the idiot

i have a wonderful sense of humour. really. a recent event just inspired me to blog. really recent.
about 5 minutes ago i was sitting in a very comfortable, stable office chair. i was reading ‘the idiot’, by fyodor dostoevsky. i was also drinking green tea, tea which had only moments before had been boiling. seconds later we find myself, the chair in pieces, my tea, all things on the floor. thank you gravity.

the sensation was quite invigorating. i have a recollection of some kind of sound, most likely the cracking of plastic. i have thoroughly given up the possibility of china creating quality, durable products. the next sensation i recall is weightlessness. much like that of an astronaut. or so they say. the third memory, quite vivid, is of me frantically trying to get out of my seat, the seat which was on the floor. it reminded me of the time that my car flipped upside down on the freeway and skid up hill a good 100-200 yards before stopping. yes, i must say it was the same high adrenaline fueled experience.

i now have a pick chest. i spare you the photographic evidence. in fact, the pinkness is only in certain locations, and in fact, only half of my chest. boiling water on the skin will do this to you. the contact was not direct. i wore a shirt during the time of the bath, yet the searing sensation was transferred through the cotton material.

on top of this, i have a cold. it’s been a little under a week now. i don’t think it’s getting worse, not sure if it’s getting better. that being said, i think it’s getting better. my chinese aunt keeps bringing me food and medicine. today she came over and stayed for three hours. i had planned only one or two tops. at first she would come at eight am, but decided that she should come at seven thirty. i obliged but that is early. i am on vacation. i am sick.

we drank coffee, we chatted, she taught me warm up exercises for tai ji. i have to do this exercises for a month, everyday, for about twenty minutes before i can ‘play’ tai ji. oh and i have to wait until i get better before i start the exercises. something i find very whimsical is that she is not worried about my chinese as my pronunciation is quite alright; she told me that she is worried about my tai ji.

i had planned today to study, but instead i went to the store. i bought groceries. the oatmeal aisle lady was yet again quite forthcoming. ‘this is good’, she recommends, or ‘this is on sale’. there is no browsing in her aisle.

by the time i unlocked the door to my house, it was time for my nap. but not before my chinese aunt showed up- again… her friend or someone, i’m not sure, scorned her for leaving me at home, sick with no food. go figure… so i receive a phone call saying, ‘erin? are you there?’ i answer, “yes” response “i am coming.” click. my only real desire is to be alone and sleep, to recover from my illness. i spend 20 minutes trying to explain this and convince her that i’m not dying. maybe i am. maybe i’m being stubborn. if this is what dying feels like, it’s not so bad…

wake up and we’re back to the present. me reading my book. chair breaking. falling. burning to a limp fleshy blob. euphoria.

just because i have nothing more exciting to do whilst i recover i will continue.
on monday i went for a bike ride with another teacher at the school. she teaches french, all the french classes at my school. we met around two pm and rode our bikes around town. at first we visited a park that is behind nanjing normal university. i had wanted to go there. so we went.

it was an interesting park. it had a hodge-podge of styles, quite to my disliking. it was as if there were absolutely no planning that went into the park and each person working on it decided to what to put in each of their sections. i did like the bamboo forest though… i also took two pictures of some rock, in the ‘weird stone’ section of the park. here they are:
in fact they are not very large. maybe 6 feet tall. i found it comical to take out my camera and attach a miniature tripod i bought and take a photo.

after the park we rode along a freeway, tried to find a lake [in vain] and settled upon another park which an excellent path along the ‘river’. it could be an artificial causeway of some sort, but i’m not sure. in any event, we peddled along seeing many amazing things, one of which was a gang of old people under a bridge who were singing nanjing opera. the shrieking is quite banshee-esque and it took quite a training of the will to stop and observe.

at the end of the park, we continued on towards nanjing art university stumbling upon a strip mall of slightly fashionable restaurants and boutiques. in all reality, this was another example of the chinese building nice new buildings without anything to put in them. only half of the establishments were leased out.

her being french, me liking coffee, we stopped for a treat. in the pseudo classy coffee shop, we sat and chatted for quite a while, me eating the delectable sunflower seeds so graciously provided, her smoking a cigarette. we watched ‘tom and jerry’ cartoons only reverse- we could see the rear end of a screen upon which the image was projected. eventually the afternoon turned to evening.

we dined at a french restaurant which was much to her liking. she taught me a bit about wine, having not learned much despite living in france for nine months. afterwards we watched a couple of chinese people play pool on the street. of course it was dark by then, but they had affixed some sort of make shift lamp overhead which, disguised in the darkness, brilliantly illuminated the playing field.

the rest of the evening was spent chatting about who knows what. most of it turned slightly philosophical and serious, but pleasant nonetheless. overall, a pleasant end to an unplanned and unexpected day.

and lastly, and nearly completely unrelated is a picture of a dear student of mine from last year. he is an interesting fellow and i enjoy the time we spend chatting over lunch. he is from western china and is quite different than a ‘typical’ chinese. his language, religion and aspirations may differ from his peers, yet he lives and has grown up here. a weekend or two ago i travelled to beijing to collect some of my things. i had the opportunity to spend some time with several students, he one of them.


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