Category Archives: China

About China

Freaking out less


Jeez. If you thought I was waddling before (which you probably weren’t because you’re not here), you should see me now. I’m like a caricature of a pregnant lady. I groan and struggle to get out of bed (mind you, the bed is on the floor and about 6 inches tall) 4 or 5 times a night to pee. I can’t remember anything, it’s like the baby ate my brain. I did laundry today and forgot the last load in the dryer. I didn’t realize until hours later when I gave up finding the matches to 2 pairs of socks and went back to the laundry room to see if I left them there. I did not remember this load until I opened up the dryer to see if I’d left the socks there and found the whole bundle. It’s a good thing I found it, because if another person had taken these clothes, they would have got my only remaining pair of comfortable pants. I don’t really think it’s nice of me to assume another fellow Berkeley Student Family Housing Resident would steal my clothes, but in the first week here I washed a lovely flowered dishtowel that Mom got me at Powell’s Books for Cooks and left it folded in the laundry room, only to find it taken (or what, thrown away?) that evening.

So that’s a rambling paragraph to say my pelvis is uncomfortable. Jesse and I went to a childbirth class yesterday. He’s been studying so diligently that I think the 8 hours we spent together learning how to relax and how freaky birth is was like a little vacation for him. He kept saying what a good time he was having. The class definitely made me feel better about giving birth, but made me start to worry about the weeks after and being lonely. I think I’m going to need to be driving up to Redding every few weeks for some company. Jesse has some good friends here and we’ve seen them a few times, but they’re living a different lifestyle than we are. We’ve also met a bunch of other very nice fellow student families, but meeting somebody once or twice does not make them a friend to go to for comfort and reassurance. I’m glad the holidays are in the next few months so we have family vacations to look forward to. Also, Oakland airport is very close and a cheap place to fly into on Southwest. Come on over! San Francisco awaits your visit a short BART ride under the bay. Also, Berkeley has fan-damn-tastic food.

Thanks so much to Melissa and Megan for your reassurances after my last post. You’d think once a girl was 31, she’d have too many baby hand-me-downs than she knows what to do with, but you 2 are the only ones of my friends and family to have jumped on the baby train. Yours and all the other gifts we’ve received are not only kind, but extremely helpful. Thank you cards are coming! I just have to buy some stamps.

Also, my completed *52 books list* is up! I have got time, time, time on my hands tonight as Jesse is working at reading his 900+ pages of stuff and preparing a presentation for one class and a paper for another. (Hey, did you know in Grad school “classes” are called “seminars”? Whatever.)

So the booklist, in somewhat chronological order is available for your perusal. Questions and commentary welcome unless your question is, “Aren’t you embarrassed for reading all three books by Meg Cabot about a girl who is not skinny and also reading them almost straight in a row?” To which I would answer, “You try moving to China and only getting your hands on quality literature that is also interesting and being a bit lonely and also not skinny.” But still, don’t ask such questions, because I can only talk back so rudely to myself, not to you my kind friends and family.

And that is all for tonight.


Baby and Vacation


Gah! I did the “worried pregnant lady” thing today and called the doctor to ask questions about some minor weird little things from the past few days (do you really want to know? Are you all women out there? I’ll tell those of you that would want to know on the phone, how’s that?). She surprised and scared me by telling me I should have come in immediately! It’s my third trimester! I have to be careful! Come to the office! Gah!

First off, of course, nothing is wrong.

So after a short cry (she scared me) while I was changing out of my houseclothes (boxers and a ripped up old t-shirt of Jesse’s) I got in a cab to the doctor’s office to see a giggling, 50-something, French ObGyn. They went through all the motions; weight check, blood pressure, pee in a cup, etc., and then took a look at my cervix, which was, as always, pronounced very healthy. It’s actually quite reassuring to have always been told how healthy my lady-parts are. They always get praise.

And then I got another ultrasound. Score! I have another set of pictures of a chubby baby face. I asked the technician how the size of the baby was and it’s measuring just right – 60th percentile or somewhere around there and somehow from measuring around it’s head and body and legs or something like that, she came up with a weight of 1.23kg which is somewhere over 2 lbs.

