That China Girl

{May 23, 2011}   Why oh why Hou Hai

Some of you wrote asking what the big deal was about Hou Hai after I mentioned it in yesterday’s post.  What the heck is a Hou Hai, anyway?

Hou Hai, which translates into “back sea” in Chinese is one of three lakes in this scenic area of Old Beijing. (It’s the lake in the back, btw.)  Guidebooks will tell you it’s a big bar scene.   No doubt that’s part of the temptation for the kids I go to school with, but if drinking were the main attraction, I’m sure they’d just hang out in Sanlitun.  (I say, they not we, because I’m new enough not to have made it to ANY of these places yet.)  The Sanlitun area has its famous bar street, which until the Chinese decided to crack down before the Olympics, was supposedly quite the high school haven.

Hou Hai is a much cooler place to hang.  Or so I’ve heard.  It’s across town, so it’s not like I’m going to run into Mrs. A, or Mrs. G. and have stuff go right back to Mom.  There’s a picture on CC’s bulletin board that shows a bunch of them sitting outside a cafe by the lake on big cushy chairs like the one’s below.  Yeah, they were drinking there she tells me ( I see the Heineken sign, too), but you can also just sit there and people watch and or look out at the boats with a cup of coffee if you want.

Anyway, that’s where they all went yesterday, too.  Just hung out and wandered around the area, which is one of the remaining places you can find hutongs; those narrow alleyways, lined with traditional courtyard houses.   Skule did come, along with Lachlan, Ronit and Gabriella.   They crashed on the sofas till they got kicked off for the dinner crowd (or the more buying, less just sitting crowd), and then talked their way onto a boat.  A Chinese guy paddled them down the river on this party ship, where they all lit candles and put them in little paper boats.  Then they watched them float away.

I wish I could have been there.  Was feeling okay about missing and going to the Summer Palace with the parents, until I heard about their day.  Apparently, though, as much as Gaby tried to get Skule’s attention, he wasn’t into it–or her.  So that’s a relief.  CC’s promised they might go back this coming weekend.  All I can say is there’s no way I’m not going this time.


{May 22, 2011}   Summer palace and more….

Just dragged to the Summer Palace today.  I was so not wanting to go, particularly when CC and a group, which included Skule  ( pronounced Schooler, and more on him later), were heading over to Hou Hai to bike and hang.

But no-ho!  Forget it that I’ve finally made some friends and have a reason to leave the house.   Dad insisted that I had to remember our being here was once in a lifetime, yada yada… and we needed to take advantage of the cultural sites blah, blah, blah.  Like I won’t be going on a field trip or have another chance to visit the SP when I don’t have anything better to do.  I mean we LIVE in Beijing, fgs!  Not to mention we’ve already done the Forbidden City and the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven.  How many empty palaces and dragon statues do I have to look at anyway?

Not that what I think matters.   So off we went, me texting in the back with Mom, while Dad tried to talk in Chinese to the driver Lao Zhou (who was definitely not as friendly as our regular guy, Mr. Wang  who was sick).  When we got there it was pretty crowded.  I wanted to get back in the car, but as soon as we’d walked onto the grounds, I sorta changed my mind.

It was actually kind of cool.  Apparently, the Summer Palace was where the royalty went to get away from Beijing.  And have to say, I can see why.  Instead of all this concrete, there’s actually tons of trees and flowers,  a lake and dragon boats you can ride on (yes, it’s queer, but I had to do it, though I could have done without the fat little Chinese boy sitting across from me who was catching dragon flies and squishing them on his leg. ) There’s also a huge tower that we climbed up to see.    I guess the whole place was burned down a couple of times by those big-nosed Westerners. Brits and French first, maybe we had a part in it later.  But Empress Cixi (which sounds surprisingly like CC — similarities much?) rebuilt it, not to mention diverted tons of money that was supposed to go to the Chinese Navy to make it bigger.  No wonder the Qing Dynasty fell if those were the priorities.

My favorite part was this long covered walkway; the Long Corridor, they call it.   It was built so some Emperor’s mom could walk in the gardens protected from rain, etc.

