The final day of this challenge is one also of new beginnings. Today, at 8:30 I hopped on my scooter and ventured off to the clinic. Big red signs were everywhere (I have pictures but the Great Firewall is not cooperating today). Shunyi Foreigners COVID-19 Vaccination Site. It wasn’t something we could zoom past. We quickly parked the scooter and walked up to a line of about 16 people. It was 8:45 and even though the clinic was due to open at 9, they began funneling people in.
I turned around and noticed a good 8-10 fellow co-workers joining the line. Aslan Brewery was proudly on display and a connection was immediately made. “Love seeing Aslan representin in the Jing.”
“What? You know Aslan?”
Of course I knew Aslan. I grew up in Bellingham and was amazed at the “new” brewpub in town. It’s always fun to find fellow PNW peeps abroad, even better when they know Bellingham-hands down the best town anywhere!
We made small talk as we were ushered in. Healthkit code scanned…we don’t even think twice about this, the government knows all of our comings and goings and we’re okay with that. Up the stairs and into a waiting area.
#33…#33, my number was called and I squeezed in between dozens of other people to start my paperwork. Red stamp and a new number was given-29.
More waiting and then a private room. They couldn’t find my name, so more waiting. Then “ouch” jab and it was done.
30 minutes of waiting in yet another waiting area and I was free to go with the last bit of instructions, “Return on April 22nd for 2nd shot.” And just like that, we’re vaccinated.
“Hey Mom, I broke something today,” Sage said as she gave me a hug and walked off.
“Wait, what? What did she break?” My husband overheard our conversation and his ears perked up.
“No worries, we’ll sort it later,” I said as I shoved past him. See this comment on Sage’s is as common as, “Wash your hands,” or, “Turn off the lights when you leave the room.”
There have to be other people like this. The ones who seem to break everything they touch. I’ve seen parents scoop in to grab little hands from touching everything they come across. Okay, I’m that parent. . except I’d don’t just grab little hands, I pick up the curious little critter and wrap my arms around her tightly. This was so much simpler before. Even though she’s super small for her age, my almost 10-year old gets heavy crazy fast. And so now, we are expectant as we walk through the door of home or store. Always prepared to whip out the credit card for the latest breakage replacement.
Sage is always remorseful. The incessant tears and doors slammed after breaking whatever object came across her path has definitely transitioned more into a “yep, I did it again,” comment. For this I am thankful.
Today’s casualty was an Edison bulb. The super cool, stylish, never bright enough and crazy expensive to replace, Edison bulb. I’ve been stockpiling them for our move and realized that I needed to go and add a few more to my ever bulging online shopping cart. This is just one of the many joys of parenting my little ball of energy.
It’s vaccination day! Well, almost…sort of…kind of….possibly. We received an email saying we needed to sign up-for which one? Who knows? We know it’s local and it could be one of two. We know we pretty much have to have it because the government says so. Other than that…it’s anyone’s guess. Here’s what we do know: on Thursday morning, we will head out to get the vaccine. Three weeks later, we’ll go for the final dose.
It’s been a long year-for everyone, I know. I remember heading off to Chinese New Year break and the nurse at school running up with a bag of masks and hand sanitizer. I laughed and he said, “No, really. Wear these on the plane. Change them frequently. There’s a virus in Wuhan and it’s serious.” See, this is the place where SARS shut down the country years ago. Here in China, we don’t mess around with viruses. Masks are handed out and 100% of people wear them. We are told to stay home and everyone stays home. So off we went, armed, as we walked into the airport.
Once we landed in Dubai, off came the masks. Upon arriving in Oman, it was as if we were in a different world. No masks, no hand sanitizers, no fear. I’d like to say we forgot about the virus, but the situation was rapidly escalating in China and so we were glued to our phones throughout our trip. It was the final few days in Oman where we received the message that school would begin online in just a few days. Teachers were fleeing Beijing and we were contemplating whether we take our flight back the next day, or stay away as so many had suggested. Ultimately, we flew to France and had a few lovely days with family. Three days of online learning keeping Beijing hours wore us down and we hopped back on the plane to return to Beijing.
