Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 3

Fact: In China, as is many other places,  people like to keep their stuff looking nice by making it look terrible; that is, by never removing that clear or blue plastic cling film that comes on brand new electronics and appliances.

Corresponding confession: I am the phantom that ranges throughout the world, pulling the film off other people's stuff.  Seriously.  I just stripped the film off the air conditioner in our hotel room.  The school where I worked in Xi'an built a new center with a cling-filmed TV in every classroom.  (Not a screen protector, the manufacturer's frosty white film on the black plastic frame around the screen)  Within two weeks I had surruptitiously peeled the film off every single TV.  Before that I was peeling film off TVs that were new three years ago.  I consider myself a really uptight public servant.  Shhh!  Don't tell my secret.

That's the thing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 6

Stuff we are looking forward to eating in America!

Tomato soup...and grilled cheese
Dill pickles
 REAL bread
Nachos...with cheese
BLTs...but no cheese.  What are you, crazy?
Milkyway bars
Legitimate coffee
"spicy" chocolate (Hershey's Cookies and Cream bar)
Salty, buttered popcorn...good with parmesan cheese
Legitimate salad
Ranch dressing
Pizza from the cafe at the downtown Whole Foods (Peter's holy grail of pizza)
Barbecued anything
Cinnamon rolls
Appetizers of all descriptions
Salsa...yeah, pretty much all Mexican and Tex-Mex food
Anything involving an avocado (cheese for vegans)
Potato salad
Breakfast cereal
Blueberry muffins
Samples at Costco
Costco hot dogs
Lobster (that one's just Peter)
Fresh fruit year-round
Herbs of all descriptions
Legitimate whole wheat bread
Real butter
Ben and Jerry's
Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, and cookie dough
Pasta.  All pasta.  Especially lasagna
Anything cooked by my mother

Restaurants to which we look forward:

Olive Garden
Joe's Crab Shack
Shari's (for the memories more than the food...sorry mom!)
Taco Bell (yes, that one's just me, an no, I am not ashamed)
The Whole Foods Cafe and Deli...yeah, it's that good.  The one at the big mall in Tualatin has the best seafood chowder, according to Peter.  I think they put all the shellfish that doesn't sell in that chowder.
Jim and Patty's
Papa Murphy's...don't knock it, much less greasy than the big chains
Bellagio's Pizza...I never got to take Peter there, gotta fix that
Izzy's...I like pizza, ok?
Mo's...another one he's never been to, but we have plans to go with a student of mine
Safeway Chinese....ha, gotcha

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 7

This is a list of widely (though not universally) -held beliefs in China.  Though some are debatable, generally speaking I disagree with all of them, and I won't miss running up against them in my everyday life.

  1. A nap in the afternoon is necessary for good health.
  2. It is acceptable for teens to only sleep six hours per night.
  3. The iPhone costs only $200 in the US.
  4. Cold drinks and foods give you stomachaches, diarrhea, cancer, and are very bad for menstruating women.
  5. Drinking hot water makes you feel cooler (in temperature).
  6. Eating spicy food makes you feel cooler.
  7. Chinese people have different (less healthy) bodies than westerners and that's why Chinese medicine works for them but not for westerners.
  8. Western medicine is bad because it has side effects.
  9. Something is clean if it has been wiped or rinsed with water.
  10. Tall buildings mean a city is developed.
  11. Using the “back door” to get things done means the Chinese are more clever; westerners aren’t creative enough to think of using the back door.
  12. A pet (especially a dog) in the house is bad for a baby or a pregnant woman.
  13. Neither the new mom nor the baby can bathe for 30 days after delivery.
  14. A woman should be on bed rest for 30 days before having a baby.
  15. Chopsticks are easier to use than forks (simpler is the same as easier).
  16. You can't write Chinese characters with your left hand.
  17. Left-handed people are more clever than right-handed people, but it’s still wrong to be left-handed
  18. You can't eat noodles with a fork.
  19. A spoon is the next best thing to a fork (ie western people use spoons more than forks or knives).
  20. Boiling removes impurities from tap water (not just kills bacteria).
  21. Butter is beef fat.
  22. In America and Canada the government gives you money to have more children.
  23. All Americans are rich and own cars and single-family homes.
  24. Americans look down on Chinese people.
  25. Chinese food is really expensive in America.
  26. Cheese and butter are the same thing.
  27. All Americans speak Spanish.
  28. Mandarin Chinese is becoming really popular in America.
  29. White people are Americans; members of other races are not true Americans.
  30. Americans use the IPA to study English because the IPA is American pinyin.
  31. If a baby is exposed to more than one language before age two he or she will never learn the mother tongue properly.
  32. America considers Japan it’s little brother.
  33. America opposes China in various political issues to punish China for it’s economic policies.
  34. Americans eat plain (untoasted) bread and milk for breakfast.
  35. Exercise is good for a cold.
  36. Everything is cheap in America.
  37. Americans spend most of their time discussing sports and entertainment.
  38. Black people are dangerous and white Americans live in fear of them.
  39. Chinese people who go live abroad (even second generation and beyond) have a duty to learn the Chinese language and even if they are citizens of another country their primary national identity should still be Chinese.
  40. All Americans are promiscuous.
  41. You can get over a cold in one day.
  42.  Elementary-aged children should have as many extracurricular ectivities as possible, such as owning a pet, to fill up their free time, but they don't have enough time for these activities in high school, so hobbies must be given up and pets must be given away, whether or not it is good for the pet.
  43. Studying is more important than physical exercise for high school students.
Also, this just happened:

Peter: Let's watch a movie.
Me: Okay.  What kind of movie is it?
Peter: Black man.
Me: (rolls eyes)
Peter: What?
Me: You're so racist.  "Black man" is not a kind of movie.  You have to learn how to see people beyond color.
Peter: I mean, Men in Black.
Me: Oh, never mind.
Peter: You assumed I was being racist.  Doesn't that mean that the racist one is---
Me: Shut up!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Day 12

Peter and I ate hot pot with the group of foreigners I mentioned yesterday.  It made me remember what it was like to be in China for the first time.  It was refreshing.  It was also nice to be able to introduce them to a food they seemed to enjoy.  They've been on their own for food some of the time, and we got the impression that the results have been less than stellar.  We had a really good time.

Did not make any packing progress because I am hitting the "I hate moving" stage.  I have, I don't know, Mover's Block?  Like Writer's Block but with clothes?  Shipping prices went up, so we have decied to pare down some of our stuff.  We are supposed to mail it tomorrow, but I don't know for sure if we will get around to it.  Arg!  Ready for the moving part to be over.  I'm ready to move on to Beijing, even if it means dodging the syringes.  

That's the thing.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Day 13

China is bananas.  Giving directions in China is completely different than giving directions in the US.  Overall, Americans are much more precise than Chinese.  Just watch a Chinese cooking show sometime, you'll see.  Chinese people (at least every one I've ever met) are not good at giving or getting directions, and are not good at finding places they've never been to.  

For example, if I were giving you directions to my apartment, I would say, "Do you know where Gaoxin is?  Okay, so from Xiao Zhai head toward Gaoxin.  You'll pass Mei Gui Da Lo on the right, and a Starbucks/Subway on the left.  Right after that you'll see a hotel called the Seven Stars Hotel.  If you get to the park or to Tai Bai Lu, you've gone too far.  Enter through the main entrance to the Seven Stars Hotel.  There's a crawling lighted banner above the door and a hair salon to the immediate left of the entrance.  Take any of the elevators in the lobby to the fourth floor.  We are in apartment blah blah blah."

When we were apartment hunting, I was two blocks away from the Seven Stars teaching class.  Peter wanted me to come check out the apartment.  He called me, and...