As you can see, all the panels are decorated with paintings.   A lot of these pictures are scenes from famous Chinese stories.    In school we’ve been studying the four Classical Chinese Novels.  They’re the one’s Pearl Buck, who I wrote about before, found so inspiring:

  1. Romance of the Three Kingdoms    — historical romance with lots of battles.
  2. The Dream of the Red Chamber  — sort of a star-crossed romance about a family.
  3. Outlaws of the Marsh  — kind of a kung fu epic (it translates into 4 books) about a Robin Hood-ish group of bandits who fought corruption.  It’s also called the Water Margin, but what the heck does that mean?
  4. Journey to the West  — a fantasy story about the Monkey King

Geoff tells me there’s a fifth novel that’s sometimes on the list, but apparently it’s so sexually graphic  (he says, “Hot, but kind of weird) that the folks who make these lists don’t always like to include it.   It’s called the Plum in the Golden Vase and has been banned in China for most of its existence.  (Or so says Wikipedia… yeah, I had to look it up) .

The reason you just got this little Chinese lit lesson is because the paintings from the novels that are in the Long Corridor were kind of cool.  It was fun to look for them. Here’s one from Romance of the Three Kingdoms:

It’s a picture of a battle between a couple of generals of the Kingdom of  Shu.  What do you think?  I’ve always been a fan of blues, (the colors, not the music so much).  That’s probably the first thing that appealed to me.

{May 21, 2011}   The guard at my window….

Chinese guard on my corner, looking up at me

Sitting in my bedroom

What do you see?

Say what?  You were not looking, okay I’ll speak for me.

Sometimes I see a young boy visiting from a farm

Wearing baggy clothes, doing little real harm

Other times a soldier — ready for a war

Your notepad is your rifle, as with a pen you score

Comings and goings

Car numbers, a house

Biting into people’s lives as quiet as a ……

No, I will not say it, won’t voice these fears aloud

And you’ll pretend when you look up

You’re searching for a cloud.

{May 20, 2011}   China baby theft

There’s a woman at our compound who fosters babies.  Yes, you heard that right.  She actually takes in Chinese babies that need help for months at a time.  And not just any Chinese babies.  These are the kids that have all sorts of things wrong with them.  They’ve got organ problems, or a cleft palate (that thing where their lips look split), or they were born so small no one thought they were going to live.  Some are even mildly retarded.  But they all have one thing in common — they were abandoned by their parents at some point and ended up in an orphanage not too far from here.

I don’t know how the woman, who’s name is Pam Something — I think she’s a little older than my Mom — first found out about them.  But all I can think when I see her with another broken or sick-looking baby, is that she must be a saint.  Sometimes, she’ll keep the babies for six months or more — taking them to have operations. Sometimes, she gets them so healthy that other American women want to adopt them. Mrs. G next door, says she’s never seen anything like it.  She also says she’s seen Pam crying after the babies are gone or have been put up for adoption.

What’s got me thinking about this was a story I read while I was doing research for social studies.  As a main part of our grade, we have to do a paper on something about China. Pretty broad.  The idea is to learn more about the culture here.   I instantly thought about adoptions, because I remembered a woman back home who had come all the way to China to get a little girl.  They tend to dump their girls, sometimes, what with the one child policy and all — Chinese people want sons — which was why our driver was so disappointed when Dad told him I was his only child. 

Anyway, in doing the research I find this story on how some of the kids that foreigners are adopting are actually stolen from their parents.  Hard to believe, but I guess the people who steal them can make so much money — like hundreds of dollars for the kids they steal.  My guess is none of them have the problems Pam’s kids do, or no one would make money on them.  

I can’t imagine how  awful it would be to have your child stolen.

It’s not like I’ve ever been somebody who watches that much TV, or telly as Mrs. Avery from London calls it.  When my parents would turn the news on back home — and I ask you could anything be more boring than the news— I was outta there.  Given the choice, I’d always rather be on the computer. 

Besides it’s not like I expected there would be anything I was interested in on Chinese TV.   I couldn’t understand it anyway.   But yesterday when I was eating breakfast, Mom had something on (she’s using the TV to work on her Chinese) and all of the sudden, the program showed all these people the police had arrested.  They were lined up with their heads bowed down and the cameras just panned over them again and again.  It was very bizarre.   And they looked so embarrassed.  It was a Chinese channel so I had no idea what they were saying, but it just seemed like they were on TV in handcuffs for a long time.   Not like at home, where they show the suspects once and the camera moves away. 

Anyway, it almost seemed like being paraded on TV like that would be punishment enough.  I couldn’t find  out what that channel was, but I found another clip.  This one was of a bunch of people arrested after some riots in Tibet a few years ago.  Tibet and this other place up in the Northwest are where they have lots of riots, mostly because there are people there who aren’t technically Chinese and want to live differently, I think.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to post that video, but surprise, surprise it won’t go in.  So here’s a link.  And here’s a pic of the suspects.

