April 28, 2008

Xianzai, wo you san ge mingzi ...

First, an announcement:

The fiendish overlords at work have decreed that I am to toil underground in the Shanghai mines, bereft of sunlight and oxygen and Mexican food, for another SEVEN months instead of two. Thanks to this extension, I will be returning to Austin around January 2009, not in July 2008 as originally planned. I screamed for mercy, but they flayed the skin from my bones, ignored my howling, and continued their awful cackling at my plight.

Please, please, save me from this hellish nightmare.



Okay, now that I'm about to get fired -- I'm still not sure whether I'm coming home in late June. I'll let you all know when there's a decision on that. But if anything, this should give you all a chance to save up more vacation time / $$ and visit.


I forgot to mention earlier that I now have a Chinese name, courtesy of my teammates:


If I got the characters right, that should read Gāo Ruìān. Because Chinese people put the last name first, my name in American Pinyin then would be Ruìān Gāo .

Gāo meaning tall (an obvious choice for my 'family name' - sorry Dad, I know you have like, generations of family invested in my last name, but this somehow fits me better ... hahaha)
Ruì meaning auspicious, lucky
meaning peaceful

I like it :-) The best part is that if you put 瑞安 into Google, you get "Ryan". It's like I was born for this name.

The next step is to learn how to write it :-)

This makes three names: 1 American, 1 Hebrew (שִׁמְשׁוֹן), and now 1 Chinese.


The best part about today was that I had an awesome conversation with an older couple on the train home. It was sooooooooooooo great because I understood like 40% of what they said, and we were able to have a semi-meaningful conversation. To prove it, here are some things we talked about:

  • Whether I understand or speak Shanghainese
  • How they don't speak English
  • Where I'm from
  • Whether I'm in town for work, where I work, and what I do (for this last bit I just made the typing-on-a-computer pantomime ... haha)
  • If I like Chinese food
  • If I like spicy Chinese food (don't worry Mom, I won't make you eat any ...)
  • (I then proceeded to tell them about Di Shui Dong, including where it's located)
  • If I like Shanghai
  • When I'm going to Beijing (the conversation started when I noticed the woman reading my Beijing travel guide over my shoulder, so I was like yeah, I'm going on Wednesday)
  • If I'm taking the train or flying
  • Where I live in America
  • How long I've lived in Shanghai
  • How the Line 2 metro is really fast -- I think they said this because they're Shanghainese and have seen the city grow up around them
  • Something about America and 20 years... I 'm guessing, something about how Shanghai will be better (or something along those lines) than America in 20 years ... or how Shanghai has changed so much in 20 years and it's now like America ... you see what I'm dealing with here, I only have so many pieces to this puzzle :-)
There were long stretches where the man was talking and I had NO idea what he was saying ... but I just nodded ... and caught a word here and there. The best part was that because we were on the subway, there were like 7 people were sitting on the bench opposite us, no doubt laughing or something ... but shit man, it's like, I got something out of it, I'm sure the couple enjoyed talking to a lao wai, and if people who watch it get some entertainment value, then everybody wins. I am more than willing to sacrifice what little shame I have to give people a good impression of Americans AND practice my Chinese. After all, I have Chinese class in a friggin' KFC, so I can't claim to be too shy about it.

Also, I ate dinner at a Chinese fast food place, and understood the guy behind the counter a bit ... "Do you want to eat here?" "Do you want anything else?" And I asked whether my dish had pork (It was a Chinese menu, I could only see pictures), and he said yes.

I could be having the worst day ever, I think, and conversations in Chinese like this could turn it all around. It's so incredibly encouraging to have these little moments. But, thankfully I haven't had to test that hypothesis yet :-)


Also, I wrote a mini-article about Saturday's CBL game for one of the (US) baseball sites I frequent. Check it out!


Aunt Ilene said...

Hi Ry
The Chinese symbols for your name didn't show up - just three empty little square boxes. Thought you'd want to know. Love, Aunt I.

Shawna said...

Boooo, hisss! I curse the fiendish overlords who demand that you stay in China a full year! I miss my Ryry, goshdarnit! I hope you will still be able to come home this summer for a brief visit.