August 22-23: Went to Chinatown at 6 pm to meet up a small group of dragon boating people for dinner. Drove there, learned about Philly’s own version of secret parking on Na**ma in SF (although I had to pay since the secret parking lot was full…but haggled the dude down from $7 to $5). Started walking into C-town when it started to frickin’ pour…ran back to the car, got my umbrella, then ran into store to buy mochi for grad school people…and a bakery for some yuan yang (half milk tea, half ice coffee…like a Hong Kongese Arnold Palmer: Ahno Pahmah). We had dinner at a Lanzhou La Mein place. Translation: a city in north kinda-western China that specializes in noodles. Conversation was good but watching the dude pull the noodles…that was cool. Everytime he would fold the strands, he’d slap them on the marble counter and it always sounded (to me) like he was slapping a waitresses butt. Weird.
Afterwards, we met a larger group at Yakitori Boy, an Asian style karaoke bar. We had some superstars and I met cool new people. Without busting out everyone’s business, the only white dude thereome made a pretty f-ed slur against, well, every asian in the room (especially the dudes) and new friend, LW, and I contemplated kickin’ some ass. Then I realized that for many reasons that would be foolish, above all that this dude didn’t have exposure to anything besides what he was used to: white and bread. But besides that, karaoke was hella fun.
After much singing and merriment, costing me a total of $10 because I don’t drink (word), we went to Old City to go to a highly recommended club. Got there…closed. Went to another one. Shut down because the sprinkler system was broken (although the guy gave us discount coupons for next Saturday with promises of strippers or playboy bunnies or playboy bunnies who stripped, whatever). I thought karma had it in for us but we actually found a small and pretty much empty place called Mint. Pro: no cover. Pro: no one on dance floor means more room for me. Pro: music ok. Con: nothing, really. We danced, pranced, I avoided awkward situations, we danced some more. At 2:30, I arrived at home, took a shower, couldn’t sleep for some stupid reason, and finally went to bed at like 6:30.
August 23: At 8:30 am, after two refreshing hours of sleep, I get up and get dressed for church. To get there I take the Septa underground which closest station is like a 5 minute walk from my place. Amazing. I zip on over and the train is full of pretty much other church going folk…judging by the dress and look of tiredness on their faces. I get off at the City Hall stop and wander around until I find Arch street. Right on the corner is this beautiful stone building with impeccable architecture and stained glass windows oddly without any Jesi and Marys. And the front door is fenced off. Oh wait, it was the Masonic Temple. So the building across the street and down a few is it: Arch Street United Methodist Church. Still pretty. I walk in about 15 minutes before service and realize this church is OLD; if it shook what it’s mama gave it, the roof would crash and we’d have another Lisbon. Crap, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have typed that. Ah well.
The sanctuary itself is about half the size of FUMC, my old beloved church, and there’s lots of red velvet. Pro: seats are more comfortable with red velvet cushions. Con: Arch Street is starting to use The Faith We Sing. At 5 minutes til 11, there are about 40 people and I keep on thinking that it’s really empty. When service starts, a few more people show up and the final count is around 70. The group is pretty diverse in most obvious ways and the service starts. The guest organist starts and I immediately miss SW. The opening hymn: we stand and people timidly sing. The little boy in front of me giggles and I stick my tongue out at him. He giggles some more. I don’t think Arch Street has a choir but the soprano soloist does quite nicely. The passing of the peace is right after the first hymn! Yeah! Oh wait, it’s lasting like 3 minutes…ah crap, here comes the pastor! I try to look friendly. A guy stumbles in and sits right behind me; I’m pretty sure he’s drunk. The pastor, in his greeting, talks about how they had a packed house for the memorial service of a homeless guy killed by the police across the street at the shelter. Ah…
And then the guy starts to snore. Like real loud. Everyone turns around and stares at me because his head is kinda underneath the pew so I look extra engaged. Finally I turn around and tap the guy on the hand…he wakes up, looks at me with blood shot eyes, and immediately goes to sleep. I slink away a few pews up because really, the dude is a french horn. A few minutes later, an usher goes up to him and really wakes him up in pretty much the kindest way possible. The rest of the service goes quite smoothly, unlike this narration. The only other eventful thing was the pastor who, after the benediction, cuts off the congregation at the door. Pretty much in order to leave, we have to talk with him. I say to the woman next to me that this is a great idea and she smiles politely. The pastor and I exchange a few words and he assures me that the young people will come. So next week, I’m going to try out another church closer to my place, just for comparison.
August 24: I go in to meet up with my advisor and we grab lunch…she really is a wonderfully nurturing person. We talk about what I want to research and I think I come off as completely vague and misguided…yeah! But still, I’m very glad to have her and reassure her that she should keep on piling on the work until I say stop. I think these few weeks of quiet have made me near insane and I want work!!