Still here

July 4th, 2007

Don’t worry, I’m still here.

It’s just that I have to come over to the office to get a China Uselesscom signal or use dial up, so I’m spending a bit less time online. A lot less time. And that’s probably a good thing.

For one, I find it easier to drag myself away from the TV screen and do housework than to tear myself away from the computer screen and do housework. And as lzh will tell you, I’ve always been very lazy with housework, so me actually doing something to help keep the house tidy can only be an improvement. Secondly, it’s easier to sit down and do that much-neglected Chinese study. Also, I get to watch movies over and over and over again.

Well, I suppose I should be looking for more part-time work, because an unfair, unequal contract means that one offer suddenly doesn’t look quite as rosy as it first did.

So yesterday I did actually get back into that much-neglected Chinese study. I picked up and dusted off my copy of To Live, my notebook and dictionary, and sat down to study. Started off with going over the pages I’d read already, which wasn’t too difficult because there weren’t that many pages to go over, but was more difficult than it should’ve been because after all this time, funnily enough, I’ve forgotten a lot of the characters. Then I moved on and got through a few paragraphs, actually quite a reasonable chunk. It kinda helped that that chunk was a bit easier than the rest and didn’t throw up too much in the way of new words. And just so you know just how slow my progress is, or at least just how long it’s been since I studied, I’ve only just gotten through the introduction where Yu Hua sets the scene and introduces us to Fu Gui and I’m about to start with Fu Gui’s narration of his life.

Somehow this reminds me of a  novel I was supposed to have studied in a French literature class. Can’t even remember the name of the book or the author, and I have only the vaguest recollection of the contents (the contents were a lot of French words, so far as I remember), but I do remember the structure: The beginning and ending were a narrator explaining how he met somebody who told him his lifestory, in between was the story as told to the narrator, written in the first person as if that somebody was narrating it and we were hearing it through the narrator’s ears. I think that makes sense. Anyway, so that’s one thing that To Live is reminding me of right now.

So I’m about to start with Fu Gui’s narration of his life story. Quickly glanced at it yesterday afternoon, but my brain was saying enough new vocab for today, so it was just a quick glance, and it looks interesting. And that first, quick glance suggests that it’s written in a different style, different voice from the introduction. I’m looking forward to finding out.

Actually, if I could have my way I’d spend the summer watching the same DVDs over and over and over again, coming over to the office every couple of days to spend a few hours online, and studying Chinese. I suspect, however, that I won’t get my way. I suspect that we can’t afford for me to get my way.

So anyway, even though we’re already familiar with this part of town, it’s been interesting moving back and finding things again. For one thing, there’s been quite a few changes. One hole in a wall that led to an expanse of mud is now the eastern half of of Songyu Bei Lu. That street only went halfway from Wusheng Lu to Xidawang Lu when we were here before.

Then last night we went out to eat and found ourselves at a small restaurant just north of BeiGongDa over the road from a resurrected market. When I first washed up in this part of town the Christmas before SARS there was a rather rundown looking market on an expanse of dirt on the north side of a very stinky canal just north of the campus, diagonally opposite the proper Pingleyuan market. Then that market disappeared almost overnight sometime before they decided to cover the stinky canal. Now it’s there again, looking more permanent, even with what looks like a branch of a supermarket or two inside. Anyway, we went to a restaurant just over the road from there.

It’s an odd little restaurant. You only have three choices of meal, all a kind of stew in a chafing dish. Can’t remember what the dishes are called, but one is beef, one is chicken, and one is pork. We got the beef. But ordering only gets you a very basic stew. You then go and choose a few veges, if you want them, and your drinks out of a bank of fridges along the back wall of the restaurant. I only wish I could remember what they called all this stuff. But it was good. And it was noticeably cleaner, tastier and of better quality than of anything served up in the restaurants in that hole we just escaped from.

Now, if only the weather would improve. This still, grey, humid murk just isn’t good. Still, yesterday was worse. The murk was so thick I felt like I was swimming. And then there were a couple of thunderclaps off in the distance just after midday, so I quickly got my things together and ran down to the supermarket before it started raining. It was threatening to rain, and the weather made it look like if it did rain, it’d rain thickly and heavily. Then I grabbed my empties and ran around to the market for beers. Then I just shut myself in the apartment. But those two trips left me so soaked with sweat, thanks to that heavy, thick murk, that it looked like I’d swum the Bohai Sea to run these two little errands. Then as I was studying, I suddenly realised I wasn’t sweaty any more and didn’t feel hot, so I looked out the window and saw that that tiny breeze that had ruffled the pages of my dictionary once or twice as I studied had managed to clear the air and blue sky was showing and the temperature had dropped to something bearable. And sitting outside that restaurant last night was pleasant like the first days of autumn.

Well, I guess so long as my internet access is restricted and I have stacks of spare time, I could put some effort into writing blog posts that are actually worth reading. Or at least I could try.

Alright, enough rambling.

Interesting Not very interesting after thought: On Monday I got 207 unique hits. To this blog, I mean, nobody was trying to beat me up. That’s the first time I’ve broken 200. Cool.

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