During Chinese New Year, the whole city shuts down. “Taipei will be a ghost town, just wait,” they say. Tabitha described it as “horrible” and the time of year she dreads the most. Someone else tried to lift my spirits by reminding me that someone may still invite me to join his/her family’s festivities. But, no one did, and it’s been glorious. I’m loving every minute. It is two days into the new year according to the lunar calendar, and most of the stores are still closed. It’s rainy and cold and I’m running out of instant noodles, but I’m happy. Carrie and Shaun were on a little mini-vacation in Taroko Gorge, a beautiful mountainous area a little south of Taipei, so I had the place all to myself. I had so many grand plans like use the kitchen, download new music, watch 40 episodes of Ugly Betty, decide my future, write a novel, learn Chinese. So far I haven’t made any progress on those last two, but all in good time.
On my first day of vacation, I went running. That was the last day of sunshine, so I’m glad I took advantage. It was getting chilly, though, so I needed running pants of which I have only one pair. I wore them earlier that week when I went to the gym during my lunch break. So I did what any reasonable person who needs to shed four pineapple cakes worth of guilt would do; I pulled them out of the dirty laundry and put them on. I was about five blocks from my apartment when I felt it. The awkward bump near my right leg. It was sliding downward, and without looking, I knew. The underwear I had on last time I wore these pants was caught inside. Dirty underwear was about to slide out of my right pant leg onto the sidewalk. Chinese New Year was still two days away, so I couldn’t hope that only ghosts would be around to catch me crusty handed. People were all around doing their last minute errands before traveling to their grandparents’ house (or something, I’m no expert) for a big meal the next day. Hoping no one would notice was out of the question. People were staring at me more than usual for the entire five blocks because I was jogging in the streets (it’s not common) and because I wasn’t wearing four layers of clothes. I could just hear their thoughts, “She’s going to get sick,” and, “She’ll never find a husband because those bare arms are bad feng shui.”
I was wearing those ankle socks that barely come up above the top of the shoe, but determined as I was, I stuffed the underwear into my sock. Then I went back to listening to Cut Copy. For Christmas this year my dad gave me a tiny MP3 player that clips nicely to my clothes while I run… or while I hide dirty underwear.