for gifts this morning, spent a beautiful afternoon on the beach, and am headed out for dinner and the game. NEDERLANDS!!!
June 28 at 6:59pm

Maria Holland plans to enjoy each of my remaining days in China as much as I did today. Lunch with friends, afternoon on the beach, winning two games of 6-player Catan tonight. Spain and Holland play this weekend and we’re celebrating the Fourth on a boat, then I go to Hangzhou to see Matt Thomas! 挺好的 :)
July 1 at 1:38am

Maria Holland has a plane ticket! On July 20th at 8 p.m. (Beijing time), I will begin my adventure towards home. Expect me around 9 a.m. Central on Wednesday, July 21st at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport – allowing, of course, for 48 hours of possible “adventure-related delays”.
July 1 at 12:20pm

Maria Holland is feeling far from home right now. Didn’t realize how important the internet is to keeping me connected, until they shut off our electricity today and I missed the news of my aunt’s heart attack. Please pray for my Aunt Cathy!
July 3 at 9:34pm

Maria Holland This was the best Fourth of July ever . . . if I do say so myself. Wait for pictures if you don’t believe me!
July 4 at 8:34pm

Maria Holland is not quite caught up from an amazing Fourth of July weekend but, ready or not, I’m off to Suzhou and Hangzhou tomorrow afternoon!
July 6 at 12:07am

Maria Holland Spain vs. the Netherlands in the World Cup final: two countries with the best-looking football, the best-looking footballers, and some of my best friends. I cannot lose!
July 8 at 4:29am

Maria Holland had Papa John’s delivered and ate it with an old friend from elementary, middle, and high school. BTW, I’m still in China. That’s crazy, right?
July 8 at 9:20pm

Maria Holland returned to Xiamen for the last time. The next time I return somewhere, I will be returning to the United States. 11 days . . .
July 9 at 8:55pm

Maria Holland will miss many things when I leave here – but not The Key anymore, and never the giant kamikaze bugs.
July 11 at 2:00am

Maria Holland is getting ready for three finals: the World Cup at 2:30 a.m., Listening at 9:00 a.m., and Grammar at 10 a.m. I predict domination in all three!
July 11 at 9:31pm

Maria Holland AAAH. This morning was amazing, between the game, the glorious sunrise, and the celebratory s’mores that we ate (possibly for breakfast). No longer tired. Two finals in three hours.
July 12 at 6:06am

Maria Holland is so tired. My sleep schedule has been messed up by constant goodbye parties and the month-long World Cup, but if I can keep it up for 8 more days maybe I won’t have jet lag when I get back home?
July 13 at 1:58am

What Was On My Mind (II)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

The middle of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland My parents are in route to China RIGHT NOW. Are they ready for China, and is China ready for them??
January 12 at 10:45pm

Maria Holland Parents, meet China. China, parents. (I hope they get along!!!) Yes, this means my parents have arrived in Xiamen safely!
January 13 at 11:12pm

Maria Holland had an amazing few days in Xiamen with my parents. It was almost too perfect, and now I’m hoping that the rest of China can live up to it! Next stop is Guangzhou, then we’re riding the world’s fastest train to Wuhan.
January 17 at 9:46pm

Maria Holland had the best day since leaving Xiamen today – looking at pandas all morning, and finding an amazing donut shop after lunch!
January 23 at 3:19pm

Maria Holland has mixed feelings about the first two days in Beijing. Peking roast duck, Forbidden City, Mass, and sanlunche ride home were amazing; the lack of readable maps, decent hotels, and Matteo Ricci’s tomb is really frustrating me. Oh, and I finally found a Chinese breviary, as well as a Chinese-English Catholic Encyclopedia!!!!!!
January 31 at 6:00pm

Maria Holland climbed the Great Wall today – and then slid down on my butt. Pretty much the best way to experience ChangCheng (and probably the fastest). Also, I think approximately 1/4 of all Chinese people have a picture of me now.
February 1 at 9:05pm

Maria Holland Um . . . . well, the good news is that I have a train ticket home from Beijing to Xiamen. The bad news is that they were out of sleepers so I have a seat. Oh, and it turns out it’s a 31 HOUR TRIP
February 2 at 8:35pm

Maria Holland got in a fight with China today and lost. We’re currently not speaking, at least not if I can help it. I plan to drug myself heavily before my 31-hour train trip tomorrow. I can’t wait to get back to Xiamen with it’s 70+ degree weather and beaches and Coco milk tea!
February 4 at 9:03pm

Maria Holland has had the 3 worst days in China. Hopefully today will be better – a working toilet, a massage, and my first real meal in 2 days would go a long way in this direction.
February 7 at 8:34am

Maria Holland got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world and a good book in my hand. It’s 75 and sunny in Xiamen, and I happen to live 3 minutes from a beach. Score!
February 10 at 11:12am

Maria Holland still hasn’t figured out how to say Lent in Chinese . . . but I know how to say Easter!
February 17 at 9:33pm

Maria Holland seriously, Chinese Mulan – no happy ending? I put up with the random foreigner, the sandstorm that came out of nowhere, the lack of memorable songs, and your insistence on speaking Chinese the whole time . . . but how can you end it with the lovers parting ways? This is crap. Good thing the fruit here is good, or I would leave this country.
February 20 at 10:53pm

Maria Holland just figured out that the 天上母后 can be sung to the same tune as the Regina Caeli with only slight squishing of syllables. Is it Easter yet???
February 26 at 12:48am

Maria Holland spent the night in a Chinese hospital . . . don’t worry about me, I was just keeping Lester company, but the poor guy has pancreatitis so please pray for him!
February 28 at 9:58am

Maria Holland 刚刚开学 . . . Classes started today, which means vacation is over. I try not to let school interfere with my education, though, so I’m still really looking forward to the semester!
March 1 at 1:58pm

Maria Holland FOUND CATAN 中文版 (CHINESE EDITION) IN XIAMEN FOR THIRTEEN DOLLARS. Life = complete.
March 4 at 7:06pm

Maria Holland might miss books more than bread, guacamole, ice cream, and tortillas combined. Why do Chinese libraries hate me?
March 10 at 11:50pm

Maria Holland is wondering if you know how to say ‘doorknob’ in another language – without looking it up! Please respond, I’m doing a small survey.
March 12 at 11:58pm

Maria Holland is translating the legend of Paul Bunyan into Chinese. Thus far, I have learned: giant (巨人), lumberjack (伐木人), Grand Canyon (大峡谷), axe (斧), buttons (纽扣), and footprints (足迹). Good thing I already knew how to say Mississippi River!
March 17 at 4:39pm

Maria Holland won’t be takin’ no calls cuz I’ll be dancin’
March 19 at 10:58am

Maria Holland in previewing tomorrow’s Chinese lesson, I came across this sentence: 美国人是非常小气的 (Americans are extremely stingy). Awesome . . .
March 21 at 11:43pm

Maria Holland was really amused to read this comment from an overseas Chinese on an article about the ongoing Google-China battle: "All Chinese, I urge you to boycott Google, and join my facebook "Chinese boycott Google" group." Um . . . great idea, except your government blocked facebook a few years ago for also refusing to self-censor. Irony FAIL.
March 23 at 11:42pm

Maria Holland is pretty sure she has the best parents ever. The package from home included Girl Scout cookies, jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, Hershey’s kisses, lemonade powder, Jello mix, and another bag of marshmallows!!!! Dear Easter: I am eagerly awaiting your arrival :)
March 25 at 1:45pm

Maria Holland baked 7 cakes and a batch of cookies today. Isn’t a full kitchen a wonderful thing? Now if only it were mine . . .
March 26 at 8:51pm

