Feast or famine, that seems to be the pattern here. A few weeks ago I was bored. Now, there is never enough time. Classes, projects, students, teachers, friends. This job is difficult for an introvert. I am still enjoying it, but I need time to crash and recover. Maybe in June when my schedule drops off again, but I always seem to find more projects.
This last week was probably the busiest I will have. We had a makeup class for Tomb Sweeping Day, a long weekend festival that reminds me of Dia De Los Muertos. It’s more private, more quiet, but it is still a day to remember family members who have died. A lot of my students went home for the holiday, and the ones that were too far or are Muslim spent time with friends, hiking and eating. It’s a holiday we could learn from, a day to remember family.
I spent the weekend with friends, practicing Chinese, eating, and working on my forms. I haven’t had taiji class for a few weeks now because of time of year. My teacher works at a middle school, so he has been pulled into work on Sundays for competitions and makeup days. Weekends are not protected here, and if you are off on Thursday and Friday you work on Sunday.
Classes weren’t too difficult, but they were fairly constant. Especially Wednesday. I was in a classroom for eight hours that day. Harsh, even if a couple of the hours were a conversation class where I didn’t have to do too much. Adding the time I’ve been spending in the gym and there isn’t much time left to do anything. Feast or famine.
I went to dinner with friends a couple of times, once with my xingyiquan teacher and once with a family I buy street food from a lot. I have gotten used to the dinners with my teacher, and it’s getting easier to talk to them every time I see them. I’m told my teacher’s accent is pretty heavy, but I’m getting used to it. They served soup with chicken wings and beef bones, refilled with vegetables to cook after the meat was gone. They kept most of the beef bones for something, except mine. They were softened to the point where I chewed them up to get the flavor out. Apparently that’s not common here.
The other family is from Sichuan, a husband and wife. Their son was out most of the night, but they had a couple of his friends over, two men he met when they were soldiers together. We spent most of the night talking and drinking, playing a very aggressive form of rock paper scissors as a drinking game. I drank more than I wanted to, but I don’t like the alcohol here in general. It’s far more harsh than it needs to be.
The weather has been all over the scale too. There was a dust storm over the holiday weekend, then a snow the next day. The snow came down looking pure white, but it left dirt when it hit the ground and melted. There was no accumulation during the day, the earth didn’t get cold enough until after the sun went down. During the night it built up some, but it melted again when the sun came up. The days were warm, the nights freezing, but now the temperature is dropping again. I’m told it’s like that here in April.
There is always more to tell, every thing I remember leads me to another event. I have been having dinners and lunches with my students from the IELTS class. I made it part of their practice. Partially for me, partially for them. I can’t do it with my other classes because there are just too many students, but this is a way I can connect with them outside the classroom. They are still nervous, but hopefully I can keep trying to make it easier.
There is more, but there always will be. The details, the people, the memories. I collect as much as I can here, but there will never be enough words to really show the life here. But always, in the back of my mind is a phrase I read. “People travel to faraway places to watch in fascination the kind of people they ignore at home.”
Dagobert D. Runes US writer