Sunday, November 04, 2007

We have 3 new teachers at work, all fresh out of college and full of ideas about how the world should run. It's been making me think about that young cockiness when you think you know, well, how the world should run. People say it starts in your teens but I think it peaks in your early 20s- when you're still full of ideas and opinions, and also have just enough life experience that you can also do some things. And you tend to be successful at stuff- your jobs are menial enough and you have enough energy that you're successful at them, and college (for me at least) was exactly challenging enough that I felt like I worked hard, and then succeeded.

As people get older, I guess it's natural to admit that you can be wrong about most things, people with whom you disagree can be right. I think learning Chinese has accelerated this natural process for me- as much as my Chinese has improved, I still have to rely on people's patience and goodwill to have even simple conversations. It has certainly improved my ability to laugh at myself.

Just to prove that I can laugh at myself, I joined a gym here. (OK, actually I joined the gym because two of my students asked if I'm pregnant...) But it's another exercise in humility. It's a really nice place and they have good exercise classes, which I thought would help me. Most of the classes are either some kind of pilates-inspired thing where I wind up falling over a few times, or an aerobic dance class. The latter leads to the depressing realization that even Chinese people have more rhythm than me. Even when the music is salsa or hip-hop.

The instructions are usually in Chinese, and I can understand most of what they say, but I'm just not that coordinated. Like tonight, this class was called "Body Blast" (all the classes have woefully undescriptive names), and it just turned out to be all these crazy dance moves with spins and stuff. At the beginning of the class, the teacher asked if it was anyone's first time, but I just learned the sentence structure she used and it took a while to compute, and by the time it did compute the music was on already. After a couple of songs she asked again, and all these poeple pointed at me. I was like, yeah. So she asks in Chinese if I can speak Chinese, and I said a little, but I can understand you, no problem. So then each time she would explain something she would look at me and say, "Do you understand?" Finally I said, I understand everything that you say, but I can't do anything that you say. Everyone cracked up. That also brought me to the attention of this retarded guy who was a really good dancer, and every time they class would do some crazy spin and I'd be standing there shuffling my feet, he'd say "Yo! What's up?" (in English).

I just realized this sound really depressing but it's not. It really is kind of funny. Like at the gym people laugh at me, but in a laughing-with-you kind of way. it's not mean-spririted at all. Heck, I have to laugh sometimes.

No comments: