It’s Easter! But not on this side of the world unfortunately. If you’re reading this and you’re in a country with Christianity in its roots or simply just love a fat roast dinner and some chocolate shaped eggs – Happy Easter! I hope it was wonderful for you. The knowledge of Easter could have so easily slipped my mind. Thank fuck for VPN apps aye.
Mondays. The day I attempt to funnel my creative juices out from my brain, through my bloodstream and into my fingertips to type something up. I really should be using my physical paper diary that my old bosses got me. Before I went away they took me out for coffee and showered my in gorgeous gifts to say thank you and to make moving a little easier. Nyree spent her time collecting photographs of all of my friends and family and it was so sweet. The diary is A5 in size with a fake leather texture on the cover and is engraved with the Deathly Hallows symbol. I began writing in it religiously when I first arrived but since I’ve started working I’ve ended up typing and then copying what i’ve written into it.
The last time I wrote to you I was sat in a chilled hostel in the heart of Hong Kong in 25 degree heat, dreading flying back to the cold north. Within 2 days of being back in Beijing something miraculous happened… I put on my fucking flip-flops. Spring for me is returning home from school or work to be reminded that daffodils exist and that there is a single lonely daffodil that stands in my front garden. I wonder why there is only one. It’s kind of beautifully sad that it returns every year without permission to stand boldly in a neglected front garden. The full bloom of spring at home is shy, it only wishes to present itself for a precious amount of time before it recoils into its bud for another year.
Spring to me is when British sunshine dips its toes a little into heat, not too much though. My Chinese spring is leaving the house at 7:30am in a dress or a skirt without thick leggings keeping me toasty. Spring here is actually summer in disguise, the disguise being cherry blossom trees that bathe themselves in UV rays infected with pollution. You try telling me that 28 degree heat is spring, go on I dare you. Cherry blossom trees really are as beautiful as everyone makes out to be, the soft pink colour of the petal cannot be done justice through description or photography. What makes it even more beautiful though is that most of the trees here are still shamefully bare and they look so melancholy beside frozen-in-time fireworks of pastel colours. I suppose Beijing isn’t a very beautiful city at all. Don’t get me wrong the historic landmarks are incredible but it’s not the country side. It’s not Ilfracombe in bloom. Ilfracombe really isn’t the place I want to settle down but I cannot deny the beauty of the coastline blended with the countryside.
There is a government holiday coming up this week, perhaps I should take the time to go to the Summer Palace. **okay whilst typing that I thought “yeah great idea Jodie head to a park full of gorgeous nature on a day when no one in Beijing will work” – yeah perhaps not.
There’s a huge deafening dementor that floats over my head and has done since the 24th of March. Working Wednesday-Sunday sucks, I think I’ve already told you that, because everyone works a normal working week but for the most part it seemed okay because Amelia was still working with me. Going to work was killing two birds with one stone – having a social life and earning money at the same time but she’s now packed up her things and is on your side of the world. On her last night I accompanied her and her friends for pizza but I had to leave early because I was working at 9am the next morning. I knew I’d be sad but I wasn’t expecting to get into a DiDi (Chinese Uber) and be a snotty hyperventilating mess for 2 hours after saying goodbye. Not even chance could’ve brought me to meet her sooner because I simply hadn’t been in Beijing for long enough.
Her leaving meant that I took on more hours and classes at school which was completely okay but then another guy at the school just up and did a runner without any explanation so I’m also doing some of his hours too. My working week including travel time is 55 hours a week. Some days I only have 10 minutes in between classes to gather materials, have a breather and sort myself out. On Friday I didn’t really eat anything until 5:30pm during a one-to-one with Bob, a shy kid with a big heart. Those 55 hours don’t include the time I spend planning lessons when I get home. Wednesdays and Fridays are kindergarten days too which makes them even crazier, I had no time to even think about my Saturday morning class let alone begin planning it.
I love Amelia’s kindergarten kids and I feel like stepping into her shoes is a huge job because some Chinese parents are just crazy when it comes to their children and I really didn’t want to disappoint the ones who had a great relationship with Amelia.
