Wednesday, December 6, 2006

stomach skin jump

肚皮舞 - 'stomach skin jump'

Today was our yoga place's first 'stomach skin jump' (belly dancing!!) class and it was absolutely fabulous! I was bracing myself for hilarity when 20 or so stick thin chinese girls, accustomed to yoga, tried to shake-they-asses but I was genuinely impressed when they were suddenly sexy! If the lot of them are anything like the girls that I know personally, their one time at a bar is their most exciting story, and meditative yoga is the extent of their physical activity. But when the music started they cocked that right foot and popped that hip like none-other! It goes without saying that they sometimes looked more... shall we say 'twelve year old wearing her first high-heels and push-up bar' than 'sultry woman.' But they pulled it off!
Most Chinese teenagers are discouraged from relationships that would draw their attention away from study, and so most seem to have had little to no experience with the opposite sex when they get to college. The media is way less sexual than anything we are familiar with (even pirated movies have the sex scenes edited out), and the entire crowd was scandalized when an Italian girl performed a provocative dance at my department's anniversary talent show. Yet, five minutes into the class most every girl was embracing the sexuality of their own bodies. They knew how to narrow their eyes and tuck their chins just the right amount. What should have been awkward movements by young girls became invatations by women who knew their sexual power. (author's note: my own face mirrored the tongue-sticking-slightly-out-of-the-side-of-my-mouth face that we always teased my dad about when he was concentrating on a puzzle or trying to beat madison at Super Mario) I found my attention drifting from trying to 上 my hip as high as possible to the faces of the girls and being amazed by the sexual intensity they seemed to draw from nowhere!
Belly dancers generally have thicker figures and something around their waist to shake, but these girls barely came up to my shoulder in height and have to wear padded bras so as to look older then a middle schooler. As Zhaojie pointed out before class (ironically using my newest grammatical structure) 瑜伽老师比肚皮舞老师更小 - the yoga teachers attending the class were much smaller than the belly dancing teacher: a good foot or more shorter and much thinner - and most of the girls aired toward the yoga teachers. I was amazed to see that contrary to my expectations, being able to discern their hips-bones added something to the dance. I have never been a fan of the thinnest girls (I was apalled when my ex-boyfriend admitted to thinking Paris Hilton was hot), and I am still not sure if it was the faces or the hips, but I was proud of my little Zhaojie; she can shake it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

since I am in China and all...

I realized I haven't really shared much that is actually about China - so I'll try to catch you all up...

...uhh...this is harder than I thought it would be...

Ill start simply -


Right now I am with the girls at our favorite coffee shop where we have spent most of the past week. The coffee shops (咖啡馆) themselves are abundant and usually full of ex-pats. There is one called 'brown sugar' where the owner(老板) lived in America back in the day, so they have decent music, but the rest are quite the opposite. They have 'coffee shop mixes' that generally repeat endlessly. The mix at this particular coffee shop's play list includes (sorry if I am calling them by their chorus line) 'once...twice...three times a lady,' 'I know this much is true,' 'love lifts us up where we belong, 'candle in the wind,' 'you're my inspiration' etc... The waitresses are usually really cute Chinese girls who know a few words of English, but generally chill all day. The menus have extremely decent American food, but we since we have only recently started frequenting these shops for finals, the 巧克力摩卡咖啡 (chocolate mocha) has been the flavor of choice. Sometimes someone springs for an espresso or some 奶酪 (yogurt cheese type stuff... it eludes explanation). Recently, however, we have sprung the 50 cents each for water-rice which is a Taiwanese specialty consisting of shredded ice, sweet juices and chewy things like taro balls...

I had only been to coffee shops a few times before last week, when finals started, but since then we have spent most of our days in this one that is on the rooftop outside of the university...


