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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Monday: The World Exploded into Love all Around Me. To say that the sky was the most beautiful that I have seen in China would be an understatement. The light blue heaven was lit up by ray of light which reflected from the white of the most spectacular clouds that have ventured over this city. I thought that this may have just been my opinion, but after speaking with many of my students, they also said that it was the most beautiful day that they had ever seen in Chengde. The magic of this afternoon would be multiplied by the arrival of Claire on the train from Beijing. It is unbelievable to think that real life could play out so perfectly. My morning began with my decision to take the teaching job at Indiana University. I hope that it was the correct one but only time will tell. After going for my morning walk then showering and dressing for the day, I decided to give Laura a visit. She was happy to see me as my schedule has kept me from visiting her office. It is a little sad that it was primarily to ask her to fill out an evaluation for me then fax it to a school. She was more than happy to do so then we had a wonderful conversation. Afterwards, I
caught the bus to the train station and waited for Claire to arrive. While standing in the light, my thoughts ventured to a little folk tale that Toy man had told me. When he heard that there had been a centipede in my bedroom, he smiled and said that it was a good sign. He told me that Centipedes often turned into beautiful women and allow you to enjoy
their company. The story seemed quaint. When I asked him if he had a story about the scorpion, he said no, but at that moment, a chill ran down my spine, and I knew what the scorpion symbolized and why it had ran under my bed. A conversation which I had with Claire in Beijing popped into my mind. I do not remember how the subject came about, but I vividly remembered asking her if Scorpions and Capricorn could get along with each other, and she said ¡°Oh Yes.¡± It all seemed so mythical and strange to me, but Claire was both my Centipede and Scorpion, and it in few minutes, she was going to be my beautiful princess. While staring at the blue sky, the white statue of the three Chinese maidens holding hoops of flowers beamed in the light as never before. It looked fresh and new, and somehow everything seemed wonderful. At that moment, the train pulled into the station, and as the doors poured forth its contents, Claire appeared out of nowhere. We caught the bus to my house then had a nice romantic dinner. Needing to go to the bank, we caught the bus but were turned away until later in the afternoon. Wanting to keep her occupied, we went to a Daoist which I had not yet visited in Chengde. I had been waiting for the right moment and somehow this was it. We wandered through the halls and enjoyed the statues of all of the Gods. For the first time at any temple, I found several statues of Goddesses. One was Mother Earth carrying a naked little boy. She was smiling at me saying everything would be wonderful. It was almost too much. Leaving the temple, we walked down to the river and enjoyed the water and sky. It was almost too much. The sky gleamed from the brilliance of the blue and white aura which it beamed forth. Claire and I simply talked and enjoyed each others company. Walking back to the bank, I managed to retrieve some money, but Claire¡¯s card was not able to process. This led us back to my house, so she could call her parents. We spent the rest of the afternoon together in the glory of the moment. At four though, I had to go give my students their final. However, the class had another exam at the same time, so we had to reschedule. This would also occur with my second class although I did get a chance to talk with some of them. We sat under the sky and admired the beauty of life. They then ventured off to take their exam, so I wished them all luck. Coming home, Claire and I decided to go out and enjoy the evening air. She was completely fascinated by the dancers who used their Chinese florescent fans and handkerchiefs to dance to the beat of the drums, gongs, and other Asian percussion instruments which were accompanied by a small obo looking instrument which had a similar sound to that of the obo as well. We enjoyed it greatly. We watched two groups as the wandered up and down the street. We then wandered down to the town square and were mesmerized by a group of instrumentalist who had a spur of the moment jam session, and it was totally incredible. There was percussion ie drum and many gongs, two Chinese fiddles, several instruments which resembled mandolins, and a couple which I simply can not explain. They played one melody after another while people would take turns singing. It was an incredible array of songs and performances. The percussion would pound out one melody which the strings played a counter melody, and the singer sang something completely different sounding. The resonance of all of the dissonant sounds was quite eerie and magical at the same time. They clashed and melded into one another all at the same time. It was a mesmerizing
harmony of chaotic beauty. Both of us were floored by the performance, and to see the insintity of the players faces as they moved through the music. It was an incredible moment of fantasy. Afterwards, we came home and enjoyed the evening.