Being academic and doing well in school is a big thing in the UK yes, but we also live in a society that is beginning to accept that this isn’t always the case. Artistic creativity is gradually becoming a respectable skill or educational interest on our end (or I’d like to think so). If this isn’t the case at least we thrive on improvisation, mistake making and happy accidents to help us learn but here in China that simply isn’t the case.
I don’t know how the children are educated in Chinese public school or are taught at home but it seems that the pressure to get things absolutely spot on is essential in proving you have a great brain. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve had the word “eraser” shouted at me just because the flick on their “a” isn’t right or the loop on their “y” isn’t long enough. I’m trying to get them into the habit of asking for an eraser using an actual sentence. Chinese assistants are also really quick to rub things out or help them say the answer without even 2 seconds to think.
Learning a new language is tough man, and I shamefully haven’t even tried hard to learn Chinese but when I want to figure out words I need some thinking time before I understand. I just hate that these children are expected to do or say or write things within 2 minutes of having the instruction – Jerry for example he puts on this huge pouty face and lets out little ‘hmphs’ when he’s upset… it’s actually hilarious because he looks like a grumpy fish. I can’t take unnecessarily grumpy children seriously and I think that’s because I was never moly-coddled when I had grumps, instead I was jut laughed at and called “mardy Miss May’.
So when the kids are stropping in class I can’t help but laugh and I know I shouldn’t. Jerry was slower than the other children at copying the English from the board so he started crying and this really got to me because he so clearly inherits a mindset that suggests that being slow means you’re not clever here. It was kind of sweet when the other children were giving him encouragement in Chinese though. I really do teach some great compassionate little humans.
I’m super determined to learn Chinese though. Why? Well, because I think I’m in love again. Yep for the 73rd time since being here. I work above a bakery called Holiland where the walls are a bright white, freshly baked bread and cakes, coffee and beautiful staff. I think it’s a requirement to beautiful because both the women and the men are drop dead gorgeous. It’s become daily routine that I purchase a coffee before work and at first I visited Starbucks, then found McCafe and then realised Holiland is actually the cheapest of them all so now that’s my regular.
There’s one guy (fit guy 1 we’ll call him) in there who is super good looking and after a couple of coffee purchases he began to smile at me whilst I was waiting which was cute. I’ve not got a subtle ‘cool’ face either, if I’m embarrassed or face to face with a cute guy my face shape-shifts into the surface of the sun. So I smile at him back and it’s cute, bob’s your uncle and fanny’s your aunt.
BUT, one day me and Amelia are on park duty with 6 children surrounding us and we’re waiting for Sophie and her little ones outside Holiland, a DIFFERENT beautiful guy (fit guy 2) comes out of the bakery with cake tasters for the kids and I melt to the floor. He also smiles sweetly at me when he’s working and I head in for my daily coffee. Now the strange thing is, is that whenever I go in the female staff always perk up and look gleefully at me, especially when the guys have served me.
One night me and my colleagues were waiting outside for Jing and whilst fit guy 1 was serving her he kept looking out at me and smiling. The following day fit guy 1 looks at me, smiles and then looks at the female staff and cheekily sticks his tongue out and again the women all look at me. Like tell me if I’m crazy but that’s a sign right? I’m not just imagining it. It’s a sign that perhaps they’ve spoken about me in a good way? However, fit guy 2 is also super smiley and super cute. So I’m torn. Is it possible to love them both? I’d love to pluck up the courage to ask for their number/WeChat but I just don’t. I can’t flirt in English let alone Chinese.
If my blog didn’t have a hopeless romantic teenage feel about it before it certainly does now. Inside I’m still Jodie Warren the tragic 14 year old who asks the same guy out consistently for 7 months and gets bullied about it. I might pluck up the courage to speak to these guys with the help of Sophie… watch this space.
P.S GEMMA BROUGHT ME AN EASTER EGG BACK FROM THE UK AND I’M SO HAPPY.