Maria Holland will be celebrating my birthday for a total of 42 hours, from birthday vigil on Chinese time to the end of the day in the Central US. It’s going great so far!
March 28 at 3:18am

Maria Holland My birthday presents included flowers, Belgian chocolate, Kazah and Swedish money, a book titled "Anonymous Rex/Casual Rex", a Slovenian PowerPoint presentation prominently featuring 茄子 (eggplant), a bunch of Dutch music including Bisje Komt Zo (which is apparently about drugs, not buses), and a traditional Chinese bra. Best birthday ever? Possibly.
March 29 at 9:46pm

Maria Holland Ate too many jelly beans and am on a crazy sugar high . . . considering playing the Regina Caeli on loop and singing at the top of my voice while eating chocolate bunnies. That should do the trick . . .
April 4 at 12:13am

Maria Holland Are you wearing pants? Correct answer is No! Are you saying Alleluia? Correct answer is Yes!
April 4 at 11:43pm

Maria Holland had the best Monday today – at least since coming to China, but possibly ever. Tomorrow I leave for an impromptu trip to Guangzhou and a weekend in Hong Kong! Going to class is for squares . . .
April 5 at 10:12pm

Maria Holland is in Guangzhou with friends from OKLAHOMA and their new Chinese son. My hotel room has a shower door and a bed with non-negligible padding – basically the lap of luxury. AND it’s still Easter! Basically, life is good.
April 6 at 11:10pm

Maria Holland must have gotten on the wrong train and ended up in Mumbai, as I’m staying the night in an Indian-run slum. But it’s okay: there’s free internet in Hong Kong (I’m on facebook without a proxy!), there’s a TGIF Friday’s around the corner, and it JUST HAPPENS to be Friday.
April 9 at 5:30pm

Maria Holland had a perfect day in Hong Kong today. I see a TU friend tomorrow (!) and then it’s back home to Xiamen :)
April 10 at 11:52pm

Maria Holland is anyone interested in going to see Mika in concert in Hong Kong on June 16th??
April 13 at 10:29pm

Maria Holland may have figured out how to say "soup Nazi" (and any other words with structure "XX Nazi") in Chinese. So yes, in answer to your question, studying for the HSK is going swimmingly.
April 16 at 1:29am

Maria Holland has a ticket to Changchun, Jilin for May 20th!! Can’t wait to return to the land of my "Chinese childhood"!
April 16 at 3:25pm

Maria Holland is 考试-ing her 汉语水平. It’s HSK time!
April 17 at 11:28pm

Maria Holland countdown in China is at 3 months !?!
April 19 at 11:56pm

Maria Holland F.M.L. Another weekend in China, another adventure – but adventures involving hospitals are significantly less fun than adventures that don’t.
April 22 at 10:21pm

Maria Holland is going to be singing the Misa de Angelis at the installation of the new bishop of the Diocese of Xiamen in two weeks! I guess this kind of makes up for the gynecologist appointment yesterday . . . I forgive you, China.
April 24 at 8:20pm

Maria Holland has been in China for 8 months now. Depending on your age, this may or may not seem like an incredibly long period of time to you. I’m 22, and it’s pretty much ginormous.
April 26 at 11:06pm

Maria Holland is in love with Sheldon Cooper. Also, mangos.
April 30 at 10:37pm

Maria Holland thinks that Chinese national holidays are about as much fun as bamboo shoots shoved into various body parts. Nevertheless, I had a really good day. I even managed to be part of a winning team based on the other side of the world!
May 1 at 11:02pm

Maria Holland had an amazing three day weekend but is infinitely more tired than when classes ended on Friday.
May 4 at 1:01am

Maria Holland is in the EXACT SAME COUNTRY as The Dear Leader RIGHT NOW. How could I be so lucky!?!
May 4 at 9:15pm

Maria Holland A year ago, I knew less than 100 Chinese characters. Tonight, I have the Chinese version of "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace" stuck in my head.
May 7 at 1:34am