Arriving in Beijing, the city seemed to be at rest. Everything was closed, no one was out on the streets, the cars were parked. I remember feeling hopeful that in a few weeks, all would be back to normal. Here we are over a year later, conducting conferences online. But in two days, things will begin to turn around again. It’s almost vaccination day!
Whelp, this it is. I missed a day. I knew it was going to happen. When I set off on this challenge, it was with high hopes; however based on past experience, I knew it probably would go down like this. See, I am terrible with dates, days-the whole idea of time has a tendency to get away from me. I popped onto the SLOLC site this am and was shocked to see that day 28 was due, not day 27 which I was so proud of myself for completing. Only four days left! Except there weren’t and I was wrong and I missed a day. This was so surprising to me that I actually scanned through all of my past posts to see if I just misnumbered them. But no. I simply lost a day somehow. These things happen but it is a wee bit disappointing.
Laying in bed, I knew what kind of day it was going to be before my feet hit the floor. An eerie yellow glow came in through my bedroom window…ominous…foreboding. As I walked down the stairs, I could hear the woosh, woosh of Frank’s trainer. He was riding hard and fast. The girls were curled up on the couch with a book and didn’t notice my approach.
Our living room has vaulted ceilings and the window is floor to ceiling, wall to wall. The curtains were wide open and the whole room was lit up in yellow and orange tones. Quickly checking my phone, my suspicions were confirmed–2000 AQI, a sandstorm had blown in overnight and our Sunday was to be spent indoors. There went my mountain bike ride. There went the girls’ time with their crew outside. Sigh. . .
I didn’t see my dad much growing up and so the stories I have of him you’d think would be few. But, my dad is one of those people things happen to and everyone likes. He collects people like I collect rocks. He has the most interesting stories of all of the adventures he’s had. He always has a new hobby that usually involves dangerous chemicals and high powered explosions. He’s gone through the rocket phase-this one was documented on Discovery Channel…Dad’s rocket went Mach 2 which equates to about 1500 mph. He also shot a porta potty up in the air because “why not?” Dad went through a phase where he loved making beautiful fireworks. His wife demanded his mixing shed be far away from the house so that if it blew up, it wouldn’t take her antiques with it. Then, airplanes. Dad wanted to fly airplanes, so he built one from scratch in his backyard. When I was little, would fly from Vancouver to Lincoln City on a whim. He also crashed that airplane and ended up buying another-his days of building planes had passed as a new hobby had taken place.
There are moments with my dad that are clear as day. They are ingrained into my mind in technicolor and often are shocking and out of this world. But the ones that I remember most are the quiet ones. I don’t mean literally quiet as in silent because there is nothing silent about my dad. My dad loves nothing more than to hop into his little Mazda Miata sports car and drive and drive and drive. Being in Texas, the roads are straight and go on forever. He turn his music up-typically jazz or blues- and whistles, while tapping his ring (that he made during yet another phase of rock hounding, gem cutting, and jewelry making) on the steering wheel. It’s beautiful, crystal clear, and a bit haunting. I remember falling asleep in the backseat on long drive being lulled into dreams by the whistle and the tap, tap, tapping of the ring. I think this is what I will remember most about Dad. The whistle and the tap.
I never thought I needed one until I sat in my friend’s. Instantly the pain in my hips subsided and I felt as if I could melt into the buttery leather upholstery. A co-worker calls it an old lady chair. I call it sweet relief.
My ayi messaged me saying a HUGE box was sitting outside my apartment door. It was so big, it couldn’t fit into the door at all. I raced home knowing that after a month of waiting, it was finally here. When I told my husband I thought I needed my own reading chair due to my increasing back and hip pain, he thought it was a great idea but…”maybe make sure it isn’t massive. Also, do you think you need it now? Where are you going to put it?” I assured him that I had everything under control as I was already picking out the color and pushing pay on my phone.
