It was a typical Monday, which means totally full schedule. The only way it differed from regular Monday was that I did not attend two of the three classes I usually go to. Somehow I was still really busy all day anyway!
I missed the 8 AM class because I was leaving the house at such a time that I would be only about 5 minutes late. Then because I have a brain like a leaky sieve, I had to go back for two important forgotten items--up the elevator to the 16th floor, down the elevator from the 16th floor--that in itself is like a 10 minute round trip. Then I would have been egregiously late.
With several dozens of other things demanding my attention, I just said, to hell with it, and spent the morning in the library. As I went in, I noticed these guys raking leaves. That's China: five men doing a one-person job.
At 10 I met with HJ to help clean up her personal statement. She had taken my advice to heart, I was happy to see, and it got much much better! By the time we were done, she and I were both really happy with it, and that was gratifying. Leaving aside the question of whether it's unethical for me to help her this much. Hey, I'm doing it for selfish reasons in part, so somehow that makes it okay. (I'm not sure how.) Perhaps it's partly because I'm learning a lot from trying to figure out how to rephrase these things from Chinese to English--after all, I'm doing translation work myself, and she's a more experienced translator (albeit in the other direction), as well as having a declared interest in translingual practice as a theoretical issue. So we actually spent some time talking meta, and it was educational.
Also, she took me out to lunch. And guess where? The second floor of Art Garden, exactly where I wanted to go at Thanksgiving. The universe was kind. The food was great too--tea, rice-balls stuffed with light, tasty meat filling, nicely seasoned duck stir-fried with Chinese chives and some new kind of vegetable that I didn't know and she couldn't translate but which was good and slightly resembled jello or jelly-fish (she swore it was some plant stem). Delicious. It was great to eat all that meat on such a terrifically cold day.
YHz's class was canceled because she's busy with the conference. So I went back to the library and plugged away at the translation. Actually speeding right along and am more than halfway done. Here is the dreary-looking breezeway outside the reference room, with lockers, at dusk. It was (literally) freezing out there.
Finally to class. I saw the professor at the door of what I took to be the classroom. I said, "This one right?" He said "Yeah, but I'm going to get some tea." Then I went in and sat down. After a while he poked his head in and made "not this one you idiot, the one next door" gestures. I always get them mixed up because they look identical. Usually I can only tell which one it is because the professor's in one of them, but I was too early for that this time. So I felt like an idiot, but at least the professor cared enough about me to go back for me!
The class was much harder than usual. Also I was exceptionally tired. We have moved on to a poet whose writing is difficult and full of abstruse allusions, whose main commitment was to novelty/originality, making him really hard to read. I kept falling asleep, even though in principle I like this poet. I thought I was recording the lecture so I could make up for me inattentiveness later on… but then realized I'd accidentally pressed play instead of record. Still, ZM's a great teacher. I was just a deficient student on that particular occasion.
Finished the day off right, though. On the way home, I decided I should get dinner, and I decided that for dinner I would try something AL had recommended, namely something called "ma la tang." I wish I had taken a picture! It's a big table piled high with different skewers of all kinds of things--vegetables, meats, tofu, fish, more vegetables, unidentifiable combinations of the above, noodles, mushrooms of different sorts, seaweed… When you go in you get a little basket, which you fill with the things of your choice. Then they dump those things into a big pot of rich stock, wait a while, fish them out all flavorfully cooked, pour a marvelous variety of sauces over (including hot pepper sauce if you want it; I did) and there's the finished product--steaming hot and pretty healthy and doesn't contain anything you don't want.
I had always been suspicious of these places before but after actually trying it I was in seventh heaven. The best is that the place (on campus) is clean and pretty reputable, also open late, after the regular dinner hour. A new habit is born. Next time I'll get a picture.