Friday, October 12, 2007


Today has been a relatively unoffensive and pleasant day. I slept in this morning and then Scott and I headed to the gym. Sounds like a simple enough morning, right? Heading to the gym at home consists of jumping in the car, driving ten minutes, and there you are at the gym.

Here, it is a much more complex and intricate process... one which involves publicity, stardom, and Miss America-esque waving; one which requires unremitting friendliness in the face of intense curiosity.

I walk downstairs and out of the building; upon opening the door, I'm usually faced with fifty or so students lingering in the courtyard. After appropriately greeting everybody ("Hello's" all around!) I continue.

Halfway out of school, I'm heckled by the kitchen boys. They spend most of their time sitting out on the stoop peeling garlic, and my presence is a welcome distraction at any time of day. They say some sort of jibberish to me in Chinese and laugh, and I usually return with something like, "How's the garlic peeling going?" or "Smoking will kill you." No one understands each other, so our heckling is pretty harmless.

Passing through the gate, I must wave hello to the guards and several pedicab drivers who regularly wait outside for potential passengers. I proceed up our side street to the main road, encountering throngs of students hanging about and buying snacks; of course, they all want to say hello as well and then giggle about it afterwards.

Finally I make it to the main street. While I wait for a cab on the corner, every pedicab driver and motorcyclist who passes by attempts to sell me a ride into town, which I smilingly (albeit sometimes with gritted teeth!) refuse. Farmers, peasants, students, people on the bus, and whoever else is passing by at the time slow down to stare at the tall, blonde foreigner until I manage to hail a cab.

So- to continue with the narrative about my day- I went to the gym, or as my membership card says, "The Body Sculpture Fytness Club (Group)." Today, as usual, Scott and I were the only people inside, so we could sculpt our bodies in peace. The place is not air-conditioned, which makes jogging on the treadmill a tad uncomfortable, but it's got a good selection of working weight machines, ellipticals, exercise bikes, etc.

After the gym, we go to the Muslim noodle restaurant for lunch as usual. Located right across the street from both the Normal College and the Number One Middle School, the place is a favorite of students. It's owned by a very nice Muslim family, who handmake our bowls of noodle soup and serve us the delicious, fresh dishes. A filling meal for the two of us normally ends up costing about 25 yuan, or $3.50.

We ride the bus back to school. Since our street is under construction, the last bus stop is about a 15- minute walk from the front gate. Pleasant enough in today's beautiful fall weather. On the way, I stop to make 50 copies for my class, which takes about 15 minutes because the ancient copy machine keeps jamming.

Back home to shower, study a bit of Chinese, and then class at 2:50 with the college freshmen. Today is listening day, so I read passages out of the book while they answer multiple choice and fill in the blank questions. During the second period, we listen to English songs (today, Backstreet Boys and Tim McGraw) and the students complete worksheets of the lyrics that I have assembled. The lesson goes smoothly, except for some difficulty with the cruddy bass on my $20 speakers.

Class ends at 4:30, and I head home to do some laundry and write this journal entry. Tonight, Scott and I are introducing Kevin to the awesome Western restaurant we visited on Mid-Autumn Day. Tomorrow morning, our Chinese tutor is taking us to a nearby beach with a few of her friends; it will be a good opportunity to practice my fledgling Chinese.

Yes! I have plans for the weekend! TGIF.

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