Home > Uncategorized > In Which domesticity and MSG drip from Sweet Potatoes (Same thing!)

In Which domesticity and MSG drip from Sweet Potatoes (Same thing!)

I’ve just swept out the apartment, hunched over the pink-synthetic bristled Chinese-person sized broom. After my experiences living in a concrete room, I know that the feeling of that invisible grit under my feet throws me into Jane Eyre Gothic style terrors, screaming at an assailant that may or may not actually be there. My knit ballet-slippers are kept close at foot, even for the inches-wide journey between the bathroom and my bed. It kind of shatters the Earth-mother image I may have otherwise gotten going by cooking an enormous stir fry for Megan and the boys last night. I’m supposed to be barefoot in the kitchen. Then again, I’m also too tall for it, bending my head beneath the Asian-grandma sized stove hood and mistaking mono sodium glutamate for rock salt.

“You know, it isn’t true that people get headaches from that,” Stephen says, trying it with his finger, “it’s just a myth.”

I know he’s trying to make me feel better, but he also thinks that things like feminism and monogamy are myths. When we all trekked out to the grocery store again—a daily ritual for the Americans at the Metro Agile—I bought some real salt with English on the bag.

So today I have so far had three Magnum bars—real dark chocolate and real chocolate ice cream. Last week I tried to have an ice cream cone at the Gong Bei underground mall and it was total disaster of multi-ton meteor hits Gulf of Mexico proportions. I pointed at a peachy colored tub of ice cream and when I took a lick of it (thank Jeebus the girls didn’t speak English), I involuntarily yelled, “oh my gosh that’s disgusting!” It tasted like someone had put sugar and garlic together and then threw some milk and ice on it. And here I was expecting peach.

“Must have been durian or something,” Stephen said, wrinkling his nose. That would be the spiky cantelope-like fruit that is purported to smell like a rotting corpse but taste delicious once one bites into it. After a lick or two I became accustomed to the cantaloupe-kin taste, but for hours afterward I had garlicky burps. Trident masks didn’t do the job.

Anyway, so Magnum bars were what I had in Europe—particularly I believe after a club night, or a concert night. They really improved my mood. That leads me to ponder if eating ones feelings in a responsible manner is so wrong? Like whatever astronomical percentage of teenage American girls, I did my time with eating disorders and came out of it with not only a clearer head, but also a more attuned appreciation for food. All I know is eating feelings via well made, aesthetically beautiful, culturally meaningful and delightfully savored meals is not what I did when I was a bloaty-depressed teen. If the last dark chocolate magnum bar in the Chinese grocery freezer, or a skewer of face numbing spicy chicken lifts me out of the overwrought homesick doldrums, I surrender!

My co-workers have been complaining about where we live until they trip over their tongues, and it causes me to understand the Chinese concept of “losing face” to a certain extent. My roommate and I sat on the rock hard bed after a night of narrating Mandarin TV-shows, discussing how the HR secretary’s hands shook as she listened to a certain vocal Minnesotan’s list of demands. I don’t want to set myself apart as if I’m any better than my co-workers, but I can only foresee them being led on and on by the Chinese desire to avoid confrontation and conflict, by “maybe next semester” or non-committal nods. I am starting to become ashamed of the complaints. I’ve been sitting in the apartment alone for most of the day, enjoying the air conditioning and learning to use the itty-bitty washing machine. I am grateful for it.

Tomorrow is our real first day of work, and I think I’m successfully getting myself organized, reading over curriculum and making posters for my a-capella American pop club!

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