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I had my first Chinese lesson tonight.

I'm finding it a bit ironic that as soon as my father gets admitted to the hospital for his surgery, and thus can't ask me "How's your Mandarin coming?" every other day, I actually start learning the language. At least the speaking part. My teacher, Miss Wei (?), is focusing on getting me speaking. I was hoping to learn the characters at the same time, but at least I'm learning the pinying.

My father is going into the hospital for open heart surgery. Words like "bypass" are being used, although I can't remember the number of things that will be bypassed. They finally got around to mentioning this to me when we were waiting for my connecting flight to Tokyo. I can think of better places to mention it, but at least I got told when I was still in Canada, and not over the phone when I was in China.

We started with simple words. I had already learned how to write the numbers, and she took me through trying to say them. I fail miserable at saying "four" and "ten", which makes me feel stupid, but at least I can write both of them. It's the "s" sounds in Chinese I have trouble with. Si and shi. My mouth just doesn't want to form them. I can hear that I'm saying it wrong, I can hear the correct way of saying it, but I just can't reproduce it.

I've been keeping Kris updated about everything, forwarding along my father's emails. I got a reply today: "I admire your father's optimism." I responded very simply: "Yup. Proves I'm a foundling." My mind will not get past "My father is in the hospital for surgery. And I'm in China." I don't know why I'd feel better if I were in Edmonton. He'd still be in Vancouver. But the fact that, in an emergency, I could likely fly to Vancouver and be there in a few hours is more comforting than the idea that, at best, I'd be home in a day and a half.

Miss Wei lhelped me learn hand and foot and head and coat. She tried to teach me hair, but I guess I sound like I'm saying hat. I like the fact that she's honest about it. It reminds me of Paul, trying to say "It's very cold." Everyone said, "Oh, that's right, you are very clever." His friend pulled him aside afterwards and told him he was actually saying "The wolf is coming." I keep picturing a Simpsons episode: "It's cold, and there are wolves...."

Both my parents have told me, often, that everything is going to be okay. The friends back home that I have talked to about this have said the same thing, with anecdotes to back it up. But this is my father, and I'm worried about him. I want everything to be okay, for him to wake up and give me a call and laugh at me for being so worried. No matter how much I want to believe that everything will be okay, part of me still thinks it won't. Because that's the way the world is.

I'm going to look back at this post once he's out of the hospital and feel stupid.

I keep trying to say "Close the door!" but I say "Look at the door!". And I'm satisfied that I'm at least saying "door" properly.

So and thus.

Miss Wei taught me the Chinese alphabet, and it's beautiful to listen to. I'll have to sing the alphabet song to Dad when he calls me.

Xia ke.


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