China Diary

Day 44: Killing The Flame

I’m gonna start by getting this off my chest first.

It seems my wife Annika won’t make it here in China in the next two months. We were looking forward for her flying here next Monday, but thanks to some unforeseeable complications, the trip can’t happen now.

When I realized this, it felt like somebody had punched me right in the fucking stomach. That’s the only – the very *only* thing – that’s been keeping me sane here for the last one and a half months, knowing that on this specific date, she would be flying in – and now, well, she won’t. And the next window of opportunity will be in more than two months.

And I can tell you, she’s just as devastated about it as I am. We both fell apart over Skype collectively, and have now been trying to gather ourselves. It felt like somebody shoved a vacuum cleaner in my head and sucked all the motivation and inspiration out of there.

Oh, well. What can you do?


I was feeling pretty good yesterday, before learning all this. I skated around the town, visited an old Chinese observatory, called Beijing Ancient Observatory, learning a hell of a lot of things about the history of astronomy. The place has been there since early 1400’s, and still retains many of the original instruments used to observe the movement of the universe. Walking between the equatorial and ecliptic armillas, astronomical sextants, azimuth theodolites, altazimuths, celestial globes and quadrants made me think about all the great minds who had been tinkering with these devices for us to understand a bit better where is our little planet headed for.

Beijing has grown around this ancient observatory. When it was built, it was just one on the edge of a forest.

At home, I watched three movies. First one, 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, was a touching HBO doc about a couple who set out on a journey to save 50 Jewish kids from Nazi Germany in ’39, reminding us that the last time USA turned down huge masses of immigrants was in the Second World War, when they didn’t want to let the Jewish refugees in, who tried to escape the Holocaust.

The other film was 50 First Dates, the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore -starred Peter Segal -directed rom com from early 2000’s. Well written, not a fantastic classic but served my mood perfectly. I’ve always enjoyed Adam Sandler, maybe as a guilty pleasure, and this is him at the top of his game.

The last film was the weirdest, a TV movie called 7 Days In Hell, a mockumentary where Kit Harington fought Andy Samberg on a a tennis court. I didn’t have a clue what was going on in that one…

Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and a much-needed day off, and today, waking up I learned about all this shit and now the whole world reeks like a dumpster. I was feeling so bad I thought watching a movie where divorced Jeff Bridges gets a dog to comfort him would cheer me up, but the Internet at the hotel had been shitty the whole day so no luck there.

So now I’m sulking in my bed, grumpy as hell. I better go to sleep early, and then start my two-month crawl towards the light with a bit brighter mind.


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