All together, it was a good time! All is well in my uterus. I jumped the gun on my scheduled monthly appointment, which was next week, so they canceled that and have decided to check my cervix (great) just once more a day before I fly.

Geez, I’m sorry. I think I’m rather single-mindedly tuned in to all-baby-all-the-time talk these days. There must be more I can share with you. Ah, yes! I taught my last class at Jesse’s school yesterday, finishing up a course I created for beginning students where we read, discussed, and played around with some short (simple) stories. It was fun and I’m going to miss those students. Jesse’s really darn excited about coming home, too, but feels he’s going to miss teaching quite a bit. You know what? He’s a very good teacher.

Oh, also, we went on a little mini-vacation this last week. We took a 4 hour bus ride to the base of the nearest mountains to Shanghai (hills, really, but craggy ones) and then a taxi up the mountain to a small town. The “taxi” was actually a mini-mini-van (smaller than my honda) and the road barely fit two of them to pass. We careened up the mountain around hairpin turns so tight they had mirrors to see who might be coming and a 20 km/h speed limit. Our driver went around 40km/h despite his engine starting to steam (or smoke?) alarmingly about halfway up.

Once there we settled into our very nice and clean hotel and found a sandwich to eat at a “lodge” ran by a foreigner. It was not so hot as Shanghai, but really steamy and thunderstormy. We went for a walk around some trails and through bamboo forest, but after my 7th mosquito bite, found a place to have a real lunch. After our lunch of bamboo and tofu, we returned to the hotel and reclined in the steaminess and read our books. For hours. It was awesome.

We had a late dinner of some more bamboo (don’t get me wrong, all this bamboo was delicious) and egg and something else. Back in our hotel we rinsed off in the shower and drifted off early, like barely after 9pm.

Jesse (purposely) woke up at sunrise (this means 4:30am in China) and took a walk through the forest, getting some really fantastic pictures. He came back around 7:30, just as I was waking up. I went in the bathroom to pee, at which point the power went out and I accused Jesse of turning the light out on me. The power never came back on, but it made no difference, except we missed having the fan. Also? The proprietors never mentioned it even when we were checking out, despite the lights flickering on and off while we were chatting with them.

We had an awesome traditional English breakfast at the “lodge” and read our books again for a few hours before a taxi came to careen us back down the hill. We had been up in the mountains for exactly 24 hours. After another bumpy, swervy, horn-honking, 4 hour bus ride, we were back in Shanghai and grabbing some McDonald’s to go for dinner.

And that was our vacation! Actually quite relaxing and beautiful.



Today I am teaching a CLASS! Ack! I have picked up a class at Jesse’s school and will be teaching about Culture (but mostly about speaking English) 3 afternoons a week and, though I am prepared, I am nervous. And having a hard time finding anything professional to wear. My one collared shirt and one pair of non-denim, non-cargo pants will only last me one day of class and then what do I wear? Also, these items don’t fit so very, very well, so I will be uncomfortable. Gah! Also, it’s exciting!



I’ve spent my workday in the posh euro cafe next to Jesse’s work and what a nice day it’s been. There’s a vase full of bright orange/red gerber daisies smiling at me, and I’ve been told by 2 people (though one of them was my husband) that I am beautiful (and the other was a random dude riding on the tail of a friend’s moped, I was both indignant and flattered). I am also wearing the lovely jade necklace Jesse got me for my birthday and I’m in a skirt, yay, spring!

I’ve finished working and next I will go next door to the school and say hi here and there. Jesse’s coworker (and boss, actually) invited me to attend Easter Sunday Church with her (she’s a regular) and I’ve said yes, but think a bit of Easter brunch or dinner might be nice, too. She has a bigger place, so I’m working up the nerve (haven’t I always been kind of nervy? Where did my nerve go?) to do the unthinkable and invite ourselves over to another’s house, though I will give her many escape hatches.

What else? I’m getting sooooo very excited about the upcoming months of visitors. Welcome to China! Here’s your bout of diarrhea! Speaking of, Jesse I have felt under the weather (or over the toilet) the past couple of days again. Ugh.

On that disgusting note, I’ll leave you to your day. Much love to all!



