Signs of settling in

Sorry for the depressive mood of last week’s post.  But here is something to cheer you up!  Well, it cheers me up at least! 🙂  7 signs that show I am actually settling in well:

7. I have started recieving junk mail in Cantonese.  I like to make up what it says, and that always makes for a good time…

6. Life doesn’t halt when it rains – I still have to go to work, to the grocery store, and walk home from a friend’s house after a movie…

5. I recieved my first bill yesterday – water bill – $3.10…gotta love it!

4. The baker around the corner from me not only knows what baked good I need to start my morning off (pineapple bun!), but has started saving extra tidbits for me at the end of the day to pass along (garlic bread, tuna sandwiches…)

3. The insane amount of crowds still annoy me, but not as much….

2. My doorman and I have lovely exchanges every evening – even though neither of speak a bit of the other’s language.  Last night, he had pictures of him when he was in the Navy to show me!

1. Today, I laughed.  I mean, really laughed.  Laughed till my sides hurt and there were tears in my eyes.  It felt good.  It was the first time I have really just let go since I’ve been here.  It helps.

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An emotionless post

The past week or so has been very emotionally void for me.  And without emotions, it is really hard to listen to music.  The music files in my ipod – randomness that they are – are displeasing to my head lately.  The slightest hint of emotion is overload for me.

I can’t handle sad music.  I have a lot of sad music.  Patty can be pretty sad.  John Mayer is depressing.  I can’t handle them – I deal with enough sad during my day.  I spend my days transcribing stories that are sad – women abused, mistreated.  I eat lunch with sad women, telling me how they miss their children.  Sad is the rally in memory of the murdered domestic worker in Canada, and the government telling their own people they “don’t want to get involved” – literally closing the door on any hope they had for justice.  I deal with sad every night, when I come home to an empty apartment – when I have to email my family for contact, or hope schedules align in the 12 hour time difference in order to talk to my boyfriend.    So I can’t handle sad right now.

I can’t handle angry right now.  I have a good bit of angry music in my file too.  Chick music can get angry sometimes.  And somehow I ended up some of Nate and Kris’ metal collection.  But anger is too overwhelming.  Where do we start?  There seems so much to be angry at.  Rights abused, people forgotten, a place that is supposed to stand for safety bars the very people they are supposed to protect.  Since when is it ok for people to be treated as less than slaves?  Workers refused food, access to water, forced to sleep on the kitchen floor without even a blanket.  It makes me want to yell, to scream, to beat down the doors of the employers and government asking where do they get off? How did you gain power over the life of another human being?  Does it make you feel like a bigger person to step on someone else?  Are you really that bully on the playground taking the milk money from the poor kid, when you have chocolate milk in your thermos? 

 I can’t handle happy right now either.  Jack Johnson, Ella, KT and those Barenaked Ladies – usually my sing-a-longs, I switch off.  Happy just seems fake and displaced right now.  It is not so much that I am experiencing a lack of joy.  I am still surrounded by laughter, as the Filipinos are some of the most genuinely happy people I have ever met.  But the sadness and anger take over sometimes – and its hard to sing about horses and love right now.

Neither can I handle worship music right now.  I am not feeling particularly reflective or worthy right now.  When I write, even my words seem bored on the screen.  It is hard to process some of the things I see, some of the things I hear.  There is so much good and bad all mixed together, my head doesn’t know what to do with it all. 

If my life had a soundtrack – which it sometimes does as my ipod has become as important to remember as my keys when I leave the house – if my life had a soundtrack, I think it would be silent right now.  I can’t handle my favorite songs right now. I can hardly handle the silence.

Update

I know I need to update this thing – I’m sorry.  I really do have a lot to say.  The trouble is, I think that I have TOO much to say!!  So while I am trying to process what needs to be posted on here, and what doesn’t, something to tide you over…

 On one of our hikes recently, my friends thought it would be a good idea to rent bikes and try to ride them UP the mountain.  I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 14.  So for me, that was NOT a good idea.

Luck

Luck is a funny thing.  What does it mean exactly?  Who is lucky?  Am I lucky?  Why? Just because I happen to be born white?  Because to me, that is all in your perspective.  To some, white skin is that lucky charm, the ticket to high class.  To me, it is often a burden, something that holds me and others back from experiencing certains parts of a culture.  When I stop to get take out on my way home from work, the cook looks at my skin, and puts a fork in my bag instead of chopsticks.  Never mind I don’t even own a fork at the moment.   

 Is it lucky that I was born into a certain amount of wealth and privildge?  Even though I did nothing to earn any of that.  So does that make the child born into poverty unlucky?  Because the way that I see it, that child has a better chance of living a life full of appreciation. Everything comes at a price.  A meal may mean that another member of the household doesn’t eat that day.  A blanket to cover with at night is given with hands blistered from work. They know where their gifts come from, and don’t take them for granted. I would rather be thankful than rich.  No question. 

