One Thing I Won’t Miss

I’m taking a quick study break (has to be really quick because the exam is in..oh, 6 hours and I’m not even done with the flash cards…yup, Queen of Procrastination)  to talk about one thing I DEFINITELY won’t miss when I go home next week…my roommate. She doesn’t say much and when we actually talk, we get along fine, but the hotter it gets, the more annoyed I get with her.  She sleeps on the side of the room that has both the window and the air conditioner. I used to let her have free reign with both items because it was never a problem before, she came in October when I wouldn’t want more cold anyways. So I have discovered too late that she has this crazy, crazy strange aversion to the AC. I don’t know if it’s her African blood giving her superpowers, but this girl sleeps under covers still in our muggy (Tianjin is humid) non-airconditioned room. While I lay there in a tank top, short short, no covers and still sweat up a storm. I felt bad about turning on the AC before becasue the wind does blow directly on her, but I think she may be a bit of a drama queen. I mean how cold can you really get from it under covers. So I have started turning it on after a few hours to make this a more give-and-take relationship. She hasn’t recieved the memo because the longest I have been able to keep it on without her reaching for the remote is 3 hours. Guys, I feel lucky when I get to two hours…my life is misery. The only thing keeping me going is the thought that I only have one more week of this crap. Thank God~~

Also, what makes it worse is that she likes to leave the window open (her version of AC I guess), and while there is a vent in place, bugs still find the cracks to get in and terrorize me while I sleep. She doesn’t understand the correlation between the window being open and the increased numbers of bugs she has to kill. I described it to her but it went in one ear…and sadly out the other. I’m feeling blissful just thinking about leaving her (she never even leaves our room so I have no respite!). Okay, I’ve bitched and moaned enough, back to studying!

The Dynamics of Chinese Relationships?

I should have known there was something a little out of whack way before this….last summer to be exact. Sun Tong, my Chinese roommate (and best Chinese friend) during the study abroad program last year had a boyfriend of over three years when I met her. I thought that that was adorable, but strangely her best friends (who also happened to be her classmates and roommates) had never met the guy…and he went to the same school as them. In America, we would find this EXTREMELY weird. I know it’s tacky to speak as the “voice” of America, because everyone’s not the same, but some things are just obvious and I’m sure most Americans would agree. Sun Tong was not the only one in this situation, I met at least 5 other people that summer who had significant others of many years who were not in their same social group. Maybe it seems strange because Americans start introducing their romantic interests to friends before labels even get drawn up, most of the time at least. While in China it is the opposite, first call them your boy/girlfriend and then see if they live up to the title? That’s my theory at least.

I started pestering Moon a week ago to introduce his girlfriend to us (did I mention that he has one now? It’s been going on since 2 or 3 months ago) but he said, “Probably not.” I was curious about this phenomenon of Chinese couples and asked another friend also why we haven’t met his girlfriend. He said, for him personally, it is because he doesn’t want to introduce her to his friends: what if she likes one of them and decides to date him? It would be too awkward…WHAT?! I told him that that made no sense, if he thought that she could ever do something like that then why are they dating? Then he looked at me like I was the crazy one. My theory: Since they are so quick to label, and it’s not common to introduce one’s social circle (unless you guys were already apart of the same circle of course), you have no idea what that person is really like.