Peter: Okay, so to get here you need to come back.
Me: Come back home?
Peter: No, come back from where you came.
Me: Where?
Peter: Like you're coming back.
Me: So I need to exit my school and go...?
Peter: Across the street.
Me: Which street?
Peter: To the park.
Me: Okay, so I am crossing the park block?
Peter: What?
Me: I have to go to the other side of the park?
Peter: No, you are on the other side of the park.  You need to come here.
Me: Okay, I will call you back.
Me: Okay, I crossed the park.
Peter: Where are you now?
Me: In the park, opposite my school.
Peter: On the street?
Me: Um, yes.  At the intersection of Keji Street and the other big street.  Near the supermarket.
Peter: Okay, the building is right on the corner.
Me: Which corner?
Peter: The one with the building on it.
Me: Which building?
Peter: The one with all the windows.
Me: They all have windows!
Peter: Okay, hang on, I am going to come get you.

For the record, the building is not right on the corner.  It is 500 yards up the street from the corner.  Anyway, Peter's mission to come get me is how most Chinese people give directions.  That is, they don't give directions, they tell you a street (not an intersection, just a street) or a district or a building, meet you there, and guide you the rest of the way.  This is how they do for me and for each other.

Does this mean Chinese people are stupid?  No.  The conversation above makes Peter sound, erm, intelligence-challenged, but he's not.  He's really smart and has no practice at this particular skill.  That's true of most Chinese people I know.  And, to be clear, I don't mean "Chinese" the racial group, but "Chinese" the cultural identity.  This is just how they do things in China.

That's why we had so much trouble with the Sheraton Hotel tonight.  Some friends are staying there, and we called the concierge to leave the address of where we're going to meet tomorrow.  Leaving a message at a hotel should be easy, but any time you step outside what is expected (in China or anywhere else) things get weird.  First they wanted to know why our friends didn't just call us on their cell phones.  Well, they don't have cell phones, they are only in China for eight days.  Then they wanted to know why we are such horrible friends we won't come and meet them and go to the restaurant together.  To a Chinese person, letting a friend go to a new place by themselves (and probably get lost) is rude.  Peter explained that all they had to do was show the address to a taxi driver, and we could meet them at the restaurant.

Right now there's a hotel concierge chatting to a maid or someone at the Sheraton talking about how weird these Americans are.  I'm okay with that.

Oh, and the first thing we're downloading on our new phones in the US is GPS apps.  Our relationship runs smoother when we get our directions not from each other.

That's the thing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Day 13

So last night at 4am we were sorting Peter's clothes into "ship" and "pack".  I really lobbied for a "throw out the window" category, but he won't part with any more clothes, no matter how shredded, shrunken, or ill-fitting they are.  Oh well.  Then we went to KFC because I was hungry.  There comes a time at night when a person needs to go to sleep or plan on eating another dinner.  We went and got the French fries I have been craving for a few days, but they were cold and it was totally disappointing.  Oh well.

Tonight we went to have hot pot with our students.  I don't know why, but I wasn't really into it.  After they wanted to go play pool and sing karaoke, but I ducked out.

Here's a story I have been saving. Well, two.  Three. 

I was playing Catchphrase with Jesse and I had the word "lawyer" when this happened:

Me: If you are accused of a crime, who do you need help from?
Jesse: God.

He's not wrong!

Also I found this today.  Judging by the number of pictures in the post it's a common thing, but I'm glad to say I've never seen one of these in person.  I can't believe I have to explain this, but, church, we do not use baptism punitively!  Baptism is a good thing!  Also, since the parking is reserved for members of a particular congregation, not a particular religion.  Baptizing you doesn't make you a member of a congregation, it makes you a Christian.  So this is ugly not only because it implies (even jokingly) that you could be sentenced to baptism for parking in the wrong place, but it also implies that only non-Christians park illegally.  Sorry kids, that's just not true. Christians also make bad choices.

Anyway, here's the best one.  The other day after Peter bought me my knockoff designer woven seatbelt bag, we left the store.  I wandered over to a kiosk and said, "You know, I could also use a new wallet."  I had looked away for literally one second, when I looked back he was GONE.

I found this to be an unreasonable response.  I am not a hardcore shopper, and I never bring Peter along against his will.  In fact, shopping had been his idea, (probably because he hates all my handbags).  I shop fast and I don't spend much, so I thought disappearing was a bit unreasonable.

Then the imaginative part of me took over.  What if it was like Nowhere man?  Or a Lifetime movie where a kid is abducted?  Parents, I know what you mean now when you say, "I just looked away for a second!"  I began imagining.  What if it were some kind of government caper?  What if I am schizophrenic and there is no Peter, I have been imagining him all along, and I had arrived at a brief moment of clarity?  (Do other people think about these things?)

I assumed I’d spot him, but after turning in a few circles, he was truly nowhere.  I got out my phone, and I’m not gonna lie, it was good to see his number in my phone (no schizophrenia).  I called him.  I got the generic message you get when a phone is turned off or out of range.  Weird. 

Then I had an epiphany.  When I had looked at him before going for the wallet, he’d had his hand in his pocket.  That could only mean…crap.

I ran back to the store where we’d bought the seatbelt wonder, and sure enough, there was Peter accusing the shopkeeper of stealing his iPhone.  He said he’d set it on the counter in the shop (at which point I refrained from screaming at him because, seriously, you never do anything like that in China unless you’re planning on donating it to a thief) but it was of course nowhere to be seen.  Others had come and gone while we were in the shop too, so that made it 458% worse.  In my five years in China, Peter and I have had four cell phones stolen.  This would be number 5. 

Peter asked for my phone to call the police, and I had another epiphany reaching for it in my bag.  “You didn’t put it in that bag you were looking at, did you?”  He’d picked out a bag for himself, but changed his mind when the shopkeeper wouldn’t meet his price.  Look in the bag and blammo, phone is there.  Whew!

So we narrowly avoided donating his iPhone to a stranger and having a huge fight, which we would have, because he’s always on my case about how I don’t protect myself enough from pickpockets.

Of course, I never did buy a wallet, so maybe…nah.  He wouldn’t go to all that trouble just to stop me from shopping, would he?

Anyway, that’s the thing.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Day 14

It seemed like it was forever in coming, but now it's getting too close for comfort!  Today I finally hauled out the suitcases and started sorting things we are shipping from things we are taking on the plane.  I threw out plenty of junk and cleaned out a lot of nooks and crannies.  It felt good, but there's still a lot to do!

Does Subway still do the Five Dollar Footlong thing?  I'm not really interested in the deal, just the song.  It was a big thing when we were last in the US, and Peter still sings it when I eat subway, which I did today.  They're renovating several city blocks near our apartment, and those that they tore down mostly housed restaurants, so our nearby and convenient food options are dwindling.

Here are a couple conversations we had recently:

Peter: You walk too slow.
Me: It's not my fault.
Peter: Well, if we're going to walk this slow, let's at least walk like zombies.
(So we walk like zombies for a while, until Peter turns and spits his gum on me.)
Me: What did you do that for?!?
Peter: It's a pea.
Me: Pee?!?
Peter: No, a pea.  Like in Plants vs. Zombies.
(Fun fact: Peter was the first person to tell me about that game, and I thought he was making it up.  Most video/computer games sound absurd when described.)
Me: You spit your gum on me.  Are you sure you want to set up a precident where we spit on each other?
Peter: Oh...
Me: Because you have been going to sleep earlier than I have these days.
Peter: Okay, truce!
Me: Some of those peas are frozen, you know.

