(originally posted here)
The belated August entry
Summer is over, and I’m looking back on the time I spent in the States with my family. I had a lovely time working, relaxing, shopping, driving, and basically being with my family and friends in the Western Hemisphere. I missed my friends here, of course, but it was a nice break in my home-culture.
I thought I’d write up some of my summer activities. In late August I realized how typical for my life in Virginia Beach they were, and yet how different (or, sometimes, similar) from my experiences in China.
Summer kicked off with the annual Fourth of July events at Town Point Park in Norfolk. My family, as always, had friends over for a cookout, then drove to downtown Norfolk for the Navy re-enlistment ceremony, the Navy Atlantic Fleet Band’s concert of American and Patriotic music, and the big Norfolk-Portsmouth fireworks display over the Elizabeth River. Interesting that on America’s Independence Day we celebrate, as John Adams anticipated, with the Chinese-invented colorful explosives. They were still impressive, even after experiencing an authentic Chinese New Year. It was also nice to sit on the grass! (You can’t walk or sit on the grass in China, even in parks – there are just too many people, I guess, and the grass would die if they let you. At least, I assume that’s the reason…)
I went to see Pirates of the Carribean and Lady in the Water with my parents in main-run theaters. The salty buttered popcorn was a switch from the kettle-corn of China; I like them both quite a bit, actually. The movies on the other hand…. Pirates had some nice jokes and references to the original, but I was unimpressed – any old movie can do references to a prequel, and I was expecting something special. Too much wonton death, too. Anyway, Lady was fun. I’m not sure what to think of it, but this isn’t supposed to be a movie review, so I’ll move on. The only other movie I saw was X-Men 3, in the Cinema Cafe. The Cinema Cafe is a great little chain that shows older movies and also serves food and drink, from popcorn and soda to pizza and beer, at your table while you watch. (Didn’t overall care for the film, though.)
In the middle of the summer, we took a two-hour drive along smaller state roads to visit some friends who movied to the south-west of us. What a joy to drive through all the trees, past the soybean and corn fields, through the small towns…. We stopped on the way back to buy some fresh Virginia peanuts – yum! – and all in all it was a nice Saturday morning.
One of the local universities put on a series of summer drama camps for children. The young actors put on three plays, and we caught them all. They weren’t Broadway, of course, but they were lots of fun and very well done! Some of those kids were amazing. It made me sorry I’ll miss the university’s theater season – thankfully I didn’t think about it last year, and hopefully I’ll forget about it again once school starts here. Two years ago, I had a season ticket, so you know I like the stage!
The last summer event was a free concert at the beach by the Virginia Beach Symphony. They played suites from various operas in the outdoor concert-hall between Atlantic Avenue and the Boardwalk. I recognized the conductor and the first violin from the yearly Messiah sing-along in December (he – the conductor – is pretty funny, and she – the violinist – always looks so professional). The Symphony played very well, and it was fun to recognize music I’ve heard other places and learn to associate it with its original work.
So, now I’m back in China, and switching gears to start teaching and living here again. I’ll post again later this month!