Or, maybe, you haven’t. Because, you know, it’s entirely possible you have things to do that don’t involve holding a candlelight vigil by your laptop waiting for my next blog post to show up on your computer screen. Although I can’t really imagine what those things might be.
Rest assured, my recent little blogging hiatus has not been the result of my not having anything to say. (I mean, come on, this is me we’re talking about here. Having nothing to say? I haven’t had that problem in like ever.)
I’ve had lots of things I’ve wanted to say.
I just haven’t had much time to say it.
You see, it takes me an embarrassingly long time to write each post. I’m a terribly slow, tedious writer. I write, and I rewrite. I hem, and I haw. I edit, and I reedit. And then I get distracted by Top Model All Stars.
Rather than getting easier for me, this blogging thing has only really gotten harder for me the longer I do it. Now that I know people are actually reading my blog, I’ve gotten even slower and more tedious. (Yes, it’s totally your fault I’m the least prolific blogger on the face of the Earth. Thanks a lot, you.)
I pretty much need to have an entire weekend free if I want to get a post done. Which would kind of be a problem if I had a family or a social life or, say, a desire to leave my apartment on a regular basis. Luckily for you, I can’t really say I have any of those things. (Yep, I bet you thought I acted like a shut-in all this time because I like living my life this way. Nope, I do this because of you. Again, thanks a lot, you.)Lately, I have actually been busy — really busy. Like leaving-my-apartment-a-lot busy. And not just watching-reality-TV-on-Hulu-busy which is usually what I mean when I say I’ve been busy.
And, sure, I know there are people who can be busy and blog at the same time. These are the kind of people who are good at time management and self discipline. These are also the same kind of people who find it possible to have chocolate in their house and not eat it.
These are not my people.
So what have I been up to this month that’s been keeping me so busy?
I thought you’d never ask.
I found out I’m not going to die (yet). I also found out I’m not an alcoholic (yet). These two things are related.So you know how I’m always blathering on about how China is trying to kill me because ever since I moved to China I’ve been suffering from some Eighteenth Century disease like Black Lung that makes me cough a lot and will eventually make me wither away into nothing and die? (Okay, so I’m still totally waiting for the withering stage of my disease, but I’ve gotten the coughing part down real good.)
Well, I finally relented and got some antibiotics.
And now I’m feeling much better.
So, yeah, I’m not going to die. (But I still wouldn’t mind if I withered a bit – especially if withering means I’d finally be able to buy pants in China.)
I am also relieved to tell you that I’m totally not an alcoholic.
Not that I thought I was an alcoholic, really. But, I do like my after-work glass of wine (or three). Plus, I really enjoy having a drink while I’m cooking dinner as it gives me a handy excuse for all the times I set myself on fire. (Which totally happens while I’m sober, mind you. Because, I really shouldn’t go anywhere near an open flame or, heck, even a crock pot, no matter how clear-headed I might be.)
So, okay, maybe the thought that I might have a little problem passed through my head a few times. But, usually, I just figure I missed my true calling — as an Italian.
Since I was on antibiotics, I had to lay off the wine for like a whole week for fear that my liver might explode.
And, I’m happy to report, I totally survived.
Then a doctor friend informed me that I probably wouldn’t die if I drank a glass of wine or two. This made me feel very virtuous and healthy for laying off the booze for no good reason.
This also made me feel like I had some catching up to do.
I graded a lot of research papers. And avoided grading a lot of research papers.
As I mentioned in my last couple posts, I’ve been teaching a research writing class this semester, which means I’ve been spending a lot of my weekends grading research papers. I’ve also been spending a lot of my weekends avoiding grading research papers and telling myself I’ll just wake up really early during the week to do that. You can imagine how well that’s been working for me.
Unfortunately, I still have about five kabillion more papers to grade even though the class ended a couple weeks ago. I totally meant to work on them this weekend, but, instead, I’ve been working on this blog post for you.
