Steel Gate Soldiers, Smog City, Dipping Beef into a Hot Pot

Smog city is alive and well. The creepers have come out. Beijing is moving.

It’s Saturday morning and I have just finished a workout and mediation. I haven’t been able to run outside for a couple weeks now because of the pollution. That means I do jumping jacks, crunches, and push ups inside with my air filters on full blast.

It seems like the smog has got everyone down. I can’t really blame them. It’s difficult to stay happy when all you can see is a soup sky.

I’m back in China but I am thinking about America.

It is great to be back. I have an incredible amount of love for this city. Walking down the street in Sanlitun, dipping beef into a hotpot, sleeping in and lazing about on Sunday mornings. 

Hell, I guess I have a life here now.

It’s kind of weird, you know. To have a life so far away from the place where you grew up. A place that you never even thought of before, let alone considered living.

I wrote about that yesterday. How it feels like I’m going crazy sometimes.

My favorite part of Beijing has to be all of this storied history. Stuff like the hutongs, forbidden city, and ambiguous government institutions. Soldiers standing outside steel gates that wear forest green uniforms with red and gold trim. 

I live in Haidian now. It’s on the west side of town. Before I lived in Chaoyang over on the east side of town. That’s where all the foreigners live.

Anyways, where I live now has a really cool academic vibe.

It reminds me of China a long time ago. When the common man’s only chance for a better life was to take the imperial examinations. If he passed, then he could go to the capital and hold a government position.

I guess it’s weird to live in a place so many are trying to get to when all you want to do is leave. 

If, for example, I was Chinese, then I would most likely feel a deep sense of pride living here. If it was more than a hundred years ago, I might even consider it an honor. Sometimes I feel like that, but mostly it’s just expat isolation and a confusion that comes when you live in a such a culturally different place over a long period of time.

I guess I could go into more specifics about that but maybe it’s better left for another day. My mind turns to these kinds of thoughts when it gets toxic outside. For now, I stay in Beijing.  

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