Thursday, August 28, 2008

Water, water everywhere...

This past Monday, I walked David out to the street at the wee hour of 6:30 am, because despite the fact that every person here probably owns at least two umbrellas, we still only have one between the two of us. And it was quite the downpour. He had a plane to catch at the Hongqiao Airport on the west end of town and it is a well known fact that the hardest time to catch a cab is when it's raining. Ah, city life. So, I assumed that it would take a little while for him to catch a ride and in the meantime, he'd be soaked. I should buy a bigger umbrella for such tasks, but it all went well, because as soon as we reached the street, a cab magically appeared before us, his green light shining on the dashboard. Are we lucky or what?

On my return to the house, minding the rather treacherous patch of slimy moss that instantly appears on the sidewalk at the slightest notion of water, either from rain or the dripping air conditioner, I noticed something move in the brush. It was a toad. I had seen him before, but it had been a long time. It was cool to see that he was still hanging out, apparently not the right kind of toad to catch for supper. (I'm still convinced of the concept that if it moves, it's considered food here.) I watched him hop once more and suddenly decided to call him Tobias. No idea why, except for maybe the alliteration. But when a word comes to me like that, I don't question it's authority to be there. And the toad was thus named Tobias.

I went inside and grabbed some Koko Krunch, which is one of the few cereals here that isn't imported, therefore it costs a bit less than $10. (Sorry, I WILL NOT buy any box of cereal for 10 bucks.) So, it's no doubt the least healthy cereal, but hey, it's got
chocolate. I'll take it.

I performed my morning ritual of checking all things electronic, namely email accounts, Facebook, and a bit of news, making sure nothing catastrophic has happened during my sleep. The rain was now coming down in buckets and the gutters were having none of it. I now had my very own waterfall outside the kitchen window. It had rained many evenings in the past week, so the morning rain was a bit of a change. That, and it wasn't a thunderstorm, at least not a really loud one. I got caught in a storm on my bike last week and made it home
almost before the gods unleashed their "whooping of the mortals." OK, a bit much, but let's just say it's been a while since I've had to stifle a scream after a thunderclap. I am starting to wonder if there is a lightning rod on top of our house.

But what the storm lacked in noise, it made up for in sheer quantity. Just at the point where I was thinking,
maybe a nice nap, cause rain naps are the best, I heard something. A clatter? A thump? I walked into the kitchen. I'm still not sure what to call the sound it had made, but the plaster from the ceiling had given up the ghost. Giant chunks of soggy plaster and layers of paint were sprawled on the kitchen floor. We have been having some ceiling leak issues, but now they had become major problems. I trotted to the bathroom and sure enough, the leak in that corner was looking a bit more ominous and definitely more wet. The leak next to one of the ceiling lights over the tub was actively dripping brown water now. Lovely.

That was when I started looking out the windows. The ground was completely submerged in the back yard area. I went to the front and it was the same story. Then I noticed the portion of street I could see over the wall that surrounds our house. I couldn't see the curb on the other side of the street and people on the sidewalk were standing in water at least mid-shin deep. Cars were slogging through, making sizable waves that were washing over the pavement and into our yard as well as the neighbor's. It made me think of summer rain storms when I was a kid. Our yard was once a part of the canal system through Groveport and when the rain came down hard and fast, the ground seemed to get nostalgic about its past and refused to let the water sink in, creating a pond. This delighted my sister and I, but was no doubt a total loss for the resident worms. Poor worms...

I suddenly wanted galoshes really badly. I kinda wanted to explore during the chaos, but no way was I sloshing through that water in flip flops. I've seen what hits the pavement here. Contemplating what the rain was washing away made me somewhat ill actually. So I contented myself with imagining that I was in a castle with a moat. It was a bit exciting, like a snow day when you're a kid. You suddenly have a great excuse for staying home and goofing off. I was just hoping the ceilings would hold. I wasn't exactly interested in becoming the damsel in distress, trapped in the crumbling tower with water all around. I made a note to look up the Chinese word for "Help!"

Then I thought of Tobias and looked out at the garden, even though there was no chance that I would be able to see his camouflaged little back from the second floor with all the rain. I hoped that toads had some sort of instinct about where to go when the ground disappears, finding some island until the water receded. They obviously have the advantage of being able to hop, but I haven't seen him since. I hope I didn't make a mistake by naming him. I certainly did not want to jinx the closest thing I have to a pet here. I just hope he was luckier than the worms.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Well Begun Is Half Done

Beginnings: sometimes even harder than endings. Starting something new is exciting, scary, mysterious, and perhaps daunting. It's like the wild card in Uno: suddenly you have the power to change everything and all eyes are on you. Sometimes with such a blank slate, it makes one pause, but once the chalk has touched the board, there's no telling what wonderful pictures, equations or narratives could now inhabit the once empty space.

So here I put my best foot forward and begin two distinct journeys. I have a two month's head start down the path of my journey in China, exploring what life is like on the other side of the world, far from my native home in the heartland. My other journey, the process of documenting and sharing both my experiences in the East and my observations of life in general, is only just starting. When I think about it, this may be the more intimidating journey of the two, but I also may be a bit more excited about it as well.

Writing is something I enjoy, but I have neglected it far too much since I left the structure of undergrad. The act of writing is healing for me and working on serious pieces is some of the most rewarding work I have encountered. So I'm gonna try out this blogging thing all the kids are talking about and see if I can't get some people reading my attempts at memoir/essay writing. At the very least I'll be able to keep my near and dear much more updated about the China portion than I have thus far. And I promise, there will be pictures involved, as that is a second love of yours truly.

So, chalk in hand I begin Fluxtaposition, my blog on all things changing, challenging, bizarre and comedic. I do hope you enjoy.

There, half done!