so used am i to sleeping late, it took me a while to go to bed last night, despite the fact that i was dead tired from not having really slept for over 24 hours (not since 7:30am the previous morning) and my eyes were bloodshot to hell. once i did lie in bed (around 1am), it didn't take me long to quickly fall asleep. i woke up at 7:30am, which seemed to be what my internal alarm clock is set to, because that's when i used to wake up back in china (of course it was also because sunlight from the window would shine onto my face). i'd stir awake in the middle of the night, either confused as i where i was, or thinking about where to eat at the guanyinqiao food street then realizing i was not in china anymore. i went back to sleep and didn't finally wake up until 10:30am.
i stayed in bed a bit longer, admiring how big my bedroom was. i used to think it was so small and cramped, but after having called a small hotel room as home for the past 2 months, it was large in comparison. though familiar, the bedroom still felt strange to me. i was feeling that everything old seems new again sensation one gets after returning home from going away for a long time. it was also strange how quiet it was. i've gotten used to the sounds of traffic and the occasional construction jackhammering sound, that all this silence seemed deafening.
i currently have 3 phones: the iphone 5S which is the 4.0" phone i use to make calls; my oneplus one which is my 5.5" phone for surfing the web and everything else; and now my xiaomi redmi note 3 which is the 5.5 phone i used when i was in china. i plan on donating the redmi to my parents when we eventually switch over to t-mobile in the fall once our longstanding verizon contract is finally over.
i went to the living room and sat on the couch. almost reflexively, i reached for the remote and turned on the television. i never watched television when i was in china. i had a tv, but the only time it was ever turned on was when sunmeng was over. i never watched it because 1) i didn't know the tv schedule, 2) none of the shows interested me, and 3) even when i did watch i didn't quite understand what was going on. so most of the time i spent in my hotel room was in silence, or the sound from some downloaded television show i was watching (the americans, game of thrones, person of interest, the occasional talk show). i'm now realizing that back at home, when i have the tv on, sometimes it's not to watch anything, but rather just to have some noise to make the house seem less empty. not that there's a lot to watch anyway, as i only get a few channels, and once my contract os up, i'm planning on dropping my cable and just going with OTA HDTV instead. i caught a bit of HBO, then some french opens coverage (serena loses in the final). i found the commercials particularly interesting; having been out of the country for 2 months, all the commercials are new now - the one with bon jovi was especially noteworthy.
there was nothing to eat in the fridge, but i knew i had some instant korean noodle cups in my storage bin and i fixed one for lunch. i ate in the living room, sitting in my familiar armchair, a computer on my lap, the television playing in the background. looking out the window, it was disconcerting to not see any chinese people, but rather the mixed bag known as americans. the streets were cleaner and so many trees. and bikes too, a lot of people biking. i myself haven't biked since leaving for china.
my living room was clean when i first arrived but now it's a mess from having unpacked my suitcase. i still remember the last time i came back from china, it took me weeks before the living room was finally back to a presentable state.
today is the anniversary of the 1989 chinese tiananmen massacre. just prior to leaving, i saw how the chinese government planned on dealing with the anniversary. my last night in chongqing, the day before the eve of the anniversary, there was a crowd of bored police waiting in formation at quanyinqiao square. at the time i didn't know what they were doing there and even managed to snap a few photos, but i now realize they were there in anticipation of any potential massacre related protest. then when i was about to leave beijing airport, something happened i never seen before. right after we submitted our boarding pass, there was another security screen right before we stepped onboard the plane. all liquids had to be dumped, even items purchased in the gift shops after the normal security screen. they searched through all the bags, just a cursory check, perhaps looking for weapons in fear of a terrorist attack. what they don't realize is on the anniversary of the massacre, it's not the people who are the terrorists, but rather the government. later i asked a solitary airline worker why the additional security; she said they were just doing their job, that it was something that the airline requested. i was tempted to ask her if it was tiananmen massacre related, but decided against it, so close was i to returning home, i didn't want to get into any trouble with the chinese communist government.
