Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, China... Africa

I am really terrible at this. As a writer, I am a little embarrassed at just how terrible I am at this. And by this, I mean blogging, keeping a public journal, keeping up with it, posting things, connecting with readers. But I want to keep record of this journey, and there is a handful of you amazing friends and family in my life who read this keep asking me to post and so I am, I really am going to try to be better. I'm also pretty bad at taking pictures. I'm much better at writing a picture for you, so I'll do a bit of both and I hope give you a vision of all of this day to day on the other side of the world.

So here I am in Shanghai, China.

It's been nearly four weeks since I left New York in the clear cold winter and arrived here in China's foggy, smoggy cold winter. Where to begin? At first it all seemed so normal and familiar. I was staying in the home of some of my favorite people, Kate and Branch, of Italy fame, of traveling companion fame, of favorite friends fame, of luring me to SHANGHAI fame. And their home is in a complex in the suburbs of the city, near to the school, a place the caters to ex-pats of many backgrounds-- a health club, a grocery store-- and their home is such a HOME. Great artifacts and art from their life around the world, cozy couches and pillows and of course Kate and Branch themselves. So I began to settle in here in comfort and with such amazing support. And school has been the same. It's an extraordinary campus (I couldn't stop gaping at the person who WALKS AROUND AND KEEPS THE PHOTOCOPIERS STOCKED WITH PAPER--any of my BHSEC colleagues will understand my awe), with such welcoming colleagues. And the students. They're so amazingly polite. They greet me, thank me, do all of their assignments, really, all of them. The real difference though is that they are very averse to discussion. While I'm used to running a classroom that is grounded in talk, opinion, debate, seminar, I'm finding that almost impossible so it's certainly challenging my teaching muscles. While I love the literature and the chance to share it and explore it with them, I definitely miss the counseling role. I can feel that's where I'm meant to be. And that, I suppose, is part of what this was all about.

Two weeks ago I moved into my home for the next five or six-ish months, a sprawling 12th four apartment in the heart of the French concession, with balconies and picture windows and amazing views

(well, when you can see the views),

pumpkin colored walls, a killer fruit stand across the street, a wonderful roommate from Colorado, proximity to everything, to the winding streets that I get lost in, the metro to People's Square or to the Bund, delicious restaurants, yoga studios, dumpling stands... if you know me you know how I feel about things on wheels and so I am DEFINITELY traffic-shy, and spend a great deal of time trying not to get run over. But that is part of the navigation. 

This weekend I visited an antique market,

 a market that sold birds and fish and turtles, another of statues and stools and suitcases and busts...

two great restaurants, stayed up way too late at a tiny bar that spilled people into the streets and brunched with an old friend from Vermont (the world is amazingly small) and a new friend from California (who helped me find a gym. And one with a pool. And just across the street from my home). And you know what else I did? I accepted a job in Accra, Ghana. Yes I did. So just as I've begun this China adventure, I've set the next one on the horizon. But isn't that, too, what this was all about? At least I think it was... I'll save that, though, for a later post. Because for now, it's China. And I'm brimming with excitement about both. But. One thing at a time...