Transient

I still feel like a bit of transient, living out of my suitcase and everything being very temporary. Bambi’s roommate is leaving in 10 days, and we have to find a new apartment before then.

After a bit of a lazy start Monday morning, luxuriating in a private, sparkling clean bathroom and a long, uninterrupted shower, I realized I was quite famished and decided to explore the neighborhood a little, have a little breakfast, maybe even find a grocery store and pick up some supplies.
This is about when the door would not open.

I must admit that doors sometimes give me trouble. I mean, there are some tricky doors and locks out there, stubborn things that don’t like opening, that insist you wiggle the key about, that require coaxing. I was hoping that there was just some little trick that i wasn’t getting, that I was in fact being utterly ridiculous and incapable, so after about half an hour of trying to escape, I reluctantly sent a text asking for help. Turns out sometime the spare key doesn’t work, so if whoever leaves locks the door from the outside, the spare key-holder still inside will be stuck there, and the a-yi, coming to clean the apartment that morning, had done just that. At least it wasn’t my fault.

Since I didn’t have anywhere pressing to go, I told Bambi’s roommate not to hurry home, and he suggested I look through the kitchen to see if anything was edible, although he highly doubted it. I ate a few chocolates I still had in my purse, and a spoonful of peanut butter, since I couldn’t find anything to spread it on, and rummaged through the illogically stocked kitchen. There were all these nice plates and cutlery and fantastically sharp Global knife set that I’m a little jealous of, a lot of nice liquor, some strange grains, and very little else. The fridge smelled just slightly off. Oh, boys, why? I managed to find some arborio rice, one egg, ginger and half an onion that didn’t look too old. I found garlic but it was dry and black and suspicious looking, and a very soft withered apple. So I dice the onion and softened it in a little olive oil, thinly julienned the ginger and threw it in with the rice and a generous amounts of water to make paofan, or rice porridge, and scrambled an egg (no whisk, used chopsticks again) to serve on top. I kind of felt like a refugee, but I made the best of my day, repacked all my clothes in my suitcases, did some laundry, wrote some letters.

Bambi finally arrived back in China after his stateside holiday visit that evening, and ten minutes after he arrived in the door, we dragged him out to have dinner. We met roommate’s friend in a cab and headed out toward Andingmen, on a recommendation to go to a Ningxia restaurant.
We ambled down a little hutong alley in the bitter cold and made our way to a small basement restaurant. Upon sitting down, the waitress, seeing us looking up stuff about the restaurant on aphone, informed us we were at the wrong Ningxia place. Embarrassingly, the boys decided we should go to the one they had read about. Way to lose face guys, everyone was staring at us as we rose and struggled back into our winter gear.
We found the actual place inside the Ningxia Jiudian. It was a nice enough restaurant. After spending all week with girls, it was nice to be out with a bunch of boys and have a beer to drink. The food was decent but not spectacular, lamb, and noodle soup with chicken, dried tofu with celery, another lamb dish with chestnuts but lots of fat and gristle. One the whole it was a good time, even if I knocked over my chair when we were leaving, because I’m a clumsy little thing who gets things like chairs stuck on my bootstraps.

Tuesday was a lazy productive day; I met Bambi’s Chinese teacher when we went for lunch, we spent some time waiting at the police station to register, where this adorable little girl with starry boots tried very hard to get Bambi’s attention. I don’t quite blame her. We went to dinner at a Xinjiang restaurant around the corner in the hutong, and the food was cheap, plentiful, and excellent. I had an eggplant and thinly sliced pork shreds over rice. It was steamy hot and filling. After eating we ventured to Dongzhimen, one of the neighborhoods we’re considering for our apartment. We waited in the subway entrance for what seemed like hours, to meet our real estate agent, long enough that by the time we got to the apartment, my hands and feet were literally in pain from the cold. Damn my poor circulation. The apartment seemed decent, three bedrooms, a little terrace, but the common space was tiny and the kitchen next to non existent. There wasn’t even counter space, just two little gas burners and sketchy ghetto sink. Best part? Possibly the porn that the current tenants had ALL OVER THE PLACE and the about one hundred empty beer bottles just piled in the entrance. Apparently it’s they’re a couple American and Canadians.

After dinner we went back to the Xinjiang restaurant, since some of Bambi’s friend had gone there for dinner just shortly after we left, a beautiful frisbee player from the states and his adorable and sassy Beijing girlfriend. I enjoyed their company immensely, particularly when the girlfriend deposited some vegetables in Bambi’s beer for being a jerk, even if most of the talk centered around ultimate frisbee and people that I haven’t met yet.

Today I didn’t wake up until both boys had left the apartment. I made arrangements to meet up with Co-intern to see the Bell and Drum Tower and maybe check out some Shaanxi cuisine for lunch. Unfortunately, after getting all dress up to go outside, what should happen but I discover, yet again, the door was locked, and the boys both busy working I didn’t want to bother them. So much for seeing Co-intern before she returned home. I spent the day being somewhat productive looking for employment, at least.

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