28 July, 2017

It's a good life.

When I told Brett I was ready to start celebrating my birthday - because life is hard, and every year is an accomplishment - all I wanted was one gift, and a meal out. 

The gift came early, because I thought I would use it going to and from Drama Camp, but the camp location was moved, and I've only used it locally so far.
It's a Segway-mini! I'm told they were banned in the US.







Just one small part of the hike.
Drama Camp just ended days ago, and in the meantime, Monster Jam has been setting up in Beijing. Brett happens to be facebook friends with someone on the crew, so he's been running around finding things to show them and going out at night. Two days ago, there was a problem at the stadium, so his new friends were given the afternoon off, and they wanted to visit the Great Wall. My workday finished at before 1pm, so we joined them. The Day Before My Birthday! I immediately decided that, since lunch was the big celebratory meal ON my birthday, it was valid to count the 24 hours prior - which included this day. I finally got to the Great Wall - FOR MY BIRTHDAY! 

This particular section - within an hour of Beijing - is mostly stairs, so not everyone climbed. I'm proud to say that, although I was huffing and puffing like the 3pigs' wolf, I led the pack in the hike. BOOYAH! We climbed 58 flights before having to turn back due to time.


That flower? Duck meat. It's an art.
After that, the group wanted an authentic Beijing Duck dinner, so I had that - FOR MY BIRTHDAY! It's my 3rd time eating true Beijing Duck, but it never gets old. Even Brett, not a duck fan in the US, enjoys it here. 

Pretty cool birthday! No singing, no "birthday cake", but at the end, someone mentioned it, and the whole group did wish me happy birthday. God bless Brett, he prevented them from singing.

Next day, my actual birthday. I knew where I wanted to go for birthday lunch - to a genuine German restaurant we discovered, with quality food and truly German bier. Really, I think Germany doesn't export to the US because the primary American exported beer is Bud. Seriously. Not an impressive export.
Bier, Bavarian pretzel, spaetzel, other stuff. German.
Apfel Strudel. I have never had a pastry feel un-fattening like this.


As we walked away from the German place, I saw an amazing, huge, swan-decorated cake in the window of some place called "Black Swan" and walked closer to the window. Brett said, "uh-oh. They see you. You're getting invited in." I said, "nah, they're just working."

But his view and assumption was correct. A lovely lady opened the door and invited me inside. Into this WHOA! - Hyper-Expensive cake shop. Holy crap. There were small cakes on sale for the equivalent of several hundred dollars!  Apple Strudel or no, I had not yet had any "birthday cake" so I perused the single serving counter and plumped for a "rose-framboise" (rose & raspberry) slice of cake. The equivalent of $8 for one small piece. BUT... they served it with taste samples of several macaroons and pieces of chocolate, so there you go.
Cake, and macaroon & chocolate.












Pretty cool, for someone who never celebrates their birthday, huh?

It occurred to me that my birthday will always fall during Brett's school summer break. We could take vacations to random exotic locales every year! His birthday is stuck during school term, but we could maybe do weekend trips to Chinese places for his birthday. It could become a very cool tradition. 

This morning, after we woke up, Brett said, "It's still your birthday in the States..." and sure enough, I had a voice message from a friend wishing me happy birthday. I could get used to this.

It's a good life.

19 July, 2017

Birthdays

I went to one Chinese child's 1st birthday shortly after arriving in China. There were several children and a large group of parents. It was at a restaurant with a separate place where kids could run and play. There was cake. 

This past week, the little girl I tutor turned 3. A couple weeks ago, her mom asked if I'd be free to join them to celebrate her birthday. Cool! Yes! She didn't mention Brett although we've all had dinner together before. So I guessed this might be a similar party to the one I attended months ago - with a few friends, and maybe some of the girl's other teachers. (At 2 years, she takes art, music, gym, and English. That I know of. Maybe more.)

Last week, I asked to clarify, and she said it was just us - Brett and I invited to dinner. Oh!

Her husband travels a lot with work, and I think he enjoys being around a legitimate English speaker. Maybe. I don't know. But it's always "when my husband comes back from [Nanjing, Shanghai, Canada...] we will take you out for [hotpot, Beijing duck, fish]." So I assume hubs is the influence in these decisions.

