At it again

It may be hard to start anew, but we often forget the lessons of the past and are thus allowed to move forward with more rewarding mistakes. I am "at it again" writing this blog, which begins in in December because I accidently erased it. I am "at it again" living abroad because I I erased from my memory the continous miscommunication and confusion of it. Luckly you can sit back in the comforts of your native language and culture and enjoy my adventures, hopefully with a laugh or snicker.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Present Tense

So I realized I haven't really been talking about anything I'm doing except in broad sweeping strokes. I guess that is because I'm thinking (agonizing) more about the future right now. Nonetheless I have collected some stories to tell so I suppose I will.

This past Wednesday, I went with Geoff on his second to last day in Taiwan out to YangMingShan to go on a hike. WhistlingWe decided to climb the tallest peak in Taipei county, which isn't so incredible except that it was very very hot and there is no such thing as switchbacks in Taiwan. It took a while to even find the trail we wanted and I climbed the last 1/2 with my umbrella up for shade, but we made it. We climbed up to where everything except silvergrass couldn't grow and the view at the peak was clouded, but the feeling of space was liberating. On the way down we passed a bunch of geothermal spots with steam spouting out and sulfur in the air.Geothermal The bus ride down was less than pleasant. Old people had (rightfully, I suppose) taken all the seats and so we stood, overheated, in the isle of a minibus as it jerked around mountain turns. I hadn't been to Yangmingshan except to run a 10K and I don't think I would have gone without Geoff's prompting. I suppose it will probably be my last hike of the season.

On Thursday, I got the joy of going to the hospital for a dose of HepA vaccine. The National Taiwan University hospital is in an old Japanese era building with stark western style columns and a lobby with a high ceiling and details that deceived you into thinking you weren't in a hospital. Perhaps this hasn't been changed so that mother's have an easier time getting their children to the doctor. Anyway, the illusion is discarded as you enter the new much more sterile wing. Then we sat down to wait and any feeling of not being in a Taiwanese hospital went away. Since Taiwan has socialized medicine, almost any medical attention you need you go to the hospital to get. You sign up for a number and sit in front of a closed door in a long corridor of closed doors and wait for the bell sound and the digital number to change enough times that you get to go in. I finally went in, got asked a few questions and given a printout. After that it was downstairs again to pay for the vaccine and then to pick it up at the prescription counter and then back up the stairs to have the vaccine injected.

While we were waiting, we found out that Colin is malnourished. The waiting area had these cool scales. When you stand on them a sensor is alerted and a bar comes down and taps you on the head. You can then turn toward the machine and see your height and weight. I have gained five pounds since coming to Taiwan (down from gaining 15 in February). Colin on the other hand has lost nearly twenty pounds. He didn't believe it and weighed himself at least 3 times on various scales. I just laughed. I had said a few weeks ago that we were going to be like the farmer couple in the painting "American Gothic," I was just going to get fatter as we got older and he would just get skinnier. Ah, how right I was. Although I must admit I enjoyed this discovery, it drove Colin to an internet search of exactly what qualified as being underweight. I'm sure he would like you to know that he is only underweight according to some calculations. He has also begun eating pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for extra protein, though I don't think they'll do much as it must take the same number of calories to open one of those things as there are calories inside. I'm trying to convince him that more icecream would be a better tactic.

Back to the future again, Colin and I have been looking for wedding bands. Besides the fact that all the sample rings we've tried on have been too small for me and too big for Colin, we are not having much luck. We went on Friday afternoon to a wedding expo at the convention center, but only one place even had weddingbands out and none of them were very remarkable. A few of them weren't ugly, but that's not saying much. Afterwards we thought we'd do more research by going to Tiffany's and Cartier in Taipei 101. Of course they were all outrageously expensive, but nothing even perked our interest. When we left Taipei 101 all that had come of it is that Colin had learned that I was once given a piece of Tiffany's jewelry as a gift and we had bought to books on Taiwanese cooking. Maybe we should just exchange books on our wedding day. They are much easier to find and like and want to purchase. We were also very hungry, probably more from looking at cookbooks than from looking at rings, so we went to the only place nearby, Jason's, the uber Western grocery store. Not only was it super Western, it was like a Whole foods or a Pavillion's. I'm talking about high class grocery shopping. We bought some French bread that to our surprise wasn't sweet and didn't taste exclusively like butter and wandered around eating and pretending like we were traveling through Europe and bread was all we could afford.

We want back out on a ring hunt today and things were pretty abysmal. There are no rings that are really wide enough for Colin and no one here seems to do matching but not identical rings for male and female. That's probably because no one wears their wedding rings here. I think they put them in safes. Ah, what to do? Colin suggested we exchange bagels at our wedding, but I reminded him that bagels will probably be just as difficult to find in Umbria as rings are in Taiwan.