The weather has made a decided shift to humid after a long dry and sometimes windy winter. Different from where I come from with most of the precipitation in winter in the form of rain and snow followed by a long, dry and hot summer. I love the dramatic thunderstorms with lightning, thunder and pouring rain, sometimes blowing in through the open windows. I was out the other night. While finishing dinner we could hear thunder. This had not been predicted on the Beijing weather-by-the-hour. I'm learning that the weather can change suddenly here. I ended up riding my bicycle the several blocks home in the rain.
I haven't gotten the hang of riding my bike with an umbrella in one hand. Will have to learn that one if I don't want to get soaked again. It's the Mary Poppins style, floating over the hutong rooftops. I will say this, my hair loves the rain water rinse!
At the coffee shop (kafei ting) on break this afternoon I saw a woman walk up, and she didn't look Chinese. I gave her a big smile as she passed and went into the shop. A few minutes later she came out to the patio and greeted me. Turns out she's Italian from Milan, Guiseppina (Pina) Merchionne. We sat and sipped coffee, finally we exchanged info by calling each others cell phones (shuoji) and got into our phone books.
Friday night Pina and a darling student of hers, Elena who teaches fashion in the Art Institute here, brought fresh tomatoes, garlic, Spanish olive oil and Italian pasta. We drank Chines beer while Pina and Elena took over my tiny kitchenette. Pina is working up a proposal to start Italian conservation classes at Tsinghua. She tells me no University or college in all of China teaches art conservation or preservation. Shes working on a glossary of conservation terms from Italian to English to Chinese. I am very happy to have met, finally, someone my age. Sadly, she returns to Milan at the end of the month.
At the darkest hour of the early morning, the first birds awake and begin their bird voices chirping. Otherwise quiet hours before the red sun is seen and the pearl gray sky shows above the rotating speck of earth that is Beijing, and where I lie sleeping. Dreaming furious and complicated scenes, peopled with strange and familiar faces. Endlessly changing rooms and settings, threatening or just plain weird conversations and situations. Even while dreaming, observing myself from a close distance and at the same time living the dream's actions. That's how it was when I dreamed I gave birth to a lump of flesh that was at the same time myself. Preparing for and undertaking a journey, the dream goes on...
Enjoy some images from the campus art show. Cynical realism, contemporary Chinese art movement, is seen in many of the pieces in the Tsinghua University Art Department graduating seniors' projects exhibit this June 2011. The movement began in Beijing, and it is fitting that some Tsinghua students would pursue their individual expression in this style. This one shows ragged and rustic street men beautifully and brightly painted.
Hammered metal 'Sunflowers' places patterns inside metal organic petal ellipses with downward growing, upside down roots mingling in this original composition with skulls and snails and clouds, rain and sun.
Surrealism influences of Max Ernst abound in a gigantic triptych altar of atmosphere. The central panel is a Titianesque cloudscape in lurid neo-classic color tones, flanked by double panels in black with splatter nebulae.
A world in a conch shell advances hyper surrealism beyond Dali to make this personal statement.
Getting old is heck, I say. I've been bothered by some minor issues with my feet and finally realized I should try some traditional Chinese treatment. I wrote up a little description of my problem with personal details a doctor would ask about, went to Google translator and got it printed out in Chinese. Saturday afternoon around 3pm I biked over to Qingqi Fitness-- "Strengthening the body resistance, Treating both manifestation and root." "All the masseurs have the certification of senior masseur accredited by the nation."
A nice older woman with a beautiful and interesting face gave me an examination. I saw her in photographs on the wall with various other people at a big dinner or conference. She checked my pulse as I rested my wrist on a little pillow and looked at my tongue. Standing, she checked pressure points along my spine and down the front.She had a friend interpret a bit, asked some more questions and moved me into the foot massage room.
A half hour soaking in warm herbs, kneading of shoulders, toes, ankles, calves was followed by an extraordinary two hour experience in a private massage room by a different masseur. First he checked me standing, poking in various ingenious places. Although he couldn't speak English and I "Wo bu hui shuo hanyu," I understood he wanted to know if it was tender or sore where he was poking. He was very interested, looking in my ears, grunting with surprise "huh?"
Next came a thorough manipulation and meridian/pressure point routine. He zeroed right in to my problem areas-- uneven shoulders and corresponding opposite hip, contrapposto as it were. I was breathing hard and squeaking when he got into a particularly sensitive point. That made him chuckle? He would rub his hands together for only a second and they would get hot. He would place them on me and bring heat to an area. Similarly, his finger tips felt like burning embers.
Gradually I got the idea that he was moving the electrical current around my system by manual manipulation, moving it through blockages deep in my right hip and left shoulder blade. I have to be honest, there were a couple moments I might have blacked out. I won't kid you, IT WAS PAINFUL! They want me to come back on Sunday for further torture. If my body straightens out and my feet recover, it will be more than worth it. I will keep you posted. $250Y for 2 1/2 hours ($43) for Chinese therapeutic massage.
As I'm sitting here working up the breakfast letter, imagine me listening to the Beach Boys on Jazz FM 88.5 KSBR Internet Radio from Saddleback College in San Diego, California. Anyone out there who knew me when I had my sweet (Little Douce Coupe) (taikule!) Supra 1988?
Hui tou jian