Sunday, August 31, 2008

What a day


This has the be the nicest day I've seen in Beijing so far! The seasons changed last night. I felt it. pretty cool to be there the moment the wind shifts into Autumn. The sky is Carolina Blue and the clouds are scattered and puffy~ just gorgeous. It was wonderful to take Betty out for a ride; back to "frogger" in this traffic! I'm making chicken coconut curry tonight, and planning my future. I'll be staying in, on a date with myself (which is ultimately better than any Australian guys in white jackets!!).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

BLoG


It is a profound thing to be in the presence of greatness in a unique and compelling moment in history. It was amazing to see the head of the Beijing Olympic Committee and the head of the IOC and the Mayor of London there on stage for the transfer of the Olympic flag from Beijing to London. It was more than exciting to see the fireworks and Olympic flame through the top skin of the Bird's Nest. It was cool to see David Beckham and Jackie Chan and all the Athletes in one place. But. what made me literally not be able to close my mouth for a full five minutes and bring tears to my eyes? It was seeing Placido Domingo sing- IN PERSON- sharing the same stadium as myself. I fell in love with him in college, when I had to do a paper on "La Traviata", which is when I really fell in love with Opera for real. it was just almost too much. You know those moments when your heart beats so hard with everything you thought you wanted as a kid and yet also with extreme love for what you actually got? Just listen to the Encore of "The Three Tenors Concert" when they do "Nessum Dorma", and it feels like that. :) you'll see.
then I went to where our clients were (as it was winding down) and had the best seats ever for the final fireworks extravaganza. Amazing just doesn't cover it. Yet it's tempered with the knowledge of how much money was put into this three hour spectacle (gosh, not to even mention the Opening Ceremony), and what resources might not be there for people in other parts of China who might need it. that's an age-old question I suppose, and one I'll never answer.

It's so weird not being at the hotel today- and you don't realize how fast a month can go by (that might be the no day off in 7 weeks part). I'm going to miss all the guys and girls at the hotel. What a learning curve. I'm sure they were just as frustrated with us as we were with them sometimes, with the language barriers. AUGH. You know when you need something to happen exactly as you ask, and immediately...and then you are met with a totally blank stare? AAAAUUUUGH. forget India or a Buddhist monastery. just come to China. but I feel like i also made some really good friends. a whole wealth of communication just with smiles and laughing. that can't be bad. :) My two favourite guys, Jason and Joseph, are on my right as you look at the picture.

And another ridiculously cool thing happened that last night, when I thought I couldn't get any happier: I ran into Peter Ho-Sun Chan, a big Hong Kong director who just did "The Warlords" with Jet Li and Takeshi Kaneshiro. the extra cool part being that he was a judge in Hawaii, when I worked there for the film festival. He walked by and before I could think I said, "Peter?"...and he turned around, got this astonished look on his face and said, "KATIE!!!" - Wheeeeeee! I love the random moments that happen outside of elevators in other countries!!!! He's coming back up from HK in a few weeks and I'm gonna take him out on the town. Life is full-on here. I LOVE IT!

but everyone is going home now and the teams are breaking up. we had our farewell party last night (at a place called "The Secret Garden", which was so secret that no one could find it: our directions-once we called, lost- were, "It's just past the Rickshaw (a local bar) with the cockatoo out front". They neglected to tell us that the restaurant name was in Chinese...). :) but it was fun once we got there- even though my team leader made me sing to everyone (which was fun, of course, but always slightly awkward for me. i suppose i should just get over that. o.k.). then it was thundering and lightening and raining and we ran to Nan Jie (the local watering hole open 24/7 with cocktails for 20 kuai- $3). i guess it was then i realized this mad month was really over. the DJ mixed a crazy version of "Summer of 69" with a wicked bass line and we danced off into the night, content and more tired that should be allowed. and totally happy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SLEEP

i'm so excited about sleeping that I can't sleep. :)
one more day of odds and ends and then...REST

next post will have much more...omg. i just don't know if i can really describe what it was like being there at the closing ceremony.
I mean...yeah. wow. the fact that i was in the same space as all those athletes, world leaders, Placido Domingo, Jackie Chan, and David Beckham...wow.
More soon! ah, sleep.
YAY!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Tony Blair to Jabba the Hutt

The final stretch is where you are on the verge of your second wind, and also possible implosion from exhaustion. Well aware of this nefarious dichotemy, we all power on. Last night was so funny. Evidently this is a pretty "big-deal" hotel (Yao Ming owns a suite here) and yesterday, BAZAAR had a huge opening or party or something and all these Chinese popstars were here. they came out of the hotel to be driven 100 feet to get out again before the little, screaming Chinese girls. pretty funny. But it was pretty cool that Jet Li and Tony Blair were both at a dinner on the 5th floor of the hotel last night too. (much more impressive for me than Chinese boy bands- call me old-fashioned). Then, on the way back from my nightly dvd pick-up, I told the cab driver where to go (in Chinese) and he laughed EXACTLY like Jabba the Hutt (in Return of the Jedi when Leia unfreezes Han, you know). As the hot night air blew my hair across my face, the moon came into view through the Bladerunner-like buildings, and it was the colour of burnished gold. A perfect setting for yet another bizarre Beijing night.