in the early afternoon i ventured outside for the very first time, to pay a visit to my community garden plot. i brought my camera along with a pair of work gloves and some digging tools. the last day to start preparing the plot was the end of may; if the plot doesn't look like it's been taken care of, it could be given away to somebody else on the wait list. i'd contacted annemarie before i left for china, and reminded her again so i could get a few days leniency since i wouldn't be back until early june.
when i finally saw my plot i was surprised by how neat it looked without me having worked on it all spring. maybe that's why i didn't get any special mail about having an unruly plot. maybe tilling the soil the day before i left for china has something to do with it. also the plot is pretty well maintained to begin with, so there wasn't much weeds to begin with, just some stray grass and a bit of creepy ground ivy. half of the plot was carpeted in wild parsley, but it served as a good ground cover, and seemed like i did it on purpose. there was 2 blooming columbine plants, and a transplanted hollyhock that's grown about 3 feet tall. there was also what i really wanted to see, which was the field of self-sown delphiniums. delphiniums are entirely missing from my parents' backyard this year (even though they sprouted out a lot last summer), but here in my garden plot, i seemed to have a delphinium garden, which will look amazing when they finally bloom in a few weeks.
there wasn't that much more to do in the garden, which was a good thing because it was a hot day. nobody else was in the garden except for a young woman taking photos of some flowers with her camera phone. i pulled up some grass, ground ivy, and wild parsley and called it a day. no need to water since it'd rain tomorrow. i spent the rest of the time going through the new-empty community garden, taking photos of flowers.
back at home i went into the backyard. paul had done some garden work, relining the hosta corridor with bricks, and hiding a bicycle underneath a tarp nailed to the underside of the house. i went in the basement to check out my bicycle. while i was in china, mary had told me the chain fell off when she was riding it. she wasn't able to fix it and i saw what the problem was: the chain was wedged firmly between the sprocket and the bike frame. it was wedged into an impossible position and no amount of wiggling would be able to remove it. fortunately my bike chain has a special connecting link which allows me to easily loosen the chain. it took a while to find where it was on the chain, and took some more time to get enough slack to release the link. once that was done it was easy to finally unstuck the rest of the chain and put it back together again. the chain itself could probably use a replacement (i have spares) but that wasn't something i wanted to do today (another time perhaps, i could also give the bike a thorough cleaning in the process).
going to market basket to get some food gave me an opportunity to ride the bike, test out to see if my chain repair worked. i was actually kind of afraid of going to the supermarket for some reason, almost nervous after having not visited in 2 months. but once i got going, everything came back to me. it was also a great day for riding the bike, with the streets surprisingly free of cars for the most part, the town quiet again now that most of the college students have left for the summer. i didn't buy anything noteworthy, mostly junk food. there wasn't anything back in the US that i really wanted to eat while i was in china (i was already doing so much chinese eating anyway). i did pick up 3 carton of haagen-dazs ice cream that was on sale ($2.50/each) - haagen-dazs are surprisingly expensive in china, at RMB40-50 (around $7) a scoop.
not satisfied with just a simple ride to the supermarket, i ended up biking down to the cafe after dropping off my groceries back at my house. my aunt lili was there, chatting with my parents. everyone ended up going home around 6pm. i bumped into my sister's godmother before my mother and i rode our bikes back to belmont. my father closed the cafe early and drove home. dinner was some rice noodles. afterwards i biked back home. it was still light outside, sunset these days insist until 8pm.
i did a load of laundry, still checking out to see if my washer and dryer sustained any damage from mary while i was away. it managed to both wash and dry just fine. i folded the clothes in my living room while i watched television, the martian on HBO. i finished the evening drinking some sri lankan black tea wuweiyu gave me. it was good but i steeped it too long and was bitter towards the end.