I'm not big on my own birthday, but most little kids I've met LOVE their birthday! They love the attention, the singing, the candles, the cake, the presents - everything!

Little one here didn't even know what it meant. We all kept saying "happy birthday" but she had no concept that this was all about her. It seemed bizarre. I had bought some sticker books in English for her - something educational, but fun, and not just a book to read with "teacher". Her mom let her open one while we waited for dad, and she loved it. Didn't recognize it as a birthday gift though.

I'm baffled. Why not?

Is it a religion thing? I don't know their religion, if they even practice one. Are they Jehovah's Witnesses? The Jehovah's Witnesses seem to be doing well here. Of all the people I've met in China who are a-religious, I have also met THREE Jehovah's Witnesses! I only know one Christian, besides myself and Brett. 

...and were "they" also saying happy birthday? Maybe it was just me.

How do I handle this? Should I ask, when I see her tomorrow? Did I just commit a faux pas? There was no thank you, so maybe they are just letting the water wash under the bridge. I'm so confused.

15 July, 2017

The End is Near

Again, my good intentions backfired.

I have one good friend who is flying to the Midwest to see us during our upcoming trip. One friend. Just one. 

I feel a little guilty about not being 100% thrilled that she's visiting during almost the entire duration of our stay with my parents, but - Just One Friend! So I've been focused on being THRILLED that she'll be there - she is an awesome friend.

We are less than 3 weeks before the trip, so I thought it would be kind to give her advance notice - since she *is* flying, after all - letting her know we may be delayed in picking her up from the airport, because of lunch with friends from church. I neglected to provide her with the script. In my head, it was like this:

Me: Hi! Just a heads up, but we might be delayed in picking you up, because of lunch after church. Don't forget to bring a book - at least our airport is ranked one of the best!
Her: Okay - thanks! No problem. See you when I see you!

Not knowing the script, she responded with, "Well, I don't want to wait at any airport, no matter how highly ranked."

Wow. 

To be fair, this is a person who expects the best, and always provides the best. Waiting is not her game. My mistake was assuming my previous assertion that we are keeping a very loose and flexible timeline carried any weight.

Also to be fair, I am a TINY BIT stressed, but I've not been sharing the stress on social media. So perhaps my emotional response to her rudeness is disproportionate.

So I am just going to stay off social media. No more heads-ups to anyone. My trip is my trip. Next time we're in the country, I might just not tell anyone!

06 July, 2017

Better Late Than Never

I've been neglectful. Here I spent such good effort rebuilding my blogging habit, and it has dwindled. Guess I need another challenge. These last couple weeks I haven't even visited my blogroll as much as I'd like. 

Truthfully, I have been really busy. We went to this "Mandarin Mixer" on the 24th, and since then we've checked out three different Mandarin schools and their language classes. I'm ready to commit, but not until after we return from the States.

Plus, my primary job has been bleeding into home-life with extra tasks to prepare for more video recordings.

Plus, the audio recording guy re-discovered my number and I've been down at his studio for several hours a week the last couple weeks.

Plus, I have two drama camps coming this month that I'm preparing for. I finally finished the scripts and sent them to my Chinese counterpart. One camp will do an altered version of Jack and the Beanstalk, called Jackie and the Chili-stalk. The second camp will do an original play of my own devising, based on the poem The Owl and the Pussycat. I'm quite proud of it, but may have laced it with too many inside jokes.

Plus, did I mention we're planning a visit to the US? We're within the last 4 weeks prior to departure. I bought a new suitcase last weekend.

But it's okay.
It's all good.
I'm getting very good at focusing on the moment.

At the moment, it's raining outside. A steady downpour. I walked home from the subway in it after another voice recording session.

At the moment, I'm working on a yearbook for a private preschool - Oh yeah, another project that was dropped on me a week ago, for their graduation in a month. (School years are so random.)

At the moment, I REALLY want some popcorn. Preferably air-popped, but I'd take any salty popcorn. It's all sweet here! Crazy.

At the moment, I'd better get back to the yearbook. I just needed a momentary break.

20 June, 2017

The Debate Rages On

Remember back in the 70s, when the US was going to switch to metric? I remember having to learn a little bit about it - millimeters, centimeters, decimeters, meters. Our thermometer had both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and I didn't quite get it.

