We’ve been in China just over a month. This means away from Charlottesville. Musicology has moved for a few months to the realm of hobby, the occasional copy edits, a new fascination with early modern Chinese European encounters, and enjoying Craig Monson’s fabulous book on my kindle not withstanding. (Don’t tell the dean). I’ve noticed a few changes in all of our behaviors and attitudes, which are listed below.
1.My pathologically cautious daughter regularly hitches a ride on the back of a vespa with one mom and three other kids and zips her little green bike up and down hills. My son who never played with playdoh, couldn’t stand wet clothes for 30 seconds, and refused to get his hands dirty runs around in torrential tropical rain and makes mud soup. (OT should have brought him to jungle)
2. When I see a spider the size of my fist I don’t squeal. I kill it with a wok or a bug zapper. This provides delicious pleasure.
3 When my four year old slips in the mud on the way to the market, I take his shirt off let him walk around in the tropical sun for a while without sunblock then buy him a new shirt. I bargain the t-shirt guy down to $2 because $3 for a Thomas the Tank T-shirt with a genuine puffy train seems obscene. Speaking of prices 50 cents seems like way too much money for six ears of the sweetest most delicious corn ever.
4. It seems easier to eat noodles with chopsticks than a fork.
5. I no longer go through a container of hand sanitizer a day; embrace the dirt…
6. The four year old’s battle noises all sound like Chinese and you’re told that in fact he says Chinese words—dog, cheeta, juice, banana. Apparently the ipad matching Chinese game works.
7. It seems normal for kids I’ve only known a few weeks to call me auntie. And after not riding a bike for almost 10 years I put one of those kids on the mousetrap on the back of my bike and let it rip.
8. I listened to Dave Mathews while running. I liked DMB as much as anyone in my cohort. But then I moved to cville where he is second only to Thomas Jefferson and every spot he walked is sacred. I’m enough of a child of 60’s liberals to distrust any such icon and stopped listening to him. He’s back.
9. Checking the local news involves a complicated calculus of Chinese English language propaganda, New York Times, CNN. Often finding news of things that happened anywhere near where we are goes through a news service in the Netherlands which seems still to have active and uncensored interests in Indonesia and thus the rest of the region.
10. I lie in the bathtub fantasizing about eggo waffles, watching TV on a big screen, and ordering groceries on line. And we all did a happy dance when we heard that the director of the Research Institute had approved an oven for our house. (oven means toaster) We got a little less happy when we learned that said toaster will take a while to arrive. To acquire it, Manuel will first have to thank the director and the guy who will buy it. Then they will send someone to buy it. And then he will have to thank him again. And then maybe I’ll get my toaster.
11. I can say knock it off in three Asian languages. Thai sounds best.
12. Thanks to a twelve-hour time difference between here and the east coast and an obsessive use of Facebook and email for social contact I can tell you when most of my friends wake up and go to sleep.
13. Making coffee is a multistep art involving a ten-gallon water tank and a special pot. Westerners share it and tricks for acquiring it in ways that make it sound like a black-market item.
14. The kids and I can use Chinese words. (no we do not speak it)
15. We eat rambotan and mangosteen for snack—two things I’d never heard of before we arrived. Other favorites are corn on the cob and dim sum buns reheated in a steamer, Tibetan flat bread, and disgusting strawberry Oreos.
16. Goals for the summer are not book chapters and articles but rather not killing the spawn.