written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Flower Piece (sic)

It was a tad stormy inside, but outside the yellow haze from wood fires and coal pollution hung motionlessly about the crumpling shacks and stained white tiled apartment complexes. And as the color of the sky inspired nothing, the weather, though not terrible, conspired against full-on storms, which I wanted. I was stuck in limbo between what was breaking and what was seemingly incapable of breaking. I wanted the sun, in and out, the sun. And like I wanted a storm to wash away the dull and bring in the sun, I needed an antipoison to wash the toxins in my body. And they were there.
I tried to cry in those dull moments. I tried to get it out, but I was so dry inside that I couldn't cry. In my little hotel bed staring at a disgruntled Queen Latifah and bewildered Steve Martin speaking chinese, oily fumeroles from the squat toilet curling around the thin wall, I sat in what can only be described as "The Horror." Edward coined the term a few years ago: A disgust for life directed at both others, but mostly at oneself. "The Horror" in its original context reffered to the feeling one gets (that is if you are painfully self-aware) when walking into a party of 19-22 year old college hipster talking pseudo-authoritatively about Noam Chomsky and watching "Family Guy" with no sense irony about either. But my Horror, seeing as how I am currently in rural south-western China, was of an alien strain. I contracted my Horror on a 4 hour bus ride thorugh the most oddly beautiful mountainscape I had yet to see, but on this ride I endured a constant inhalation of chinese ciggarettes, poor men and women puking and hawking out the windows behind and in front of me and swallowed in s lurching tangle of humans clutching to any hook or protruberance coming from the rat-trap bus walls. I had been on worse rides in the past few weeks, but maybe I had had enough, maybe I felt like I was wasting my trip and I was unhappy, and though it was a f-cking adventure, that this (at this moment) wasn't delivering me to place I wanted to be...
I arrived in the Town of Xingyi, finally, and I had bicycle business to take care of. I had a ripped tire and needed a new one. Incredibly dizzy and nauseas, I put my bike together and pedaled slowly up the hills of the town. Immediately, I found a decent bike shop and after an hour of doing mostly nothing they replaced my tire with a new one, it was 3 dollars, the whole thing...I meandered in the direction of increasing noise as that was the direction I was pointed towards. The hotel was a bargain and old, but clean, despite the smell from the toilet (but that is standard in most chinese buildings). I settled for three days. And by settled, I mean, I capsized, dog-sick and depressed. Wanting to vomit but couldn't, and actually paralyzed to leave the hotel room for as soon as I left I was sure to encounter someone smoking a foul ciggarette. And I just couldn't take it.
I spent that night on my side, nauseas, staring at the wall next to me. The next day I made it about 1 block to the grocery store to by water and juices. While I was in the grocery store, as usual, the floorladies followed me. And being annoyed and sick, I forgot completely what I wanted. I stood in front of some packages of candy gel and squirt bottles filled with high fructose syrup, with neon packaging so inane and bright that I become enraged at its obvious stupidity. Where is the edible non-gross food! So then eventually I found the water and picked up two liter bottles and a thing of gatorade-stuff and then carrying my items like a baby, I piled a few apples on top. With all this I stood transfixed in front of the bakery while the baker twisted purple dough into a jagged crystal bun. My arms got weak wobbly and I dropped everything on the floor. The ladies standing at a distance, but in a semi-circle around me, just stared. Picking them up I noticed that the water started fizzing in the bottle. I read the label featuring a blue Polar Bear "Mentholated Water" Maahahah!!!!

When one is afflicted with the Horror, frustrating grocery store experiences can push one over the edge and as it happened my right nostril began gushing blood. Surely, I thought, I was decaying from dryness from the inside out. A well-intentioned man handed me the tiniest scrap of paper towel which was soon soaked red. I dropped my stuff and walked briskly to the back, to the dark and dank (and probably aweful smelling--if I hadn't my nose pinched) employee bathroom. I turned on a pvc-pipe faucet and washed away the blood in the concrete trough containing dirty mops... When I left the gorcery store anticipating a fresh spill of blood from my nose, I passed a filthy dark man squating on the side-walk. He was wearing a dirty turquoise jacket for little girls and a black-lace petty-coat, his gnawrled feet squeezed into a child's plastic sandals. He was clutching a bag of sauce drenched chicken feet, with discarded feet strewn about on the concrete and his face smothered in dark red sauce. He looked up at me and his eyes were clear.
Another day passed in not-agony, but agonizing immobilization. Smells and noises and everything filled me with sickness and something approximating hate. I'm sorry how it comes off, but hate for the environment I was in. Luckily, it 85 percent passed and I was able to get to Kunming (6 hours away) on a old sleeper bus, which is a whole-other story, indeed. But I can, thankfully, just tell you in pictures.
The Sleeper Bus
The sleeper bus
And like I hoped the sky cleared just as soon as I entered Yunnan province, eternal spring with no storms, but with plenty of rocks.

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson