The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Good #1 and #2

1. Getting accepted to grad school

Need you even ask? I applied to five schools, frankly unsure if I’d even get in, then a few weeks ago got an acceptance notice from the University of Oregon. I wish I could express how excited that made me. There’s more to this, though, than just completing a very long process of hard work and study. Last August I returned from Taiwan, and within two days of being back realized that for the first time since I arrived in Tianjin six years ago I wasn’t excited to be back. It wasn’t even that I hated Tianjin (well, maybe for a few days it was, especially when I discovered they’d bulldozed the campus market in my absence); it was more that things had simply run their course here. For those who aren’t sure what that means, let me put it a different way. A few weeks ago I was talking with my friend Inga, who’s from Ukraine and has been helping me with my Russian, and she was regaling me with her experiences on a recent work-related retreat, which included everything from karaoke to self-criticism sessions to emotional harangues from their boss. She said it was rough, but that at least it made a good story. True enough, and in past years I would have thought the same thing, but I’ve reached the point where I just don’t care about stories any more. I have all I need. And when you no longer desire stories, it’s time to do one of two things: make a long-term (10+ year) commitment or leave. Why? Because when you no longer care about having good stories, it means you’re so used to living in China that you’re starting to think like a resident, not a visitor. (Note: I mean “resident,” not “national.” That’s the truly odd thing about being an ex-pat in China. You can be perfectly comfortable. . .and yet still be completely foreign.) For me, with my degree coming to a close and almost all of my oldest friends gone, it’s time to go. But until I got this first acceptance, I couldn’t start planning. Now I can.

2. The mildest winter in years

Three (ish) years ago it snowed on November 1st. That’s odd in and of itself because although it does occasionally snow in Tianjin, it never snows that early. What made it odder is that the snow never did melt. They temperature stayed below freezing for something like three months. And THEN it didn’t warm up enough for us to go around in one layer of clothing until something like mid-April. The year before that we had a freak snow-storm four days before Christmas, and the days after that were all high winds and temperatures that hovered around the 10-degree (Fahrenheit) mark. That’s just wrong, people, especially as it completely curbed my daily run. I did go for quite a few long-distance (i.e. 10+ miles) runs when the temperature was in the low-twenties, but I had to stop. When you run for over an hour and you’re still cold. . .I vote “nay” on that. By contrast, this year has only felt REALLY cold about three times. The majority of the season it’s actually been fairly pleasant, with the cold staying in the “brisk” description, as opposed to “Inuit Apocalypse”.


1 Responses to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Good #1 and #2

  1. Cindy says:

    Congratulations Rob!!

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