There is a certain monk that hangs around near where I live.  In this section of town where anything goes as far as fashion, he often blends into the crowd.  He flows easily with the fast-paced crowd, keeping his bowl of offering held out.  Shoppers and old women on the way home from the market drop a few coins in.  The monk has a kind and appreciative face, and he bows his head with every clink in his bowl.  There is an assurance in each bow of his humble head that lets the giver know that their money will be well used in a monestary or in the life of one in need. 

There is another monk, near where I work.  This monk is easy to spot, his mustard colored robes standing out against the black and grey of buisness suits.  He stans apart from where the majority of people are lined up, waiting for the bus or stopped to answer a cell phone call.  He has no bowl of offering stretched out, and his eyes search the crowd.  He picks his target, and glides over to them, offering them wishes of luck and wealth.  Most people ignore him completely, attending to their blackberry or briefcase.  He spots me, and follows me to the steps that lead to the garden near work.  “Luck and wealth for you.”  He offers me a token, a golden oval paper with Chinese characters written on both sides.  I hold up my hand, and shake my head.  “No thank you.”  He offers again, “No asking for money.  Offering luck.  Luck and wealth for you sister.”  So I accept his token, wondering where the luck is hidden on this slip of paper.  Then the monk holds out a small book, he opens it up, and written on the inside, “1 year luck – $100.  2 year luck – $200.  3 year luck – $300”  I shake my head again, holding open my wallet to show it is empty.  He loses his braced smile, and snatches the token back and walks quickly away.  I stand there astonished.  I didn’t know the luck had a price.  Nor did I know that one got to chose who recieved, or could keep their luck.  This monk and I have had many run-ins since.  I pass that way 4 days a week for work.  He sees me every day.  And every day he tries again and again to sell me his golden luck.  I have tried talking to him – but he is not intersted in conversation – only what he can sell me.  I saw this same monk today, pass by a begger that regulars the steps of our church.  As the monk’s robes were lifted to avoid the old man’s plastic bowl, a young woman was following behind him, a young child clutching her hand.  She reaches in her purse and pulls out a handful of coins.  The mother hands the coins the the child, who happily drops them in the old man’s begging bowl.  She smiles at him as she skips away.  Is it luck that the little girl feels security in her mother’s care?  Is it luck that the old man was in the path of the thoughtful mother?  So what exactly is the monk trying to sell?  If it is the kind of luck that ignores need, I’m not interested.  I will pass up your golden token, your offers of luck and wealth.  I would rather recieve hope.  I would rather offer hope.  And I don’t think that they make a golden token for that sir. 

We’re sickly

My computer and I that is.  I’m posting from work right now.  I’ve had a horrible headache/cough combo for pushing a week now.  My computer…well, she is going to the doctor tomorrow. 😦 

Not better, just different

It strikes me some days, how incredibly different my life is here in Hong Kong.  Some things are better, some not so much.  But its the little things that are different, that I find funny.  Check it out:

Where I work:

 

Where I used to work:

How I was “celebrated” at work: (My last day)

How I am celebrated at work here: (In case you can’t tell, they are singing happy birthday to me in Bahash!)

How I got around in the States: (I didn’t actually have a picture of my car) 

How I get around here:

Fountain in downtown Lexington: 

Fountain in Lantau:

Horse race track in Hong Kong:

Hong Kong Horse Track

Horse Race track in Kentucky:

Dinner here:

Dinner at home: (ok, true, this is Thanksgiving dinner…its just the only picture of a dinner in KY!)

My dog in Kentucky

Same dog, its just now he has a foster mom, and I don’t get to see him 😦

My street in Kentucky:

My street here: (I am the short building to the right of the square grey building)

I love my Saturdays

During the week, I work a lot.  My work varies from day to day, and I love the organization I work for, so that makes most of my days really enjoyable.  I am one of the lucky few who loves her job and looks forward to each day I can be a part of the amazing ministry they are doing. 

All that said, I love my days off too!  Saturday is my only day off during the week (with the exception of holidays of course), and I look forward to those days that I can get out of the city and explore what it is that makes Hong Kong so beautiful.  Hong Kong is made up of over 220 islands!  So whenever I have time, I hop a ferry and go explore one of the outlaying islands.  It is always a fun adventure visiting the small fishing villages, the local temples, and the hiking trails.  Most of the islands have beautiful mountains, with well-marked and kept trails.  For the last few Saturdays I have spent my afternoons hiking.  I love the feel of the sun beating down on my shoulders, the ground inclining to the peak, the sound of bamboo stalks acting as natural wind chimes, the fun surprises you find along the way – a butterfly on a bright red flower, a squatter’s shanty, a delicate spiderweb with its creater laying in wait.  Each island offers something different, each mountain is a new experience.  Each moment spent out in the green, the heat and the climb, gives calm to a city-weary soul.  My greatest times of reflection and prayer are spent in the hike.  There is a freedom to wander, to enjoy, to be a part of nature. 

I may not make it to all 220 islands before my time is up, but I am sure going to try.