Monday, October 22, 2007

Look at what’s coming

Procrastinating is an art that pre-dates Christianity. In fact it was a sport much practiced in the time of ancient Greece, when Zeus hung out with Procraste. Ambassadors came to salute the Great Chinese emperors and aboard the ship came Procraste. Nights of drunken gazing at the stars are recorded in the famous annals of Tang dynasty poet Li Bai.

Later in time came Sarcaste who looked back with a laugh. I met Sarcaste in 2005 on my way to the Beijing Capital Airport. I saw him waving at me from where he stood in the field of stones, surrounded by manual labors who hand-picked a brick to pile it up on top of others, in a cart pulled by a mule. Sarcaste is still waving, waiting for the Olympic fans to visit the stadium he stands on.


I have stopped (momentarily) drinking Chardonnay. Still Procraste and Sarcaste keep calling on me, clouding my eyes from what’s coming. Beijing ranks top on the chart of “finding excuses for things not being done.” #1 I got stuck in the traffic. #2 You won’t believe what happened to me yesterday. These top excuses are very real in Beijing. Valid, credible, useful excuses to stall on, to slow us down. A most entertaining game is to sit and watch a new arrival of motivated entrepreneurs. Here is how it is played.

On the first night of the motivated entrepreneur’s arrival, have drinks together and chat about the plans for a bright and lucrative future. Check Procraste and Sarcaste in the closet. At the end of the week have a drink with said motivated entrepreneur and have a good laugh at the chart of excuses. Late that month, introduce said entrepreneur to Procraste and Sarcaste and proceed becoming alcoholics. Oh, and somewhere during that month, show up with the two Celestial Concubines: Bitch-Yin and Whine-Yin.

In my last post I referred to yin and yang and the need for balance. I now look at yin and yang as reference to “the other side of the coin.” The Chinese invented rock gardens long ago. The aesthetic of it works on displaying boulders here and there in a way that the viewer will never be able to see all the boulders at once. Depending of the point of view, the garden displays two, or sometimes more boulders though never the same ones; it is not possible to have a view of the ensemble. I think the moral of the rock garden is to set eyes on the path the boulders set. And even if seen from different perspectives, the path remains open.

This is what life is in Beijing. A series of highly entertaining boulders set to divert one’s attention. And no matter what way you look at it, there’s always another boulder set to divert attention from the path, “oh, not another one!” Yes, another one. But the path is still open.

I recently went through the hoops of BIG decisions.

It started even before it started but if I pinpoint the beginning of my rock garden story it goes this way: a month before my world wide trip this summer our apartment in Beijing was sold. Me and my roommate had to move out, but before we had to find another apartment. Seeing as I wasn’t going to be around for the next two months we decided it would be stupid to rent an empty apartment for that time. So we decided to sub-rent a friend’s apartment and use it as storage while they went back to the States to get married. In the meantime I had gone through a series of incidents which spurred me to decide to move out of China and into Argentina. I packed my belongings in 3 piles. The pile I was going to send to Buenos Aires. The pile I was going to leave in Beijing in storage. The pile I was bringing with me to London-Berlin-Barcelona-New York-Montreal. Meanwhile the 3rd issue of homônumos magazine came out of press and I had to work on distribution. I was busy.

I came back to Beijing to an apartment that housed 4 people, and not my old roommate. The future bride had canceled her wedding and I had to sleep on the balcony with my dog tucked under the arm for a few weeks until the apartment cleared out and it was me, and the ex-future bride. Meanwhile, I had taken too many shifts at school and ended up working 7/7 and 9-9, digging a grave for my health.

I decided not to move to Buenos Aires instead move to Ibiza where my ex-future husband lived. I planned leaving immediately after my 2nd pay check. Though to go to Europe, my dog needed an anti-rabies vaccine approved in Europe and that would take another 4 months. Leaving in January meant sure death for my dog (2 hours on the airport runway in the cold while the plane loads.) So I decided to postpone my flight until March. My man agreed to come join me in Thailand (where I would be sitting on my savings from November through March since Thailand costs less than living in Beijing with a job.) Long story short: things changed. I rented an apartment amidst much difficulty seeing Beijing is in full swing Olympic fever and rent is high and real estate agents ambush everywhere.

It turns out I rented an apartment from an illegal agency, who had stolen the property from the landlady who is a lawyer and that lady lawyer woke me up on my day off to discuss the matter. The new lease isn’t signed yet but we plan on doing the transaction next Monday. Meanwhile my dear friend was going through serious health and emotional trauma, and I should have been there for her. And I was a little, albeit in the shape of a dying cow on the sofa with 106 fever and a runny nose. It got slightly better because I now had to go back to work, where I could keep my mind off my personal life by focusing on the life of my students. From having worked my ass off too many hours and going through hoops of BIG decisions my body was breaking down in snot. I still had a few dollars saved from my first pay check (minus 4 months deposit on the apartment). When my dog went into arthritis crisis and had to be rushed to the foreign vet. clinic where I then proceeded in shelling the remaining savings of my 1rst pay check.

The past months I have dedicated my guilt at postponing the making of the 4rth issue of homônumos, and doubting I ever will be a published author. Stressing over my moving to Ibiza—a most expensive paradise. Without a job. No hablos Espanol. Fortunately, my wise friend Tana reminded me to look at what’s coming, and to stop focusing on the boulders.

So here is a toast (of hot tea) to Tana my dear, for steering me back on the path. And a toast to Peerr (my man) for deciding to come and live in Beijing with me (we’ll take it from here). And to Pirelli (my dog) for being such a survivor. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a book to publish.

Beijing, Oct. 11 2007. Waiting for confirmation on whether or not I shoot a tango advertising tomorrow at the Great Wall (having to cancel work tomorrow or not, doing my nails and my legs and my hair or not) and focusing on writing.