Friday, 14 November 2014

Five Awesome Things I've Done That You Have No Idea About...Yet!

I'm still not especially good at posting regularly, although once a month could be considered regularly, but once a week would be even better. I do manage to post updates to my Facebook and Twitter accounts (mostly) via Instagram though...go figure! Taking pictures and posting them with a short message is just a lot easier (and faster) than sitting down to write a blog post! Today I'm taking the time for it though.

For this reason I've decided to keep things short and sweet and tell you about five awesome things I've recently done that you probably have no idea about, just yet. I'm about to change that though so don't go anywhere...unless of course you're going to get me a cup of coffee. Black please, no milk no sugar. Thanks!

Alright. So what have I been up to? Work's quite busy, especially because I work four days in a row, then enjoy one day off, then I work for one day and then I get to enjoy another day off. That means Tuesdays through Thursday I have it easy but Friday through Monday I have to teach 20 classes and that's exhausting at the best of times. I used to work three days, then enjoy a day off, then work two days and then enjoy another day off, but my hours got changed because apparently I'm a work horse and not a human being. Thankfully I'm going home next month and I get to do nothing (related to teaching) for a whole month (or two years), whichever way you look at it. My friend is also ridiculously excited to house-sit because it means her commute to work will be reduced from about 40 minutes to five minutes. Aren't I just an awesome girl friend?

Alright, here's my list, in no particular order.

one hour of fast uphill walking
I've started regularly working out at the gym again. Admittedly, I'm still somewhat lazy and not quite in perfect shape but when I'm actually working out I've mostly got my vigour back and I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, even when my trainer tortures me with excruciating exercises, such as rope skipping, running across the room and various other forms of endurance training. Spending an hour on the treadmill is tiring and exhausting but it feels blooming amazing. I get to listen to music and space out for a while, it's a good way to clear your mind or resolve some issues. When you're busy walking uphill on the treadmill you don't have the energy to complicate things by coming up with elaborate resolutions to simple problems. Instead you will usually find a simple solution and most of the time that's also the best. I promise I will write that post about my trainer so I'm not going to praise him too much here.

Post work-out: sweaty, tired and red-faced but happy

I've been cooking a lot. Or more than usual anyway. I'm big into eating my greens, especially 菠菜 (spinach) and 油麦菜 (Indian lettuce) and even though I'm not cooking as often as I could, I try to cook at home at least a few times a week. I've as good as given up on rice (once a day, if at all) in a hopefully fruitful attempt to be more healthy and help me lose some more weight at the gym. Chinese rice really doesn't agree with me so I treat myself to the more expensive Jasmine rice from Thailand. It tastes really good, which can make it difficult to control how much you eat of it, but I'm trying my best to be good. Admittedly I'm not cooking anything amazingly special but it has flavour and I enjoy standing in my petite little kitchen, wielding a kitchen knife attacking the garlic and other various edibles. In addition to that I've made a point to have breakfast at home, unless the craving for a portion of steaming hot dry noodles gets the better of me (which hasn't happened just yet). Just the other week I caught a nasty bout of food poisoning after having dinner with my friend and for a good few days that bug thoroughly ruined my desire to eat absolutely anything.

Post food poisoning recovery food: mashed banana and grated apple + a steamed bun

At home I'm the boss, I thought my slippers should reflect that!
I bought a new handbag. This is newsworthy because I haven't done that in over a year. Well actually that's not quite true. I did buy a handbag sometime bag in April or May but it broke after only two weeks of using it so I gave up on the whole handbag-buying business for about six months. Last year my tiny little handbag and faithful companion post-arrival in China, a present from my ex's aunt, split into a thousand pieces and with no spare handbag at home I went to the next best shop to buy a new one. It's been a faithful friend up until now and despite it's low price of 130 RMB its proven to be of amazing quality. Even though I've been using it every day, since the day I bought it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. There isn't a single stain on it or a single crack in the "leather" or tear in the seems. I just decided to retire it, in favour of another handbag. Sometimes a woman just needs a change.

amazingly my new handbag is not black

Now, this isn't really something I've done, because I actually regularly do this, but I decided to add it to the list because it's something I rarely did while in Ireland. I (to my own surprise) regularly get my nails done or my hair or ask a make-up artist to beautify me. Ireland's steep prices in that department never allowed me to do more than just dream about it, but here in China I can afford to let myself enjoy a "celebrity" lifestyle as I like to call it. There's just something special about getting your hair washed and professionally styled and just having to pay 20 RMB for it. A good make-up artist will demand about 30 RMB and manicures range anywhere from 20 to about 350 RMB. I usually pay about 150 RMB to 200 RMB for mine because there is only one beauty parlour I go to and their prices are slightly higher than elsewhere. It doesn't bother me much though because their products are of good quality and it's not like I do this every week. I do have a VIP card and I always get treated well. Also, the boss is my friend and as you know in China you need guanxi...

