China days

3 Sep

I have been back in China for coming on two months.  Life has been full – work, personal, financial, friends – all clamoring for my attention after such a long time away.  I finally feel that I am getting resettled and in getting resettled, I once again am getting antsy.

The weather has finally cooled to the point where taking a walk outside does not lead to the immediate need to take a shower.  The nights are getting cooler – more akin to Chicago summers – and the fruits of fall are starting to show up at the corner stands.  I can find apples and plums and am just starting to see persimmons – but still small ones, in a few weeks they will be the size of tomatoes.

I have upcoming travel planned – a work outing to Hangzhou, a trip to Europe over October holidays and likely a trip to Hefei to visit my husband’s sister who is due to give birth any day.  I have visitors lined up – a former boss in September, a cousin in October.  Things are looking interesting with my job – more changes to come, but all good ones.  Friends have stopped by for lunch or dinner and photos and I’ve even started cooking since the kitchen is no longer over 100 degrees.

Yet…

Shanghai continues to change.

My walk to work now passes a new set of bricked up houses that until a few weeks ago were full of life – small restaurants, laundry hanging out the windows.  On the way to church, entire blocks have started to crumble, the bricked up facades having been attacked by large machinery.  Progress – or is it?

Prices are more expensive – I bounce between wanting to buy dinner at the convenience store for 10 RMB and then spending 70 RMB on lunch.  There are too many foreigners – and then all of a sudden I am the only one.  Shanghai is international and then it is local – all in a 15 minute time frame.

I find myself on edge – the honking horns, the cars who don’t put people first (very unlike Taiwan where even the motorcycles stop at red lights), the spitting, the dirt.  It makes me uncomfortable.

My dreams are not settled – I fall asleep easily but wake up too early.

I call this whiplash my “China days.”  It means that sometimes it is ok to go home and watch bad TV.  It’s ok to go to the foreign supermarket and spend ten dollars on a box of brownie mix.  It’s ok to go to yoga four or even five times in one week, just because it is the only place I can turn off my mind.  I need to accept that this period will pass and be good to myself until it does.

And I hope it passes soon – fall is my favorite season in Shanghai.  I don’t want to miss it.

How do you stay focused on the positive when things just seem a little off?  What tricks and tips do you have for me as I continue to seek ever elusive balance in this city of 20 million people?  How do you face your “China Days?”

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9 Responses to “China days”

  1. pollyheath September 4, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    On my China Days, I’m definitely also running to the grocery store to grab something comforting. Best of luck getting yourself balanced!

    • gkm2011 September 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Thanks, I am sure I will work my way out of this funk. There is too much good going on!

  2. expatlingo September 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    I always have a hard time at this time of year. The start of September feels like ‘back to school’ time, and not starting anything new somehow feels wrong. My usual fix is running, but I’m not sure that would help in Shanghai. Time always helps. Give it a week.

    • gkm2011 September 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      I will be starting new things, but not for a while. My current trip to Hangzhou, though for business, is unexpectedly helping as well!

  3. sylvia September 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    I have two strategies I use: 1) Take a China break or 2) Embrace China to the fullest :-). For a break I usually hole up in the apartment eating western food and watching netflix, but two days is the limit. Sometimes I just need that little break to refresh. But sometimes, what I really need is to get out and have fun in China, go to markets, parks, talk to people, let China suck me back in and make me fall in love with it again. But I find that a lot of the time for us, the weather is playing a big factor. When we haven’t seen the sun or blue skies for weeks on end, it’s hard to have a real zest for life.

    • gkm2011 September 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

      I agree the weather does have a lot to do with it. I wrote quite a bit about the heat and how tough it was to deal with. However, up until the last few days we have had blue skies and breeze so this time the funk was internal. That said, I am moving on – slowly!

  4. Jay September 11, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    A very relatable post for all expats. When in Gabon, my Africa days were more frequent and even though our home now is much, much easier, there are Norway days too. Netflix marathons usually do the trick but it sure can be easy to get stuck in the rut. After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I have to remind myself to get moving on.

    • gkm2011 September 11, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      That’s the key – not letting yourself wallow too long or if can be devilishly difficult to climb out of the hole!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Downpours and blue skies | 中国 Jumble - September 10, 2013

    […] on my mood – either view can be appropriate – and telling.  My China days continue to happen – but I know that blue skies will […]

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