What I hate about this one is it shows the people being forced to walk bent over and sign confessions right in front of everyone.  It’s awful.  Not to mention, kinda mean.   Haven’t they heard of cruel and unusual?   

 I think China is the last place you’d want to get arrested.

{May 18, 2011}   Weird tatoos

Not a lot of time to write today.

I did find this funny website , so I had to post it.   It’s all about the Chinese tatoos that people get all the time, that say really silly things.    I’ve often wondered about the shirts that people buy with Chinese letters on.  I mean they look cool, but for all I know they probably say something like “I’m a stupid foreigner.”

I just love the one where the guy has the tatoo that says “eunuch.”     You know those men who worked for the emperor and had to cut their things off?   Too funny.  And I’m SO sure that’s the image he wants.

{May 17, 2011}   Omg!

What was I thinking?   Having Mom guest blog?   Balls and party dresses?  I am so sorry.

Yes, Lesia, you warned me, but I was clueless.

I’m just glad that I logged on and just had her fill in her post.  I never told her the title, so I don’t think she can find the blog again.  I want to x the post out.  But I can’t do it until the end of the month or else I won’t get credit for 31 days. And the writer whose sponsoring this said there would be prizes.

Yowza!   I mean, I guess I should just be glad she didn’t tell the story about her most recent day out with the girls.  It was this embarassing “day at the races” or something.  The Australian ladies  hosted this lunch at a hotel, where I guess they all wear hats and watch some horse race that is going on in Australia.  How hard up for fun do you have to be? 

Mom was like sloshed when she got home.  She had this big purple hat (she kept saying it was, turquoise, her color!, but it was purple) .  It was lopsided and had a big bunch of flowers on the right side and they looked like they’d gotten a workout over the day.  Like she’d crammed into a car and they got smashed or something. (smashed along with everything and everyone else, I guess.)

I don’t think Li Ayi knew what to make of her.  Mom was being all lovey and fun, like everyone was her friend.  Except she was talking in slurred English.  And since Li Ayi knows about six words of the language when it’s spoken properly — of course she was at a total loss.  I was at a total loss.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Avery and Mrs. Storm looked similarly drunk — only since Mrs. Avery was British, her hat — a smallish ivory thing with black accents and some netting — had at least weathered the day.  I was going to say weathered the storm — but that reminded me of Mrs. S.  and she looked worse off than my Mom.   Her mascara was smeared like she was crying, actually. 

I kind of made myself scarce and ducked upstairs after some polite preliminaries, and they just kept on talking.  When I sneaked down a little later, I saw Mrs. S., coming out of the bathroom, and her eyes were wet.  Mom and Mrs. Avery were still out in the kitchen laughing, and Mrs. S., sort of nodded to me and straightened up and hurried back to join them. 

When I brought the dog back in, the three of them were still out there carrying on.  Through a crack in the door, I saw the party had continued with a bottle of wine, except now Mrs. Storm’s shoes were off and her feet were on the table, next to her hat.

{May 16, 2011}   Mom speaks out….

Guess what!  It’s  guest post day in blogathon world.  Given that I still don’t know too many people who can write in English here  (It’s China, duh!),  I looked around the house and decided I would ask my Mom.  (Dad’s too busy with work, and I didn’t think Mrs. G. next door already helped me with that book thing.)  I know normally, that would be like, so strange, but   I don’t want to ask anyone from school.  I haven’t shown them this and I know they would think I was a complete loser.  Plus, then everything I wrote would be all over. 

So actually, Mom was pretty cool about it, and promised she wouldn’t embarrass me (and hey, I can delete if she does), so here goes:  My Mom, Gwen H. (at her insistence, no last names).

Hi.  As Taya said, I’m her mother.  You can call me Gwen.  I am very honored to get to write a “post” here.   I also look forward to writing a little about  our time so far in China.  A lot of my friends back home told me I should start my own blog when I was over here.  But I really don’t like writing, so I felt it would probably be too boring.

Taya hasn’t told me what she’s written, but from hearing her talk, I can guess that it isn’t always positive.  I know there is a lot  for her to get used to in China.  I keep telling her that she needs to be more open to trying  things.  Like Li Ayi’s food, which is very tasty — particularly her Kung Pao chicken and this green bean dish she makes with ground beef or pork that  is very good.  You’ll never know that just by eating rice, Taya.

