Published: December 7th 2005December 7th 2005
Tuesday night, just got home from a very long day and here I am in my room, hidden away in my make-shift blanket tent with my laptop, because it's the only way to stay wsarm. I gave up on feeling my nose and toes about a week ago.
It's winter in Jinan. Our "beautiful" city is still without snow, but honestly I hope it snows soon because this much cold without something visual to justify it is ridiculous.
Today was another 7 hour teaching day. I fought a nasty battle with the alarm clock again this morning, but was defeated as usual. Up early to catch a cab with Jon to the SAC, and today was week one-of-two for my class' final examinations. As much as I sometimes hate teaching at the college, it was really tough today... talking to the students one at a time and having to explain that I won't be teaching them next term because I'm going home... saying goodbye... It really broke my heart seeing Sunny, a girl who is always smiling and so happy, leave the classroom in tears because she didn't want me to leave.
But this is the time of year that classes are ending, everywhere. On Saturday afternoon I had to say goodbye to my JAC "Going to My Friend's Place" class... I've been teaching some of these kids since August and have really grown attached to most of them. Magic. Amy. Cassie ("My name is vegetable"). Nancy. Even Snow White, despite the bully she is.
After teaching this afternoon at Oma, Jenny and William took me to see a Chinese doctor about my neck/back (result of Sunday afternoons taxi fender-bender). The office was a pretty small place ... white tile floor, four small beds against the far wall, and an old wooden desk piled high with books, papers and an abbicus. I got a massage from the Chinese doctor and an unexpected neck crack (shudder)... along with a general health check-up determined completely by my pulse. In Chinese medicine, there are over 50 kinds of pulses, and a good doctor can tell you exactly what's wrong with you (or not wrong with you) by your pulse. After the check up, he wrote me a prescription to help with my lack of energy and trouble sleeping. A chinese prescription. And instead of going to a pharmacy to fill the prescription, like we do in Canada.. we only had to take the prescription across the room to a little old man with big, thick glasses and a baseball hat. On the counter, he laid out six squares of brown paper and one by one he retrieved all of the prescribed Chinese medicines from labeled boxes set into the wall... different roots, leaves, herbs, dried orange peel, bark, etc. And one by one he measured them with a brass hand-held scale. When he was finished, he wrapped up each bundle in the brown paper and tied it with a string. Normally, I would take those home and prepare them (by boiling in water) myself, but the doctor agreed to prepare everything for me and I should
get it tomorrow afternoon.
Anyways, my demonstration class last week went alright. Everyone said I did a great job, but you know that feeling.. like you know you could have done better. I think, considering that I only knew the kids for about an hour before I taught them, I did alright. If I could have brought my own kids, we would've blown the roof off. It was tough at first, no one knew "good morning" (all of MY kids know good morning!) and one little boy kept saying "waterlemon" instead of "watermelon", right into the mic for everyone to hear. There were a million lights on me, along with the projector light, so it was like a sauna and my face was almost dripping with sweat, but everyone applauded at the end and said, no question, that I was the best teacher at the convention all day. Mona even told me there was a Chinese teacher there teaching her kids "I like cock" instead of "I like rooster". Hahhaah, the future of China. Mona and Jenny are going to take me for a "congratulatory hot pot" later this week.
Kerry and I went out Thursday night after the class to celebrate. We had dinner at the Spring Cafe, and took sticky pics near Walmart, then walked in the freezing cold all the way across Quan Cheng Square so Kerry could catch her bus. And as cold as it was, it was beautiful... the lights all along the street at night are amazing.
I've been spending a lot of time just hanging out in restaurants at night... I met up with Sophia earlier this week and we just sat in Jenny's Cafe for a few hours because I didn't want to go home to the cold. When I'm home, I'm usually sleeping, as bed is the only place to stay warm.
But that's about it for now. I can see my breath and I'm tired. No fighting with the alarm clock tomorrow morning, because it's my well-deserved day off.
And now for the increasingly popular "Random Observations in China":
. On the way to SAC one morning, I saw a van pulled over on the side of the road with its tire ablaze, and a crowd standing around watching... probably enjoying the heat while they could, because Jinan is so frickin cold.
. A man selling running shoes on the side of a highway. A HIGHWAY. Who is going to decide they need running shoes on the way to the bank or to work and pull over to try on shoes.. on the side of the HIGHWAY!?
. They painted Jenny's Cafe.
. The trees are almost completely naked now, and leaves have been everywhere for the last month... but still the street sweepers sweep. They dodge traffic during rush hour in their attempts to sweep every last leaf from the road. And pile upon pile line the sidewalk for as far as the eye can see... all to be blown away again by the passing of cars or by the school kids in their yellow long-brimmed hats that run through each pile on their way home from school. But still the street sweepers sweep.
. Second sleeves. I first saw the "second sleeve" in November and wondered what it was until curiousity got the best of me and I finally asked a student at the college. Think leg warmers for arms... but it's a second sleeve that covers the wrist-to-elbow section of your coat to keep it clean from all of the filth in Jinan. Usually in a bright, non-colour-coordinated pattern that is completely obvious from a mile away. I'm trying to find some to bring home. (Update: FOUND SOME! 2 RMB!)
. Walking home from school, I saw a man a having a bonfire on the side of the road.
. I was called a "lowai" to my face for the first time since I arrived in China.. by a man in Carrefour. "Lowai" translated literally means "old foreigner" in Chinese, but it's a derogatory name given to foreigners more commonly translated as "white devil".
. Old men playing Chinese chess. You see them in the occassional alleyway.. huddled around a small table, all squatting on their majas.. cigarrettes hanging from their lips and eyes focused intensely on the game at hand... but still yapping away and laughing in Chinese (yes there is a particular Chinese laugh).
. "Who the hell are Gary and Fornia?" (to Kelly re: Cal)
. When trying on clothes in China, don't be surprised if the fitting room is also the mop closet.
And again, new pictures for your viewing pleasure can be located.... here!
Until next time, all my love,