Also, tonight I went to eat BBQ (Chinese style, which is different but oh so tasty) with my friends Avi, Patrick, Moon, and two Italian girls. We had a merry-old time eating and discussing topics ranging from the universe (Moon is a Physics major and he talks about some pretty cool, deep stuff) to who had it worse growing up in America (minority battle-we had Black, Asian, and Indian, haha…my life was good though, so I had no complaints). After that, Moon and I wanted to walk, so we strolled over to Helen’s while the others agree to meet us there later. Helen’s was nice as usual, but the important part was the walk home from Helen’s. I decided to go home early-ish because my voice was growing raspy and I have to teach in the morning. Moon of course accompanied me, he’ such a good friend, I actually feel bad sometimes because he’s such a gentleman (paying for things, going out of his way to do nice things, etc). While walking back to my dorm he got a call from his girlfriend (this whole not introducing them to friends thing is insane….I don’t even know her name! I will just call her GF) and she was asking where we were so that she could meet up with us. It was already 1am at this point so I asked him where she was coming from, he answered, “A dinner with old classmates, I know it’s late but its ok, I don’t let her drink.” My head rolled people! “ Let?…..let? Are you talking about your girlfriend or a pet?” I had to clarify because my confusion was so great.  Granted people, translating words into different languages may convey a different tone or meaning, things naturally get lost in translation, but still I was offended for her. Our conversation went something like this-

Me: Let? Are you her father?……Mother then?

Moon: Come on, you know what I mean. I can’t allow my girlfriend to get drunk, what happens if someone wants to take advantage of her? It can get dangerous.

Me: Valid point, but I drink and nothing’s happened to me. You know why? Because I have friends that I trust there with me. Can’t she do the same?

Moon: But when a person drinks they do things they would never do, what happens if she gets involved with a guy there? Then I would have to forgive her but I would be angry.

Me: Don’t you trust her? When you drink it loosens you up a little bit, you don’t become a COMPLETELY different person, if she’s a good girl then don’t worry. You can’t boss her around like that. She has the right to personal freedom.

Moon: Of course she has freedom; I don’t complain about staying out this late, I just say not to drink. Most Japanese and Korean men don’t even let their women go outside at night (I know guys….what century right? I promise he’s not usually a Neanderthal, he honestly felt he was making sense)

Me: Why don’t you just get to know her friends to see if she’s safe with them? Caring about her safety is sweet, not trusting her is something else.

Moon: That would be intruding on her freedom, we both have our own circles (so then I understood, our concepts of freedom were clashing culturally). Besides what if she has a guy who likes her and I meet him, he wouldn’t want to be friends with her anymore if he sees me.

Me: Duh, that’s part of the point. Not to mention your lives should be semi-cohesive. In American relationships, telling your partner what to do and what not to do is seen as stepping over boundaries, impeding almost. But you know what, my ideals have been set in pretty far so I think we are going to have to agree to disagree, you are dating a Chinese girl so why care what Westerners think?

At this point his girlfriend finally found us and we continued on the walk to my dorm. I tried to make them head over to Moon’s place first but they wouldn’t hear of it, and insisted on walking me even though it was out of their way. I really wanted to talk to GF but Moon walked in between us and continued on with our above conversation…in English this time, I had a feeling it was to exclude GF from the conversation. I felt bad, but what could I do? I asked him why she arrived (naively thinking she lives in the same apartment block as him) but of course she was there to go back and spend the night with him. I told him he would NEVER be getting any from any self-proud Western girl, I would have put him on booty call time out. He was doing EVERYTHING wrong. He spoke to me in English for the rest of the 10 minute walk, insisted on walking me home, didn’t hold her hand (sure as the third wheel I appreciated it, but I’m listing reasons why he doesn’t deserve nooky here), didn’t talk with her at all, insisted on walking me to the gate, and when I left for my two minute walk from the gate to my door he called right away to talk with me until I got in because it might be “dangerous”…..for the first time I feel like I deserve the hate of a girlfriend, but she was totally fine. No complaints out of this girl, I told him to stick with timid, because he would die with a fierier girl, that’s for sure.

All of these things might seem as if he’s making a pass at me, but I swear he’s not. He knows how interested I am in meeting GF and talking with her (I complained about how he secluded us from each other) so we are going to have dinner together tomorrow. Wish me luck guys, hopefully she’s awesome despite my slightly feminist reservations, haha~

Creep Alert

Creepers and parasites have been infiltrating my life!

