Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Micro Update

Debate: Practice and individual preparation combined are up to 4-5 hours per day now. I'm getting more and more excited about this every day, though at the same time, I'll be happy when it's all over because this schedule is insane. Also, my tolerance for the girl on our team who speaks fluent Chinese is rapidly evaporating; she's much more interested in saying things and taking charge of the process than she is in getting the logic straight and keeping the big picture in sight. So hopefully these factors will help me avoid being too crushed if we lose. Anyway, after a lot of internal debate our three main arguments are finally set (they're essentially the same three I proposed three days ago, but I guess it was good to think through all of the other options), and now we're moving on to the fun parts: stats, moving examples, anticipating the enemy's attack, preparing crushing rhetorical questions to leave our audience laughing and our opponents in tears, etc. I'm starting to think there's a remote but real possibility that I won't feel like a huge liability to the team. This is partly aided by a new development: it seems like another ACC student will for various reasons be replacing one of the Asian students.

Travelogue: About 3/5 of the way through. It's happening, but by now I'm thinking of skipping the whole blogging process and going directly to signing a contract with a publishing company to write a novel :-p You won't want to read it, but I suppose you can always skim through for the photos.

Harry Potter: 30 days, baby. It opens on a Friday night and ACC has already scheduled a play-viewing, but in this case I'm 100% willing to forgo cultural activities to go see Part I of 'Deathly Hallows'. In English, mind you; I won't stand for any of this 'let's go see it in Chinese with English subs' crap.

Taipei: I've been thinking a lot about Taipei lately. For one, I recently Skyped Jun Xiang (竣翔), my friend and language exchange partner from last year. I'm really excited to go back, and desperately hoping that when I do I'll find that I have attained my semi-secret medium-term goal in Chinese: to be able to comfortably hang out and have fun with him and his family. For another, I've been getting more and more sick of Beijing - the traffic, the lack of lines/queues, the bustle of worker ants ignoring other worker ants, the pollution (which got particularly horrible last weekend), and now the dry cold that I was warned about before coming here.
View from my 6th-floor window, 2:00/3:00 PM last Saturday. Visibility: about one city block.
The higher the floor you're on, the more it looks like the city has just been firebombed.
Very few people on the streets, and most vendors have gone home.

Yet another reason I've been thinking of Taipei lately is that I've had a few reminders of my Chinese as it was little over a year ago. I remember being unable to talk for significant periods of time without translation; doing everything semi-official or difficult in English; and forcing all of my interlocutors to pay special attention to their words and mine in order to have even a hope of basic mutual understanding. I would never, ever understand Chinese over the phone. Recently, I dealt with some plane ticket and credit card authorization issues over the phone, and the only time I needed to use English was when I had to explain to them what their error message said. I also talked to one of Jun Xiang's friends over Skype, and got the strong impression that I'm basically a whole new person in his eyes - which makes sense, now that we can communicate at a reasonable level. Although that's not an excuse to slack - after all, I'm still not nearly satisfied - it is the sort of realization that I need to keep in mind in order to really have a grasp on how my Chinese ability is improving.

Beijing: At the same time, for the first time I feel like I'm beginning a semblance of a life here in Beijing. (The major exception being food. By the time I leave the country, I will bleed MSG.) I've been a few friends recently and hoping to meet more in the near future; this has turned Beijing from 'a great place to study Chinese, hang out, and see sights' into 'the home of people I care about.' I recently answered one of them, 'No, I won't miss Beijing itself, but I'll miss the people and the memories,' but on second thought I don't think that looking back it will be all that easy to distinguish one from the other. Well, Beijing, it'll have to be a love-hate relationship, I suppose.

You: I'm also missing you. Every few days now I get the need to update my blog, or get in touch with someone or another, or connect with the people back in ol' Connecticut. It takes time and is no good for my studies, but there it is and unavoidable.

Good night and good luck,

1 comment:

  1. If you write a book, the Light Fellowship needs a signed copy. =)