So, yeah, you’re the reason why my students won’t be getting their papers back this week. (Again, thanks a lot, you.)
I signed up for Nanowrimo. And I totally rocked it. For like an entire week.Last year, my friend, MaryAnne, tried to get me to sign up for Nanowrimo, which is this online writing project which challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I didn’t sign up last year as I was super busy being unemployed and living in Thailand and lounging around my apartment and stuff.
But, this year, now that I actually have a job, I was all like, “Okay, sure, I’ll sign up to write a novel in one month. Even though it takes me like two weeks to write a freaking blog post. And I have about five kabillion research papers to grade. And I’m very slowly withering to my death. But a novel? In a month? Sure, why not?”
Surprisingly, I was doing pretty well there at first. I managed to stick to my daily word requirement for a whole ten days. Mostly because I learned that I can write really quickly if I don’t have to worry about anyone reading what I’m writing… and when I get to make stuff up and not have to worry about anyone accusing me of lying.
I also learned that procrastinating while being productive makes me feel a lot better about myself than procrastinating while watching Hulu. (Even if it’s not nearly as much fun.)
I will not be leaving China. At least not soon. And probably not while alive.
I love China. I really do.
I mean, there are the dumplings:
And it’s socially acceptable to wear pajamas in public here:
Plus, there’s my couch:
But I’m really starting to suspect that China and I are in some kind of abusive relationship together.
You see, my contract was up for renewal this month and I decided to stick around another semester. Which means I’ll be staying another six months in this country – yep, the same country that is trying to kill me.
Sure, the antibiotics have put my hacking cough on temporary hiatus, but that doesn’t mean I’m safe.
Yesterday I almost got mowed down by a motorbike. Mind you, this was while I was on the sidewalk. Not like that was anything new – that pretty much happens to me everyday… well, everyday that I take my life into my hands by leaving my apartment.
But, yet, I’m still like, “Okay, sure, I’m not dead yet. It’s obvious China still wants me around. Why don’t I just hang out here a little longer?”
When the motorbikes start mowing me down in my apartment, then I’ll know it’s time to leave.
Or, at least time to see other countries.
I learned a Chinese drinking game. Subsequently, I found out I’m really bad at Chinese drinking games.
This is a picture of some friends trying to teach me a Chinese drinking game.
This is also a picture of me failing miserably at the aforementioned Chinese drinking game.
I don’t know if this is true for all Chinese drinking games, but this one involved math and motor skills.
I wouldn’t even be capable of playing this game while sober.
This is obviously just another case of China trying to kill me – this time with math and beer… lots and lots of beer.
I got to be the hostess with the mostest.Two weekends ago, Jeannie, the lovely lady behind the travel blog, Nomadic Chick, came to stay with me in Wuxi for a week while she was traveling through China.
She didn’t say this, but I suspect the real reason she came to Wuxi was because she really wanted a chance to hang out on my awesome couch. I mean, who can blame the girl?
Being the considerate hostess that I am, I made sure to make her lots of delicious meals. And pour her lots of cocktails. And then I washed all the breakfast dishes that she would so rudely leave in the kitchen sink every morning.
Wait a second.
I totally didn’t do any of that.
In fact, she did all of that stuff for me.
But, she did get to sleep on my awesome couch.
So I figure we’re even.
I acted like I knew a thing or two about Wuxi… and boys. Let’s just say, I won’t be winning an Oscar for either of those performances.While Jeannie was here, I had to pretend I was one of those people who actually leaves her apartment on a regular basis… and not just for work or because I’ve run out of food and have had to start gnawing on ice cubes for sustenance.
After all, I didn’t want her to post horrible things about me on her blog about how I’m totally lame and all I do is hang out on my couch all day and watch Top Model All Stars. You know, because that’s kind of my job.
