November 12, 2016

*Note: I’m taking an extended hiatus from Facebook. My blog post are automatically published there from WordPress, however, I won’t see any comments. So if you have any comments you want me to see post them here on my blog page directly.

For the record, I’m still unbelievably mad and sad and sick and worried. This whole week has sucked actually. But I can’t discuss it anymore so I’m just focusing on today for now. Today was a good day (in spite of the smog). It was warm, mid fifties, I managed to get up early, make pancakes, tackle some errands (even got through the bank in record time with minimal hassle-no small feat here), and go wander around the Chaowai district, exploring and window-shopping.

Last week, when the temperature dropped, the powers that be decided to switch on the government-controlled heating early, on Nov. 12. That sounded like a great idea at the time but now it’s warmer outside and the additional heat from the radiator is making our apartment feel like some tropical getaway. We had to dig out summer clothes to sleep in and pull out the fans we just put away. It doesn’t really feel like mid-November but I’m sure that will change in a week or so.

Tonight Jess and I set out to find this pizza place that was supposed to be good. It took us about an hour of walking around, trying to match barely marked alleys with Google Map’s version of things. It was in a quiet hutong neighborhood we hadn’t been down before and we stumbled on some interesting places before finally finding the bar-Mao Mao Chang’s in Ban Chang hutong if anyone out there is interested. The drinks were great though and the pizza more than lived up to its reputation so it was definitely worth the trip. We ordered their dessert pizza on a whim. I’m not usually a big fan of dessert pizzas but this was amazing-just thin crust covered in dark chocolate and orange slices, served with homemade rum raisin ice cream.

I wanted to share the two encounters that stand out most in my head right now though, both with cab drivers I had today. Beijing taxi drivers aren’t known as particularly friendly, even with locals, but occasionally you get a really nice one. First, the cab driver I had on the way home from shopping today. He was fidgeting with the meter for most of the ride but it would not work at all. When we got home I tried to ask how much (usually if there’s a problem they’ll kind of ballpark it) but he kept waving me off, telling me don’t worry about it, it’s broken. I thought that was really sweet, but finally did get him to accept 20 kuai, which was still less than I normally pay from that area in Saturday afternoon traffic.

Then on the way home from dinner the driver Jess and I had was pretty young and really friendly. We sat in traffic for a while and he kept attempting conversation, asking where we were from and pointing out the license plate ahead of us that in a funny coincidence was “Yo, yo, yo, yo” (One, one, one, one). Another car was “Liu, liu, liu, liu”, or six, six, six, six. Then he got super excited about a noise behind us and started talking about a beautiful car. Turns out there was a Lamborghini behind us. Our driver actually pulled out of the way at the light to let the car pass and pulled out his phone to take a video of the car revving its engine and speeding past us. He was practically cheering it on with the only English he knew, “Okay, okay, okay!” It was hilarious, he was just so excited and enthusiastic over this sports car, posting his video and rematching it.  It’s nice to see someone who genuinely enjoys their profession sometimes.

I’m excited for all the upcoming holiday events. Last year I my job had me working nights and weekends and I missed almost everything, so this year I sat down and started planning way ahead of time. There are lots of plays, ballets, and pop-up holiday bazaars and markets in Beijing during November and December, the tree-lighting ceremony, and many of the big hotels do Thanksgiving dinners for expats. I’m sure I won’t do half the things in my calendar but I like having things to look forward to.

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