And this:

Peter: Oh no!  China is going nuts.
Me: What?
Peter: AIDS patients in Beijing are running around injecting people with the AIDS virus.
Me: Oh, that's not true.
Peter: How do you know?
Me: Oh, it's the oldest urban legend in the book.  It's been going around in the US forever, but there are no verified cases of it actually happening.  I suppose it could be true, but it's not.
Peter: So when we go to Beijing for four days before leaving for the US...?
Me: Yeah, we will barricade ourselves in our hotel room and have all our meals delivered.
Peter: Because there's nothing you want to go out and do in Beijing?
Me: No.  It's because of the urban legend.
Peter: So it's not true.
Me: Yes.
Peter: But you're not going outside.
Me: Yes.
Peter: You're bananas.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Day 15

Well, we are fifteen days out from D-day.  I haven't written because I was just trying to get though the glut of last-minute classes, and then recouperate from them.  I was really having trouble coming up with lesson plans there towards the end.  Some of my classes got a little bixarre there at the end.  I was supposed to have my last class on Saturday, but classes on Thursday afternoon, Friday and Saturday were all canceled because students were returning to school.  Sound odd?  Well, generally speaking, the Chinese don't do things anywhere near as far in advance as we do---you can't buy a train ticket more than ten days in advance, and you can't buy a plane ticket more than 30 days in advance.  In the US we would know the dates for returning to school at the end of the school year, but here the school doesn't tell the students the back-to-school details until a week or so in advance.

So I've been recouperating from all the end-of-work stress.  I am off my RA medication because, well, I will tell you the story of Chinese hospitals another time.  Suffice it to say it is disheartening at best.  I have trouble taking seriously a medical institution that doesnt take patients' vitals at a doctor visit and doesn't ask about other medications before prescribing, sells antibiotics over the counter, and tells you to take them until you feel better.  I have found a pretty good doctor here, but I think I'll just wait until I can get back to my American doctor (who is Asian, coincidentally, but he takes my vitals).

Anyway, here is the thing I haven't told you yet.  It's also the reason (besides being run down by RA and wet weather) why I haven't felt like blogging recently.  It's a little hard, honestly.  Here we go.

A couple weeks ago, an acquaintance approached us about adopting Max.  We were quite surprised because we hadn't really put it out there that we were looking for new homes for him.  Anyway, after much discussion and interviewing, we gave Maximus to Will.  Will is a couple years younger than I am.  He has a good, steady job, and owns his own home in a gated community.  We live in a gated community here too, but the culture is very dogophobic.  Dogs as pets, especially large dogs as pets, are still pretty new in China, and that means that 1) people aren't familiar or comfortable around them, and 2) people who own them don't know how to train them properly.  Poorly-trained large dogs simply perpetuate a climate of fear.  When Mex was a puppy I could walk him in the courtyard off a leash, but since he's gotten bigger people have scolded both him and me for existing.  You know, because we're super threatening.  Small dogs and children run wild (no, seriously, WILD) but heaven forbod Max so much as sniff anyone's holy ankle.  

Anyway, the climate at Will's is much different.  There are tons of dogs living there, large and small, and everyone (even my old memeses, parents of small children) is comfortable with them running around in the courtyard unleashed.  There are very few dog fights---there are dog play fights, but nothing truly agressive---and all the dogs we saw there were very well socialized.  

Additionally, Will spent some time living in the US and in Ireland, and he knows more about dogs than most Chinese people I've met.  In fact, the only person I know with a comparable amount of knowledge is Peter.  Will already has a little white Scottish Terrier named Frakie, who is very calm and well-behaved; he has also owned a Golden Retriever before.  We were really excited to think of Max living with another dog.  They are well matched because Frankie is afraid of big dogs and Max is afraid of small dogs (they tend to react more defensively which caught young Max by surprise a time or two).  Frankie has a very calm emergy, though, which is good because Max tends to be a bit nervious.  We have been worried about the amount of socialization Max wasn't getting, so this will be good for him. Will also has two roommates, so the dogs won't be left alone that often.  

So Max has been with Will for about a week now, and things are going really good.  We haven't been to see him in person, but Peter has spoken to Will every day and we've gotten some pictures.  It's been a hard decision---the house seems so empty---but we really think this is meant to be.  We couldn't have asked for a better home for him.  We adoped him intending to keep him forever, and we know that separating a dog from his parents is bad for him.  However, he had a separation in store no matter what, thanks to Delta Airlines' "Sure, you can take a dog---wait, no you can't" flip-flopping and no-return policy.  Max would have had to live with Peter's mom and her boyfriend.  Mom would have taken good care of him but not had much time to walk him, and they boyfriend really didn't want to have a dog in the house (we didn't find that out until it was too late).  Then there would have been a long, conflusing airplane trip, which would have been really hard on an already-nervous dog.  I was genuinely worried that it would cause him psychological harm.

So that's Max's new future.  We are going to visit him again before we go, and, since Will plans to stay in Xi'an long-term, we can visit him whenever we are in town.  That means we'll be visiting him as often as we visit Peter's parents.  You can't say fairer than that.  I know it might be better for him if we don't visit at all, but, well, it will be good for me if we do.

So that's kind of had me down.  It's also been kind of a relief, though, because our previous plan felt, to me, like we were doing wrong by him, but this way I really don't feel like we are.  

That's the thing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 20

Here's the thing: I am not afraid to start over.  It would be consistent with my characer if I were, but I'm not.  We are basically back to square one, wiht ver little relevant job experience.  We are both planning to go through training programs, programs.  I'm going into an undergraduate-level program, which puts me about fifteen years behind schedule.  But I'm not afraid.  We don't have a car or an apartment or any furniture to speak of, and we are desperately in need of new clothes.  But I'm not afraid.  We/I have started over before and we'll do it again, and it will take a lot of hard work and parts of it may suck, but in the end it will all come together.  And this time it will stick.

That's the thing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 22

An amazing thing occurred two days ago, but I did not celebrate it with a blog post as I had planned.  I am just trying to make it through these last few days of class, and it's taken up most of my energy.  Two days ago was August 24 and also 24 days until we depart China.  Since 24 is my lucky number, it was an auspicious day.  (We’ve talked before about my number superstition, and even though I say 24 is my lucky number because Nickelodeon was channel 24 when I was a kid, the real reason is that it is so eminently divisible.  2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, it’s a very accommodating number.  24 in a math problem is an act of mercy from deity of math textbooks.) Today is 22 which is also lucky because it is doubles, and if we were playing Monopoly I could roll again or get out of jail.

And, hmmm.  Get out of jail.  That sounds good right about now.  Let’s get real, people.

I’ve tried to be pretty upbeat on this blog.  Another reason I haven’t posted much in the last couple days is that I’ve been practicing the Thumper Method of blogging, “If you can’t say something nice then just go hang out on Pinterest instead.”  The truth is, though, I have as many bad things to say about China as I do good things.  I’m burnt out, kids.  Maybe that’s a well kept secret or maybe you’re all thinking “thank goodness she finally said it” but it’s the truth.  Our primary motivation for coming back to the US is that we are both burnt out on this country.

The reasons are many and various, some trivial, some humorous (like today when I described a spider as “what has eight legs and is terrifying?”) and some reasons that are, well, terrifying.  I have been pondering them all heavily within my soul, but today I feel like letting a few out.  If you’re Chinese or a big fan of China you may be bummed out by what I have to say, but this is how I feel and I don’t apologize for it.

First of all, today I got on the bus and was treated to a shouting—no, screaming—no, shrieking match between two woman accompanied by two children and a man with his son.  The two women got on the bus and told the man and his son that they should give up their seats because their children were younger than his.  
Why they picked on him I don’t know.  He was sitting in priority seating, and it is both a rule and good manners on Chinese buses to give up your seats for parents accompanied by young children.  The man was accompanied by a boy about twelve, the woman with children perhaps seven years old.  

