I'll admit that I've been slacking off a bit when it comes to studying Chinese. I desperately need a class to motivate me (I've needed a class for the last three years).
Studying Chinese is much more difficult now that I'm in the US. At least while living in China I could've just walked out the door and started up a conversation with the locals. It was even possible to try to talk with my mother-in-law. But that's all gone now. It's even difficult to talk with my wife in Chinese because she's become more motivated in studying English and trying to neutralize her accent (which I didn't really think was a problem).
Yesterday I had my chance. Jia told me to go to the Asian market off Route 10 to pick up some food for dinner(and it's a really nice Asian market--but they don't have a great selection of rice). I walked up to the prepared food section, and the man behind the counter greeted me in English. I responded with, "请给我一直烤鸭"(Please give me a roast duck). Without even a comment as to my non-Chinese appearance, the guy asked in Chinese if I wanted him to cut the duck. Back in Shenzhen my requests were usually responded to with, "You speak Chinese very well" (a common compliment for speaking even the most simplistic of Chinese phrases).
Having this friendly Asian market and the amazing Sichuan restaurant has at least provided me with some motivation to kick myself in the ass and start studying more seriously. I have plenty of Chinesepod lessons on my hard drive that I should listen to more often.
Also, the roast duck was really good. Jia just had to make some dipping sauce. All it was missing was the little pancakes to wrap the duck in.