Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trip to China: Part 8

Well I just had the dream. I guess the nightmare. I woke up in a cold sweat with "Like Father Like Son" stuck in my head, and an inspiration to work on my lines. In my dream I'm coming home from my trip and going straight to the theatre for Aida rehearsal. As I am walking in I realize that the SHOW (not rehearsal) has already started. There is a set, and costumes, and some other guy playing Radames! (For some reason it's not Jon, my actual understudy, or any other current cast member. I think it's one of my old roommates. Back off, it's my nightmare.) Apparently the show is playing to a rehearsal audience, and they are in the middle of "Like Father Like Son". I go running back stage to change and go on in the next scene, but I realize I have no idea what my lines are. I realize I'm essentially not in the show, and have a moment of panic attack as I wake up in a cold sweat. Ok, so I had lots of Indian food and a few beers last night right before I fell asleep. Does that mean I have to have a horrible nightmare? Huh?!

Let's start this blog over with an inhale ... and an exhale. Now I'll open as I planned to since I left the hotel yesterday and was welcomed to the outdoors by clean air and sunshine:

Ahhhh. Yesterday I walked outside and there was a light feeling of cool dampness. It had rained the night before (the first time since we've been here), and I had no idea what the implications of that were until we started to drive down the road and I looked at the sky. CLOUDS! Clouds mixed with one of the most beautiful and appreciated shades of blue my eyes have ever met. Since we have been in Beijing, the sky, and everywhere around us really, was cloaked in a grey vale of smog. But oh, how the rain changes things. I was nearly in tears with thankfulness that I got to see the city in THIS light before I left it. It was so beautiful, I couldn't stop taking pictures of it. It was really almost as if the sky was as grateful to be seen as I was grateful to see it. We passed some mountains that were the foreground to a blue and white background and I longed to go the the Great Wall again and see it all this way. As I type this I am reminded of a poem I wrote and posted to this blog in March. It was the first good day I had had after a few weeks of terribly dark days. To make things even better, it was the first very sunny day of the year, and the culmination of these events made my heart cry with joy of life, and I pulled over while I was driving and frantically scribbled this poem down. When I got home I posted it. Poem-wise it's nothing to write home about (ha I just realized I'm writing home about it), but it holds a very important place in my heart as a landmark for my first good day in a long time.

Ah yes, just to feel
to soak sun and breath life
I trade my sunglasses
for a stinging glare that
warms my soul.
I am overcome with thankfulness,
renewal, and life
tears rim my eyes
and I smile.
Ah yes, just to feel!

This is a similar kind of emotion I had while looking on the beauty of China through a God-sent and much needed cleansing.

Every day as we pass a certain woods on the way to work, I have had another unique pleasure. On the right side of our car, there are fairly small trees (with trunks probably 3 or 4 inches in diameter) and all aligned on neat rows. About 40 feet back from the road there is a dirt trail. Beside the trail, a few of the trees have a piece of wood attached to them horizontally, about the size and shape of a sparing sword, but I really can't tell if that's what they are. Hanging from this wood is a khaki sport coat. Beside the tree is a man, in his early 50's, wearing khaki pants and an undershirt doing some sort of Martial Art dance or work out. It's a really beautiful moment that I'm glad we catch every day on our way to work.

Beijing is teaming with bicycles. I have said this before back home, but I really wish our society embraced bicycles more. I think it would be great to have bike lanes up and down the streets of Canton. I think I need to get myself a bike, but the roads just aren't very conducive for riding in Ohio. When drivers aren't used to watching for a bunch of bikes, you are more likely to get nailed on one. I don't have any statistics to back that up, but I think it's a pretty safe bet. It's totally not weird in Beijing for someone to be riding to work on their bike and another person is riding side-saddle on the rack behind them. At home, you'd look homeless or weird doing that. Stupid! Let's not be so arrogant at home, ok? I'll try if you do to. Deal.

Last night after work I ran around my hotel buying things at the stores in the lobby. Not many things, mind you, so don't get your hopes up, but a few people asked for very specific things, and gave me money for them, so I obliged to buy them. I use commas a lot, deal with it. After this mini shopping spree, I walked around aimlessly wishing really hard that I had a friend in Beijing to eat dinner with. Nothing sounded good, and I really didn't want to go back to my room and order room service like a loser and watch National Geographic again while eating spaghetti in freaking China! I came to a corner on the ground floor of my hotel that I had forgotten was there that had escalators leading up, and promising me some new restaurants. Yay! At least there were new and strange places to eat. I chose an Indian restaurant and as i was seated at a table for two, they quickly grabbed all the silverware and place settings across from me, making it a table for one. Thanks. I ordered my new favorite beer, Tsing tao (I think it's the same as Tsungtao, but it's all really too confusing to even blog about the beer conversation with the female engineers I had). It was my last night, so I ordered an appetizer and a meal. Hopefully I'll get some pictures on here for you to see it, but it was spicy and delicious. And lonely. Did I mention lonely? The manager asked me if I wanted something else with it, implying that I didn't order enough, or that it was strange for me to order the meat without rice or vegetables with it. There were vegetables in my appetizer,so I felt justified in my order, but he was making me feel weird about it, so I ordered some rice and lentil. This was literally after my meat was delivered, which made the whole transaction even more awkward. Then, when he delivered the check, I wanted to make sure that service had been included in the price, as it said in the menu. He said, "No no, just sign". In English land that implied that it was not included, but just sign the check without tipping. I was annoyed with and confused by this guy enough, and I had a few beers in me so I really didn't care, and I took my chances that it was included and just got the hell out of dodge. I got back to my room and abruptly passed out with timezone, full belly, and beer all working in tandem on a deep sleep. Unfortunately they were also working on an abrupt wake up call for this morning via a nasty nightmare.

So that was yesterday! Today I leave work at noon to go to the airport and fly home! It's already Friday here, so I'll be traveling back in time to Friday there. Oh, btw, time travel is a little something I learned while in China. I'd show you how, but back home we don't have the training grounds, nor the magic sand. I'll post one final wrap-up post on Saturday, and hopefully get some pictures up as well. Wish me luck as I fly over the North Pole again! Did I mention the plane flies over the North Pole? Well it does, and I'll tell you about it later.


Mary Jackson said...

Yay! Barry's coming home! :)

Angela said...

Sometimes I wish I had a bicycle, but I'd never use it. I'd always be late if I rode it to work. And frankly, there's no good place for me to keep it. It's probably just as well.