OK, I guess it kind of loses its effect coming right on the heels of that big fat "200th post!" entry, but whatever, this is post 201! An exciting post, the first in the next one hundred! Hmm, we'll see where this blog goes after China.
I've been blogging since August 2006. Sometimes that feels hours away, sometimes decades. I started this blog quite literally the night before I left for China near the beginning of August 2006, a languid-yet-tense night of post-packing second-guessing and pre-voyage rumination, with a side of family drama and emotional numbing from the enormity of it all. I was a bundle of nerves and hubris and paranoia and a strange kind of over-confidence, and some times I look back on that night, the pan-Pacific trip, that first bus ride to Zhanjiang, and wonder where the hell the courage and/or lack of sanity came from, to just up and do it. I had only the faintest idea of what the hell I was getting myself in to, and now, nearly two years later, I couldn't have imagined that China would become what it has become, I couldn't have hoped for such an amazing, formative time, I couldn't have guessed how much I would have changed and grown. It has been hard at times, mind-numbing at times, damn near unbearable and isolating at times, but also exhilarating and enlightening and I am just so incredibly happy that I've come this far, pushed myself kicking and screaming to this new precipice, done what I've done seen what I have seen. And if I have seen farther, understood better, because of it, well ...
Last weekend I (we) made jiaozi, again, and now I can actually roll them into a decent-looking snack; plus I got the ingredients written down, and should be able to make 'em back home. It was James Kevin and I, as well as Jenny, and our Japanese foreign teacher friends Wakana and Sanae.
Let the deliciousness begin!
So ... many ... jiaozi.
Roll 'em up carefully.
And to finish it off ... Kevin's chocolate tofu pie! Much tastier than that sounds.
What else? Ah, yes: just the other night, the foreign teachers here at BeiHua were all taken out for a meal by the Powers That Be here on campus. "Why" was a mystery, until we were informed at dinner that the unannounced mystery-guest we were eating with, who as far as I could tell didn't speak a word of English, was a police officer; the topic of conversation was awkwardly yet purposefully shifted toward Tibet and the Olympic-related protests the world over; and we all more or less had our political pulse taken on the whole thing. But hey, free meal!
The "cop" is taking the picture.
And this evening I had a long home-cooked meal with my MBA students, and I was able to go to the home and meet the family of one of them, Brian. Over the course of a huge meat-filled dinner with seemingly endless cups of 白酒 baijiu, beer, and tea, we talked about everything going on in the world re: China, from pro-Tibet/anti-China rallies in France to rising food prices the world over to Clinton's/Obama's answer to the imploding American financial market, all in a truly bizarre cocktail of English and Chinese. It was the most honest conversation I've had with students, with damn near anyone in China, in a long time.
One weekend. Three meals. Students, friends, teachers. Challenges and strangeness and culture shock and China being China. The trip to 201 has been well worth it.