Less than a week after Jester left for Thailand I got a new roommate. Lets call him Sober. Sober is a friend of Very's that she knows through her church. He came to China on a teaching contract last summer. In March, they fired him with little warning. This meant that the apartment that they were providing him with was also being withdrawn. Long story short, the extra room in my apartment opened up at just the right time, so he's now living in my old room and I'm in Jester's old room.
Sober is pretty cool. He's 28, single and speaks fluent Cebuano (served his mission in the Philippines). You could do a lot worse than this one ladies! Anyhow, he's in China for the long haul, intent on learning Mandarin and maybe landing a cushy job in the process. Right now he's teaching English.
I've known Spy since shortly after I met Very but we didn't hang out that much. Spy is a mysterious character. He's got an American passport but he speaks Chinese like a native Beijingren and he's only been here a few years. He claims he didn't learn Chinese before coming to China even though his mother is ethnic Chinese (possibly even born in a Chinese speaking country?). He claims to have attended Peking University and the US Air Force Academy. He didn't graduate from either but he says he bought a diploma for PU. He just turned 21 and he's already a millionaire in China. We (me and Very) might know more about him but he likes to keep his details a mystery. We suspect it has something to do with his OCD. Spy is a good friend. Spy always has something strange or interesting to talk about and he likes to talk. He became a Mormon while in China but he's not the strictest Mormon. He breaks the rules here and there but he seems to be committed to changing his ways.
I could go on but I won't.
I got a cold sometime in late March. At the same time I was having a lot of allergy problems brought on by exposure to Very's kitty-fied apartment. Eventually things took a turn for the worse and I came down with a nasty case of bronchitis (self-diagnosed). To make a long story short, Very procured some antibiotics for me and a couple weeks later I was much better. (more about drug stores below)
The Great Dust Storm of Aught Six
Sometime in the middle of the month half of Northwest China blew through Beijing in the middle of the night. When the city awoke the next morning, everything was brown. It was quite surreal actually. Some figure I saw put the amount of dust dumped on the city somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million tons.
This brings me to my next point. March and April in Beijing is the worst time of year. Winter hasn't quite ended but suddenly it's windy as hell and dust blows in from the west. I'd heard about dust storms when I first arrived and thought it might be kinda cool to see a real sandstorm. Well, they aren't cool. They look like fog except instead of water they're tiny silica particles. Silicosis anyone? I think the confluence of a cold, kitty allergies, pollen allergies and dust helped make my bronchitis possible. Bleh.
Ok, I'm done.
For my birthday, Very threw a party at her place. Actually it was a combined party for me and Spy since his birthday was two days after mine. On the actual day of my birthday, Very, Spy, Sober and I went out for Thai food at lunchtime. Spy gave me a crossbow in the restaurant. I'm not really sure what to do with it but the problem of my neighbor's annoying barking dog has started looking a bit more solvable. Very and Spy got me slick tires for my bike. I'd forgotten how noticeable the difference is between knobby tires and slicks. A week or so after my birthday, Very surprised me with Metroid Prime Hunters for DS. She only later realized this meant the temporary disappearance of her boyfriend.
All in all I had a way better birthday than I was expecting. I suspect this is mainly Very's fault. She's really too awesome like that.
Metroid Prime Hunters is sweet. This and maybe Mariokart were the two games I was most looking forward to when I got my DS a year and a half ago. Neither has been a disappointment. The only downside to either game is that I can't get on Nintendo's Wi-fi network. I'm eagerly looking forward to getting my ass handed to me online the next time I'm in the free world. In the meantime I've played to the final boss in Metroid and am about 10 more tries away from beating the game.
On Easter Sunday Very and I found a cage with two abandoned kittens on a pedestrian bridge. Very could not walk away without doing something so she adopted them. I strongly advised her to keep Lady Macbeth and the new kittens separate from each other for health reasons. This lasted maybe less than a day. When she found out that the two kittens were indeed sick a couple days later, Lady Macbeth was moved across town to a friend's house. Luckily, Lady didn't contract anything from the orphans (we've been calling them Whisper and Red).
It's about a month later and Very still has the kittens. They're still sick, although not as bad as they were. Very wants to find homes for Whisper and Red but she doesn't feel right giving someone a sick cat. It's a difficult situation all around. Add to this the fact that she's become attached to the pair and Lady Macbeth is still in exile (currently at my apartment).
Things are starting to look up though. I figure in the next month or so, Whisper and Red will find a more permanent home and Very and Lady will be tearfully reunited. Time will tell.
When Very showed up at my apartment with a box of Zithromax(tm) I realized there was something I'd been missing about Chinese drug stores. You see, I'd been operating under the assumption that drugs stores here sold mostly 中药 (ZhongYao - Chinese Medicine) and miscellaneous Western OTC crap. They actually have lots of 中药 and lots of 西药 (XiYao - Western Medicine). The Western medicine that they have is a good mix of OTC stuff that I used to get as prescription meds in the States as well as some stuff that is still prescription only. That includes antibiotics like Ceclor(tm) and Zithromax(tm). I'm told you can get damn near anything if you know what to ask for. I've only been looking for allergy meds so far but I found some generic Zyrtec(tm) that seems to work really well. I'm determined to find something that will knock me out before I head back to the States. There's no way I want to be conscious for a 12 hour flight across the pacific.
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