Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I've given up my novella writing project, Cat Got Your Tongue, for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I simply don't have time to keep up with my daily word count. An unusual amount of stress in other areas of my life, has also knocked my health around a bit and I just need to cool off for a while. I don't want to spend all of my free time writing, which was what was happening, and there are, occasionally, more important things to do. At least, I'm satisfied with my effort. Perhaps, next year, I will try again.

Otherwise, not much out of the ordinary happening here. A coworker said that snow was expected here, but the weather has been fairly mild over the past week. A little windy today, but nothing out of the ordinary. I'll write again when I have something more worthwhile to reveal.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I eat lunch at my school five days a week. The food is placed on a long table near the kitchen, buffet style, and we all serve ourselves. It's not bad, there's a nice variety and, at least, I don't have to prepare it. All of the teachers eat in one section, separated by large swinging doors, while the students eat in a different section.

The fare is nearly the same each day, although on Thursdays we usually have baozi (pronounced bow-dza), a large filled dumpling we eat with vinegar and pickled vegetables, and a really nice garlic-y fried rice. There's enough choices on the other days to make different decisions about what to eat each day. I don't mind. We always have some kind of bread, flat, fried bread, or the white Chinese bread, which looks like uncooked dough, and sliced apples. If I get to the cafeteria early enough, I'm just happy to get some slices of cucumber, which usually runs out by the end of the lunch period.

All of us bring our own dishes with which to eat. My employer, Ms. Wang, provided all of us foreign teachers with small stainless steel pots, similar to a kind of camping cookware, and it has a real militaristic feeling to it, using dishes like that. After eating my fill, everyone washes their dishes in the sink at the back of the cafeteria. Generally, after washing their dishes, they put a little water in the clean dish, drink a bit, swish it around in their mouths, and then spit it out into the sink. It's a way to clean their mouths after eating. Most of the teachers store their dishes on various shelves which line the walls of the cafeteria, but I usually take mine back to my office and store it in my locker. I've heard stories about someone's dishes getting moved.

Most of the teachers use a spoon with which to eat their lunches. I use chopsticks because I don't have a spoon. Also, none of the Chinese people drink anything while they eat lunch. At least, not in the sense that we do in America, drinking water or soda or something else. Usually, at the end of the meal, they drink a kind of tasteless rice porridge from a small bowl, which serves as a kind of beverage.

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!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Nothing extraordinarily stimulating to report stop.
Just the regular machine of the job working stop.
No really good e-mail to read stop.
Every day a kind of unintense fog all over Beijing stop.
I thought it was pollution for weeks stop.
Part of it is pollution stop.
I try to spend all of my free time writing stop.
All of my energy going toward one thing even when I'm eating or sitting on the toilet or waiting for Angela to return stop.
When she gets home we are going to make dinner stop.
I eat regularly and well stop.
I find myself wondering when it is going to rain stop.
Fighting a slow-drip in the back of my throat or an almost-cold or I don't know what to call it for five or six days now stop.
Still tender from diarrhea weekend at the mercy of Beijing seafood and a turbulent stomach stop.
Writing like a mad freak almost two hours every day stop.
Thinking about it when I'm not doing it stop.
Thinking about not writing poetry or is the other thing poetry stop.
Will you be able to keep up with all of it stop.
I don't know how I finished and started another novel over the weekend stop.
I don't know how I watched all of the Star Wars movies last week and got anything else done stop.
It's how I feel stop.
Like a telegraph stop.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Briefly, which is better than none at all, you can now view the e-novel in progress, tentatively titled: Cat Got Your Tongue. It's a little silly but I'll see how far I can take it by the end of November. Wish me luck! Currently, after three days of writing and charting my progress, I'm spending about two solid hours writing each day to churn out 1600+ words. I'm happy with that pace, but I don't know if I can continue to find that time.

On a China aside, we've been here three months, Angela and me, and we both have had numerous offers for work or other engaging and stimulating, as well as lucrative, opportunities. Fantastic! We have discovered more opporutnities in three months than we did in two years in Japan! Of course, the opportunities are in teaching and education, which is not everyone's cup of tea. Speaking of which, mine's cold now...