Day 69 - Birthday Celebration

Saturday, April 16th, 2016
Smog Level: 2/3 Mountains

I’ve noticed two trends of Western music here: Christmas music, and The Beatles. “Yesterday,” “In my life,” and a few french ditties waft out of the speakers in the mostly empty gym. My workout will be dictated by how busy it is. Fitting the atmosphere, I perform deadlifts for myself in the mirror while old guys gab.

Shimou’s Birthday is tomorrow; celebrate today! I have stopped asking where we are or the names of places since I seem to forget them almost immediately. Seriously, I usually have to bother Shimou whenever I write about the day.

Birthday Dinner

Bebe, Xiǎohēi, Olive, Silvia, Shimou and I were at dinner with a giant lazy susans in the middle of the table. It seems that large groups generally get a big round table with a lazy susan that covers about 2/3 of it. As usual, we order a number of dishes and circle them around the table at will. Shimou’s words echo, like in a flashback sequence: “you have to be quick when you eat with Chinese people.” We have more than enough food, so past Shimou is presently lying.

Silvia presents Shimou’s cake. I wanted to do a joke one, like Luke’s boob cake, but instead she went with the decadent: matcha-lime mousse cake. Delicious.

Mandarin Marathon

As usual, everyone speaks in Mandarin. Let's sharpen those listening skills! I can loosely follow what’s happening based on mannerisms, tones, and the sparse words that I actually do know. Fun part: words don't always add together how you'd think! Slowly, I’m starting to be able to pick out individual words and phrases, taking notes of the things that they seem to say a lot. Soon... Soon. I’m hoping to be able to say more than “hello, how was your day?” but I’m at a loss for where to go after that. The phrase “what do you think about X” keeps falling through my brain folds and onto the floor. Not that I’d understand the response…

Because it’s Shimou’s birthday, the restaurant gives her a bowl of noodles. Remember Luke’s birthday? Apparently noodles are some sort of birthday tradition. If I recall correctly, it’s to represent a long life.

KTV Lobby
Aside: "If your life was a book, What would the Title be?"

I had an interview a little while back where they asked me what a book written about my life would be called. That.. is a difficult thing to answer without stealing a pre-existing book title, also ignoring the pressure of an interview. After a couple horrendously long minutes of contemplation, I came up with the title “The Misadventures of Understanding.” While my goal is to find a way to sustain myself through online endeavors, I don’t actually care too much about being rich. Or rather, being rich would only be a means for the end of being able to study whatever I want, wherever I want, in whatever way I want. I mean, I would put in a lot of effort for skills I want just to be able to use them to pull stupid jokes on people. The only thing that differentiates them is whether they also have applications for future success. Mandarin is one of those.

Aside: Magical Old Men

One of the main reasons I want to know the language is because then I can surprise people by speaking it when I’m abroad, as well as eavesdropping to hear what Chinese people are actually saying whenever I come across them. No one will ever suspect me… heh, heh, heh. Ridiculous for the amount of effort it’s going to take. Totally be worth it (probably). Other examples: pickpocketing (to put silly things in people's pockets) or cold reading (to freak people out). Imagine an eccentric old man who can speak multiple languages, makes you laugh, and somehow magically leaves dice in your pockets. Little trinkets for no reason. I think it’d be funny to be a magical old man, but those seeds don’t sprout without forethought, now do they?*

Waiting for the Others
Mr. Fahrenheit

Xiǎohēi departs for his own, private adventure. Me and all the lovely ladies go to KTV, aka Chinese karaoke. Your own room with adjustable lights that range from bright to dim to disco ball. GuGaGa, Fancy, and her boyfriend meet us there halfway through the 'set'. We sing into the night, trying to find ones that I can sing with them. Bebe, Silvia, and Gu know a few more western songs than most, and duet them with me. I’m forced to solo Bohemian Rhapsody, which they tell me I perform well. I don’t, but I'll pretend that I gave Freddy a run for his money.** There is one song that is consistently played whenever I come here with my Chinese friends, and that is “Hey Jude.” Not the original, either, but a Chinese version, which you can see below. I'm not a fan of this version, especially while listening now. Despite that, every time we've gone to KTV (aka karaoke), this has to come on. It's essential.

*I was reminded today about a way of practicing pickpocketing: The test of the 7 bells. You attach them to various spots on a jacket, which is hung over a mannequin. You are supposed to be able to lift everything from the jacket without ringing a bell. 
**Only if I traded my soul

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Shén me
[shen muh]
E.g. Zhè ge shì shén me?
[juh-guh shurr shen muh?]
(What is this?)
Wèi shén me
[way shen muh]
e.g. wèi shén me nǐ shǎ?
[way shen muh nee shah?]
(Why are you stupid?)
Editing Music
Hey Jude
Sun Yan-Zi

BONUS: Chinese Karaoke Ft. I Forget!

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