Wednesday, March 25, 2009

spring oh nine, oh so fine!

 guess who's happy that spring is making her presence known... ME!
i think i've always believed that you can encourage the weather by what clothes you wear- this is my week of experimenting. also my new favorite thing is taking a shower and then having a motorcycle taxi drive me across town so that my hair dries out (that way i can go to my friend's house and get a hairdry!) because it is not so chilly that i will get sick. 
i am back from a wonderful trip (more on that is soon to come),  and back to teaching weekends only. i love love love my job.  i am teaching older kids now, which is encouraging and fun, and also i have so much more time now to do things i like : reading, writing, cooking, eating, sleeping, making things, playing with friends, making fun events. i am loving my life right now. especially because the sun is out and warming up our frozen streets (and hearts?). 
my friend sara and her host family just moved WAAAAAY out of town to this lovely house where there's no internet and lots of windows, and i am thinking that i will be spending some of my weeks out there so that i can try to write and read more. it will be like mini sabbaticals- i'm excited. 
i've been writing more, and i have a few really good 'zine ideas (i think)  that i am getting started on these next few weeks- also we made a community 'zine last month, and i'm pretty excited about it. 
my next post will be about the trip i took with casey and jessie- and it will hopefully contain some photos to satisfy your eyes. i hope you all are getting some sunshine and cleaning off the bbq's. happy happy spring coming time! i love you. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

blogger is a terrible thing sometimes and won't let me do nice formatting. like line breaks.

i've spent the past week or so in hunan province, china. it is lovely and beautiful and green and just foggy enough to be romantic without being a hindrance. casey, jessie and i checked out zhangjiajie and the wulingyuan scenic/historic area (which is a world heritage site) yesterday and the day before. it was gorgeous. absolutely. from the video that we watched on the bus ride into the scenic area (which was preceded by a music video- the only words i heard were "zhangjiajie", "beautiful","pretty", "mountain" and "green) we were informed that pretty much the entirety of creation conspired together from the beginning of time to create this scenic area. it has more plant species than the whole of europe. it has mountains, caves (with stalactites/stalagmites), rivers, spires, waterfalls, huge lakes... everything. it is green and supple. it is HUGE. and... it has MONKEYS! we had two separate monkey encounters. i have gained a healthy respect (and a bit of fear) for monkeys. probably all together we saw about 100 or so of the animals- babies, momma, kiddos, papas. and the big guys, the king monkeys. they were in heat, so there were red butts to be seen all over, and once we even ran away because the monkeys were really aggressively trying to free (or get at) a group of unfortunates that had been caged in the 'monkey garden'. they were really cool though, and the babies were undeniably cute. i would have tried to hold one if i weren't fully convinced that one of the adults would have torn my face off. because i want to post photos later, i will hold off on regaling you with monkey stories. and other travel stories. but i will leave you with this: currently, we are in the town of fenghuang, which means something like 'phoenix'. it is a beautiful riverside city that has a ton of old school charm and windy alleys. this morning, we hopped on a boat ride along the river- our gondolier (for lack of a better word) was this beautiful seventy year old man- total grandpa material, who has lived here his whole life. he knows the river so well, avoided the rocks to perfection- and was totally laid back. at one point he said "do you mind if i sing?" and then burst into song. he said it was a song from this area of hunan, and told me that he likes his job because it is comfortable and makes his body feel good. i love him. i loved the boat ride, and i have now decided that my career path should carry me to a fun job like this when i am seventy. tomorrow i think we head to guangxi province, fingers crossed for wonderful, warm weather! be well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


finally, our winter intensive (5 days a week teaching) is over. we finished up last friday, and i attended the parent meetings- it was kind of fun. it's neat to see your students sitting with their parents, especially to see how much the kids look like their parents. i was really happy, because at the beginning of teaching this set of students (back in september) i was a little nervous that i would see the kids around town and not recognize them... but NOW not only do i recognize them, but i ALSO know them well enough to see how much they resemble their parents... try pretty much as soon as i finished teaching (and having an ultra life changing KTV night saying goodbye to some delightful friends who are leaving the country), i hopped on a train south... or so i thought. i caught my train with ten minutes to spare (which is pretty much a miracle for me) and made my way to my compartment. lucky for me, i somehow ended up on the train that runs from lhasa to guangzhou- which means it is a VERY nice train. i shared the compartment with a nice woman who gave me bread, a muslim woman who was very actively breastfeeding her one month old child (which i thought was a boy, but later thought was a girl... it was all very confusing), the muslim woman's younger brother, and about five men who are all coworker s that sell something like... piping? i didn't really understand everything, and we spent a lot of time making fun of my chinese- which was awesome. at one point i got the words for 'watermelon' and 'accustomed to' confused- they are 'xi gua' and 'xi guan', respectively. it seems easy to me, but they pretty much split their sides laughing at me. i'm getting really used to being a source of entertainment for people, especially because of my bumbling chinese. but i'm getting by, and the men saw me off the train to my bus, and it was very lovely and kind. and now i am in changsha. it is a different type of chinese city- it seems much more chinese than xining. there are skinned dogs hanging in the alley, next to baskets of snakes and bird cages and piles upon piles of bloody turtle shells. and it's smoggy and i bought a new umbrella to combat the rain. and it is much bigger here- they have at least 4 KFC's (that is how many i have seen so far). i will set out and do more exploring here- i'm working on buying a new camera, because mine ( i think) got stolen and it is always sad to not have photos of these things. i hope all is well. i promise that when i get back from my trip i will do a big post about chinese new year and things of that sort. hope all is well. i miss you.