Maria Holland

On the Front Lines: China

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I’m not feeling too great today.  I started shaking last night when I got home and it hasn’t gone away, almost 24 hours later.  It’s the kind of thing that feels like my entire body is vibrating.  It usually happens when I take my fast-acting inhaler too much, but I haven’t really been taking it that much recently, and not at all in the last 36 hours.  I’m not really sure what’s going on; the family gave me some Chinese medicine last night and I’m wondering if it had something in it – crack, possibly.   

I missed Mass today.  I set an alarm but didn’t wake up until 10, just as the last Mass of the day was starting.  I’m not feeling great, but still can’t believe I missed Mass.  It’s a long way from Tulsa, where the last Mass of the day is at 8 p.m., 5 minutes away from my apartment on foot. 

Leinira came home today.  Apparently she got sick in the Phillipines and came home a week early.  It’s good to see her but honestly I’m not super excited that she came back so early. 

Really, today has been mediocre or worse in pretty much every aspect.  The weather is crummy so I stayed in all day except for grabbing dinner at West Gate.  I watched three movies – one good but unexceptional, one kind of lame, and one with a horrible message that wasn’t even packaged well.  Days like this are a little disappointing no matter what but are even worse in China, where everyday should be some grand adventure, right?

I did find a new China blog featuring an article about the war zone in Beijing right now. 

Beijing is under attack.

Low-grade munitions detonate all around the city every few seconds . . . My calls drop as China Mobile’s circuits fill with people frantically calling loved ones, and when at last we are connected we have to shout over the explosions. All evening I have been receiving text messages in Chinese. I cannot read them, but the exclamation marks suggest that they are warnings – or threats. . .

My source encouraged me to wear red underpants — “so that bad things will not happen,” she added ominously. . . .

I awoke this morning to pandemonium as inscrutable to me as the ideographs scrolling across the television screen. Amazingly, state media provides no coverage of the blasts that must surely be audible within broadcast headquarters, opting instead to air slick televised galas showcasing perfectly coiffed, unnaturally grinning celebrities who have presumably refused to take sides in the conflict that threatens now to level China’s capital. . .

It is difficult at first to make out what is happening, but as I speak to locals – none of whom will give me more than their surnames – a picture begins to emerge: the firefights are seasonal, having occurred at roughly the same time each year for as long as anybody can remember. . .

My source has invited me to dinner in the very heart of Beijing, and I have accepted, reasoning that the hutong alleys that wind like snarls of yarn through the old parts of the city must surely be safe. It is also a late dinner, 11 PM, and with any luck the streets should have cleared – or been cleared – by then. I have been told that young people will be out on the streets, possibly for some kind of peace rally. . .

I break into a run, not daring to look behind me, and manage to flag down a cab. “Drive!” I shout. “Drive!” The driver looks at me strangely, and I wonder what side he’s on. He doesn’t move until I thrust the map in front of him, my destination circled: the square between the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower, where surely even the most depraved terrorist would not dream of setting off explosives. He floors it, and as we tear through the burning streets of Beijing, I realize with a sinking feeling that I am wearing completely normal underwear.

War is hell.

There are dull explosions off the coast in Xiamen tonight, too.  It would have been cool to go, but I’m just not feeling up to it tonight. 

Happy New Year, though – and apparently in some parts of the world they’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, so happy that, too!

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  1. Of course you’re shaking…its a delayed reaction to the worm jello mold!!! I’m getting the shakes just thinking about it. Hope you feel better soon. Happy Valentine’s Day, tho this response will be after the fact!

  2. Happy New Year and Happy Valentine’s Day to You too!!
    Hope you and Leinira are feeling better.

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