Sunday, June 15, 2008

Drivin' me crazy

Once in a while it's all I can do to not to shout "Shut up, everyone!" Or burst into tears. Usually this is when I'm out in service, but I think that's because it's my only marathon-stretch of communicating only in Chinese. Also once Chinese people get comfortable with you they start to give you lots of advice, not because they know more than you but just because it's a way of showing they care. But you know, I'm not a big fan of unsolicited and somewhat pointless advice. And a lot of the time I don't know what the heck's going on- like what the plan for the day is- which is OK for an hour but frustrating for 3.

It's only happened a few times. I have one kid in my treehouse class who gets pretty emotional- doesn't know whether to hit someone or cry (like me!)- and I've started to have him go drink some water, and I've tried to teach him to take that time to calm down and think about why he likes his friends. And it works pretty well. So when I started to get a little crazy a few Thursdays ago, I decided I needed to just get away from things for a few minutes, so I said I was going to go buy some water. (Even though I had a refillable bottle in my scooter.) So I went, thought about it's not them it's me, but that's OK, I'm from a different culture, stopped berating myself about my Chinese being terrible and if my Chinese were better I'd know what was going on, calmed down and bought the water and found the group.

As soon as I got back, they asked how much I'd paid for the water (like 75 cents for a liter) and they started talking about how expensive that was, I could ask somebody for a glass of water for free, or I could buy a bottle for 100 NT and refill it at home (which I do...) and I just smiled at how badly my scheme worked. I was like, I paid the 28 NT so I wouldn't have to listen to this! What can you do.

Today was the same. I was running late so things started bad, then I was working with this sister who just chatters constantly which drives me crazy in any language, and then we were on one of my return visits and she tells the lady, "Her Chinese isn't very good, but she's only been here for a year," and I looked at her with an expression that adequately conveyed my disbelief that she'd said that in my hearing, and she said, "You understand what I said?!?!" and cracked up. It kind of went on like that, and then at lunch time I was reduced to tears by a hair in my fried rice. Fortunately by that time Jasmine was with me so she got me some new rice. The thing that made it hard/upsetting was that it was at a Bible student's restaurant so I didn't want to be a jerk. The rest of the day kind of went like that- like I bought a bottle of water at a store and there was this nasty gunk under the cap, but the people took it back and said the factory would give them the money back for it, and I bought milk tea and as soon as I took a sip my face registerd how horrible it tasted and the tea stand lady saw me and here she had put some extra flavor in as a surprise but she insisted on making me a new one. I felt like the jerky American but I realized I'm not being overly picky. No one wants to eat hair and drink gunk.

Anyways, I went for a run after the meeting- it was so nice. All the elementary schools have tracks and you can use them when school's not in session, and the one near my school is just a grass oval so it's so cushy to run on and so quiet. Love it. Then I had my comfort meal- mac and cheese and a beer (neither of which i've had in a long long time). Ahhhh....

No comments: