Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tired...So tired

The first week was crazy busy, with lots of catching up and character memorization, an editing job for an MD trying to get his article published in a US medical journal, late nights (not going out) and a long weekend of later nights and not enough sleep. Sunday night I finally got a good 7 hours of sleep but all week i've been working with 5 or 6. yesterday i had a great ride to work, where i had a chat with a student of mine as we biked along yi huan lu, saw the owner of jia bar, who told me to be careful, and then explained the american name for coca-cola to the dude i buy a bottle of coke from every day before work. it was pretty funny explaining that it basically comes from two nuts. his daughter was also listening, helping him out when my putonghua failed me and i needed to gesture in order to get the idea of "nut" across (i pointed to a package of peanuts). it was a short sequence of events that really showed me that i live here, this is my home, and i'm, in a sense, a local. i regularly explain where restaurants and bars are in my neighborhood, talk about the best restaurants and dishes in chengdu, give taxi drivers directions when they don't know where to go (this is rare), etc.
after work i went to my girlfriend's house, we went out for seafood, had a great time, my face hurt from laughing and smiling so much. i've also tried to speak more and more chinese with her, now making it more of a routine than an exception. so yeah, a nice long relaxing dinner, then stayed over at her place, got up and made it to class early today, talked with a movie casting-director looking for foreign actors for a movie, gave him my number, chatted for like five minutes. class was alright, listening is really hard as there is quite a lot of vocab and precise words that i don't know, like when to use "just (now)" when it means earlier than expected and when it means later than expected. gotta love little nuances like this. chinese is efficient though - they just add a word to differentiate. after class, i went home, chatted with sam, we went over to alex's and woke up rick, who got in from HK last night. we had lunch at green dragon, then i got a haircut, went to the bookworm and had a coffee outside, studied chinese for like 45 minutes, then went to edu's roof, where we did some muay thai training for like an hour and a half. then i biked to work, where i'm writing this now. i'm looking forward to a few beers after work, celebrating the imminent arrival of friday. i love being in school, even if it is hard as fuck.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Beginning of Term / End of Winter

I suppose winter officially ended about a month ago (apparently on Feb. 4), but its still cold. I got up early today for class, attended, then decided i wanted to skip a level. so i went to the next 3 blocks of reading and writing, held my own, and will be working hard in a large class to do well. my friend andrew, who is now learning to read and write, will be with me in class, which will be good as our strengths balance each other. after class we got the rest of our books, went back to his place, ordered some chuan cai and studied for a bit. i reread the text aloud for him and he worte down the pinyin (another advantage of this class - almost no pinyin, meaning the absolutely necessary knowledge of all the characters), then we played some pes and i went to work early. i just prepped my social class and wrote a couple emails. my books arrived today, which is just awesome. so yeah, prob. a quiet night of characters and reading. i'm already pretty tired, but just have to push through a bit of teaching then back home. tomorrow: speaking, listening, maybe a muay thai lesson. we'll see.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Weekend Madness

A quick breakdown: friday i went out to coffee with my friend Andrew, we caught up, chatted about our respective girls, then i went home and had a fried rice before work. After work, I went on a date with an awesome Chinese girl and went home early, caught a few hours of sleep before I went off to the train station at 7 am. On arriving, my friend Arnaud handed me a beer, the madness began. We played cards and drank beers on the train to chongqing, hanging out with four other members of our football team (jeff hu, mark guan, melon and peter, an american). we grabbed cabs to the university when we arrived and arnaud and i kept trying to get melon to have a beer with us but he was far too hungover from the night before, a going away party for one of our teammates who is moving to shanghai. we had a quick lunch on the street outside the university then hiked up. chongqing is really hilly, perhaps moreso than hong kong or san francisco. the whole city was covered in mist and raining intermittently, the temperature around 10C. we climbed to the top of a hill into a massive construction site, tramping through mud up to the pitch, which was a potato field, sandy and clay-ey, with nice big puddles of water. i watched the first half, got warmed up, and played 10 minutes in the second half, made a few tackles and picked up 4 serious scrapes, 3 on my left elbow and a big patch on my right knee. next time i'll wear more clothes. after the game we tried to play football for like half an hour, then piled into vans and went to our hostel to shower. a new friend, fred, introduced me to the technique of army showering (passing the soap and showerhead over the curtain separating us). it was pretty hilarious watching 15 guys between the ages of 15 and 45 showering withing 2 minutes. then back into the vans and off to golden han's, a brazilian bbq chain that brews their own beer. our host was the former chinese ambassador to france, who gave a nice introductory speech. we chatted and drank and ate, reveling in the tackles and the fraternal sentiments. we returned to the hostel and went to bed around 11, woke up at 10 am in massive pain, went downstairs and had a coffee with arnaud before getting some noodles for breakfast. i bought a couple souvenirs, then we took the train back to chengdu. my recent girl came and met me at the train station, we went back to my house, she gave me a much-needed massage, showered, treated my wounds, then we went to dinner with eli, his gf coco, sam and his gf yin yin. we went back home after dinner, then went to jah bar for a beer. i took the girl home, then met up with eli, sam and callum at hemp house, where we chilled until about 2, then came home and went to bed. another great weekend, further solidifying my love of this place, of my friends, and of the chinese language. other than the constant pain i am in from my rugby injuries, its been pretty great recently. next week the semester starts, and back to the grind. im looking forward to the structure.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

I spent today chilling at a tea-house/bar my friends own, sitting in the sun in shorts and sandals. I talked with my friend Reed for a while and Terry and Dwayne came by and chatted for a while. Then I bought a rose for my date and some chocolates and walked around. It is pineapple season in Chengdu, so for 1 kuai you can buy a quarter of a pineapple, peeled, on a stick. It's pretty awesome, I mean, who doesn't love pineapples? So yeah, tonight, dinner and then watch a movie. Tomorrow: football and then the Old Firm.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spring! Shorts!

So in the last week it has clearly transitioned from winter to spring, the Chinese haven't quite caught on yet (they like to wear lots of clothes). Yesterday was the last day of Spring Festival, ending with the Lantern Festival (guo da nian), when thousands of Chinese gather along rivers and major roads and light candle-propelled paper lanterns, which rise slowly in the sky, creating constellations of rising stars surrounded by fireworks and loud booms. It was pretty cool. As I was biking home I wasn't really sure what was happening, and from the 25th floor at work, I watched the fireworks begin around 8. When I went home at 2 am from poker the fireworks were still going strong. I'll be glad to have them put away for a year, as the constant noise is a bit much. Today I played some go with my friend Ben at Middle Bar and had a couple beers, then biked to work. 3 hrs of class and hopefully another beautiful day tomorrow, my friend Andrew returns and so that'll be fun. No big news other than that, Oscar post still to come. Oh and I got a new visa so I'm in China for another 6 months at least.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chun Jie Kuai Le! (Happy Spring Festival!)

Saturday I got my medical report (all clear, no plague) and Adam and I biked into town to go the PSB (public safety bureau). That went fine as well, other than Adam taking us on an unnecessary tour of northern Chengdu. Then I went to computer city, bought some DVDs and went to the shamrock to meet up with my football team. we stayed there and drank for a while, then i came home and showered. i met back up with all the football mates at the leg n whistle for an australia day party, it was great, playing games, drinking beers with all the boys. after a raucous evening i went home, ready to sleep.
sunday was new years eve so adam and i chilled for a while at his house, watching the early fireworks from the 12th floor. then we went to a party at owen and sam's house (two guys i play football with, an irishman and a dutchman. haha, i've never typed dutchman before) after dinner. it was awesome, a great 2-story penthouse with a big roof, a full bar and about 40 people, entirely foreigners but i didnt know about half of them. it was the best party ive been to in china, a great, american-style houseparty. we climbed onto the roof before midnight and started setting off the fireworks. so yeah its cool that you can buy the fireworks that cities shoot off in the states and light them yourself. so from the 7th story, we looked out across chengdu, fireworks in every direction, ash raining down a bit like pompeii, carousing with cool new friends. we stuck around until about 130 and as we were getting into the cab it started snowing. it was pretty cool, my first spring fest, great party, then driving through snow on the way home.
new years day everything was closed so sam and i basically hid inside until our stomachs got too empty, then we went to peter's tex-mex and i had some great steak tacos (like prob a 7/10 on us standards) with charlie, then we hung out at his house and played some videogames before coming home for poker. oz, dwayne, tom, andy from dave's, zach, rick, sam and i played. it was a good, big game, we played for wayyyy too long and then got mcdonalds breakfast. german and my friend matt from latin, from way back in high school, came by and chilled. today im planning more dvd-watching and an oscar post once ive finished some more of the top films of this year. year of the ox! its off to a good start, with friends visiting and more coming back soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter Holiday, Working and Sunshine

Today I got up around 10:30, a bit early for me in these lazy times, threw on a classic rap album (so I'm told - Das EFX - Dead Serious - 1992) and continued to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez' first volume of his memoirs, Living to Tell the Tale. After Dead Serious finished, I put on Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Soul Brother Number 1, another canonical hiphop album, and continued to read and chatted online with my buddy Andrew in New Zealand. After a good long chat, my friend Adam came by and he, Sam and I got some chuan cai. After lunch, Adam and I went to the Travel Safety Office for our medicals but were told to come back tomorrow between 830 and noon. So he went off to the university to pay his fees and I went home, bought some food at the market (sausage, potatoes, onions) and then Adam and I went to a Starbucks at Wu Hou Ci (a local tourist trap next to a renovated alley of tourist shops called Jin Li). We sat in the fashionable garden and drank our delicious coffees (literally exactly the same taste for the espresso - which is a great taste i've missed in my recent penurious state), reading our novels in the decadent January sunlight. It seemed like a spring day and was a delight to ride around on our bikes, soaking up vitamin D and smiling like adolescents after a dance. (I guess maybe Marquez is making me verbose, his style and energy is really quite contagious - maybe that's what i'll use my vacation for - now don't get too ahead of yourself with delusions of marquez-like grandeur Reid - that's enough of an aside). But yeah, I had forgotten how much of an influence weather has on me, that was really one of the prime reasons I loved austin so much, mainly the fact that when weather everywhere else was such shit it was lovely in austin. so yeah, its great, no clouds, which is quite rare, and a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures maybe in the teens. so surely my laundry will be dry tomorrow, which will be nice. So yeah, no work tomorrow, I have yet to know about friday so we'll see but i dont have my hopes up. Then a week of no work, probably a lot of reading and drinking coffee, going to the bars that are open and eating chinese food, maybe lighting off some firecrackers. it's been an interesting winter but i'll make it through, should be off to yunnan in a couple weeks, then when i get back andrew will be here, then just a couple weeks til the spring semester starts and we can put away winter clothes for a bit. but yeah, sunshine is underrated, especially in the Sichuan basin. more to come.