Friday, September 5, 2008

Now and again

So, instead of trying to play catch-up right now, I will just start from where I am and take care of the back-log later. :) I'm in Yongzhou, Hunan, China. Yeah. I made it. Maybe next post I'll explain why that is just such a miracle, because it truly is. Trust me. It's a wonder I get anywhere. :) Usually, I just skate by on charm and good looks... *hey, no snickering...*

I'd like to explain why being a celebrity would be Hell.

I'd like to appologize for the use of that word, but it's really the only word that applies. Here in China, I stand out. Surprise. Remind me when I get back to make a shirt that says, "I'm huge in China." If you've ever walked around in a giant pink bunny suit on a busy New York street, you truly understand what it's like for me to live here in China. It might be the blue eyes. It might be the blonde hair. It might be my incredible good looks. (Okay, so maybe not)

Anyway, I can't step out of my apartment without: 1. stares (or stairs: we live on the second floor), 2. a chorus of "hello's" and "hi's", fangirls giggling behind their hands, hoping I'll drop something so that they can put it in a shrine. While I am usually prone to exaggeration, this time I'm serious. Dead serious. I always thought it would be fun to have groupies. I was so wrong. Actually, just today, a small gaggle of my students (14-16 year-old girls) came up to Shannon, and said, "We think your husband is very cool. And CUTE!" They promptly vanished, leaving a cloud of giggles in their wake.

Introductions in class are a hoot, too. Some of these kids give themselves their own English name. Most of them speak only enough English to say, "my name is Kobe Bryant," "Jackie Chan," or "Harry Potter." Really.

I've also had some like Aoes (which isn't even pronouncable), Watch, Dak, and Sen, and Coffee. Coffee is so aptly name it's frightening. Her favorite phrase is "Happy Happy Every Day!" It's not uncommon for her to say it 10 times in a 5 minute period.

But, you know whose name takes the cake? Now, remember, this name is self-given, and belongs to a 14 year-old girl, dressed in pastel pink, living in the middle of a Communist country...

You'll never guess.


I kid you not.

I almost laughed out loud.

Only 13 years of exposure to Paul and Ben kept me from rolling on the grimy, chalky floor. I really almost died. I mean, what do you say to that? "Good name"?

On a totally different note, I take my frisbee to every class, and show them how it's thrown by throwing it to a couple of them, and having them throw it back, to varying degrees of effectiveness. After one class, (long story short, I missed a class because my schedule was given to me wrong, and made up the class in 8th period, when it would have been study hall), some of the kids followed me around asking me questions. Their English was surprisingly good. Especially a very tall kid (probably 5'10"). Well, they sort of held my frisbee as a compliant hostage, and said that they wanted to play. So, a group of 6 of us went to the field (riddled with mud and rocks and, of all things, cement. There is also a HUGE tree right in the middle. Made in China. We threw the frisbee back and forth for a while before one of the PE teachers came over. We thought we were in trouble, but it turned out, she just wanted to play! 2 of the kids, Adam and Alan (they were probably both 5'10") had hops, and very good timing. They both play basketball, but the timing is totally different. So, with the addition of the PE teacher (a very athletic looking woman, probably 5'4"), we threw the disc around.

As I watched them throw the frisbee, I was pleasantly surprised at just how quickly they caught on. Really, they played very good. For never having seen a frisbee before, they had so much raw potential....

I honestly don't know how to describe how it felt to be throwing the frisbee around, like so many times before, and have it feel the same. Even though I was on the other side of the world, even though their faces were different, and their English was either broken or non-existant, and even though the surroundings were third-world, backward, and dirty, I was home. I was with my wife. I was playing frisbee.... I know that sounds a little weird for some of you, but I know Paul and Sasquatch will at least understand.

I felt like I was home.

Then, I realized that I should probably not get too sweaty because we haven't had running water for the last 3 full days. (Some of the students didn't have it either... they hadn't showered... I could tell... poor kids.)

I could easily live here. Scary, huh? I mean, I would never go to the doctor, and would have to keep saying, "Bu yao. Tai La!!" (No thanks! It's too dang SPICY!) These people really make Dad's hot sauce look tame.

Have you ever blacked out? You know how your vision, gradually becomes tunnelled, and then goes black? Well, my 2nd day here, they gave us some green peppers. I decided that I was going to be Hunan-y, and eat some. I took several chopstick-sized scoops. I ate them very quickly, chewing thoroughly. My face began to be hot, then burning, then it wilted, and dropped onto the table, bursting into greenish flames.... Yeah, it was hot. I thought to myself, "I'm doing alright! I can still wheeze just a little, and I can blame the rivulets on my face on my gratitude to my host." Then, I gradually got tunnell vision, and my hearing started to fade. Those last two really happened! I thought the peppers were going to kill me!! That sort of fire is impossible to mitigate. It just burns.

Dad, you would be proud!

Well, peeps, I am doing just fine. I'll have some pictures for you when I come better prepared. I love you all so much.




  1. Are teaching english in China?

  2. Hi Shannon! It's Sue Staus. You need to put some pictures on your blog. You can check out our blog anytime (click on my name). Did you know Natalie Edwards, she has a blog too. You can get to hers through mine.


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