Carol Ann Nix
Copyright 2014 © Carol Ann Nix All rights reserved.
Thanks for your Happy Birthday wishes. Hubby Mike and I celebrated with dinner at Wild Dog Grille, our favorite restaurant in Douglas, Michigan. Mike made me a birthday card ‒ so cute. His words touched me even after all these years of marriage. He gave me a bracelet too. I picked it out and ordered it, of course. I never need another bracelet in my life ‒ but they’re just plain fun.
My life sparkles ‒ but your world shimmers, glimmers, and glitters. I suspect a certain vibrant young man is adding to the dazzle. I saw Yo in the pictures you sent. What a handsome guy! He sounds like such a love. As you wish, your feelings for him will remain our exquisite secret. Yo is many things to you, including guardian and true-blue friend. He's wild about you, of course. I imagine the line is growing longer every day. He’s not the only one smitten!
It has been another day in paradise in my backyard. Not a cloud in the sky. I shopped early at Farmer's Market. I’m so very grateful for that place ‒ the smells, the people, the general ambience of goodness, sweetness, and wholesomeness. I walked around teary-eyed. It happens quite often.
I made several trips to Goodwill this afternoon. Too much stuff! There is shocking evidence of overindulgence everywhere I turn. I'm one of many Americans suffering from the disease of excess. Oh, for a more simple and clutter-free life. It's not too late to change. Please send some of your self-discipline in the next email!
Next week I'm going to an out-of-town calligraphy workshop, one of the many I attend each year. Every workshop serves as a retreat. I always return home refreshed and eager to delve into art in my own studio.
How are your classes? What is the weather like in Beijing? What do you love most and least so far? Feed me more, more, more information. My inquiring mind wants to know! xoxo anna
November 17, 2009
Yesterday was the first time I saw Yo wear a dress shirt, pants dressier than jeans, and shoes other than Converse. He was as handsome as a Chinese movie star. I enjoyed a delicious six hours with him.
True to his promise, he made a vegetable dish for our dinner – excellent eggplant. His mama taught him how to cook – a little. I watched him begin by pouring oil into a frying pan – an ocean of it. My eyes popped open, and I gasped. Wish I had stock in Chinese cooking oil companies. It seems to be the main ingredient in every dish. Supermarkets sell five-kilogram jugs of it. That's eleven pounds of liquid fat!
Bus drivers are the exception. Buses are modern-day dragons forcibly snaking their way through Beijing streets. Bus drivers fully control the wrath of their dragons. Awareness of this power swells them into arrogance. As a prosecuting attorney in the U.S., I witnessed a similar phenomenon when judges put on black robes and when policemen strapped on guns.
This morning I took my Mac PowerBook to the Apple store at Sanlitun, a popular area for Westerners in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. Many foreign embassies are located there as well as famous international stores and pubs. The Chinese computer geeks at the Apple Genius Bar solved two out of three computer problems. Given the age of my laptop, the third was too costly to repair. I will get along with my ailing machine a while longer.
Wen Wen arrived at my apartment in the early afternoon carrying a DVD player – a gift. I've acquired a raft of DVD movies in Beijing. They're cheap – about $1.50 each from vendors selling them illegally on the street. Wen Wen says the movies are "fake" – pirated. She says I can find fake anything in China. She calls it Chinese magic.
Wen Wen and I bought groceries at the supermarket. Tomorrow I'll attempt to serve Yo a meal that neither chokes nor poisons him. He's coming to my apartment for dinner and a movie. I’m planning a no-brainer meal. Good for both of us.
Yo volunteered to teach me Chinese, but I declined his generous offer. I don’t want to waste his time. Foreign language isn’t my forte. Two years of pathetic college French is proof. Lucky for me, I'm pretty good in English. Yo thinks so. He says I’m the queen of words.
Email from Carol
November 16, 2009
Happy Birthday! I hope everything is sparkly on your special day. Yo found out my birthday is November 19 and invited me to dinner. I intend to dress within an inch of my life – a form-fitting dress, high heels, and makeup – the works. Don’t ask me why. I just want to.
Tell me what you are doing these days, dear Anna. I miss you.
Email from Anna
November 17, 2009
I received the first Beijing Update. Oh Carol ‒ your days in Beijing are in full tilt boogie! I love reading about the different foods, the high-heeled women, the bus driver on a mission ‒ and the spitters. You have the most incredibly adventuresome spirit! What fun to be meeting interesting people and exploring exotic places. How good can you stand it!
November 14, 2009
I stood at the front of the crowded bus this morning. The driver and I shared the same view. He was a man on a mission. He drove the bus with as much intensity as a soldier drives a tank across enemy lines. He honked the horn at every driver or pedestrian who dared impede his full-speed-ahead momentum. He grunted at them. It was hilarious – until he grunted at me.
I'm having fun navigating around the city on my own now. Getting lost is just part of an adventure. In a pinch I can always call Wen Wen or Yo. Together they provide a comfortable dual safety net.
We had two major snowstorms this week. I watched city workers sweep snow off sidewalks with primitive brooms – the kind you picture a witch riding across a full moon on Halloween night. I haven't seen or heard a single snow blower in Beijing. Instead of buying gas-powered equipment, the government hires workers. I like the policy. More people have jobs.
