1. There comes a day in every girl's life when she must realize that she will never be a professional ballerina:
For me, that day was about a month ago. In early childhood I had grand aspirations to become a famous ballerina. And I suppose that there has always been a TIIIINNNNY part of me that believed that, if the opportunity came along, I could still be trained a la one of those reality shows where they take a nobody and teach them. I'm not ashamed that the delusion lasted a full 26 years.
Unfortunately, I'm gonna have to stick with my day job. A month ago our school decided that for their big 8-year anniversary celebration, all the teachers in the department would have to perform a traditional Tai Chi dance. Schools around here do this often, they hire you to teach English and then you discover that on random occasions you will be required to sing, dance, act, announce, and various other forms of playing monkey for the entertainment of the students. We gathered on the first day of practice and I was optimistic...I thought it would be cool to come away from China knowing a traditional dance and having video of performing it in full costume in front of a couple hundred people. Then we saw the dance.
This thing involved full body lifts, swooshy-swoosh dips, crazy leg loopty-loops and all other forms of whatnot! The above terminology, by the way, is how I defined all of our moves, "now we lean back for the swirly-swirl, then the high hoopa, now a wooshy-tuck thingy." You can imagine how much my instructor loved me.
We spent two hours practicing and only mastered 12 SECONDS worth of the entire 8 minute dance! At first the instructor patiently took the foreigners through the moves, but eventually tired of the language barrier and our obvious ineptitude and gave up after the first hour, spending the second half of class speaking only to the Chinese staff. In turn, we foreigners quickly gave up too...throwing out suggestions that perhaps the performance would be better served by giving us Ribbon Dancers and letting us frolic among the real performers.
In the end, the performance was skipped by all of the foreign teachers for one reason or another. I don't think anybody really minded either. But after feeling my brain go all fuzzy by watching the instructor, trying to mimic his movements, and failing sooo completely, I had the coming-of-age realization that professional dance is, after all these years, not for me. Thank God that my "day job" is teaching English and having adventures in CHINA....not to shabby. So I'm still happy.
2. THE EPIC WIG PARTY
Last year for my 25th birthday, I donned a wig and had the time of my life. This year I wanted to extend the fun to all my friends. Wigs are for some reason, surprisingly plentiful here in China, so to kick off the summer and also to have one last, great, epic bash before we all leave China for good, I gathered my friends together for a wig party about a week ago. It was amazing. My only requirement was that everyone had to wear a wig and that they also preferably wear a monochromatic outfit to match whatever color they chose. We all met at a great new Western restaurant near my apartment, where the owner was so thrilled for the business that the staff all wore wigs as well and gave us huge discounts. We danced and sang karaoke and had a great time before moving on to another place and dancing the night away. All in all I think about 15-20 people came and we all had soooo much fun. When I am back in the States, I'll post pictures. I was in monochromatic pink for the night and will remember it forever.
Some of the wig partiers at Helen's
3. THINGS I'M LOVING
It's getting to the hard part of the year, and of this whole China experience: saying goodbye. I've lived here for three years, and the people I'm here with are family. We've celebrated Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, loves, anxieties, tiny triumphs and everything else together. So we're saying goodbye to each other and also having to say goodbye to all of China...which is something I really haven't come to terms with yet. I REFUSE to do the sappy-senior-year-"Oh my gosh this is our last cafeteria lunch, and this is our last locker visit, and this is our last blah blah blah" business...but it's hitting the emotions nonetheless. Sooooo....in denial, here are some things I've been really enjoying:
--My favorite music: I have decided that for me, there are 4 characteristics that make a song wonderful. I have yet to find a song that combines all four traits in one track, but if you know of it, please share. These 4 must-haves in Lucy music are: handclaps, countdowns/countups, harmonica, and electric fiddle. Handclaps and countdowns lately are the best...they never fail to put a smile on my face! ...TWO THREE FOUR...
--Chinese fashion: for some reason, it is fashionable for 30 year old women to wear Minnie Mouse barrettes. My students come to class with fuzzy teddy bears on their tshirts. And they are in grad school. It's hard to find heels that don't have pretty pretty plastic sparkly bows pasted and bedazzeled all over them. Yeah...on some days when I'm tired of China it repulses me, but lately I just find it hilarious. I love it. It's so random and out of place and weird...but it's what they wear.
--I found episodes of David Letterman online that aren't blocked...it's on China's version of youtube (which is still blocked) so it's not uploaded alll the time, but I'm still able to catch a little here and there. I miss late night TV so much, so it's really cool to have it now.
--Dragon Boat Festival: I had a few days off last week for Dragon Boat Festival. I may have written about this earlier, but here's one of the origin stories of the festival--there's another one that explains the boats, but I only heard this one (as I was told by my students): There was a nobleman/poet in ancient China who was really innovative and introduced a lot of reforms to the land. Other members of the royal court didn't like change, so accused him of treason. He was found guilty and was so depressed that his loyalty had been questioned that he drowned himself in a river. To honor him, during Dragon Boat Festival, the people go drop rice or bread or zongzi (the traditional food of the festival, it's meat or raisins wrapped in sticky rice which is then wrapped in a bamboo leaf and steamed...not bad) into the river SO THAT THE FISH WILL EAT THE FOOD AND NOT THE BODY OF THE SUICIDAL POET! It's so dark and creepy of a tradition...the students all laughed when they were telling me...for some of them it was the first time they had viewed it from an outsiders perspective and actually thought about the tradition. I love it. We have plenty of creepy nonsense traditions too with our holidays, so it's fun to find the ones from other cultures. These days, very few people make their way to a river to drop in rice...but it's funny anyway.
Ok, soon I'm sure I'll pull myself together to share what all of this experience has meant to me and whatnot, but for now this will have to do. I have about a month and a half left of living in Wuhan, then will travel for a while. None of it seems real yet, but this weekend one of my best friends returns to the States, so I'm sure I'll have to face reality soon. Until then, enjoy your summer everyone!