For the past two weeks I have felt buried in work, grading papers, that is. Because I am too scrupulous simply to put check marks (or to split infinitives, even when no one’s watching), this took hours upon hours. And, to be sure, it was my own inflated sense of purpose that led to my assigning too much at too close intervals. The students, I must add, absorbed my foolishness with a great degree of diligence. The assignments were, I believe, substantive, but that only slightly diminishes the wrongheadedness of thinking I could do more — indeed should do more — when less work probably would have been the better way. Having said this, I now have my head once again slightly above water, which is a good thing.
Tomorrow we will be finishing seven straight days of classes. This reminds me of an lawyer joke I once heard in New York City: “What’s so great about Fridays?” “There are only two days left in the work week.” The reason for the seven days of classes is that this past week was the National Holiday, well, holiday. It marks the founding of the PRC back in 1949. Because this is a high time for travel within China, I took the advice of everyone and didn’t try to see any famous site. Instead, I took time to relax, get caught up on some reading (I read all of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm), and graded papers. I also began reading once again a George MacDonald story, one that I had to suspend when I moved here. Thank you, Jennifer Anne, for sending it to me!
As we were back in school this week, I was able again to continue my table-tennis tutorial with one of my students, a young lady who is ranked no. 2 in Beijing. I cannot play her without learning something of value, and I have made real progress. I watched her practice yesterday afternoon with the school’s team. The word “awe” comes to mind. Now, if only I could move ahead in the same way with my study of Chinese.
Tomorrow afternoon begins another weekend, one which I will use to regroup a bit.
For those of you who are reading this, if you want to get an excellent 10-minute introduction to the Middle Kingdom, click on the following link and watch: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/yGV349V6Sjg/
Next time, I hope to add some more photos. I wish I had had my camera at the ready as I rode home this evening, as I saw a not altogether unusual site, but one that continues to make me smile. It was of a daughter (I assume) riding on the back of a bicycle, sideways on the bike rack, driven by (I assume) her mother. The daughter was dutifully holding an umbrella, keeping off the traces of light rain. Seeing such things is among the simple pleasures that makes life in Beijing so livable.