Friday, January 14, 2011

A Day Out

A lot of days, unless I am teaching, I spend in my nice, warm jammies. Some days it is too cold to go out. Some days I figure that if I go out I’ll just spend money I don’t need to spend. Other times I just can’t find a reason to go through the aggravation of getting ready to go out and brave the mud, the weather, the buses, the traffic, or the crowds.

Yep, sounds like there could be a touch of depression in that last sentence, but not everything can always be peaches and cream, you know?

Yesterday, I was bound and determined I was going to go out. I had a plan you see, a plan that involved taking my trusty laptop to a coffeehouse and writing to my heart’s content while sipping tea or hot chocolate and maybe nibbling on a cake. I also wanted to see if I could find some more suitable long johns – the ones I have don’t quite work so well here, although I’m grateful to have any at all. I also thought I might find a nice gift or two to send back to the States; I have plenty of recipients in mind for gifts as it is.

So: shower first thing in the morning (and note that I desperately need to cut my hair), breakfast, quick phone call to my beloved Gabriel and then load up the laptop. Boil some water to take on the road with me, bundle up and off I go for a day of adventure and fun!

While on the bus I reflected that I had forgotten to pack my book. I might get tired of writing and want to read for a while; sometimes it helps me to distract my mind from what I’m trying to say so that I can make the end effect more concise. Oh, well! What do I need my book for; I will just daydream instead of read.

First destination: Wal-Mart, to find microfiber tights or longjohns. Not much success, but I did overhear one woman telling her daughter about how big I am. I got into a short but pleasant conversation with her about how, even by Western standards I am considered big. She and her companion both expressed amazement: “She understands us!” is what they said. I laughed delightedly, and we chatted for a few moments.

I thought I might try for some fur lined shoes too, and struck out again. I didn’t expect much luck there, so I wasn’t disappointed.

After walking around the whole store I found I was hungry so I went next door to Pizza Hut. It would have been nice to have my book along because the wait for my meal was unusually long. Never mind! I just took in the scene instead. A family of three had ordered pizza and a pasta entrĂ©e, along with a vegetable platter for their young daughter. While waiting for the food, the husband went next door to McDonald’s and bought his family each a frozen treat – the one equivalent to Dairy Queen’s Blizzard. They really had a lot to eat! Although, to be perfectly fair: they did take half their pizza home with them.

I had cream of potato soup and a salad, and a nice cup of tea. In America, that would have been a complete and filling meal. I had forgotten that portion size is substantially smaller here; no wonder the waitress asked me what else I wanted to eat. It was satisfying but not stellar, and I was still a little hungry when I left. Good! More room for the hot chocolate and cake I intended to have. Off to the coffeehouse with me.

No problem ordering a nice cinnamon roll and please do put whipped cream on that hot chocolate! Except… they fixed me a coffee latte instead and I could tell that the cinnamon roll was stale even though it was warmed up. Well, that’s not what I came here for, anyway. What I really wanted to do is write!

I had been thinking about how I wanted to formulate these blog entries; also I have a lot of emails to respond to. What a way to while away an afternoon: writing to the ones you love!

I tried to plug in my laptop but… have I told you the plug configurations are different here? Some plug configurations are slotted and in my house they allow for the standard American 3-pronged plugs, but not so at the coffeehouse. NOTE TO SELF: bring adapter with you so you can plug in computer when you go to the coffeehouse! I sat there and ate my stale and rapidly cooling bun and drank my undesired latte, mourning the absence of my book and cursing the fact that I could not write the first word when I had intended the whole rest of the afternoon to do so.

At this point you would figure that this would all add up to a bad day, right? Lugging a computer around, not finding anything I set out to buy, being disappointed by the rare meal out and the subsequent coffee house treat… All that on top of getting my shoes all muddy again, braving the cold, cold wind, the crowded buses, and the two hour travel time to get to where I wanted to go?

Well, I can’t say I was suffering a touch of depression yesterday. I figured some people take their dogs out; I took my computer out (for lack of a dog, you might add). And, even though nothing seemed to be going as planned, I reasoned that, at least, I got out of the house. Not much of a purposeful life but I did set out with a purpose.

On the way home, the buses cooperated. I did not have to brave the elements very long before they came chugging down the road, and they were not so crowded that I had to stand for the whole way home. Traffic was not so bad that it took forever to get home. When I got home I set to cleaning up my kitchen, cooking a meal and finally settled in to write. Because of the coffee, I was zinging until about midnight, so I got a lot of writing done.

All in all, not a bad day!

Short update: I did take my computer back to the coffeehouse, this time with an adapter. It still wouldn’t plug in. There is one more way that I could try the whole ‘writing at the coffeehouse’ scene; that would be to bring a surge protector which does plug into Chinese outlets effortlessly, and will accommodate my laptop’s Western plug. Maybe I will want to try that sometime, but not any time soon.

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