Maria Holland The school year at TU is now over and I am officially . . . still a senior. It’s what I do best.
May 7 at 9:57pm

Maria Holland can’t even say how overjoyed I was to have the opportunity to sing in the choir at the installation of Xiamen’s very first local bishop, Cai Binrui (and how pleased I was to hear that he has a papal mandate as well!)
May 8 at 2:52pm

Maria Holland is fabulous. Tomorrow, please be 跟 today 一样 wonderful, 谢谢. I’m singing at Bishop Cai’s first Mass in the morning, but then how to follow that up??
May 9 at 1:27am

What Was On My Mind (I)

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm

The first part of the year, captured in facebook statuses:

 

Maria Holland is off to China!
August 24, 2009 at 6:17pm

Maria Holland made it to Hong Kong! Not really sure what happened to Tuesday though . . .
August 26, 2009 at 7:46am

Maria Holland is in Xiamen! Despite the best efforts of the Chinese to thwart me, I have a place a to sleep, cell phone, bank account, and have registered for classes. Take that!
August 28, 2009 at 1:43pm

Maria Holland is enjoying a BEAUTIFUL day in Xiamen (as in, my glasses did not fog up when I walked out of my air-conditioned room)!
August 29, 2009 at 12:04pm

Maria Holland had a great day yesterday – got vindicated on the issue of registration, got my money back from the university, rode the bus successfully, found my church, went to Mass in Chinese, and went DANCING!!!
August 30, 2009 at 2:34pm

Maria Holland couldn’t have just walked out of a dance at her university in China and bought a chocolate crunch Magnum bar for about 70 cents. It’s just not possible . . . yet it most certainly happened. My life is awesome!
September 2, 2009 at 10:42pm

Maria Holland realized I haven’t seen, much less used, a fork and knife in 10 days. Weird . . . but at the same time, not.
September 5, 2009 at 12:05am

Maria Holland found French bread at the local bakery!!!!! I think I’m going to make it here . . .
September 10, 2009 at 12:22pm

Maria Holland saw a commercial for a board game store on a bus today. Unfortunately, it was in Chinese, but I WILL FIND IT. So help me, Klaus Teuber.
September 12, 2009 at 5:45pm

Maria Holland broke a mercury thermometer in my room this morning. The guard’s response? "没关系!" (no worries!)
September 17, 2009 at 12:51pm

Maria Holland met a guy from Oklahoma – OU, to be specific – last night at a beach party in Xiamen, China. Incidentally, we met at the exact time that they were beating us in football, apparently.
September 20, 2009 at 1:34pm

Maria Holland learned the Sign of the Cross in Chinese today! 因父,及子,及圣神之名,阿门.
September 21, 2009 at 10:37pm

Maria Holland has Chinese study buddies for both Catholic and Engineering vocabulary. This is basically everything I was hoping for.
September 23, 2009 at 12:50am

Maria Holland is hesitant to declare victory over China, as this has often led to smiting.
September 25, 2009 at 9:53pm

Maria Holland is in Taiwan. At least the typhoon that’s heading our way won’t catch me with my pants down . . . BECAUSE I’M NOT WEARING PANTS!!!
September 30, 2009 at 11:18pm

Maria Holland has eaten Dunkin’ Donuts, a BLT, Coldstone, and fajitas in Taiwan. BUT I also climbed an entire mountain, bathed nude in hot springs, and am eating snake tonight. 
October 2, 2009 at 6:46pm

Maria Holland experienced her first earthquake last night, and is still trying to make plans for southern taiwan around the typhoon(s). Thanks, Taiwan :)
October 4, 2009 at 9:52pm

Maria Holland is leaving Taibei. Destination: rain. Pretty much . . .
October 5, 2009 at 8:25am

Maria Holland has checked most everything off the list of natural disasters here in Taiwan: Typhoon, check. Earthquake, check. Rockslides, check. Still looking for a flood before I leave tomorrow . . .
October 9, 2009 at 11:46pm

Maria Holland had a wonderful time in Taiwan and is now back home in Xiamen. Yes, I said home. Isn’t that weird?
October 14, 2009 at 1:39pm

Maria Holland watched a beautiful sunset in Xiamen this afternoon, is going to a 350.org event on Sunday, and has 3 dancing events coming up in as many days. 祝你周末快乐! (Happy Weekend!)
October 23, 2009 at 9:46pm

Maria Holland participated in 350.org’s International Climate Day of Action in China! Also, I’m on track to go dancing every night this weekend. Seriously, my life is wonderful.
October 25, 2009 at 2:35am

Maria Holland has been in China for two months today, which means it has been two months since I last saw anyone I knew two months ago . . . The weather is beautiful, wish you were here (hint hint)
October 27, 2009 at 12:10am

Maria Holland found out that my XiaDa student ID gets me 1 kuai off at Coco, my favorite milk tea place. It does NOT, however, allow me to check out books from the school library, and that is just not okay.
October 27, 2009 at 11:15pm

Maria Holland is studying dance in China. I’m learning a little bit of Chinese, too, but that’s just coincidental.
October 28, 2009 at 11:40pm

Maria Holland it just figures. The one time you go out in your pajamas to buy a bottle of gin, you see everyone you know.
October 31, 2009 at 5:16pm

Maria Holland is sick – after the most expensive dinner yet in China (67 yuan!) at a famous vegetarian restaurant. Seriously??!?
November 1, 2009 at 7:18am

Maria Holland 拉肚子. There is no such thing as TMI in China, so I don’t care if you all know how my digestive system is doing: not well.
November 3, 2009 at 6:41pm

Maria Holland realizes that there are too many things I haven’t done yet, and too many sunsets I haven’t seen. I can’t waste the day wishing it would slow down; I’ve been given this one world and I won’t worry it away. Every now and then, I lose sight of the good life . . . but then love comes in ♥
November 5, 2009 at 9:13pm

Maria Holland is taking "adventuring towards" to a whole new level. Tomorrow morning we are *probably* going to be adventuring towards Ningde, which is *either* 4 or 12 hours away. Tell you all about it on Sunday evening!
November 6, 2009 at 10:35pm

Maria Holland I think Fujian is the biggest province in the world. You can ride buses for hours and hours and hours and travel only tiny parts of it. In fact, that’s exactly what I did this weekend.
November 9, 2009 at 12:31am

Maria Holland finally remembers what butter tastes like, but adjectives are failing me.
November 10, 2009 at 1:10pm

Maria Holland had one of those moments where I realized, "Holy crap, I live in China!" – and then smiled. It’s a good day here in Xiamen.
November 19, 2009 at 1:57pm

Maria Holland played Catan tonight!!!! Learned a lot of Chinese words in the process (wheat, chance, robber, trade) and even laughed ’til I cried.
November 20, 2009 at 9:59pm

Maria Holland spent $10 tonight and enjoyed dinner (all-you-can-eat) and a movie (2012), with a lesson in reading Chinese subtitles at no extra charge.
November 23, 2009 at 12:47am

Maria Holland celebrating my second Thanksgiving in China. Last year left quite a precedent to live up to, but I’m doing my best!
November 25, 2009 at 11:25pm

Maria Holland got up really early the day after Thanksgiving . . . to run. Sometimes China is not so fun. Tomorrow is the sack-hop race, which is sure to be even more intense. Remember, Maria, you’re doing it for the t-shirt!
November 27, 2009 at 4:44pm

Maria Holland is slightly bummed that I have 6 weeks of class left instead of one like everyone at TU, but on the other hand, I’m a lot more free to skip class. Thus, I’m leave for 5 days in Shanghai on Thursday, and the following week will be spent traveling through Fujian and Jiangxi.
November 30, 2009 at 9:38pm

