China

I think I can say it’s official that I am going to China at the end of December for about 7 weeks. I sent in my info for my visa last week. I think it’s also pretty official that I will be spending March in France. Which means I can be officially excited. Which means I am SUPER F*@#ING EXCITED!!!!!

I’ve been trying not to be too excited since I got word that this was a possibility. To have fully unleashed my excitement and then have it taken away from me would have been too painful, made worse by the fact that I would be spending my winter, still temping, in the Official Worst Place To Spend Winter*, the Midwestern United States (Siberia might be a worthy contender for that title but I have never been there. If you have, please comment). You would probably have found me sitting in the corner of my room, searching flickr for photos of the wonderful places I should be visiting and crying into my hot toddy.

I have wanted to go to China since I was 5. I know I’m an over exaggerator but this is no over exaggeration. When I was 5, I saw the TV special, ‘Big Bird in China’. I was completely enthralled. While watching that show my wanderlust was born. I remember seeing one particular part, where Big Bird takes a boat down what I believe is the Li Jang River to find the Phoenix Bird, and saying to myself, “This must be the most beautiful place on earth. I have to get there.”

Here’s the scene:

I mean, who wouldn’t want to go there?? It’s absolutely enchanting.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the Li Jang River. It seems to be pretty far from anywhere I will be. But as far as I know, the schedule isn’t completely set in stone. Perhaps with a couple days off I can get there. It would be nice to fully realize the dream.

I am looking forward to exploring the places we are visiting and reporting back.  Luckily, I have a few connections to people in China. In my travels, I’ve found it so helpful to have a local showing me around, avoiding tourist traps and taking me to places I never would have known of on my own. In addition, I have never been to a place that is as culturally different to the US as China. And I’ve heard from friends that sometimes the great language barrier that can exist there tends to make one feel kind of helpless.

So here is where you could be very helpful. If you know anyone in China, can I borrow them? Even for just a friendly email exchange? I need people. And tips. Lost of tips.

Here are the cities in which we are performing as of right now: Shanghai, Huizhou, Chongqing, Hefei, Changzhou, Taizhou, Wenzhou, Beijing and Yantai. Now, I’m pretty decent with geography. At work, when I’m not busy and when I’m not staring longingly at flickr images, I’m usually taking geography quizzes. But I haven’t heard of most of these cities. When I started looking them up I was surprised by their populations. Hefei? Almost 5 million people. Taizhou? Almost 6 million. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked considering China is a country of over 1.3 billion people, but it just amazes me that there are all these ginourmous cities that I’ve never even heard of.

Oh yeah, as to why I’m going….I will be singing with an Irish group. I don’t think the outfit has been named yet. It seems it will be a dance show with a live band and some songs thrown in there. We’ve touched on some songs we might be doing but I’m looking forward to working on that further with the musicians. It might seem a little odd that I’ve signed up for something when I don’t even know what it’s called or what I’ll be singing but the music directors, Kieran and Liz, are old friends of mine. I trust them and admire them as musicians so I’m happy to be working with them. But really, they had me at ‘free trip to China’.

I’m really happy to be singing again, as well. I remember how much I missed singing when I dropped out of a perfectly good masters program for classical voice and went to work at a ‘normal’ job in Chicago. There were many things I missed about it, but I was surprised at how much I missed the actual, physical act of singing. It had been nearly the first time in 10 years that I wasn’t singing almost everyday. I’m looking forward to having that in my life again.

While 2010 is shaping up to be a pretty good year, I’m going to focus on enjoying the rest of 2009. And I can do it a little more contentedly knowing I won’t be sitting in this cube in a few weeks.

* This is not actually official

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