Sunday, September 28, 2008

Things That Aren't Classes

We had a movie night on Wednesday at our apartment. Joel and Gill and Dave came over and we watched The Sting, which I had never seen. It was fun to have people over - made me feel like we actually live somewhere. We had another movie night last night at the home of Georgia and Cat, two of Katy's co-workers. We watched The Princess Bride, because no one doesn't like that movie.

On Friday, I did some laundry (which I hung in my closets with the doors open - laundry dries in about 24 hours here, unless it's fabric like denim, in which case it takes more like 30 hours), got some groceries (tomatoes, scary individual cheese slices, and sprouts !sprouts!), made myself a sandwich, and decided I'd walk to meet Katy at her MRT station near Shilin.  The first thing I passed when I walked north of the Minquan/Linsen intersection where I usually turn for the MRT was a pretty building that looked like a temple.  For all I know it could have been a tchotchke shop.  There was a restaurant that had three bird cages outside, and one of them had birds the restaurant manager called "qise" birds, or seven color birds.  They were very pretty and not at all frightened.  The other cages had canaries and finches, but I'd passed them by the time I thought to take a picture.

I walked up to the Art Park, which has clearly seen better days.  Nevertheless, it was nice to be walking in a park.  It smelled like a park, which was nice.  It smelled like 4:00 in a park on a late summer day, and since it was 4:00 in a park on a late summer day, it was a very appropriate smell.  I forget how things are connected until something is familiar and it strikes me as odd.

There was something going on in the military complex next to the park - some kind of rehearsal or drill or something.  I took a few clandestine pictures (I wasn't the only one), listened to the music for a while, and watched them twirl their rifles like batons.  They were very good at it.

I passed the Art Museum itself, which was pretty cool, and the Taipei Story House.  I hung out in another park for a while, watching the airplanes fly overhead and watching some little boy throw his sister's shoes in the sand.  She didn't seem to mind.  After a while I headed north again to cross the river towards Shilin.  I took a bunch of pictures of the clouds (they were very pretty) and set my camera on a wall to take a picture of some leaves.  When I turned around, there was a gentleman in a shocking state of deshabille, casually doing his business there on the side of the road.  I made a hasty exit.  This was clearly not the place for young ladies of delicate temperament.

Every time I pass beneath a bridge here, I want very much for it to be an aqueduct.  It never is, but I can pretend.  This isn't Taiwan, it's ancient Greece.  Complete with huge letters graffitied on a hill in the Roman alphabet.  Just like Hollywood, but different...

As soon as I got to the Jiantan MRT station, where I was to meet Katy, it started to rain.  I had very thoughtfully neglected to bring my umbrella, so I sat under the overhang of the rails and waited for it to let up a little.  As soon as the rain got somewhat more like mist, I made a dash for the nearest cafĂ©, where I sat down and ordered myself some tea (rose tea!) and toast.  There was some confusion about the toast.  The waitress asked me if I wanted one of two options on the menu, but I knew what neither of them were.  She went back to the woman who turned out to be her mother, and after a whispered conference, the waitress came back and said, quite clearly, "Butter. Or. Penus Creme."  I did my best to hold it together.  "Peanut butter?" I asked.  She shook her head.  "Penus Creme."  Her mother came over and repeated the same phrase four or five times, to make sure I'd heard correctly.  I had.  Then she gestured to indicate little nodules.  "Peanut butter," I said firmly, and made them repeat it.  "You know how you have this word for bird?" I said.  "And how sometimes it doesn't mean bird, but something different entirely?  That is what you are saying.  Peanut butter is the right way."  They laughed and nodded.  I hope that people will correct me when I'm saying terrifically laughable things in Chinese.

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