I have no idea how all the magnificent skyscrapers come to be in Beijing. At street level, most work is labor-intensive and performed with the most basic tools. Make no mistake. Countless buildings are going up in nearly every Beijing neighborhood. Construction cranes punctuate the skyline. Spectacular growth. I guess the government's philosophy is "If you build it, they will come." People do come – from all over China – from all over the world.
Men gross me out by loudly hawking up all the phlegm they possibly can and spitting it in goopy globs on sidewalks and streets. No one cringes at this except me. Many women are just as bad. I've seen both white-haired grandmothers and smartly dressed professional women spit wads. The practice seems part of Chinese culture. Everyone is a potential spitter. No one is above suspicion – except Wen Wen and Yo, of course.
November 15, 2009
Most Chinese ladies are slender and wear feminine attire – dresses or skirts and high-heeled shoes or stylish leather boots. High heels are definitely the rage in Beijing footwear. Ouch! As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get into them. Now, I can’t wait to get out of them.
Beijing is a fascinating place, and the Chinese are fascinating people. They live harmoniously. Harmony is the operative word here. Even bizarre Beijing traffic has a detectable element of harmony. I never see road rage. Drivers toot horns, but rarely out of anger. The toot is more of a heads up that the driver is nearby and making a move.
Yo has a powerful singing voice and loves rap music. Oblivious to passing pedestrians, he belted out an original rap song for me. He sang in Chinese, so I don’t know if he used violent or vulgar lyrics. I have never heard Yo use profanity. He is a gentleman. At least he's a gentleman with me.
Dense fog enveloped us, and we became disoriented. I teased Yo about getting lost within walking distance of school. It was funny and fun. When we didn’t want to be lost anymore we jumped into a taxi, and Yo gave the driver our school address.
When it was time to say goodnight Yo put me in another taxi. The ride home took nearly an hour. I no sooner unlocked my apartment door than he called to make sure I had arrived safely. The man is a dearheart. I came to China to meet Yo – but I didn't know it until now.
November 8, 2009
Liz, my roommate, invited Yo to dinner at our apartment. I don’t know why, but I’m glad she did. She's a good cook. We will have homemade Chinese dumplings stuffed with ground pork, onion, garlic, and ginger.
November 9, 2009
Three wasn't a crowd for Liz, Yo, and me last night. I helped a tiny bit with dinner by stuffing a few dumplings, but it's no secret that I’m worthless in the kitchen.
Yo brought two bottles of Chinese red wine. Particularly considerate of him, since in China it's not customary to bring a hostess gift. Yo had no idea how to operate Liz's wine bottle opener, so he used the floor for leverage. He’s a strong guy. I knew he would get the cork out one way or another – with his teeth, if necessary. We had a good laugh and some tasty, full-bodied, Great Wall wine.
Via our small dinner party, Liz and I socially initiated our apartment in the best possible way. The three of us talked, laughed, and solidified our three-way friendship. I continued feeling Yo’s zesty vitality and strong masculine presence long after we said goodnight. He is quite the dynamo in an adorably unpretentious way.
After dinner we strolled along a foggy Beijing street. "You are eagle-eyed," he said. "You are a wise philosopher and know things in your heart that others do not know." His high regard for me is touching.
November 5, 2009
I'm still home with a low-grade fever. Yo called to check on me. We decided to postpone dinner, but tomorrow he'll take me to what the Chinese call a pharmacy. Not the same as in the United States. A pharmacy here sells traditional Chinese medicine. No prescription is necessary, because Chinese medicine is made from plants.
Yo wants to become a proficient English speaker. He has a long way to go. We communicate reasonably well, but sometimes it's difficult understanding precise meanings – and feelings. I am forever Yo’s teacher. At his request, I correct his mistakes and explain unfamiliar words. In return, he teaches me Chinese culture. It's a good trade.
I am developing feelings for Yo. I won't share them with anyone except Anna unless they lead to something significant. For others to know now would cause speculation. The future is unknown to us all.
November 7, 2009
I'm recovering. Am about 80 percent now. I taught yesterday. Yo helped me buy the same herbs his mama gave him when he was a sick boy. I think it’s cute that he still calls his mother “mama” and his father “papa.” He started to pay for my pills and granules, but I shook my head and said, "When you're a wealthy man, you can pay for everything." As for the Chinese medicine, the green pills wash down fine, but the granules, which dissolve in hot water, taste like stinky tofu smells. Yuck!
I worry that Yo saves money by skimping on food. He ate oatmeal for dinner last night. Sometimes he eats oatmeal at his desk for a snack. I invited him to a healthy dinner tonight – a real meal with plenty of meat, vegetables, and fruit. He accepted my invitation. After class we walked through Ditan Park on our way to Pizza Buffet – his choice of restaurants.
A colorful clothing bazaar was in full swing inside Ditan Park – Yo calls it Earth Park. He's like most American men when it comes to shopping. His eyes glazed over when I stopped at the first booth. To spare him further agony, I donned mental blinders as we passed row upon row of fascinating vendors.
It did my heart good to see Yo eat like a field hand at Pizza Buffet. The more he ate, the wider my smile. I intended to pay at the end of the meal, as is the custom in most restaurants here, but not at Pizza Buffet. Yo knew there was a fixed price per person, and he paid before we sat down. I didn’t know until we were leaving. Tricky Yo.
My friend is formidable. He's six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and full of magnetic male energy. He turns twenty-six next month. Despite his youth, he's a deep thinker and astute observer. In many ways, he is wise beyond his years. Occasionally he'll snatch a complicated concept out of the ether and slow pitch it at me.