My computer is still broken. Only now it’s going to cost me between 800 RMB to fix it. The guy at the computer repair store speaks a little bit of English and I can understand most of his Chinese but he insists on getting his “English speaking friend” to call me and explain things to me, only his friend’s English is really bad and I can’t understand him at all, and I don’t know why the first guy insists the second guy talks to me when I can communicate perfectly well with the first guy.

Here’s an excerpt from my thought process, because I’m sure you’re all dying to know what goes on in the crazy mess of wires that is my brain.

So I was going out but a little bit on the tired side so a friend made me coffee in a French press, and then went off to do something pressing like pay his electricity bill before we went out. I thought I’d be a nice person and refill the press after mine had brewed. Only, the filter was stuck at the bottom and pulling the handle didn’t do anything and the glass was too hot to get a good grip on it, so I accidentally unscrewed the top and then tried to screw it back but it wouldn’t because there was some sort of spring that didn’t let the screw go down far enough to get back into the hole, and I panicked that he might get mad at me for breaking it which is silly because it’s easily fixable if you’re not a moron and then I panicked that he’d come back and see that I ruined the French press and think that I was too dumb to figure out how to use one which totally isn’t true because I have a French press at home which I use all the time so I started desperately trying to pull out the strainer piece at the bottom with a spoon and ended up accidentally dumping all the coffee grounds in in the sink but I managed to fix it before he came back, thankfully, and have coffee brewing like nothing ever went wrong.
And then I realized I have issues.

Had a really great weekend. I decided that I just don’t have the time, energy, or finances to keep on playing Frisbee, mostly because I can’t go to any of the tournaments and then what’s the point? So I had a nice long free Saturday and no plans. Glorious. Met a friend for brunch at Blue Frog in Sanlitun, enjoyed their Western style breakfast and rocket-fuel strong coffee. Not a bad way to start a leisurely day.

After brunch we went to the Flower Market by Lady Street. Helped him pick out plants for his apartment and was a great translator.

Me: She’s showing you that the bush will be covered in pretty flowers, see, here’s proof, all the green buds will bloom
Friend: Yeah, I got that from the fact that she’s pointing to all the buds and saying “flower”
Me: It’s going to be 120 kuai.
Friend: Yeah, I got that, she just said 120.
Me in my head: I’m the best translator ever. The UN or someone should totally hire me.
Me: Oh, she just said something about watering it or something. I have absolutely no idea.

We perused most of the aisles, admired the fresh cut flowers, bought basil and mint plants that I am really quite excited about, and played with fuzzy adorable hamsters (because where else would it make sense to sell reptiles and hamsters and bunnies than at the flower market?) before getting all our purchases into a cab. The cabbie was pissed with us because we put one of the big houseplants in the front seat and it may have been a little muddy but we covered the bottom with a plastic bag but the guy kept glaring at the plant like it was deliberately throwing mud on the seats the entire ride.

I worked at the Kitchen on Saturday night teaching some Turkish women how to make dumplings. They drank a fair amount of wine and in genereal made dumpling wrapping into something much more complicated than it had to be. C-Dice, Benben and I lounged on the very comfortable couch afterward, eating dumplings and braised pork and Benben and I shared the most of a bottle of wine. Then I tried to get a cab but it took me twenty minutes and a long walk to find an empty one.

Sunday I decided to make dinner because I hadn’t eaten homecooked food in quite some time and I felt like making something impressive. I had menu ideas in my head but the store didn’t have the right cuts of meat so I ended up buying pork chops even though I’ve never made them before because someone suggested that pork goes really well with sweet things and I was making sweet potato gnocchi.

The same sweet potato gnocchi recipe that I’ve mentioned before: boiled, mashed sweet potato (about a pound), an egg, half-three quarters of a cup of ricotta, a third cup of parmesan, a little bit of brown sugar and nutmeg if you have any kicking around. Also, some salt and pepper. Mix that up very well, then slowly incorporate about 2 cups of flour until a soft, sticky dough has formed. Roll dough into snakes, cut inch long pieces, and roll along the tines of a fork. Freeze, not touching, on a tray and then store in a bag, or boil until they float and serve pan fried in butter and herbs or in some sort of sauce. I made my mom’s lemon bechamel sauce.

Heat two table spoons of olive oil with mashed garlic, until the garlic browns, remove them form the pan and add in two tablespoons of butter. when that is melted, thoroughly whisk a spoonful of flour, not allowing for any clumps. whisk whisk whisk, then a third cup of milk, keep whisking, add pepper, dried basil, and 1/2 cup chicken stock, more if you want to thin it out some more. Let reduce a little bit, turn off heat, then add tablespoon of lemon zest and some parmesan. Toss with pasta, gnocchi, what have you. Peas and chopped up ham or salmon give this sauce a little extra something.

I marinated the pork chops in lemon juice, salt, and rosemary for a few hours. Then pan seared them 3 minutes per side in a little oil, then baked at 325F, with liberal basting of butter and sweet white wine, and turning them over halfway through, for 25 minutes. Sauted some zucchini very quickly, and chopped up a tomato with basil, the garlic from the bechamel, and tossed with olive oil to go on top of sliced baguette.

I took on a new student. Another 3 year old. She is adorable and I’ve been hired, not even to teach her, but to play with her and speak English at her. We played with dolls and balloons and drew pictures and danced. I still can’t believe I’m getting paid for this.

The boys have procured themselves an Xbox and now even when we’re all home I barely talk to them, they’re too busy killing aliens. It’s kind of frustrating, especially because I don’t have my computer and can’t watch any of my DVDs when they’re using the TV to play. It looks like we might be getting an addition to our little family in the form of a fellow Frisbee player who needs a place to crash for a few months while he settles himself in Beijing. I might have to start actually wearing pants around the house (who am I kidding, I probably won’t, pants are so much effort. I did surprise an alien-killing guest by simulataneously having on pants and a shirt for the first time that he’s seen. Whatever, people should always feel comfortable to sit around in their underwear in their own home).

Tonight I am going to a play with a fellow intern, tickets given to me by a very nice woman who I helped at work. I had no idea what kind of event the tickets were for, but accepted them because I want to talk to the woman about possible future employment. Some investigation on the internet brought about wonderful results. Here are a few excerpts from the description.
“A competition between evil and justice….Magnificent environment of God, flowers bloom, flourish, flower of God’s hands thrown a riot of color. Peony and Poppy the call of God in the beauty of flowers debut, the noble and elegant Peony, Poppy is the Sexy Charm Monster…Peony gave her last hug and love to the god of flowers who she was deeply attached to and still deeply in love with and lighted herself with smile in her face”

I. Cannot. Wait.


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