Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Unexpected, but nice!

It wasn't without doubts that I yesterday decided that it was probably about time to hit the gym. After spending four days straight on the couch with my Chinese books only I also felt it could be nice to get out of the flat and engage in some more straining movement than walking from the living room to the kitchen in order to grab a snack.

Although I was keen to work out, it was with heavy legs I pedaled to the gym. I knew what was waiting there for me. Twelve days (+) of non-stop-chocolate-eating (as well as general Christmas indulgence) was catching up with me. Even thought the results wasn't evidently showing (yet), I knew that more than 3 weeks absence from the gym would result in comments I'd rather not hear. (Even though this time, they might be true).

A positive (where did that one come from?) voice in my head reminded me that my 'honest' trainer friends might not even be there, but as it turns out, that was just wishful thinking. The first person I saw when I stepped into the gym, wearing my (suddenly feeling tight?) gym clothes, with a protective hand over my belly, was, of course Rocky, alias the Hunan boy.

-You Na!!! His face lit up.

This triggered a smile. Christmas excess or not, he was happy to see me!

Even though I deliberately chose the cross-trainer located at the darkest, most isolated corner, it didn't take long before he spotted me there and came up.

-Long time no seen! He said with a smile, and ran his eyes over my body. I knew what was coming.

-Wow. He suddenly said. I closed my eyes.

-Your skin! It looks amazing.

My.... skin?! I opened my eyes again. "My skin looks what, amazing?" What skin?!

-Huh? was all that came out of my mouth. But Rocky didn't seem to notice that I was lost for words. He was too busy staring at my face, going on about my skin, telling me how much better it looked now compared to before, asking me what I had done to it, before again telling me how great it looked.

It took a while before reality kicked in and I could gather myself, and answer that "eh no, I didn't do anything special to my skin (in fact, I don't really pay that much attention to skin.. I guess I should? It's supposed to be really important if you are a girl I believe?), and sure, maybe it was the clean, Swedish water/air that had helped it looking better, but truth to be said I didn't know...."

The praising of my skin (that's a sentence I thought I would never write) went on for a good five minutes until we went on to things like: 'how have you been and what have you been up to.' Even around these topics my lacking fitness/gym absence was kept out of the conversation.

It was with light, happy feet that I rode my bike home that night, thinking that not only do I not look fatter this time, but also, apparently my skin looks great!? Seeing that comments from my Chinese male friends often involve: 'you look so tired/ you look a bit fat/ you look so unhappy' (well, you get it... it's mainly negative things), getting a skin-compliment was a kind of fresh, well-needed change (and I can tell 2009 is going to be a great year). 

Once home I walked into the living room where my boyfriend was sitting, asking him:

-Have you notice anything different with my skin?

He looked at me blankly. I could tell he had no idea what I was talking about.


Little Tiger said...

I hear you! I was on my bike for the first time today after the gluttony of Christmas. Painful so it was :)

Anonymous said...

That was hilarious! I'm so happy you escaped the gauntlet of personal comments. Just shows what great skin will do for you!

I get a lot of compliments on my skin over here too. Puzzling, but, you know, nice! As you say, it's better than, "You look fat today."

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting!!! When I was living in China many years ago, I also noticed from some Laowai friends that their skin tone somehow changed after being away from China for a month or two on vacation. I am serious. I am not making this up. This might have something to do with cleaner air in your own country. You may not notice it youself since you see you everyday. But I think it's more likely because you did dress nicer and shower more often while in your own country. No offense. I have known many Laowai friends who shower every other day while in China but shows daily when they are back in the States. Like what I said, this is a very interesting observation. The Laowais I know definitely dress better when they are back in the U.S. than in China. I never thought of their skin, but won't be surprised if it does show differently (more makeup, etc.)

Anna Davidson said...

Joanna, loving your blog. Made the move to China this year and was a novice blogger (still am) but just like you, am loving the experience. Your blog is great, love hearing other perspectives on life in China. :-)

Jonna Wibelius said...

Little tiger -makes me wonder why we do this to ourselves once a year.... :/

Flyingfish -hehe, well most skin related compliments I have received before have been about my skin being so white, or like during summer when I am in a skirt, exposing those sadly white looking legs... I feel close to ashamed for being so pale meanwhile the Chinese love it! Funny!

Anonymouse -haha, that's interesting. I am def not one of those laowais you mentioned though. I shower every day, regardless of where on earth I am. And I feel that there is more pressure to dress up in Shanghai than there is in my home town.. In Sweden a lot of people dress down!

Anna -how funny that you left a comment today, I just discovered your blog (awesome photos from Tibet btw)! Glad to hear that you enjoy my blog!

Anonymous said...

He could have said 你胖了 which is a compliment. However 你很胖 would be an insult. The difference between using 胖 as a state verb and adjectival predicate.


Jonna Wibelius said...

Jim -trust me. It wasn't a compliment. My Chinese is good enough to understand when people call me fat and when they don't...

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between Ni Pangle 'Youve put on weight' and Ni hen pang 'Youre very fat'. The first means you look to be in good health similar to the rotund pictures of people from the 18th and 19th centuries synonymous with living the good life. That view was prevalent in the US till the mid twentieth century. I threw it in also as a grammatical distinction example. I still dont understand how foreigners could speak Chinese without understand certain grammatical basics like measure words, aspect and state verbs, sentence patterns etc. I watch the Chinese Sports segment on English CCTV9 which combines grammar points with athletic dialogue. Id think you would get lost really fast just concentrating on the spoken dialogue. Id also like to know where they get the Westerners in their early twenties who speak what seems like perfect Chinese. They dont seem to be biracial. Ill refrain from any further linguistics perse. This aint the place.


PS This blog reminds me of Edward R Murrows "You are there" from the 50s when they didnt call it reality TV. Being a leading edge baby boomer I can barely remember when there was no TV. Jonna from your pictures you dont have anything to worry about.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Jim -I don't know why u keep asking how laowais can speak Chinese without understanding grammar -I don't think I ever wrote something like that, and also, obviously it is not the case... like, how can someone speak a foreign language correctly without understanding the basic grammar of the language? When I wrote about the written and spoken language in China being different, I was referring to the use of WORDS, not grammar.

Loads of young western people are learning Chinese in China a.t.m. You can find westerners with good Chinese at most places here.. it's becoming more and more common, although obviously it will still be a long time before it's as usual for a foreigner to speak Chinese (as a second or third language) as it is to speak French/Spanish/German.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to repeat myself. Jonna were on the same grammar wavelength. I came across an interesting list I hadnt seen before. Over 500 single and compound chinese characters signifying stop words that is start/end of sentence, phrase, idea, topic, etc.


Chocolatesa said...

Lolll, your posts crack me up all the time! This is great :D I love hearing your stories of life in China! It makes me want to move there, although I'm sure there would be a lot of problems to overcome to balance out the funny/weird stuff.