In college when I learned about degrees Kelvin, I realized that Fahrenheit is the better, more precise measurement. And now I live that every day. ...Live, knowing that Fahrenheit is superior, but having to use Celsius. I don't really know if Celsius is technically "metric", but they seem linked.

The WHOLE WORLD uses Metric. With the exceptions of Myanmar - a screwed up military regime which, let's face it, has very little credibility, Liberia - a tiny African nation which was founded by American President Monroe, and of course, the good ol' USA.

I'm guessing the only reason we didn't join the rest of the world in going metric is because we're big enough that we don't have to. Think of the headaches and financial loss to have to change EVERYTHING we use, across the board!

Here are things that have messed with me in China, by being metric when I was not prepared for it:

1. Bed linens. No "queen, king, double..." How many cm? We decided our bed is about as wide as a queen, but a few cm short.

2. Measuring cups & spoons. Seriously! Do you know how many ml in a cup? I found some empirical measuring cups for my own recipes.

3. Paper. Click "print" in any document. We use A4 - which is about 8.28" x 11.8". My computer still defaults to empirical units, so I have to switch it over each time. Oh, it would print anyway, but I prefer to see an accurate pre-print image. This one item: paper - impacts EVERYTHING - planner pages, notebooks, posters, mail, file folders, banker boxes...

4. Picture frames. I brought several lovely 9x13 prints with me, determined that I need to look for frames in 23x31, BUT the closest I can find are 21x30. So I had to trim the pictures anyway.

Those are just a few odd things I noticed, apart from when my students asked me how tall I was, and looked blank when I said 5'10". 178cm gets a big reaction, though.


Tsingtao Draft
On the plus side, beer comes in half-liter cans!

I think in terms of Celsius now. I speak in Celsius. I don't do a fancy conversion in my head, but over 30 is hot, 25 is nice weather, 15 is getting cold, etc. This beer can says "5*C-25*C". 25*C is ridiculously warm for beer, in my American opinion! But, that's usually how they drink it.

Kilometers still throw me off. Then again, even State-side, I judge distance by time more often than by miles. Fortunately, I don't drive anywhere.

18 June, 2017

When That "Self-worth" Bubble Bursts

Just a short Five-Minute Friday post. On these posts, I follow the one-word prompt from  Five Minute Friday.  
 
If you want to join, click that link. (It's a new link,  if you've tried before.) Every Friday is a new word, and the only rules are:  Write for 5 minutes.  Link your post there.  (You have a whole week to get your post up.) It's pretty cool, when I remember to do it. A great community feeling.

This week's one-word is "Worth". 

  
Timer starting...


I have recently been sent into reflection questioning my own worth. I saw a friend harming herself and abandoning her goals - I'd watched for a while, actually, and never spoke up because I know there are bigger issues at play. After months - over a year - I finally, last week, reminded her of her original goal, which seems to have been abandoned.

Perhaps - no, clearly - I chose the wrong words. My intention was pure. I have been part of supposed "accountability" groups which quickly turn into "pat everyone on the back for being lesser than they could be" groups instead of "encourage everyone to step up toward their goals" groups. Drives me crazy and I leave the group. I seek accountability!

We have been friends for decades, so I knew she'd take my nudge in the correct spirit.
Wrong.
She said I was being superior, and assumed judgment.

She has no idea that I am a fragile human under my outward appearance of strength. I've been in tears for two days. What is the point of my life if not to encourage others? How can I bring value to anyone's life if all I ever do is say "you are great"?

I know a handful of people who will faithfully argue that I - my own deeply flawed self - have worth. But right now, I doubt it with every fiber of my being. 

Stop.

17 June, 2017

I'm Really Big in China

(This may not be something you want your youngsters reading, fyi.)
(Not "dirty" or NSFW content, but read before sharing.)

Not me.

As an American in China, I am a minority. In many ways. I stand out. Not just as one of a few pink-skinned Caucasians.
I am tall. Even for a white girl.
I have red hair.
I have green eyes.
I have a visible tattoo.
I wear makeup.

AND... I am "blessed in the chest." I put that in quotation marks because it is more often a curse - just ask most naturally "gifted" women.


We've been here over eight months, and only a limited amount of clothing came with us. The time finally arrived that I decided to bite the bullet and buy a bra. In the States, buying a bra isn't daunting. I know my size. Here, not only am I several sizes larger than the vast majority of the female population, I have no clue about their sizing! (You'd think it was metric, but you'd be wrong.)
Their bra sizing chart. WTF?

There's a little, free-standing, lingerie shop that I sometimes walk past on the major road nearby. I've always wanted to go in, but was scared because of my lack of language skills. The other day, they had a table out front with, presumably, sale items on it. I stopped. 
We stopped. I was with Brett. (His perspective is different.)

Years ago, I worked for Victoria's Secret. I know a thing or two about bra-fitting. My best friend now works for another undergarment brand and swears they have a better method which is hyper-accurate.

Dude. There is no bra-fitting like a Chinese bra-fitting. I don't know if it's "hyper-accurate" - there was no tape measure to be seen anywhere. Just tiny Chinese hands.

I was escorted into a fitting room that resembled a high-quality bridal boutique display room. Whoa. 

Remember Jeanie's bottle from that old TV show? Yeah. I was there. Only three times larger. And it wasn't a round room.

My tiny little Chinese attendant directed me to sit on a silk covered stool ... not on one of the many low beds covered in purple and gold silk. I took off my top, and she motioned me to remove my bra.


That was odd. 

She didn't react to my large, aging breasts exposed to her. Just held a new bra in front of me to put my arms in. Like a mother to a young child: "Here honey, put your arms in the holes!"

THEN... She fastened it at the back, reaching down into the back part of the bra to pull any extra flesh into the VERY WIDE back. (I've noticed that. Even on tiny Chinese women, the bras have ample fabric across the back. It's just the style.)

After this mini-massage pulling my back-fat into the bra, she proceeded to do the same with the front, using her tiny Asian hands to pull everything from the side into the middle, and smooth the middle across toward the side so that ALL OF ME was inside the cup.

Think of the last mammogram you had, ladies. You know how the technician pulls all that side-boob onto the slide? ALL of it.

They had me trying several different styles and prints - leopard, zebra, seafoam green... each was hand-fitted. By hand. Not by measuring. I started to be comfortable with the fact that this was just this girl's job. She wasn't weirded out by my mammary overload. A couple other bra-girls came and went at different times.

At one point, as they got a new bra ready to try, I started unfastening the one I had on, and one of the girls swatted my hands away with an exclamation of horror. 

One attendant noticed that my pale, white-girl, boob-flesh exactly matched the - what I would arrogantly call - "flesh-toned" bra, and we all shared a laugh. 

I left with one new bra to see how I like it before buying multiples. To be honest, I feel kind of weird wearing it. The girls are too front and center for my comfort. But they behave! No spilling out the top, no need for me to fix it at the bottom. I tell you what - It is the best, most supportive bra I own, even if I'm wearing a bizarre size and can't hardly see over my own melons.

If you can get over the "Help! I'm being felt up" feeling, I highly recommend a Chinese bra fitting.

Oh, and after I paid, they asked if I wanted to stick around for a massage. I guess that's what all the purple silk beds were for.

03 June, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me!

No. No. It's not yet. Please don't state the typical birthday wishes that facebook has us posting to people whose birthdays we would never know if they didn't announce them on social media.

Ever since... adulthood, basically! ... I have declined to celebrate my birthday, or even tell people when it is. My best friend was at one time my boss, and knew my birthday from my new-hire paperwork, so she always says something. My best friend from high school, and a roommate from college, both know my birthday and usually send me a private message through facebook messenger.

I simply don't see the celebration. I didn't do anything to deserve praise or accolades. Birthday? My mom did all the work: celebrate her!

When I started dating Brett I told him I "don't do" my birthday. When I arrived at his house on the fateful day, he gave me a kiss, looked me in the eye and said, "You're sure you don't want a gift?" I said no. He said, "Because I didn't even get a back up gift 'in case'." Everyone told him that no woman wants her birthday ignored. They urged him to get a backup gift, but he took me at my word.

I was so honored that he trusted me over his friends. About me. Who his friends did not know.

ANYWAY. This year, after a long and difficult winter/spring, and recurring/lingering depression, it has occurred to me that merely surviving another year of existence in this treacherous thing called "life" is an achievement of its own. This past year of life has been more difficult than I expected and Damn it! I deserve praise for being alive! 

