I know that many of you are sitting back home and asking yourself, “I wonder what Debbie’s day-to-day life is like?”
Okay, here it is. Enjoy and try not to be too jealous.
7 a.m. – I’m awake. I grab my ipad and iphone to see what kinds of messages have piled up over the night. The ipad informs me that it can’t access my gmail, so I turn on my VPN and check Facebook while I wait for gmail to load. Facebook posts are from the night before, which means that’s not loading either. I reread old posts, which weren’t that interesting in the first place.
7:15 a.m. – I get up and feed the cat her imported and ambassadorial cat food. I exercise. Most days that means I half-heartedly lift weights in the living room because the air is too bad for running outside and because I’ve finally called it quits with Seasons Park’s terrible, horrible, no good gym.
8 a.m. – I call my mother. This phone call – my skype to her land line – may or may not be cut off mid-sentence. I retry the call. It’s busy because Mom hasn’t realized that I’ve been cut off and she’s still talking. I keep trying, and finally I get through.
8:30 a.m. – I have breakfast, usually yogurt mixed with fruit and muesli. I wash the fruit first in tap water and then clean bottled water. I make coffee.
8:45 a.m. – Uh oh. Stomach issues. Was that pear coated with pesticides? Hard to know.
9 a.m. – I get back on the VPN. If I leave my devices – computer, ipad, iphone – for longer than a few minutes the VPN goes away and I have to restart it. I get to choose my fake location, from Washington, D.C. (hello DC ren!) to Phoenix (hello Mark Athitakis!) to Las Vegas (hello Jessica Estepa!) to Los Angeles (hello Anne Reifenberg!). Yes, pathetic that I do this, but also kind of fun. Where should I go today? Miami? Sounds good.
9:30 a.m. – I work my way through emails, check Facebook again, check my Hotmail account.
9:45 a.m. – Whoops. Back to the bathroom.
10 a.m. – Damn. I was in there too long and I have to restart the VPN.
10:15: -- The cat wants attention. She wants to know why I’m not sitting on the couch so she can sit on my lap. That’s where she gets her best sleep, she tells me.
10:30 a.m. – Shoot. I forgot I have a Chinese lesson at 11. Must review. Must at least find the book.
10:45 a.m. – Then again, there is a really cute video on Facebook that involves babies and puppies.
11 a.m. – My teacher arrives. What ensues is a bit of a train wreck. How could I forget the characters from chapter 12 when I’m on chapter 20? Oh, because I didn’t study while I was hiking in the high altitudes near Tibet? Luckily, my teacher is kind and understanding, but I still develop a bad case of flop sweat during the lesson.
12 noon – Nothing in the house for lunch. Since I’m “working” I opt for finishing off a half bag of stale tortilla chips. The ayi mutters some comment about what I’m eating. The ayi is judgmental.
1 p.m. – We’re out of milk. I really should go out in the hazardous air to pick up a few cartons of longlife milk that is alleged to be from places like Germany and New Zealand, places where the cows are happy and no one, I hope, is putting other substances in the milk. Instead, I log back on the the VPN (hello, Kansas City!) and see what the Twittersphere is chatting about.
2 p.m. – Maybe I shouldn’t have had those chips for lunch. Stomach is unhappy again. I grab a paperback book because the internet connection in the loo is bad and I am NOT one of those people who simultaneously posts on Facebook and sits on the toilet. Nope, never done it.
2:15 p.m. – Kicked off VPN again. No one is answering my emails or texts. No one picks up when I call, because in China there is no voice mail on the phones, for some strange reason. The American side of the globe is sound asleep.
2:30 p.m. – I check Facebook anyway. Hello, insomniacs!
3 p.m. – Maybe I should review the lesson I had today in Chinese. Why do all these characters look alike? Why is the textbook offering characters in tiny tiny tiny script. Is there an extra line there or not? I CAN’T SEE IT!
4 p.m. – I get a text from Joanna. “Want to get nails done?” she asks. Yes, yes, I do.
4:30 p.m. – Joanna and I meet at the nail salon in the neighborhood. A lovely manicure there is 45 RMB, or $7.28. And the air conditioning unit no longer threatens to almost topple on her head the way it did one time.
5:30 p.m. – So many bars in the area have happy hour specials. I really should be working.
6:30 p.m. – I text Bob: “I’m having a beer with Nora. Where do you want to eat?”
7:30 p.m. – We choose dinner in one of the local western restaurants. I get a Caesar salad. The lettuce is brown, the chicken is so coated with pepper it’s nearly inedible, and I don’t taste any dressing at all. I complain to the waiter and he shrugs.
8:30 p.m. – Odd. My stomach is not right again. We’re almost out of toilet paper.
9 p.m. – Folks in the U.S. are starting to wake up and check email, and I hear from some, but not all, of the people I’ve been trying to reach.
9:30 p.m. – Bob, Daniel, and I watch an episode of “True Detective,” bought at our local bootleg DVD shop. Now, that’s relaxing.
10:30 p.m. – I get in bed, checking Facebook one more time. I download five or six NPR news segments and fall asleep listening to the soothing sound of the NPR voice.