Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Weather is Here

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It’s so lovely out!  Still humid and just warm enough that if you don’t mind getting a tiny bit sweaty, you can wear pants.  I didn’t know I would so hanker for the wearing of pants.  I suppose what we’ve heard is true, there are 2 nice seasons in Shanghai, spring and fall, and they each last under a month.  I’m so, so happy not to be sweaty.

We also have a couch and a chair (can sit down in our apartment!) and the washing machine is fixed, so clean clothes are drying outside.  Imagine you just packed your favorite clothes, then sweated in them for almost 3 weeks.  We are very, VERY glad to have the washer going.

I’ve heard from many sources that a bowel bug, once established, can take a month or more to completely work it’s way out, so…that’s the round-a-bout way of saying I may be out of whack for a little while yet.  I don’t feel awful or anything, just not normal.

There’s a short update for you.  I’ve got to get out of my laundry doing clothes to go to IKEA.  We’re going to get more house stuff as we still don’t have utensils, plates, cups, etc..

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Best Diet Ever

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Are you ready for this?  Best diet EVER, folks.  First, you run out of the house in the morning to make it to the landlords office before running to meet Jesse’s coworkers to go for a visit to the foreign bookstore.  It’s important for the diet’s effectiveness for it to be 90 degrees F with 60% humidity.  The landlord says they will send a plumber “after noon”.  Oh yes, also it’s necessary to have a broken toilet.  And also, remember your wacked out bowels?  After half an hour at the bookstore (yes, there were foreign books there, it was great), you leave so you can have time to navigate the subway to get back by noon and maybe find a western toilet somewhere so you may…use it.

You find a toilet (incidentally, it is at a coffee shop with blended coffee, so you have a nice, cold, expensive drink for the way home – for maximum weightloss, skip this step), and also find the subway, trying on very cute shoes on the way.  Once home, and very sweaty, you wait, look at clock, wait, think about thirst, wait, think about peeing, and wait.

Then the guy comes, spends 5 minutes cursing at toilet and leaves, giving you instructions in Chinese which you don’t understand.

Then more people come, they don’t speak English but they do put in the ADSL (internet!  At home!  This is me right now, complaining to you from home!) and ask you to “please stay” for the water guy.  He comes and they also bring me a key to the washing machine, which doesn’t work, so they say they will be coming back (“please stay”) to fix it.  Also they have said 1st that plumber didn’t have time so don’t use toilet until tomorrow.  Jesse (assisting by phone) says, no, we cannot wait and have no toilet.  Next they say, don’t use it now, but wait for 4 hours.  You nod and say OK, but you know 4 hours is too long.

At this point, it is 3pm and you have nothing to eat in the house.   You bladder is full, your stomach (read “colon”) really hurts and it all just about sucks.  It may be an effective diet, but I don’t recommend it.

A lot has been taken care of so far this afternoon, but I am totally too busy feeling sorry for my hungry, sick, hot self to appreciate it.  Bah.

Chicken-wich

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I just had the very best sandwich in my taste bud’s recent memory. The europosh cafe calls it a teppanyaki chicken burger, but the only burger-y thing about it was the bun (it also came with french fries, which looked and tasted only like roasted potatoes). Chicken marinated in something, cooked juicy with little crispy burned bits and dressed up with an abundance of cheese and a slice of roasted tomato. Granted, I was very hungry, but this was above and beyond any chicken sandwich expectation. Jesse had a burger here the other day and said it was the best hamburger of his life. Also, he was very hungry.

I’m having a tough time finding Mandarin classes. It’s all too expensive. I’d be spending almost as much on Chinese classes as I’m making at AFS, darn it.

This working for AFS thing is a mess, too. They have been ready for me to start work for more than a week, but the phone guys haven’t come to hook up our internet yet. Everyday we’re given the vague expectation, “The phone company may go to your house today,” but they seem no more reliable than the phone company at home! Now we’re told tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) and I’ve been asked to stay home from 1 – 5pm, which is nothing they’ve asked of me before. Maybe this is the real thing?

We did get cell phones and we do have an address, so once I’ve figured out what these are, I’ll pass them along to all of you, so you can call (yeah, I know, slim chance) or write (even slimmer). I am happy to get simple, “Hello, we’re still here in _____ and doing _____” type emails.

Ummm, what else? Oh yes! The women’s world cup! We got a TV yesterday, just in time for me to watch the semi-finals this evening. I’m not sure how it happens that I’m a soccer-on-TV-watcher, but it’s addictive. Also, I don’t need to understand Chinese to know what’s going on. Now, if I were watching the cricket finals (which will no doubt be on), that would be frustrating. I watched a bit of a game and it was crazy, people. It’s like part golf, part baseball, part dodgeball and all funny looking.

OK, this post is going nowhere fast. Later folks! Wait, though, can you tell me if that picture of Daniel and Olivia was on that post the other day? It won’t show up for me, but neither will a lot of stuff I look at here. Like Flickr! No flickr in China.

Great Firewall of China

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Bad news about my new page, folks.  It appears that wordpress is blocked by the great firewall of china, also known as the great pain in the arse.  I’d started up a blogger page that I thought would be my link to you all, but was told by a friend here that it was blocked.  So I started one here on wordpress (nicer than blogger, I might add) and now I can’t get in half the time.

