Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend Update

Another weekend has passed, this one filled with equal parts stress and relaxation. Friday, I had dinner with some of my favorite former students, which was quite lovely. We had an eggplant dish that arrived in an old-skool chafing dish; it was oily and well-seasoned and perfect.

Saturday, I got a late start to the day; I'm working 28 hours a week this month and I'm just not capable of handling that somehow, which translates into a late alarm clock on Saturdays. I arrived at the train station to find that only one train was not sold out for the entire evening, and it was a 2.5 hour, old, standing-room-only death trap that didn't leave until the time I needed to be in Beijing. So, I banded together with some American architects, and we decided to split a cab from Tianjin to Beijing (roughly equivalent to a cab from Elgin to Chicago).

Everything was fine--we paid more than we wanted to--until we got into the Tianjin expressway. Our driver starts communicating with other drivers through his window, and we hear "Beijing" over and over again. The architects start getting worried.

We arrive at the toll plaza about 10km outside of Tianjin and our driver pulls over to the side of the road. Apparently, he was trying to "sell" us to someone who was planning on driving into Beijing. Um...what? The girls flip out, scream, etc., while I silently take in the fact that we're being SOLD to a stranger on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

At least we got the consortium of drivers to lower the price.

I made it for all but one of the beach volleyball sets last night; it was far less decorous than one would expect an Olympic event to be. R&B music blared throughout; there were cheerleaders involved (what?); people did the wave. Basically, every reason I don't care for sports was present that evening. I still had a great time, though.

After sleeping for two hours on a very uncomfortable couch, I went to the Olympic Green gate to try to buy tickets for the Michael Phelps swimming event. Oddly, no one was really selling tickets at all this morning; aside from a few hand ball and shooting tickets, the demand was infinitely higher than the supply.

A disgusting American woman (with two small, impressionable children in tow) complained for about 30 minutes to her young Chinese guide about how this is the worst Olympics ever, and how China/the Chinese have ruined it, etc. I felt awful for the guide for a variety of reasons (mostly that she was in real danger of being harassed by a fellow Chinese person for speaking about--nay, being an audience to--such things).

I caught the final stretch of the women's marathon, which was exciting. If I hadn't moved to China this year, I would have participated in the Chicago marathon, so it was nice to watch these athletes pounding the pavement.

I'm really quite lucky. I cannot ever forget this fact. I've been blessed in so many ways. I'm so glad I cam to China; I'm so glad I've made 85% of the decisions I've made; I'm so glad to be alive, and alive in this very life, no less.

Remind me of this passage after my next "I hate the world and my role in it" post, please?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are extremely lucky, and it's like reading some sort of neat story every time I look at your blog.

I'm so glad you're having this wonderful experience, and I'm glad you didn't get sold to someone...unsavory. Eeeep!

Keep having a great time!