So, last week it was my birthday.
And on my birthday there was a basketball game.
Not ANY basketball game, mind you - my CHILD'S basketball game. My child's LAST basketball game of the season. And the only one to take my child way, way out of town. On two buses, two trains and a taxi. And the only game James and I would have a chance to see. Because we had yet to be able to see him play basketball.
WELL. Being Fabulous Parents (of course!), we went to the out-of-town, last-chance-to-see-Matthew-play-basketball basketball game. On my birthday.
So James took the day off of work. And we woke up. At 5 am. And we took a cab. So we could stand outside in the freezing rain for half an hour. Waiting for the bus. To take us to the train station staion. Which it did.
The train station staion had a food market:
But we weren't hungry. Because it was so darned early.
And then, after a while, it was time to get on the train. But it had been a few hours since we'd gotten out of bed and left our little apartment. And so everyone went to the bathroom before getting on the train.
Other than taking a picture of the first "squatty potty" that I encountered the first day I got to Chengdu, I hadn't come face to face with another one since, and we've been here in Chengdu almost six months. I never EVER intended to actually be required to use one of them. EVER.
But when one leaves one's house at 5 am and doesn't get home until midnight, one must, at some point, use the restroom. So it was time for China to force me to, you know, GO. For the first time... chinese-style. The setting of which looks like this:
The general idea is that you first beg a female teacher on the trip with you for instructions on how to use the thing. (Remember this for later.)
Then you: cover your nose with your clothing (preferably a turtle neck or scarf), pull your pants down, balance and squat over the hole (trying NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING), GO, wipe with whatever you've brought with you to wipe with (um, NO, chinese squatties do NOT have toilet paper in them), throw what you used to wipe with in the trash can after you're done with it (see the trash can in the corner?), and then go on with your day. Hopefully without being emotionally traumatized/scarred for the rest of your life.
And no, many bathrooms (including this one) don't even have sinks (or soap or anything) for you to wash your hands.
It was GLORIOUS. And also it was MY BIRTHDAY.
And as I rolled my pants legs up a bit, tucked as much of them as I could into my socks (to keep it all out of the way), and squatted (trying not to fall over and die or fall IN and die), I realized that China's birthday gift to me was teaching me how to GO without a western toilet. How to GO chinese-style. Well, and camping style. Not that I want to go camping. Ever.
GOSH, CHINA... YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE.
So then we traveled on the train. For two hours. And saw lots of China countryside. And I tried to take pictures, even though the train was going as fast as 198km/hour at times, whatever the hell that is in normal American speeds. So forgive me for the next few countryside pictures, which turned out really blurry, but which sorta give you an idea of what the China countryside near Chengdu looks like.
It looks like this:
And then we took a bus. For a really long time. To get to the school. So that Matthew could play basketball for us. And RULE THE BASKETBALL UNIVERSE SINGLEHANDEDLY:
And MAINTAIN THE BALL AS HIS PERSONAL PLAYTOY AT ALL TIMES BECAUSE HE IS THAT AWESOME:
(Etc. etc. insert obnoxious parental boasting here...)
Then it was time to get back on the bus. To go back to the train station. To go back to Chengdu.
And THIS train station had, outside of its restrooms, a vendor trying to make money selling:
Tissue packs. So you could take them in with you as your own personal tiny pieces of very thin toilet paper.
Then you faced the inevitable:
And when you were done, you added your newly-purchased-and-now-used-tissue to the heaping trash can, and then you wished that chinese bathrooms had soap and water and sinks, and then you squealed with joy when a teacher on the field trip with you offered you a wet wipe, and then you began writing this blog post in your brain.
Or maybe that was me instead of you. COULDA BEEN.
And then I tried to decide if I was supposed to follow the directions to this place:
Because if ANYONE qualified right then as feeling like they were "The Disability," it was me.
And then I figured that I was probably instead "Consignation," whatever THAT is:
But instead of letting me follow along on other paths, James shuttled me along to where we were all supposed to go, and I went to neither the area for The Disability nor to the area for Consignation. I went to the train.
And then we took the train for two hours.
And then we waited in the freezing cold rain. And then we took a bus. And then we got home about midnight.
But not before one teacher told another teacher that today was the very first time I had ever used a squatty potty. And then THAT teacher just MIGHT have found me and (laughingly and with much hilarity) congratulated me on my fine accomplishment.
Good news travels fast.
Thank GOD they didn't also know that it was my birthday.