a way in

Score one for modesty. A colleague just complimented my necklace, asking if I’d bought it here. She was very impressed when I told he I’d made it, and asked where I got the beads. I didn’t tell her I made the sweater I’m wearing too!

I really wish I didn’t have to go to a work party tomorrow. For one thing I’d rather not wake up early. For another I ought to do a long erg piece, and for the third there are a lot of other things I’d like to do, including just hanging out at home. I’m going because I said I’d go, and from a cultural curiosity – it’s always interesting to see how things are done differently. I’ll probably have good time; I like my coworkers, though unfortunately I think most of the ones I know best aren’t going. On Sunday the maids will come, so I’m up early again and I’m not free until noon or so. Maybe I can erg while they’re there; it’s as out of the way as anywhere else in the apartment and is probably a good motivation for me to do a longer piece. (Just 10 km or so.)

I forgot to write about the best part of buying my Snoopy Tuesday night. I had a conversation with the laoban! (Shopkeeper) Her English was only a little better than my Chinese – words, not sentences. She relized I was just beginning to learn, so she’d ask something and if (when!) it was beyond me, she’d put together just enough words for me to figure out what she was saying. I’d answer in Chinese words if I could and if I said something wrong she’d correct me. (I alwys forget: the word for “two” is “er” if you’re counting, but for two things you use “liang” instead. If you’re talking about two months, for instance, you don’t say “er ge yue” but “liang ge yue”.) Thursday I was able to follow along as someone translated something I’d said – mostly because we were talking about the advatnages of having a bank account here that took US instead of Taiwan dollars and I know the word for “American”. Granted all this is a matter of just recognizing or coming up with individual words and not very many of those, but it’s still tremendously exciting. I feel as if I’d been scrabbling with my fingernails at a smooth lacquer surface, and now I’ve managed to pry open a tiny crack with my fingernails. It’s the barest of beginnings, but it feels like a way in.

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1 Response to a way in

  1. LA says:

    All right! Excellent! I knew you’d do it! By year’s end I’ll bet your traveler’s Chinese will be proficient and charming.

    When I’m rich and famous I want to bum around the world with you, are you game? ~LA

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