Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why I'm Distracted

I’m reading an interesting book on willpower, in which the writer says that the more decisions you have to make, and the lower your blood sugar is while you’re doing it, the less likely you are to resist temptation.

This explains why I’ve been picking away at the Valentine candy that doesn’t even belong to me. I don’t want to sound like a complainer but I think I might be doing something wrong here.

  1. I have five real journalism projects in half-baked stages, leading me to forget which editor I corresponded with over which article, and to do an incomplete job on other projects.
  2. I’ve been trying all afternoon to download a Ricky Gervais podcast. For the last four hours, it’s been loading at the pace of a glacier, crashing every 20 minutes or so. At the point at which I get the “download error” message, I hit the “tap to retry” spot on my iPad and start all over again. Just a moment ago, the iPad told me it couldn’t play Ricky on it. But he is sitting there in my podcasts, waiting to entertain me on my next treadmill run. I hope he’s worth all the trouble.
  3. I can’t get my gmail to run other than on the html version, which means that it doesn’t automatically update. If I hit “refresh,” I can see who might be trying to reach me.
  4. I get depleted just setting foot outside the door, where cars appear from nowhere as you walk down the edge of the street because the sidewalk has just disappeared. Pedestrians don’t bear right if you meet up with them on the sidewalk. I mean, they might bear right, they might bear left, or they might just head straight at you, arm in arm with another pedestrian. It seems to me that other countries (like America) have an unspoken tradition: If you encounter another person on the sidewalk, you bear right, like the cars. Not here. I find myself doing a little shuffle every ten feet or so.
  5. For destinations that require something other than walking, I still find the process beyond daunting. Yesterday I took a subway ride that had me more intimately connected to other human bodies than I thought was possible. The guy facing me was breathing into my face, but at least he didn’t sneeze. And yet the subway runs, something that doesn’t always happen with taxi drivers. There were three waiting outside the apartment the other day. Guy one laughed at my request (shown to him on my handy little taxi guide book) and passed me on to driver two. She just shook her head. Guy one flagged down a third taxi, who took me to the Beijing Hilton, a process that all the drivers thought was quite funny for some reason. They can laugh at me all they want if they just take me where I want to go.
  6. Food and cooking still present a challenge. I decided to whip up a little cake for Joanna’s birthday yesterday, until I realized that I didn’t have nearly enough butter in the house to make anything baked. I resorted to a good old Duncan Hines mix and prepared frosting, something I would have been loathe to do in the states. I look at recipes from Epicurious, but they all call for things like crème fraiche, or barley, or pizza crust. Impossible.
  7. Laundry works okay, as long as I do it All. The. Time. The machine drum holds three pairs of socks and one towel. If I put in more than that, the clothes don’t dry in the so-called dry cycle.
  8. I want to stay healthy, so we’ve signed up at the health club in our apartment complex. This is a process that involves having your Seasons Park residency card, cash up front to pay, and a passport-sized photo to submit. You’d think I wanted to adopt a baby or something.

These items are the reason I sit here writing blog posts, rather than doing something more productive, or more lucrative, like finding lawyers to interview or figuring out trends in packaging. And yes, I did have an editor on Saturday ask me if I could write a 500-word story on trends in packaging (you know boxes and bags) in China. By Monday. And yet that seems easier than trying to explain to the cabbie that I want to go to the East Gate of Beijing Normal University. (And meanwhile, it’s taken me about 45 minutes to log onto my blog, with the VPN, to even post this whining tirade.)


  1. hey, but it's your birthday -- happy birthday sweetie -- and we'll somehow find cabs or subway or those little tin cans on wheels that they call ricshaws.

  2. Deb, I miss you. You are SO FUNNY! Now work on that packaging article cause I want to read it! xoxo Susan

  3. Deb, it is almost impossible to post to comments to your blog. I would be posting early and often were it not rejecting me 4 out of 5 times. Happy Belated BD to the whole fam. xoxo Susan