I told Brett it’s nice living in China, because by the time you’ve abandoned your New Year’s resolutions from January 1st, the Chinese new year is just around the corner. You get two chances to start over! Magic.
I didn’t resolve much for 2011, as I was too busy fighting an evil fever on New Year’s Day. If any resolutions flitted through my feverish brain, they were most likely limited to purposing to avoid going to work at all costs, and not running out of tissues. Oh, and maybe not wearing thin tights and open-toed high heels on a frigid Beijing night EVER again. Though I can’t be sure that blindingly stupid act was the fever’s only source.
For some reason, though, as the Rabbit approaches and last year’s Tiger slinks off, I’m full of schemes.
I know I can implement these things at any time. I know a new year doesn’t make all things new.
I know this, cynics, I know!
But I like lists. And I like the idea of a new year, even if I don’t think it carries any magical powers to bestow discipline and dispel lethargy.
Even though I like tigers more than rabbits, much more, here’s a rundown of things I want to do in the Year of the Rabbit.
1) Study Chinese so that, by the time another animal replaces the Rab (dunno which one’s next), I’ll be able to speak at an above-survival level. I think this is possible with about 45 minutes of study a day. We’ll see.
2) Get something published.
3) Write more in general, on this blog and beyond. Also, make this blog better, visually, etc.
4) Go running! I’ve spent the first four months since I got here running sporadically and complaining about running conditions, then the last two avoiding running and complaining about how I can’t run. It’s true that the winter’s so arctic you don’t want to do anything but get inside as quickly as possible–but I have to face the winter winds. I might join a gym soon, but we also might move at the end of the month, so I need to wait until then to choose one. I want to broaden my workout horizons–yoga, swimming, belly dancing (pourqois pas? I think it’d be fun to take classes), and bicycling come spring. But I can’t wait a moment longer to begin moving more.
I thought, when leaving France, that I might lose some of the pounds I gained from consuming an undisclosed (or calculated) number of almond paste and chocolate-filled, buttery croissants, but alas, it’s not so. I never weigh myself, so I’m not exactly sure of the evolution of my body throughout the French year and into the Chinese one…but the reality is, despite the amount of bread and cheese and pastries (and pate) I consumed in Paris, I was walking a lot more. I walked 15 minutes up the steep forest hill from the train station every day, and I traipsed all over Paris with the Parisian Crew. Here, I work 8 hours a day, and my walk to and from the subway, if I don’t take a cab, is about the extant of my exercise. I gave up running outside about a month and a half ago. Something about below zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures and Siberian gales makes one feel disinclined.
So I took to running up the stairs in my apartment, but that’s tedious to say the least. The air in the stairwell is about as clean and fresh as one might expect in a Chinese apartment building constructed in the early 90s.
Today, finally (FInally), it was almost warm, and I ran in leggings and shorts and a t-shirt and fleece. I unzipped the fleece as I ran, so warm was the golden afternoon sunlight in Tuanjihu Park. Grandparents were pushing their grandkids around the frozen lake on little chairs with runners attached. I could hear the scraping and gleeful shouts as I jogged the perimeter, my chest aching gladly from the long overdue exertion.
So yes. Running, I’m back. I’ve missed you. I’ve needed you. In this year of fluffy hopping creatures, I hope you’ll help me achieve that most tiresome and cliche of New Years’ resolutions: losing ten pounds.
5) Read! My kindle will help me with this one, immensely.
6) Attend as many literary events at the Bookworm as possible. I want to read more Chinese fiction and nonfiction about China. The book I’m reading now, Factory Girls, by Leslie Chang, is a start. The author is one of the many featured in the Bookworm’s lineup for March.
7) Whiten my teeth. I’ve long held (and who out there would contest?) that, if a worldwide teeth contest were held, Americans would win. They just would. It’s a fine tradition I think we should do our best to uphold, including those of us who live abroad. Perhaps us even more, since we’re a limited sample of our culture. My teeth are straight enough, but my penchants for strong coffee and red wine have made my smile less-than-exemplary, nay, less than American.
8) Follow a budget. Booooring, but so necessary. There’s so much I want; I’m a voracious consumer and complainer, but I want to curtail that (at least a little! Maybe not wholeheartedly.) I have so much–I have a warm apartment, a good job, a cozy Ikea rug. Sure, I’d like the entire display floor at Ikea, and Zara’s entire new collection (it’s so Mad Men!), new high heels, a liquor cabinet for mixing sexy cocktails.
In a city like this, it’s so easy to feel envy and gratefulness almost at once. I walk past grimy, Soviet apartment buildings and withered, weathered old men driving tin-can motorcycle taxis, and feel rich, well-dressed, exotic. Then I get to The Village, and see the new two-story Versace store. A perfect Chinese model struts past me on towering Louboutins, with haughty slanted eyes and perfect cheekbones, and I feel, suddenly, that I’d willingly be fashion’s slave if I had more cash.
But I don’t. And the cash I have I need to set aside. Maybe, maybe, one little Mad Men dress from Zara might slip into my closet with next month’s paycheck.
But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy ushering in the Rabbit with snowboarding tomorrow at Nanshan, and homemade pizza with bacon, onions, and cream from Smitten Kitchen tonight.
I think it’s going to be a good year.