Wednesday, December 10, 2008

your old men will dream dreams

"Girls are, by nature, easy," was one of the more surprising statements Tim made this past week. I'll leave it up to you to judge whether it's just as true out of context as it is in. The fantastic five (Tim, Ryan, Emily, Amelia, and I) were eating lunch following our Sunday morning family time at one of our old stand-by restaurants, The Old Cook. [We have about four restaurants that qualify as "old stand-by's"; one is a standard middle class Chinese restaurant just across the street from Ryan and I's apartment which we named "Jason's" after our teacher friend, "Jason" (clever, I know); another is a cheap gai fan (dish of your choice over rice) restaurant near the Hebei University campus in the back of a place we call the "Red Tent", a long canopy of street restaurants (costs about 6 yuan); another is a Tibetan noodle place also in the Red Tent (about 6 yuan); and the fourth is The Old Cook, a typical middle class Chinese restaurant just around the corner from Jason's... upon further thought it's pretty identical to Jason's; we probably just go there for variety sake.]

We were eating some of our favorite dishes at The Old Cook, and the reoccuring topic of Christmas came up. The entire IECS team is participating in a Secret Santa gift exchange and we starting talking about the different wish lists each team member had submitted. Following some suspicious comments made by Amelia, the rest of us decided to try and figure out whose name she had drawn. Amelia's most leading comment was, "mine's gonna be pretty hard to shop for," and it was this comment that led Tim to say that it couldn't be a girl because, "girls are, by nature, easy." It only took us a few seconds to start laughing. It's moments like these that get me up in the morning. Actually, maybe I need to stop having these kinds of moments because I've been waking up really early recently. Just the other day I woke up at 2:45am, only to lay in that half-asleep-crazy-dream-state where time is somehow still passing normally but you're dreaming ridiculous dreams, for the next four hours. It was weird. Also, I had a dream the other night that Sega released a new video game... for every system Sega has ever created. Think about that; the same game with versions for Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, and Sega Dreamcast all coming out at the same time. For some reason in the dream I was watching my brother, Nathanael, play, which is ridiculous because there's no way I would have let anyone else touch that Sega Saturn controller but me, not until I had beaten it, twice. A couple nights later I dreamt that Nathanael and Maureen got pregnant; actually, just Maureen (dudes can't get pregnant, dummy, except for Arnold). Prophetic? I hope so; I really want to play that game...

Despite this sleeping funk I have been in, this past weekend was quite restful. Last week I had invited several students to help me decorate my classroom for Christmas on Saturday. I brought a six foot tall plastic Christmas tree, ornaments, lights, a pile of computer paper and scissors, and Santa Claus faces. What a great time it was to cut out dozens of snowflakes and set up my pastic tree with some of my favorite students (I know you're not supposed to have those, but it's too late now). Right when I arrived, a few of the boys started setting up the tree with lightning speed, and it was finished within minutes, ornaments, lights and all. Unfortunately, it looked like a Christmas tree that Scrooge would have set up before his conversion, a mangled mockery of everything the tree stands for. I didn't blame the boys and was happy to see their excitement, but when they left I asked one of my girl students (Kerri) to help me redo the whole thing. Now, it's a thing of beauty. Unlike Charlie Brown's tree, this graceful tree stands up all on its own, no love needed. Before each class this week, students have been surrounding it with their cell phones taking pictures. I've been telling them that I don't know where it came from, and that it must be a gift from Santa. I'm convinced that at least a few of them believe me.

Here's a shot of me teaching a Christmas song to one of the classes that Ryan and I teach in tandem (he's taking the picture), as well as a picture of me with my favorite class (I told you, it's too late).

Keep us in mind as we explain the meaning and origin of Christmas. They already have lots of questions...