Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A day in the life...

Our beautiful city on a somewhat clear day
Today as I was rushing out the door to class, answering questions for the Ayi and trying to remember my plans for the day, I was thinking how every day really has a flavor all its own.  And this blog, meant to capture those moments, has been sitting idle as I try to grasp how to write down in words what our lives here are like.  Then it hit me - just write about one day.  One day full of language barriers and cultural differences that absorb our lives.  One day can show a lot (and in my defense, this post might be several days put together).  

On Tuesdays, Ayi comes.  She's our house help and I have her coming twice a week to help out with washing dishes (we don't have a dishwasher), dusting, sweeping, mopping and cleaning the bathroom.  She is a huge blessing!  Especially now that I am in language class, my capacity to clean my house has dwindled.  Knowing that I can host others anytime without stressing over the fact that I haven't mopped the floor in two weeks, well, let's just say it's liberating. 

7am - We get up and get ready for the day.  Ayi is supposed to come at 8, however, she has been coming around 7:30.  We had to have our friend call and ask her to come no more than 5 minutes early; 5 minutes early is fine, 30 minutes early is not.  I make coffee, jump in the shower and make sure I have Ayi's task list for the day ready to go.   

Construction going on in our complex to replace
the sewer lines has disturbed our sense of harmony. No
more afternoon naps for me!
8am - Ayi shows up and gets going on dishes.  We retreat to the office to get some work done.  Sometimes it is email or I do homework for class.  Usually we also use this time to read the One Year Bible.  On Monday, Wednesday & Friday I have class from 8 to noon, but on Tuesday and Thursday, class doesn't start until 10:30 so I have some extra time at home (which is heavenly).  

9am - Ayi interrupts to show me the sink is leaking.  Then we notice that the TV & computer screen seemed to have been cleaned with pledge...hmmm.  How to address this?  One of the difficulties of having an Ayi is communication.  Not only the language barrier, but also the cultural barrier.  How do I correct her without making her lose face?  (If you don't know what face is...well...that's another post)  I proceeded to ask her if she used pledged to clean the TV.  She said no, and then showed me the glass cleaner.  After trying to articulate why she can't use it, which I didn't do so well, I finally had to just tell she can't use it and showed her how I would like her to clean it.  This also happened with the rug in the office.  She kept moving it in order to vacuum it, which involved pulling it out from under the couch and putting it back without the nonslip mat underneath.  Today, she took the nonslip mat and folded it and put it in the spare bedroom.  So, as much as I didn't want to correct her twice, I went and got the nonslip mat and asked her why she put it in the other room.  I did not understand her answer.  At all.  Instead, I played charades and showed her how I could slip on the rug and fall if the mat was not underneath it.  I wish I could've gotten it on video.  Anyways, it communicated my point. 

10:30am - I bike the 20 minutes to class.  Did I mention it's 90F degrees outside?  And I bike uphill - both ways!  I know, I'm saving these stories for posterity's sake.  Today, just after entering campus, I rode by a kitten that appeared to have just been hit by a car.  It was sad.  Sadder still, there was a Chinese student who stopped to take its picture.  In my class are students from the US, Kazakstan, Pakistan, Iran, Korea and Vietnam.  The Koreans have terrible pronunciation and at any given time, only about the half the class knows what's going on.  Our teacher is moving us through the book really fast.  We have about 6 weeks left & 9 lessons left to go.  I have a feeling we are just going to plow through regardless of who is keeping up.  My favorite class moment is when our teacher asks, "Do you understand?" To which half of us will respond with blank stares or a resounding "no."  However, unless someone asks a specific question, she just chuckles and moves on.  没问题!

12pm - I head back home for lunch.  Traffic isn't as crazy as it is in the morning (especially at 8am), but I'm still dodging bikes and pedestrians and trying to stay out of the way of the city buses (which kind of go wherever they want).  And now it's hotter and I'm thinking I might need to shower again when I get home.  Once home, we have lunch - usually tuna sandwiches or mac and cheese, and then spend time working, doing homework, language tutoring, staff or business meetings, etc. Afternoons are usually pretty busy and it's unusual to find us both home.  If it's Monday, Wednesday or Friday I try to sneak in a nap, too (but usually fail) - four hours of class really drains your brain!

What's a blog post without a picture of Samson?
5pm - Time to start dinner, what to have?  Right now, bird flu is a big deal over here so chicken is hard to find.  When I do cook, I usually cook Western food.  Nachos are a staple for us.  Though right now finding tortilla chips has become an issue.  Surprisingly, refried beans, salsa and tortillas are easy finds around town at various import stores.  I'm becoming a pro at cornflake chicken, but that's hard to make happen when they're pulling chicken off the shelves.  I guess it's pork.  And asparagus just came in season!

7pm - We have friends over on Tuesday and Thursday nights for study time.  We love having them over!  During a recent camping trip, several friends were worried about the Hubby because they have noticed that we "always eat sugary food" and there was no sugary food on the camping trip.  Ha!  I think I need to stop feeding our friends cookies and pop when they come over to visit!  I promise we don't eat that much sugary food.

9-10pm - Our friends slowly leave and we collapse on the couch.  We made a new rule recently regarding TV time - no TV after 7pm.  It has actually helped us sleep better, I think.  Though sometimes we do break down and watch a TED talk or the NBC News podcast at night before bed.   We also recently bought a used Xbox, so I have a feeling the TV rule is vetoed until the novelty wears off.  This is our wind down time, unless we play cribbage, then we get our game on (and, for the record, cribbage is one game I usually win). 

That is pretty much a typical day.  Sometimes there are grocery runs, stops at the market for fresh fruits and veggies (mangos are in season - yum!), fabric market shopping, business meetings, or any other array of things that require time because something went wrong.  It's also a long day when we take the subway across the city, but luckily that's only once or twice a week.  Every day has new surprises (like today when Ayi tried to take all our homemade cookies) and every day we are thankful for the opportunity to explore and experience this city!

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting insight into your daily life. Does Steven take language class as well? Maybe he should blog about his day. I think you could write about every day and never have it be the same. Especially if you are acting out how you might fall without a non-slip mat. Reminds me of safety videos we have to watch at work - and we just did last week. Americans will appreciate your safety consciousness! :)