I registered with the US Embassy last week.
Americans living abroad are encouraged to register with the embassy in case there is an emregency, the embassy will go looking for them. Without registering, I am not on file with the government as living here.
I hadn't done it yet because I'm slightly lazy and just didn't care. No world events have caused me scurrying to make sure I am accounted for. With all that is going on here in Asia, and with the long term commitment I have made to living abroad, I decided that now was a good time to get numbered. (foreigners living abroad - go do it. I shouldn't have waited this long.)
This has given me a new sense of courage in dealing with my pesky, drunkard neighbors, the NK's.
Today when all 3 of the laundry machines (not automatic) for my dorm were being used except the one at the end of the NK hall, I didn't hesitate to wander my pajama-clad, unwashed, sock wearing self down there and load up the machine.
I'm a Believer AND I'm registered with the embassy....CAN'T TOUCH THIS! :) I've got Jesus AND Obama on my side. It's like I won the life lottery.
All was quiet on the hall while I piled my nasty clothes into the washer and turned on the hose to start filling the machine with water (it's basically a large, hand washing machine, I have to dig my hands into it to stir my clothes around. I could complain about this for hours if I had willing ears).
Soon, though, I heard comotion on the hall and realized the NK's were returning from some kind of all-together outing.
The washing machine is in a nook at the end of their hallway, so they couldn't see me just by walking down the hallway. They would have to round the corner to go to the bathroom to see me.
Of course, several of them did have to do their business, so I was noticed, but I just stood there doing my laundry, not really paying attention to anyone. I also let my hair fall around my face so that I couldn't really see anyone, this gave them a chance to look me over without either of us noticing the other's eyes. (this is a trick I do with Chi.nese people, too, I find it gives me space because living here I get stared down so much, if I don't physically see them looking at me, they can gawk, and I don't have to see it.)
After a few minutes something inside me told me to turn around.
I turned around quickly to find half of a face peeking at me from around the corner. He snapped back out of sight when I turned.
Poor baby was scared to walk by me to go to the bathroom. I put on my "pre-school teacher" voice from many moons ago.
Me, softly, "Nihao," (hell0).
Him, softly, "Nihao, Nihao," As he clutched his sides and slid behind me into the bathroom.
A minute later he emerged and glided by me without saying a word. Precious, brainwashed soul.
He was scared of me. Like a beaten puppy. And all I was doing was doing my laundry in my pink jammies. I'll never forget this. What an odd sensation to realize you are feared just for being you/a girl/American/tall/redhead.
I wandered into the open hallway to return some soap to my room and pick up another basket of clothes and lo and behold out walked an NK in his towel. That was a weird moment. One word: skinny.
Then 5 seconds later a young NK appeared (clothed) from out of their communal shower room (half way down the hall I was walking). We just stopped and looked at each other for a minute. I had never seen him before and was stunned to see a young, filled out, normal-ish looking NK.
I continued walking and he followed behind me making "wahh, wahhh" sounds at me until I rounded the corner to my side of the building. Like he had never been that close to a female before. I wanted to trun around, say something to him, befriend him, and see how far I could get in creating an almost friendship with him, but I just kept walking.
5 minutes later when I returned to their hall to pick up my laundry, all was quiet. They had retreated to their rooms where they spend most of their time behind closed doors.
I'm going to be doing my laundry there more often. I plan to become a regular on the hall. I am registered with the embassy, after all.
Oh and Hillary Clinton - no use making Ch.ina upset and having these big talks with the Eastern powers on NK. Just let me know what you want to pass along and I'll let some of the NK leaders know next time I see them. They're frightened of/curious/tolerate me so I'm sure they'll listen. Kapeesh?
Then, tonight I had dinner at Subway with one of my Chin.ese friends, his wife, and a highschool student that my friend tutors in English. I was introduced to be kind of a "way look, talk to a foreigner" situation. I love these Chin.ese friends, though, so I didn't feel exploited.
Half way through the dinner the kid is telling me that he loves history. "Who in history do you admire?" I asked him.
"Um, what?" -me.
"I have nothing to do with this idea!" -my friend.
"Please explain." -me.
He went on to tell me that young Chin.ese people admire Hitler because he was a great leader and a great speaker. He admires Hitler's ability to get people to follow him and thinks he could have been the "father of Germany" if he would have died 39 years earlier. (apparently I slept through history class in HS because I have no idea what that means).
The whole time he was speaking I was so sad. I wanted to say, "I know of another great leader in history who was also a great speaker. He persuaded millions of people to follow him and millions still do today. His message was love and mercy and compassion not violence and hate and murder. His message has inspired the greatest selling book of all time."
But I didn't get into this. It wasn't the right time. I only said, "A person should not only be respected because he has good speaking skills. There are more important things that qualify a leader. Please keep reading more about other great people in history like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela."
What are they teaching these kids in these schools that they are idealizing Hitler?!?! And how the heck can I get through to this kid that he is ideolizing the wrong people without ending up in jail myself? Oh, Chi.na. What a weird place.
Other conversation gems throughout the evening included:
"NK now is like Chi.na 70 year ago."
"All Americans love Hamburger King."
"Why are you 24 years old and not married? Don't you want kids?"
and my personal favorite...
"You are doing a "bo shi" (doctor degree)? You don't look like a PhD. You look like fun."
Cheers, kid. Maybe we'll meet again one day.
My blood tests were normal! Hallelujah!
Last month there was a little bit of a scare. My doctor friend called me all choked up because my tests were abnormal (which would mean a potential return to the USA). It was then concluded that my numbers were out of whack because I had not been told to fast before giving the blood. I redid the tests after fasting and all was ok, but it was still a little nerve wracking. I found out today that my tests from this month are all perfect. My friend even was kind enough to tell me that they, "are surprised a fat girl's blood is so good."
Thanks, turds. :)
Blood tests, NK's, hand washing laundry, Chi.nese highschoolers. My life is a weird adventure. PTL. Hope things are good in your hood.
walk slow. xoxo.