I’m one creep short of calling the police, haha. Let me describe…

Major Creep #1:

As I described in an earlier post, I met a black guy in the club one time when I was (stupidly) trying to make Moon jealous. I say stupidly because I never even liked Moon like that, I am just a brat like that 😛 But anyways this guy’s name is Biggy (I laughed when I heard that name too) and he calls me at random times to this day. I have refused to meet up with him (even in group settings), ignored all calls, texted back only once, and told him I have a boyfriend. His response? “That’s not a problem; I just want to be friends.” Guys ALWAYS say that when we use the “got a boyfriend” excuse, don’t they? And I always just look at them and laugh….friends my big fat bumper sticker. Anyways, I sometimes still run into him at Helen’s, but I have ignoring him down to a science. This man has no pride, though, because he called again yesterday. Who does that?!? Ewww..sorry the thought of dating him (well, let me be honest, kissing him) just sent creepy chills down my spine….

Major Creep #2:

Sara, is a 16-year-old, Korean nuisance in my life right now. I smile too much and can make small talk with anything, so people often attach themselves to me, looking for friendship. Usually, I don’t care, I mean, just because a person doesn’t know how move around in social circles or is a little bit awkward doesn’t mean I won’t be their friend.. To a certain extent, of course. Sara, is a whole other case, she was the roommate of a nice, cute, popular Japanese girl last semester. So by extent she met a lot of us foreign students, but she was always dragged around by her roommate so we never minded when she partied with us. Graduating high school in Korea (in Asia in general) is very hard, exams and studying are everything, and students usually have classes from morning to late at night, not to mention weekends as well. The fact that she completed this journey 2 years early is a testament to her intelligence, not so much a testament to her social skills. She is strange, awkward, and annoying. Whenever we got to Helen’s she is just there…lurking. And we can’t ignore her, her roommate went back to Japan, but we can’t just let her sit by herself..that would be Mean Girls mean wouldn’t it? So no one invites her, but she comes anyways. Also, I always smile, so she always tries to sit next to me, and when she does, I talk for a second and then run. During those moments of torture, she always finds a way to mention how young she is (ALL the time, whenever ANYONE says their age, she says “Oh well that makes you # years older than me!”), asks me awkward questions (“I’m considered average in Korea, what would Americans think of me?…Am I ugly there too?”, “Would my personality be appreciated in America?”… How the heck would I answer that stuff truthfully?), and sometimes she tries to hold my hand! Also, she started this new thing where she hugs and kisses me on the cheek, she’s spent time with foreigners, as I’ve mentioned, and feels cool doing it. But she does it in a SUPER creepy way. Whenever I see her now, I look busy so I can ignore the whole hugging part. Also, she pops out of nowhere, or stalks where we live, she lives in the building behind us, but finds a way to stake out the only exit in our building. Sits on the bench outside, hangs out at the front door, twice I’ve seen her sitting in the dark down there by herself. CREEP!

Major Creep #3:

Two days ago, we went to the theater to watch Titanic 3D (yeah yeah, don’t judge me). First, we got some sandwiches at Subway and then headed to the movie to buy tickets…but I was weak! We walked by a McDonalds and I decided to stop and buy an ice cream, while I told the others to go on ahead.  By the time I caught up with them, they were already in line and I decided to wait outside, listen to my audio book, and enjoy my guilty pleasure. Then a short Chinese woman in her early 20s stopped in front of me and said the infamous, “Hello.” I ignored her of course and pretended not to be aboe to hear, I even pointed to my head phones, but she kept on trying, “How are you? What is your name?” So I had to make a decision, should I pretend to only speak English (intimidate her by speaking quickly, using big words, if she only had basic English skills this would scare her off, if her English was good, this would make her want to talk to me even more) or pretend to only speak Chinese (this would make her go away if she were looking for English practice)….I went with the latter option. But this made her very happy because her English wasn’t that great anyways (FML!) She wanted to listen to my book with me, kept telling me how pretty I am, wanted to join us in watching a movie, and wanted my cell phone number. All in about a 5 minute time span…she came on strong! I dropped all pretenses of politeness and started ignoring this cray cray. After a second, she took a look at my ice cream and said, “”That looks delicious, I only brought my debit card so could you help me buy one?” I obviously told her no, but in a nice way (damn my niceness), I said that McDonalds was too far away and that I was waiting for my friends. Not a problem at all though, because she came up with a nice solution: just give her a ten. I scoffed in disgust and told her no….kind of, I said that I didn’t feel comfortable giving her money and MAYBE I would do it when my friends got back. She turned for a second and I ran to them and we scurried away to wait for the upcoming movie in a milk tea shop. I thought I was free….until 30 minutes later when I turned my head and the woman sitting right beside me was the creepy lady! I jumped and clutched my purse even tighter, a move that she noticed but I didn’t care at that point. She had a menu in her hand and asked me, “Well how about getting me a drink here instead?” I kid you not! Then I called her bluff, “No thanks, but this place takes cards so you shouldn’t have any problems (polite smile)”. She walked out a few minutes later, no drink purchased of course. I need to spend some time in the mirror practicing my bitch glare.