Don’t think me down for the count just yet.  I’ll get you yet, China.  Obviously, these ramblings are dangerous to the integrity of the Chinese.  Or something.  Damn it.

I have to go, but will work something out!

Happy autumn festival moon watching day.

Almost A Weekend

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Since our first weekend here was spent with Jesse and I sweating, shivering, visiting the toilet and getting good and tired of Chinese TV as soon as possible, this second weekend I planned on seeing some touristy Shanghai.  Saturday, we ended up spending much of the day at Jesse’s work, which we’re starting to realize may not be so very unusual in the future.  On Sunday, we did finally make it out and about, despite an awesome, heavily raining morning.  We started out the morning getting coffee, then went to a Manchurian restaurant where we had dumplings of every color and flavor and stewed pork knuckle.  It was very good and only a little weird.  The knuckle came with a bright orange bendy-straw to suck the marrow out of the bone, but by the time Jesse got up the nerve to try this, it had cooled off and was gross and disturbing.  We plan to take Momm and Dad there, maybe they’ll be braver.

Though our stomachs (bowels, really) are still not normal and mine was acting up on Sunday (no, it was not the sight of all the other patrons slurping at their bendy-straws) we still decided to go for a further stroll to Jing-An Temple.  It was originally built 300-something AD or BC, a long time ago, anyway, but like almost every temple we visited in Japan, had burned down completely sometime in the last 200 years and was re-built.  During the cultural revolution, it was stripped of it’s Buddhist status (whatever that means, the guidebook said it) and used as a plastics factory.  Plastics factory!

It had lovely woodwork and the fancy tiled roofs and gilded Buddhas here and there, but was crowded with visitors and construction workers and was dirty and concreted everywhere.  There were many people bowing with smoking sticks and the glossy glass and steel skyscrapers all around the temple made for an awesome juxtaposition.  Of course, we forgot the camera.

All’s well, though we would both like to know when we’ll stop having crampy episodes.

Here’s a picture of Olivia and Daniel.  I wish I were home to hug them.

Olivia and Daniel

I made money today

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I worked on some AFS stuff for about 2 hours today and it was immensely satisfying to do work and know I was earning some money. I know it’s not exactly the spirit of traveling, but sitting in the euro cafe working on all the applications I used in Portland makes China seem hardly foreign at all. It’s nice, so nice.

The owner of the cafe is a Chinese national that lived in San Diego for a number of years. She’s leaving in a week or so to go to the US for 2 weeks. They’re going to drive all the way up 101 from San Diego to Vancouver. I’ve never done that but always thought it would be the awesomest way to see the west coast. Don’t you think it would be better to take 3 or 4 weeks, though?

Anyhoo, we got the nice apartment, but are realizing how dirty it is (it’s just been entirely remodeled, but it appears to have not been cleaned up during the process – dusty). Also, we have to buy pots, pans, towels, rugs, etc.. Everything you need to make a place a home, but it seems silly to spend all the money to use this stuff for s year.

OK, I’m off to try to find a Mandarin School. I’m ready to start trying to understand all the jabberwocky round me. Love to all!

OH! And Leif’s baby is Daniel Christopher Webb and he’s beautiful. And tiny!

Baby Boy!

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Leif and Melissa had a baby boy! A baby boy! I just got the email from Erin, he’s unnamed just yet and is 6lbs, 15oz and oh! I just want to cry. Part happy, part so sad that I’m missing it. I can’t wait to see some pictures! Oh, please, Leif, bring on the pictures.  And a name, please.  I hear that Olivia loves to hold him and strokes his head and sings to him.  I’d like a picture of that, please.

The news came at almost the same time as I heard from Mommm and Dad that their new dog, Sookie, found and ate a couple packages of rat poison.  She is fine after going to the vet and horking up 2 huge piles of poison and being fed a lot of charcoal, but jeez.  What a right doofus, that new puppy is.  I think Momm and Dad are happy to have a new crazy, goofy, naughty puppy to play with.

On the side, I do know how to spell ‘mom’.  Mine is so special, she gets extra ‘M’s.

I am again in the chic euro cafe (called ‘Amokka’, an odd, coffee-type word that doesn’t hail from any one language as far as I can tell), the only place I can get internet so far.  I think, I THINK we are moving into our new apartment this afternoon at 2:40pm.  Not 2:30, mind you, 2:40.  We may not yet have internet for awhile.  In fact, our first week is free, because we probably only will have a TV or a couch or a mattress so far.  The apartment comes “furnished” but was unfurnished when we rented it, so it’ll take them awhile to get it all outfitted.  I’m hoping, though not counting on, all the furniture being new.  That would be a treat indeed.  I can’t emphasize you grody some of the apartments we saw were.  We got very, very lucky with this one.

It will be far (about 25 minute walk?) from Jesse’s work and this cafe (they are 2 feet from each other), but I may just make the trek, anyway.  It has already started to feel familiar and that is a rare feeling in a foreign country.  I had ‘my familiar places’ in Japan and in Spain, too.  Places where they recognize you, seem glad to see you and understand your strange never-quite-native talky-speak.

Alright folks, I’m done and gone.  I’ve got a few pressing emails to answer and some business with the bathroom. We are still not back to normal in the basement of our guts and may go to the Dr. tomorrow, as it will have been a week of “unrest” for me and nearly that for Jesse James.

A BABY BOY, YAHOOIE!!!