Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Hello, first blog post of 2013, you're looking well-rested.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop called Coffee Time because my first choice, Gusto, was packed with no good seating left. But I didn't notice the no-seating-left situation until I had already ordered my latte. So after scanning the place I quickly called to the barista, "Oops, dǎbāo!" which means "Oops, I made a mistake thinking there was going to be a comfy place to sit and plug in my laptop and I would be ever so grateful if you could put my coffee in a to-go cup, please and thanks." I love the simplicity of Chinese sentences.

So I took a long walk, sipping my latte and contemplating all the goings-ons of the last year. And once I had finished -- the sipping part not the contemplating part -- I found the nearest coffee shop and popped inside and ordered an iced tea…because I had worked up a sweat with all the sipping and walking. And it just so happens that I walked a big 'ol circle and ended up just across the street from Gusto.

I'm also wearing a flannel shirt and beanie and finally feeling completely comfortable here in Hainan. Why couldn't the weather the last ten months be this wonderfully chilly? The last couple of days have also seemed a little drier, which is a nice break from the moldy humidity. And my washed clothes are drying faster! (We hang dry our clothes here in China, and during the winter it can take a couple of days to dry even the thinnest of clothes, and sometimes I've had to wash them twice because they didn't dry fast enough and started smelling mildewy. Anyway...)

I woke up at 9am, with no hangover and after a decent night's sleep (I call that a huge new year's success story), and watched almost two full seasons of The IT Crowd (the seasons are very short) before finally guilting myself into getting up and showered and out the door. By the way, for those of you not in-the-know, The IT Crowd is only the best show to ever grace your eyeballs with its wit and the best, most lovable characters in TV history, so please do yourself a favor and check it out. Then I took a taxi over to the Guamao district since my neighborhood has no decent coffee shops that aren't also so full of smoke that my lovely flannel shirt wouldn't end up smelling like an ashtray the rest of the day. There are plenty of smoke-free coffee shops in this district, but only a few that have what I would call comfy seating for sitting and writing big long blathery blog posts. This is one of them…I mean one of the coffee shops…and yeah I suppose it's also one of the big long blathery blog posts.

And since I'm wearing a flannel shirt and enjoying the gloomy chilly day, I decided to blast some nineties grunge while I write. Blast it into my headphones that is. I've been on an especially heavy grunge kick lately. It's always a favorite and reminds me of those angsty teenage years, but also reminds me what awesome, minimalist (in words, not in meaning or feeling) poets those guys were. I recently downloaded and watched two of the best MTV Unplugged shows…Alice In Chains (1996) and Nirvana (recorded in 1993 just a few months before Kurt's death, released posthumously in 1994). I really don't have any words to describe the feelings those shows elicit, especially the Nirvana show.

And then I wonder, is that what the music of one's youth does to each and every one of us, no matter what era or type of music it is? Does any music reach us the way the music of our teenage years does?

And then I think of the popular music of today and think, nahhhhh.

Ok ok, maybe it does. I'm sure my parents thought the same of Nirvana (they better not have!) I'll have to ask next time I see them.

I just realized that this is the third year in a row where I've rung in the new year outside of the United States.

2010-2011: Scotland

2011-2012: Nepal

2012-2013: China

Not bad for someone who had never traveled outside of the US until she was 30 years old (besides Canada and Mexico). I think I'd like to ring in 2014 in the states, with family and friends. Speaking of friends and family, I bought my plane ticket to Illinois last month. I fly home February 4th to Chicago and then plan to take a bus from Chicago to Peoria where my wonderful mother will be waiting for me to drive us to my lil hometown of Canton just 35ish miles away. It was ridiculously more expensive to fly from Chicago to Peoria so I said what the heck, I've done that bus ride before, not by choice, but because a flight was canceled due to bad winter weather. So far IL is having a mild winter, and I'm hoping it stays that way so it's not such a shock to my system after living in the depths of the most humid hell for the past year.

So I decided to ring in this new year alone because this has been a year of firsts and I had never rung in a new year alone. By the way, is it rung or rang? I'm not an English teacher or anything. So I bought a tiny bottle of Jack Daniels (not my first choice but it's the only American whiskey they seem to import here, besides Jim Beam) and had myself a glass while watching The Godfather I and II back to freaking back, bam.

Oh, and Cheetos. I splurged and bought a bag of Cheetos.

And you know what happened? Something really weird and wonderful happened. And I didn't even plan it this way. But…

it turned from 11:59pm on December 31st, 2012 to 12:00am on January 1st, 2013 during The Godfather II at the exact moment that they ring in the new year at the big party in Cuba in the movie…! ! ! ! I know! Isn't it crazy? Even if I tried to plan it out and time it out just right, I could never line that up again, ever, not in a million new years. And then Al Pacino kisses John Cazale on the mouth and says, "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart."

And that, my friends, is how I rung/rang in the new year, with the sweet taste of American whiskey and Cheetos on my lips. Could it have been more perfect?

I think I'll end the first blog post of 2013 right here, take a 洗手间休息 (Xǐshǒujiān xiūxí / bathroom break), and come back with another iced tea, some more grunge and a 2012-In-Review post.

新年快乐! (Xīnnián kuàilè! / Happy New Year!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad



    1. Good article, makes sense. Thanks!

  2. Elizabeth, I admire you and envy you and miss you and love you. Happy New Year. xoxoxoxoxo