Monday, April 28, 2008

Good Times

I forgot to tell you about last weekend. It was absolutely BRILLIANT!!!!! We went camping up North in Qinhuangdao, which is about 20 minutes South of where the Great Wall goes into the ocean. Evidently they've "rebuilt" part of it, so it looks more like a tourist attraction. Seems a shame somehow. We never made it that far, but stayed at "the beach house". :) The boys actually rented a house for a year in this town that takes 4 hours by slow train to get to. It was pretty cold, but we had the best time. Continuing the fierce card game from the previous weekend took up most of Friday night, that is after we left "Golden Age", a bar that would have to come straight out of a cheesy 80s movie if I hadn't seen it myself. There was a big 360 stage and different girls singing Karaoke to the "audience". Finally a guy singer came on- evidently some "hot commodity" around town...red shirt, open at the collar, gold necklace...awesome. And, he sang the last half of the song directly to me. I think I was as red as his oh-so-cool shirt by the end of it. The next morning we had a wonderful lunch from the landlady and while we were out of the front landing some of the local kids came peeking by the front gate. They were so cute! Tommy went down and hid behind the door and they squealed in delight when he scared them. so great. Then they darted away, only to return a few minutes later with dandelions for the three of us sitting outside. I went outside to play with them and tried to teach them "little bunny foo foo", but not very successfully, then they disappeared again, returning this time with stickers for all of us. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning! We walked out to the beach then, and it was really a glorious day. There was a killer campfire that night and one of the guys' friend, Victor brought firewood and food and we all ended up sleeping on the beach under the full moon. Very good times!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Healing Smile

The cabbage and cigarette smell threatens to overwhelm me as I'm sitting in the private car, being driven to the "Shunyi Clinic" in the Northern part of town. It's the satellite clinic for the hospital and is 10 miles from nowhere. The wind is maniacally whipping past us, as are all the other cars and even old men on bicycles because I am being driven by the slowest driver in the universe. We really should have started yesterday if we wanted to be on time, but it's still an adventure and finally we turn onto a beautiful tree-lined drive next to a river. We pass the obligatory public exercise equipment put there in a "Get China Fit" movement, which are, like most of the time, empty of people working out. Finally we reach our destination and it's a tiny but spotless clinic with two of the Doctors I sat next to at the baseball game a few weeks ago. Amazing how such a big town can be so small. It's extra lucky that I know one of the Doctors because she had a look at my face and gave me some Clarytin and assured me i wasn't dying of liver failure. I just had a reaction to the sun/wind/pollution/antibiotics. Whew. So, I'll be teaching the "English Language Hospitality Club" there on Wednesdays and at the big hospital Mon, Tue, Thu. I guess I just get overcommitted wherever I go. I actually am enjoying it though, so I'm just gonna go with it. Tomorrow I give my first lesson: Eye Contact and How to Smile. :) good stuff.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nesting

I've always had an affinity for trees. And I've claimed the tree in the back of my apt. as mine. I'm on the second floor and just off the living room is a tiny "porch" with windows looking out onto a tree, streetlamp, bushes, and small walkway. Beyond that are highrises and a new building site. When it rains, a puddle forms just under the streetlamp which reflects the light and the raindrops falling in concentric and constant circles. That's when I listen to jazz and have a cup of tea and it feels like I'm in Brooklyn in the '30s. I do have an overactive imagination though... At the moment, while writing this, my roommate is practicing his guitar in the other room and the distant sounds of traffic drone on in a soothing, city lullaby. I believe I am content. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Black Coffee

So the sore throat was indeed tonsillitis! But, happily, my gig went great last night, and I am working for a hospital. some of my best friends in Beijing came to hear me sing last night, and it made it that much more special. I learned a new song called "Black Coffee" and man, does it throw down the blues. There just isn't anything like being onstage singin' that song with a trumpet, sax and stand-up bass behind you (and having on fabulous new shoes!!!). It was great. I rode Blue Betty to and from the club through the warm Spring night and it was just magical. Now I have to go take my antibiotics and get to bed. But this weekend is a train adventure to some new town...so, more soon!!!! xoxoxo

