So, now that Thanksgiving has fulfilled its duty, Christmas is peeking around the corner. Or according to the stores and advertisements, it’s yelling at me and throwing glitzy ornaments at my head. Yes, China may not celebrate Christmas as we do, but those Chinese businessmen squeeze every last Mao (0.1 yuan) out of any unsuspecting holiday. Yes, capitalism is a delightful thing … wait, am I really talking about China here? Yes, the People’s Republic of China, of course. No false advertising there.
As of this week, I have been in China for 2.5 months, 10 weeks, 70 days, or 1680 hours. However you want to look at it, it’s been a substantial amount of time. Twice as long as any other mission trip I’ve had. I’m surprised that I have been able to begin to understand the Chinese language, but I’ve realized that learning Chinese can quite easily be a lifelong endeavor. Even if you’ve mastered the four tones and know how to speak and write several thousand characters (no mean feat), you are probably on the same level as the common, blue-collar worker. There’s always more characters to learn, more tones to master, and more cultural barriers to surmount. But I don’t mind challenges. Give me your best, China, I’m ready (that’s my overly optimistic, idealistic side; for now I will ignore the realistic, pessimistic side of me).
I guess it took traveling to China to get me officially kicked out of the house and placed in my own apartment. What do I miss? Well, delectable home cooking, free laundry, soft mattresses, central heat/A/C, and a bi-level stairway come to mind. What do I gain here? Compulsory self-cooking lessons, forcible laundry days, a straight back from my spring-less mattress, radiator heat, and a maddeningly slow elevator climb to the 11th floor of my apartment suite. I do have one thing that beats a two-story house. A rooftop view of Huangdao, which includes a section of the bay, a plethora of yellow cranes along with an immeasurable number of iron scaffolding encasing 20+ story apt. projects, and the bustling scene of pedestrians, bikers, electric scooters, motorcycles, cars, buses, and trucks heading toward there various destinations. It’s rarely quiet here until about 10 pm. Then, everything shuts down except for nightclubs and bars.
Because of an unexpected small migraine today, I decided to run it off, literally. So I put on my Vibram Fivefingers shoes, which have individual toe inserts and marginal padding on the sole of the foot, and went out for a jaunt. I must have forgotten that it was a windy, rainy, cold night (40F), because it was not a pleasant night to run. However, I did manage to run off the migraine and replace it with ringing ears and asthmatic lungs. Ah, one of these days I will believe those people who claim running is good for you. Mentally, I feel like it’s good, but physically I feel like I’m intentionally mauling my body. Doctors would say that’s the beginning of muscle rebuilding, but I would affirmatively say that’s the precursor to a bruised, battered body in the morning.
This post has included more ramblings than usual, which I apologize for. But, hey, one has to ramble once in a while for sanity’s sake. Back to the holiday theme, I’m excited to go to a holiday party this weekend with an international flair, and I’m still excited to celebrate Christmas, but it will sure be different this year. I’m very concerned as to how my parents will manage to ship all my gifts this year with the additional expense of shipping and handling. I’m sure the 72-inch HDTV with a couple million pixels will be quite inexpensive. 🙂 To all those who read my blog, have a great holiday season and don’t get too harried to forget to take a break once in a while. Cheers.