While waiting for my date my friend snapped a photo of me. FYI, she's not two metres tall, she's standing on top of a pillar

I'm putting as much effort as I possibly can into improving my Chinese further. Compared to last year it already improved a great deal but I try to increase the amount of characters I know by reading a lot. I mostly read short articles on WeChat and rely heavily on HanZi Reader, an amazing Chinese-to-English translation iPhone app for Chinese learners, for my studies. I try to write some Chinese everyday, although only on my phone or on the computer. My handwriting has if anything only gotten worse. I want to work on it but it really isn't my priority. What's more important to me is to be able to speak clearly and be understood. I've gotten pretty good at arguing in Chinese because sometimes you just have to be unfriendly and direct to get your point across, otherwise you don't get anything done. My friends are also happy enough to teach me new things and I ask my colleagues occasionally to explain the one or other thing to me. I still don't speak Wuhanhua but I definitely got the accent down right. I don't like it when people praise my Chinese though as I've discovered that I stop understanding people when they do so. It's really funny. We'll chat for quite some time and I have no problem with keeping up with the conversation, then the person or persons I'm talking to praise my Chinese and bang there it starts. I find myself not understanding things and asking for them to repeat things time and time again. The HSK test level 4 is definitely on the agenda for next year. I'm going to bite the bullet and do it!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Possessed By The Writing Fairy

Looking at how 'frequently' I publish a new blog post, one could think that I don't actually know anything about successfully maintaining a blog. 

I joined the gym a good few months ago and working out has quickly become a favourite pastime of mine, including the gruelling classes with my personal trainer. I never wrote about that... I started that blog post but to this day it's unfinished.

I moved to a lovely new apartment at the end of July / beginning of August and never wrote anything about it here on my blog, even though I'd planned to.

I went fishing for the first time in my life in the middle of August and I intended to write about that but again I never did.

I spent five wonderful days in Hainan at the beginning of September and one of those days was spend at the beach with golden sand, miles and miles of it, inviting you to just take a stroll and forget all about the world and everything else for a while. The were palm trees, warm water and it wasn't crowded (unusual for China) at all. I never wrote about that either.

I'd planned a follow-up post on my Branded: Notes On A Mark That'll Last Forever post but I never wrote that either, then there was a post about friendship I wanted to write and some thoughts about dating in China. I'd also planned to find the time to write something more about food. I do love Chinese food and my Chinese friends and students are regularly stunned by the fact that I don't seem to know any good Western restaurants in Wuhan, even though there are some, even a widely famed German restaurant, one I've shockingly never been to. I'm the worst possible person to ask about where foreigners in Wuhan hang out. I don't know any bars or other hangouts. I've never bothered to ask anyone or do some research. I'm not not interested. I love Chinese food and I don't want to eat any Western food.

梦幻水城(mènghuàn shuǐchéng)Dream Watertown

What with all the writing I'd 'planned' to do but never pursued it's only fair that you wonder if I've been doing any writing at all. The answer would be a resounding yes followed by no less than three exclamation marks.

I've actually written a whole book (see picture above) and I just started on my second. All that writing will however not be published, it's for my eyes only. It's my therapy, to make me feel better, to keep me from thinking too much. I don't read back over what I've written, but it still feels like writing it all down makes it easier to keep my thoughts, which have been exceedingly messy lately, in some sort of order.

It's strange really, I never believed in keeping a diary. I tried it a few times as a teenager but I always gave up. Especially when, during my second stay in the slimming clinic, my general practitioner sent me to, one of my "friends" decided it was okay to read my diary. To top it all off she shared, what she'd read, with the entire ward. I ended up being a laughing stock and being a rather sensitive young girl I didn't cope well with the teasing and left for home shortly after. My doctor, being good friends with the director of the clinic, submitted a formal complaint on my behalf and the girl apparently got expelled from the clinic.

Over the years I tried keeping a diary but always gave up, afraid someone would take the book and read it. My dad gave me a beautiful book with a lock but I never wrote a single word in it. Sadly I've no idea where the book's vanished to, which is a pity since I think my dad spent quite a bit of money on it.

With recent events (previous post), forgive me for not dragging it all up again, I've given keeping a diary another try and so far it's working really well. I'm actually enjoying myself a lot.

A fitting name: 念与不念(niàn yǔ bù niàn)To Miss & Not To Miss

Like I said, I'm on my second book, and while I've only started filling it with my thoughts and ideas, I'm confident that it will be full in no time, ready to be put aside in favour of another empty book waiting to be filled with word after word.

All this writing is a good distraction, while it makes me think it also keeps my thoughts, which would otherwise be completely and entirely messed up, a little bit ordered. I can write down whatever I want and this time I'm not afraid that someone might decide to have a look inside my private thoughts. If they do they won't like what they're reading and if they decide to go gossiping all hell will break lose, I'll see to that.

Lately I really enjoy doing things that require silence and calm. I'm listening to some Chinese folk songs, my friend introduced to me, songs I wouldn't ordinarily listen to,  but because they make me feel calm and relaxed, I just do. I write, I read and I try to go walking. These past few days I've been cooking for myself, trying to improve my skills somewhat. I'm enjoying the quiet of which there is actually plenty to be found in noisy China. My apartment is right near the intersection of two large main roads but it's astonishingly quiet during the night, I would even argue that it's quieter than my old apartment.

