I got a new car yesterday. Well, it's "new to me". It's a 2008 Nissan Altima. It's perfect for me. It doesn't have a key! It has a little pod thingie that you keep in your pocket. To start the car, the pod must be in proximity to a sensor on the dash, and you just push a button. FUTURISTIC. When does the hovering start?
I made sure the car I bought had an aux line-in input. I've sworn off CDs -- seems like a waste of materials, not to mention time and money, to burn CDs of my entire music collection. Having the iPod around is way too convenient.
After I get more settled in, I am going to get custom license plates that say "GAORUIAN" -- my Chinese name -- unless somebody already has it, which I highly doubt ;-) Too bad they can't put Chinese characters on license plates, haha. Pics soon :-)
I've also been looking for a place to live. I looked at a small house (to rent) in Hyde Park today -- but it's not me. Too ... well, too run-down I guess. (In Austin, the code word for that is "funky", especially if the place is in a trendy neighborhood like HP.) I need a bit nicer abode. I've been looking online, and I'll probably get a locator to help me soon. According to my barber today, rent's gone up around town, as the recession hasn't affected prices in Austin too much. People keep moving here!!
I also got a TV. Actually I bid on it on eBay before I left Shanghai. I emailed the seller and was like "You don't have to ship it to China; I'm returning to the US soon." He responded with "Wow you're in China!! That's awesome!! I hope you win!!" and I did :-) So I'm going to pick it up today. Speaking of talking about China with random people, I have already begun. I've talked with, let's see, the woman who gave me the rental car, the woman to whom I returned it, the woman at the desk of my hotel, the woman whose house I looked at today, and the woman who cut my hair today. I talked to all of them about China, and I taught the rental car woman how to say 谢谢, but I'm sure she'll forget soon :-) Of course I also talked about it with Kevin and Shawna and Toby, whom I saw yesterday, endlessly. That'll be par for the course for the next, oh, six months to a year. I remember when I first moved here I kept vocally comparing Austin to Richmond. Now that the comparisons are even more extreme, I'm sure I will talk more about them!
Speaking of China, again, it doesn't feel like the whole year happened. I think that's just because I just got back here yesterday. The change will hit me in a couple of weeks, I think. I am so happy I took all those pictures, though. Downtown today, I mumbled a bit of Chinese to myself in order to remind myself that I did in fact live there. And I took some pictures during my last few days there that I have yet to upload, but I'll probably do that soon (if I can find my camera's USB cable among my possessions at the moment).
I keep wanting to talk to staff/employees (waiters, people at the cash register, etc.) in Chinese. Haha. And when Kevin and I went to dinner last night, the waiter checked up on us like three times. It was so weird! They don't do that in China. You have to flag them down to even order food. And they never come back to see how your meal tastes.
Austin feels peaceful, just like I left it. No tall buildings. Lots of character. Nice people. Good food. Great weather (although it's in the 40s now). It's missing the humming buzz of activity in Shanghai and China. Right now though, that's a good thing.
So when I'm awake now, my friends and family also are awake. That's weird because I'm used to checking my email first thing in the morning and receiving a batch of updates on, you know, what happened while I was asleep. It'll be strange to let events in the US unfold throughout the day, rather than reading about them all at once.
I watched Law & Order on TV yesterday morning and it was comforting. And I drove around Mopac and West Austin today, just soaking things in. Ate lunch at Austin Java. Tonight I'm planning on meeting up with the Austin Hokies to watch VT basketball. It should be a good way to socialize and ease through the jet lag.