So what can I tell you about Beijing?   For me, it has been very educational so far.  When I was growing up, China was still developing and not very welcoming to foreigners.  But everyone I’ve met is nice to us.  Our ayi — that means “auntie” in Chinese — is very polite and does a good job cooking and cleaning our house.  We have a driver named Mr. Wang, who is always dressed very nicely in a short-sleeved button-down shirt and pants.  He speaks some English, but if he doesn’t understand where I’m going and I can’t ask the neighbor to tell him, I can usually show him a card that has the Chinese name on it.  I even bought a little book that has cards for  all the main restaurants and stores.  Easy!

 There’s  a shopping mall about 25 minutes from here  called Lufthansa (like the German airline)  or Yansha in Chinese.  I go there often.  It has really nice cosmetic counters so it is easy to get what I need.   Before we came here, I was worried where I would find stuff like that.  But there it was, Elizabeth Arden, just like at home.  The women who work there are all so thin and attractive, they look like models.  The difficult thing is that whenever you want to buy something, you have to get a little slip of paper and take it over to a special cashier and pay in cash.  They don’t take credit cards.   That meand packing a lot of bills in my wallet, and handing over a big wad of Chinese money (RMB)  whenever I want to buy something.  

Some of my friends have also taken me to the local markets, which are much cheaper.   There’s one called Ya Show, which is in a glass building about five stories high.  You can get everything there from clothing to dishes to souvenirs, but you have to know how to bargain.  Since I’m just learning Mandarin, there is no way I could ever try to haggle over a piece of clothing.  But my friend Judy got mad at me once when I just showed three 20 kuai notes to the girl selling a t-shirt and asked her to take how much.  That’s how I did it in Paris, when Russ and I went over there for a vacation a few years ago.  But apparently, that’s a good way to get cheated here. 

Another place I’ve been to is a big market called Hong Qiao.  It’s across town and took about 45 minutes or an hour in traffic to get to, but it also has everything.  Toys, food, clothing, and especially jewelry.  Some of the ladies I know from the compound go there often to get pieces of jewelry made — it’s also known as the Pearl Market.  I’ve already bought a lot of earrings and bracelets.  They’re wonderful, and so cheap.  I’m now getting a pearl choker made for a ball we have coming up. 

Can you believe it?  A ball.  Yes, apparently they have a lot of them because the expatriates are always looking for entertainment. The British Ball, which is the one we’re going to, is the premier ball of the year.  It’s held downtown at the Hilton, and the British Embassy only sells a certain amount of tickets to keep it exclusive.   Emma A., who’s from London and has a son at CIA with Taya, invited me and Russ to join her table.  I met her at a newcomers’ tea, and we’ve already become the best of friends.  She can’t speak Chinese like Joyce G. next door, but she still knows where to have fun.   Emma says she tried to take Chinese when she first got here, but quit after a few lessons, because the stuff is unpronounceable and nobody understood her anyway.  From my few classes, so far, I know what she means.   I’ve promised Russ I’ll try to stick with it, but sometimes I wonder how useful it will be.  It’s not as if I’m ever going to have a real conversation with anyone Chinese.  I’m not even sure our ayi, as nice as she is, would have that much to say.  She seems sort of quiet.  And a lot of the ladies I’ve met here DO get around just fine without the language.

Tomorrow, Emma is taking me over to the tailor so that I can get a dress made for the ball. Can you believe it — I’m going to have a real Chinese style qipao — sounds like Cheap — ending in pow!   They’re those form fitting dresses the Chinese women wear, with the slits up the side.  I’m fortunate that I tend to be thin, so I should look okay.  A lot of the foreign women don’t.  I’m going to pick out a silk, probably something in turqoise to bring out my eyes.  Emma says it probably won’t cost more than $30. Can you believe that?  I think it may even look a little like this one (maybe with a wee bit less leg)  

Gorgeous, isn’t it?  Anyway, I can’t wait.   It’s so funny when I hear people complain about living here.  I know this is a third world country, but our houses and so many of the places we go to are modern.  Not to mention, there’s so much to do and so many women who aren’t working and are ready to explore with me.  What’s not to like?

I do have to say that I think Russ has it much harder.  I know he’s frustrated sometimes at work, because he’s still learning the culture.  Some of his employees don’t like to speak up about their ideas, and he says they’re not always creative.  But his office is very orderly and his boss seems nice.   I know it’s just that he’s adjusting.  Russ has always been so successful at anything he does.  I can’t imagine it would be different here.   They’re lucky to have an American boss like him.

