Saturday, December 27, 2008

X-mas week (part 1)

I haven't kept in touch with anyone back home for the past week or so. This post is an attempt to justify/be payment for that. Also sadly, I did not take a single photo this week, despite the insane number of opportunities.

Weekend (Dec. 19th-21st) -- On the upcoming Monday, there was to be a final exam for the small class. This would also be my last class with them, which was a pretty big downer. I got pretty close with most of the small class because everyday I would make them tell me stories about themselves and I would often tell them (choice) stories about me. We had also spent tons of time together and usually had a great time doing it. It was easy to be successful in their class.

The weekend was fairly eventful, I met with my favorite "zhong guo ren" (Chinese person) Han Jie everyday for various reasons -- Friday we went out for drinks, Saturday I helped her buy shoes (thank you Bravo TV), and Sunday we had dinner with students from the big class to celebrate some winter festival that was happening that day. Apparently the tradition is that you have to eat "jiao zi" (dumplings) that day in order to ensure health during the winter. Jiao zi is a small dumpling that is usually sold on the street; they make them right there in front of you, throw them in a huge pot of boiling water, and then serve them to you in a bowl of hot water so that it can cook while you are holding it. So I guess it's pretty obvious that eating it definitely has a warming effect.

It wasn't easy to find free time. For some reason the big class students are a little more outgoing...meaning they want to do stuff with me outside of class. Also Han Jie is a starting to get less flaky, in fact most of what we did this weekend were her ideas, but who knows how long that'll last. Regardless, my time to plan the exam became more limited, which sucked because it took about 5 hours to make.

Monday (22nd) -- Gave the exam. All of the students were told about this last week, but, like usual, four of the really unmotivated students strolled in about 30 minutes late, holding bowls of soup they'd brought to eat during class. I wonder if they were surprised when everyone was quietly taking their exams? These tests are also stressful as hell because even if you tell them the consequences of cheating, like getting thrown out, they'll cheat anyway. I could go on a tangent now about why I think this is the case, but I won't bore you with that. Basically, proctoring sucks. The oral exam also included a conversational part, where I had to speak with each student individually for about 5 minutes. In the afternoon, I taught a writing class to the big class.

Monday evening odd one. The university planned a dinner for all of the foreign teachers which was to be held at this nice ass hotel:

From Wuhan

I was excited about the free meal and, surprisingly, the opportunity to meet other foreigners. Every chance to speak English normally is something that I don't take for granted nowadays. It's probably seems shallow, but I like dressing up and going to these types of things, tryin to act classy and adult and whatnot. Of course I'm kindof a joker, but it was hard to stand out at this party. I was going to go to this dinner with Michael.

I will dignify Michael with a paragraph of summary. He's the other foreign teacher who works in my office, but his students are going to Australia instead of Canada. I'd met him about a week before this dinner, despite the fact that we'd been working at the same place for three months. He's 45 and I'd guess 5'11", 230 lbs. This guy is fuckin unreal. Every time I've seen him, he's wearing a tweed jacket with no shirt underneath, shades, and a long, white wool scarf. I learned about all of his accomplishments, how much money and how many assets he owned, and enough about his life story to write a small book about...and I didn't even ask! For example, he graduated from Stanford, has at least one masters degree and two PhD' in philosophy, the other I don't know. He also owns real estate amounting to around $5 million, including a house on Madison Avenue. Foreshadowing alert: much of what I learned about him was after about 3 glasses of wine and a few very heavy rum & cokes, so forgive me if some of the details about him are blurry. I like his company I guess, because company is so hard to find, but the guy's ego is bigger than Anne Hathaway's grotesque mouth (sorry, watched brokeback mountain again recently).

The dinner was entertaining. I wanted to just relax after having dealt with that exam and teaching that day. Michael, myself, and two of our Chinese colleagues attended. Having Michael around as someone to talk to was good at first. He immediately made friends with the wait staff by paying them money to make sure he "didn't see the bottom of his glass." After the first 5 minutes of the dinner, a waiter refilled his glass. I hadn't drunk alcohol in a while, so I kept my pace relatively slow. I also realized that my colleagues weren't having much fun, not only because they had no one else to talk to, but also because Michael was flustering them by complaining about the job. At one point, he saw that people had brought friends, and asked why his girlfriend wasn't allowed to come. Ms. Ding said she didn't know, and that it was probably OK if other people were doing it. Hearing this frustrated Michael, so he immediately called his girlfriend and told her to come over. I couldn't wait to meet her!