I don’t know why no one else offered to give up their seats, or why they fixated on this man and his son, but what really scalded my bacon was that once the moms started shouting, the kids joined in.  Kids.  Elementary-age kids shouting at a man on the bus.  I heard one of the kids say, “She’s sick, you have to give up your seat.”  Disgusting.  I wish I could be a fly on the wall when those two kids go back to school next week and the moms learn that they are bullying other children.

Then of course there’s this mess with the Islands.  The Islands go by various names, and are claimed by Mainland China (the PRC) Taiwan (the RC) and Japan.  It’s a hot issue now.  Islands have changed hands in treaties in the past, but it’s not exactly clear if the Islands have been included with other islands that have changed hands.  There are various documents and maps and records throughout history indicating that these islands belong to one country or the other.  The Islands (which go by several names, which is why I am simply calling them the Islands) were administered by the US up until a treaty gave their administration over to Japan.  Though China has sporadically claimed the Islands as theirs, things didn’t start getting really noisy until the 70’s, when some treaty or other said that the country that owns the Islands owns all the oil reserves beneath them.  Cha-CHING!

Anyway, all of that is actually fine with me.  Lands have been disputed throughout time, and often it ain’t pretty.  What is making me itchy, though, is how the Chinese are going about it.  A little while ago a boatload of Chinese (mostly from Hong Kong, says Peter) set out for the Islands intending to plant a flag on the largest of the Islands.  You know, because that will solve everything.  Boy, that will really show those Japanese!  

That move in itself was not really very inspired, and what followed was predictable: the flag-bearers were arrested.  Japan administers the Islands, and they’ve been more vigilant since the whole dispute heated up.  My students are flabbergasted.  They were arrested!  They weren’t given any water!  They were treated like prisoners!

I should add here that China still has a continent-sized chip on it’s shoulder when it comes to Japan.  The feud is age-old, but when you (well, I) press most Chinese people into saying why, they say either than Japan waited too long to apologize for the rape of Nanjing, or that Japan has not yet sufficiently apologized.

I would pay a large amount of the money I don’t have for a chance to interview these Chinese flag-bearers.  Did you think the Japanese wouldn’t notice you?  Did you think they’d say, “Oh, it IS your Island, let’s just pack up our stuff and move on?” Did you think they’d invite you in for sushi?  How did you think your little flag trick was going to help the situation?

What amuses me most is that, although Taiwan claims the Islands—and, to be clear, Taiwan claims the Islands belong to Taiwan and not to the PRC, because Taiwan is not a part of the PRC—no one is saying anything about that here.  I think most Chinese don’t know about it, but those that do daren’t speak up against it.  Protesting Taiwan’s claim to the Islands would be acknowledging that Taiwan claims to be not-China.  I guess for now the PRC only wants to argue over the one set of Islands.

I could go into more detail about the dispute itself, the history, or the things I’ve heard the Chinese say about it, but it all boils down to childishness.  It’s no difference than those women making a scene on the bus, and what is worse is that this mindset is being passed on to younger generations.

Furthermore, though the Chinese are adamant about their rights to the Islands and their love for their country, a poll on the popular social networking site Weibo asked this question, “If your child were born on the Islands and could choose a nationality, which nationality would you choose for your child: the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Japan?”  Though they protest their rights adamantly, the majority of respondents to the poll chose a nationality other than the PRC.  (Read the article here

What does that mean?  The Chinese don’t like their country, but don’t like other people to make it look bad.  That’s actually not that unreasonable.  However, it’s all being dealt with so foolishly, and I am ready to be done with it.  Americans are certainly foolish in copious amounts.  However, if I am going to be surrounded by shenanigans, I would rather be surrounded by the shenanigans of my own country, rather than a country that allots me no credibility whatsoever (more on that later).

Anyway, later perhaps I will write more about why I will be glad to see China shrinking into the distance out the window of a good ol’ Boeing 7somethingorother.  That’s how I feel today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 26

Me: Look!  Photos from the new Mars rover!
Peter: Oh.  I thought those were pictures from Xinjiang.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 27

One thing I've learned about myself during this process of posting every day once in awhile until we move back to the US is that I have some previously-unrecognized superstitions about numbers.  I have always liked number combinations like 6742, but it goes deeper than that.  Apparently I mistrust prim numbers---which I am pretty sure is thanks to long division---so I didn't post on day 29.  I didn't post on day 28 because I was afraid it would all be jokes about rehab.  But I feel good about today because 27 is not just divisible but is the cube of three, which is a good number even though it's also a prime.  It's not three's fault he's too small to divide by anything but one.

Another thing I've learned about myself is that Suvessful Christense has decided to come back to haunt me.

I was introduced to Sucessful Christense by a well meaning high school gu8idance counselor who just didn't get it.  I was afraid one day I'd find out that I only thought she didn't get it because I was seventeen, but I'm not seventeen anymore and now I'm sure of it: she didn't get it.  I took a couple AP and IB classes because seriously, why not?  College credit?  Why yes, thank you.

So Sucessful Christense enrolled in PCC about fifteen years ago, and ever after she was thrust before me in guidance meetings.  Why not take more IB classes?  I could handle it.  My grades were fine.  It would give me a leg up in college and help me become Sucessful.  I steadfastly refused.  I didn't want to be one of those kids.  I wanted to be in the band and have a job and drive around in my car and I did not want to be like the girl I knew who did her homework while her family was decorating the Christmas tree.  I wanted to LIVE, dammit, and Sucessful would just have to sort itself out later, since I didn't know how to do that anyway.

And I have LIVED.  I've been to eight countries on four continents and had twelve jobs that were all awesome in their own ways.  I speak three languages with varying degrees of sucess.  I have eaten iguana and cow brain and I have become a Real Man not once but twice by climbing the Great Wall; I have been on TV and danced the tango with a genuine Italian and I have been a camp counselor; I have fixed grammatical mistakes and been in the OR during surgery.  But all Sucessful Christense has to say is, "It's fifteen years later and you're still doing undergraduate work at a community college?"

Well suck it, Sucessful Christense.  Maybe I don't own a house or a car or have a kid or, in 27 days, a job (someone save me), but I have a bilingual dog that sometimes does what I tell him and is spunky enough to poop for spite.  I have a husband who is kinda eccentric but is nice enough to not only go out looking for Chinese soup for me at 4am but to not even get that mad at me when he found out that I had been talking in my sleep.  I have parents who are willing to let me and Mr. Spite Pooper and Mr. Eccentric and me move in with them and kink their freewheeling retired lifestyle.  And yeah, I haven't written that novel yet, but I've got a bunch of book related pins on Pinterest and a blog that gets as many as nineteen views per day and a bunch of weird ideas and a healthy dollop of guilt, so that's a good start.

Anyway, whatever.  What's Sucessful Christense got?  A desk and a secondhand Asian car and a boyfriend she met on the internet and a tempurpedic bed and a Coke Zero addiction (because I see that happening no matter what, yes?) and a boyfriend she met on the internet.  She's skinnier, but she's hungry, and she is always griping to herself about That Other Christense that could have gone and did lots of stuff.

The other day a student told me she thought China was weak because the government took a placating stance when a handfull of Hong Kongese were taken prisoner by the Japanese.  I told her how the US got those hikers out of North Korea and she asked me why the US didn't do something more.  Well, there's a whole lot of worms in those cans, but I told her it all came down to the fact that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it.  So yeah, Sucessful Christense, I could have studied and then worked myself to death, but that doesn't mean I should have.  And anyway, there would always be something that I didn't do, and overall I'd take my Didn't Do over her Didn't Do any day.  I'm Lucy, dammit, and I pay my taxes and I have never taken anything I didn't have a right to, and therefore I exercise my right to live up to exactly as much of my potential as I want to.  I'm having more fun than she is anyway, and that's something I had right even when I was seventeen.  BOO YAH.