Monday, April 14, 2008

Trip out of Town

This weekend I must say I got a little homesick for the mountains! We went "camping" in a little mountain farming village about two hours north of Beijing (but between the bus and taxi, it too almost three). But the way there led us through a winding mountain road. It reminded me of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but with way less traffic rules. :) There were actually stars!!! I could see many constellations and the great rock faces of the surrounding mountains looked like snow in the moonlight. I arrived with the "second shift" and our friends there were already well into some intense games of "A**hole" (it's a card-game, Mom). We had an incredible dinner and went back to playing cards into the wee hours and I don't think I've laughed so much in a long time. The next morning we went hiking through some amazing gorges and more stairs than I would ever care to climb again at one time. but it was a brilliantly beautiful day and we hung out on the rocks surrounding a small pool. I can only imagine how cold the place must get in the winter, because there were large sections of ice that looked like tiny glaciers surrounding the pool. I think the boys slid down one of them. My friend Willy (a beautiful Dutch girl) and I had a wonderful talk while sunbathing on the most comfortable rock I've ever had the pleasure to sleep on. What a great weekend!

This Wednesday I'm singing at the club, so, keep your fingers crossed. But I got the most amazing shoes in the universe, so it will be a good time regardless!!!! :)

I finally got an apartment- it is ridiculously cool and I feel like I'm in a movie! So, I walk around the house singing jazz tunes I'm learning and at night sit on the little "balcony" listening to Ella Fitzgerald and looking down at the tiny park outside my window, singing along and watching the shadows of the trees move through the little pool of light from the streetlamp.

The weather is finally getting warmer, but the sky is filled with little white puffs of fuzz- not sure if they are from trees, or some pillow fight of the gods, but it looks like snow. So continues my surreal and amazing experience in Beijing!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Blue Betty Rides Again

My dear friends who are sweet enough to read this blog, I have just had one of the most amazing days of my life! If you were to just look at it on paper, it might seem rather ordinary, but it was/is pure magic. You know that feeling when you get your first apartment after college? Or that first job? I feel like this is the first time in my life that every single aspect of my life is my own, and absolutely new. It's just brilliant. Maybe because basic things are challenges here, but yesterday I got a phone (for $20 yeah!) and today I got a bike and an apartment!!!!! Whoooo Hoooo! Thank god my friend Tommy was with me for the bikes, because my Chinese is totally Bu Hao! He got a black bike and I got a powder blue bike with a sticker that says, "Betty". So, I took Blue Betty out on the town and rode for miles (i LOVE that Beijing is flat :) and it was truly amazing. I really felt like I was part of this town today, riding around either dodging cars like Frogger, or cycling smoothly down a wide, tree-lined lane, passing all the Embassies.

I've sung a few songs with the band, but I think a week from tomorrow is when we will really kick off. I met some other guys from Detroit who are the back-up band for this woman who I swear is Tina Turner reincarnated, and they were so cool!! I went to see them and they invited me up on stage. AUGH. So, I did "Summertime" and it felt absolutely amazing. I thought I was in a 1940's movie for a minute there (still looking for Cary Grant though!), and it was so fun. The picture is a little dark, but you get the gist!

This weekend I bartended at a house party for the friends I've been staying with this past week (affectionately known as the Frat House- but in a good way) :)
It was a blast. My friend Michael Leahy (who used to live in Asheville) just happened to be passing through Beijing. how weird was that? It was a killer party (even though a poster caught fire in the back room before the party started- let's hear it for cement walls!!!).

More soon once I get settled in my place (which is really bad-ass! It's all black slate floors (and bathroom walls), a big kitchen, and upstairs- yeah, that's right- and a Queen Size bed! omg! there's even a dark wood wardrobe and vanity). I think actually, I may have fallen into a 1940s movie. :) Brilliant!

Lots of love and hugs and more soon!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Picture Post

This is the entrance to the club, Block 8, which is way cool.

Then I take the 701 bus from the Hospital to the club.
Busses are great here...except in the rain.

The next pic is the road to the club.


Around the corner is a restaurant called "1001 Nights"- cute little kid.


I've made some great friends here.
This is the opening of my friends club called, "The Saddle"- OLE!!!