Someone has demanded this so here it is: my latest piece of stream of consciousness prose. Find out what it is like to be inside my brain when I ride my electric bike to work.
Guilt. Always feel guilt when I leave the apartment. My son Tony doesn't understand. I try to convey my sadness and nothing-can-be-done-about-it to him. He doesn't understand. Yet. I should have done more to help the wife. Out of the apartment to the lane. Should I wear my helmet on my walk to where the bike is parked? It does give me some anonymity. Oh. Oh. There is someone I don't want to talk to. Hide. Look away. Focus on the ground or something. I am wearing my ugly shoes. Should have thrown them away years ago. There are holes in the toes. But the soles are good still. Better than anything I can get in China. Don't think dirty thoughts. Should I make the lesbian and old hippie comment in my blog? What the hell where they doing in that ceremony? Did I unplug the iron? Must have. I have no distinct memory of having done so. Some habitual actions don't foster memories. If there is a fire, the wife will let me know about it. Down the stairs I go. Where is the bike? Press the alarm button on my key chain. In the far corner. Why do people park here if they aren't going to recharge their bikes? I put my bike in the parking garage near the apartment when not needing a recharge. I have to squeeze in a narrow space so I can unplug the recharger. Put the charger under the seat. Put the wheel lock in the back trunk, behind the seat. Back the bike up. Don't put on the power. Here are the stairs. On the sides are flat ramps. Push the bike up the left side. Try to not put pressure on the accelerator. At the top. Get on the bike. Turn on the power. Turn the accelerator. Off!
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling. Rolling, Rolling, Rolling. Keep those pancakes rolling! Rawhide! Should I ride so fast on the brick like cobblestone surface? Slow down for the speed bumps. Oh no! Someone I know! Surely, we will may eye contact and have to talk. But.... My God! Doesn't seem to seem me. Bad Eyesight? Thank god for that sometimes. That was too close! Stop-and-chats. I hate them. I have nothing to chat about. Already, the road seems about to fall apart. The stones are sunk into depressions. I hate the bumpy ride on the bricks. Coming to the guard shack. Workers always arguing with the guards. Can't go in without authorization I assume. Sometimes, the guards are beat up, enforcing what they are told to enforce. The guard waves bye to me? Shang ban le? Or did he say "xia ban le"? Anyway. Something about going to work he said.
From the Apartment Complex to the Big Bridge
Is anyone coming? I can cross the street. Here I go. Off the bricks. Now the ride is smooth. Max speed 45 km/h. No wind. I feel like I have air-conditioning. The bike seems soft in the rear. Ever since I had the first flat tire, it has always felt soft. At least, the seat doesn't give me... Rawhide! Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead! The Witch is Dead! The Witch is Dead! Ding Dang Dong! Ring-a-Ding-Ding! I want you baby! I want you Day and Night! Because I am not in it for the money! I don't care anymore for the Honey! I just want to have been right all along! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Should I put the Visor down? It is dirty and is clouds my vision. But it stops the dirt from getting in my eyes. It is a cheap helmet I have -- wouldn't pass muster in Germany. I can't believe that someone actually bragged of the fact that their government made their helmets more expensive. I mean! WTF! Here comes my first right turn. Try it cut it tight! Cut it tiiiiiighhhttt! That driver at DHL said Asian girls have tight pussies. Sicko! Ranks up there with they don't shave! I am coming to the place where I had my fourth flat. How do the nails always puncture the side of the tire? Tire Gremlins they say. I don't understand the physics of it. I suppose I could google. Easy sailing this portion. No traffic except the occasional peasant (pissant?) going the wrong way. Here are my first set of lights. Go left or straight I can How am I feeling? Like a lucky punk? Or a righteous bastard? Since I am a conservative, I will go straight. Only dead skunk can be found in the middle of the road. That and yellow stripes. At this intersection, I am the only thing with two wheels that obeys the lights. I might as well join in the pragmatism. One thing you can say about the Chinese. They will break the rules anyway they can. Only way to be sane in a dictatorship. On my left, I see some ten storey buildings, recently built, waiting for occupants -- commercial occupants. I see a few, but not enough as the developers would like. Build it, and they will come! Yeah! Yeah! Build it, and they will come! Did the government types out here read the Iowa Baseball Confederacy? It wouldn't surprise me if the Baseball Wild card was their idea! Why? Why? Why ruin a good thing? MLB shouldn't be like the NHL or the NFL or the NBA or the NDP or the CCCP or the CCTV for that matter. The famous Mugambo Law of Markets. Now, I see what is meant to be a large auto parts complex. Now, it looks like a shanty town, not old, just yet, but give it six months, and it will get shantier. I wonder if KoW walks Blackburn here? Reason not to drive through. I may step in some merde. Another set of lights, flashing yellow. I think I will slowly mossie on through. Yellow doesn't mean caution to the drivers here. All Chinese drivers must have graduated from the Ted Kennedy Driving School. A certificate from that place can be exchanged for a license no doubt. Another set of lights coming. Major intersection. I will wait. Dump trucks come barrelling through. Horns loud and shrill. Now, I pass a large stretch of undeveloped fields. Look at the grating(?) on the side. Some are out of place -- bad workmanship. They have workers manicure the bushes. Seems pointless to me. There is so much shit for them to clean up. All this road for me and a few other cars. Enjoy it while you can. Left turn coming up. There is no way I can avoid it. I have two choices: I can cross the road, and get into a wide bike path. Or I can sneak to bike path closest, and cross the road at the intersection near the big bridge. The home stretch before I get to the big bridge is wide, spacious, and underutilized. Empty fields. To my right is a canal with barge traffic -- a most certain major water thoroughfare. I should take a photo. Can't photograph your brain. Can't upload from my brain to the Internet. I can't be a tourist forever. Got's to be the best father I can be. What shall Tony become? A Marine. A U.S. Marine. Blessed are the Peacemakers. And if you want peace, you are going to have to fight for it. No where does it say "blessed are the pacifists". Editorial comment. Got to make this poetic. The park glistens in the hot mid day sun. Already the bricks are cracking. There is the place I took my son. But I don't have the money no more for that kind of slacking. Time to make the left turn. There are some cops. It looks like a roadblock trolling for drivers with money. I will obey the lights. Can't flaunt another country's police so blatantly. I was pulled over once. Never again. I have learned my lesson. Green light-- now I can go. Just before I get on the bridge I have to look out for the cars flying by that make a right turn onto the bridge. They have no intention of slowing or yielding.
The Hui Shan Big BridgeI have a bit of an incline to ascend. It slows me down a bit. Here is where I start to pass and get passed by other scooters and motorcycles. The right lane belongs to the bikes. There is a car trying to dodge and veer through traffic! Get out of our lane. Now I am on the flat portion of the Big Bridge. I accelerate again. Look at the boat traffic. Magnificent! The Magnificent Seven! Cold water in the face brings you back to this awful place! Mahatma Gandhi and Luther King went to the game but they were murdered by the other team that went on to win 50-nil. The Clash. Then there is the movie. McQueen. Anyway, the boat traffic is amazing. It so cool that I see this every day. And it is so near the place my family lives. Far out and Cool! I can see a woman on a boat. I have heard these barge slash boats are mom and pop operations. The Pop drives. The Mom helps navigate in tight spots. She does laundry and cooking as well. Cool gig. I just wonder about the money. I even see these big boats in my wife's hometown. The canals are narrow there. Those boats must travel miles and miles of narrow canal to get smack, dab in the middle of the countryside. There is a nail on the pavement. Must avoid those at all costs. I have a long way to go to find a repairman if I blow a tire here. I can see the Wuxi skyline in the distance. The Moresky360 and Hongdo buildings look small from here. The breeze in my face. Wonderful! Wonderbra! (Does the KoW wear one?) Wunderbar! I bought one in Shanghai once! Ten rmb, but it was worth it. How does the second canto of Paradise Lost begin? Assist me! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! You can take the lyrics to popular songs and change them and it doesn't appear to affect the musical quality of the song. Not quite the most juste of Flaubert. Now we go over a highway -- subject of Wuxi Tony Update 404. Tony wanted to throw stones on the highway. Down we go! Don't think "whee!" It is so cliche. Think, this is good. Not as good as riding a mountain bike down Chilliwack Mountain -- that was cool. The way my heart pounded when I was pedalling up that mountain. If I did that now, I would have a heart attack. There is a family of three on a bike. The father drives recklessly. He has more lives in his hands than I do. The mother holds a baby like a football. A field on my right. Fertilized with human excrement -- saves on piping.
From the Bridge to the Freeway
That was the fun part of the ride. This is the transitional stage between Hui Shan City and Wuxi proper. Nothing much to do till I get to the first traffic light. No time to recite a short poem, one even as short as "Jenny Kissed Me!". Andis didn't kiss Jenny today. Bad boy I am. The first traffic light is strange. It is a controlled crosswalk. Good luck trying to control a crosswalk in China. If you tried to cross you would have to wait for traffic. Sometimes, I have seen cars use the sidewalk to cross the road at this point -- the Chinese would never think to follow rules and take the long way around -- they will take the shortest route possible even it means driving a car on grass, bicycle paths, and sidewalks. The next light comes soon after. Not being a major intersection, the lights are often ignored. I stop. Most other cyclists continue through even if they have to dodge cars or hope cars dodge them. Green in 20 seconds. The coast is clear. I'll go. I am a pragmatic driver too. Nothing to see but a large empty field. There comes a bus stop. Sometimes the bus will hem you in as it stops to pick up passengers. Reading the bus stop signs, I see none of these buses comes anyway near the Casa K. And did those feet in ancient times, walk upon England's mountain green! Put a bucket on my head and I will shut up. Lazy Dotes and Dosey Oats and little ansky diesis. A grigiry grigiry doo wouldn't you! I must sing that to Tony. On my left, I now see the shopping complex that is taking an eternity to build. They have put up a large Ferris Wheel which I bet will rust out before it officially goes into operation. Who likes Ferris Wheels? Maybe the KoW! He likes pulp science fiction and Kenny Rodgers! Of course, if "KoW" decides it" isn't cool", he will not like it. The need to be cool. The plague of our modern age. Even the Chinese are trying to be that way. Of course, I remember what Chesterton said about Buddhist and Christian imagery. The Christian is shown to care, to give a damn. The Buddhist tries to look above it all with the all-knowing smile - the smile of the tyrant, the smile of the cool guy. What's the matter? Too cool for KFC? Orwell George wrote Farm Animal. The Ultimatum Bourne. Lovers and Suns. Wind with the Gone. Because I am the man tax! I am the man tax! Yeah Yeah! She was a quick machine. She kept the motor sanitized! She was the best dog gone woman I ever cleaned. You! All night you shook me! Satisfaction can't get no! Fooled Again We Won't Get. The Cook Fannie Farmer Book! Illustrated Sports! S&M NBC featuring Uber Keithman. Having too much fun. I nearly ran the red. If there is a left turn signal, I will make the turn and go past the factory and the car stores. Plain-Jane-straight-ahead-green means I will go downtown. I have a variety of options for driving downtown. I see the green so I will go straight on Xicheng Road and make a Left Turn on European Street. This intersection is under an elevated freeway. Getting across the intersection can be perilous. There is a motorcycle driver wearing a yellow construction helmet, going against a red. I should make him slow down but he doesn't seem willing. Having crossed, I have to get into the bicycle path. I have to watch out for vehicles making left turns and not bothering to slow down. Look at the dump truck......
Xicheng Road to Downtown
I am heading south towards downtown. I don't have any sense of direction living in Wuxi. Where is North or South? Not like in Canada. America is that-a-way. On my right, trees. Behind the trees, some ugly industrial area. Have to watch out for trucks making blind turns onto the bike path. Here is where the bike traffic picks up. Pass and be passed. I wonder if some of these people are going as far as I go. The first set of lights I encounter is a challenge. Even when I have a green light, cars and buses can turn in front of me. I see a #25 bus. Think of the savings and having a certain seat -- better to be on the bike. I slow down. Another bike passes me and just narrowly avoids the bus. Crazy but he got through. Now I will pass some businesses. There is a repair man. Good to know in case. What classes do I have today? I have a one person private class to start. Easy. English Corner tonight or tomorrow night? What topic did I choose? Will I be able to keep them in rapt attention? Who can say? Some don't want to be there. Someone else paid for them to be there. Some one just made a blind left turn. DAMN! I avoid her. Just. FUCKING BITCH! IN CIVILIZED COUNTRIES, THEY LOOK BEFORE THEY TURN! And she thinks I am the crazy one. Just once, I would love to shove a idiot rider onto the road. Can't be