Last night I was planning on hanging in and studying a bit more but Huge waved me up into the top room so I had to follow. We went over to his massive dvd collection and he asked me which one I would like to watch, which means that I have no choice but to watch a movie that night. I couldn’t decide quick enough and he pulled out “The Pacific”, that whole series about American fighters in the pacific during WWII. You know, the sequel to Band of Brothers. I guess he thought we could bond over Japanese aggression during the mid 1900s. Alas, it was all in Chinese with no subtitles which wasn’t good enough for us to both watch so he suggested Babel. Remember that Ryuichi Sakamoto song I mentioned a few posts ago? That song closes out this movie with a beautiful soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla (he did Brokeback Mountain and The Motorcycle Diaries) to round out the rest of the film. It seemed perfect so we sat down to watch it. It didn’t have any Chinese subtitles so I suggested we find something else but he was so adamant about me seeing the movie (even though I tried to tell him I already saw it) that I watched the whole thing while he played pool by himself right behind me.
Feeling very emotional after it ended, I walked downstairs to find that the door to my room was open. I’ve been lucky enough these past few days that no one else has been staying in my room but now thats changed. You see, there is a mosquito issue here in Qingdao. You can’t leave your door open at night because mosquitos will fly in and keep you up all night biting your entire body. I’ve become really adept at reading at night with the lights on, and whenever I hear one come by, I wait for it to land and then I kill it with a magazine. I was able to rid my room of mosquitos in a day and had slept soundly for the next five. But now that’s over. This new guy didn’t know about the situation and when I arrived, the room was full of them. I let him know that we need to keep the door closed and he felt very bad, but after watching Babel and being three beers deep I didn’t have the heart to ask him to help me kill them all. It couldn’t be that bad, right? Wrong. From 2:30 -5:30 I was kept awake by the constant fly bys so that I had to sleep with the blanket covering my entire body. But you know what that’s like! I couldn’t breath and I kept just smelling my own travel breath and it was terrible. Finally I fell asleep and woke up at 10:45, the latest I’ve slept since I’ve been here.
But I was pissed. I was ready for blood. The other guy had left already so I had the room to myself to carry out my attacks like a madman. I rolled up a magazine and went for it, swinging the magazine like it was my battle ax and I was in Braveheart. Oh, I took revenge for my lack of sleep. You could tell they had been feasting because whenever I killed one a bright red streak was left on the wall, and I mean a serious amount of blood. After I finished killing about seven (it took me 20 minutes), I sat down to take a look at my work. Maybe it was my lack of sleep, or my weird constant wake-up dreams, or residual Babel emotion, but I couldn’t stop staring at the blood all over the walls and wondering whether it was my own blood, or that of my roommate. Before I came to China I had listened to a podcast all about mosquitos and the role they play in nature. They don’t. But I also learned that only female mosquitos bite you, and that’s because they’re pregnant and they take the protein out of your blood to build their babies. So I had just killed seven pregnant females. That, paired with the raging Planned Parenthood debate happening at home, AND the fact that I’m currently reading The Cider House Rules (John Irving’s most outwardly political book about orphans and abortions) proved too heavy for me.
My next stop was the “Qingdao expat coffee meeting” happening at a coffee shop in the nice part of town. Where I live, Pi Chai Yuan, is not a nice part of town, but I like it that way. Because of the blood shed earlier that morning I was already two hours late and most people had left. There were two ladies there, both in their mid-forties. Last week I went but because it was a holiday, nobody was really there. This time, the two ladies wanted to talk. The one was named Sherine, and the other Renee. Sherine is Egyptian with two kids and doesn’t like China. Renee is from Cincinnati, has three kids, and likes China. When I asked what they did here they responded in unison, “We’re the spouses haha”. Cool. So their husbands work and they hang out – kind of like me? Except I don’t have a spouse paying bills and I DEFINITELY can’t afford a personal driver. Sherine complained about absolutely everything, but it didn’t really bother me. It sort of felt like I was back in New York, hanging out with a Jewish mother of two (although I don’t think she’d like that comparison) and it was nice to be able to crack jokes without the other person looking at you deadpan all the time because of the lack of sarcasm here. Renee is sweet, sort of like that soft spoken aunt who buys the best gifts at Christmas and you can tell has an adventurous side just waiting to burst out.
After a few hours listening to Sherine talk shit about China, she told me she would have her driver drop me off at Book-City, the biggest book store in China, and around the corner from where I’m writing this post now and going to meet some Chinese friends tonight. I said thanks, and Renee and I walked around the bookstore looking at different Calligraphy supplies and trying to find construction paper for her kid’s school projects. Two weeks down.