I still won't post my birth-date on social media, because if you don't know when it is, I don't want the flood of empty wishes. I admit that I give social media birthday wishes, largely so that I don't stand out as "why didn't she say anything" but I'm getting away from doing that. 


I have a summer birthday, so I have informed Brett that this year I intend to do something to celebrate. I even told him what my preferred gift would be. He married a woman who doesn't do birthdays, and I'm changing the game. The least I can do is make it easy!

02 June, 2017

The Future Needs to Wait! - FiveMinuteFriday

Just a short Five-Minute Friday post. On these posts, I follow the one-word prompt from Kate at Five Minute Friday.  
 
If you want to join, click that link. (It's a new link,  if you've tried before.) Every Friday is a new word, and the only rules are:  Write for 5 minutes.  Link your post on hers.  (You have a whole week to get your post up.)
 
  

It's pretty cool, and I find a new blog every week.

This week's one-word is "Future". 

  
Timer starting...


I'm actually trying to stop myself from thinking too much about the future. We're planning a trip back to the States this summer, and my mind keeps drifting into fictional potential conversations that may or may not happen. What if someone from church asks us to speak? We aren't missionaries; I will emphatically say no. What will I say when I pop back into my old office? What if the people I plan this conversation with aren't even there that day? We hope to go out after church with some friends...should we plan it in advance? Not like they've kept in good contact with us. Maybe it would be an imposition...

And so on. I'll have full-fledged conversations going before I stop myself because they may never happen. Why focus on two months from now, when I have two full months of working, and making new connections, and trying to be in-the-moment and flexible because everything changes at the last moment.

Besides, when my brain goes to why the good things I'm thinking of probably won't happen, it gets depressing, and who needs that?

God has given me much. God has given me ample work and play, and life to do now. Here. I need to keep my focus on where I am, and think of the future only within reason. What will I need to pack? I don't need to think about that TODAY, surely!

Timer done.

31 May, 2017

If the Covfefe Fits

I am always the last one on a trend. I never know about them until (usually) Brett tells me about something that happened or that he read somewhere. 

Today I happen to be awake and on my computer, and saw a bunch of tweets with #covfefe in them, so I looked up the hashtag, and joined the crowd.

It's the middle of the night in the States. For all the hub-bub, the average American is missing it by sleeping. They will awaken to a media furore*, and then the horrors of bipartisan reactions will set in. Right now is the fun. Some people are showing their political stripes through their tweets, but mostly it's goofy. I wish we could be this way all the time.

*yes. Furore, the British spelling has more impact.

The tweet heard 'round the world.
In case you missed it, POTUS apparently was tweeting about negative press coverage, and fell asleep. Or didn't proof-read and fell asleep before he could cancel it. "Covfefe!" It's a mistake anyone could make.

I'm never included in on the joke, so I am loving this.
You get a covfefe! And you get a covfefe! And you get a covfefe! Everyone gets a covfefe!

26 May, 2017

The Dragons are Coming! The Dragons are Coming!

This weekend is Dragon Boat Festival here in China.
Not a Dragon Boat. This was a beached party boat up north from our vacation.

I knew about Dragon Boat races because when I was in high school we lived in Taiwan, and the races are VERY BIG there. I usually got home for summer vacation just in time to watch the races on TV. I have to say, a Dragon Boat race is more interesting to watch than the Indy 500, which is also this weekend!

Mind you, Dragon Boat Festival doesn't always coincide with Memorial Day weekend in the States. Something new that I learned now that I live in China: It's the 5th day of the 5th Lunar month in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese are very big on double digits. 5-5. It's auspicious!
... which is why the patriot-poet Qu Yuan chose it as the day to kill himself by jumping in a river. 

That's right. There was political craziness going on, and he had been exiled from his home, and rather than watch "the wrong people" take over, he offed himself. 
LET'S CELEBRATE!


People celebrate by eating Zongzi - a kind of sweet sticky rice ball - and watching the Dragon Boat races. 
Why sticky rice? Because Qu Yuan was so beloved that after he jumped in the river, his mourning fans threw in rice so the fish would eat the rice and leave his body alone. (so says the legend) 

I'm kind of vague on the history behind the races, but it has something to do with keeping the River Dragon away from him. I know there are 20 oarsmen, a "sweep" and a "caller". The sweep steers from the bow, and the caller beats out the rhythm on a drum in the stern. Nowadays, it's a symbol of getting rid of the bad. This is considered a day to take care of health and hygiene, to chase away disease and evil spirits. With Dragons. Or something.

