Around here when things aren’t going your way and it all gets to be too much, we say we are “Having a China Day”. In casual conversation with a neighbor or expat friend if I say I am “having a China day” they know immediately what I am talking about. Maybe there was a problem with your refrigerator and you couldn’t manage to get someone to fix it. Maybe you spent all day trying to grocery shop and ended up with nothing to show for it. Maybe you just couldn’t get over your irritation with, well, everything. That is a China day.
I am having one today. There is no real reason. Just generally being annoyed with all the extra effort things take and my lack of progress in getting things done. It is like swimming in molasses to accomplish small tasks and small tasks are all that get accomplished around here. Yes, I went to the grocery store and the gym. But we have nothing for dinner because I only went to one store. And, frankly, going to the gym and the grocery store should not be major life milestones now. I tried to get some dissertation work done, but was stymied by the ayi’s need to vacuum and then mop directly underneath my feet while slamming into the furniture. Yes, she was cleaning the house while I sat there, but this only added to my frustration. How ridiculous is it to be angry at someone as they do your work for you? It is pretty ridiculous. You don’t need to tell me. Still, having someone in the house all the time adds fuel to a China day. Basically I am never alone, which for me makes for a high level of frustration. Shanghai is crowded—not exactly the easiest place to find a quiet spot—and I sometimes would like to have my house be a place of solitude and silence. This is hard to accomplish with three children and a Chinese lady hanging around all the time. Add a friend or two and I can be positively crazy acting.
But luckily, these days always pass. Things don’t suddenly get rosy, but they usually look better after I sleep on it. Or have a stiff drink. Or both. Check back tomorrow and the story might be different.