That's the thing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 31

On this date a month from now we will be on our way to the US!  Nuts!

I had my last class with Hardtoteach, and my last big class at my main job.  Also weird.  This weekend I have two classes with Probablygonna Dropmyclass, but other than that I can chill.

Max retrieved something today!  Peter was all like, "Why are you making such a big deal about this?"  We have thrown toys around for him, but haven't ever actually tried to train him to retrieve.  I was throwing a squeaky toy around the house and he went to get it (which is usual) but this time he brought it back to me and even gave it to me!  He usually tries to play tug-of-war when I try to take a toy from him.  I was so excited.  He did it again several more times, so it wasn't just a fluke.  He's a real Golden Retriever!  Now all we need is to teach him to retrieve gold!

The last Blue Rocketship crashed on Monday.  I haven't had a minute to blog since then, but I was getting in the elevator early in the morning for class.  The floor above me too FOREVER with the elevator, but when it arrived it was empty and the rocket was on the floor.  Of course.  No one will see it there.  It has since been removed.  But that was a long time that thing stayed in the light fixture.  People are so weird.

Peter is all excited.  Every day he has a new plan about coming to the US, but his thing now is selling insurance.  Does anyone know how to do that?  I am trying to sign up for my PCC classes, which are, of course, all wait-listed.  I may take some Spanish to brush up, though.  I miss it.

I'm gonna go sleep now.  That's the thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 34

We got paid, so we're running all around paying stuff off.  It's nice, but once it's all done we will have little left.  But paying stuff off is a good thing, right?

I finished my four-day marathon of early classes and long days.  Four days may not sound like a lot, but mornings are hard for me and my friend RA.  That's my excuse, anyway.  Plus, these are LONG days.  Once we take in the time to go home on the sardine can---er, bus, it's almost twelve hours.  Yesterday I had four big classes which means eight hours on my feet AND no time for lunch.  I ain't doing that again!  My ankles look like sausages.

I just finished teaching the only Chinese introvert I've ever met.  Seriously.  Not just a guy who's shy or doesn't like people, like, the genuine article.  He's also a bona fide artist.  The real thing.  Not just a guy who plays music, but a genuine musician.  He's very interesting to talk to.  When I do my famous East Meets West lesson (if you want to see the source material google "Liu Yang East Meets West," it's amazing) he identifies with all the western version of every idea.  He also thinks that Major Seven is a good English name. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 38

Though I am counting down to the big day, September 17th, there are a lot of little countdowns going on as well.  Here are some of them:

August 10: Payday (finally!)
August 12: Next day off
August 16: Last big class, last day of class with a student who is particularly hard to teach
August 22: Last day with four classes
September 1: Last scheduled class
September 2: Take Max to live with MIL so we can clean up our apartment and try to get our deposit back
September 5: Peter’s last payday
September 6: Ship winter clothes and other stuff to the US
September 10: Last payday
September 12: Fly to Beijing
September 17: Well, you know

Also, this happened while I was teaching my students some cutesy euphemisms for peeing (someone’s got to do it!)

Me: Go number one, pass water, tinkle…
Student: What?!?
Me: What?
Student: Teacher, is that what that song means, “tinkle, tinkle little star”?!
Me: No.  That’s “twinkle” not “tinkle.”
Student: Are you sure?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Day 39

I have skipped a few days because I have been crazy busy with class.  These two weeks are going to be the busiest of the summer, and I'm not looking forward to that.

So far I've been lucky enough not to get a case of the Irrevocable Giggles in class---you know, where you just can't stop laighing?  I came really close yesterday, though.  When I teach students pronunciation I make up goofy little mnemonic devices for them, like these:

When you sweat you get wet.
what did you say Beyonce?
When you go abroad you feel odd.

Well yesterday I was teaching "puma" because most Chinese think it's pronounced pew-muh instead of poo-muh.  I've never had a phrase for it before, but yesterday one just sprang to my lips, "My puma needs to take a poo."  I admit that's no comeic gem, but I am on no sleep here, kids.  I almost lost it!  Of ourse the students had no idea what was wrong with me.

Also this happened a couple days ago:

Me: What do you know about Las Vegas?
Student: Bet.
Me: Good.  Where can you go to place a bet?
Students: Ummmm...
Me: It starts with a C.
Student: Church?

Including today I have three more grueling days of classes, then one day off (pause as chiors of angels sing from heaven) then another grueling day, then things lighten up.  The freaky thing is that a week from Thursday is my last big class. 

I find muyself once again leaving a good job to join the ranks of the unemployed voluntarily.  I must be nuts.

That's the thing.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Bonus: Elevator Abuse (yes, I am obsessed with elevators)

A guy walks into the lobby of my building, walks past four working elevators, and starts pressing the call button of the fifth elevator, which is obviously not in service.

Security Guard: What are you doing?  Don't do that.
Guy: Is this elevator broken?
SG: It's off today.
Guy: But I can't walk up fourteen flights of stairs! 
SG: You can use another elevator.
Guy: Where?
SG: There.  Or there, there, and there.
Guy: Oh.

You can't make this stuff up.

Day 44

Today is day 44, which is bad luck because 4 is the Chinese 13.  Accordingly, things were weird today.

The bus driver I had on the way to work was terrifying.  The entire ride to work was a symphony of car horns.  I got stuck at work with nothing to do for two hours because a class got canceled but no one bothered to tell me.  And my last class of the day was a new student who was remarkable taciturn, even for a Chinese student (they tend to be shy).  Plus, I am almost certain she was holding her hair back with a giant piece of black velcro.  I spent two hours wondering what would happen if I pulled it off.

In less unluck news, one of the Blue Rocketships has taken off.  There's even a few finger marks in the dust where someone reached up and pulled it out.  The other one is still flying, though.  I got a chance to check out elevator #3 and it was Rocketship-free and the interior was pristine.  Not surprising, because it's haunted.

Also last night I gave myself a haircut and it came out pretty well today.  I was pleasantly surprised because I was a bit cavalier about it.  I've pretty much given up on my hair.  My hair's been on strike for about six months now, so my main concern is to keep amy more of it from breaking off.  This climate is not follicle-friendly. 

I was on Pinterest about five minutes ago, and I saw some things that have disturbed and disordered my mind.  I would like to share someof my distress with you.

First of all, the best thing you can do for your health is to stop looking at photoshopped pictures of strangers and stop reading judgemental articles and quotes about eating habis.  True, I am neither a model nor a paragon of healthy eating, and have never once as an adult worn a size six---but, based on my experience and that of others I know, I believe that no one ever really got anywhere with improving their health without first learning to love themself as they are.  Perhaps that sounds counterintuitive, but I'm not talking about being satisified with your current state.  I don't mean to become complancent.  I'm saying that the attitude "I am awesome and through hard work I am making myself awesomer," gets you further than "I am wretched, and if I make myself suffer enough I may become a little less repugnant."   

That's the thing.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Day 45

Commands I planned to teach my dog:

Drop it
Go get it

Commands my dog actually knows, and what he thinks they mean:

Go: Get out of the way, mom's annoyed.
Sit: Maybe I'll get a treat.
Stay: Not going with you outside...again!
Off: But you can sit on the bed!
Stop it: Mom's mad.
Leave it: Chew it up before she gets it.
Move: Mom's annoyed.
Heel: ???
Kennel: Hide behind the couch.
No: Uh-oh.
Max: could mean food is forthcoming, she wants me to go home, or I am in big trouble, depending on tone
Whosa Maxie poo poo nuts?: She's happy.  Thank goodness!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Day 46 part deux

So Peter's job is safe (see previous post).  Apparently a teacher just told the students that that they weren't having any more classes with Peter without knowing if that was actually true.

