There is a house in New Orleans–Part 1

Friday  night was the “Christmas Party”.  We went for dinner with the members of the English department, the Korean teachers, the Japanese teachers, and some office staff whose jobs I’m not quite sure of.

We started with dinner and it was awful.  Shujie got them to make me pepper steak and fried rice.  The rice was fine but the steak was pretty bad.

The head of something or other gave a little speech and handed out gifts to the foreigners (scarfs), and then he disappeared to another occasion or maybe to visit his girlfriend.  I think you should stick around for this foolishness.

It seemed that people were enjoying themselves except for my upstairs neighbor Chin Ho.  I sat beside him at dinner and I think he wished he was somewhere else.  I can’t figure him.  I asked him if he liked the school and he told me, “not really”.  He then told me that he would probably renew his contract for next year.  I couldn’t figure that out as why wouldn’t he move to another school.  He didn’t want to discuss it there and maybe someone would overhear.  Paranoia is everywhere.

We then went to KTV which is what the Chinese call Karaoke.  Don’t ask me because I don’t see how they fit.  I asked Shujie and she doesn’t know either.  The Japanese left after a few songs but the people who stayed seemed to enjoy themselves.  I entertained with my rousing version of “House of the Rising Sun”.  I asked Wang Jing if it was appropriate for me to do it at the New Year’s Eve show and she said, “yes”.  So I’ll do it.

The pictures are of Shujie and my archenemy June dancing.  Then there is Wang Jing singing a tune.  Then Shujie and Christy who is head of foreign affairs and Wang Jing’s boss, (and teaches English sometimes).  I can’t say we’re fond of her either.  We love Wang Jing and Shujie likes June which is nice for her.

I was told we were invited out next weekend by someone’s boss (he was at the dinner) so his daughter who is home from University can practice her English.  I asked Shujie, “are we going Friday”?.  She said, “I don’t know”.  I asked if we were going Saturday and she said, “I don’t know”.  The Chinese don’t like to play more than 15 minutes in advance.  Okay, I’m exaggerating but never more than a day in advance.  It’s insane.

Then yesterday morning we get a call asking if we want to go for dinner that night.  So we went.  It was the man, his wife, his daughter, Wang Jing, June, Shujie, and 3 Japanese teachers, and Shujie and I.  I can’t figure it.  The girl is a nice kid and she asked for my phone number.  I’m happy to talk to anyone who can speak any English.  I told her that she could teach my classes on Tuesday and she believed me.  They are so gullible.

Dinner was fine as they ordered me something I could eat.  It was BBQ lamb legs and rice.  It was pretty good.  It was a painless evening but I’ll be damned if I could understand how all these people fit together.  I’ll say one good thing about this man.  On Friday night I told Shujie I couldn’t sit at his table if he was smoking so he put out his cigarette.  And then last night he never lit up.  So he has good manners and moves up in my book.

I ordered some sports jerseys online and they sent me the tracking number.  However they couldn’t be looked up.  They phoned Saturday and asked about our address since I had entered it in English (like their website wanted) but that was a problem in China and confused them.  They also didn’t have some of what I ordered and had no idea when they would be getting it.  I just cancelled the whole order.

Then I bought more DVD’s on the weekend.  One of the companies didn’t have everything we ordered so they made an executive decision to send us things we didn’t ask for as a replacement.  Go figure.

You can deal with wonderful people here who are efficient and honest, and you can deal with a bunch of pond scum.  It’s weird.  I’m losing my basic trust in people since I never know what I’ll end up with up.  I’m beginning to understand why Shujie is so paranoid about people trying to cheat her.

Tomorrow it’s back to work for a full schedule.  I’m not excited.  We’ve put our deposit down on our Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia trip so that’s something to look forward to.

I’m a little concerned that people won’t laugh next Sunday night at my singing (screaming).  If they don’t I’ll be devastated.  If they laugh, I’ll be very happy.  Maybe they’ll think I’m being serious and they shouldn’t laugh.  But I’m so silly I can’t see how anyone could think I was being serious.  It’s a different culture and I’m the strange white guy.

So it Christmas.  I heard Christmas music on the school grounds which threw me since we are all atheists here.  Shujie tells me that people here just treat it as a festival so they can be happy.  There is no day off so what’s to be happy about?

I got several “Merry Christmas” emails and I just thanked them.  I didn’t want to get into a religion discussion since they basically don’t know anything since they never learned it.  But it’s the thought that counts and that’s sweet.

I also get a charge out of the “Happy Silent Night” greetings.  I think that’s Chinglish for “Christmas Eve”.  It’s a learning experience.  It can be a hoot, and that’s good.


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