Major Creep #4:

You all know about the game I play with the beloved reporters, I hide, they seek…its great fun. Well I ignore all phone calls from numbers I don’t know; there was a very persistent number, after about a hundred calls she sent me a text that went something like this, “Hi my name is (something something), I’m a student in Tianjin Normal University studying media production and we were hoping to interview you for our final project.” I hesitated, but still chose to ignore them, because whenever I agree to an interview, it becomes an entire day of them pushing and prodding me. Well, two weeks later, I got a knock on my dorm room floor, guess who it was? Yes, the girl was at my door and made things SUPER awkward. Saying things like, “We tried your phone and couldn’t reach you (I had no answer for that), I know you must be busy but do you have any time, any time at all in the next upcoming month?” There was no way that I could refuse without looking like a complete bitch, which I am but only on the inside people. So I agreed, and she came back that following Sunday morning. I rolled out of bed and went down in my sweats, expecting a newspaper type of interview….I got downstairs and there were two other girls with her AND a big @$$ video camera. It annoyed me SO much; I had to change, put on makeup, etc. After an hour, it was finished and I was glad, but they wanted to get a few videos and photos from me, but forgot to bring a USB and wanted to come by later. The next week they texted, and I was ready to answer when they could swing by, but I looked further down and saw that they asked for an opportunity to also record some of my “everyday life”. I swear, you give these people an inch and they take 20 miles. So I ignored them again, meaning to answer back with a no, but got busy and forgot. Then one Saturday morning two of them kept calling me nonstop, I got so annoyed, but ignored them and started getting ready for work. Then I had a bad feeling, premonition if you will, and surely not 20 minutes later, they started knocking on my door. I quietly kept doing my hair, and they knocked for another 30 minutes asking if I was inside…what creeps, who stands outside of a seemingly empty room for that long? They went away and I meant to stay inside, but had to go to work (I didn’t even get to go out and grab breakfast), I had a feeling that they would stalk the door to my dorms, but as I mentioned above there are no other exits (what a fire hazard) so I went down and prayed. Low-and-behold the nutcases were there, I brushed them off saying I was late and allowed them to come by later ONLY for photos and videos.

All in all, we all have creeps in our lives; I just felt like writing a dedication to the people who take the term very seriously, and do the title proud. They are amazing aren’t they?

Nanjing Here I Come (Sigh, TV again)

