After much consideration, preparation, revision, finagling, and ticket shopping, my holiday has come down to this: I'm going home to America for three weeks. Yay! Thanks for buying me a ticket, grandmother! And Jennifer, for putting the idea into my head and making it seek out and destroy any other ideas that may have taken root. So Tuesday morning I'm taking two trains that will eventually, after 26 hours or so, get me to Shanghai. I'll spend a few days there enjoying the sights and possibly enjoying the company of some friends if they can find a spare moment from work. Then on Friday I'll fly from Shanghai to Chicago to Nashville. I'll be in the States from the 2nd until the 22nd, and plan spend some time in Nashville, some time in Cleveland, MS, and hopefully some time in Longview, TX. And now you know exactly which plan I'm going to follow through with. And I better be able to follow through with it because the tickets have already been bought. :)
The last week has been spent mostly in bed or in a chair. At the beginning of the week it was due to a sinus thing I had going on, but after Wednesday it was basically due to laziness. There's just about no students left to hang out with at my school and all the foreigners in town are gone except for me and Darla, so it's been the opportune time to just chill out to the max. I've never had the busiest, most hectic life here in China, but you'd be surprised what kind of mental fatigue can come about from living in a foreign country. The slightest thing can make you more tired than a full day at work. I think I must have been more fatigued than I thought because this week I've been sleeping 12 hours every night, when usually I wake up after 8 hours without an alarm clock. I do feel much better, though. I almost let all my relaxing put me into a reclusive state, but Happy Guy took care of that last night. When I'm eating alone I like to go eat late so that it will be less busy and Happy Guy can take off his apron and hang out with me. I went to eat after 8:30 last night and he ended up telling me that I wasn't allowed to order because I was going to eat with the family and employees at the end-of-night meal that they always have after the customers stop coming in. So around 9 we all sat down to the biggest fish hotpot I've seen. Usually I try to stay away from fish because I'm not very accustomed to the tiny bones and I always feel awkward when I take forever trying to eat around them while the Chinese can eat a whole fish in less than a minute. But I was with the Happy Family and employees, so I threw my reservations to the wind and dug in. Happy Guy is a great friend, he always knows exactly when to tell others to speak more slowly so I can understand, and he always knows when he needs to rephrase other people's questions with vocabulary I know. His wife is a great hostess because she always keeps my bowl full and she always knows when there's something I'm not used to chewing on (like a fish head) and she's ready to give me a quick lesson on how to handle it. Without exception, I'm always nervous when they invite me to eat with them. A lone foreigner amidst a sea of jovial Chinese diners can easily be overwhelmed. Yet without exception, they never fail to put me at ease and allow me to have a great time. At one point they all talked about how the foreigners never eat without first giving thanks and they all wanted me to show them how I do it. Then they began to argue about what I say and why I do it. Because of some of our conversations in the past (most with an interpreter, mind you) Happy Guy was able to jump in and gladly tell them exactly who we thank, how we thank him, and why we thank him. It was a pretty cool moment for me to sit there and listen to him talking about all of that. He was very kind to point out that there's apparently no smiling involved in giving thanks, though. Haha! He said "No... smile! No!" It kind of took me by surprise, the things that people can notice while watching us foreigners. I've never really thought about it, do I ever smile while giving thanks? I'm not sure if that's something I need to work on or what, but it was just weird because I've never really thought about it before. :)
Well, Darla and I were thinking about meeting for dinner and a movie tonight but neither of us wants to go across town to meet the other so I guess it's another quiet night at the Automobile School. We don't feel bad since neither one of us wants to get out. We've accepted the fact that we're lazy this week. :) I've already promised to help her buy a train ticket tomorrow, so I already have plans to be out and about tomorrow. Don't worry and think I'm becoming a couch potato shut-in or something. I'm not even on the couch. It's not comfy enough to sit on for long periods of time. If you're going to be in or around those areas where I'll be in the next three weeks, drop me a line. I can't promise anything, but I'll try and stop by. I hope you're all having a blessed Sunday.