Ok, if you’re wondering how the China/America jetlag works, here’s my experience: go to America, and be unable to stay awake for five or six days. Come to China, and be unable to go to sleep for the same amount of time. It’s two in the morning, and I absolutely cannot sleep. So, here’s a tour of the bookcase in my bedroom.
The primary bookcase that shows off our dazzlingly varied interests and astonishing levels of literacy is located in the living room (incidentally, when we moved over here and I was ecstatic over winning the rights to organize by subject and alphabetize by author, I realized that sooner or later I’m destined for library science and should just stop fighting it), but we have a second one in the bedroom, with glass doors on the front. The top shelf holds the collection of single issue comics that a couple of wonderful boys in Arkansas took pains to get for me and either send to China or send with me on a plane in one of the most meaningful gestures of transpacific friendship extended to me thus far. There are also some magazines (Vice and a few cooking magazines), Chris’s headphones, and the case of Michael Hearst’s Music For Ice Cream Trucks with a mix CD inside that I’ve been meaning to rip and keep forgetting. Two things to mention: Music For Ice Cream Trucks is the best music in the world to listen to if you’re sad and trying to fall asleep, and that mix CD is one of the best that’s ever been made for me, which is a perennial source of guilt. Its maker got in my way at exactly the wrong time for a well-meaning guy to cross paths with me at my most emotional bulldozer-ness. I have absolutely no idea what happened to him, only that I hurt his feelings pretty badly and the music is awesome. If he ever reads this, dear god, I’m so sorry - try to stay clear of 23 year olds fresh out of their first misguided three and a half year relationship, because heaven knows you didn’t deserve THAT.
The second shelf is where the pictures and souvenirs are. There are two of me and Daniel (from New Years and Halloween) and one of the entire Gresham clan at the beach, containing rare photographic evidence of my ill-fated black hair dye stint. I ADORED the way it looked, but Mom really, really, really didn’t, and after a couple of months I wound up feeling so guilty that I wound up paying an absurd price to get my hair stripped, which was an awful lot harder on the pelt than the dye and has become one of those things that the family jokes about and everyone laughs, but there’s still a sore spot. There are also two pictures from Chris’s sister’s wedding, who I got to meet last week and who was really, really cool - none of the suspicious, undermining, disdainful, all but overtly threatening treatment that I’d be wholeheartedly throwing at my siblings’ significant others. There are also a couple of pieces of coral, a jar of sand, and sea shells from the Philippines, a rock with a lot of fossils Amy and I found in a drainage ditch in Harrison, a weird Chinese sculpture paperweight looking thing that has a purpose I keep forgetting to ask Chris to tell me, and the souvenir “traditional” baijiu cup from the Maotai gift set Chris got for his birthday. Maotai is swanky baijiu, and I think almost everyone reading this now knows exactly what baijiu is after my trip home. I swear the nice stuff tasted worse than the fifteen RMB stuff from Suguo (the name of our local convenience store chain) that I brought home.
The third shelf is along the same lines - a picture of Scout in a frame, the group photos taken of all the teachers and students at the beginning of the year (I’m not in them - I didn’t get here until October), and a jar with some nasty water and the now dead white flowers our landlord brought us as a housewarming present that smelled really good at the time. I tried to fit in the little embroidered panels that one of my students brought me from Suzhou, but they wouldn’t fit, and they’re still in their box until I get around to finding a catproof place for them.
The last two shelves are a little bit junkier. The fourth has all of my Chinese stuff stacked up on it - flashcards, CDs, the scripts for the CDS, a grammar/vocab workbook, the two character workbooks, character grid pads, and the dozen or so notebooks that I’ve accumulated over the last year. I also temporarily stuffed in the bags of Mardi Gras beads I bought for my students in New Orleans as a cheap souvenir that leads into an easy lesson (about Mardi Gras and New Orleans culture, not exposing oneself to get shiny things). The bottom shelf is really junky - it’s the storage spot for Stuff We Use Often (my ipod, cameras, various chargers, cables, stuff like that).
That’s it, really.