I saw Amy again this afternoon and we had this conversation, while reviewing adjectives:

Me: Who is terrible?
Amy: My math teacher.
Me: Who is beautiful?
Amy: Michael Jackson.
Me: Who is unhappy?
Amy: Michael Jackson.  And my mother.
Me: Who is---
Amy: She’s a big, big pig!
Me: Who?
Amy: Lady Gaga!

Don't tell Peter.  Gaga is his newly-declared favorite singer.  Sigh.

And of course you're all dying to know about the Blue Rocket Debacle.  So I finally got a chance to ride in elevators 4 and 5 today.  That was up to my apartment after work and back down to go get a soda (more on soda in a minute).  There were no Rocketships in either elevator, though elevator 5 has something inside the light fixture, maybe wadded up newspaper or something like that.  Apparently I haven't been taking advantage of all the storage capacity of my light fixtures.  I am not super sure the wads in the elevator are new.  Apparently it requires someone to put a Blue Rocketship up there to get my attention.

Elevator 4 has nothing in it, but the light fixture is cracked. The fixtures in the Rocket elevators, 1 and 2, are also cracked, but again, I can't be sure if this predates the Rocketships or not.  After I got my soda I went back up in elevator 1 to see if it still had a rocket in it.  So there are Blue Rocketships in elevators 1 and 2, and none in 4 and 5.  I haven't had a chance to check elevator 3, the haunted one.

Also a weird thing happened when I was riding elevator 5.  I live on the fourth floor, and when I got in the elevator in the lobby I happened to get in with two girls who were also going to the fourth floor.  They had already pressed 4, so of course I didn't press anything.  After a moment of silence one of the girls asked me (in Chinese), "What floor are you going to?"  Perhaps I am overthinking things, but the web of assumptions behind that little sentence baffles me.  Let's take them one by one, unlike Noah's Ark.

1) She spoke to me in Chinese.  This shouldn't be surprising, but it is.  After long and careful consideration I have started teaching my students to address obviously-not-Chinese people in Chinese first.  After all, we are in China, so it's not unrealistic to assume a visitor might know a few words of the language.  That's not what happens in reality, though.  Many are the times I've entered a place of business only to hear a buzz of people asking, "Who speaks English?" "You go talk to her in English!" "My English isn't good enough, you do it!"  without even attempting Chinese.  They won't make eye contact with me until they sort it out, either.  Everyone's so terrified of making a mistake and looking bad in front of others.  Anyway, props to elevator girl for addressing me in her mother tongue.

2) The further assumptions are more confusing.  If a person gets into an elevator and doesn't push a button, the only three rational conclusions, in order of likelihood, are A) she's going to a floor whose button has already been pushed, B) she's forgotten to press a button, or C) she's never used an elevator before and doesn't understand how it works.  It amazes me that she blew right past A to either B or, heaven forefend, C.  

3) There are plenty of foreigners who live in this building, but I think this girl assumed I was staying in the hotel, on the top floors of the building.  I have less evidence for this than for the others, but I still think it's true.  I think she assumed I wasn't going to the fourth floor with her because she thought I must be staying in the hotel.  But, if so, why speak to me in Chinese?  A visitor is far less likely to speak Chinese than a resident (by far the most common reason for going to the non-hotel floors).  Maybe she didn't want to speak English so she took a shot in Chinese, because she felt like she simply had to do something to help the Foreigner in Distress.  

4) Foreigner in Distress is perhaps the most irksome assumption.  A lot of Chinese people assume that I am in some kind of Distress when I am not.  Why?  Am I exhibiting distressed behavior?  Nope.  Just existing in public is enough to provoke many a Chinese person into assuming you are a Foreigner in Distress.  Read a bus sign?  Clearly you need help getting where you're going.  The thought that I might have given some thought before leaving the house to how I will get where I am going doesn't cross anyone's mind.  Hail a cab?  Certainly a Chinese person is better at raising their hand in the air than I am.  Stand in the street hailing a taxi?  Why, you could be killed!  Hurry up and get on the sidewalk!  Never mind that no one is ever successful at hailing a cab from the curb, and for that reason no one does.  Clearly my death by smashing is imminent.

Anyway, I'm getting snippy, and, as I said earlier, overthinking things.  Let's move on to my Find of the Day.  

I hope you won't think that because I wrote about Craigslist today and am about to write about online shopping now that that's all I am up to.  I'm not entirely consumed with pre-sepeding my paychecks from a job I don't have yet.  It's just that I'd like to get started on the whole project of setting us up in the US right now, and I can't.  Emailing resumes is depressing because no one answers them.  It's too early to pack and I've thrown out everything that we aren't going to use in the next 46 days and aren't taking with us.  So I good around online, and today I found a link for a thing that's very silly but we would totally use ALL THE TIME.

It's a Soda Stream machine that carbonates water at home.  It uses exvhangeable, refillable bottles of carbonation to carbonate regular tap water.  Then you add syrup or whatever flavor you want and Bazinga! soda for .25 cents a can.  Less, because you know I'm going to be buying freaking koolaid and Chrystal light to flavor it instead of their syrup.  Though I'll probably use that too.  Their syrups have no Corn Poison (HFCS) or aspartame, supposedly, but they do have a generic Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper.  They're also supposed to be lower calories than regular soda.  I don't know if it tastes as good as regular soda, but also not drinking so much soda might not be the worst thing for us.

And oh yes, it's for us. I might not bother for just me, but my hubs will literally drink ANYTHING other than plan water, even---plah!---milk.  And he goes through it like a madman.  Part if it is that, when we're in the US, he's still a little freaked out by drinking tap water.  (So why do you think he'll drink carbonated tap water?)  I'm glad you asked.  The Brita pitcher is our friend.  BTW if you are ever in need of a Brita pitcher, do not buy retail!  Go to Goodwill.  They have tons of them, we got ours for $3.  Anyway, he's weirded out by plain water but genuinely hearts carbonated water.  He drinks it plain or puts juice in it, because most juices in the US are too sweet for him.

Anyway, does anyone have one of these?  Did you like it?  We will be doing some more reviewing, but it may be a completely awesome idea.

That's the thing.

Day 46

Last night I dreamed I was dressing up as Santa Claus to escape prison.

Amy (thriteen years old): What did you have for lunch teacher?
Me: KFC.
Amy: Oh no!  That stuff is dangerous.
Me: Yeah, it unhealthy, but there's only three restaurants near here.
Amy:   My mom won't let me eat there. They have chickens with ten wings.
Me (I know from experience that I can't talk her out of this): It's okay, I like to eat monsters.
Amy: You do?!!

Update:  Oh, I forgot to tell you, Peter got his job back.  He was supposed to take a two week sabbatical while the students went to another province to complete an engineering project.  That took longer than expected, and we had pretty much given up on the students coming back.  However, finally they are back and Peter is going back to teach them today for one month.  For those of you playing along at home, that's what precipitated the surprising automobile search.

Another Update:  I should never tell anyone anything.  As soon as, literally as soon as I started typing this, one of Peter's students called and said, "The teacher just told us that you won't have any more classes."  This is news to us!  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Day 47

It's 47 days until we blow this chicken hut.  47 is a prime number and prime numbers kind of weird me out.  Especially large prime numbers.  It seems arrogant of a number to be so large and yet refuse to be indivisible.  Uncharitable.

