Day 21 & 22 & 23: 对不起, It’s Not My Fault, and Everyone Plays Ping-Pong

Okay, before you all flip out on me, I did not post on Sunday due to inactivity/lack of content, and then poor internet prevented a blog post last night… So don’t be too mad at me, okay? Okay. Let’s move on.

First of all, welcome new readers! A lot of friends have started reading this blog, and I really appreciate all of your support! And, for those of you on the NSLI-Y program with me, you’re welcome; I’ve heard that some of your parents receive more updates from my blog than from you (I’m doing your job for you).

Alright, so I believe this happened on Sunday… 星期天, yes.

So, I was just minding my own business and chowing down on a bowl of good ol’ rice, when my grandfather turns to my dad, fidgeting with his chopsticks while he mumbled. “安琪,” my dad says and I lift my head to him in response, mid-chew. “My father say to hold chopsticks like this…” He pulls his fingers farther back on the sticks so that his hand rests higher. “You hold too low, you must hold high.”

Really. Now. You tell me that now. 3 weeks in, and now you correct my chopstick-holding-abilities? Once I’ve already made a habit of poor form? Agh… Fine. I’ll do it your way.

This did not make me eat faster. Nor did it help hold more food.

Oh well, I’m getting used to it now… Maybe it will prove to be more effective once I create this new habit. (More to come on this, hopefully).

Okay, okay, okay, so this next one is weird. You know how I made a post titled “Was I Chinese in a Past Life?” or something along those lines? Well, I’m pretty positive about this now, because I did something awesome the other day.

He’s okay now, but my Chinese grandfather was in the hospital for the past week with heart troubles. Everything is fine and he is home and fully recovered now, but I was walking with my grandmother last week and I wanted to inquire how her husband was coping.

As we walk in silence, I usually try to form various sentences in my head (I often think about them for a long time before actually letting any sound escape my lips).

Well, this time was different.

Without thinking, I just said “你的丈夫好了吗?” (how is your husband?). Now, this is a fairly simple question. Subject, verb/adjective, question word.

“了” is a complicated grammar tool. I’ll have to explain it in another post, but it can be quite difficult to understand. Usually I have to really consider it’s placement before actually saying a sentence involving “了,” but this time, I just went for it.

It sounds right, so let’s hope it is right, I thought.

Well, my grandmother just went off in Mandarin for about three minutes. Not entirely sure what she said, but she acted as if one of her Chinese-speaking-friends simply asked her how her husband was, instead of a responding to an American-teenager who just butchered her language (be proud of me, I’m improving).

THAT’S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART.

In class the other day, we were discussing “了,” and it’s uses. My teacher asked for example sentences to write on the board for translation, so I said “好了吗?” (a part of the sentence that I asked my grandmother).

WELL. It turns out, that it does not simply mean “is (the subject) okay?” Between the “了” and the culture behind the phrase, “好了吗?” actually means “is (the subject) now better/recovered?”

So, this sentence that popped into my head was culturally correct, not just grammatically sound. Instead of simply asking how my grandfather was, I was able to ask if he was recovering, since we both knew he was in the hospital.

Past life experience in the language? I think so.

Alright, moving on. Taiji!

You’ve all heard of Taiji, right? Well, I hope so because I mentioned it in a past post.

We had another lesson yesterday, and I loved it. It’s fantastic. You know the feeling after taking a nap, when every molecule in your body is buzzing and ricocheting off one another? That’s what Taiji can feel like. The energy in my fingertips sent sparks throughout my arms and down to my toes, waking every nerve to move in natural, circular motions. Your body moves freely, as if knowing the routine since birth.

Well, our master started watching me. When telling us to practice, I noticed his gaze set on my movements as I floated through the stances.

Then, he asked me to perform in front of the class…

Aghhhhhhhhh no. No, thank you. I’m fine right where I am.

Well, he doesn’t speak a word of English. So eventually, I gave up.

I stepped right in front of the master and his hipster-translator, and performed. I would say more about this experience, but honestly I don’t remember it too well. All I remember is the feeling that I might faint, and my decision on whether to fall forwards, backwards, or just sit down with my head between my knees… (I don’t like performing… I decided that if I fell forwards, my master might catch me and break my fall…).

I’m going to make a quick note to myself here. I have a lot to say about culture, and tolerance, and American stereotypes that I think are very important for everyone to be aware of. No one is perfect, so therefore, no culture or system of beliefs is perfectly sound. They all have flaws, and they all have views about other cultures that reveal more about an area than growing up there. It will not please many of you (because I’m very aware of some of the viewpoints of the people that read this blog), but it’s important.

However, I will not mention these in this post. Reason 1, this post is getting long and I really need sleep, and reason 2, I need to think them through. So you’ll have to wait. Sorry, not sorry.

So, we’re finally caught up to today! YAY!

Alright, so EVERYONE PLAYS PING-PONG.

I was playing with some of my friends today after school, and a few people stopped to watch. People drove slower as they passed, groups of men and women stopped their chattering to gaze at us strange foreigners, and lots of people whipped out their phones for pictures (which we happily posed for).

Well, this old man and woman stopped on their little scooter on the side of the road to watch for a few minutes. And then, suddenly, they dismounted and pulled ping-pong paddles out of their bags… and started playing.

THEY WERE MASTERS. One would back up as the other smashed down the balls, only to run forward to spike the poor ball back onto the other side to win a point. It was crazy.

Then, we started to play with them.

… We were losing…

But it was fine, ’cause it was just for fun.

Then, a woman pushing her baby in a stroller stopped to watch the entertainment. And (of course) she looked at me, and then pulled a ping-pong paddle out of thin air, ready to play. She was pretty amazing, too. So, everyone here plays ping-pong.

I’m surprised her baby didn’t pop up out of the carriage to play some points, too.

And lastly, just a quick update about my language skills… they’re improving. I can now have full(er) conversations with my grandmother about the weather, family, jobs, activities, nature, the city wall, all sorts of things. She corrects my pronunciation when needed, but she often complements my speech. It’s a lot of fun talking to her, and I feel better now that I can help carry the conversation. Wow, can she talk…

Anyway, I need to sleep now. (Long day tomorrow! (it’s a surprise))

明天见!

安琪

 

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