done. Hope, I don't snap and do so. Who can say. I would like to pop those queue-jumpers at McDonald's. Check! Check! Pray for their souls. Forgive them, for they know not what they do! The next light marks the start of a retail district. A long shopping street joins Xicheng. Here is where the #312 bus route starts. Crossing this intersection is a challenge --uncertainty about who has right of way. It seems to work like the drill of an uncontrolled intersection -- except people try to use speed to get through faster. I see scooters and bikes full of merchandise. The amount of stuff these they will carry on their bike -- they have to make money. Some of these bikes must five years old. Lights are missing. Trunk lids are missing. Some bikes are missing the body covers so you can see the interior wiring. Some bikes make a strange noise. I wonder sometimes if the noise is coming from my bike. Some loose piece on the bike rubs against the tire. Motorcycles ride in the bike path. They honk their horns to get others out of their way. There is a bus stop. One time, I nearly ran down a man. He suddenly ran towards a bus -- didn't look either way. I cross a small bridge. Canals have walls built and buildings right on the edge. What is it like to live near a canal? Are there lots of mosquitoes and rats? I pass the Cultural Revolutionary Redux Restaurant. Too early. I see the doors are locked and tables stacked inside. There is another repair shop. A three wheel self propelled bicycle passes me. It has thin bicycle tires. Is it powered by gas or electricity. It must be electricity. The bikes goes hmmmmmm! not brrrrrrnnnggggooggooo! The driver controls a box right on the handle bar. The intersection coming up, I must slow down for. Cars and Trucks and the like don't look for bikes. Here is a car making a turn. I am not giving way. I will make him yield. He does. Now, I pass what looks like an old market area. Stalls abandoned and crap everywhere. There is someone driving aggressively. He honks his horn every two seconds. He must be on cruise control. He has no intention of stopping. Maybe he sees it as a game. Now comes a car in the bike path. BASTARD! The next intersection is major -- it runs underneath an elevated highway. People park here because of the cover. If I turned leftward here, I would pass a chemical factory across from a poultry market. But not today. My daily route is never fixed. Do the cars have a red light? Yes! I will proceed. There is a depression I know to avoid. Vegetable carts block my way. Lots of vegetable trucks here as well. I see one blocking the way. Some bikes go around it. They won't let it maneuver to turn around. I will wait. I hope I didn't make any grammatical errors or typos in today's blog entry. I really need to edit myself better. Won't ditch the dirt with the rest of the broads! That is why the lady is a tramp! I have to listen to Sinatra some more. I go. Across the way is a statue of a horse. It looks neglected. It tilts slightly. Gawdy but memorable. Now I come up to the most major intersection yet. The roads connecting are four lanes wide. Motorcycles run through the red lights. If no car makes a left turn, I will sneak through. Now I can proceed. I wait by the median. Coast is clear again. I go. There goes a car make a right turn fast. I will make him slow down! This part of town is dumpy. Christian am I? I read the Bible. I don't feel spirit of Christ. But it is inspiring to read those who can feel it. Mother Teresa had her dark moments of the soul. Christ didn't have a good laugh - he hid his mirth. I have to force myself to have some. I pass a primary school. Dumpy. And then the Ramada Plaza. Swankiness in the middle of rubble -- that is China for you. I am now at the last set of lights before the railway underpass. Kitty corner from me, I see another torn down city block -- there will be a mag lift train station there. It used to be the secondary bus station where the bus going to Beixing (ugh!) goes. I get across. No Problem. Mei Wenti. On my right is another block of torn-down buildings. Here comes another pothole. Now the descent into the railway underpass. There is work going on here -- something to do with the new subway I presume. I don't know if I can wait five years for it. Now, they have given the bicycles lots of space. One time there was a bicycle traffic jam. Through I go. Someone honking behind me. I don't feel in a mood to let him pass. I ascend. On my right is a family selling something or other. A child sleeps. My God! They must live here during the day. Crazy way to raise a child. I suppose having a good spot under in a pedestrian slash bicycle tunnel must be heaven to them.
