HE SAID, MARIE, MARIE, HOLD ON TIGHT
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
~ The Waste Land, "The Burial of The Dead", Eliot
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
i have been operating on two time zones for the past week, making calls till 4 in the morning. for now i straddle two time zones, soon one time zone will drop.
my new home will be in a loft. it has no door, only a flight of steps leading up. you are sure about it? asks jo, who will be one of my flatmates. no door can be a pain sometimes, you know, she cautions. i tell her, yes, i am certain about it. i don't tell her this: that i am dreaming about the new room, that i am dreaming of walking up the stairs, into a room that will be a metaphor for a different life.
i will not forget nyc, nyc is me sleeping in a tiny flat bronx with mary who prays, nyc is me talking to the man who names all the squirrels in washington square park, nyc is skydiving in new paltz, nyc is me and jae and daniela trying to teach me to say "pibimphat". nyc is ugly too.
unlike last year, i have fought so hard to leave (still fighting, now to enter the states legally), and now, i cannot wait to leave.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
On my last night in China, I stayed the night in Beijing in Bao Fang hutong, it was difficult finding the old place where I stayed last year, and will be increasingly difficult. I had forgotten the name of the main thoroughfare where it is tucked away from, so to get there, me and the taxi driver went on a wild goose chase, stopping at every other kerb to ask someone the way to Da Dou Fu xiang. ("are you trying to pull a joke on me?, are you sure a real hotel? maybe they are cheating you, it's just my luck to have you", he growled, in the warbly Beijing accent). My phone fell into a puddle of mud, he was cursing like crazy. Then the roads were familiar again. Shi Fu, we are near, I said, I have no idea where it is, I know we're near.
I wasn't supposed to be staying there. One night only, the receptionist said. One night only, I said. I ate at the old Mao restaurant, the same mutton pao mo, with floating dough bits. It will be moving out of its grimy 30-seater to a space 20 times larger. The old hairdresser in that photo that took my breath away, I looked at her like one would see a ghost, because her face was the same, but the salon was different -- neon lights, fashionable billboard. I remember places -- KFC, CD shop. I flew a kite on Tiananmen, but the police stopped me, told me I needed a longer one. I talked to the kite seller, who tells me peddlers get charged 20-30 RMB if caught, and the controls are tighter now that the Olympics is coming. I talked to the Chinese architecture student on the CA flight back, he tells me the square (the Guang Chang or 广场 ) is the face of the city, and the focal point of "Xing Xiang Gong Cheng" or 形像工程, which basically refers to a project to remake the city's facade to provide a measure of the political ability of officials. I see more on my own, and I see how Beijing and Da Dou Fu xiang, has changed. It is all necessary and inevitable.
Yantai. I think of the cooks laughing in front of the camera, astonished by my macbook. Yantai is me sitting in a neglected garden populated by cats, drinking Yantai beer out of a bowl on a stool with 3 other women and Lu lao shi; me on a cart driven by a farmer with a deformed hand, me and De Shui randomly plucking watermelons on the fields and spitting out the seeds randomly; me and Andrew obliged to kampeh with the crazy Chinese till we were sick, stopping at Yang Ma Dao to stand over the clear waters; me, Ella and Daichun singing Chinese songs at Chinese KTV, laughing at the night market, Liufeng and me scrounging around for scraps of cloth; my student translating a Korean poem for me; walking on my own in Yan Da Shi Chang.
I won't forget Shanghai. I don't like a lot of Shanghai. It is too much like New York. I was afraid in Shanghai, I measured my words irrationally in emails. It was absurd, censoring things that didn't need censoring. Imagine this: I didn't even dare to write "Shanghai is like New York", thinking it would raise alarm bells. Were you waiting for me to confirm your worst fears? I didn't let you down, not this time. But that is not the point. That was never the point. I understand this. I understand that him leaving is the only way forward for both of us. I get sad sometimes. There is nothing to be sad about, in truth. It was necessary.
Shanghai, I think of Roger smoking on the balcony, stiletto heels at the doorstep. I think of me on the bund with Ming, watching the lights come up. I think of my mother talking about past lovers, my mother unable to sleep in that avant garde apartment on the 31st floor. And of course, Eric. Eric closing the windows to stop the dust from entering. Eric taking pictures on Dong Chang lu. Eric worrying. Eric waiting for emails from Tseyin. We looked at the people writing water words. I wonder, what is the point of writing when you know that the words will evaporate? I think about the last night n Shanghai when I stayed up till dawn, packing and calling Ithaca. We got to the apartment my mother was putting up at 4, in time for daybreak. In the nearby temple, they were already starting to light the urns to burn the incense.
[me] dawn, singapore, new york city, ithaca.
holding on tight -- vol ii
[archives] January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009