Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'm in a hotel lobby waiting for an elevator. When one finally comes, a bunch of people crowd on with me. I'm trying to get to the 13th floor but this elevator doesn't go there so I press 12. A hotel staffer asks me to press a special button on a special control panel (the elevator is so crowded he can't reach it). I hit the button and the elevator zooms up, bypassing all the floors. Everyone is upset & I try to reset it. I get off on the first floor it stops on and find another elevator. This one also doesn't go to my floor so I press 12 again. Then I realize I was supposed to meet with my roommate/friend in the dining hall. I press 9 just as the elevator gets to that floor.

I'm now in a factory and I walk into a large, dimly lit cafeteria. It's filled with Chinese workers eating noodles. A giant screen on the wall flickers on and everyone rises to pay attention. I spot my grandfather at our long table sneaking a few more bites of noodles. I laugh & quietly points him out to Susannah. As the propaganda films plays on the screen, Susannah & Ileda scoot down the table toward him. He says something to Leda & Susannah but doesn't seem to recognize them. An announcement is made and the workers file out.

I want to ask around about my grandfather but I realize I don't know his name (only my other grandfather's name comes to mind). I call my mom on my cell and ask her his name. I also tell her that he's working in a factory (I thought he'd retired). She tells me it's Ha Sha Lin (which sounds wrong to me). I head out of the cafeteria into the main area (which is a huge department store). I wander around until I spot a couple of (American) employees. I ask them for Ha Sha Lin and they go to the back to find him (saying something about him being a fashion designer or style person). He comes out, very pleasantly surprised to see me. He's very affectionate and outgoing, which surprises me.

Susannah & Ileda joing us and I reintroduce everyone. He goes to Susannah and squeezes her cheek, giving her a kiss. I see Sofia being held by a black nurse and Susannah says something about "of all the kids, she's the one to have gotten bitten." I look at her face & see several welts & strange-looking bites. She looks very despondent & sad. I go to hodl her and the nurse says she needs to be checked in. I cradle her in my arms (which confirms she's sick to me since she never likes to be held that way) and follow the nurse. Now I'm sitting in an airport cart following the nurse and Sofia in another cart. Sofia's lying limp on the cart, her legs dangling over the side. Susannah doesn't seem worried but I start breaking down and crying when I hear the nurses mention preparing a crash cart. I cry into Susannah's lap, praying that my baby doesn't leave me.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm wandering around Wuxi when I realize I have to meet back up w/ Susannah. I call her and she tells me she's in Beijing. I ask her when the cruise ship leaves Beijing and she tells me it's tonight. I dash off to the train station & head toward Beijing. After only 2 short stops, I get off and run into Susannah, my dad & others immediate in the train station. I'm still worried about getting to Beijing in time when I realize I must've been in Beijing all along. We wander the shops inside the train station and Everett & Sofia run into a shop. A female clerk starts yelling about SARS and runs to get some surgical masks for the kids. Everett & Sofia start grabbing socks off a rack and I tell them in Chinese to put them back. The clerk comes over with the masks and then realizes something and doesn't offer them to us. I usher the kids out to meet back up w/ everyone.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I'm in a hotel room or apartment with Ileda & Susannah. Susannah's asleep as Leda & I talk on the couch. She lights up a cigarette and I tell her it's a nonsmoking apartment and that we wouldn't want to get in trouble with the tenants. She gets mad and storms out to the porch.


I'm in a small watercraft trying to catch up with my cruiseship. After some negotiation, I get back on. Later I realize we're towing some smaller boats alongside that carry lots of passengers. I ask the authorities why they won't let them back on and they tell me the passengers don't have their proper papers. Then they tell me they want $15 a head to let them back on. I get furious and shout down to the man in charge that I will pay for all of them to board. I go throughh my pockets and count about $160 in cash. I walk a round pleading with other passengers for donations to get the others aboard.

We're apparently at war and the ship is taking us into combat. I walk around different quarters and see my fellow soldiers waiting around anxiously. I try to encourage them the best I can but we're all a bit down. I run into Rob & Nate Corddry and I greet them warmly. They manage a few smiles as we talk. I ask them for donations for those other passengers, saying that we can only get combat-ready passengers on board for now. "And pilots and other fighting men, logistics & other people will have to wait for now."

I'm now in the swarms of soldiers flooding across a field into the enemy as nearby explosions light up the night sky.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I'm on a cruise ship trying to find someone. I run upstairs into a sleeper room and several young black women in bunk beds wake up. As I apologize for disturbing them, a few gunshots ricochet nearby. I walk into a large open room with floor-to-ceiling- windows and see police outside shoorting at someone in the street. As the man goes down, a traincar full of screaming people goes by. Police start taking shots of some of the people on the roof of the train. Some look armed but most are just making angry gestures at the cops. I hit the deck, scared of catching a stray bullet but I also don't want to miss the action. I continue to peek at the scene from behind some blocks. The train (now a double-decker bus) stops and backs up. The top level is filled with a yelling mob holding banners and signs. There are even groups of children aboard. The shooting stops and is replaced by passersby shouting and throwing things at the bus. I think the bus passengers are racists or white supremists.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'm walking through Chinatown trying to find a snack. I walk by a lot of food stalls but there's nothing but roast duck, tripe & other things I don't want to eat. As I keep searching for buns, an American starts ranting at one of the people at the stalls, saying, "How can you expect to do any business selling this nasty stuff?" I ignore the obnoxious guy & start to leave the area. Then I hear him speaking in pretty good Mandarin to the vendors.

I wander into a Japanese building & see the walls plastered with old Japanese movie posters. I follow the signs upstairs to the store to check them out. On the way, I pass an indoor archery range. I get very excited & ask a passerby how late they're open. At first I ask in Chinese & then realize he is Japanese. He tells me in English they close at 9:30. I check my watch & see it's already 8:30.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Susannah & I are in Cracker Barrel/Ramsey's waiting for friends & family to arrive. We wait almost ad hour and wonder where everyone is. Finally people start arriving, first Lynnette & Everett, then Ileda, my mom & others. I go outside to help Ileda w/ Sofia and see Ileda walking by herself. I ask where Sofia is and see Emilie carrying Sofia in her carseat. Back at our table, some food has been ordered but I don't feel like eating or being around people.

I leave the restaurant and begin flying around. I soar over an island that has had spontaneous fires among its tropical foliage. I survey the island and see that it's uninhabited except for sealife and small birds. I'm not complete confident about my flying abilities and get scared of crashing on the island.

I continue flying and head toward the mainland. I land and being walking the streets. I wander into a building where there are endless corridors featuring brothels & "sex hotels." People are making out on the streets and neon signs blink on the storefronts. I want to fly up and peek in some windows but I can't. I continue walking, squeezing past the crowds of amorous people.

Down further, I walk through a flea market of antiques & records and finally walk back into daylight. I look back and see I've walked out of an Irish pub (or at least a front for the sex shops). I see I've walked quite a ways from the restaurant and I debate whether I should head back or just take a cab home.