Maria Holland is headed to Shanghai tomorrow for my deacon’s ordination! Please pray for him and all clergy throughout the world!
December 2, 2009 at 2:41pm

Maria Holland found out today that one of my priests may or may not be set to be ordained a BISHOP early next year!
December 8, 2009 at 10:10pm

Maria Holland is taking the midnight train going aaaaanyyywhere! . . . I mean, we’re hoping to end up at Wuyishan but this is China, so who really knows?
December 15, 2009 at 2:51pm

Maria Holland had a really wonderful trip to Wuyishan. Highlight was probably the singing of national anthems by citizens of four nations on the bus ride. Now I’m back home in Xiamen for the holidays – but really, is 15 C the best I can get around here? Tropical island fail.
December 19, 2009 at 11:23am

Maria Holland is BAKING! Half of the ingredients are Chinese and my oven has a capacity of approximately 4 cookies, but . . . still, I’m BAKING! This is a big deal.
December 21, 2009 at 10:57pm

Maria Holland is on one of those emotional highs – dancing, Christmas movies, baking and sharing cookies, having friends, and finding an oven in China!
December 23, 2009 at 9:51pm

Maria Holland had the strangest Christmas Eve EVER – namely because of baking 100+ cookies 4 at a time, visiting McDonald’s, and eating barbecue on the side of the street at 2 a.m. But I really do believe that if each holiday in China isn’t the strangest you’ve had, you’re doing something wrong. Therefore, I must be doing something VERY right.
December 25, 2009 at 2:25am

Maria Holland is so Two-Thousand-and-Ten, you’re so Two-Thousand-and- . . . then? Happy New Year, everyone – it’s a great one so far!!
January 1 at 12:41am

On Four Chinese Bishops

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I still think of Xiamen as my diocese and Fr. Cai as my bishop.  They’re on my mind when I pray and every time I go to Mass.  My mind flashes to them every time we pray “for the Church around the world”.  I wonder how they’re doing, even more so when I hear news from China.

Last weekend, I heard that the bishop of Fuzhou died.  Fuzhou is the capital of Fujian (my province) and the seat of one of the province’s five dioceses.  I only ever passed through Fuzhou and never went to church there, so I’m not at all familiar with the situation in that area.  But this is what I learned from the article:

Bishop Yang was 91 when he died.  He was the archbishop of Fuzhou (since 1995) but lacked government approval so he was exclusively a part of the underground church.  He’d been a priest for 63 years but spent most of his life in prison – from 1955 to 1981, plus two more terms of 5 and 3 years. 

His story reminds me of Fr. Jiang, the Xiamen priest who took a break of over a decade during his seminary studies to work in a labor camp. 

It also reminds me that the size of China and the irregularity of rules means that Catholicism in China is not one thing in all times and all places.  My experience with the Church in Xiamen was a great blessing, I never explicitly observed government interference in Church affairs, and I heard encouraging things about efforts towards reconciliation with the underground church, but things are not so good in all parts of China.  There are weekly articles on priests and bishops being arrested. 

Sometimes it seems like there’s more bad news than good, but at least there is good.  I still can’t believe how lucky I was to witness the ordination of a bishop with papal approval, and I get excited all over again when new bishops join him, as the bishops of Taizhou and Yan’an did recently. 

Bishop Xu, new bishop of Taizhou, is filling a seat that has been vacant for 48 years.  He spent 25 years in prison and forced labor after his time at seminary.  Bishop Yang, the new bishop of Yan’an, is young (46), closer to my bishop’s age – and like my bishop, he avoided the time of imprisonment and forced labor that so many Chinese priests went through.  He was the first Chinese priest ordained after the seminaries re-opened in the 1980’s to earn a doctorate degree.  His degree is in theology, and he earned it at the Pontifical University in Rome. 

This is the truest quote I’ve heard concerning the Church in China:

It is not an exaggeration to say that everything you hear about the church in China is true at some time and at some place; and not true at another time and in another place.