Since Wednesday was my night “off” from USA House, I was able to go to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep soundly through the night. I’ve found that when I turn my “air con” unit on in the bedroom, I tend to sleep in later. Otherwise, the heat wakes me up around 6am. I turned the air con unit on HIGH.
I woke up around 9:30am and left the apartment for a 10am yoga class. When I got outside I realized it was pouring rain. That’s one of the things that is sometimes hard to identify from inside the apartment. The sky is normally the color of rain, so I’ve forgotten to assume that gray could mean precipitation.
And it was pouring rain. Cats and dogs, as they say. The roads here don’t drain well, and you’re quickly left with dozens of small lakes and rivers running through the streets of Beijing. Some of the sidewalks are dangerously slippery – I’m not sure if it’s because of pollution on the roadways or if it’s the type of stone. Either way, it makes travel by foot a little bit of an acrobatic feat.
After yoga it was still raining very hard, so I decided to stop in the spa next door that had been highly recommended by both locals and USOC staff. Unfortunately, they were booked for the afternoon (I think that’s what she said, anyway). So, I started to walk back to my apartment complex. A few folks in the building found a spa in our complex and had very good experiences getting foot and full body massages.
I wish I shared their experience! Beware of masseuse #005!
I’m not sure what I “ordered” from the spa menu, but I picked the one that seemed reasonably priced and included a back massage. For the equivalent of $20 USD, I ended up being there for two hours – getting a one-hour foot massage and a one-hour massage.
I’d heard that foot massages can be uncomfortable, so I wasn’t too concerned. It was occasionally painful and I tried to let the masseuse know “OK” or “No OK.” But then I realized that he understood the two phrases to mean the same thing: absolutely nothing.
It was the back and shoulder massage that almost killed me. Number 005 pulled my legs backward and away from the rest of my body so far that I’m certain I’ve grown a few inches. (Man, I was thankful that I had just come from a yoga class.) Then he pressed on my body so hard that I kept getting the wind knocked out of me. I’m amazed that I wasn’t broken into two, although it’s very possible that I have internal bleeding somewhere.
I don’t know why I endure experiences like that. Why don’t I just sit up and say STOP? Maybe it’s because I don’t know that word. Or maybe I’m too afraid to leave barefoot and in the little pink robe they’ve given me. Really though, I live just across the street. Worst case, I’d have wet feet and a few Chinese people who think I’m crazy. I could return the little massage outfit tomorrow if I wanted to.
But, I stay.
And at the end, I even tipped the dang guy. I don’t know why. Maybe I was just thankful to be alive.
So, now I am sitting at Club Sandwich – not to be confused with Club Bud. Club Sandwich is a little cafe behind our apartment complex and, unlike Club Bud, if you want something other than a sandwich, the people here are perfectly fine with that. I’m having the pita.
The shop seems to attract more expats than locals. Probably because it’s one of the only places in town to get a cold sandwich if you’re craving one.
The lights are on low, and there’s a mix of couches and tables. And free wireless Internet. They also serve beer, and I noticed that they recently added Dead Guy Ale to their menu, which I think is brewed in Oregon.
Print of Huang Kai's HuTong Series Woodcut
The walls are a combination of white brick and heavy plaster. They have prints of Chinese artwork on the walls and a surfing drawing that I think my brother would like. Actually, I’m really terrible at guessing what he likes and dislikes. So, maybe I like it because it reminds me of him.
The music here has been a combination of US and European artists. I just heard songs from Cake and U2, and if I stay here for very long I might forget that I’m in Beijing.
My plan is to stay here for a bit and get caught up on some work. It’s very relaxing, and I have a few more hours before heading into USA House for the night shift. We’re expecting a busy night with Women’s soccer playing just next door to our venue.
So, I’m soaking in the quiet and the “alone time.”
I have to admit that I’m starting to feel more relaxed and “limp” than I did before my massage. Maybe it was more productive than I thought. Or maybe this is the body’s natural reaction to a near-death experience.