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Theatrics and Hysterics


So we here in Zhuhai (I almost wrote Denmark—Freudian? Do I know the first thing about Freud…erm…) we have reached the 4-month slump. If you’ve lived abroad for more than four months, you know exactly what I’m talking about, particularly when that 4-month mark is coincides with the holidays that are happening at home, but are not happening here in any way. The weather, yes even here, is drippy with wet-cold. Everyone in the office either has a cold, a headache, some nebulous sore throat that-they-think-might-be-mono-maybe. Or they’re wiping out on their moped and wandering high and bloody around their apartment and scaring their friends. Or they’re mourning a death in the family as removed from the family as time zones and oceans will prevent. I have written about these things and posted them on my WordPress blog a couple of weeks ago. I know that many of you read this for escape and positivity, so I’ll do my best to bring it.

This is, after all, a pretty interesting place.

Take, for instance, today. the fact that one of my students called last night as Brett and I were putting on a disc of Six Feet Under, season 4 (um—chyeeeah!), and asked if I could help out with their movie the next day at one. I, happy to fill a free two hours, appeared today at the UIC gym, which is separated from the patio in front of the library by open air and a chain link fence, as if we were at decked out in work out clothes that ever since the cold wave that (I let) wreck my half-marathon training, I have neglected. As it turned out, I was the only extra in their movie, and when I wasn’t not-looking at the camera and lifting weights with my extra-buff biceps, I was sitting to the side not understanding their Cantonese and reading about a wily Scotsman who stole tea recipes from the Chinese during the 1850s.

Incidentally, I didn’t realize green and black tea were both from the same plant. Also, I didn’t realize that the Chinese dyed tea to actually be colored green to sell to the English before their monopoly was broken—and that they dyed it with iron ferrocyanide (cyanide!) and gypsum, which breaks down to what in high doses is essentially a nerve gas. Did I know this? No. Am I surprised? Not really.

Anyway, lets get back to the show. Literally. Meg runs the drama club, and their performance was tonight and was divided into two parts, each part produced, written, and directed by the students. The first one was called “Fantastic UIC”, which centered on a time rift that caused Snow White, Cinderella (who feud violently a la Gossip girl), Godzilla (who is dating Cinderella), King Lear, and Troy (yeah, we don’t know why they think Troy was someone’s name in that legend—he steals Cinderella from Godzilla by distracting him with a Trojan Horse full of “sexy ladies), to converge together at UIC to fulfill the College President’s dream of making the school famous and prosperous. The second show was called “E.T. On Earth” and featured two aliens named “E” and “T” who were visiting Earth on holiday. Apparently the only places worth visiting on Earth were UIC, Britain (where Juliet was helped by her three fairy godmothers to win back a drunken Romeo’s heart), “Hamburger-America-Hamburger” (where they did a pretty rad Heroes knock off), China (where three girls on their way to the mall are accosted by a kung-fu master and kicked his ass), and Hollywood, where Spider Man and an old man have a fight against a black background, assisted in their “wire-work” by a group of men dressed in black wearing black face masks. I promise I’m not making this up. I promise.

At one point one of the students in the Heroes segment, dressed in a blue cape, yelled at the villain, “What gives you qualification to have what is in my brain!!!” I laughed so hard that I distracted the audience. Honestly, that’s probably the most American thing that they could have said.

I got a half an hour off and then went to rehearse with my Glee Club, an un-UIC-endorsed knock-off of my American Pop club that includes some of my enthusiastic club members. I’m playing guitar for them while they sing three pop songs to entertain people who have come for the English Language Center’s conference this Friday night. They’re singing “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, “Grace Kelly” by Mika, and “All These Things I’ve Done” by the Killers complete with choreography. That’s the good thing about being amongst people who don’t speedily catch on to sarcasm. They’re down for everything. I promise I’ll try to get video. I promise.

At the foot of the Casino Lisboa

Also, I finally went to Macau, despite the fact I didn’t run the half-marathon. Stephanie and I waited on Sunday morning for two hours at the border crossing until it was Sunday afternoon. The last time I threw that many elbows I was in karate. You have to, though. There was no line until we were wedged into metal-lined lanes, and the tiny women behind me pushed, put hands in between me and Stephanie’s linked arms, put their feet as far as they could from behind us in front of our feet, until I just decided to use my prodigious Swede-hips to let them know they had foolish ideas.

I won.

The only reason Stephanie and I went was to get a sandwich from Angela’s Cafe, which we heard was “on the second floor of some mall—when you get to the border you just get on the green shuttle and walk down the street and then you see a mall—Macau’s small, you’ll see it.”

That was a direct quote from more than one person.

About the fourth mall we walked into was it, after pursuing three different cross streets, walking into the Wynn Casino and watching a giant tree come out of the ceiling and change from bright green to gold, and panicking about all the traffic being reversed yet again. As we rode the escalator from the swanky make-up floor of a department store onto a swanky perfume-floor, I could see a wall of baguettes and croissants in the corner and nearly lost my cool. I built my sandwich: jumbo fresh croissant, pesto, mozzarella, tomato, roast beef and real sweet baby Jesus in his golden fleece diaper AVACADO!!! If you take these things for granted, well then stop it. Stop it right now.

Anyway, these have been my adventures. I’ve posted some new pictures on flickr (I’m emilysings) of Macau, and of some adventures with my students. Also the sandwich.

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