And Taya, I know she’ll find her place here too.  She’s already made some nice friends — a girl CC, who actually reminds me a little of myself when I was at that age.   I shouldn’t write that, because maybe then, Taya won’t want to hang out with her (ignore me, dear!).  But she’s a nice and pretty girl and seems very involved.  Actually, I think she will be good for Taya — get her out a little more.   My daughter tends to be a homebody.  CC has already invited her to a party, which I think Taya really enjoyed and introduced her to a lot of new friends.  

I think we’re all going to be very happy in China.

{May 15, 2011}   Life at CIA continued….

So yesterday, I promised more on my new school, so here goes:

First, like I said, it’s called Chinese International Academy.  Most of the kids who live in my compound and some of the other foreigner housing complexes nearby go there.  There’s some other places, like a British school, Dover something  but they make you wear uniforms there — complete with HATS, so thank God Dad didn’t pick that one. 

It’s odd though, we do sort of have one British thing.  All the students are divided into houses, like Harry Potter. You know, Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Slitherin and that R one.  Ravenclaw?  Now I can’t remember.  But at  CIA our houses are the Chinese zodiac.  You know, those animals, like Year of the Rabbit or whatever it is right now.   The school goes from kindergarten up to 12th grade, so the first six grades are split into the first six animal houses. (snake to dog) The middle school on up gets the last six. (pig to dragon)  So the six houses in the upper school each have kids from all the different grades.  I’m in the Tiger house which I’m told isn’t that bad.  Tigers are supposed to be all ferocious and cool and stuff.


   At least I didn’t get something like pig house, which one of the other new girl who was slightly  —  no that’s not true — really overweight got put in.  There were a lot of laughs when they announced that assignment.  They did it in the gym and we had to all come down from the bleachers and get our —-you guessed it, T-SHIRT — that said our house.    Apparently, whenever we do sports events and special celebrations like International Day (isn’t every day here with students from 50 countries international day?), the houses sit together and compete.  Otherwise, I think that t-shirt pretty much sits in your bedroom closet, though there are always these ra-ra’s or other clueless few who wear them all the time and cluster around their house statue (see below), trying to drum up challenges.  Like CC’s friend Lachlan told me that the Rat house has a few goofballs mostly from Northern Europe, who like rag on other people.  They’re the ones who went after me about us killing Osama and how Americans think they own the world.  Some Norwegian guy –Yorn, or Yurg or something — and these two blonde girls, whose names I already forgot.    I still can’t believe they were like yelling across the cafeteria table at me about it.   Anger issues much? 

 Anyway, Lachlan was telling me how last year Rat House did something where they messed up all the statues.  Like the dragon was dressed as a clown, and they put a funny hat and tie on the monkey, except the rat was dressed up like royalty, like a king because he was supposed to rule over all the other lowly animals.   This pissed off the kids in other houses and they fought back by stripping off the clothing and throwing paint and eggs at the rat, which really stunk with it being so hot.

Yeah, that’s what passes for funny around here.  

 I guess the pranks basically got worse after that.  The dragon disappeared from its platform for awhile, and then someone smashed the pig statue and put a real dead and frozen pig (it was still cold at night) on top of the debris.  But the worst was when the monkey was gone. In its place someone had told this little first grader — a tiny brown kid with curly hair from Sri Lanka or someplace like that — that he had to sit there all day until it was found.  His teacher discovered he was missing when one of the ayis helping out in the class pointed out the window.  

Well, that was it.  The head of school guy called in some of the teachers and the presidents of each house and basically said, it’s over — everything — until all the things were put back.   So class trips were cancelled and a spring dance and teachers stopped writing college recommendations and everything just screeched to a halt.  The next day, all the statues were back in place except the pig.  Then they had a bunch of workers come out and instead of just cementing the animals to the platforms, they had these iron posts that they screwed in and welded or something so no one could remove the statues.  And they replaced the pig statue and did the same.  

One of the reasons Dr.Bradhurst, the school head was so mad, was that apparently, when all this was going on, some dignitaries from the place that accredited schools had stopped by to do a review.  But they were so freaked by what they saw, that you can imagine what happened…. 

Dr. Bradhurst had quickly brought together a rainbow coalition of Westerners and Easterners from all the classes to convince the reviewers that it was a one-off,  but the damage was done.   So since then all the administration has been trying like heck to prove that everybody does get along.  There are no cliques, blah, blah, blah. You know, like parents always say.

