I’ve been meaning to post, but I’ve been busy. You see, I have a new hobby that is taking up all my free time (clearly, it is not tending to my dying plants):
This beauty is my new best friend, but she’s a needy one, to be sure. She distracts me from everything, like blogging. Quite frankly, I think she gets a little jealous when I’m giving all my attention to my laptop. She also gets in the way of studying the Pǔtōnghuà (Mandarin), though anything, really, can do that if I let it. That big stack of dishes in the sink? Oh, I must wash them right away! All that laundry piling up? I must take care of that immediately! What? It’s sunny and 60 degrees outside? I should definitely go for a run! It’s true. I’d rather clean or run than study Mandarin. I would definitely rather play the guitar than suffer through a lesson with my tutor. The guy is a great teacher, but I’ve recently plateaued. Now that I can call a taxi myself and explain where I want to go, what else do I need to know?
In my Mandarin classes, I suffer (and not silently). But when I’m playing the guitar it’s fun. It’s a challenge I look forward to. It’s probably something I never would have attempted back home. But that’s the beauty of being a housewife in China: I get to play in ways I never imagined. The idea of trying to learn how to play guitar came on a whim. One of the engineers was leaving and selling off his stuff. For cheap. Hm, I thought, when else would I be (1) willing to fork over some cash for a guitar and (2) have the time to practice it? Never! I probably would have let it sit in a forgotten, moldy corner of our apartment for months before attempting to play it, but one of our guitar-playing neighbors offered to give me a lesson a few days after I bought it. I learned a few chords and kind-of learned the opening of Smoke on the Water. Then I came home, hopped on YouTube, and some guy with puffy, blond rock-star hair and tight 80’s stone wash jeans became my chosen teacher. I’ve been torturing Iggy with his videos and my newly learned tunes ever since, which include Ode to Joy, Let it Be, and House of the Rising Sun. Not too shabby…even if my mom and sister couldn’t figure out which song I was playing when I was trying to show off Let it Be via Google Hangouts. I’m sure the lack of Paul McCartney’s silky smooth, sweet voice is what threw them off; not my amateur skills. Yeah, that was definitely the reason.
The guitar hasn’t been the only distraction. I got another new toy: an electric mixer. If there’s another surprise about China it’s how this country has domesticated me. My goal in life wasn’t to be a stay-at-home person and it was one of the downsides for me about moving to China. But I’ve done my best to adapt. There really is no other choice, especially when it comes to cooking. I used to dread this task back home, mainly because I was a subpar cook (to put it mildly). The restaurant options here are limited, so I have to cook every day. You know what? I’m getting pretty good. Sometimes I feel like a homesteader, making all kinds of food that was so conveniently pre-made and packaged for me back home, stuff that is nonexistent here. A couple of weeks ago I made my first batch of dill pickles. What I thought would be a monumental task turned out to be so easy I think my toddler-aged niece and nephew could do it.
Then the electric mixer arrived courtesy of China’s Amazon (Taobao), which got me on a baking kick. In one week I made a carrot cake and a cheesecake for Iggy’s birthday. Decadent!
Next week, the hobbies are going to have to be put on hold. We’ll be in Kyoto, Japan with my family — people I haven’t seen for six months. It will be their first time to the Asian side of the world and we’re all excited to reunite and explore the historic city together. We’ve got a packed itinerary that includes cherry blossom tree viewing, Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple visits, and eating delicious food (especially sushi), to name a few. Everything I’ve heard about Japan sounds enticing, mainly because the country sounds like China’s polar opposite. I am especially looking forward to the promised cleanliness of the country. Oh yeah, and seeing how my excitable nephew reacts to all the sights and sounds. If a puppet show inspired the face below, imagine how Japan will blow his little mind!