Most of you already know this, but my first article was finally published in Dushikuaibao last Friday (the 13th!). I had been searching the online edition of the paper for a few Fridays in a row only to be disappointed, and I was beginning to think that I’d completely misunderstood Karen, the editor of the English Weekly Page. Maybe they didn’t want my writing after all.
So I was completely thrilled to pull up DSKB’s website last Friday to find that my article was included!
After my first class was over that day, I ran/walked down to the corner’s newsstand and bought 5 copies. The woman attending the stand seemed confused about why I wanted so many (and actually, I would’ve purchased 10 but Friday’s papers are really heavy, extended editions and I have little weeny arms), or maybe I just wanted her to seem confused so it would justify what I did next: I opened the top paper to my article’s page and pointed first to the article, then to myself, saying, “It’s me! It’s me!” She turned the paper to face her, studied me, studied the page, and then gave me a big smile and thumbs up. Highlight of my day.
The rest of that afternoon was a happy blur. I showed the article to my 1:20 class of Senior 1s because we’re particularly close and I was excited to share it with them. They asked me if I knew what the Chinese headline said (bless their hearts, they still think I’m learning Chinese), and when I said no, they told me that it translates to: “See Hangzhou through this foreigner’s eyes: she loves milk tea.” I asked them if they thought strangers would start buying me milk teas.
Trisha and I had planned to go to Shanghai in the morning to treat ourselves to a swanky hotel (more on that in a later post, but basically that amazing and restful weekend ended with me picking out my wedding dress in Shanghai), so Friday had an early bedtime for me. At about 9:30, just as I was falling asleep, my phone rang; Daisy, one of the students I tutor, was calling.
Me: (groggily) “Hello?”
Daisy: “Jennifer? I just saw your article!”
Me: (bolting upright) “YOU DID?!?!?!?! AAAAAHH THAT’S WONDERFUL! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR CALLING!”
At which point I decided I was as famous in Hangzhou as J. Biebs. When Daisy and her 2 friends came over for our regular Sunday night tutoring session, she brought a copy of the article. I asked her how she’d come across it; did she regularly read DSKB or the English Weekly Page?
She told me that she was perusing the paper and saw something about a foreigner loving milk tea and knew it had to be me. My heart was warmed. And then she got this embarrassed but dutiful look on her face and said, “I have to tell you something else, about something you wrote.” I got really nervous, thinking I’d written something totally inaccurate about Hangzhou and trying furiously to figure it out. Before I could, she said, “You say in here that you spit on the sidewalk, and I have to tell you…we consider that very bad manners.”
I couldn’t help but smile. People here spit everywhere, all the time, and do so quite loudly. I’ve had taxi drivers gather phlegm into their throats and then hold it in their mouths until we hit a stoplight. I’ve seen old ladies drop pearls of spit right onto the bus floor. It doesn’t even gross me out anymore; it’s just what people do. I told Daisy that I usually only do it when I’m running, but that yes, I’m totally guilty. I did say, truthfully, that I’m not usually as loud as other people and that must count for something.
She laughed and I laughed and I’m just hopeful that the next time I feel the need, someone hears me and instead of being grossed out, says, “Aren’t you that Jenniferrosenelson from Dushikuaibao? How great to meet you! Please let me buy you a milk tea!”