I’m back at Benny’s Cafe at the moment, to write. The AC is set to Arctic Despair and the music is making me a little tense at the moment, but the kids that work here just made me really happy. The’ve known for a long time that I’m the 無糖/不要放糖 “no sugar, please” guy. They nod to me when they come in to work. Today, the Smiley Girl brought me my iced tea and asked, smiling《你要吸管嗎？》”Do you want a straw?” She pointed to the tower of straws on the counter and I happily said “no thank you.” I’ve been returning the straws to the straw tower every day, just because I don’t need plastic wrapped in plastic to drink my sugar-free iced tea. I like Smiley Girl and Shy Boy, who had a cold last week. I noticed Elf-Lookin’ is wearing a sick mask today, poor kid.
Note to self: 吸管 （1st tone, 3rd tone). In Shanghai they taught me to say 管子，that was the same day they taught me how to say 法棍.
Ok so yesterday I was just marveling about the convenience of my apartment. I live in a building on Roosevelt Road, so the front door opens into a colonnade. All the main roads are lined with colonnade here, which is very nice on rainy days. Yesterday I was thinking about all the places I can get to on a rainy day without an umbrella; in other words, just places on my block. I can get morning coffee, an evening drink, buy an umbrella, do all my grocery shopping at a supermarket, buy fresh food at the farmer’s market, go to the drug store, get a Taiwanese breakfast, and pick up something from the bakery. Also, the metro station is directly below my building, so I can also get to anywhere the metro goes without needing an umbrella; essentially without crossing a street.
Yesterday, I wanted to meet up with South Africa M, who lives a little out of the way. She’s recovering from a medical procedure, so her friend California B met me at the metro station We stopped for burritos to go… I got a carnitas salad because I can’t stand flour tortillas anymore. Anyway, there was a bus ride to a 7-Eleven, then a little bit of a hike to another bus, and then a short walk into South Africa M’s mountain chalet, where the three of us just hung out for a few hours, sitting in the living room and talking like grown ups.
When I met South Africa M two years ago, I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it here. Two years later she lives on the side of 陽明山 Yangming Mountain where it’s cool, and you hear the rush of the wind in the leaves instead of the groan of motor bikes. She says it takes her over an hour to get to work; a short walk, a long bus, and a longer metro ride. But she lives in a mountain chalet; the bus has huge windows, and the train she takes rides three stories in the sky, and takes her to her job in 淡水. In other words, she works at a weekend tourist destination, and lives in a different weekend tourist destination. She was so happy way up in the mountain, and I see why. She keeps two dogs. Three kittens were just born on her roof.
She had me walk to the back porch to get a look at those three kittens, and of course there is the view of a little forest canyon behind her place. I looked up a little in the tree and saw a spider the size of a hoodie sweater, sitting in a web the size of a jumpy house. I wanted to shriek and gather up my skirt, but I somehow kept my cool and went balk inside calmly. I reported about the spider as big as an old man’s over coat, and they laughed casually and said, yes, the spiders grow to the size of two-car garages here.
California B and I took a little walk around while we were up in the mountain; we checked out the views from the Chinese Cultural University and then wandered back down to the main road somehow and caught a bus back to the metro station.
When I finally got back to my neighborhood, I thought about the extreme convenience of my neighborhood, and then compared it to the relative inconvenience and natural bliss of the Mountain Chalet. I think most Americans would feel more at home in the Mountain Chalet, for the quiet and the privacy. But truth be told, this is still Taiwan; the Mountain Chalet is two blocks from a bus line, and that bus comes every five minutes.
When I finally got back to my neighborhood, I had a meal of steamed fish with lemon, a short walk home, and then a quiet beer at the bar downstairs.
Today I went and saw 22 Jump Street with Taiwan Amy. I was hoping to see Lucy but apparently it doesn’t come out here until the end of next month. I looked at the other movies; Hercules is the big one that came out Friday, and it looks like a shame. Amy proposed 22 Jump Street and I thought… eeew ewwwww…. but yes, that’s exactly what I need to see right now; a dumb summer flick, with jokes and bad guys, and some bros dancing around with guns. I used some grammar from last summer to tell Amy that I decided to come with her because 《我把冷氣放在第一位，第二是和你過時間。》（I put AC first, spending time with you is second!) which of course she saw coming from a mile away and finished before I reached the comma. The point is that seeing Jonah Hill and the other guy, plus no Asians in a movie… that’s way, way down the list. I was a little surprised, though, that it passed the letter of the Bechdel Test, if not the spirit of it. Anyway, I’ve thought about that movie too much now.
《銀河守護者》Guardians of the Galaxy comes out on Thursday, and Amy is down to see it with me. 《銀河守護者》is my vocabulary crush for the week.
UPDATE: apparently the translation for the Taiwanese market is 《星際異攻隊》, which is great news for me since I already know most of those characters anyway. “Interstellar Unusual Attack Team”
At first I had it confused with 《復仇者聯盟2：奧創紀元》but that’s not coming out until next summer. I’m glad, too; because 《復仇者聯盟2：奧創紀元》seems a lot more difficult to remember for some reason. More difficult than 猩球崛起 Planet of the Apes, which I never wanted to see to to begin with.