Sunday, January 8, 2012

New ( and different) Year 2012

No Dick Clark. No Glittery Lighted Ball Drop. No A List celebrity performances. No D List celebrity surprise guest appearances. No champagne. No countdown ....

But it came anyway. 
Each of our cell phones was a little off- maybe by a second or two - but we were there.

and 2012 arrived.

It was a very different New Year celebration this year, but it was very festive and felt just as nice as any other that I've celebrated at home with friends. Last year I was on the UWS ( the Upper West Side of New York City for any Canadians/Non-New Yorker's reading this :)) at my friends apartment with her and her girlfriend. We went out to dinner and chit chatted with some friendly "neighbors" at the table next to ours. Then we went back to my friends apartment for drinks and snacks and watched the craziness of Time Square ( from the tv in a much warmer, less crowded spot several blocks north of that madness) I slept over and we went out for bagels and coffee in the morning... just a nice comfy New Year. ( I think I sadly might have had tea instead of coffee ... because for 2011 I had this crazy idea to try to make a new resolution for EVERY week in January and the FIRST week was "No Coffee". Very sad/bad idea.) 

This year  was just as warm and comfy but in a different way. My boss Linda, my TA Dona, our new teacher David, and several of the Best Learning staff along with Dona's husband, went out for dinner and KTV from about 6pm-9:30pm. It was a buffet dinner- so you could just load up your plate and then go back to the KTV room that you had rented to eat/drink in there while you sang songs. I sang, what is becoming "my standard"- "Zhi Shao Hi You Ni"- (At Least I Still Have You) by Sandy Lam. I really wished that Lisa was there to duet with me. Somehow it just didn't quite feel the same singing it without her. Even singing it twice... it wasn't the same song. But I also sang a lot of English songs ...  everything from "Stickwitu" by The Pussycat Dolls to "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" ( yes, we found a version and thought it was hilarious that we found that there... and so of course Dona, Linda, and I sang it together).... so that made it easier to forget that small missing piece for a minute. There was no champagne, but there were plenty of cans of good ol' American "Budweiser" to go around. It's not my beer of choice, but I had a few .... Dona's husband started this drinking game and we all played a few rounds with the beer.

Then we went back to Dona's apartment for more food and drink and to officially "ring in the new year" when the clock struck midnight. A couple, two friends from Uzbekistan, also came over to the apartment with their son Bek who is the same age as Zora ( around 3 yrs old). So the kids ran around and played together ( no sleep ... til after midnight). "The adults" chatted and watched some home videos of Zora's "baptism" that Dona had. I'm not sure what the official name of the ceremony is, but it is the Muslim equivalent of a Christian baptism. My boss Linda commented how funny it was that "I am the only Chinese person here!" .... at a party in China. It WAS kind of funny ... but also really cool I thought. In a small city like Foshan, to be able to have a party like that .... so many different languages floating around the room - Uzbek and Mandarin Chinese ( after being here for 3 yrs, Dona's husband speaks it fluently along with Uzbek and some English) and English. I LIKE that. I love parties like that. It reminded me of New York .... where something like that would not be uncommon at all. I have Italian-American friends, African-American friends, Jewish-American friends, Greek-American friends, Lesbian friends, Gay friends, Straight friends..... and it's really nice when a handful of all different friends can just get together and have a good time.

When we got closer to midnight - around 11:58pm, we all kept a close watch on our cellphones. Then, out of nowhere,  2011 became 2012. In Mandarin, "Happy New Year" is "Shan Dian Kwai Luh" ( all 4th tones - all 4 words get the same emphasis). So we all toasted with some red wine that Dona had and wished each other a "Shan Dian Kwai Luh"... a "Happy New Year" .... and "cut the cake" - Dona had bought a cake for the party too. 

A part of me really appreciated the fact that China is 14 hours ahead of New York .... it made me feel like I didn't "miss" New Year's in New York. Like "they didn't get there before me", I wasn't "too late". I could still go home on my computer and wish friends and family a Happy New Year. 

2011 - starting off was .... a lot of madness. A lot of rushing "to nowhere" and running in circles without much sleep. My lease to my last apartment in Brooklyn was up in August of 2010. Because I knew that I could not commit to another year-long lease on an apartment, and because I wanted to save a little money before going to China, I moved my stuff back to my parents house for the last 8 months before leaving for China. I was commuting from my parents house to NYC for work everyday ( a 1 hr 40 min train ride) and staying in NYC most days... ALL day. Like until 11pm .... getting home at 1am .... and doing it all again at 6am. I stayed down for dance class most nights after work .... at least 4 nights per week. So that accounted for the long nights. But .... it was so crazy and I WASN'T sleeping. My parents were worried... "you must be exhausted"... "let me drive you to the train"..... "I will pick you up tonight" - became typical in the course of a daily conversation with my Dad and/or Mom. I don't know what it was. I know that I wanted to dance/workout regularly ... ( but honestly I've lost more weight here in China without any gym/dance class). Maybe I was worried that I would let "my life" slip away too quickly .... like I was STILL living in New York and not in China ... and so I still wanted TO BE living that same life in New York (city).

I think that's how I "killed the morning person" inside of me. I used to get up in the morning SO easily. As a kid even - I was always the first one awake in the morning ( and bored,  often going to play with my friends toys or reading books) at sleepovers...  AND I was typically the first one to crash/fall asleep/want to go home once the clock struck midnight at night... even into my twenties. But this last year- at least from August 2011 to March 2011 ... changed the circadian rhythm completely. 

I LOVE SLEEP now. I can sleep until 11am. I can also stay up until 3am or so without a yawn or a blink of an eye. So it's definitely completely reversed ... and I blame 2011 for that. But it's ok now ... it's no worse or better being a "night person".... it's just different.

In 2012 I just want to take it "day by day", like I said earlier .... no BIG "resolutions". Just some more traveling, learning more Mandarin, ...  but to let everything come/happen/flow ... easily. No pressure. No judgement. TRY not to worry about "missing out" on something/anything/everything. Just let each day be itself ... kind of like I said before. 

I am frustrated by my friendship with Lisa ( and yes, I am just going to call it a "friendship" for now, because at the end of the day, that's what it is in the "here and now") I wish that things were easier and different, but if I can use the time that I have each time that we're together to express myself clearly and share my feelings with her, then that's a good start and that's the best I can do in the "here and now"... 
She has one day off per week, and she never knows when it is, it changes every week, and she's living in Guangzhou. So "regular contact" is not an easy thing to come by. (When I asked her  on Christmas Eve- "Ni ping chang see hwen jaw shuma?" - ("What do you usually like to do?" - in Guangzhou) She answered "Sleep and Work". ) 

But sustaining a friendship .... sending QQ messages.... seeing each other once a month..... is a good first step to keep that connection alive. 

No countdown, no anticipation, no champagne ..... just let it be, let it happen. 

That's what I'm doing. 

I am ALSO getting ready to give my boss here my notice that I will not be returning to teach in Foshan for a second year, taking my 10 DAY CHINESE NEW YEAR TRIP to CHIANG MAI, THAILAND!, updating my resume/cover letter for teaching at prospective schools in Taipei, Taiwan starting in late June 2012...

AND looking at flights online and booking my flight HOME to New York in April ( given that my visa here expires on April 3rd, 2012, I might end up leaving China on April 2nd and then landing in JFK on April 2nd... it's kind of nice that flying home I "get a day back" due to the time difference. )

One day at a time, One step at a time, one breath at a time. It's ALL good.


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