Tuesday: Strangely Sick!
An odd turn of events happened this morning as I became horrifically ill and felt as if knives were being plunged into my stomach. Although I was slightly ill when I woke up this morning, it became worse as the day progressed. The day started off quite surreal and strange. This is going to be really hard to believe, but it honestly the truth. When going to take my shower this morning, there was a strange and large looking creature in the corner of my bathroom door. My first thoughts were what in the hell is this now the bug motel, but glancing a little closer, it became apparent that it was both the centipede and scorpion wrapped around each other. Imagine the bug version of the thousand armed Buda with a pair of claws and nasty tail. It was incredible to me, and after the story, everything seemed so surreal. Waking Claire, we both decided that it was necessary to kill them, although I was pretty sure that the scorpion was killing the centipede. Finding my deep woods off, we ventured towards the bathroom, but the shit did not even phase either of the bugs. Not wanting to have pissed off poisonous bugs in my room, we got the broom and
knocked the scorpion off. Claire then grabbed my shoe and beat the hell out of him. It took forever to kill the little bastard. He was doing everything to stay alive. Strangely enough, the centipede had disappeared, I took this as a sign that my beautiful woman would be allowed to stay in my bedroom for several more days. It was all really crazy though because while I was in the shower a little ghost of a scorpion seemed to float through the water then drifted up to the sky. Maybe I was a little guilty over killing this sign that fate had sent to me, but I swear that I saw some form of aberration, and it looked like a scorpion ghost. Putting the carcass of my kill into an envelope, I took him to Laura after showering. Seeing the bug laying on her desk, she agreed to find someone to come and spray my room. After leaving there though, my stomach suddenly began to ache with pain. You are going to think that I am crazy, but I am almost positive that this was my punishment for killing my scorpion king. Coming back home, I agreed to take Claire to breakfast as she insisted on it. Food was the last thing on my bind. We had bread dumplings, but it made me even more sick. Wanting to show Claire a good time though, we took the number six to Punning Si. It had been a very long time since visiting, but the large Buda was even more beautiful than I had remembered. This Buda is Guanyin the Goddess of Mercy. She is the largest in the world and made from seven different types of woods. She is truly stunning, and it made me breathless to see her again. Touring the temple for awhile, my stomach eventually got to the point that it could not longer take it. We came back and took a long nap. Waking up got my afternoon, it took all of my energy to climb up the stairs of the school. Getting to the top, I was a little pissed that no one showed for the final. Coming back down, I made it home just in time to empty all of the contents of my stomach. At this point, Claire and I spent the rest of the evening inside relaxing together.

Wednesday: Felling Better But Still A Little Bad.
Getting out of bed this morning, my stomach seemed to feel a little better, but sharp pains continued to jolt through my abdomen throughout the day. Not sure what this means, but it can not be good news. Wanting to get out of the apartment, Claire and I walked down to the market and had the ¡°egg burrito¡± for breakfast. This one is slightly different from my normal as it is primarily just egg bread. The take a very large round layer of flat bread which looks like a soft taco then pour scrambled eggs over it until they melt together. It is really wonderful though greasy. Not good for a recovering stomach. We then headed down and caught the number 10 bus to the old Mosque. It is incredibly beautiful though it looks as if it has been closed for years. We tried to find our way in, but huge brick walls and a nasty German Shepard blocked our attempts. Deciding to head to another temple, we agreed to walk to the Puren Si Temple. It is the only one which I had yet to visit in Chengde. Not sure why, but this seemed to be the perfect day. We ended up having to walk along the train tracks to get there, as the alley ways of the village were too confusing and everyone kept staring at us like we were crazy. When we got there, they were walling up the entrance with bricks which confused both of us. We walked all around the temple trying to find another way inside. There seemed to be no hope until we saw some open doors. Deciding to sneak in, we walked through and began to wander around. It was quite nice and peaceful. There were some workers which did not say anything then another man came and very angrily kicked us out. It was kind of sad because the place was incredibly beautiful, and I would have liked to have had the opportunity to go and explore some more. I am almost positive that I will be the last Westerner to step foot in the temple for a long time to come. Maybe not, but the huge brick walls that they were building around the entrances seemed to be a good indication. Going back home, we freshened up, and I took her to the large Taoist temple on the hill. She was a little tired when we got to the top, the walk did not bother me, but I am also used to walking everywhere. When we got there, the heavens opened up and a huge rainstorm flooded the place. We huddled
together in a hall way and waited it out. It was quite nice. Afterwards, we wandered around then on our way home, some Chinese people from Xian offered us a ride home in their taxi. We got off then had lunch. Sweet and Spicy Cucumber and potatoes, pork with cucumber, and flat bread was the meal of the day. Fabulous! We came back to my room and looked at Photos then I went to my class but once again no one shower. Going to Laura¡¯s office, she agreed to contact them then she took me to the pharmacy and helped me buy medicine. I went and gave my final to my second class then came home and had an incredible evening with Claire.

