Things I miss:
-my softball team
-STL in general
What? Did I just write that?
If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be living in STL one day, I would have laughed. My experience with Midwest cities pretty much ended at Grand Rapids and Detroit, and I had become pretty accustomed to life on the east coast.
But the opportunity presented itself. And, always up for adventure, we moved to the center of the country.
My mantra on the 18 hour drive from NY to MO was It can't be that bad!
And in fact, it isn't. STL won us over pretty quickly, in fact. But still, in that first year if you had told me we'd be buying a house there I would have resisted. It was fun, sure, but not for more than 2 years. Maybe 2.5. I missed my friends in the Northeast.
Then I switched to a PhD program.
Then the tax incentive for home buyers came around.
And meanwhile, bit by bit, STL grew on me.
The urban grit.
South City in general.
I'm not saying we'll be hosting Christmas for the grandkids there or anything, but when I get back in 3 weeks, it will be nice to be home.
(With that said, one big gigantic thing I do not miss: humidity.
And STL weather in general in summer and winter. Civilized people should not live that way.)
Labels: st. louis
It is not the desert heat or the blazing sun. For that I wear long sleeves and a hat. (Note to eap: and sunscreen!)
What I meant to do after dinner:
Life here at the Naiman Desertification Research Station is pretty slow. I'm not really complaining-- after 6 months of total insanity, an enforced slower pace is probably good for me. However, sometimes I need a little more stimulation than hanging out with myself and my laptop in my little room every night.
Since I am a 'foreign guest', I am housed in the newest building (see dormitory). It has rooms for senior staff and professors on the first floor, rooms for Chinese guests on the third floor, and rooms for foreign guests on the second floor. I assume these divisions are mostly due to the style of toilet, but I haven't seen inside any other rooms to check out any other differences. I happen to be the only guest at the moment, so I have this floor all to myself. I am also the only woman in the building, as the staff, professors and researchers (kind of like post-docs) are all men.
The Chinese graduate students (male and female) are housed in a building across the courtyard.
For the most part this is fine with me. I mean, I 'm not going to complain that I have my own bathroom and I don't have to hike out to the outhouse building all night. And it is not as if all the other grad students are over there having a party every night. Most of them spend their evenings in their rooms on their laptops too. But they have their doors open, and people are coming and going and chatting and whatever... there is camaraderie.
It is not so much that I am lonely, it's that I am bored with myself and my simple little evening routine of blog posting and yoga podcasting and chinese lesson listening....
I leave for a conference in Beijing in 2 days and I am so ready for a break. I booked my train ticket a day early so I can have a day in the city (still by myself, but at least there will be things to do!). Then in the eve I'll meet up with some other American grad students for some good old-fashioned happy hour. Hallelujiah.
However, I did make a few wise choices. The smartest things I packed were:
plastic baggies of various sizes
I was feeling crazy for bringing them, but all were infinitely more wise than the 4 pairs of shoes I left back in Beijing in a fellow grad student's closet.
oh, the FOOD.
The thing about being at a field station is that I have to eat what they prepare, and I can't really skip a meal, or people get worried. However, this is not a prob b/c the food here is excellent, and I am going to come back to the US all roly-poly from my three gigantic meals every day. So many different veggies at every meal! (all cooked with meat in them, of course). Americans don't know what they are doing with vegetables.
This does not stop the station director from asking me quite regularly if I wouldn't really, honestly, rather be eating hot dogs. I try to explain that even in America I eat more Chinese food than hot dogs, but he's lived in the US, and knows that American-style Chinese food is pretty much the same thing as hot dogs, when compared to real Chinese food.
Me: "Han hao chi."
Everyone around me: chuckle, chuckle 'han hao chi!' chuckle chuckle.
All in good fun, though. Right?
Speaking of trying to learn the language, I might have to put all of that on the back burner a bit and focus on the real task at hand (research) and the impending Task of Doom which is my oral exams, which I have to take when I get back, and for which I should be spending all of my free time studying, except that when you don't even know how to ask the nice man with the keys for the key to the lab, and it is locked, and you need to work on said research, well... sometimes I go in circles regarding the priorities.
I have mentioned in the past how spending long hours in the desert turns my brain into a budget, poorly curated diner jukebox. Today's hit? Red Red Robin.
Yeah, that one. The bob-bob-bobbin'-along one.