Day 1: Chinese Class and Other Adventures

Today was the first day of the Spring 2019 semester.

It was a really hard day, but honestly, I’m really proud of myself.

My son needed a last minute ride to school, putting me an hour behind schedule on a day where I already had very little give time.  But, I got to take him to school so he could serve as a “student ambassador” to visiting students from China, and during the ride, we got to talk and he reassured me (once again) that my first day of Chinese class would go well.

My 10am meeting was super productive and great, but went until 11:50 and instead of eating lunch quickly in between the meeting and my class, I ended up just snacking on a few (delicious) chocolate shortbread cookies and rushing to make it to class in time.

My first Chinese class. Chinese 101.  As I texted my husband after the class, “This was the most awkward educational experience of my entire life.”  I am great at school. I have always been great at school. School has always been my comfort zone.  But, until today, I have always been pretty much the traditional student.  Younger than most of my peers and progressing along the expected timeline.  Today, I was, by far the oldest student in the room, and I felt awkward even entering the room.  I think I enter the room like a professor (because I mean, it’s a part of my identity). There’s a cadence in my step, and I was not dressed like a student (because for the rest of my day, I wasn’t a student). So, when I first walked in the room, everyone paused (or at least it felt like they did).  Then, after saying hello to the people around us, we had to do introductions: Name, year at CSULB, major.  SIGH.  I didn’t really know what to say so I said I was faculty working on my second bachelors in Chinese studies, which is, of course, the truth.  And then, because I have been reading rooms of students for the last 18 years, I saw the sideways glances exchanged.  I could barely find a partner willing to work with me on the dialogue. It was awkward. But, maybe it’s awkward for many people, maybe it was also awkward for me 20 years ago and I’ve just forgotten.  I’m not sure.

I had an hour between my class and my second meeting of the day with the dean and some other colleagues.  I scarfed down 3 pieces of leftover slices of pizza from a birthday party my daughter attended over the weekend.  Then I spent the next hour addressing e-mail.  It took the whole hour and I didn’t finish.

My next meeting should have ended with JUST enough time to get to my son on time before his martial arts lesson.  But, traffic was terrible. I was late getting him from the library to Tae Kwon Do, and just before arriving to pick him up, the low tire pressure light went on in the car.  I dropped him off, went to the nearby gas station, checked the pressure on all 4 tires, determined which tire was low, pumped it, and recalibrated the tire pressure system.  So much for using that time to write.

Our plan for dinner was a local taqueria, but they didn’t have fish tacos or quesadillas so we detoured to get dinner for the whole family because, after being gone all weekend, I didn’t have time to plan meals for the week.

When we finally arrived home, despite all there was still left to do, we had family dinner time. I caught up on a few e-mails. Then, Nate and I did family Chinese homework time, which was awesome for both of us.  It was awesome for me because I actually feel like I’m learning something and it’s an accomplishment to see a page full of characters in my own handwriting. It was awesome for him because he actually got his homework done much more quickly (because he was focused on doing it with me instead of with the distraction of 2+ electronic inputs). I tucked in Jo, finished my character writing for the day, responded to a few more e-mails, and finally, sat down to blog.

It was an absolutely crazy day.

But I’m really, really proud of myself.

Today, I did not let my fear stop me.  Today, I did not feel guilty for what I couldn’t accomplish.  Today, I didn’t get angry at the things I couldn’t control. Today, I did something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I am learning a lot, but perhaps most importantly, I’m learning patience with myself.