It's my last night here, and I can't believe it.
I have a wretched Olympics hangover, and I think that the city does, too. It was go, go, go, at a frantic pace for the month leading up to and the three weeks during the Games, and then, all of a sudden--nothing. The tourists are gone, the glare from the neon lights of temporary clubs have diminished, the traffic is thick, the people are going about their lives.
Tonight we stopped by a snack market, featuring tasty treats like fried scorpions, boiled starfish, crunchy lizards, seahorse kebabs, silkworms, whole baby squid, and, you know, magical wands of candied fruit. No big deal.
The scorpion photo is a little bit blurry because they were wiggling. The get threaded onto a bamboo skewer when they're still alive
Besides being the fastest mothufucka in the world, he is also one of the funniest mothafuckas in the world.
The dude embodies a rare balance of knowing he's the shit and yet being totally nice, approachable, gracious, and accomodating to reporters. He always stops to talk to everyone (whether they're from a major broadcast network or a smallish newspaper), always gives great quotes, and always has a great attitude, regardless of whether you've grabbed him after a practice session or, you know, breaking a world record.
When you're hanging out at a bar with Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps looks like a dude at a bar. A dude at a bar who's wearing a terrible pink shirt.
He's kind of a gentle ya-dude. Of course, with eight gold medals, he can be any kind of dude that he wants. But still...less than exciting. I don't know what I was expecting. A toga, maybe.
...this is just a tribute.
I, friends, am not a sports writer. That's not my life's ambition, that's not why I'm here in Beijing. (Well, not really. When I'm home and not bound by a stupid confidentiality agreement, I'll tell you all about it. Doesn't that sound magical?)
I am ashamed to say that I perpetuate every stereotype about women and sports.
Some of my Chinese colleagues are inconsolable; hurdler and national hero Liu Xiang has pulled out of the Games.
The man is more than just a star athlete. To the Chinese youth who I spend my days working with, he's an idol, a symbol of hope, pride, and ambition who has come to epitomize China's desired global image; fast, strong, able to stay on par with international competitors.
Raindrops are pestering the skylight above me, a watery
“tap-tap-tap” that then dribbles onto a tin roof in the neighboring
hutong, greeting the metal with a muted plunk. The charcoal-roasted
coffee in my cup is potent, too bitter for my soft American palate, but
better than the alternative; no coffee at all.
Adopting Noodle the dog
has forced me to access a side of Beijing that I didn’t expect to.
Everything until I found her had been all awe and confusion, all mystery
and glamor, all Olympics or sightseeing or nightlife, all the time. Now
that I am in charge of caring for a living creature, I have to navigate
animal hospitals and veterinary visits and pet stores.
The open kitchen at Din Tai Fung
is packed floor-to-ceiling with bamboo baskets, steam wafting
frantically through the air as a dozen chefs, equally frantic, scoop
filling and pinch dough into bulbous half-moons. The world-famous
dumpling restaurant has two locations, and I am sitting on a vinyl
bench outside of the take-out area at the branch at Shin Kong Place, a six-floor shopping mall that flaunts designer brand names at stratospheric prices.
China certainly keeps me on my tiptoes. If I were an asshole, I might write something like "Good thing I packed a sense of humor!" but since I'm not a fan of getting punched in the babymaker, I'll keep that linguistic gem to myself.
Yesterday, I decided to use the Olympics to my advantage and do the exact opposite of what everyone in China is trying to do; get OUT of Beijing.
The cynical part of my brain scoffed at the news. Big fucking surprise. Who didn't see this coming?
The naive, doe-eyed, shy little girl part of my brain (it's small, but it exists) was incredulous. But...but...how could anyone have seen this coming?
There was a stabbing today in Beijing.
The first day of the Olympic Games should have been a joyous one, an all-day celebration of athletics and intercontinental patriotism.
It's 8/8/08, and I'm about to head off to watch the Opening Ceremony. (Not in person again; on a big ole TV at a big ole sports bar). The city has been absolutely buzzing for the past few days, as people from all over the world have been mingling in the bars, the streets, the shops, the Olympic venues and practice grounds.
I watched a few middle-distance runners (country unknown, but if I had to guess, an African nation) practice yesterday, and their "warm up" was faster and more powerful than I could even dream of being.
Beijing has taken its revenge on me.
I was invited to attend a bachelorette party for a fellow journalist last night, so, like any good member of a bachelorette party, I decided to make her some tacky accessories, since I had no idea where to even begin looking for penis-shaped necklaces and naughty check-list T-shirts. I'd acquired a few yards of pink tulle (bizarrely, it was used to decorate a package of takeout I took home from a vegetarian restaurant--one of the best meals I've ever had, by the way.
Here's a valuable tip. Chinese "white wine" is actually some kind of elixir brewed in the bowels of Hades that will leave a trail of fire in your throat and knock you off your barstool faster than you can ask "What is this?"
I, like so many foreigners before me, was tricked by the innocuous sounding name. White wine? A mild and refreshing beverage! Yes, please! When they brought me a tiny, flat green glass bottle and a shot glass, I was perplexed.