the chinese language is weird in that all the different parts of the language can be learned independently from one another. it's entirely possible to know how to speak it but not read or write it, as is my case. this is the typical definition of illiteracy, nothing special about it. but with chinese it's even harder to learn to read and write because it's not based on an alphabet system, so characters are entirely independent of clues as to how to pronounce them. but it's also possible to know how to read chinese but not write it. character recognition is easy, but remembering how to write it (or draw it, since, let's face it, chinese characters are essentially little pictures) is something else entirely. the typical chinese education teaches you reading and writing, but over time, a normal chinese person begins to forget how to write some characters, especially uncommon ones. ask any literate chinese person, and there are words they can read but don't know how to write. and in this modern age of pinyin contextual-smart texting, the actual ability to write is becoming less and less important. this is a problem in english, but a bigger problem in chinese because reading and writing are independent from one another. i imagine the problem is even bigger in a country like taiwan where they use traditional characters (more strokes) instead of simplified ones.
i'm tired. no matter how hard i try, i can't seem to sleep any earlier than 11:30. my wakefulness naturally gravitates towards midnight and beyond. what i really like is to be in bed by 10:00. if you told me 6 months ago, i'd laugh since my usual cambridge bedtime is around 1-2am. but nowadays, i dream of sleeping early. for most people the weekend is when they catch up on their sleep backlog, but i sleep even less on the weekend, maximizing every single hour that i'm not working by doing something.
i began doing this a few weeks ago, but i've had to go to notch 4 on my uniqlo belt. i've been using notch 3 for a while, but i've noticed recently that my pants were getting kind of loose. i think this means i'm losing weight, but i don't really notice. i always thinking i'm losing weight, but usually my bathroom scale says otherwise. here in china though, i haven't used a scale in a while. well, actually, that's not true, all the pharmacies here have free scales for customers, and there's even a scale at my gym. but they're all in kilograms, and when i go weigh myself, i always forget the number so by the time i get home i can't do the conversion into pounds.
the custodian ladies came by my work area today, emptying out the trash cans. i told them i met baihong last weekend in chongqing. "did you have a lot to talk about?" her aunt asked me. i said we had a good time, and we've been communicating still over QQ. i told her i thought baihong was very pretty. she seemed surprised, "really?" the other lady said something about this new year being the year of the horse (ma), that baihong and i will quickly (ma shang) "succeed," whatever that means. they seemed happy with the result of their matchmaking as they left. i'm sure there will be some sort of spirited gossiping between them now.
while making some tea in the pantry, i noticed something unusual. there was a group of custodian ladies there taking a break (not the ones i spoke with earlier). normally i'm cordial with them but they sort of just ignore me. but today there seemed to be something different, like they looked at me a little longer than usual, and some of them even smiled. maybe i'm just imagining it (i tend to see a lot of things that aren't there).
i decided to go to lunch a little later than usual, figuring i could put in the time and work on the cohost speeches a little more. when i went to go eat at 11:45, i saw the line stretching from one side of the office to the other and decided to wait. when i went again around 12:00 - figuring the place would be empty by then - there was still a long line, this time of owner-side engineers. i had no choice but to wait. i ended up eating with ms.pan, who also took a late lunch.
at 2:30 we had our first new year celebration rehearsal, including all the dancers and singers and cohosts. there were a few onlookers, like xianglian and her roommate, who sat in the back of the cafeteria snickering. i noticed for the first time that most of the performers were female. yuwei - he had previous cohosting experience - was the most professional, speaking the loudest, clearly annunciation every word like a news broadcaster. sarah was okay, but prone to breaking out of cohost character to give us side notes. manfred has some problems with long english words. sarah sang her song, a little too self-conscious performing where we normally eat. she was actually singing 2 songs, and the long transition between the two seemed to hang. as for manfred and his latin dancing showcase, he and his partner jessica were great, but it's obvious the other 3 couples were amateurs. at the end of the rehearsal, jeffrey gave all the groups a critique. as for the cohosts, he said everyone was okay except for me. i had 3 big problems: i spoke too fast, i didn't stand up straight, and i used my hands too much. "maybe you're too fluent," he said. he also suggested i could put my hands in my pockets, although we'll have microphones, so my hands will be preoccupied with holding that. i was a little embarrassed, but what he said was true, just wish it wasn't in such a public manner!
after the rehearsal, we four cohosts got together to work on the speech a little bit more. sarah was too preoccupied with trying to solve the problem of her musical number until we suggested she just trim the transition. manfred gave me a free pastry he pilfered from the chongqing hotel (glenview) where he's staying at.
i returned home after work via the medium bus, so i got back into town by 6:20. i sat next to zhouke, we gave me some good chinese cellphone brands i can check out in my pursuit of a cheap smartphone. when i got to my apartment, i started making some rice porridge for dinner. i finished making dinner by 6:50 (including frying an egg for tomorrow morning), ate for 20 minutes (while watching an episode of conan), and rested for about half an hour (watching an episode of almost human) before to the gym around 8:00. there was just one other person running the treadmill tonight, and by the time i left, i was actually the last person in the gym. i ran listening to a BBC program about the life of chinese empress dowager cixi. i think audio books are a good choice for running, because it's easier to pass the time listening to a story.