In which I pass time.
Early morning, 3 June
I woke up at 4:00 am. This isn't ideal in the Big Q, because sleeping would be an excellent way to pass the time. Upon waking, I realized that my toilet had been running all night, and wouldn't flush. Fixing a toilet seemed like a good time-use project. So far, I got the thing to flush, but now it's running again. I think I shall use part of my morning to study toilet anatomy diagrams and try to fix the thing.
Mid-morning, 3 June
Any noise in the hall sends me scampering to the peep-hole. We’re allowed to leave our rooms, masked, to socialize with other quarantees, to roam the halls, use the computers in the business center, and to sit outside on the patio. However, I find myself in the minority being a resident of Beijing, not a tourist. I generally don’t get on well with the sort of people who take tours, if I may generalize, and all the other “guests” are from the same tour. They spend their time complaining loudly and scheming about how to get on Oprah. They vacillate between wanting to get the heck out of China and trying to get their tour company to place them on the next week’s tour. I can’t blame them for their reaction: China isn’t a familiar place, and quarantine is not exactly what they imagined upon setting out to the Middle Kingdom. The food isn’t great, our hosts speak English poorly, and this isn’t the five star accommodation they were expecting. If I were in their shoes, I’d feel and emote similarly. But for now, I’m enjoying the bathtub and the HBO and the feeling of success that comes with figuring out how to get the fan to stay on for more than a half hour at a time.
Thank you to my wonderful friend and language partner for interviewing me over the phone and providing interesting conversation, to my family for Skyping, and to my colleagues for your wonderful, silly and fun emails and texts! You've all made my morning!
Did you know that the word "quarantine" comes from the Italian for "forty days?" In the 17th century, ships coming into port in what is now Croatia were made to wait for forty days before passengers and crew disembarked to help stop the spread of the black plague. I am SO glad that I am dealing with neither black plague nor forty days of quarantine!