It's also day 4 of the Blue Rocketship Adventure.  4 is not a prime number but it is the Chinese equivalent of 13.  The pronunciation of four sounds like the word for death in Chinese, which unnerves Chinese people.  I advocate that simply renaming the number would get rid of a lot of problems, but so far no one agrees with me.

Actually I'm not really sure if the Blue Rocketship Adventure continues because I haven't been out today.  It was still going on in elevators one and two last night.  Last night when I got home from work I wanted to check and see if they had spread to the other three elevators, but, get this---all three elevators were shut down!  So, first the rocketships come, then the elevators shut down.  Things are starting to get freaky.

So I'm a bit scared to go out and find out if the rocketships are still there, but I'd bet a not insignificant amount of money that they are because of the interaction I had last night with the security guard.  I came home from work last night and saw that three of our five elevators were shut down.  I started walking down the hallway towards them before I realixed they were turned off, and as soon as I did the security guard was on his feet calling me back, gesturing with his hand the same way people do when they're telling a truck it can keep backing up because it's not anywhere near hitting the fence.  Apparently even approaching the sacred resting elevators is strictly off limits.

To be fair, I guess I know why he doesn't want people rummaging around down there.  In one of the buildings where I work there's an elevator for odd-numbered floors and an elevator for even-numbered floors.  Even though this is clearly posted on bright yellow signs outside the elevators, people get in the wrong elevator all the time.  When you aren, for example, in the Odd Elevator and you push a button for an even-numbered floor, nothing happens.  It doesn't light up.  People get confused, try to push it again.  Me personally, I'd do a maximum of three standard puses before I gave up.  But I've seen people push the button literally dozens of tines in increasing intensity, from tapping to pushing to punching to pounding.  I've been in elevators with broken buttons before and wondered how an elevator button gets broken, but the answer is the age-old answer that answers most questions: People are nuts.

So the security guard is truly and rightly concerned about people coming along and beating the beans out of the elevatory buttons which is actually pretty dern likely.  Seeing that the lighted panel of the elevator is dark is sufficient for me to get the message, but not, sad to say, for others.  A good Button Pounding is in order.

So I came back to the front and got in the first elevator when it arrived.  The Blue Rocketship was of course present, staring at me.  I almost let it go, but at the last minute I stopped the elevator door from closing and shouted, "Excuse me!" and pointed to the glowing bloe object hovering, like a UFO, in the light fixture.  "Oh," he says to me in Chinese, "Don't worry, that's not a problem."

So apparently his security guard duties include constant vigilance to safeguard the structural integrity of elevator buttons, but apparently spending 10 seconds removing a phallus from two elevators that service hundreds of young children is apparently outside the scope of his work.  The hotel portion of the building does sell rooms by the, I refuse to go there.  That way ends only in tears.

So, the unremovable Rockets are still there, and may or may not be causeing elevator malfunctions. In othere news, I have been spending a lot of time on Craigslist.  Since no one (so far) has responded to my resume and coverletter explaining that I will be available for work in October, and that I can only be interviewed over the phone or via Skype (I know, it's a shicker that employers aren't falling all over themselves.) I have migrated over to the for sale section.  I CANNOT WAIT to have an apartment in the US.  Our place here has served us well, but it's small and there's very little I can do to decorate it.  Decor items are absurdly, amazingly, ridiculously overpriced, and any that are not look like they came from the home of Hyacinth Bucket.  No good.  And I can't make stuff because there are no craft stores here! 

Anyway, there's some seriously good stuff on there.  In the past when we were looking for a couch CL was a wasteland of distirbingly stained and torn upholstery, but now that we have no buying power there's tons of great stuff.  I hope that trend continues until we actually get our own place.  And appliances!  I've wanted a Kitchenaid mixer for years, but I've never thought to look on CL.  It may be because it took me so long to get over my jealousy of my mom, who found one at a garage sale for $15.  Yes, not $150, there's no zero missing there.  FIFTEEN.  That woman is seriously lucky.  Never go with her to a party at which you're hoping to win the door prize, because she's gonna win it.  Sometimes I, the fruit of her womb, can wheedle it out of her.  But not with the stand mixer!  Oh well.  When we get back to the US I'll just spend a couple weeks living on rice and PB&J, and then buy one off of CL. 

Now if you're reading this, please don't go onto Craigslist and buy up ALL the awesome stuff.  Okay, you can now, but save some for me this fall.

That's the thing.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 48

Round One: A student wants 24 classes with me, most of them in August, but some in September are okay.  No problem.
Round Two: She wants 24 classes all in August, but only in the morning and no classes from the fifth to the seventeenth.  A squeeze, but if we switch some of her classes with another student, we can make it work.
Round Three: She wants 15 classes to take place on August 2-4, 17-22, and 29-30.  She wants classes only in the morning, and only one class per day.  For those of you following along at home, yes, that's 15 classes in 12 days, when I can only have one class per day.  Please no one else tell me about how the Chinese are beating us in math scores.  On top of all this she wants to schedule this at the last minute in the busiest time of the year.  I don't think this will end well.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 49 (grown-ups only)

I once posted something that had a mention of condoms toward the end and someone (I forget who) got mad because they'd looked at it with their kid.  Come to think of it, this may have happened to someone else.  But it's still relevant.  So here I am clearly stating: don't read this blog post with your kids.  And, if you are rattled by my mentioning condoms, you may just want to scroll on by even if you are a big person.

For those of you who are still there (anyone?) I want to tell you that...Peter made Thai Chicken again.  I had to borrow money from my boss.  Peter got the AC fixed, and Max got a new rawhide.  That's what I did on day 49. 

It is not, however, why chased away the condom people.  The reason is this: in my building there are five elevators, all with drop ceiling lighting.  Right?  So there's a translucent plastic panel, and behind it, a light.  Well, starting not today but yesterday, soneone has started cutting a particular shape out of blue paper, lifting up the panel on the drop ceiling, and sliding this shape behind it so the light illuminates this shape.

Now that, by itself is amazing.  Why do it?  Why choose blue paper?  Why the elevator?  Why why why?  The amazing part is that not only is Blue Rocketship #1 in place, and has been in place ever since yesterday, in spite of hundreds of people riding the elevator, but now Blue Rocketship #2 has appeared in another elevator. 

Anyway, without further adieu, here is Blue Rocketship #2:

Photo quality is not great...but do we really need it to be?

Anyway, why don't I step up (literally) and remove the offending Rocketships myself?  Well, for one I am too short, and I am not interested in bringing my dining chair into the moving elevator and climbing on it.  For another, I don't want to touch the rocketship because who on earth has any idea who made itand where it's been.  But finally a most importantly, I want to see how long the hundreds, yes hundreds of occupants of this building (25 stories, 5 of which are hotels and some of which are businesses or offices) will collectively tolerate the Invasion ofthe Blue Rocketships.

Now that you are sufficiently traumatized, here is a gratuitoous picture of my puppy to re-equilibrialize you:

Aww, isn't he sweet?  Minus 1,000 points to anyone who thought "puppy" was anything other than a baby doggie.  Titus 1:15 on you!

That's the thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 50

We spent all our money on plane tickets, so even though I had the day off we couldn't afford to do anything other than cook and eat fried rice, vegetable curry, and spam soup, and then sit and pretend we're not yet while we run the AC as little as possible.  The AC repaid us by breaking down about a half an hour ago, well after it was possible to get it repaired today.

Peter fussed with it a bit, standing atop a percarious stack of furniture, to which I strongly objected, but he did it anyway and I used all my puerpwers to resist nagging.  Whenever he doesn't heed my warning the next best thing that works is for whatever he does to fail.  Eiter fortunately or unfortunately he did not fall down and damage himself, and his explorations did not further break the AC unit.  He didn't fix it either, though, so now it just drips water all over the futon and wall while we run it, and it's seriously too hot to even think of not running it.

