Happy America National Festival Day

Before I do my notes on yesterday, I thought I’d give a thorough explanation of how to pirate music in China.

  • Step 1: Google the name of the song you’d like to pirate.
  • Step 2: Click on the word "download" 下载, which will be on the first item of the search results.
  • Step 3: There is no step 3, you’re already a pirate. You became one in Step 2, Arr!

So as you can see, there’s not much to it.

I showed up early for my lesson last night and ordered dinner before my teacher got there; spaghettini al tonno, or as I like to call it, "spaghetti can-o-tuna." It was good; big capers, olives… Later my teacher showed up and we had a GREAT lesson, from my point of view. It’s funny, though, when I review yesterday’s words, they seem like a boring, academic conversation… which is not one that I was a part of…

  • 利潤 lìrùn: profit (whaaat? when did we say this word?)
  • 發達 fādá: developed (country, etc.); flourishing; prosper
  • 經濟 jīngjì: economy; economic (dang it, I already knew this word!)
  • 高樓 gāolóu: tall building; skyscraper (I figured it out in context, but she wrote it down anyway)
  • 壓力 yālì: pressure; stress (no memory of how this word came up)
  • 願意 yuànyì: be willing; want to; be ready (¡ganas!)
  • 講究 jiǎngjiu: pay particular attention to; stress something; exquisite
  • 話劇 huàjù: stage play; modern drama
  • 實習 shíxí: to practice; field work; work as an intern
  • 政策 zhèngcè: policy
  • 靠邊 kàobiān: keep to the side; move aside; make way

So I’ll do my best to use those words in conversation. I’m meeting Vera for lunch today, maybe I’ll be able to work in a sentence about the economic stress of skyscraper policy.

Anyway, the point was that it was a great class, and I think my teacher is awesome. Can’t wait to talk to her again tonight. This is how my students feel about me as well, right? (crickets)

After class, I walked over to Southern Belle, a southern-themed restaurant that’s no-smoking indoors and respectable patio. It’s where I had my last-day-of-work happy hour a few years ago. It was new back then, and relatively mellow.

On the 4th of July, however, it was chock full of Americans. There was a live duo who picked out some great American hits (Country Roads, American Pie, etc) on guitar and mandolin, back country style. When I met my English friend Cookie, I said, why on earth would you want to meet at an American bar on the 4th of July? We had a laugh about that. There were some Gringo Moments where people started clapping and then lost track of the tempo; or when they forgot the words to, for instance, the Star Spangled Banner.

Later, someone set off a string of fire crackers across the street; a small string of about 500 or 1000, it’s hard to tell. The Americans were all hooting and hollering. After that, some dudes came out of the restaurant with a big box, which Cookie recognized as the 2000块 RMB box of proper shoot-in-the-air-and-explode-in-a-glittery-bloom fireworks. They went down to the corner with that box and set it off.

I’m pretty sure back in the USA that would have been considered a pretty excessive display… some of my countrymen at the bar were moved to the point of howling. But the old China hands, like me and Cookie, we were like… is that it? I’m pretty sure they sell the 1000-string fireworks on the street, people buy it when they’re moving apartments, and set them off when the movers are about to bring in the furniture, to scare off the evil spirits. In other words, the 1000-string fireworks are associated with moving, are totally banal, and are largely ignored.

I had a great time catching up with Cookie. It was really good to see him again. We were there for four hours, talking and enjoying the festivities.

My cab ride home was pretty cool; I got a lady driver. I had forgotten how much nicer the women cab drivers are, you never feel like they’re going to ram their car into someone to teach them a lesson. She chatted with me all the way back to Jinqiao, and when I got out of the car I wished her Happy America National Holiday; she happily returned the sentiment.

What I said was 美国国家节日快乐. When I asked CS later on chat, he said, ahh… I should say "國慶日" that’s the normal way to express that. 美國國慶日快樂, everyone!

CS also gave me a glimpse into the 來 compliment structure (I don’t know the technical name for them):

  • 停下來 slow down and stop
  • 看過來 look over here
  • 走過來 walk over here
  • 追上來 catch up to
  • 跟上來 follow
  • 走上來 walk up here

There may or may not be a systematic way to look at these, but I’m going to wrap my brain around them one-by-one. I have a hunch that they’re easier to learn as chunky collocations, at least at first.

Later today: lunch with Vera. Tonight: Chinese lesson.

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