Which is funny, since it was clear to me on day 1 that there are all these divisions.  CC pointed them out to me. The Koreans, for the most part speak very little English, so they all hang together in one part of the cafeteria, with their little pop music on their iPods and you are not breaking through that wall.  I know, I tried.  Then the wild bunch from the North, the neuro’s, Lachlan calls them; they account for a good chunk of Rat house.  They’re the kids whose parents don’t care what they do cuz they’re just so happy to be somewhere where it isn’t winter all year long. These are the kids who usually cruise around on motorbikes and have wild parties that go all night.   Then there’s the laid back Aussie/American group — lots in Tiger, Rabbit and Pig.  Then there’s the Asian prodigies, usually Chinese, and more often than not from Hong Kong, Singapore or somewhere outside Asia (lots of them in Dragon house, btw).  They’re all being tutored in like anything you’d want to do, art, music, dancing, math, you name it.  They seem perfect, but they’re so stiff, even if they can play virtuoso-level piano ….  Then there’s this group of other Asian, quiet, but more than that, different somehow — more off and reserved, almost like they’re here, but they’re not.  I know I’m not trying to explain this well, but I’m still trying to figure them out.  They seem to be spread around in a lot of different houses.

{May 14, 2011}   Welcome to the CIA

I still don’t really feel like writing about my school, but since some of you have asked – Lesia!!! — here goes.

Like I said, it’s China International Academy or CIA (too weird) for short.   I take a bus there, which picks me up right at the front of Imperial Gardens, by the gate, with tons of other kids from sixth grade up to 12th.  Yeah, I’m with middle school kids if you can believe it.  They look like such babies.  Fortunately, they’re smart enough to know to sit upfront for their own safety.   Most of them, anyway.  Some dopey kid with a Scandinavian/German whatever accent and big ears was stupid enough to try to sneak back there.  Popped his lunch box open on the seat and was sitting their munching some  funny looking meat that smelled like baked dog shit, even.  All these senior guys are gathered around  him, staring him down and he’s just merrily eating.  Until one of them finally said, “Hey Hans, lunch time’s over and literally picked him and the box up and carried him all the way off the bus.  They were sort of half mocking the kid, but he seemed to think  he was getting the royal treatment.  I noticed, though that  he didn’t sit back there again, so maybe one of his countrymen clued him in.

The buses themselves aren’t bad.  They’re kind of like those buses we used to take on big field trips and overnight, only we get them everyday.    Kinda nice, I thought.

Anyway, by day three, that  got old.  I’d had it with the bus and its hulking along the main road off our compound, in bumper to bumper traffic most days to make the 10 minute drive.  I actually think I could probably ride my bike and get there quicker if I cut through the Chinese village that’s behind our house.  I’ve got to figure out the way first, but it would be better being crammed into that bus twice a day.  Yesterday it took us over an hour to get home.  What the hell?  I couldn’t figure out what the hold-up was.  Turned out later that there had been a traffic accident and a person had been thrown from the car and was lying there on the road.  Problem was they couldn’t touch him until the police got there.  Meanwhile, the police couldn’t get through because of the backed up traffic.   So we all had to sit there in the bus watching all these Chinese –dads, moms, kids, grandpas,  etc.  stream by on bikes and carts and skooters and with shirts and without.  Meanwhile, we’re trapped in the “luxury bus” baking and listening to all this baby chatter and older kids bragging on themselves and not knowing what the hell is going on and meanwhile, just a few blocks ahead, there’s his poor dead Chinese guy baking on the road because they can’t move him.   After a while,  I just zoned out and did my homework.

When they finally cleared the guts or whatever off the road, suddenly our Bus Driver, Lao Wu is like Joe Race Car Driver trying to make up for lost time.  We’re shrieking over this bridge and going around a curve on two wheels… I’m getting images of this school bus I’ve just heard of at some Chinese school that skidded off a bridge and went into the river.

Fortunately, we stayed on the road.  (We also don’t have ugly pink and white checked curtains or seat covers or whatever those are on our bus) .

When I got home, Mom was there, all smiling telling me Li Ayi’s come up with some other unpronounceable dinner that smells like garlic charred in oil and how was my day and did I make any friends.  Who did I sit on the bus with, she asks.  Like I’m in first grade.   I didn’t want to tell her that I was sitting on the edge of the seat next to some fat Asian kid from Singapore or something because the girls are already paired up and CC has her own driver or gets a ride from Geoff’s driver every day.

I just kind of gave her a look and had a bowl of rice and said I had to do homework.  Now I’m up here writing this and wishing I could go get another snack — except I know there’s nothing down there I want to eat.   So I think now I’m going to sign off for the night and just go to bed.

If you still care, I’ll write more about school tomorrow.

et cetera