In the meantime, he talked to a couple that was sitting at our table for about 5 minutes, and then headed off to get more food and socialize. As soon as he left, I looked at the couple. They looked at me. "Who is this guy?" It was a good ice breaker, especially welcome since they seemed like a nice couple to talk to. The man, Justin, was from Canada, and his wife Louanne was from China. There was obviously tons to talk about. They asked me where I was from. "Pittsburgh." I asked where Louanne was from. "Wuhan." Then I asked Justin where he was from. "Nova Scotia." I know where that is. "Sidney Crosby!" Maybe I've been to the Penguins' website a little too much. If hockey and being in China weren't enough to talk about, there was always Michael. Justin asked me if I'd ever heard of a book called "The Game," written by Neil Strauss. Believe it or not, I'd actually heard about it and know a little about the contents of it. Basically, Neil Strauss is a pick-up guru, and he wrote a book on how to pick up women. I could go on, but it just seemed like Michael had read about this too and was putting it into practice all night. But, Michael wasn't really a poster child of this book...I'd say as far as examples go, he was more like that mutated fetus from "Total Recall" that was growing out of a dude's chest.

Michael's wife showed up and met my colleagues. I didn't really see her coming in, so I knew I'd see her as soon as we were introduced. I turned around. "Damn." I don't know if I said that outloud, but these days, it's not like it matters heh. She was actually pretty hot though. Good for him. At this point, he was pretty drunk. He told her he wanted to go around to every table and introduce her. She looked at me. "Sounds like fun!" She definitely wasn't going to go along with this, so he went to all of the tables himself. Another opportunity to chat it up with the nice couple at our table. The party was settling down, and a Chinese host told the room the nice version of "get out."

Ten minutes passed, and the wait staff was starting to clean everything up. -doong doong doong- "Ladies and gentleeeeman." No way. Was it the Joker? Nah, but I turned around and saw some joker slouched over the podium adjusting the mic. "You may remember me as the guy who just visited all of your tables. We are going to go carousing after the party, so if you're interested, you can meet us at the hotel bar." I knew what to do. I looked at Justin and Louanne, and they laughed, "If you want, we can grab a coffee or something." I was alright. Michael is definitely rough, but I felt like going with him was at least good for a story. Plus he was buyin the first round. I was down. Justin & Louanne and I exchanged numbers, and then I headed out with Michael and his girl.

We went to the hotel bar -- "the Piano bar." I was appalled to find no piano in the place. We decided instead of buying a round of drinks, to get an entire bottle of Bacardi rum and a bottle of coke. With only us three, it was gonna be a hell of a night. I can't believe I'm saying this, but thank god some French people showed up. They were actually really entertaining though, and spoke English ridiculously well. I mean, they were French of course, but it was interesting to hear about what French people do.

By the end of the night, we'd ordered and finished a second bottle of rum. I made my own drinks -- 1 part rum, 1 part coke. Is that how you're supposed to make them? Well they tasted good, but damn. I guess I haven't drunk in a while. This is bad for two reasons...first, because my tolerance is that of a 15 year old girl's, and second, because I've forgotten how to drink. I got back to my apartment at around 2 am and immediately went to bed.

Tuesday (23rd) -- The next morning I had one of the worst hangovers I've ever had. I got up at 6 am couldn't get back to sleep. 7 am, first vom in China. I also didn't have drinking water in my fridge, so I was waiting for 8 am when the convenience store downstairs would no doubt be open. This wasn't good. First, Han Jie had been planning a big student "party" for this night. I also got a call from my boss at around 11am saying that one of my students wanted to take me out to lunch at noon. Thankfully, I didnt have classes Tuesday because Han Jie's party was a pretty big deal.... be continued...


TallE said...

can't wait for the rest of this one

mj said...

one of many lessons in china: always keep drinking water in fridge. for the love of God, this part of the story i really felt for ya. also cant wait for the ending to this story. and i'm so glad you found the french people entertaining. and mom says to keep hydrated.