I've taken a good look at my friends and weeded out some bad eggs, for there unfortunately were some that needed to go. Some people who couldn't or wouldn't understand that people sometimes go through a period of time where you simply don't want to talk to anyone and can't stand to have more than one or two people around you. Sometimes you just feel like that if people want to share their own problems with you, you just want to shut off both ears, pretending to be deaf. I rarely do this, but I needed to do this these past few weeks and that's why I decided that those who didn't understand had to go.

Dr Z has been a rock throughout this time. I'm truly grateful that I met him when I burned my thigh so badly and needed his help and his fantastic surgical skills to fix me up. He was more than amazing back then and this time it was no different. He made sure that I got the best care and showed me that a real friend, will, no matter how busy they are, find the time to come to see you when you really need them to. He took my mind of things, used gentle force to distract me, let me cry in his car and his arms when I couldn't do anything but that, made sure I ate some healthy food and just generally made sure that I know where to turn to when it all gets a little too much. There was a while where, after what happened between me and my fish, believed that I could never trust anyone ever again to keep their word, but this fantastic friend has made it very clear that he doesn't make promises he can't keep. While I'm praising him so highly, he's also a brilliant conversationalist. There's nothing I can't talk to him about it and it's rather funny how we switch from Chinese to English and back to Chinese and English again.

Another friend also went out of her way to spent time with me and still does so. I'm fortunate to have those two people in my life, they've become such good friends and I don't want to ever lose them.

qiānzhù nǐde shǒuxiāng bié zài huánghèlóu
I'm no longer holding your hand underneath the Yellow Crane Tower
bōtāo wànlǐ chángjiāng shuǐ sòng nǐ xià yángzhōu
The great waves of the Yangtze River sent you to Yangzhou

I'd like to finish with two lines from a song I discovered today, the title of the song is 烟花三月 (Fireworks In March) by 龚玥 (Gong Yue). I like those two lines because if I've translated them right, from the context of the song (gosh, that was a pain) then it talks about change and even though change is sometimes unwanted it inevitably will make us stronger in some way or other. Sometimes it just takes some time before we realise that.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Unspeakable Sadness

Yesterday was a truly sad day. I lost my baby before I could even tell anyone I would be having one. Some people knew but not nearly enough.

All I have now I a little angel playing with her brothers and sisters in heaven. It all happened rather fast and while I tried to process things yesterday I'm not doing a very good job. When I woke up from sedation I was cheery and cracked a few jokes, I was hungry while getting my IV and my friend dutifully went to get me some food, after the first round of IV treatment I was exhausted, weak and unsteady on my feet. I cried most of the night and I feel like crying now. I also want to laugh. Mostly I don't want to feel anything though. There's no pain but in my heart there are an otherwhelming force of emotions just waiting to flow over and possibly drown me. I want medication but I don't know what good that will do. Will it just delay the flood of emotions that's inevitable or will it break things down into bite-sized emotions, one a person can deal with and digest accordingly?

I've always seen writing as a kind of coping mechanism, no matter if it's a blog post I'm writing or a fictional story. Any kind of writing has always been good for my soul and that's why I'm choosing to write about what happened because I just about have enough energy to do that.

I don't feel like talking but I want a pyschologist, someone not easy to come by in China. I don't want to see any friends but I want them by my side. I don't want to answer questions and I don't feel like doing anything. I can't decide if I want to watch a movie or just lie in bed and stare at the wall. The thought of walking for two feet makes me feel tired and exhausted. I have no idea how long I slept last night, but I vaguely recall getting some phone calls which I all ignored, even when my dad called.

I'm not looking for condolences, hugs and tender loving care, in fact I'd rather you didn't touch me, but I know that if I want to clear my head I need to put this event into words.

I've felt emotionally confused in my life before but I don't think I've ever felt like this. I'm honestly not sure that I have the ability to deal with the aftermath, I don't want life to continue as normal because it isn't normal. I couldn't tell you what it is right now. I feel numb writing these words because I'm not letting myself feel anything right now but if I do I feel just feel unspeakable sadness, loss and there is an gaping hole somewhere in me.

I don't know where I want to be right now and who I want to be with. I don't want to face anything right now, don't ask me to make a decision, the result will be disastrous.

I wish I could say I'm feeling better and that writing this post is a cure, while I'm sure it is, things just don't work that fast.

My little angel's name is Sascha. It's too early too tell if it would have been a boy or a girl but I thought the name was perfect. In my heart my little angel is a she and I had a name picked out for her already. I had a back up plan, in case it would have been a boy of course, but I can't help but think of my little angel as a little princess. My angel died yesterday, she's gone to heaven to play with all the other angels. The 25th of September 2014 will forever be a dark day.

Please don't ask me to feel or to forget, that would be cruel and I couldn't do it anyway.

I had no intention to ever write this post but sometimes the things that happen are just out of our control.

If you recently had a baby or are going to have one please don't take offence if I seem a little cold or choose to ignore you. I want to cope with my own feelings first before I even attempt to look at all the other things I will have to cope with. Thank you.