Dill Pickles

I have spent another day of doing nothing and being extremely under motivated. It’s just me here in the house with my 9-week old belly and a fuzzy head full of what I once thought were important things to do and no energy to do them.

I consider it a victory when I can accomplish one business-related task in a day now when before I used to sit at my desk and diligently be the self-employed person that I am—all day, sometimes for more than eight hours! Of course, those days disappeared when I came to China in my effort to get more balance and be healthier. I must admit, though, that I still rarely fell below the five hour mark as there was always at least five hours of work to do in a day.

Now that I’m pregnant, I’m lucky if I get in two hours of work before all I want to do is stare into space, watch a movie, read a book, or think about the many things I could be accomplishing or cultivating but haven’t yet begun to do.

I realize that REST is paramount right now. I am surely and truly resting. There’s no argument here. It actually feels as though I need a day of rest after I’ve had a day of tasks. Yesterday was a busy day with lots of cycling and appointments and so today, I am nearly comatose. My body is seeking balance and I am just listening. She’s pretty demanding this body of mine.

The other problem I am facing (problem?) is my near complete aversion to Chinese food. I have been here, or at least been coming here, since 2007 and I have continually raved to friends and family back home that they’ve never really tasted Chinese food until they’ve travelled to China. The food here is delicious. I love so may different varieties of Chinese food, as well, and before I got pregnant, I found that the only time I’d eat anything remotely Western was when I was visiting Western friends’ homes who always eat that way.

Once, when I was first getting to know my friend Jess here, she invited me for breakfast at her house. It was early 2009 and I was still just slowly making friends and getting settled, like tentative little social steps beyond my relationship and quiet contemplation at home. She had me over for brunch and I arrived to a table full of toast, roated potatoes, scrambled eggs, the option for pancakes, an array of jams and real butter. I naively said to her, “Where did you get all this? Did you bring it from overseas or something?” She looked at me like I was an alien. “I bought it all the foreign food store,” she said and continued to look at me quizzically. “You can buy real butter in Beijing?” I asked, astounded. She nodded but hadn’t stopped looking at me and now so, too, were her shocked roommates. “Oh,” I said rather sheepishly, suddenly realizing how ridiculous I sounded. “I guess you can buy whatever you like in this huge city. I think I’ve become a bit Chinese here. I haven’t eaten Western food since I was back in the West.” They all smiled at me then and made me feel welcome, the sad little deprived foreign girl trapped in a Chinese existence.

The thing is, I wasn’t deprived. It occurred to me even then that I simply hadn’t even wanted it.

Still, I truly and earnestly enjoyed that brunch, though, and felt like another possible world had opened up to me. From that point onwards, I would get little “treats” for myself at the foreign food shops whenever I had an extra few dimes to rub together. You see, my husband and I aren’t exactly rolling in income as we’re both artists and are used to living rather hand-to-mouth. I live the Chinese style not merely out of preference; it’s also out of financial necessity.

That being said, I am currently craving things like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, even the fried egg sandwiches of my youth with ketchup to dip them in, macaroni and cheese, pasta with red sauce, lemon meringue pie, big fluffy white bread with butter, and copious amounts of ice cream. I went to the foreign shop the other day and spent a ridiculous amount of money there that came straight out of my rent fund on things that I haven’t eaten since I lived back home: granola bars, yoghurt, jam, even the typical impulse purchase of a jar of DILL PICKLES.

Yes, I have become a cliché. All I wanted was a jar of dill pickles and I guiltily spent almost 25% of that grocery bill on what would be the equivalent of an $9 500ml jar of average-at-best dill pickles. They are making me happy, though. Truly. They’re a great mid-nausea snack.

I’m wondering about how this food issue is going to play out on my pocket book for the rest of the 31 weeks, but trying to remain optimistic that it will all be okay. I’ve got some more freelance work coming up and it will surely buy me some more dill pickles. I’ve learned that worrying about money doesn’t help you earn it and so I’ve just let worry slip away in these past few years. Miraculously, it comes when it is needed. The other day, I was grateful for its presence to guide me to the foreign food store. My stomach is grateful too. My swelling belly, especially.

So, until the freelance work, I’ll do much more reading, writing, disappearing into films and ignoring the so-called important business things while I do more important things like grow hair follicles, a divided heart chamber, and the beginnings of what will form this little spark’s teeth. I mean, what can be more pressing than these tasks! I’m making life here! :-)

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