Monday, December 05, 2005

The weather really dipped this past weekend. I only left the apartment briefly on Saturday to meet Angela for lunch in the neighborhood at a local Muslim spot we like, but didn't notice anything in particular about the weather then. We went back home after eating and remained indoors for the rest of the day. I had bowled until the early hours of Saturday and didn't really want to go anywhere that night, even though we had been invited to a party. Another night of party drinking without occasion and listening to strangers attempt to impress each other didn't sound so pleasant, and we just stayed in and watched a movie. A darn fine Chinese movie, actually: Shower. If you're not an excitement freak, as this one lacks the guns and cars and bombshells, you should enjoy this one and I highly recommend it.

I met Angela at her office yesterday, Sunday, as we were going to go eat some German food at another restaurant we really like. We only go there once in a blue one as it's a little expensive. Well worth the cost, though, and more than filling. We were in the mood to treat ourselves. Anyway, when I left the apartment, I immediately noticed the cold in a blast of wind. The trees were angry and the leaves were swirling around in little circles everywhere and little bits of rock and dirt blew into my eyes so that I had to walk around looking at my feet and squinting, my eyes watering from the cold. There were hardly any folks about. The pushy wind bit through my heavy Anapurna coat, a Chinese knock-off I'd picked up last season to combat the Beijing freeze. I had only put on a long-sleeve cotton shirt over a short-sleeve T, but, and, as has been common practice in recent weeks, I usually would add a layer of long underwear and a sweater, at least, over this, topping it all off with a scarf before zipping up. As you may understand, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. I'm simply not used to living in such cold conditions. I'd also forgotten my gloves.

Waiting for the bus, I noticed that there was a stretch of ice from a shop to the edge of the sidewalk. In the summer, this becomes a dirty scummy mess as the air conditioners in front of every shop drip incessantly onto the sidewalk, but in the Winter, it just turns to ice. I realized that it really was cold, icy cold, as I stood there waiting for the bus watching a woman jump around to keep herself warm. The bus usually comes pretty quickly so I didn't feel that I had enough time to light a cigarette. I just stood there with my hands in my pockets, wishing I had worn my gloves, staring down the street until the bus rolled up. I happily took a seat near the front and paid the attendant 1 RMB, glad to be inside and out of the elements, however brief. I don't mind riding public transportation on weekends as it's not nearly as crowded as it is during the weekdays so there was nothing to raise my ire.

I transferred to the subway and worked on my Christmas list between stations. I make one every year and always plan to include even remote friends, but in the end I only get my act together enough to take care of a few of my family and relatives. I'm not really a card guy, although I have been known to send an e-card now and again, but I made the list as usual, just in case. It made the time pass and I noticed some folks watching me as I looked up, holding the pen to my lip, thinking of additional names to add to my little white square of paper. After lunch, we were going to look for some Christmas cards and a birthday gift for one of my private students.

I finally reached my stop and then opted to take a long walk down the street, rather than catch another bus. I knew it was cold, but it was too beautiful. Looking out the window before leaving the apartment, I noticed how clear and blue was the sky and grabbed the camera. Maybe I could take a few pictures in these ideal conditions. I walked down the street looking for angles and interesting objects to snap. The cold was too intense, though, and I left it in the inside pocket of my coat. I thought I would smoke a cigarette while walking, opened the package and began to, hanging it out of the corner of my mouth for a few drags, keeping my hands in my pockets. I took my left hand out to hold it, and it froze almost instantaneously. I put the cigarette back between my lips and returned my left hand to its pocket. I repeated the process with the right hand experiencing a similar effect and then decided that it simply wasn't worth the torture. It was too cold to smoke outside.

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