Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cake and Carols

December around here is known as Christmas Party Season. It sounds fun and mostly really is, but one of the downsides of having lots of students and teachers over to our apartments/meeting them on campus is that you get inundated with certain things.

Two of these things are Cake and Carols. Two things that God created for good that often are result of the fall here in China. When you think of "cake" you think of birthdays, weddings, retirement parties where everyone is happy that at least they get a piece of that chocolate, yellow, or coconut goodness. Everyone waits patiently for theirs, excitedly scarfing it down upon arrival. Well, except for Milton.

However, over here, you pretty much always have a cake gifted to you that is quite different. The type of cake you end up trying to avoid eating, pushing it back and for the plate like a toddler avoiding eating peas, trying to be sneaky by confusing motion for eating. Many times there is fruit on top. Mangos, oranges, bananas, kiwis, etc. Not only that, sometimes pinto beans and others. Sometimes melon. Often times there is cream in the middle that can make even the strongest of stomachs gag. The icing is normally bland because Chinese dont really like sweets as much as us.

Many of these things are good, but mixed together they get old fast. You try to separate the fruit from the cake, but that's futile too. And you have to eat SOME of it since normally its a student/teacher being polite and spending their own money to add to the party.

The other thing is carols. They are great, but after the 27th singing of Silent Night, you begin to just yearn for silence and can forget about that Silent Night the Savior was born. Many of these carols help us get in the Christmas spirit, making us thankful and humble. It does that, through the lyrics, yes, but also from trying to sing fast lyrics in Mandarin.

I may sound like a Scrooge or a Grinch, but I don't think I have the capacity to sing the same songs several times a week, no matter how good or catchy it is. Thankfully there are different seasons and different ways to worship Jesus, not all of which include Away in a Manger or Red Bean and Apple Cream Cake.

I'll have to start looking for some John Piper-approved, Christ-glorifying, Man-satisfying Festivus songs and some less confused cake types around here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

All I want for Christmas and other strange things here.

Here it is Mom and Dad, the only thing I want for Christmas. With all the hassle of shipping (not to mention the unreliability of postal workers in China who have been known to lose packages and remove what are deemed to be "dangerous" things from them...) I've found the thing that you can get me this year. No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is right up there with GOB Bluth's "The Sword of Destiny" bought from Ancient Chinese Secret as themost ancient and powerful of Chinese relics.

It may appear to be a cabbage plant made of jade. And yes, technically that's what it is, but I am convinced that it is so much more. Maybe it was owned by a Qin dynasty emporer. Maybe having it in your house releases the power to grow other cabbages rapidly within a small radius. Or maybe it's like the Chinese equivalent of the seeing stones in Lord of the Rings that Sauroman uses to see into the future.

Whatever it is, it's reasonably priced for a limited time only at 30,000 RMB or US $4500. So I know its got a genie in it or something like that. I haven't bought it just yet, but every time I pass it in the store above the KFC in the mall nearby, it calls to me. It yearns to find its master (me). I'm thinking I'll put it in our living room next to our shoe cabinet.

In other news, I found this out a while ago, but forgot to post it. Here is proof that Chinese
cafeterias, in addition to noodles, fried rice and Kung Pao Chicken, also sell beer in large quantities. Here is the proof. I haven't seen anyone drinking it there in the cafeteria yet, or really buying it, but it's there, just waiting for the first bold student to buy one. Maybe
everyone else is just waiting so they won't stick out. As the old Chinese proverb goes, "the stalk that sticks out, must be cut off."

In more other news, we have a Christmas party tonight. I'm wearing a nice shirt so that I can get a really moving picture of me and a bunch of Chinese students wearing Santa hats. It's long been my dream to have a magnet that I distribute to friends and family with my face on it and I think the time is now. My brother, Matt already has one and beat me to the punch. It looks like he only has one arm though due to the way he's posed, leaning up against the Old Well on campus. I'm gonna try my best not to make that same mistake. So pray for my beard to not look weird or for me to have something in my teeth.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Start of the holiday season

Here's another smattering of happenings recently that I can remember now. It's now December, typically the most difficult time to be here in China, apart from family and friends during the holiday season. I miss everyone reading this (except for you, US Army private who keeps leaking cables on Wiki sites...I could do without you.) and hope that you are enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas, even the things like the traffic, the mall smell, the clamor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Salvation Army bell ringers, the santa hats and the excessive quoting of "Elf." Think of me when you experience these things.

-Class has been interesting. During our conversation portion today we had a discussion about FaZhan ShouZu (Arrested Development) which I never thought would happen in another language. As this is my favorite TV show of all time I thoroughly enjoyed talking about this in Chinese, though trying to describe who Carl Weathers is was more difficult than I anticipated. However, she had no trouble understanding how a family who's father became rich by using his construction company's corporate account as a personal piggy bank. Probably because this happens all the time here with sketchy business practices.

-The cat that Harrison had rescued and had been living with us passed away recently. She just stopped eating for about 4 days and I'll spare you the rest of the details, but it was her time to go I guess. I wish I could tell you that it was without suffering and that it got a proper burial but I'd be lying since both of those things are hard to find in China for animals. Personally I will miss the times when it would get too close to our space heater and jump back, burned by it's own curiosity. I will also miss the certainty of knowing there won't be any rats around our place. Sure, there were about 100 things I hated about that cat, but those two things I will remember with fondness.

-We (the ACC guys here in China) won the Turkey Bowl! It was nice to get revenge from the last time we played when we got blown out and I dropped two interceptions. Mainly I was channeling all my energy with the memory of the SEC team running up the score by throw Tim Tebow jump-passes with less than a minute to go. So this year we won it in style 40-6. The victory stands for now, though I'm worried that Harrison has been hanging around a lot of runners for agents. Recently he posted on Twitter a 200RMB receipt for PF Changs and Justin and Zach I'm pretty sure have been receiving extra help on papers in Chinese class. So we'll see if we'll be able to weather the storm. Either way, the NCAA wont be able to take away the memory of the most fantastic, bizarre, and sublime facial hair I have ever seen. It was a banner year in this department.

-Thanksgiving. We celebrated with Turkey and other dishes that ultimately became so crammed on our plates that it seemed to just become one food item. Delicious. Also, my team made me wear nice clothes during lunch. I hope they're thankful for that. We also tried to watch an old Thanksgiving Day NFL game (mainly failed though) with the likes of Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, et al. For Max, the Jungs' dog who has bitten me twice now, we let him run in the park near by and let him wallow in the mud while we threw the football around. For the girls, we watched Elf for what I'm sure was the 1st of 13 times before Christmas Day. If I've learned one thing, its that December is just as much Elf Season as it is Christmas Season. I personally celebrate by telling someone that "you're so pretty, you should be on a Christmas card" once a day. I think Josh thinks it's weird and it makes him uncomfortable.

-Work is going really well too. Can't share many details here, but I have lots of friends here who like asking me about important things.

-The Jungs are hooked on The Wire now! Jarred bought a Glock and a doo-rag while Shelley's language has gotten noticeably coarser and talks constantly about how weak "the product" is lately. Expect more posts about this as promised in the "about me" sidebar.