Monday, November 15, 2004

Social activity increased over the past week. Angela and me were bordering a depressive state with our relatively mundane existence, devoid of much else aside from our commitments to work and each other, but we came out of it. We had been finding it difficult to make friends and build a life here, but these things take time. The oncoming cold weather, which is every day windier and colder, and the prospect of staying inside for increasingly prolonged periods, wasn't doing much for attitudes, either. In any case, we braved the weather and our exhaustion to get out of the house this week, the highlight of which was a party thrown by one of Angela's coworkers on Saturday night.

A handful of Italians, a Brazilian woman, a Spanish dude, and three Chinese people comprised our party, and we met at Ivana's new apartment to partake in a dinner of fresh gnocchi and pizza which she was to prepare for us. Fabulous. Really nice to have great, fresh Italian food, especially when someone else was preparing it. Antonello, a photographer from Naples, made the pizza, and Ivana made everything else, which included salad, babaganoush (a Mediterranean dip made from eggplants), and a variety of desserts. We purchased a bottle of wine to bring to the party, although the bag broke on the way also breaking the bottle of wine, which had slipped to the pavement. As it turns out, there was plenty of beer and the wine wasn't missed.

Earlier in the week, I had met Angela after work for dinner, and we purchased eight or nine new books, perhaps doubling our library here. We enjoyed a nice dinner of Chinese dumplings and won ton soup. We met Ivana and Adelaide the next evening for dinner at the same restaurant.

On Friday night, I dragged Angela to a bookstore/bistro, The Bookworm, to watch a presentation about The Boxer Rebellion, which neither of us knew anything about. The place was packed and we were some of the last latecomers to get in to share a table with some folks so we could eat. Having come straight from our jobs, we were quite hungry. The presentation was mildly interesting, including a Q & A session with author Adam Williams who was promoting his book, The Palace of Heavenly Pleasure, and the food was good. Both of us were happy to find the place, as it was a unique environment. The walls lined with books of all sorts and we discovered that they regularly hosted discussions and other events. Following the discussion, we left and enjoyed a beer at The Hidden Tree, one of Beijing's oldest ex-pat bars boasting a fine assortment of imported beer and a wood-fired oven for cooking pizza!

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