It’s true; I’m going to Nanjing in just a few days. I’m really excited, recently, I’ve been feeling caged in, like I was stuck in a rut doing the same thing: Wake up, go to class, eat, workout, go to sleep…everyday, and on the weekends it’s Helen’s, clubbing, and work. So I’ve been feeling the travel bug for a while, and God has answered my prayers. I ignored an unnamed phone number, as I always do, and after several missed calls she texted me saying she was a producer for a famous TV show of an even more famous TV station. Called《 非常了得》. The host of the show is one of China’s most famous Xiangsheng performers, Guo DeGang (郭德刚) . He has always been my favorite performer, I’ve seen many of his shows and will be such a fan girl, even if he is old and bald. He’s the reason why I agreed for to go on this show at all. The other host of the show is another famous, bald man, Meng Fei (孟非), he is the current host of China’s most famous dating show, 《非诚勿扰》。 Back when my laptop was broken and I had nothing to console my internet deprived soul, I watched that dating show everyday~ ( I plan on dropping hints that Alex is single and get him on the show as one of the eligible bachelors, the girls will go crazy for him!) I don’t mean to babble on like a love-struck teenager, but I can’t wait to meet them….even if I have to humiliate myself on public television as millions of Chinese people watch. I don’t even really know what they want me on the show for…I can’t do my Xiangsheng performance without my partner going with me and they didn’t even ask about my clapper-storytelling. So I will definitely NOT mention it myself! Regardless, I have a free trip to Nanjing to enjoy, I will arrive Saturday afternoon and come back to Tianjin Tuesday night. God really blessed me, because that we have holiday until Wednesday, so I won’t even be missing class. And I was able to talk Alex into going to Nanjing with me. Thank goodness because I would hate to go alone, the show is willing to pay for his room so we bought him a train ticket today!! My Chinese level is definitely not good enough for this, but that’s a mistake for them to depress over, I get a free trip to a new part of China, so I don’t care…Though I know the day of I will be nervous enough to cough up a lung…meh, that’s tomorrow’s problem.

Here’s a link to one of my Xiangsheng performances, because I can’t remember if I put a link up before.

Also, here’s a link from a recent episode of the show I will be attending next week.

Both videos are in Chinese and don’t have subtitles, so watch only if you want to get a feel for the show or can speak Chinese I guess 🙂 Enjoy!

Side Note: My Chinese teacher from America (basically a father figure to all of us) wrote on his facebook wall: “Next week, my amazing student, Marsha, will appear on the popular Chinese television show 《非常了得》 with the famous comedian and host Guo Degang. At one point last year, this was the #1 rated show in China for the 10 PM time block. Not bad for an undergraduate who has only been studying Chinese since the fall of 2008. Wish I could be there in the studio audience to cheer her on and get her autograph!” He’s so embarassing and sweet all at the same time, haha…guess that’s where the whole father-figure thing comes in, right?

Impromptu Chinese Party

I got a text message from my Canadian friend, Gotiere, that simply said, “Come to the Chinese Department’s fifth floor, Party with Chinese people.” I originally meant to go running, but my opportunities to make new Chinese friends aren’t many, so Alex and I went on over. The room was decorated in pink and purple balloons and had about 20 Chinese students and 20 foreign students (Americans, Koreans, Japanese, a Ukrainian/Mexican/ and Canadian) split into two teams. All of the Chinese students screamed my name as I walked in, a strange experience but it always happens now, for some reason all of the Chinese students know who I am and KIND OF worship me (not in a make a sacrifice in my name sort of way, haha). It’s strange, but I think they are sweet.  When we arrived they were already well into a game that is kind of like charades. One person sees the picture and word then turns to the next person and does a move to tell them what it is, but then THAT person has to turn to the person behind THEM and do the move as well. And so on until it reaches the fifth and final person, it gets hilarious by the end, but for some reason no one was playing with joy. That’s right folks, it was a dead party, and barely anyone was laughing. It might have had to do with the fact that almost all of the foreigners had no idea what they were doing or supposed to do, they have only learned Chinese for 7 months so there were a lot of blank stares going on. Alex and I almost decided to leave, but I felt bad because we just arrived and EVERYONE noticed we came in (I’m semi-popular and Alex looks like an American movie star that will remain unnamed. Our departure would hardly go unnoticed. So what else was there to do but liven it up.

