Slouching Into the New Year

I’d call someone to talk but my voice is hoarse and raspy–my vocal chords move the wrong way, I inhale air too deeply, and the motion snags on the phlegm in my throat and a wheezing cough escapes.  I’m won’t try to cough anything up, though–it would hurt my throat too much.  I’m chickenshit–I’d rather pretend nothing’s there, there’s no evil slime lurking in in my lungs, no–I’d rather sip hot water and try not to laugh at the ironic moments of Mad Men.

The apartment is dirty but I don’t have the energy to clean it.

I was supposed to work today, but I didn’t.

Sickness dominates everything, like a shroud–time is lost, life becomes a grey, monotonous routine of nose-blowing on the bed (tissues lofted in the general vicinity of the trash can, spreading like snotty snow on the floor), and trips to the bathroom.  I summoned the inertia to call Gung Ho Pizza, and order a spinach-pesto pizza.  I was nervous about it, since I only vaguely know where I live, and can’t imagine directing anyone else there.

On the phone my voice was so hoarse I wondered if I was comprehensible.  Thirty minutes later, though, there was a rapping on my door, and I sprang up, feverishly throwing a hoodie over my disheveled head.  I opened the door, to the most charming pizza delivery boy.  He told me “Happy new year!”  in halting English, and smiled so charmingly, I almost invited him in to share the pizza with me, I was that starved for company.  In spite of his charms I didn’t tip him, something I cursed myself for later–I blamed it on my fever, and it might have been, partly, but I know Chinese don’t expect tips so much, and I almost spent the remainder of my cash on the damn pizza.  I get paid on Wednesday.

It’s hard to be optimistic at the moment–sick, Brett gone till the 15th, winter’s teeth sunk deep into this sprawling city–but it is a new year, after all.  Well–I don’t really know what that means.  After all what?  I suppose still, under this prevailing gloom, I retain a stubborn insistence on counting the good things.

The good things, right now?  The Weepies new album, soothing and sweet like their songs always are.  This mug of hot water with lemon, honey, and ginger, which goes down much the same way as the Weepies.  A warm apartment to block out the wind.  The other half of a Gung Ho pizza in the fridge.

The good things I don’t have right now, though, make my contemplation a little bittersweet.  My beautiful family, my lovely friends scattered across Europe and North America.  I missed them all especially this Christmas and New Year’s.  Probably because, last year, I had time off work and I had time with two of my dearest friends in the world, reveling in French food and Norman countryside.

This year was devoid of any pause, any observance–well.  Not wholly true.  On New Year’s Eve, I did count down the seconds and squeal as corks were popped on bottles of prosecco.  It was a nice Beijing moment, actually, since I was gazing out the windows of Josh’s apartment at the lights of the CBD and the CCTV tower as the year turned over.  I couldn’t kiss Brett, but that’s alright, I suppose.  In the four years we’ve been together, I don’t think we’ve managed to spend one New Year’s together.  Not this year, not last year (I was in France), and the last two I was visiting my family in the snug white house on the hill, while Brett was in Arkansas.

It was still a nice New Year’s.  Christmas was kind of a bust, but the following Monday, since I was off work, I scraped together the traditional Stout breakfast of egg burritos, salsa, and cinnamon rolls–which kind of flopped, but I turned them into a coffee cake, which turned out delicious.

So.  Here’s to good things in 2011–to health, to reunions with loved ones, to loving new people, and to enjoying life, with its experiences so simultaneously interesting and confounding.

Cheers! (with hot water, like a good Chinese girl...or a sick American one.)



About dumplingdaze

I moved to Beijing from Paris a year and a half ago. I'm originally from the green hills of Tennessee, and although I miss bluegrass and good biscuits like I miss croissants and a good piece of St. Felicien, I'm enjoying my new home in the Far East. Chinese food is delicious! Dumplings, or jiaozi, are some of my favorite things on earth to eat. As you might have surmised, I love food. I also love words, and this blog is a space for me to ramble about food and life and experiences in Asia and beyond.
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