“Ma’am, do you realize the color you selected is orange?” I hadn’t. I thought I ordered a nice camel brown color. Something that wasn’t as glaring or intense as black, but also not a pile of brown in the corner. Hmmmm…I had never thought of buying an orange chair. The idea kind of made me think of how cool it would be if I were 13, but then there’d be no need for such a chair at all. At that age, I could still sit criss cross and lounge on the floor for hours at a time. Unsure of how I felt about it, I responded with a thumbs up.
The weeks that followed, I second guessed my choice. Would it look cheap or stick out like a sore thumb? Was I being silly and needed to cancel? But things got busy and I forgot to even think about changing the color or cancelling the order.
Getting off the elevator, my mouth dropped in shock. The box was MASSIVE! There was no way I was getting that thing into my apartment. I began tearing away at the wooden boards that had been placed around the box. My door was open to provide additional room to unpack. After a long time and several hammer hits, everything was finally revealed….lots and lots and lots of bubble wrap around an indiscriminate shape. There she was!
After an even longer time of cutting away the bubble wrap, the orange chair was finally revealed. And….she was PERFECT! I drug her into what would soon become my new reading corner and threatened all living beings in my house to STAY AWAY. I must admit I’m anxious to get home, put my feet up, and get lost in my next read in my gorgeous orange chair.
The 1980s came and went and I can honestly say, the fashions of the time did not appeal to me greatly. I had the jelly bracelets, the scrunchies, and the T-shit holders….splatter painted everything, and neon-always neon. Early 80s to late 80s were the beginning and end to several fashion crazes. I entered into the 80s as a little girl and left as an angsty teenager, ready for all things grunge. But, it is the early 80s that come to mind for me now. A time of Gunne Sax dresses and my favorite pair of purple cords.
My purple cords were a daily wear. The were mulberry in color-a bit of a cross between a purple and a red. The cords were a tight, small pattern and they were soft…oh so soft. I typically didn’t like anything without elastic, but these somehow seemed to lay on my high hips with just the right amount of pressure. I called them my knickers (not to be confused with British knickers). They fell in a loose cuff just below the knee and had a band that connected with a sewn on brass button.
I don’t remember what happened to my purple knickers, but I still feel as sense of longing and loss that they are no longer with me.
**Not mine, but they looked so similar to these
I’m tired. Completely and utterly tired. My husband says it’s no one’s fault but my own. I disagree. I’m blaming Sarah Maas. It’s 100% her fault. Her fault for writing a 7-book series that average 600 pages a book. Her fault for creating a world that I find myself lost in. Her fault for expertly weaving multiple characters’ stories together in a way that makes me love each and every one of them. Ms. Maas has to know that it’s because of her that the bags under my eyes are fully packed and that my coffee consumption has tripled over the past week and a half. She also should know that I entered into book 7 upset. Upset because it will all be over soon. I’m sure I will mope around and spend many days in bed, recovering. This loss will hit me hard.
The long, cold, dry winter is quickly thrust aside as the weather warms almost overnight, and flowers burst open. This is not a slow, lazy spring. It’s wild, frantic, and overwhelming with buds bursting open at once. People begin to fill the square, the track at school is buzzing with kids hanging out, some running, but most simply grateful for the newly found warmth. This time is beautiful, but soon, far too soon, the catkins will begin to fall. As these blooms are spread throughout the city, it’s as if winter has come again, but without the chill. Snow falls in such extreme that at times, everything appears white.
With catkins, wind also picks up. The two are intricately connected and both work together to force us back inside. Coughing, hacking, little bits of white fluff get into everything. Tumbleweeds whip across the ground in a whirling dervish. There’s something soothing about watching them come together to engage in their annual dance. Catkin season lasts only a few weeks, but they are weeks engrained in every Beijinger’s memory. The magic of the snow that isn’t quite snow, the promises felt on the warm winds, and the disappointment of being forced back inside are simply a stepping stone as summer is soon to be ushered in.
**Curious to learn more about the Beijing “snow”?