It has been a fairly quiet weekend, punctuated by short bursts of activity. Most of the time I have spent in my now so deliciously clean apartment (it takes at least a few days for it to get messy again, since I'm the only one living here) wearing these ridiculous pajamas. Don't laugh at me, they came with the place. At first, they were way too small so I just stuffed them in a cupboard. Recently, since I've lost so much weight on the "foreign student in China" diet (highly recommended!), I thought I'd get them out and try them again. They fit, but still look incredibly ridiculous. In case you can't tell, they are cut vaguely sailor-ish and are decorated with dark red anime figures. Let me emphasize again that I didn't buy them. I DID, however, wash them, so don't worry on that score either. Hurray pajamas! I didn't bring any from the States, considering them a bit of an extravagance. But now that I have some, I am enjoying them a lot.
All morning on Saturday I spent talking on skype. At least that's what it seemed like. In the afternoon, I went to the grocery store for a few necessities (resisted buying anything chocolate--gotta make sure those pajamas keep on fitting). Barely had a I returned when I was summoned out again for dinner with YHz, another graduate student CD, and my advisor from the States. He looked tired! A 14 hour flight will do that to you. But he was jolly enough. Actually, he was very pleasant when tired--took the hyperactive edge off him and made him more like a normal person.
We had a gorgeous meal at the hotel restaurant (the university's own hotel) including sizzling beef, radish rolls, duck and scallions, dumplings, beer (even me!), some really pleasant green vegetable (not sure what, but at least not bitter!), and "Eight Precious" tea. The last was especially grand because the tea leaves (and other precious items--flowers, berries) were in our cups and the cups were filled with hot water by servers with long-spouted teapots. And I mean LONG; we're talking more than two feet long. Presumably it was so they wouldn't intrude into your conversation while refilling your cup. I was tickled!
The language of communication was Chinese, only the second time my advisor and I had heard each other speak it! (The last time was such a disaster, and neither of us spoke that much!) It went just fine. We both got our points across, though neither of us was perfect. YHz was highly pleasant and complimentary toward me. The graduate students was shy but reasonably friendly. I drank enough to be not shy but not so much that I acted dumb. Overall, I'd pronounce the thing a success.
As for today, I woke up having had some kind of action/suspense type dream. I was mulling it over when my phone rang--my advisor seeing if I was free to have breakfast with him! Okay! I forgot everything about the dream, except that it was stressful. Got ready at top speed, managed to meet him only a couple minutes late.
I'm not one of those people who has a crush on my advisor or even a sense of overwhelming admiration. But over the years I have come to appreciate his strengths and understand the types of things he can and can't willing to do to help me. Sometimes it takes time to set this kind of relationship straight, and I am proud of what I have managed to do in that regard, especially given how rocky it was in the beginning.
So we had an amusingly ghetto breakfast at one of the cafeterias, scrambled egg, vegetable baozi (steamed dumplings), something rather like a meat-stuffed pancake, and black rice soup. It was my treat because I had a cafeteria card. I jokingly mentioned my dad's suggestion that I take him out for a nice dinner (not really a possibility since his dinners are all booked) and said that I was treating him to a sub-$1 breakfast instead. This made him feel better about my paying! Then we went in search of caffeine (not obtainable at the cafeteria), and ended up having a couple of cappuccinos. All the while discussing things.
Actually we talked rather little about my research. I always intend to talk to him more about it, but never quite do. I think it's because he takes a very hands off approach in that regard. The topic he originally helped me to develop has taken me into very different territory than his specialization. In fact, I get this reaction from most of my former advisors or people I consider very much more knowledgeable than me. It's not that they're not interested in my stuff. It's just that they don't feel qualified to give advice. I am hoping this is a good thing! But it also leaves me feeling kind of alone in uncharted territory.
Instead we discussed things like graduate school admissions, recent hiring decisions, differences in style between Chinese and American academic methodologies, pedagogical strategies here and how they've changed (or not changed) in the past 20 years, and things about my projected timeline for the rest of my time in graduate school. As usual it was him reassuring me that there's no need to hurry. I never know how to take that!!
The rest of the day I spent a) working on LGs's translation and b) looking at some bizarre things on the internet, some of its dark corners. Suffice it to say that some of the You-Tube videos are...weird to say the least.
For lunch I had this semi-Greek salad. No Calamata olives or feta, but I used ordinary cheese. No basalmic vinegar or olive oil, but I used white vinegar, salt, and pepper. The cucumbers here are exceptionally good--grown locally (not sure if that's a good thing, given all the pollution, but I peeled them at least) and at a pinnacle of fresh crispness. Why aren't our cucumbers this delicious! I bought them at the supermarket but they taste like they just came out of someone's garden. Also, for those of you with a social conscience, I bought ALL organic. Sure they cost at least twice as much, but when twice as much still weighs in under a dollar, I have no problem with that. Also, I washed everything in boiling water before eating it.
In the evening I did a bit of running around for my advisor and then had a pretty healthy dinner at the cafeteria. Now I'm back here getting set to work again. Must…work…