Zhaojie, a friend I met at English Corner whom I adore, took my roommate and myself to a Yoga 瑜伽 place for our first 'date' and we immediately bought memberships. I went every day for a month, and it is wonderful! True, I only understand so much of what they say, but it is amazing what you can understand when you just learn some appropriate vocabulary! Between learning how to say 挺直被子 (really straight back - meaning sit up straight), 蓝蓝色的海边, 蓝蓝色的空气(blue blue ocean, blue blue air), or 放松议会 (relax for a little while) I can get through a class without a problem.
I wont lie, it is a little bit rough on the self-esteem being in the room with 25 Chinese girls who would be considered anorexic by American standards, but the 'feel good about yourself because you are doing yoga' part tends to counter-act it.
Usually Zhaojie and I would walk back to campus arm in arm, maybe grab some dinner on the way, exchanging vocabulary and giggling. The girlfriends (even guys sometimes) tend to walk around all holding hands, or just touching much more than friends normally do in America (an arm on the shoulder or holding fingers), and to have a friend who did so with me made me feel almost local! (besides the fact that everyone stares...) I think the times with her got me through the roughest times in China - through that 'adjustment' period where the graphs suggest making local friends... She is just plain sweet. I'll miss her.
For any of you Yoga enthusiasts - the yoga classes here are a lot different than they are at home, in some very basic ways. They do have names for the poses, but I don't know them... The classes are much more relaxed and meditation focused; we start with a few minutes of meditation and after every pose (which are also generally more gentle) you get some time to relax. To to top it all off, the relaxing time at the end (that we do have in American classes) comes with blankets, lights off, and narration by the 'yoga coach' usually including scenes of girls with umbrellas walking towards you or blue blue sky and blue blue sea. It is a very peaceful experience.

more to come (including pictures)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

bagel and...

...the second doesn't really have a name. Nobody liked my 'muffin' idea and we eventually just started refering to them as 'the fish.'

Their story: Once upon a time a stork (A crazy looking Annalee) flew (walked) into our dorm room at midnight with a bundle (one of the take-out containers from the cafeteria) and made Stephanie and me the proud new parents (owners) of two fish! Bagel and [no name] were inside this bundle (container).
She had bought them for a whopping 48 cents on the street outside Xia da along with two gold ones, but everytime the black ones moved at night Annalee and Cara (roomates) saw them out of the corner of their eye and got spooked. So they went from swimming in their nice, glass fishbowl with multi-colored stones at the bottom to living in a coke bottle on my desk. Its okay, they're better loved here.
Whenever you put your fingers in the top of the bowl to feed them they start jumping - and Stephanie loves to see it - so they are very well fed. Once, when they hadnt been fed for a day or two, bagel went to the bottom of the bowl and rested his face for a few hours...

The jury is still out on where they will go when we leave Xiamen next week, but its looking like Stephanie's Chinese teacher might get them. She is kind of a cat-lady, so we figure she will take good care of them.


My class!! I haven't yet figured out how to put these into the older blog... The kid in front of me pointing at the camera is the worst...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Following the advice of the ever-helpful Annalee Bloomfield, I have decided I am going to make a potentially disasterous Christmas into a growth experience by keeping a blog and achieving some goals. I've made the blog - the goals are still illusive...
I've never done this kind of thing, so bear with me as I figure it out. I think my ADD writing style might be a problem.
On that note - Today is one of the days that I love China. I am going to attribute it to the fact that a lot of today has been spent between chinese people I love and productiveness with friends I love. Today was our last day tutoring the class of 56 3rd graders at a Chinese elementary school. We were a little stressed, as always, going in (because the kids can be absolutely heinous) but when we got there we were informed they were going home early today so we just got to say goodbye - snap a few pictures, and give them all our email addresses. I am expecting a flood of emails from little Chinese people - cant wait! photos to come soon...
~I think I want to teach English - somehow - somewhere - for some short period of time...


... so 'hannahhighfilltunnel' was the term that the group coming to Xiamen on the group flight came up with when they thought I had missed the flight. Originally I was going to fly with them but had moved up my flight to travel before the program and didn't tell any of the 10 flying together. They were in transit for about two days and they kept thinking I would meet up with them at the latest layover - maybe through the hannahhighfilltunnel? It was really nice when I met them at the airport and they were all really excited to see me...haha
Enjoy the blog!