Random rainy Thursday thoughts
Well, dear friends, loved ones, and readers in general, John and I have the pleasure of having a few unexpected days off. 🙂 We have no idea when this will happen again since our schedule is perpetually up in the air. So we decided to make the most of our time off! After spending a mostly lazy day yesterday watching TV shows on Hulu and relaxing, along with just a little cleaning and an attempt to catch up on laundry (I still have one more load… which will probably be two by the time I get around to it again… I so wish we had a dryer sometimes! I could do laundry all at once instead of waiting for each load to air dry!), we decided to escape Yueyang and all that frustrates us and spend a few days in Changsha. At the current moment, I am sitting in Starbucks in Changsha collecting my thoughts on my new life (marriage and a move to China!) and recent events.
– Communicating in Chinese. After nearly two months here (on the 24th!) I still don’t know that much Chinese. This is in part due to the fact that we are not being given the Chinese lessons that we were promised. And that the administrators at our school insist on doing everything for us instead of teaching us how to take care of ourselves. As the saying goes, “If you give a man a fish, he will have food for the day. If you teach a man to fish, he will have food for a lifetime.” It’s frustrating to be honest. However, despite our lack of conversational Chinese, I do manage to communicate decently. I can order food at a restaurant down the street (with the help of the picture menu on the wall and a lot of pointing! But I can read a few symbols and items on the menu now!). I can even order take out! I can take a taxi. I can purchase train tickets. I can reserve a hotel room. I can order milk tea at the Milk Bear (ok that doesn’t count… she speaks English.). I can take the public bus from Yueyang to Changling. I can order food on the street. I can go grocery shopping. I can travel. I just can’t have conversations… which totally isn’t good. 😦 This means that other than John, whom I love dearly, I have no friends in China. 😦 😦
– Living in China. The culture is radically different. Most of the time it is the exact opposite of American culture. But I don’t mind it for the most part. I absolutely hate that they will tell you just about anything, including complete lies, in order to save face. Intensely irritating. And while I am at last accustomed to Chinese toilets, I still prefer the Western style toilets. I’ll let your imaginations run wild as to why that might be. But life isn’t all bad, despite my penchant for complaining at times. People are still people. Food is more or less still food; they have a much, much, much broader definition of what is edible that constantly assaults my senses. God is still with me. And so is my best friend. While I’m not enamored with the country, I wouldn’t mind spending a few years here before beginning the next grand adventure (to who knows where… but my guess is not the U.S. … at least not permanently).
– Working. After hours of research and comparison, I have come to realize that our job situation is not normal. Our contract is not typical. We are overworked and underpaid; our schedules are ridiculous! And in a sense, we are kept from bettering our situation by tutoring or making other contacts. But at the same time, I can’t really complain. I have all that I need right now. And more. So while everything is vexing, or at minimum annoying, God is still in control and taking care of us. That is what is important. And that is what I need to remember.
-Owning so much stuff. So when I moved to China, I got rid of a ton of stuff! I felt God’s call to not be burdened by earthly possessions, but to be free to follow Him wherever He leads me. When I boarded the plane for China, I had all (well most, my box of journals, a box of keepsakes, and my wedding dress are in storage in the States) of my possessions were in a suitcase, a backpack, and a messenger bag. I thought I didn’t have much left. But I was wrong. While traveling around China the past few weeks, I have realized how much stuff I still have. I don’t wear many of the clothes I brought with me (partly due to losing weight… don’t worry, there is still plenty of meat on my bones). I don’t need all that I own. And yesterday I made a decision. When I leave China, I want to fit all of my earthly possessions into a 50 liter backpack and whatever tote bag I am using as a purse/carry-all. I can fit all that I need into that. And my suitcase didn’t really survive the trip to China anyway…
– Maintaining relationships. Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones from the States is hard work. It requires vulnerability and dedication to write emails, post on facebook, and pursue people. It’s easy to forget, or rather just not remember, friends who are overseas. Trust me, I know. I’ve been bad at keeping up with friends who have gone overseas before I did. But I value these friendships and take great encouragement from them. So I will keep trying as best as I can… although I will falter at some points, as I already have. I’m beyond extremely grateful for the people who call me friend and love me. They show me God’s love every day. The value of relationships is something that Chinese culture has taught me. They value relationships greatly and are thus patient and attentive. Surviving and thriving here is based on relationships. Relationships are just crucial to life. Even if you aren’t in China.
– Writing. Writing is a developing passion of mine. I want to be a professional writer. And to that end, I need to dedicate myself to writing everyday and honing my craft (and God-given talent). So I have set a few goals for myself. Write everyday. I often fail this goal, but I’m trying to improve. And in my defense, I have multiple blogs to keep up on… Anywho, read great writers. What better way to learn an art than to imitate the greats? Fake it ’til you make it, right? Write for Relevant magazine. Write short stories about my life in China (possibly to compile into a memoir-type novel like Eat, Pray, Love only just in China). And this is where I ask a favor of you my readers. Would you please comment on my posts? I won’t know what is good and appealing to read from what is stale and boring unless you provide such valuable feedback. Please, please, please? With a cherry on top?
Ok… that concludes my thoughts for the evening. It’s been an enjoyable day of wandering around Changsha (and by that, I mean walking for 4 hours straight). I apologize for the length of this post… I’ll keep it shorter and pithier next time, I promise!