yours, tiramisu

the dust bowl

Grandpa picks up my spiral notebook filled with loopy scribbles, and I don’t stop him because I know he can’t read what I write anyway. He compliments my handwriting, which makes me feel a pang of guilt. Am I being ungrateful, spoiled when I write about my experience like this?

There is not a whole lot to do here. With my uncle gone there’s no one to take us out; while healthy, my grandparents can’t walk for very long and neither can my mom. My brother and I are useless on our own. We don’t have a data plan, can’t pay for anything because we don’t have WeChat pay set up (I think you need a Chinese bank account), and can’t even download an offline map to help us get around. If we do go out on our own we’ll have to retrace our steps by memory.

The streets are covered with a yellowish dust, which kicks up into our faces when the howling wind swirls around. The dust storms, vast empty expanses, and crumbling infrastructure remind me of the Midwest.

We did brave the wind to visit the supermarket mall complex yesterday. Everything seems less glamorous after Japan, but the supermarket still strikes me as miles better than the ones we have in the States. V and I go cross-eyed at the variety of Lays, Doritos, and Cheetos flavors we’ve never seen before. Squid. Mexican chicken tomato [sic]. Spicy numbing hot pot.

Everything is cheap, even in the mall food court. Buns for a few dimes. Revolving conveyor belts with all you can eat hotpot ingredients for 3USD.Ididntseemanymealsthatcostmorethan5 USD.

I know it’s not like this in all of China, especially not the big cities. But here in small town China house prices are plummeting. As the older generation pass away the young are inheriting more and more houses. Since they’re moving to big cities and not having as many kids, the houses sit vacant, fetching significantly less than they sold for decades ago. The idea of real estate doing anything except doubling in value is a foreign concept to me.

Back at Grandpa’s home there’s not much to do. They do have wifi, thankfully. It boasts a whopping 4 mbps download speed, essentially keeping me from viewing anything that isn’t plaintext like Bear. It’s been a blessing for our creativity, though. V is drawing a recap of his last year in uni on his iPad and I cycle between reading, writing, and napping. The hours blend together like this; there’s no need for me to wear a watch when there’s nothing to do.


My recent posts have been more narrative. It’s been fun to write like this for a change. I feel like I am writing an ongoing novel of my life which releases a chapter every day or every other day. I want to milk it for all that it’s worth because I know my normal life back at home won’t provide me with as much material to do the same. With this change I’m trying to practice what I preach in classes and work on a few specific things: using more present tense, crafting good dialogue, avoiding overusing ‘but’, varying my sentence structures.

“The most critical part of becoming “so good they can’t ignore you” is to be “so prolific you don’t recognise yourself”. Once you cross that threshold you can actually look at your own work with a relatively objective, critical eye.”
~ Visakan Veerasamy

This is me striving to empty the well at every opportunity, not worrying much about quality, and enjoying the process, wherever it takes me.

#china #english #life #travel #wordvomit