Getting Rid of the Gobi

The Mongolians invade again, this time with the Gobi!

That's right woman, clean my clothes!
I mop, Jingmei washes
Holly Shit!  Its a Laowai on a bike with a digital camera!
Yes kids, a laowai on a bicycle
Tough Korean BB-Q negotiations
I commute for lunch
It’s early in the afternoon and I am already addicted to
the trashy Hong Kong movies on Star TV. I promised myself that this
wouldn’t happen, but once you become a househusband in China, and you don’t
know Chinese well enough to follow the Ming Dynasty soap opera, the simple plot
cheap-production movies from south of the border become addictive. With
subtitles in Chinese and English for those who don’t know the Cantonese
dialog, I can have the music jamming and still watch the movie as I do

Yes, I’ve gone domestic. With northwest winds blowing
unchecked from Mongolia, it is a daily battle with the Gobi Desert for a
dust-free domicile. Like my mom taught me, I am dusting, sweeping, moping,
and washing constantly to minimize the red sand’s intrusion on our lives.

Oops, now you know my dirty little secret: Jingmei and I
are living together. For the first time in my life, I am living with a
woman without the escape clause of upcoming travel to free me of any
long-term emotions. With the expectation that this is now my home too,
I’ve been quick to nest, re-arranging the whole apartment to suit my
tastes, and I ain’t one for subtly.

This morning I alerted the entire neighborhood to my
presence with a long run through all the back alleys and markets in the
Beijing suburb we live in. The sight of a laowai in itself is usually a
stare-inducing scene, but one running is a traffic-stopping event! Two
cyclist collided they were staring so hard, and a wink in return for the
long viewing by a young girl caused her to loose her balance and wipe-out
in the middle of the street. I almost fell myself I was laughing so hard
and the two old babushkas that saw the whole scene were howling and
backslapping each other with abandon.

I’m taking all the attention in stride this time around,
for I am not coming straight out of a two year single-culture experience
like I was the last time I garnered stares in Beijing. With a SE Asian
experience under my belt, I am less stressed about not speaking the local
language and more open to finding the humor in miscommunications. Also,
after living in Australia, where I couldn’t get a second look, much less a
stare, I kinda like being the oddball again. I think I actually prefer to
be stared at than ignored. Ha! Imagine that!

Unlike last November, I am not doing a long commute to
work each day. I am riding in with Jingmei some mornings, but at her work,
I pull my bike out of the trunk for a daylong wandering. Also, it is April
now, and the spring is beautiful, not least because it leads to a warm
summer, not a cold winter. Finally, I cannot understate the spirit-lifting
abilities of Jingmei herself. The woman has amazing powers!