Sunday, June 29, 2008


Tonight was interesting. I had dinner with Michael Scofield and Kevin. Both are juniors at my school, but I taught Kevin last year, and Michael Scofield comes to all my classes even though he's never been an official student of mine. One thing I love about Chinese people is the curious tidbits of information they throw out as if they're common knowledge. Tonight, for example, I learned that people with type A blood are family-oriented and willing to sacrifice their own desires for the will of their spouse. People with type B blood are more selfish and work-oriented. They're ambitious as well. Type O blood people are, obviously enough, good for everybody. So, Michael Scofield, who has type B blood, is looking for a woman who has type A blood. Apparently, that combination would make for marital bliss. Perhaps there's more to having blood tests before getting married than we originally thought!

We had dinner at McDonald's (almost never a good idea). Recently, there has appeared a small vender stand outside McDonald's that sells chicken wings on a stick. The name of the stand is BT which, as it turns out, is slang for someone who is a really, really bad person. BT has a reputation for serving some of the spiciest food you'll find - so spicy, in fact, that if you can eat three sticks, each with two chicken wings on it, you don't have to pay. They're pretty confident the spice is too powerful for anyone to handle. Having set all this up, tonight Michael Scofield challenged me to eat a stick of the super spicy chicken wings. He and Kevin ate the medium spice, but I, unable to back down from a challenge (which might possibly prove to be my downfall), ate both chicken wings without any kind of liquid relief - per condition of the challenge. It was painful. Tears were flowing. But I was victorious. My stomach, however, has been hating me since.

Tonight is the European Cup Championship game between Germany and Spain. I haven't been watching the games up to this point - mostly because of horrible timing - but I've decided to catch the final game. It shows on CCTV-5 beginning at 2:40 a.m. I'm keeping myself awake by watching movies I've never desired to watch before but all of which belong to Brian and will, therefore, no longer be available to watch in little over a week. So far I've watched The Machinist (disturbing), and I just began Enemy at the Gates.

Thursday as Brian was leaving our campus for the train station, he texted me with a message that a bunch of old people were gathering at the football field for a paddle ball performance. He thought I should check it out. I was reluctant to go out of laziness, but I finally decided make an appearance for about twenty minutes out of mere curiosity. I'm so glad I did! The city of Shiyan is a city at all because of the Dong Feng car factory. So much of the city is owned or influenced by this one company. Every year workers from various factories in town gather together for one fantastic performance. I'm not sure the reasons nor am I aware of the intricacies of what I witnessed. I do know, however, that I was moved by the sheer volume of workers on the field. Each group was dressed in colorful shirts and white pants. They stretched over the entire field and began the performance with a choreographed paddle ball routine. It was like watching a sea of colors dancing in the most fantastic rhythm I've ever seen. After the paddle ball sequence, they ran off the field (these aren't spry young things either - we're talking about workers ranging in age from their thirties to their sixties) only to be replaced rather quickly (and after a rapid wardrobe change) by a group of men and women marching in true high school band-like fashion to the beat of several different types of drums. Immediately after this routine, another group of workers clad in neon-colored shirts and space boots trampled onto the field in nothing short of a color guard performance that would shame countless junior colleges. I was entranced the entire time. I think I was mostly amazed that these folks have nothing more to gain from their hard work and effort than a few hours of performance that was hardly honored by a gloating crowd. They didn't seem to mind. The enjoyment pouring forth from their radiant faces showed that the simple act of being involved in this group, of being active, of showing unity in a completely positive manner was reward enough. I was so proud of Chinese people as I watched this performance - proud that old people aren't out of the game here, proud that people still perform for the sake of the performance and not merely for praise, and proud that unity can be expressed in such an unadulterated and fun-loving form.

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