7 Things I Love About China

Since I spend so much time on here grousing about not having hot water to wash my dishes in, you all probably think I’m just sitting around bored out of my mind and hating China. Well, that’s not the case. It’s just that dishes provide such fertile ground for writing. All those food scraps decaying….

Ok, that was sorta gross. But you get the point.

I will tear my mind away from my precious dishes and no hot water, and present you with seven things I love about China.

1. The people.


Every Chinese person I’ve met here is simply lovely. They always have big smiles, warm hearts, and are full of hope for China. If I had to use only one word to describe China, I think I would use the word “hope.” They work so hard in their studies and really try to learn. And they’ve made us feel welcome here even though we’re strangers and don’t speak the language (even complimenting us on our Chinese when we come out with our few broken words).

2. Ease of transportation.

This week, I’ve been helping with the SOPE tests for Renmin University (basically a 3 minute impromptu speech in English that everyone has to give), and one of the topics was public transportation. The Chinese teacher who was grading the speeches with me proceeded to lecture me on the poor public transportation in America. “Think of the foreigners!” she told me. “What if they want to go around and travel around the city while they’re there but they don’t know their way around? With no public transportation, what will they do?”

I told her I agreed with her, but I wasn’t exactly in charge of whether Columbia, Missouri, had a good bus system or not.

However, Beijing DOES have an excellent public transportation system, and it has definitely helped us out as we’ve been getting to know the city.DSC_0210

3. Going to church here. However, I’ve already written a whole blog post about this one, so I won’t repeat myself here.

4. Having a Kindle with access to Kindle Unlimited.

This isn’t something specific to China, but it’s made giving up our books  a lot easier, since we now have an entire library at our fingertips but don’t have to worry about it upsetting the weight regulations of the airlines.

5. Having our own little apartment.

It’s made it so easy to have students over for parties of Thanksgiving and Christmas. And since we had to leave everything else behind when we left America, it’s nice to still have a little space to call our own.

Jared in his Captain America sweater just because. You can see a teeny bit of our apartment….


6. The food.

I don’t know who could come to China and not love the food. Of course, there are some dishes that are pretty so-so, but overall it’s been fantastic. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t love to sit down to a roast beef dinner again. But for now, I’ll stay content with my noodle stir-fry, Chinese dumplings (jiaozi), and oh-so-juicy lamb kebabs. But since I’m horrible at taking pictures of food (I usually only remember once I’ve eaten half!), you don’t get to salivate over any of it.

7. All the amazing historical sights to see.

China has an amazing history. They were inventing ways to feed their people and grow their population while Europe and the West was still stuck in the Crusades (and fighting a gazillion wars with each other when they weren’t fighting Muslims). The chance to see things that are left from that ancient civilization is amazing. So far, we’ve only seen a few things: the Summer Palace, the Old Summer Palace (which I didn’t get pictures of because I didn’t bring my camera), the Forbidden City, the zoo, the museum. But we’re still planning to see more, so stay tuned!

There. Didn’t you admire my fortitude? I didn’t even mention washing dishes ONCE once I got started.

Linking up at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.





In Which I Bore You with Mindless Drivel about Dishes

Somehow, this week has been crazy. Jared got sick (for three whole days! poor thing was miserable), we got a “holiday” for New Year’s Day, which really meant that the cruel and unusual method of “let’s see how much of your weekend we can take away from you” was strongly played with makeup classes on Sunday, and then it was back to the usual of procrastinating on doing dishes because SOMEONE was convinced that bringing cookies to her classes was a good idea. Well, it was. But cookie-making also involves dish-making, and dish-making involves dish-doing, and dish-doing involves putting away those dishes, and yeah. I haven’t even gotten past the dish-making part, so I’m inwardly shuddering whenever I walk into my kitchen and see all the remnants of the shallots in the sink along with whatever’s left of the cookies.

So, obviously that means it’s time for a blog post, so all you who are like “just do the dishes as soon as you make them and then you won’t have any problem” can totally say that in your head as you don’t understand why I a) don’t like doing dishes and b) don’t follow the wonderful advice that you just gave me. But there’s just something about making cookies before an 8:00 a.m. class that robs me of the will to dish (what, you don’t think that’s a verb? Don’t know what you’re talking about). And then you get back, and the cookie dough has hardened on the pan. So, of course, you just leave it.

Anyways, I’m starting to run on just like my little brother Seth (sorry Seth), so I’ll stop with the drivel and present you with pictures of a sunrise, courtesy of my 8:00 a.m. class. It’s funny how when the days start getting longer the sunrise starts getting later at the same time. Oh, and yes, the sun rises in China just like it does in America. I think it’s even the same sun!

It’s not much of a sunrise. . .


But at least I got the camera straight in this one!

Now excuse me while I go heat up some water for my dishes. There’s no time like the present, right?



The Dangers of Dishes

I own one of the world’s worst superpowers. And by “worst” I don’t mean that it’s ineffectual,  like it only takes care of half the bad guys at a time. No, this superpower is one that doesn’t solve problems–it makes them. Dishes, to be exact.  I’m extremely good at making dirty dishes. Put me in the kitchen with some food to cook,  and I’ll have it covered in dishes before you can say “Don’t forget the baking powder!” I can make more dishes that practically anyone else I know–except for my mother. She has me beaten by a long shot. (Sorry mom, but it probably has something to do with having around 5 times more people in the house to cook for than I do.) It must be something hereditary.

Sadly, this superpower is not accompanied by actually wanting to WASH said dishes, especially when our apartment (still unheated for now) has only cold water and no dishwasher in the kitchen. I’m just as happy not getting my hands frozen and greasy in icy tap water, thank-you-very-much. Add that to our limited (around two square feet–that’s a generous estimate) counter space, and you find me getting very creative with new ways to stack dishes.

Don’t worry–these are all clean. It’s the best way to dry them, I’ve found.

So it’s probably a good thing for my sanity that I only possess a few dishes to get dirty as it forces me to wash them more than once a week (not that I would ever go that long without doing dishes–I’m far too holy for that. But don’t ask about the laundry.).

Now, before you start hyperventilating and thinking what a sad life my poor husband leads to be married to a woman who keeps their apartment looking like a pigsty (yes, mud and smells and all!), let me say that even I have some standards of living. Our floors are clean, our bed is made, and yes, even the piles of papers get graded eventually and returned to their respective students. Clutter doesn’t exist (unless you count piles of papers).  It’s just, when there are more exciting things to do like play the violin or write blog posts or even catch up on my long-neglected email inbox (if I haven’t written you back, it’s nothing personal, I promise!), the reward for doing my stack of dishes looks low in comparison.

I suppose it’s time to face it–as much as I was warned, when I was younger and going to all sorts of music lessons every week, of the messiness inherent in the musical personality, I am that person. Apparently it’s because musicians are so highly organized in their brains that they don’t need to be organized elsewhere–I always know exactly where everything is, so it’s a waste of time to label it neatly or spend time putting it back, right? Except, as happened twice this week, when something falls out of my purse and gets lost in the couch cushions. Then I tend to worry about whether I’m organized enough or if my brain is falling to pieces. But I digress.

I saw this video on Facebook today and was intensely gratified that science seems to be coming to the same conclusions that I came to long ago: musicians really are wonderful. Especially if they’re me.

I may not clean like I should (instant dish-doing? Yes please!), but I guess I have enough musician-related good points that they should offset my one superpower. What do you think? Should having a well-organized brain make you more or less organized in real life? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice my violin–because I’ve already done the dishes.