There is an intersection where I have to try to be in the proper turn lane. Turn left, you will head toward the train station. Never go there. It is not meant for bicycles. I will go straight. The wait here is torturous. I see a road block on my right for cars or bicycles. The police try to stop motorcycles from going down here. That, and they don't like people to ride double on their bikes. Stand straight. Don't hunchback over the bike. Mama! Ooooh! There is a green. So many bicycles going at once. Have to dodge pedestrians as well. There is a moron,on a bike, who has inched ahead and blocked the whole lane. Everyone has to dart around him. In America, they would call him stupid. No one says anything here. Because so many bikes go here, some chose to ride on the road instead of the bike path. I choose the bike path. I got in trouble for that once. Only reason I didn't pay fine was that I was a foreigner. The policeman even shook my hand after because I gave him a chance to speak English. I have to be careful of pedestrians. Why don't they walk on the sidewalk? There is pair of people riding side-by-side having a conversation. I honk at them to let me past. I use my horn all the time here. No point in honking in anger, no one sees it as such. Now someone is going slowly on the left side of the lane. HONK! Get out of my way azzhole! Another intersection. I get in the left turn lane. Sometimes, I go straight. That way, I can see Xihui Park at a distance. There is a McDonald's which means I have entered civilization. Going left than straight is easier. I wait. There is the straight green. Wait. Wait for it! Left, Right, Left Right! About Turn! Sorry. Military thinking. Chinese military strong? Not so easy to sacrifice children if you only have one. A war, an unnecessary war would have a lot of pissed off Chinese parents. Momma! O! o! Don't mean to make your Cry! I look up and see the Hongdo and Moresky360 buildings. Left Turn Green. I take the path. Other bikes take the car lane. I pass a hotel where someone got married. Ronnie threw down his speech and then picked it up. It was an hilarious performance. God! I don't want to look at the video of my wedding. So many broken relationships. Why did I invite that bastard? He worked at school -- could not not invite him. Didn't give hongbao. We gave him a bottle of whiskey. Look at the video, see that asshole being disrespectful. There is a garbage cart blocking the way. Slow down. Now, have to take crosswalk to continue on my way. This one is tricky. Cars come barreling through. Now there is no barrier. Cars right besides. On my right 78 or Seven Eight store. Why not Seventy Eight? The lucky numbers of the West and China. On my left: Wuxi Chicken Porridge. Then, Prince Edward Road Hong Kong Style Food. There is a KFC. Kitty Corner, an ugly aluminum monument. I make right turn. Jiankang or JiaFeng Road. I can never remember. Back among barriers. I came to a bus stop. Watch out for people getting off. Now I past the place I bought my third mobile phone -- a Nokia with MP-San. I tell students that is now an English word like mama huhu. Should I get rid of the MPSans on my Mobile. "You got another thing coming" is so essential. "Coming is another thing you have?" I am going to turn it on one life! Another Intersection. Kitty corner is an apartment where many foreigners stay. I stayed there too in my salad days. Now, I am on a budget. Teachers don't make much money. I live cheap for a good cause -- Tony. At least, I hope Tony is a good cause. Could be a bad one. Not much I can do about it. Already, I feel he disrespects me. Like my sister and brother when I was younger. Good to be a loner sometimes. I wonder if that makes me a better writer? Probably not. James Joyce seems to have knowledge of everything. He soaked up words like a sponge. Great sponge cake! It is like eating a moist sponge. Anyway, I go straight. I am on the road that forms a border around the downtown proper. I am now driving besides a canal. There is a gas station. Lineup goes out to the road. Is there a fuel shortage in Chin?. I think the price of gas is subsidized. You can pay now or pay later. Riots in Iran when they tried to raise the price. The price was too low so there were lineups there! I look in my mirror. No one behind me. Now, I am at Renmin Road. If I turn left (I can't), I will pass the Xinhua bookstore. If I turn right, I will pass Wu Ai Jia Yuan -- where I used to live on the 21st floor. Light is green. I go straight. Be careful of cars making left turns. I pass the public W.C. I am on the path. Up ahead is an island where I took Tony for a few walks. He couldn't walk then I recall. I had to push him in a pram. The park is quite something -- paths and courtyards and secluded spots and a nice bridge you have to cross. Here comes the last major intersection of my trip. Here I make a left onto Xueqian Road. Green. Go! On the left there is a museum of sorts. Rebuilt. I was walking past there all the time when they were doing that. One more light. This is the intersection where I got married. The restaurant is on the other side. I hate the food there. Turn right and you come to the Xinjiang Restaurant I like to go to. Last time, I went, my companion said he couldn't use chopsticks -- he was too old to learn new tricks. At the corner is a great DVD shop. Don't have the money now. I will have to spend my time blogging. I see a piano shop. I see a school where I did spoke to 200 students one time. Now there is a primary school. Here I turn left and go into a back alleyway. Cool. Turn left into another alleyway, I head to Zhongshan road. The school is on the other side. Cross at the pedestrian path. No cars stop. Damn them! Proceed! I am now on Xin Kai Xiao Xue Road. My first apartment of my own in China is on this street. On my right is where I made the Wuxi Bengal Dog video - over 300,000 views. My route is a trip down memory lane. I turn left behind the building wherein is the school. I descend into the underground parking. I park between cars. Is there enough room? Make sure driver parking car doesn't clip my bike. I hope I don't have a China Day! Lock up the bike! To work! What the uck!!! I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all! Carry on! Carry on! Doesn't seem to matter! But it does. Jenny and Tony. It does matter!