I volunteered Alex and myself to play the next game. They would give three words and we had to make a satisfactory impromptu play. Our words were “Valentine’s day….chocolate….purchase”, so we linked arms and pretended to stroll down a street. I put on my high-pitch, cutesy Taiwanese girl voice and started saying things like, “Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart”, “I love you soo much”, and “what are you going to get your favorite person on this special day?” Everyone was rolling with laughter, then we stopped by a chocolate shop and he grabbed a box that was $10,000, but I smacked it out of his hands and said, “Does our love mean so little to you?” and in the end he got me a box of chocolates worth $100,000, haha. Yup, I’m that great~ Well, that lifted the spirit of the party slightly and it turned out to be really funny. Everyone did a little performance (I step danced for them), we played acting games, tongue twister games, and even voice acting. It lasted a few hours and we had plenty of Chinese practice along the way. There were prizes given out as well, I have a new stuffed panda, mini-mirror, and coffee mug. Overall it was a successful night.

Side note: It was so funny to see the Chinese girls fight over whom got the “privilege” of handing Alex cups of chips and whatnot. Secret photos were taken galore. Also, yesterday while we were eating lunch a Chinese girl turned around, literally gasped, and then turned to her friends and went, “Doesn’t he look like…. From….?!” We had a good laugh about that one.

I Give Up

Wow , I just received news that leaves me fuming. As we all know, Brandon is the waiter at my favorite haunt, Helen’s. When he first arrived a few months ago we were pretty flirty, and by flirty I mean it was a two way street. Last month, a week after I decided to let him go and stop crushing on him, Brandon and my friend Alex decided to hang out in Beijing one weekend. Brandon usually works weekends, but he took that one off because a friend from his hometown wanted to see the Forbidden Palace. I was against the idea, I didn’t want to spend more time with the guy I was trying to distance myself from. But he and Alex talked me into it, Brandon wanted to go clubbing for the first time in his life and even wanted to get tipsy beforehand….of course I couldn’t resist. Well, when Alex and I arrived in Beijing the next day, Brandon was acting shady and started making excuses about why he couldn’t hang out with us. I was so mad at him then, but it just helped me along the whole “don’t like him anymore” phase I was going through. So we went out anyways, had a bunch of free drinks and had a grand old time. The week after the debacle Brandon tried to make it up to me with free drinks and half-off entrees and eventually I forgave him. It was all in the past….until today when I found out why he wouldn’t hang out with us.

That new girlfriend of his that I mentioned in my last post, she was a friend of his before (they both grew up in HuBei province)and knows about the supposed “relationship” between Brandon and I. Apparently, she’s a jealous harpy and forbade him from hanging out with us, and by us I mean ME, in Beijing. Nothing happened between the two of us, so I don’t even know why Brandon had to tell her about me, it’s so confusingly annoying. I’m sick and tired of girls thinking I will steal their men, when I know a guy has a girlfriend he is off limits to me. I wonder if I somehow scream whore despite this fact, because all of my guy friends (except the gay ones) have girlfriends who basically hate me. When I know a guy has a girlfriend he drops off my radar so it doesn’t even need to be a situation. At least in this Hu Bei girl’s defense I actually was trying to make a move on her man….granted it was before he was her man so I feel no guilt.

At this point, I am beyond over Brandon, from now on he is getting the cold, neutrally polite shoulder granted to any waiter in my presence. I really need to get some fresh blood around here….

My Preciousss

Hi, my name is Marsha, and I haven’t had cereal in over 10 months.

I would give up my first child for a nice big bowl of cereal right now. That looks very insensitive, but I can’t stop how I feel! In America, I eat a bowl every morning; it used to be why I got up, the highlight of my mornings! Yummm, Special K was my favorite…any flavor would do. Milk is kind of a scarce commodity in China, the milk that they sell here come in strange packets that don’t need to be refrigerated.  So I am too suspicious to drink it. Not to mention, cereal is freakishly expensive, a small box costs about 5-7 dollars…American dollars. I am not starting myself on such an expensive habit. So for now I must buck up and keep strong. I need to stay on the wagon!

In addition to missing cereal, I also would love to get a nice big serving of Haitian food. But I won’t even get started on that because I will just become depressed. Le sigh*

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