Friends, I have news!
This is pretty big news, and it isn’t the fact that I ate duck tongue last night at dinner…which is a whole ‘nother story in itself! I have to commend my small group for getting me to eat duck tongue. The best way to get me to try the less Westernized-looking dishes on the table is to give me a very small bowl of rice and then continually say, “eat, eat.” I picked at the vegetables, gorged on peanuts, and ate my rice as slowly as humanly possible, yet that still wasn’t enough for my gracious hosts.
After eating meat that I didn’t bother asking about (because honestly, it’s sometimes better not to know), I asked about the insect-looking thing that was now being held by my chopsticks. “Oh, it’s just duck tongue. It’s delicious,” was the reply. Just duck tongue…great. It wasn’t that bad. I tend to like the “strange food,” but I usually wouldn’t make the choice to order it myself.
Okay, back to the real news…
I conquered a major fear.
I now use the restroom in the English Building on campus.
Wild, I know.
Now, before you start to move that mouse and click away from the page, hear me out. This is big news. And, I’ll now explain as much as I can, but there are some things you have to experience to really get. (I thought about taking photos of this restroom to hammer the point across, but each time I’ve wanted to do so, there have been people there…and as you read more, you’ll realize why that just wouldn’t fly.)
To those of you who have been blessed to have spent the entirety of your life in the Western world, you may have never come across the lovely creation known as the squat toilet (or, squatty potty). When I first came to China, the whole squatting situation scared me. Soon, I actually grew to appreciate this type of bathroom.
When you have to carry your toilet paper (which is actually just a little kleenex package) with you, you realize there’s no way you’re going to have enough toilet paper to put down on a seat. And, let’s be real here, there is not a chance I’m going to put my butt down on a dirty, grimy toilet seat, thank you very much. Enter the squat toilet – the perfect invention to keep things clean(ish) and still let you do the job.
The only time I don’t particularly appreciate the squat toilet (or any toilet for that matter) is when there is no door to the bathroom stall. That’s right. There are bathrooms in the world where you can’t just shut the door and have a bit of privacy! Eek!
So, that was my dilemma with the English Building restroom. It had squat toilets, but lacked doors…
During the entire 2012-2013 school year, I rationed my water intake while I taught. I could only drink half a bottle over each 2-hour class period so that I could hold it until I got back to my apartment during the lunch break. I was ridiculous.
Now, I’m even more ridiculous. I use those doorless squatty potties like champ. Not only do I use them, but I appreciate them. I must admit that the first few times I entered the deep waters of the open squat toilet experience, I was a bit hesitant. It felt way awkward. I tried not to make eye contact with anyone.
I soon realized that it’s better to just act like it’s the most natural thing in the world to use the restroom while your students can see you. In fact, I’ve had some good conversations with former students while using the restroom in the English Building. Who would have thought?!
So, there you have it. I conquered a fear and it feels great. Maybe this is a little TMI, but ya know, I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t keeping it real for you.