“The bus to Ningbo was driven by a man with a fondness for swerving and blaring his horn, which could pretty well describe every driver in China. They are insane, these drivers; mad, crazy, dangerous. They drive angry, pissed off, aggressive. Cars, buses, trucks are just tools for them to say F*ck Off. That is how they drive in China: the F*uck Off school of driving. China has just three percent of the world’s drivers, but has a quarter of all people killed each year by cars. They don’t know how to drive in China. Really. Someone needs to teach them.”
I’ve been in Shanghai for four days now, completely immersed in Chinese. I’m not sure how the immersion method works, but I don’t feel like I’m learning many new words. I like to compare my brain in China to a cell phone in the middle of the ocean–constantly working overdrive to find a signal, or in my case, something comprehensible. Every once in awhile I’ll pick up a weak signal, a word or phrase I understand. When this happens I get so excited I exclaim, “Hey, I understood that!” which usually blows my cover. I’ve gotten quite good at pretending to follow a conversation by looking at whoever is talking and laughing when everyone else laughs. I’m so convincing that waitresses and dinner guests will try to talk to me in Chinese. Asking Stephen “Are they talking to me?” usually blows my cover too.
You read that correctly–things almost got out of hand in Chinatown this afternoon…over a parking spot. Chicago’s Chinatown has an abundance of parking–paid lots, metered lots and street parking. But it also always has an abundance of tourists and locals so spots are always hard to come by. Today was particularly rough since there was a street festival going on. A street was closed (which meant less parking opportunities) and the place was abuzz with white people buying samurai swords and downing egg rolls. So I did what people normally do when there’s a shortage of parking–I waited. I lurked at the end of a metered lot, waiting for someone to leave. This is a common practice in Chinatown. Cars line up and as a spot becomes available, the first car in line puts on his turn signal to let everyone know he is through waiting and that is his spot. Stephen and I waited a good 10 minutes before a family came out and took their sweet time getting into their van. I moved up and put on my turn signal. But just then another car came into the lot from the other direction. A guy jumped out of the passenger seat and stood next to the spot in an attempt to prevent me from taking it. When my honking did nothing, Stephen jumped out and started yelling at the guy. “This is Chinatown,” the guy tried to use as his defense. I’m not sure if he meant that as it’s a free-for-all and human decency doesn’t apply, or white girls driving green Beetles shouldn’t get parking spots. Either way, I’m glad I had Stephen with me. After some arguing, the guy finally stepped aside and I pulled into the spot. He continued to stand next to my car as we went to get the pay-and-display slip. I was afraid we’d come back from lunch to find my car had been keyed or covered with bubble tea. Thankfully the little Chinese guy was all talk.
I guess that’s what we get for going to Chinatown two days before going to the real China. I’m not really sure what we were thinking.
I just killed a spider on the wall with my shoe. Immediately after I see a bug in my living space, my body always automatically assumes there are many more. I was convinced there was a bug on my leg just now. It was the sheet. Then I knew there was one on my arm. It was a strand of my hair. Then Stephen called from Connecticut to tell me the hotel he’s staying at has had bed bugs before.
Thanks for ruining my quiet night with Arrested Development, bugs.
This picture almost makes me feel bad about killing the spider. I was going to use a picture of a real spider, but it gave me the willies. I don’t want to scare people off my blog.
Today, I did the unthinkable–I went to a hair salon in Chicago. I’ve been living here for six years and have always gone home to Kentucky to get my hair cut and colored. Part of it was an excuse to go home, part of it was my inability to sever ties with my stylist, and most importantly, I’m now realizing–my Kentucky stylist is cheaper. Much cheaper.
The salon today was nice, don’t get me wrong. My colorist and blow-dryer (yes, they have a separate person for that) were also nice. But the whole time I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating on Amy.
I was expecting the price to be a little higher than I’m used to. When I called to make my appointment the receptionist quoted me $140 for highlights. In Kentucky I pay less than that and get color, a cut, blow-dry and style. In the Chicago salon all of those are a la carte and performed by a different stylist. One woman did my color, then shuffled me off to another woman who blow dried my hair and curled it–for an additional cost. That is the biggest rip off to me–did they really expect me to get on the L with wet hair? So I got a blow dry…for $45. $45! I can get a whole hair cut for less than that in Kentucky!
It was hard not to let out a “Are you kidding me?!” when the receptionist told me my total was $220–twice what I normally pay, and I didn’t even get a hair cut. My hair looks good, but I’m not sure if I’d go back. If London prices are even higher, it may actually be cheaper to fly to Kentucky for a cut and color!
So Amy, I’m sorry I found solace behind the comb and foil of another stylist. I just wanted to have nice hair for my China trip next week and couldn’t make it back to Kentucky. I hope you will take me back and do my hair when I’m home for Christmas.