Hi! I know I haven’t written in a while, but I’m fine. I’m good! I’ve actually been really busy doing a lot of…well…not much! And it’s nice to do not much. We had a lazy weekend. We went to the Urban Planning Museum, which Momm and Dad saw when they were here and Dad felt it was rather more like an “Urban Propaganda Museum”. We agree, with the added comment that it gave us much cause for yawning. Not that it was all that boring (it was definitely not that exciting, mind you), but it had that “museum air” that I remember from working at OMSI. Something to do with recycled air, maybe less oxygen, the same thing happens in a big mall, I think. I definitely do not find shopping boring, but it is yawny.

I have spent a good amount of time on the phone the past few weeks, catching up with some friends, finally. I’m terrible at keeping in contact with people and I’m lucky that my friends aren’t so great at it either, because they don’t fault me for it. I can get on the phone with Emily or Mary or Heidi after not speaking to them for a year plus and it’s no problem. We all hope one day to live close enough that we don’t have to rely on email/phone type communication and can just get together now and again. If anybody wondered, they are all well.

I also have very exciting news in the form of BIG PLANS being made and plane tickets bought for assorted visitors planning to come to Shanghai. So far, the plan is Heidi in April, Erin and Adam in May, and Nick and Abby in June. There may also be a cousin or two in there somewhere. I feel so lucky!

OK, I’ve got to go out a get a little something to make for dinner. I am still reading and plan on updating my 52 books list soon. I’m a bit afraid to find out how behind I am.

Daddy, This One’s For You


We had an absolutely gorgeous day today! It must have been over 50, clear blue skies (very unusual in Shanghai) with a gentle, springy breeze. Ahhhhh! And I got to spend it all with my sweetie! Jesse is still spoiling me, though it’s post-birthday now, so we spent the day completely relaxing. We walked a bit, sat around a lot, read our books, and sipped hot beverages most of the day. Now he’s studying Chinese next to me while I tippity-tap a bit on my computer. I wish every day were the weekend.

I’m 31 now, which seems just a bit old for someone who still claps her hands in excitement and likes exotically flavored chap sticks. But you know what? It’s OK! I don’t mind at all being a bit older. I’m pretty happy with all I’ve done thus far in life, and I’m sure glad I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to enjoy it. I’m pleased with the five years I invested in a career at OMSI, and I’m also glad I left and have had the opportunity to see so much more. Our year in Japan was amazing and eye-opening and sometimes, I miss it so very much. My students were sweet and so crazy, Hachinohe was beautiful and we made fantastic friends.

Our short but sweet months in Spain we so very awesome. Living and studying in Europe! With your love! It was, far and away, the most romantic months of my life. Once we’d moved home to Portland, Jesse and I both felt a bit at odds with ourselves, what to do now? We got random jobs, took an embarrassingly long time to move out of Erin and Adam’s apartment and, ultimately, both ended up back in school. Jesse got a second Bachelor’s and I had a fantastic time learning Chemistry (Biology, Microbiology, A & P) and working my butt off to learn it well. We had so much fun hanging out with my expanding family and reconnecting with old friends.

And now here we are taking it to the next level, folks, living in crazy Shanghai, loving and learning even more about each other every day. CHEERS! To living my life to it’s fullest! I can’t wait to take it to the next level and see where we go from here.

I was talking to Momm and Daddy today and he told me how very much he enjoys reading my updates. He said I write in my voice and he can hear me laughing when he reads them. That makes me feel so good! This one’s for you, Daddy.



Sniff. Sigh. Oh, hi. I don’t feel good. Yes, please feel sorry for me. I got a cold last night, I’m so very stuffed up, headachy, bodyachy, chilled, and my stomach is a bit out of sorts, too. While I’m at it, I’m also hungry, tired, and Jesse had the gall to go out shopping without me (I didn’t want to go) for my birthday (yay)!

Sniffle. Things here are going along as normal. The new year celebrations were crazy and loud – it sort of sounds like the end of the world, or maybe the beginning. For at least 20 minutes, 10 before midnight and 10 after, there was steady, deafening explosions from firecrackers all over the city. It was wild. We did go out for our little piece of good luck and Jesse set off a long string of firecrackers. Mostly we watched, though.

Jeez, I’m so wiped out. Snort! (stuck kleenex up nose) I think I’m going to move over to the couch and feel sorry for myself while watching some Alias. Love to all!