Happy 30th birthday to me!
The following is most of an e-mail I wrote to friends the day before my birthday. I like the blog-to-record-your-life-publicly idea, so I’m arranging it here for that purpose. I started with a couple difficulties, then moved into the more chatty message.
The “first year” work load is still rather heavy; currently I have a pretty good system for planning and teaching – when I can stick to it! – but it’s thrown for a loop by one extra meeting, sick day, or special activity. One thing I look forward to this summer is not just the “free” time, but the time to spend getting more than just-the-basics ready for lessons and units of study!
I also caught a cold recently, and am home from school today because I lost my voice! There’s a class birthday party tomorrow for three of us and the students are all invited to my home after school Friday, so this isn’t a good time to be voiceless. (But then, when is?*)
Please also keep in mind my friends Pam & Clay and Peter, as they (and many others with them) work in different ways back in my old province to provide housing, education, safety, and hope to children without those things.
OK, on to the fun stuff!
There’s been a lot going on here since I wrote in November. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, of course; the next special day is tomorrow, when will I begin my fourth decade on Earth – doesn’t that sound old? I turn 30, that is, but I’ve said it that way to a few friends who’ve hit 3-0 before me, so it’s only fair to apply it to myself!
Two friends who have yet to hit that mark, Carolyn and Stephanie, first invited me to dinner on my birthday, then decided to arrange a party this weekend. As love languages go, they’re speaking clearly and fluently to me. What a bl’ssing to have found such friends!
In my classroom, the children are on-again, off-again friends with each other. They’re still young enough to have “cooties,” though they don’t use that word. One minute a girl and boy will be working well together, then next they’ll be acting like it’s torture to be put in a group where they’re the only one of their sex. Ah, well; we’re working on it! We welcomed a new student at the beginning of January.
Looking back over the past months:
American Thanksgiving is apparently celebrated by most of the foreign staff at our school, even if they aren’t American! We had that Friday off in honor of it (which almost makes sense if you think about it long enough), and Saturday there was a huge potluck dinner at one of the apartments near me, attended by almost every staff member in our apartment complex, as well as one or two friends who aren’t connected with the school. Lots of people hosted smaller dinners and invited Chinese friends to share this holiday.
I was thrilled with my trip back to ZZ for Christmas. The first few days of the break, I saw lots of foreign friends at the monthly city-wide f’ship, stayed with a close Chinese family, Sandy, Kerry, Cathay, and Timmy, who live near my old apartment, and visited with my former neighbors and students. I also dropped some serious coinage at the yarn market – probably the place I most miss shopping at! The happiest moment, out of all those wonderful moments, was visiting the babies who now live in my old apartment, getting to meet them for the first time, hold them, talk with Pam about them and about her own family, and even getting to see some of the hats I brought on their heads! On the evening of the twenty-second, I moved to another part of the city to stay with my Aussie family, the Southeys. In their apartment, farther away from most other friends and shopping places (except the baking-supply shop – another place I miss, and at which I also spent a bit of cash), I relaxed and baked Christmas cookies and read books off their shelves and played with their cat and dog and just had a break! We had a relatively quiet Christmas – only 5 guests besides myself and Josee, and all of us like family to each other here, siblings, cousins, grandparents…. The last day or so I spent with Sarah, my dear friend, who had only that week moved to a new apartment. We had fun roughing it – getting our hair washed and dried at a salon because the hot water wasn’t working yet, digging out plates from boxes for breakfast – and just being together! More pictures from Christmas, at school and in ZZ, can be found on my Facebook.
with Betty, Lucy, and Melissa in my old building; with 3 of the Southeys and Josee, their latest “adopted daughter,” over Christmas dinner
While I was there, Pam and Clay took Sarah and I out to dinner, along with Peter, to celebrate many things, among them Peter’s organization receiving official non-profit status in the States and the finalization of Pam and Clay’s adoption of XQ, their precious daughter who’s been with them all for of her five years. Last week they traveled to Guangzhou to get the American side of the paperwork done. One of the bloggers I follow was there the same week with her own new daughter. I was quite excited for them both! (Ni Hao Ya’ll is the blog.)
New Year’s Eve held another large party, this one more attended by families than singles, though like any gathering here it was a mix of both. I don’t know many of the staff’s children yet, so it was nice to see them hanging out and talk with them a little. I joined friends of multiple ages and backgrounds in the wildest game of Uno I’ve ever played!
The future holds exciting things as well. Plans are to fly to the Philippines right after school next Friday for the practical part of the SCUBA course Dave (the head principal) is teaching. We’ve already done all the book work here in preparation, but the water’s warmer in Davao! I’ll head back in time for Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year), which is half-way through our two-week holiday. Then the second semester will resume.
Beyond that, the summer holds four weeks of language study, a move of apartment to a place of my own – location to be determined by the company housing committee – and one or three visitors from ZZ during the three free weeks before I’m on duty again for my second school year.
I am cautiously optimistic that it will also hold a new cat, as the housing committee has amended the policy to allow pets! I can’t wait to have a feline friend to come home to each evening. I can’t wait to see “who” is waiting to come home with me from the pet market this summer!
Here’s looking at you!
So, what’s happening in your life? What does this part of your story look like? I’d love to hear from you!
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*Katy Bowser sings my favorite under-the-weather song, Laryngitis. When I went to her blog searching for the lyrics, she just happened to have a post up about feeling under the weather!
I lost my voice today,
and I couldn’t say a thing that I wanted to say.
I got frustrated, addlepated.
I couldn’t speak my mind.
I lost my voice today,
and I couldn’t say a thing that I wanted to say,
and somewhere I started to pra –
loveliest talk I’ve had in a long time.
My tongue was tied, so I asked You to start.
You made perfect sense, spoke straight to my heart.
Your words were golden, better than Midas.
Who would have thought that it was all because of laryngitis?
I lost my desire today.
I have desired a taste along the way
For things that frustrate, addlepate;
things that divide us.
And I forgot you’re always ready to talk.
I am forever and always chasing the flock.
I never quite made it, if I look at it in hindsight.
I lost my voice today.
I got so much that I wanna say.
I am jubilated, kind of elated.
Wanna talk about the love you love to put inside us.
And thank you, Father, for this lovely laryngitis.
—Katy Bowser, from her album “Laryngitis”