November Superlatives

Hey friends, guess it’s been a little while since I posted. To reward you for your long-suffering silence: an extra-long post! Or to punish you, one of the two. A lot of random little things have happened recently, so to organize, I present you with, Marissa’s November Superlatives!

BEST EVENT: Thanksgiving in Neijiang. 35+ PCVs gathered in the town of Neijiang, a tiny hamlet of some 3-4 million a few hours from where I live, to give thanks for our Pilgrim ancestors and whatnot. As you can imagine, it was a rather raucous weekend, since many of us hadn’t seen each other since August and since it’s rare that there are so many of us in one place like that. I was majorly impressed with the hostess managing to pull everything together for that many people, and in China no less, and with all the guests for the yummy potluck stuff they made and brought. We even had turkey, imported and brought in from Chengdu! And despite some of the little dramas that mark any such large gathering, it was an unparalleled delight.

CHEAPEST SLEEP: In Neijiang, most of the guests stayed in a hostel on the hostess’s campus that featured 10-yuan-per-night beds. That comes out to around $1.25, and worth every bit of it. Actually, the bed was comfy and pleasant; the bathroom with squat toilet, no sink or shower, and constantly running faucet, less so. But I’d do it again!

WORST EVENT: Getting pickpocketed out of a fair chunk of my monthly salary a couple weeks back while at a restaurant. Upside: none of my cards or passport or phone were taken, and in theory PC may reimburse me at least some of the money (we’ll see).

BEST PERFORMANCE: KTV (karaoke) night last week, to celebrate the departure of our friend Brittany and the birthday of foreign teacher Matt. Several hours of enthusiastic production numbers, thanks to an excellent song selection (for China) that even included favorite hits by Aqua and Girls Allowed.

WORST PERFORMANCE: This one is preemptive, but it is sure to be the speech contest I am going to judge this afternoon. I anticipate several hours of earnest, over-wrought English speeches.

BEST STUDENT PERFORMANCE: This week in class I had the students doing roleplays of sort of family problem situations, where half of their group would have to create a roleplay showing the Eastern way of dealing with the problem, and the other half speculating through their roleplay on the Western way. Exerpts/paraphrases of a couple of the most amusing skits:

(Western) [with smiles]
Daughter: Oh mom, I have just done so well on my college entrance exam, I think I will get into a good college. But I also have some other news: I am pregnant.
Mother: What? Oh, is the boy handsome?
[a minute or two of prattle about the boy, etc]
Mother: OK, you can do whatever you want. Now let’s have dinner!

[As opposed to the Eastern versions of this scene, which typically featured crying, disinheriting, and abortions, some of the kids seemed to think teenage pregnancy in the West would be considered either not a big deal or even a good thing]

(Eastern) [histrionically]
Wife: …I have found out you are cheating on me.
Husband: I’m sorry, I’m sorry!
Wife: Mother, I want to get a divorce.
Mother: No, you have a child, you are married! I think you can compromise.
Husband: Yes, I am sorry!
Wife: OK. I will stay if you….stop drinking. Stop going out. Be home by 10 every night. Get me a present.
Husband: OK!

[See how easy it is! Actually, I have this feeling this is not too unrealistic]

(Western) [This one performed more or less with words like this, and entirely deadpanned]
Wife: Are you cheating on me?
Husband: Yes.
Wife: Why?
Husband: I don’t love you anymore.
Wife: OK, I will respect your decision. Do you want to divorce?
Husband: Yes.
Wife: OK, child, come in here. Child, we are divorcing. Who do you want to live with, me or Dad?
Child: Since Dad is the one who messed up, I want to live with Mom.
Husband: Yes, that makes sense. OK, goodbye!

[I blew their minds several weeks ago when, while discussing family, I mentionend the 50%ish divorce rate. Silly Americans, getting divorced when there are children involved!]

BEST QUOTE: From a foreign student we were talking to in a bar in Beibei a couple weeks ago, who has spent a couple years studying here and has a couple more to go: “Yeah, the education system here is terrible. And I’m from *Botswana*.” Yep.

MOST TRAGIC LOVE AFFAIR: My former host in Chengdu, while I was there, met a Korean guy while we were at the Panda Reserve. She invited him to hang out with us for most of the next couple days, since he was in town briefly on business and didn’t know anyone. I come to find out, when I went to Chengdu, that not only is she still in touch with him, she has totally fallen for him. But there is no way this can be. Meanwhile, her parents are pressuring her to find a boyfriend soon and get married. “I think I will have to find someone and get married, even though I will not love him.” She’s only 24.

SECOND-MOST TRAGIC LOVE AFFAIR: One of my students is a little obsessed with Westerners. She’s from a part of China that has a lot of Russians, and she doesn’t fit in that well in this region, she says, so she’s always trying to reach out to the foreigners who are around her, including me and, apparently, some of the kids who have studied abroad here. Which apparently resulted in a big, passionate, two-week interlude with one of the foreign students who just left. Whom she’s head over heels for, and talks to every day online (at the cost of other things she should be doing), and whom she hopes will come back and visit her next summer (so he says…), and who is rich and handsome and perfect and wonderful and who her parents already want her to marry…. She kept asking me for advice at lunch today. Some combination of, “uhhh, well, I hope it works out, but don’t get your hopes up too much…” I kept reprising. Oh! And he got her to infomally “convert” to Christianity.

MOST EXCITING THING ON THE HORIZON: I’m planning a trip with various PC friends to Malaysia and Thailand over break in January! In heavy planning mode now, as you can imagine, and extremely excited.

MOST AMERICAN THING I’VE DONE RECENTLY: Seen Harry Potter on opening weekend in Chongqing. Thought it was excellent.

LEAST AMERICAN THING I’VE DONE RECENTLY: Made sweet and sour cabbage for lunch yesterday, which I ate by myself at home with chopsticks. I don’t know too many Chinese dishes, still, but they’re often the simplest thing to do here thanks to the availability of ingredients.

BEST PLACE TO STALK MORE OF MY DOINGS THE LAST FEW WEEKS: I just posted a bunch of older and newer pictures to Facebook and Flickr. Go check them out. Also, I finally realized I could use email to post to Twitter/Facebook so expect me to be better connected again via those extremely important means.

Happy Hanukkah! I’m gunning for a Hanukkah party for my foreign friends next week, if my menorah arrives in time. I’ll keep you posted.


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