Thursday: I sat in the Window of My Room!
There are points in ones life where the world is turning so quickly, it seems hard to find your center because everything has lost it focus. Claire has truly managed to turn my world upside down in the past several weeks to the point that any long term decision seems to be the wrong one. Waking from the wonderful night, the sunshine of the morning proved to be even more splendid. Wanting to get an early start on the day, we quickly showered then headed out in search of a bank to take her Credit Card. Finally finding a Bank of China, she was over joyous when the finally took her card. Getting out some money, we then went and had an early lunch. Peanuts in Vinegar, and odd shredded
pork in Beijing Sauce, and some sweet potato pancakes stuffed with red sugar. It was very good but too much food. We then headed to one of the larger temples on the outskirts of the city. The last time that I had visited it had snowed heavily, and all of the stares were frozen. Today the grass was green, sky blue, and everything was spectacular. We walked all around and visited rooms that were closed last time. Saw some red and blue Budas that I had never noticed before. Quite intriguing. Buda is normally a flesh colored hue. The best parts of the temple are all of the faces of the statues. They are more lively here than anywhere else, and there seems to be more of them. They are great. Many seem to be alive. She really liked the large green Pagoda as I showed her the proper way in which to pray in it. We relaxed then checking the time came back home. Spending some time together, we then headed to the train station. Before she left, I sang her the French version of the Zydico song ¡°I sat in the Window of my room¡±. She cried then we embraced one last time, and she was off to Beijing. This had all come after a long talk about when it would be possible for me to go to France. I am not sure when as life seems so crazy. I am not sure what life has in store for me. Going home, everything was empty and so sad looking. Needing to leave, I headed to Laura¡¯s office to print out some papers then to Mr. Who¡¯s office to see if he was still interested in going to Sichuan with me. Telling me that he did not have the time, this then led me to ask Nancy if she would like to go. She has to think about it, but she seemed quite interested. After my conversation, my class arrived, and they took their final. We finished early so I
headed down and as I approached the gates this white man came to me and asked for help. His name was Jose, and he was from Barcelona. He was lost, so I agreed to help him find his way around the city. We took the bus everywhere and I showed him where all of the major sited were located. For my help, he treated me to dinner. We had fried pork and eggs with tomato. Afterwards, I wrote everything on a paper for him and sent him on his way.It was all a little strange, but there was no time to think about it as I had to pack for Beijing. It has been such a crazy day and life
seems to be throwing me signs and curve balls everywhere. Oh well, must go.


At 19 February, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Claire has truly managed to turn my world upside down in the past several weeks to the point that any long term decision seems to be the wrong one."
i will never understand u.
Bad idea to read ur blug

At 19 February, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You pointed out the phrase in my blog which you
obviously did not know what it meant. The entire
phrase means that you had made me fall in love with
so I could not make any long term decision without
thinking of you. It should not be a bad decision to
read my blog, there is nothing bad in there about
either of us. I actually write a lot of wonderful
things in there. You should read on your two visits.
They are both very nice, and they present you in a
flatering light. I think that you have a hard time
translting what I say. The phrase that you point out
is actually very flattering to you. It simply means
that I love you and could not imagine my life without
you. You should read the entire blog. It will be a
good experience for you. I hope that you are doing

Je t'aime,

At 20 February, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loooooooooooooooove u


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