The worst is that the AC broke in this exact same way last year, and we replaced the hose.  Now, a mere 12 months later, it's broken again.  Am I the only one that thinks a thing should stay repaired for more than 12 months?  A part that fails after a year?  Seriously?

So now i have to find someone to hit up for money or sweat for the next 12 days until I get paid.  That's gonna be awesome and not akward at all.

There are 50 days until I get out of here, and they cannot go by fast enough.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 51

Me: Do these flowers look like bacon?
Peter: Yeah, I think it's time we got you some dinner.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Days 53 and 52

Last night my boss invited me out to dinner.  Peter wasn't invited, because that's how they do things in China.  He took me to a candlelit Portugese restaurant.  When I came home, however, the Portugese had apparently decided to take revenge on me for ordering Italian, and I wasn't able to come to the phone, so to speak. 

Today this happened:

Me: ...and we need to pay the rent, and the electric, and the shipping, and eat Bejing Duck at least one more time, and you wanted to go to the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet again.
Peter: Maybe I just want to eat seafood when we get back to the US.
Me: We could stop by the fish market before we leave Seattle.  Or we could go back to Joe's Crab Shack.
Peter: Yeah.  I don't know which one I want.  Look up the menu for Joe's crab shack.
Me: Okay...hey, look, this is the couch I want to buy if we ever have that much money to spend on furniture.
Peter: Okay.
Me: Do you like it?
Peter: I don't care.
Me: You think it's too expensive.
Peter: No, I just don't care.
Me: Just tell me if you like it!
Peter: I don't care.
Me: Well, do you hate it?
Peter: I don't care.
Me: I get that you don't care, just tell me if you will hate it if I ever buy it. 
Peter: I---
Me: Remember, when we go to Joe's I order chicken.  Now tell me that you like this couch and I'll show you a picture of shellfish.
Peter: I quacking love it.

The couch in question is the Tidafors corner sofa in dark brown, because I know someone's reading this and wondering about the couch.  I don't know if we'll ever be the kind of people who pay retail for furniture, but if I were to pay retail for one piece of furniture it would be a good couch in a neutral color.  Also a mattress.  Probably the mattress before the couch, but that's just because I'd prefer to sleep on a marshmallow and Peter thinks concrete has too much give, so we will, one day in the future, probably buy a sleep number bed.  (I'm still hoping he will spontaneously decide he likes memory foam, though!) Or go all Lucy and Ricky.  (If you enver want a giggle, ask Peter to say, "Lucy, I'm home!)

Why am I couch shopping?  We're still almost two months out from the US and probably four to six months out from having our own place, but a girl can dream, can't she?  I've had almost no say over my home's furniture or color scheme for three years, I want to make something pretty, dammit.

Later tonight we are going to watch the olympic opening ceremonies.  I am a little afraid, because Peter showed me the olympic mascot last night, and it's terrifying! 

Right now, however, I am applying for jobs online and Peter is telling me how awesome low-riders are and how much he wants to have one.  Yeah, I'm so ridiculous with my couch.  At least he found a low-rider the color that I want to do our bedroom in.  Because it's best when your urban transportation matches the bedroom drapes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

54 Days

For those of you playing along at home, the cliff's notes version is that I am leaving China in 54 days, and I have decided to post something every day until I go, for no other reason than that I want to.  This may turn out really boring, but we'll see.  It will probably be good for one of us.

The first thing I should tell you is that you shouldn't be OCD about the day count.  We leave September 17th, but because of the international date line we actually arrive in the US before we leave China.  We travel into the future a few hours, and that is just one of many things that makes international travel awesome.

So today I had the day off.  We are, erm, financially handicapped thanks to the price of plane tickets, so we couldn't afford to do much.  Plus I spend my workdays running around in the extreme humidity, so I don't feel like conquering it when it's optional.

Today I woke up from a weird dream at 8:30, which is exceptionally early for me.  I have since forgotten the dream, which is okay with me.  I once started a dream journal because I read that it can help you remember more of your dreams.  However, I have always been afflicted with weird-ass dreams; so yes, a dream journal does make you remember more dreams, and no, that's not always a good thing.

If, upon waking up I rehearse what I dreamed a few times by imagining I am telling others about it (or actually tell others: see about 30% of my Facebook posts) I can usually remember it, but if I don't it's gone.  Sometimes it will come back to me during the day in a random flash, and sometimes not.  For example, the other day my dream about Woolite came back to me on the bus.  In the dream I was somewhere in someone's basement and saw a bottle of Woolite and thought, "Aha!  Just what my homemade laundry detergent needs!"  This proves that I read Pinterest too much. 

I can usually figure out the associations of my dreams.  The other dream from that night was the dream of flossing a mosquito and a tiny, tiny baby shrimp (which often goes in soup around here) out of my teeth.  That one came from the other day when I thought I had something in my teeth during class and I tried to use a piece of my hair to floss it out during the class break.  That's also something I read on Pinterest, but it didn't work because my hair is really fine like a baby's and is not interested in multitasking.

So the thing that happened today is Peter made his So-Good-I-Want-to-be-a-Better-Person Thai Chicken.  Also it's my mom's birthday, so if you know her you better call her or wish her a good one on my dad's Facebook wall, because my mom is vintage and doesn't mess around with social media.  Now Max is asleep on the floor with a rawhide beside him, like when a binky falls out of a baby's mouth.  Peter and I are arguing about whether we should spend the evening playing Chinese Checkers or play poker for Monopoly money.  Yes, I have Monopoly money with me in China, yes that is one of the many reasons I am awesome, and yes, poker is the obvious choice because I can never ever beat Peter at Chinese Checkers.  I suspect it's rigged.



Since I am going back to the US I decided a little bloggety update was necessary, since I can't be China Excerpts when I'm living in Portland.  Also I have slacked off shamefully on writing any excerpts, so now is a good time to start in anouther direction.  The first confession I will compulsively make is that I titled this post "Respawn" not because I know a whole lot about video games (it's video games, right?) but because it is the title of an episode of 30 Rock and that's where I know it from, and ism't that just a little telling and a whole lot sad. 

So I went ahead and changed three things: the title, the background picture, and one of the fonts.  I left the blog title font alone because when I think yes it does come out in text and yes this is pretty much what it looks like.  So that's a win.  Changing three things qualifies as a relaunch, right?  That's what they keep doing with the iPhone.  (Okay, to be fair, every cell phone.  And every reality TV show.  And Windows, too.  Damn, things are getting telling again.)

So for me the time is going both quickly and slowly.  I tried to explain this to Peter and he laughed at me.  He can see my brain-font, so he sometimes laughs.  Anyway it made no sense to him, but it's about to make sense to you when I tell you that I feel like each day goes on for-ev-er, but that I keep saying things like, "Wow, June's already half-over!"  I have a day countdown written in dry erase marker on my ridiculous sliding glass kitchen door, and I feel like I update it often, but there are still so many days lurking on there!  I have no energy when I am at work, but tons as soon as I manage to wangle a day off, like today.  So I write spastic blog posts and choose background images that are, let's face it, disturbingly bright and pink, even though they kind of work. 

To be short, my dear chickens, I have shorttimer's disease.  I'm sure you've diagnosed me already.  I am getting a bit of shorttimer's goggles (aww, soon I won't get to do this awesome thing anymore) but mostly I am ready to go and start a new chapter.  So I decided that, starting from 50 days to go, I would post every day about something that happened, banal or amazing.  Then it was today and I was bored so I decided that 54 days is good enough.  However, since I am a little OCD, I will be ending this post here and starting another so I can title it 54 days.  Watch out, here it comes!