It’s only May so there’s plenty of scope for things to derail, but I’m surprised to announce that so far my new year’s resolutions are on track. I had resigned myself to early failure by posting these resolutions on 7 January instead of 1 January as required by both the Gregorian calendar and my OCD – but it seems my scheduling negligence has led to a loosening of my stringent perfectionism, allowing me to achieve results which, while not perfect, are still…er…results.
Here’s my goals then, with the progress results underneath:
1. Inevitably, weight loss. If I can convince myself to get up an hour earlier I’ll take Basil Leaf for a daily morning walk down the Lung Mei Tsuen path, around Sai Sha Road, and then back up Chuk Yeung Road (a 4km circuit, 70% of which is up an almost vertical hill). Joel and I already do this walk at night but doing it in the morning too
will be shittywill help kick-start my metabolism again so I can wear short shorts by next northern summer.
Or, maybe I can’t ever wear short shorts again. I certainly won’t be able to if I don’t couple these hill climbs with less ingestion of Coke. And anyway, should people who have two kids and are 30 aim to wear short shorts? What is a more age-appropriate goal, a gently flaring skirt that ends modestly an inch below the knee? Probably. With Scholls. Either way it will still look better without these extra kilos underneath it.
The twice-daily walk around Chuk Yeung Road was far too lofty an intention, given how much I love sleeping. I did it for a few weeks early in the year but it was never going to last. However, I have managed to lose exactly half of the weight I want/need to. And since I didn’t actually start on this endeavour with purpose until mid-March, I’m stoked about it. Previously-alluded-to health concerns have completely curtailed my ability to exercise, which is good because it’s a noble excuse, far better than “as if I’m going to get up at 6am”. So I’ve been following a strict diet featuring limited carbs and no eating after 6pm where possible. I haven’t been too hungry (see COMPLETE LACK OF EXERCISE OR EVEN WALKING AROUND THE VILLAGE). My pyramid of discipline collapsed in an orgy of vanilla slices and Turkish food when we went back to Melbourne for Erin’s wedding, but my avoidance of pastries and soft drinks has been virtuous ever since, and I’m confident of getting to my pre-Zadie weight by the middle of June.
This will put me 6.5 months ahead of my projected end date for this resolution, which is plenty of months to get on/off the cakes at will while still maintaining an acceptable level of fitting into my clothesness. HUZZAH!
She’s only 2.5 years old, by the way, so I think you can all join me in that “HUZZAH” – have you ever known anyone to lose their baby weight SO QUICKLY after their child was born??
I haven’t worn short shorts yet; nor have I purchased any Scholls. A win for age-appropriateness, and eyeballs all over Sai Kung.
2. Get paper. Half our reason for moving here was to take advantage of the ridiculously favourable tax rates. It would be idiotic not to save a lot of money while we’re here and thus buy ourselves more freedom when we come home, to travel more or not work or have more kids or buy three holiday houses so we can keep on replicating this lifestyle forever, but with access to delicious Australian Milo, so superior to the disappointingly over-malted Hong Kong version.
This week I opened a high-earning foreign currency bank account and actually put money in it, so that’s an early success that somewhat balances out the three Cokes I’ve already had this year if you consider all the resolutions are weighted equally, which if you saw how fat I was, you’d realise they definitely shouldn’t be.
Mildly failing in this area at the moment. We had a ridiculously expensive month in April, between paying for my medical expenses, our trip to Australia, and the extortionate mandatory “contribution” to the building fund of the primary school Rufus has been accepted into. Those expenses alone equalled nearly AU$10,000, which made a disappointing hole in our savings. There’s but a few coppers still rattling around in the savings account. Coppers here are worth 2 Australian cents, by the way. However I’m not regarding it as a total failure because our expenses last month were all necessary, and not the same as the continual irresponsible disbursement to purveyors of Coke, electronics and books as in times past.
3. Currently, ngor mm-sek guangdonghua. Obviously. Not very well anyway (though that phonetic spelling is frankly masterful, what?). I know I alleged back in October that I was going to focus on learning Mandarin, the better to encourage Rufus to keep it up if and when we move back to Australia. But in reality it would be far, far handier to be able to speak Cantonese. And I think it will be heaps easier too, just from being constantly exposed to it. Joel and I think we know how to say at least 300 or so words, and while that is a relatively pitiful amount, we are surprised at how often we do get the gist of what people are saying. We can maintain an almost respectable level of communication (especially in light of previously mentioned appalling language acquisition attempts by other Westerners). So, our motivation is high and learning opportunities plentiful. The next step is to enrol in a course and get things really moving.
Currently, ngor sek siu siu guangdonhua! Joel and I are taking private lessons every Saturday morning with a lady in the next village, and not to big us up but our progress is FANTASTIC. The difference between trying to learn a foreign language with minimal day-to-day exposure to it (see my failed attempts to learn both Chinese and Spanish in Australia) and constant exposure to it is HUGE. Verily we still suck at the tones, but the difference is we are very good at mimicing them now. I am also glad we waited until we’d been here at least one year before starting our lessons (this wasn’t by design, but it’s a strategy I’d recommend). Acquisition is much quicker when the words, even though their meanings were hitherto unknown, are at least conversationally familiar. It is now much more a matter of memorising vocabulary, like when learning any foreign language, and then working with the teacher on our tonal pronunciation and sentence structure. The course this lady has designed is really logical, and aimed at expats who intend to stay here and become fluent – unlike the usual courses, intended as quick guides for tourists who want to know how to “get to the nearest train station” and “order a beer”. Already I am having short conversations with our neighbours, taxi drivers and colleagues – conversations which are no doubt less sensical that the babbling of the nearest Cantonese 5-month-old – but I am understood! TAKE THAT, AMAZINGLY CUTE CANTO BABIES! There is no better feeling, really. I am incredibly pumped by the results we’re seeing, and feel invigorating by really learning something again. Man I’m even making flashcards and shit.
It’s a really sweet language too. At this early stage I can definitely sense its street roots. It’s so rough and imprecise, and yet filled with lovely etymological treasures. For example, the word for “happy” is made by combining “open” and “heart”. The word for “children” is made by combining “little” and “friends”. I remain perplexed about who ever thought it was a good idea to invent a language entirely out of one-syllable words, and unconvinced that a Westerner can ever really master the fiendish tongue…but I’m determined to keep trying.
4. Sleep. A lot.
I guess I do sleep a lot, but still not enough. It’s rare indeed for me to be in bed before 11.30pm, let alone asleep. 12.30am-1.00am is more usual. Factoring in waking up twice a night with Zadie (AGAIN! STILL!), and getting up early for either work or to take Rufus to his school bus on non-work days, and I think I’m topping out at about five hours on a good night. I do take full advantage of the luxury of having a helper, and nap at any available opportunity. Even if it means napping next to Zadie on the weekend, with a chubby hand squeezing my earlobe, a fat foot in my face, and a rancid milk bottle dripping slowly on my neck.
On that note, it’s late – time for a brisk walk around Chuk Yeung Road LOL JKS time to do a bit of 4.