Pollution Makes For a Cranky Robot

Despite the outrageous levels of pollution, I made myself motivate to join Ginny and Bambi at the gym. It’s been years since I did any real sort of weight lifting, and it’s not like I never did much of it anyway for running or sailing, so I basically stood around until Bambi explained every little exercise. They have a whole program for getting back in shape, but since I am a lady and do not want to have scary man muscles, I modified their program and just did lots and lots more reps at a fraction of the weight (Bambi actually did some reps with weights than were heavier than me). Working out left me (and them, I suppose) exhausted and achy and sore. Stairs. I hate that there are 6 flights of stairs between me and being home every day, but I was feeling good and sort of ran them.

Food immediately followed, we ordered delivery from the family style restaurant down the street and very quickly demolished fried noodles with vegetable and egg (delicious, even though it was really oily), steamed bok choi (I always forget the Mandarin name for this), gongbao chicken with zucchini and peanuts (I really like the addition of zucchini, but prefer cashews), and the omnipresent qiezi rou si.

I spent the rest of the afternoon studying Chinese, working on a couple applications, and preparing a little Chinese speech to congratulate my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. I stayed up (reluctantly) much later that night to video-chat with my gathered family.

Ginny and I made our way to Frisbee. The first bus and train were pretty empty, but that Line 1, it’s a rape train. A nice couple (laowai guy and local girl) asked us if we were also heading to pick-up based on Ginny’s pants, and with some relief asked to follow along since they had no idea where they were going. It was hard to keep track of two strangers on a train that was so filled with people squishing up on you. More getting a little too intimate with everyone around you. The smog was so terrible that the inside of the gym was actually hazy. There was pollution inside the building. The thought of it makes my insides hurt. Oh the cancer.

More Xinjiang food after pick up. This restaurant must really love us, we bring them so much business. My favorite dish at the moment is fried cubes of bread and lamb. It’s spicy, cumin, hot, a little oily, so much flavor. It was the first dish to come out, and between the 8 of us, we killed it in about 45 seconds. We also had celery with some small white vegetable, spinach and egg fried, chao pianr, which is flat wide noodles in a tomato based sauce, lamb chuanr, very finely julienned potato with hot pepper, another dapanji, although no grilled bread this time, and more gongbao chicken. I did two workouts in a day, so it’s sort of justified…but the amount of food that I consumed makes me feel like the fattest panda. Also, the sleepiest, crankiest robot, since after we got home (after a miserable shower experience, seriously landlord, when is this going to be fixed?) all I wanted to do was pass out, but I wanted to stay awake to see my family.

Thursday Ginny and I had an adventure at Dong jiao, the kitchen ware market place. it’s a whole big street with large shops and little shops and stall after stall of all the home goods that didn’t quite make it to to Crate and Barrel and all the upscale stores abroad. Lots of pretty nice stuff that just didn’t make the cut. So many purchases, a not-Teflon wok, a frying pan with a handle, big ceramic bowls, yoga mats, etc. I hadn’t had much of a good breakfast since the boys decimated most of what was in the fridge, and I hit the two hour shopping max real hard. Programming shut down, inability to react/converse/laugh, just sighing at the world. When we finally arrived home laden with all of our new kitchen goods (exciting!) I flopped down on the couch and consumed a silly amount of food in a very short amount of time, to Bambi’s amusement.

A fifth fellow alum joined our little family, Dina, arriving just in time to make it to trivia night. Ginny and I went early and we may have resorted to flirting with some marines in order to secure a table (I’m continuously amazed at how crowded Kro’s Nest gets each Thursday). The girls went home early but I stayed long enough to be convinced to take shot of whiskey with the boys and Box. Unfortunately, it was fake whiskey. God damn it, I think I can still feel the ethanol ruining my insides. I continued to be the fattest panda with more pretty excellent pizza at Kro’s Nest, followed by a midnight snack of Kraft mac and cheese. I never it eat at home, but for some reason whenever I’m in Asia, maybe because of it’s scarcity, I always crave it. That, and bacon, steak, lasagna and cake.

Friday was a long day. It started with a demo that never showed up, and then some lessons. I had a demo with the most adorable 3 year old, and a really good lesson with a 9 year old girl. I took a break for food and to get my computer fixed at the Buynow, a large and confusing computer superstore. The wire on the plug was frayed, so they cut it off and welded on a new one. Thank you China! Then I had a bunch of demos, class with a little boy who picked his nose the entire time and class with a little boy who spit when he talked and had this awful blank look in his eyes like there’s nothing in his head. Tired and cold and hungry I wasn’t able to leave until 8:15, and the bike ride home was long and chilly.

The apartment was empty when I got in, and I just wanted a nice glass of wine to unwind, but due to a combination of shitty corkscrew and shitty cork, opening the bottle became a bit of an adventure. The family came home to me trying to dig out cork pieces from the bottleneck with a knife and muttering curses…I swear I don’t have a problem…

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