Speaking of bizarre, I have to tell you about the dogs here. It cracks me up so much and it's all I can do not to laugh out loud, but the pet-carrying rigs just have to be shared. All in one day, I saw a tiny, white mop of a dog cruising happily in a "backseat basket" of a woman's bike (while she was riding it and the princess' less fortunate siblings were trotting along by leash); a man on a bike with a backpack dog-carrier (that's right, poor little Scottie dog was looking around with his little lets poking out of four holes on the backpack, wondering what the hell he was doing so far away from the ground); and best for last: a woman was pulling a suitcase behind her, which isn't strange in itself, but for the little white mutt..he he, with the..ha.aaaha, dog cone on it's poor little head...he he.. and that was all that was sticking out of the suitcase! omg. i almost fell over on the street.

O.K., the guests are coming back, gotta scram. Whooo Hooo! one more day!!!!!!!!!!!
:)

Monday, August 18, 2008

WHOOOO HOOOOO


It's another 3.30am arrival home. The smell of hosta flowers permeates the still night air as I make my way home through a maze of asphalt and red lanterns. The full moon is starting to wane and I have to pinch myself to think about what happened. I didn't think I'd get to see any events, but fortune smiled on me and there I was at a swimming finals! I still can't believe I was there. even with pictures. it was just amazing. A million years ago I used to swim and it was so sweet to walk into the water cube and be assailed by the smell of the pool. such good memories came back and little did I know I'd be part of history that day too! I had a "lollipop" sign and was one of those tour guides, like the pied piper, leading big executives through the most gorgeous day I've yet experienced in Beijing. We finally got them settled with races underway. Libby was there from Australia, Natalie was there from America, and then Aaron Piersol and Michael Phelps. Just incredible. We were so close, i could hardly contain myself (but because I was on duty, i had to stay serious...and you know me- that was hard!). I can't describe how profound it was to hear the National Anthem and see our flag raised, next to China and Germany and surrounded by people from everywhere. it's certainly an experience that transcends politics! so, i left early and took the subway back to the hotel and found myself next to three people from Jamaica who looked lost. I helped them change subways and got them to their stop, and found out one of the women is the Mother of Usain Bolt. What a day!

I've made friends with the staff working our hospitality suite- i think they think i'm crazy, but that might be true (but at least I can make them laugh)- and they taught me to say "Mei guo bi sheng!" which loosely translates to, "America can't not win" :) so, of course, every time I walk by them I say, "Zhong guo bi sheng" (China has to win) and they say, "Mei guo bi sheng!". it's pretty funny. that's the good part, but wow is it frustrating trying to run an event where your "staff" can't understand you. how do you explain that steamed vegetables doesn't mean wilted bok choy? or, "can I get some nuts?". that was a good one. I'm getting used to the slightly panicked, blank stare. this place will either make you insane or teach you patience like you wouldn't believe. :)

OH. i forgot. I got totally scammed the other day (TWICE) and it just made me sick. the website for the Chaoyang Theatre had a number, and because of a rain cancellation, we had to get 38 people to do something fun and time was of the essence. Well, the guy on the phone said their credit card machine was broken (yeah, i know, but hindsight is 20/20 and i'm going on no sleep), so i borrowed a quite substantial sum from the hotel and got there just in time (in the rain, no less). so, i'm a superstar. then i go to get the fa piao (receipt) and Poof. he's gone, and his phone is turned off (the guy who met me to give me the tix). sigh. OMG. i almost started crying. I had all these fantasies of putting him in jail, etc. but eventually realized, it's not personal here. it's a business. he made a dummy website and even has staff. i know this because the story actually has a happy ending. I gotta say, it felt pretty good. I called him back, later, and said we needed more tickets for the next night, and could he meet me at the theatre. I took my friend Ray (who speaks Chinese) and made sure he brought the official receipt. So, he actually shows up, and gives us the receipt (another thing you can manufacture in China) and then I was like, "o.k., so tell us about this scam. not cool. we want our money back". i can say I've actually seen a deer in headlights now. The funny thing is, the night before, I was so angry, and eventually (because i needed to sleep) i made the effort to try to look at him with compassion. my anger was probably more at myself for getting taken for a ride and my pride was hurt.