So I made sure to take her around and show her all the sights of Wuxi. Seeing as I didn’t really know any of the sights of Wuxi (or even that Wuxi had sights), this basically, amounted to us stumbling upon some fancy temple or a cool café, and then me being all like, “Yep, I totally meant to bring you here.”
We even went out to a bar on a Saturday night. And I was all like, “Oh yeah, going out to a bar on a Saturday. I totally do that. Like, all the time.”
I’m pretty sure Jeannie was buying my little act, until I got a bit carried away and tried to show off by talking to boys.
Unfortunately, I don’t really know how to talk to boys so this amounted to me telling some Swiss guy that he was really cute. About five hundred times. At the top of my lungs. And then using my scarf like a lasso on the dance floor. Because I hear this kind of approach totally works with men.
I became the Chinese karaoke machine master.This is a picture of me drinking, singing karaoke and working the Chinese karaoke machine all at the very same time:
Let’s just say, this worked out a lot better for me than drinking and doing math at the same time. Probably because there was the promise of Abba songs to be sung.
I should mention the karaoke machine was mostly in Chinese. And the parts that were in English read something like this:
I should also mention that I can’t actually read Chinese. Or, at least, I didn’t think I could read Chinese. But, clearly, in the past ten months I have picked up a lot of essential Chinese phrases — like “Search by artist” and “Next song” and “Abba.” I just didn’t know it.
I acted like I knew a thing or two about Shanghai.After a fun-filled first weekend together in Wuxi, Jeannie and I spent last weekend in Shanghai, where we met up with some Dutch friends whom I had met in Laos last year.
Seeing as I was the only resident of China in the group and I’ve been to Shanghai a few times before, I was designated the group’s tour guide. I think we can all agree that this was a really bad idea and just shows what bad judges of character my friends are.
Luckily, I didn’t get us too lost and even managed to show my friends a few famous sights of Shanghai, like the Bund:
And Nanjing Road:
And People’s Park:
We also happened across the Marriage Market in People’s Park, where parents set up advertisements in the hopes of being able to marry off their single sons and daughters.
Of course, every time we’d come across something cool, I’d be like, “See? Isn’t this cool? And I bet you thought we were just wandering aimlessly. I totally meant to bring you here.”
My friends, being the poor judges of character that they are, totally believed me.
I learned a lot.As you can probably see, it’s been a busy month of learning for me. And, really, who can keep up with this kind of learning and maintain a blog at the same time? Certainly, not me. (Okay, yeah, those people who are able to have social lives and a blog at the same time probably can, but I believe I’ve already established I’m not those people.)
So what did I learn?
I thought you’d never ask.
I learned that I am capable of self-discipline. For exactly one week or ten days — whichever one comes first. (Mind you, this whole self discipline thing only applies to drinking and writing. It does not apply to chocolate. Or to resisting the siren calls of Hulu. Because, you know, those episodes of Top Model All Stars are really not going to watch themselves.)
I learned that I really should never, ever, ever volunteer to teach a research writing class ever, ever again. (I also learned that students will totally notice when you don’t hand back their papers for like a month. What’s the deal with that?)
I learned that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. (Or will just kill me eventually. In the case of China.)
I learned that I should really leave the apartment more as there are some really lovely places in Wuxi. And cute Swiss boys who hang out in bars. (Well, they’re probably not hanging out there anymore as I’ve clearly done my best to scare them off.)
I learned math and motor skills and beer don’t mix. (But I’m pretty sure I knew that beforehand.)
I learned I can live with someone and not go crazy. (Although it really helps if that someone makes me wontons… and does my dishes.)
I learned I have secret skills I never knew about. (At least when cheesy seventies pop music is involved.)
I learned that all who wander are not lost. (They’re just trying to pretend like they know where they’re going so they can impress their friends.)
I also learned that in China I don’t have to be able to talk to boys to find myself a husband. All I need is for my mom to go to the local park and advertise for me! (I think that’s going to work out a lot better for me than my current scarf-used-as-a-lasso technique for attracting men. Don’t you?)