Confused yet? 
I think, like so many traditions based in history, this is only one of several reasons for the holiday, but of the few I've heard, this is the only story that incorporates all the elements. I know there are different statesmen celebrated in different regions, who also died on the same day, but I don't think dragons are tied to those stories. I could research it, but really? I like this story!

21 May, 2017

Fuzzy Truth - FiveMinuteFriday

Just a short Five-Minute Friday post. On these posts, I follow the one-word prompt from Kate at Heading Home.  
 
If you want to join, click that link to her blog. Every Friday is a new word, and the only rules are:  Write for 5 minutes.  Link your post on hers.  (You have a whole week to get your post up.)
 
  

It's pretty cool, and I find a new blog every week.

This week's one-word is "Truth". 

  
Timer starting...


My best friend is a real stickler for the truth. She will cut you out of her life if she catches you in a lie... maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but she won't trust you again. That lie will kick you in the shins for the rest of your relationship. I've seen it happen.

My husband is a great story-teller. He prefers to tell it the way it is funniest. He's popular on social media, and makes friends easily. When it counts, face to face, he's honest. He just has a fuzzy idea on the value of truth. It took me a while to get completely comfortable with that.

Which is best? Personally, I can't lie. Is that why I'm not nearly as popular as my husband on social media, and I struggle to make friends? I don't think so.

Truth is, I've gotten better at appreciating the moment for the moment. I'm trying to learn to accept things that happen and let go of the things that I only wished to happen. My will cannot change what is.

It might change the way I remember something happening, but the truth is, in fact, the truth. The truth is not what I over-analyze it to be even!

What is, is. I pray that it is right.

Stop timer.

18 May, 2017

Uninspired

I'm uninspired, so I'd better just write, right?

Now that my challenge is over, I have to make up my own stuff to write, I guess. Since people seem to appreciate my writing about things that are different in China from the US, I'll start there. Let's talk Tea.

Here, anything can be tea. The Chinese serve hot water all the time, but if you are in your own home or office, you may add something to it. Not just tea! Flowers or dried fruits are common.

Right now, we are looking at a series of 100-degree days, and there was still a huge thermos of hot water in my office this morning. They believe that drinking warm water is better for your stomach - less of a shock to the system or something. I'm used to it by now, but in this heat? Ugh. I poured some, and left it to cool to room temperature during my first class.
My tea, right now.

However, now that I've come home and had a couple glasses of normal water, I'm actually having some tea. (I'll let it cool a bit.) I was turned on to Chrysanthemum tea by my tea lady. After trying it and deciding this mild, pale (not even as colorful as the palest pinot grigio), flower was something I could drink regularly, I did some research.

Chrysanthemum tea is not just mild and easy on the stomach (lack of tannins), but it is good for the heart, liver, and kidneys! Go me! Also, it has "heat-reducing" properties - good for fever or heat rash, or, I'm hoping just being hot from 100-degree temps!

So when you hear the phrase "all the tea in China" just remember that all the tea in China includes more than just tea! I've even made "tea" out of orange rinds and cinnamon sticks! It'll knock your socks off.

15 May, 2017

The Goal Post

Haha. Goal Post. Like a football goal-post, get it? I got the jokes today.


Not really. The prompt is "What are your goals for the next 30 days?" So since I'm setting goals today, I wanted a title that I can easily find to check back on myself.

(Weak beginning, step it up, Red.)

First, I have been successfully posting every day, even when it's kind of crap. But I have been only so-so about checking in with the blogs I follow, and I want to fix that. So I think for the next 30 days I should intentionally visit my reading list daily. It's not realistic to check out every new post every day, but I will visit at least one from my reading list every day. And I need to update the blogroll on this page, to the right.

Second, I need to broaden my horizons. I will visit a new blog every day. My hopeful goal is to find at least one a week to ADD to my reading list. That would be cool. (Ann Bennett, if you are reading this, please provide your blog link!)

Those are blogging goals. In life, there are a few things I need to do within the next month.

