It’s 2:30 am on December 26, and I’m more awake than I have been for two or three days. I think I’ve gotten about two hours of sleep and they weren’t consecutive. I had to work on Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day. The girls did not want to stay home those days with the nanny, so they came to work with me, and my nanny got a free week off.
On Friday the 23rd, I came home at 9:30pm, like I always do, and began to bake about 150 sugar cookies for the party the next day. You might remember that I went into our Christmas party prep meeting expressly saying that this year I will NOT bake cookies again. I have made cookies for every Christmas and every Thanksgiving since I’ve been here, and I wanted something easy. By the end of the meeting I was baking cookies again.
The recipe I got was so way off it was hard to save. How it got 5 stars on allrecipes, I have no idea. It was so sticky and gooey I had to add two additional cups of flour and one extra cup of sugar. It still didn’t taste right and the cookies raised too much, they weren’t flat. We were up until about 2:30am still baking. Sadly, all the dishes I used two days ago are still in the sink because I haven’t had a moment to do them.
I drug myself and the girls to work at 10:30. I was tired, cranky, and I could barely hold my head up. I had to teach two classes and the rest of the day was for the party. A month ago, I gave my assistant a list of things I would need with corresponding pictures so that she could get exactly what I needed, and of course I needed icing tubes and sprinkles to decorate the cookies. The icing she had gotten me was this crappy stuff that you need to keep in boiling hot water to make it pliable. That means that I had to put cups of boiled water on the table to keep these tubes in. I’m already not happy.
I have four chairs for people to come in and make cookies. But within 15 minutes, I counted 14 people –kids, actually, and only three adults. I said, “This is a problem. Where are these kids’ parents?” One of the young women said, “Oh, these are my students. It’s the only thing they can do or participate in.” And then she LEAVES! These kids are all under the age of four. I can’t go get her, and I don’t have an assistant like everyone else. And then, of course, one of the kids knocks over the cup of hot water. No one was burned, but every cookie on the table was ruined. It took me forever to clean up and all I had was tissues.
In the meantime, the big activity in another room was to have a pillow fight. All the foreigners thought it was stupid idea and had nothing to do with Christmas, but they Chinese tutors had their mind set. I’m sure it was fun for a whole 10-15 minutes, but then the floor was covered with inches of feathers. –and so were the people.
Then those students wanted to come in and make cookies with me –feathers everywhere, flying into the icing on the cookies. Not very well thought out. Especially when it took them more than 2 hours to clean that mess up later. We have carpet. You couldn’t just sweep it. My brilliant, home-schooled, daughter, Raine told them that if they used wide, packing tape they could clean it up better. And they did.
We were supposed to have a staff potluck after the party at around 7:30. (All of us had eaten at 11:30am, so we’re pretty damn hungry by now). But they were still cleaning feathers for at least another hour. I tried to nap on my desk. I seriously couldn’t hold my head up, and I didn’t know if it was a flu coming on, or just depression. For some reason, I was over-come by sadness, and I just wanted to cry. It was definitely an “I hate China” day. I put my headphones on and listened to Enya to drown everything else out. By the time they got the food out NOTHING looked good and I felt like I would choke on anything I tried.
My poor boss felt so bad for me. I just sat on the floor in the corner waiting until I could go home, and she kept trying to offer me things. I really tried to tell her, I just wanted to go home.
So, we had a staff gift exchange. They made me first, so I could go home. I had our accountant and I bought her a really soft, fuzzy, wide silvery-grey, scarf with ruffles on the edges. It looked great with what she was wearing. Then one of the tutors got my name and she bought me the most beautiful gift. It was a complete setting of hand-made Chinese dishes: 2 plates, a bowl, a sauce bowl, a spoon and chopsticks. They were seriously so beautiful, I hugged her.
Then I took the girls to Stephen’s pizza place where we could get real food. Poor Raine fell asleep as soon as we got there. At one point she had her hand on a chicken wing, but it never made it to her mouth.
When we got home at around 10:30, the girls had to take a shower to get all of the feathers out of their hair. And I heard a knock at the door. It was one of my students, Blue. She had brought a stocking full of little gifts for the girls and a HUGE bouquet of flowers for me. She had been trying to find me all day, but seemed one step behind the whole time.
I started not hating China as much. I crashed forgetting that I needed to stay awake longer than the girls to get things put out for Christmas. Luckily, I woke up at about 2 am to go to the bathroom. I started getting things out when there was a text from our new co-worker, James. He went out to a Karaoke place with everyone from work, and he realized he left his keys in his desk. His passport was in his apartment so he couldn’t go to a hotel, so I told him he could sleep on the couch. By the time I got him settled in, it was about 3, and I just couldn’t sleep.
The girls woke up at 6, dying to go see what they got. I told them not to freak out that James was on the couch. They didn’t. They freaked out over their gifts. Raine got a Barbie house almost bigger than her, and Rumi got an iPad Mini. So from 6-9, I was doing all of the “some assembly required” stuff that Santa doesn’t do –damn you, Santa! And setting up e-mail accounts, and Apple accounts and passwords, and wechat, and all of that.
By the time it was time to go to work today, I literally couldn’t see straight anymore, and I didn’t know how my legs were moving. We started the day off with a big meeting about a whole new process we have to do differently. No one seemed to care it was Christmas, and classes went on as normal. Poor Raine slept on the floor by my desk for about 3-4 hours. Rumi spent a lot of her time calling her best friend Maddy.
We went to Stephen’s place again for dinner, and by the time I got home, I fell on the couch and woke up about 3 hours later. So here I am at 4am, wide awake. We all are. Luckily, we have no plans for the next three days!