Tuesday, January 31

a list (but not really)

  • it's been about 11 days since i posted and i automatically signed in to my old blog from when i lived in south korea
  • i got an ipod for christmas. i love it. it holds all my music and a lot more. i got some music from friends in dripping springs (they convinced me it was legal, but i wanted to be convinced) and i just deleted it in trying to get an updated playlist on there. i am truly not-with-it. it made me mad, but i didn't scream. (j and c, i really wish i could prove to you that i am not ipod inept, but i guess i can't. too bad i can't see you again so you could give me cool music again! this is my punishment.)
  • i spent last week with my fellowship in dripping springs and seeing friends in the austin area, plus a wedding. it was all life-giving and great.
  • my parents are becoming more "liberal" which they claim means tolerant. i am trying to argue with them.
  • it's warm here
  • i am eating a lot of good food and trying to work out to counteract the effect, but i don't think it's working
  • i had a great weekend with my two (still single) cousins. lots of good sit outside and talk time.
  • i am still trying to get over this massive music loss. i can't believe i am this silly.
  • my mom has enough books to last years, even if you were trapped inside the house and couldn't go out. i am reading some of them: winter in kandahar, the mermaid chair, balzac and the little chinese seamstress, waiting
  • i am tired of shopping. that is good.
  • i will try to post something more thought provoking later, but don't hold your breath

Friday, January 20

speaking of...

Yesterday I spoke in my Mom's secondary art methods class about middle school students and today I spoke to my Dad's physical science class about coal use in China. I'm no expert in either field, and I'm not sure why they wanted me to come speak in their classes, but I went anyhow. I say "spoke" - it was only about 15 minutes in each class. I was a lot more comfortable with the coal in China topic because all I did was show pictures and talk a little about them. Everywhere I go with my parents, I get introduced to someone. Even though this is my hometown, it feels like I barely know anyone here anymore. I am going to the Austin area today to stay with my Gramaw and see people I know there. I'm looking forward to that. I also get to go to a wedding of two of my friends (Texans) who I worked with in Korea! It should be a fun little reunion there tomorrow.

The weather in Texas is so warm! When I showed the pictures of cold Yanji, where ice cream is sold on the street with no freezer needed in the winter, I thought of my friends who are toughing it out there this winter. I was lucky enough to get to spend the coldest month of the year in a place where I don't have to even wear a coat, let alone long johns, snow boots, hat, scarf, and gloves!

Tuesday, January 17

look like an American

Well, since I have been in Texas, where my parents live, I haven't been updating this blog. I think my parents are the main ones who read it, so I haven't been too motivated. Maybe I don't have as much material, since I'm back in the States, or maybe I have even more, but just don't know how to process it. So, now, what should I write to you about? I just got back from California where I met up with many of the people I got to know in China last summer. It honestly felt like I was back in China, so much so that I sometimes referred to China as "here" instead of "there." The last night I was in LA, I went to a dinner where there was a gathering of Koreans. I sat at a table with one Korean family and talked with them a little in Korean. (I wish I could say we talked a lot, but my inhibitions are too high.) The mom was telling me that my Korean was really good, which (I've probably said this before) usually means you can say a few more words than "hello" and "thank you." Since there aren't a large number of non-Koreans who speak Korean, they compliment readily. Anyway, the mom looked at her daughter who was maybe 5 years old and said "doesn't she speak Korean well?" and the daughter looked at me and said, "you look like an American!" I smiled and told her that I was. That was definitely the highlight of the evening for me.

The transition in coming back home wasn't hard for me this time. Well, I don't think I've ever had a hard transition back to the States, but I feel like I have had less "wow, America is strange" moments than in previous trips back here from abroad. This lack of strange moments has prompted me to think about why I don't feel strange on this visit. Maybe I'm more used to visiting and I just don't compare cultures anymore. Maybe there's a more profound reason that I'm missing.

I bought my first Starbucks coffee today in more than a year. Cinnamon dolce latte. It was super tasty, but not worth the more than 4 bucks I paid for it. Why do Americans and growing parts of the rest of the world pay that much for coffee? Why did I today? I was at the airport, didn't have another coffee source nearby, wanted one, and had the money. I don't exactly feel guilty about it, but I don't think I'll buy many more of those. I thought about what that same amount of money would buy in Yanji. About 32 yuan would buy dinner for one at an upscale restaurant, a filling dinner for three at a cheap restaurant, 10 trips to the school cafeteria if you're a student, or eight trips if you're a teacher, 32 roasted squid sticks on the street, 32 bus rides, a month of electricity in my school apartment, three trips to the nice gym in the middle of town, or three trips to a nice sauna/bathhouse. It was really good coffee, though.

Sunday, January 8

pictures I like

A collection of random photos: an amazingly long kite near Tianamen square in Beijing, eating dog in Yanji, cute girls playing on the street in Beijing, a yummy street omelet wrap thing in Beijing, and my friend Hilary and me in front of a building at the summer palace in Beijing.

Tuesday, January 3

back in the USA

After three nights and two days in Beijing, then more than 24 hours in transit to Texas, I'm here. I left Beijing New Years day at 5am by taxi from the hostel we stayed at and got in to Abilene that night at around 7pm. I had a long layover in Tokyo, but my Dad had given me a business class upgrade on his frequent flier miles and I got a shower and a nice place to chill in the business class lounge there. The shower was really nice because there happened to be no hot water at the hostel in Beijing so early in the morning. I wonder how many travellers stay at the cheapest place they can find in Beijing before they board business class on an international flight, then rejoice at the luck of having a hot shower in the lounge because their budget accomodations didn't provide one. I'm betting I'm one of the few, thanks to my generous frequent flier father. My parents picked me up at the airport and took me straight to Taco Bueno for dinner. It was excellent. Then, at home, we had a little Christmas and catching up time.

Today, my Dad and I are off to visit relatives in West Texas while my Mom stays home to finish some projects. I'm gonna post some pictures of Beijing and some other random stuff when I get back in a few days. Until then...