Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Oh My God, 1 More Month...

... until I am married! Consecutive thoughts running in my head in a span of a milisecond: "oh my god, i can't believe it, i can't wait, oh my god, is this really happening?, goodness i'm getting married, i am just the luckiest girl, oh my god, i can't wait that long, no i need more time to prepare, no i wanna do it now, oh my god, he's so beautiful, forever, this is my future, am i going to cry?, oh yea i'm gonna bawl, OH-MY-GAWD."

I can't wait to board that plane in a few weeks to go and see friends and family whom i so desperately want to see and hug and to meet my new friends and family in London and Jersey. I'm even looking forward to our 13 flights we'll be taking in a span of 2 weeks! We've been downloading a ton of movies to occupy our time in the air, just have to make sure we bring enough batteries for the laptop.

Having a ton of fun at the local YuErYuan (Kindergarten) where i'm volunteering 3 times a week. I've been given a challenge with one of the other teachers: come up with a dance routine to a disco song, teach it to all the kids in each class so that they can perform it in the public square in less than a month. Yes, I love a good project! Fond memories of doing dance routines with 'my girls' back in elementary school to Michael Jackson's "Black or White", Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" and god knows what else, I've been racking my brain for simple dance moves for these kids who, keep in mind, clap their hands/stamp their feet about a half-beat off of the main beat in any song. So i thought something simple yet cutsey would do. And a LOT of repetition. So far so good. I spent the good part of the past two days choosing a song and waving my hands and doing the grapevine, trying desperately to choreograph something that is simply entertaining but not pathetic. Tis a fine line, a fine line.

Still doing tennis twice a week, which is great exercise despite the heat which makes my salty sweat drip into my eyes after only 10 minutes, but i digress. Yesterday, I played with my coach's 11 year old son (school's out and all the kids are just loafing around, although i think it's well deserved considering the amount of stress and homework they are given 10 months out of the year). Her son and I played a mock match and i was so good, i let him win. Ha ha, right. It was great fun though and we shook hands like professionals.

I'm starting a class of about 4-5 students next week, 2 times a week, all between 10-12 years, all different levels of English. I have chosen kids that i've already taught, or kids of my friends who don't want their child's English level to plummit in the summer due to underuse. I thought about it a lot while doing laps a few days ago in the pool, and I thoguht about the many requests of private teaching that i've been asked to take on. Because teaching languages is not my ultimate passion and goal, i want to do it because i want to do it. And truthfully, i think kids deserve a break in the summer, especially Chinese kids (really, they get so much work it makes my primary school days look like a field trip to the park) and so my plan is to play games with them, watch movies, go down and play basketball or tennis (we have both courts on the 5th floor of our apt. building), cook/bake, etc. But all in English. My intention is that it shouldn't be a baby-sitting service but more of a day-camp atmosphere. All the parents are keen and understand and agree with my reasoning. We start next Monday. I'm really excited, both at the fact that i'll have a class of eager students doing fun and enjoyable things together, and also that i'll be helping my local friends for teaching their child) who have helped me enormously in so many ways.

Anyway, a lot of my week is full up and i like it. It took me a while to find my niche and get used to a routined schedule that i had to organize myself. Matt and I have also started getting together with friends once a week for a 'games night'. It's fun and relaxed and a much nicer (in my humble opinion) atmosphere than hanging out at a bar. So far, we've played Set, Uno, Cranium, and mah-jong! Yes, can you believe? I can see a lot of my cousins and aunts/uncles gaping open-mouthed at the screen right now. It's true. Although it wasn't at the same fast-paced frenzy that my relatives play at, it was fun to learn the game. Next time we gotta get out the gambling chips!

And so, filling up our weekly itinerary is a must in order to keep sane and not let the little things of Urumqi-living get to us, but it still does in its own special ways. Like how our sofa is made of fake leather (read: icky plastic) and everytime you get off of it, you must peel your skin off carefully or else risk plastic-burn. Or how the fridge is now unable to close properly unless you shut it with both hands and inspect it to make sure the magnetic edges have stayed shut. Or how people here still do not understand how a basic elevator works, and will push the button continuously with increasing urgency, as if that will speed up the process. Or how I manage to meet time and time again the same Avon lady in the elevator who will, for the entire duration of our descent/ascent, try to persuade me to attend their 'party' and sample a few of their beauty products because "even though i may have healthy looking skin now, i will grow old and become an ugly old frog.

And there is only one way to prevent that and that is to use Avon products and hey, why don't you follow me to the 22nd floor where we're having a beauty product sampling party now?" Ok, the frog part's my doing, but honestly, you'd think saying no the first time round is enough to ward off any imposing salesperson. But not here, nope. I would have gotten slapped if i insisted with the same fervor as she does when i was selling electricity door-to-door back in Ottawa. God, i can't believe i did that, yikes.

Anyway I know it probably sounds like a bunch of lame everyday occurrences i'm listing off, but it's the little things that build up and they are just signs. Signs that change is needed and welcomed. At the end of the day, i can't help but feel this is just a stage in my life - which i try to enjoy to its max - before starting anew as a newlywed .... wherever and whenever that may be, and THAT IS EXCITING and it is what keeps me going when i'm just bored and feel trapped in a city that is, in its own way, trapped between the mountain ranges and the desolate deserts, far away from any other major city where lies comfy soft sofas, refrigerators that close properly, people who understand and adhere to elevator etiquette and salespeople who are trained to be professional, respectful and polite to their (potential) customers. Wow, well that felt good to vent! :D

Looking ahead and on the bright side, as we tell ourselves we should always do, I look increasingly forward to going to Canada and Jersey, where I will be literate again and where things are just, in a nutshell, easier.

Because two foreigners cannot get married in China (unless one of us becomes a Chinese citizen, which is out of the question for too many reasons) we decided to get married in Jersey on July 29th. Why the 29th? Well, according to the Jersey registrar's rules and regulations, we have to be physially there no less than 3 days in advance.

It was quite a process in order to book the date/time, they are quite keen on their 'long birth certificate' requirement (meaning that the birth cert. must state the full names of the parents, which, as all we ontarians know, is not included on our wallet-size birth cert. So mom had to call the hospital of where i was born, ask them to look it up on their old data files, have them draft up a letter stating their full names, and then send it to Jersey for approval.

Unfortunately the hospital messed up and mispelled mom's name and so the whole process had to be repeated, but what's more unbelievable is that they didn't even keep the original letter on file! It appears that they just type up a letter and on the record they mention that a letter was written for so-and-so on this date. Incredible, what a waste of time! Sounds like something that would happen in China, ah, but i shouldn't just overlook my birthtown like that. Hmm.

But it looks like it's ok now, and all we have to pray for is that our plane is not delayed going into Jersey as that would mean technically LESS than 3 days prior to the ceremony. My parents will be coming over for that event also, followed by a dinner party at L'Etable (The Thornington residence) surrounded by Matt's side of the family. I'm beginning to see how even that signing ceremony will be very special, even though we don't want to make a big deal out of it. For us, our real wedding celebration will be here in Xinjiang in September.

Despite my grumblings of daily life here, I have to keep a cool head about things and realize that a lot of people would give a lot to be in my shoes, that i am lucky enough to love someone so much who just returns it right back to me. And just the mere fact that we will come back to Urumqi legally married is just so fantastically exciting! I'm sorry, I'm holding it back, I've just got to exclaim it one last time: Oh My God!

No comments: