I have to catch up, so I'm posting again!
Here's my new bike! I love that it's turquoise and says "G & P" on the side. That's what we call my maternal grandparents (short for Granny & Papa). Apparently it had been on the floor forever, so they gave me a 25% discount. I paid 300 RMB, or about US $45.
The funny story is that when I rode my new bike up to the gate of my apartment complex, the guards would not let me in. I needed some kind of "permit," apparently. After my attempts at sign language (they make no attempts at English OR "sign language" but just kind of speak angrily toward you--though they're not really angry) I gave up and called a bilingual friend. She helped me understand they just wanted to know which building I lived in. Got the card, taken care of, right?
Next time I went to leave, they stopped me, looked at my card, and I got yelled at some more. They didn't seem to be allowing me to go on my way, so again I tried motioning filling out a paper, to find out what they wanted me to do. Again I called a bilingual friend and discovered all I needed to do was turn in the card when I leave, and get a new one each time I come back in.
Duh! It was that simple, but you would have thought I had stolen something or broken some huge law by the tones of their voices!
It doesn't help that they all the gate guards wear fatigues, making them quite intimidating...
So, I learned that it's not going to be easy understanding/communicating on my own, "yelling" isn't necessarily that, and the people seem to really love their rules!