ni yo yan ma?

Bu hao.
Again, an entry that spans a couple of days and makes no excuses for non-linearity. It’s Thursday now in Taipei, and it’s oppressively hot and humid. I must admit though, I’ve been faring better than usual considering the heat. I think I’ve developed some kind of mental kung-fu that protects me from the heat. I still loathe going outdoors, but when I do go outside, and even if I’m walking around the city, I use my mind-control to keep my usually open-floodgate style sweating to a minimum.

I don’t know why, but since coming to Taiwan this time I’ve been indulging in a cigarette or two each night. Sometimes this happens to me: I set the precedent one evening by breaking down a borrowing a smoke. Then, once people know I’m willing – they just won’t stop offering. I’ve got to stop though, because I am just not made for smoking. I mean, it kills me. This morning I woke up with a dreadfully sore throat, and that kicked-in-the-chest feeling. I don’t think it’s the smoking itself, rather the havoc it wreaks on my sinuses. My sinuses are all allergy’d up anyway, and smoking just makes things much worse. I wake up all stuffed up and horking up gobs of brown goo… almost like a headcold, but completely brought about by the Marlboro man. I tried to make a stand last night, because I had already been feeling the cumulative effects of the past few days – but some Taiwanese cab driver insisted I pony up and take a fag. After that, he was passing out the betel nut and it was a regular working-class party in the taxi. Come to think of it, that guy was fun. But no, I’m done, you heard it from the source – no more cigarettes.

Every time I come to Taipei, I test the limits of what I dare to eat. I don’t necessarily mean what actually comprises the meal, rather where the meal comes from. On this trip, I decided to finally throw caution to the wind and have some food from the street-vendors. The night markets are full of stainless-steel carts on wheels, behind which sweaty, unclean-looking men wearing A-frame t-shirts and smoking cigarettes that dangle dangerously long columns of ash as they stir their boiling pots or tend to hot skillets. The fare is varied: some kind of “tendon” soup, so-called “stinky” tofu, various parts of ducks, squids on sticks, sugared tomatoes with prawn-centers on a stick, you get the picture. Not all of it is unappealing though, I just like the shock value of mentioning only the oddball local stuff. Anyway, I’ve dined at a couple carts so far during this trip. I had duck wing, I had some kind of dessert made from shaved ice, gelatinous milk, and tapioca, and I returned to a donut vendor that Eric intro’d me to last time I was in town. I guess it’s a pretty “safe” list, but the point is that I haven’t gotten sick yet. There were a couple guys in the office today who opted to walk to McDonalds rather than join the rest of us folks for dumplings at the place down the road. Tsk tsk, where’s your sense of adventure?

The past couple days I’ve been catching myself trying to imagine this city from Sharaun’s point of view. Watching the scooters swoop in and out of traffic like a reckless swarm of insects; noticing the familiar sights like 7-11, Circle-K, and Hooters; feeling alone because no one understands you and likewise you can’t understand them. I’ve been desensitized to it, but it’ll all be new for her. I don’t know why I’m so excited about being able to see that, to watch her reaction to things. I guess it’s partly because I feel like the all-knowing old hand at Taipei. Even tho I’m as green as any other American who’s been to the city a few times and thinks they get it. I actually can’t wait until she gets here, so much to show her.

I’m in the office now, got here around 8:30am. The 4am meeting bit went over much easier than I thought it would, it doesn’t seem to have wrecked my sleeping – and I think I’m just about adjusted to the new timezone. I still want to sleep during the day, but that’s on par with my normal level of lazy so I’m not too concerned. Somehow, I forgot to bring some headphones for the laptop, so I can’t listen to any of the new stuff I’ve downloaded. Instead, I’m sitting here listening to tunes off my phone. Which is fine, really, but I think I’ll pick up a pair of headphones at the computer market. I have a hard time getting motivated to do day-to-day work when I’m here. I think it has something to do with being out of my element. Not sitting at my desk with my monitor and such. Working off the laptop screen with no external mouse and keyboard, I dunno. Just that feeling of not quite being where I usually am. I have to get totally absorbed in what I’m doing to be productive, which is sometimes hard to do.

Last night, as I tried to go back to sleep around 5am, I suddenly and randomly got an idea for what I want to do as my centerpiece prop this Halloween. For the last year I’d been thinking that I’d work on the witch again, making her actually fly around the yard this year – but I still see a lot of work in that one. The idea that came to me is relatively simple, which is good considering the success of the complicated witch implementation originally planned for last year, but I think the effect will be cool. I want to build a life-size coffin out of wood, stained to look nice and real, which will be propped up somewhere along the path to the front door. The lid will be able to open slightly, opening to show an eerie light and fog rolling out. While open, an arm will reach out toward the visitors, and then retreat back into the coffin, which will then close again. I think it’ll be pretty easy: some wood, a couple windshield wiper motors, an el-cheapo fog machine from Wal Mart, some lights and the prop for the arm.

Finally, I see PF is hip to the Ponys. Good call PF, good call.

Until tomorrow, smoke-free.

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