I know weekends lack those wonderfully diverse personalities that we humans have, but I think it fits nicely with my feelings this past weekend. It consisted of a series of highs and lows, and it all began with a ferry ticket.
On Friday, I had the choice to go to my afternoon class at 2 pm or to purchase a ferry ticket at the Orient Ferry ticketing agency. Naturally I chose to skip class and get my ticket. When I contacted the agency, an English-speaking Chinese woman gave me the address to the place – 100 Hongjiang Middle Road. Easy enough, I thought. After the taxi driver dropped me off near a supermarket, I walked along the road looking for this place. I knew it was near two banks and past a KFC. Fortunately, I passed the KFC; unfortunately I passed by at least 8 different banks after KFC. I also couldn’t seem to find any numbering on the buildings. Later on, I discovered that the numbers are located on this Post-It size blue label near each door. They don’t seem to like engraving them above the door posts or placing them in some prominent spot.
After arriving at the agency, I realized that I had no money and no passport. Well, at least I knew where the place was now. Time to meander around downtown Qingdao until Steve’s farewell dinner. Yes, my roommate had to fly back to America to take two finals at Northland. I considered phoning the Northland mission department and requesting that they let Steve take his finals in China to further his cultural experience, but then I realized it would be utter futility. I guess roommates cannot last forever. Now I will have to fend for myself and cook all the meals. I hope I survive.
Coming back to meandering around China, I received a call from Rob asking me to get a taxi and head over to the restaurant. Easy enough, there’s probably twenty or so that pass through this part of Qingdao every couple minutes. Today, though, was not a normal day. Either the drivers had decided to have an anti-American boycott that day or I unknowingly had the power of invisibility because I could not get a taxi. Sometimes I was on the wrong side of the street. Other times some Chinese guy would steal my ride. And most times they couldn’t understand my directions or refused to take me. I am still puzzled with those who refused to take me, yet are paid to drive people to their destinations. Somewhat of an oddity there.
After running along various streets, hopping on a few random buses, and looking for anything familiar, I did manage to procure a ride from a taxi driver filling up at a gas station. Thankfully, he knew where Ligong Daxue (Technological University) was, and my friend took me the rest of the way to the restaurant. I may have been an hour late, but at least I got there. The food was cold, but at least it was edible. I may have been on the verge of insanity, but at least I had a semblance of sanity (at least I think I did).
Saturday had its own bipolarity. The major low was my roommate’s departure at 8 am. What do you say to someone who has endured your idiosyncrasies as a roommate for several months? Well, I was too groggy to consider that, but I did wish Steve all the best and told him we must Skype every day. Of course, with that Greek final looming, he may be preoccupied. Oh well. With his studious reading of Greek flashcards, he did inspire me to compile a set of Chinese flashcards. I thought it was a good idea until I realized I had over 500 characters to study. I desperately miss the English alphabet.
After Steve left, I did not dissolve into hysterics, because I had to prepare for the Holiday Party. My friends were the hosts, and I had agreed to make a dessert and bring two Russian friends. Due to some misinformation on the bus numbers, they arrived at the bus station a couple minutes before the party began. So we rushed to my apartment and then speed-walked over to my friends’ house. Altogether, about 20 people came to the party, which made it quite the festive occasion.
Before I ate, I hurriedly made some chocolate rice balls. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, but I almost felt like a pastry chef when the product was finished. I hoped that no one had any gastric disorders after consuming my rice balls. You never know. After the dessert making, I indiscriminately consumed all foods before me, and they were very satisfying. Some tender turkey, a Mexican tortilla dish, sugar-encrusted potatoes, meatballs, and Chinese dumplings. Later, we played a little memory Christmas game and then recounted certain Christmas traditions we have. When you combine Belgians, Czechs, Italians, Germans, Frenchmen, Russians, Kazakhs, Chinese, and Americans, you have a multiplicity of traditions. Some like to eat fish on Christmas day. Many go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Others have more of a New Year’s Eve celebration than a Christmas. And of course, the common thread is plentiful food and bountiful presents.
I guess that encompasses my bipolar weekend. As Christmas fast approaches, I wish everyone a merry holiday season – one without too much bipolarity, of course, and just enough sanity.