7 Things I’m Missing in China

Life in China so far has been wonderful. It’s amazing how nice having a place of your own, even when it’s up four flights of bare concrete stairs, can be. And Jared’s really loving his desk (as different from MY desk–generally covered with papers). We’re both beginning to feel at home. We have great friends, a wonderful church, and a lot of great food close by. That said, there are still some comforts of home that I, at least, miss.

1. A piano.

And preferably, a pianist to go with it. (Just kidding–though a live-in accompanist would be nice.)

Can you say “essential for sanity?” There’s something about having an instrument out in the open, waiting to be played on. I don’t know how I’m surviving right now without a piano. Jared says that surely the school has one–but it’s just not the same.  One of these days, I will have my own piano, I promise!

2. Real hot (drinkable!) water in the kitchen sink

It’s gotten to the point where when I watch videos of people drinking water straight from the tap or doing dishes in warm water, I’m shocked. I want to tell them it’s dangerous to drink the water, and then I remember–in America, it’s okay to do things like that. You’d think 20 years of drinking straight from the sink would stick with me far more than two months of not being able to, but hey. I’m weird that way, apparently.

And just for the record, dishes do not get as clean in cold water as they do in hot. Ask me how I know.

3. A dishwasher

I know, I know–who needs a dishwasher if you actually have hot water in the kitchen sink? But it’s so much easier to put silverware and stuff into the dishwasher and run it. You guys who have these things are so spoiled.

4.  A bathtub

There’s something so relaxing about being able to sit in a tub of warm water. For now, we’ll have to be content with our “shower bathroom,” but one of these days I’m actually going to live in a house with a bathtub in it.

At least I don’t have to SCRUB the bathtub right now–there’s a bright side to everything, right?

5. Books. Actual, physical books.

Kindles are nice–they allow you to read practically anything, most of it for very little money–but they don’t have the same feel as a real book that you can turn the pages of and see sitting on the shelf and feel the weight of it. It’s just not the same.

6. A full-sized oven.

There are so many things you can cook  in a toaster oven; sadly, all of them are small things. Cookies, squash, pizza–all bake fine. But roast beef? Not a chance. I’m not sure how we’re going to get anything even approximating a roast turkey cooked for Thanksgiving (besides the fact that turkey is not a Chinese bird).  Any suggestions?

7. A study for Jared

What Jared wants more than anything is a room all to himself, with books, a window, and a desk for him to write at. Perfect lighting too, of course.


What are all you cushy readers back in America wishing for?


Joining 7 Quick Takes at This Ain’t the Lyceum.


Of Rituals and Repetitions: Hey, let me show you my books!

Around here, books are precious. So precious, in fact, that every time someone who would possibly be interested in them comes over, there’s an entire ritual dedicated to showing them The Books. Jared lures the unsuspecting visitor down to the basement with the promise of showing him his books, usually taking the opportunity to hold forth on the mysteries contained behind each colorful cover. Depending on the visitor and his level of interest, this ceremony can take up to an hour and a half.

The Books

Two years ago, I was shown Jared’s books. Although I didn’t realize it then, it was a monumental occasion, for Jared’s books are his vocation. He studies. He reads. He writes. And he laments how much more there is to read to even be up on the scholarship of the day, much less the scholarship of twenty years ago.

I’ve read 81 books so far this year, and have always thought of myself as rather a bookish person, but when it comes to serious scholarship, Jared is far beyond me. His book showings are him showing his deepest thoughts–his life, in fact. But we can’t take any of them with us to China.

Tomorrow we’re packing up our books. And it’s a little bit like packing away our lives. No more book showings–at least for the next few years. No more studying of these particular books; no more looking at the faces of our familiar friends.

There will be new faces in Beijing, new books, new places. But it’s hard to leave the ones you know and love so well behind.