Who do I blog for? What is the purpose of my blog? I have never been able to figure out the answers to those questions. But for some reason I’ve felt compelled to keep posting every so often. Back in high school I took 2 semesters of keyboarding as an easy excuse to stay on campus my senior year, but I didn’t expect to gain anything from it. All these years later I still really enjoy the feeling of easily getting thoughts out of my head through the strokes of the keys. (Thanks short, funny teacher from Pittsburgh whose name I can’t remember!)
Every day I speak to God, but I don’t use my lips. I use my hands. I type out my daily prayers in a kind of journal/letter-to-God. It’s a strange way to talk to God in some ways. Like how I can delete sentences that don’t come out right, for example. (Something I’ve always wished I could do when praying out loud.) But it’s very meaningful to me. What I’m realizing is that those prayers are probably the best spot for a lot of the thoughts that I’ve previously put into this blog. This space should be for someone other than God and myself, otherwise why make any of it public?
When I went home in the summer, I had a few people tell me they enjoyed reading along with our experiences in China. Almost every positive feedback I’ve ever received about my blog has been people saying how they enjoyed the funny stories. So, I think that’s the direction this thing will take. What that means is that posts might be few and far between because China is a hard place to put into words. My fear is always that when I do try to put things into words, everything comes off as negative. The truth is I have a lot of complaints about this place. A LOT. But what I’ve come to see is that this is a place of extremes. I will be absolutely fuming one minute and the next minute something so wonderful will happen that the anger melts away and I think I never want to leave for fear of missing the crazy times. I will give you an example to finish off this post:
About a week ago I got into a taxi to go across our little town and meet the other foreigners at a bar. Really, I should say THE bar since this place is so small. The taxi driver was visibly beside himself because he had some Americans in the car. (He knew where we were from because my entire Chinese vocabulary is contained in three sentences. They are, “We are Americans.” “We are teachers.” “Jinsha.” The last one is the name of our school. I don’t know how to say “We work at ______”. I developed this skill specifically for our frequent taxi rides. The drivers often want to know about us and start asking us questions. I’m not sure what they are asking usually, but the response is always “We are Americans. We are teachers. Jinsha.” That usually satisfies their curiosity.) Ok, back to the story. This guy was so excited about us that he started asking questions that “We are teachers” didn’t seem to cover. So he got out his phone and called someone. I assumed he was calling a friend to tell them he was driving with foreigners (happens all the time) or to ask how to say something in English. Suddenly, he thrust the phone over to me. This was a fair move by him because I’ve done this to taxi drivers on several occasions so that a Chinese friend can explain something to them that I can’t. So I took it and said, “Hello?” On the other end was a 10- maybe 11-year-old voice saying “HELLO WHATS YOUR NAME!” I finally understood what was happening. The driver had a son (or daughter. hard to say.) that was learning English at school and he wanted to give them a chance to talk to a real-life English-speaker. Feeling a little annoyed, I indulged him with a few basic questions. “Hello! My name is Josh, what’s your name? How old are you?” The kid wasn’t faring very well so I gave him a few seconds to respond and then said “Ok, nice to meet you! Bye bye!” and handed the phone back. The driver was very excited and thankful. I felt a little bad for being annoyed, but when these kinds of things happen all the time it’s hard to always see them for the endearing experiences that they are. Sometimes when you want a taxi ride you just want a taxi ride, ya know? When we arrived at the bar, the driver emphatically refused payment. At first I didn’t understand and tried to hand him money a couple times. I pushed him a little bit but he wouldn’t budge. It was one of those exchanges that really make things fun here.