So, there we were, and he put up a really convincing fight (like, the tickets really were that expensive and let's go talk to the manager), but Ray was great and told him we had his "information"- so he knew the game was up. the best part was, though, when I asked for the money back that he scammed, his last ditch effort was, "Well, that's the price on the website" and I came right back with, "but that's a fake website". man, it was perfect. you had to feel sorry for him then. and when i said he made me lose face in front of my boss and he made China look bad he totally apologized for himself and his country, and put out his hand. I took it and that was that, knowing full well, he'll probably be back at it tomorrow. what a day though.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

That was one of the coolest things ever

Wow. i don't even know what to say, that was just brilliant!
i actually didn't really think they would use the song. but they did. it's the one right before they light the first small torch, when the girls in white dance, right after the speeches. wow. that was just amazing.

and then the closing fireworks, we COULD see them!!! that was so damn cool.
well, i'm running out of adjectives to describe this night.

*and now i have to try to explain to the hotel staff that the projector needs to be fixed, before all the CEOs come back from the ceremony. he he. communication is a luxury not easily attainable here. sigh. gotta go!

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever


So, I saw some of the fireworks leading up to the bird's nest, but the smog/haze was too thick to see anything from the stadium. bummer. but, I'm hanging out in the air conditioning with a screen and projector~ not bad. those poor "cheerleaders" who have to dance in cowboy boots for HOURS...

so, i thought it might be like this, but there are hardly Any cars on the roads right now!!! wow. once in a lifetime indeed!!!!

Team China is just rounding the last bend. there should be fireworks soon. (i hope)
I don't envy anybody the trip out of the stadium.
wow.

The body caligraphy was really awesome, and the light shows were really incredible.
OOH and the world that came out of the ground, with the people dancing on it...that was awesome. the costumes, the endless supply of beautiful women in gorgeous dresses...very cool.
*the song Sarah Brightman sang- that was the second song, that I only changed two small things about. but how freakin' brilliant to hear them sing it. The president of the beijing olympic committee is speaking now, but since it's local Chinese tv, i have no idea what he's saying. i can pick out about 7 words. but i do know when they say, "one world, one dream" (teng yi ge shi jie, teng yi ge meng xiang) Aw Yeah!!!

:) i miss everybody heaps (but i did go out with a hot Australian guy last night and it turns out yesterday was Chinese Valentine's Day) ha. i also have no idea what I'm saying right now because I haven't had a decent night's sleep in what feels like a decade. but man, i am having the time of my life.

Friday, August 8, 2008

1 hour and 8minutes to go

I'm watching the pre-show on the local CCTV channel. None of the international Chinese channels will be showing the ceremonies, just the one serving the mainland. The dances and costumes I've seen so far are pretty impressive, even though they are dwarfed by the size of the stadium floor. The smog/haze is just dreadful. I can see about three blocks and I'm on the 61st floor. good grief.

it is pretty amazing to be here though, i must say. and i'm a sucker for all the big music and dramatic shows. i'll probably get all misty-eyed when the real ceremony starts.

it's profound to be here in this moment. i'm so grateful and blessed. sending all my love back home! xoxo

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bloggy Blog

Oh there is so much to tell, i don't know where to begin!!! Should I start with chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes (not much of a story other than they were AWESOME!), or that i have three roommates now and it was slightly dicey at the police station getting all the registration done, or that there is a flower sculpture of the Great Wall near the Lama Temple (Oiy so tacky, but bloody brilliant), or the subway (ha. just in general), or the fact that an Olympic venue is Right Across the Street from my apartment!!! they were practicing on the stage for the event and we went up to the 14th floor to peer into the park. so funny. let's just say that it's obvious that Coca Cola is a sponsor. :) I'm wicked tired tonight, but that's because I spent the last 7 hours in a huge
ballroom at the JW Marriott listening (for the first hour) to program directors ask questions about transportation (omg it's going to be a logistical Nightmare!), and the last 6 hours getting names and numbers of all our drivers, loading stuff and waiting for the ridiculous queue to go down so we could get our cars for the program.

so how funny is this? none of our drivers have driven an automatic. yeah. not so funny when i told him to pull over and he put it into neutral (thank god i had my seatbelt on).

Or should I tell you about last week when I got to see the musical HAIRSPRAY???? it was fantastic!!!! My beautiful friend Max, from college, has a friend in the cast, so I got tix to see it (Twice!!!). Last Monday was an awesome show and i ran into three other friends whom I had worked with on OLIVER (small town, and all the remaining white people are required to know each other. just kidding. maybe.). So Kit (Max's friend) invited us to go to dinner for another cast member's birthday. aw, it was so much fun. That's my tribe. crazy musical theatre folk. i love 'em. We went to TGIFriday's (ha), which is always surreal, because when you leave you are truly surprised that you happen to actually be in China. :)

Everything is changing in the city. it's amazing. you can really feel it! everything is cleaner, there are red lanterns EVERYWHERE and just a general excitement permeating everything. We move into our hospitality suite tomorrow. i'm so excited. it's going to be just amazing seeing the whole city from the 61st floor. groovy.

o.k., i have to go to bed or i might cry. naw.
they made it rain a few days ago, so at least it's relatively clear.
ha. we shall see....
Miss everyone heaps!
xoxo