PRIMARY TARGET - Tickets. We are planning a return visit to the US, and it is causing me deep depression and anxiety. Nothing is easy here, and somehow, planning a trip is even worse than getting a work visa! I hate it, and I typically love planning... I can feel my pulse racing just writing about it. But I MUST get our tickets this week. Today if possible. This was on my to-do list for last week, but when I went to buy them I found more hoops to jump through and these are on fire. 
Just shoot me now. :-(

Work Target - My final TKT test is in June. This is a 3-part test that provides me with a certificate saying I am qualified to teach English. I did the first two parts in December. I have about a month to finish the workbook in preparation for the final test.

Finally, the school year will end for me within the next 30 days and I am looking forward to never teaching again! That's not the goal, though. The woman who has been our primary contact in placing us in schools knows I will not be teaching next term, and I look forward to building a friendship with her without the strain of work. She is very sweet and kind and smart, but as our main contact, she hears all the complaints. 

Friends are good. I'm looking forward to meeting this goal. What about you? As summer begins, what do you have on the agenda?

14 May, 2017

Laugh-out-Loud

I'm in another slump, where trying to list things I enjoy is a good idea and might help, so I'm actually doing this prompt... if I can. They want FIVE things that make me LOL. Hmmm...

Here in China, I have to say, the off-color accidental misspellings make me laugh out loud. Or not even misspellings, but statements that would be off-color in the States and nobody knows the difference here.

Like the student with the legend "F*** Off" written across the knees of his pants. Seriously.  A 6-yr-old.

Or the teenager wearing a T-shirt telling the world "This body's for you" - really? For whom?

The examples are endless.

Secondly, my own typos often cause me to laugh out loud. It's fairly lonely in my head, and sometimes while proofing my own work at the engineering firm in Indy, I'd see something I wrote incorrectly that made an audible laugh escape my lips. No one around would understand if I explained, but it amused me!

Third, Douglas Adams' writing style. I'm currently re-reading So Long and Thanks for All the Fish and frequently laugh out loud. Actually there are several authors that do this: Jenny Lawson and Dave Barry come to mind. One time in the 90s I laughed out loud to Dave Barry while sitting at a bus-stop. The people around me were very curious what was causing my reaction!

That's all I can think of. Some TV shows do, my husband does, but I can't think of particular reasons that cause the laughter. 

... this is not my best work. As I think of better examples, I might update this post.

13 May, 2017

The Best Ever!

In contrast to yesterday, the prompt is to write about a part of my life that's kicking butt.
Easy Peasey.

I have a great job.
I had a great job in the States before we moved to China, too, but that was different. 

I work at the office of a publishing company, and speak English. I'm their English expert. My degree is in business communication - focus on written - so this is actually perfectly suited to my skills and education.

They have video-recorded me reading story books for young children just learning English, and we are in the process of scripting little videos that incorporate their beginning English curriculum, for very young learners. There are several other story book series' on tap for future recording, too.

I lead a conversational English chat group, where I teach parents short statements they can use specifically with their children, to help the kids practice English in the home. Things like "Zip up your coat" or "Breakfast is ready!" 

I have already gone through the English version of their website, to make it readable. Chinese is a very concise language, and a strict translation that you get from a translating app does not often make any kind of sense. So I was given the Chinese text, the literal English translation, and went through and added punctuation, articles, prepositions, everything to make it read well to an English speaker.

When my boss first hired me, she mentioned, "And maybe someday you will write a book, and we can publish it!" I don't know about all that, but I'd love to do some of their editing. 

The office has just a few employees, only one of whom speaks English fluently (besides the boss). It's easy to focus because I'm not distracted. Everyone is very nice, and seems to enjoy working there. So in addition to enjoying my actual work, it's a nice environment to be in.

Right now, it's just 10 hours a week, very part time, but the position is already changing and growing. I would be happy to do 20 hours a week if we get to that point!

12 May, 2017

New and Improved!

I almost skipped this prompt as it could easily be a negative post sending me on a downward spiral: "Something about yourself you'd like to improve." I'm far from perfect, and there are many directions I could go.

So let me just be superficial. That should be fairly painless to share! 

What would I like to improve? My fashion sense.

There you have it. I cannot put together an outfit to save my life. I worked in retail for years, and of course then, the store tells you what goes together. But it never looked right on me. I'm tall, which means nothing ever fits. (Don't get me started on the GAZILLIONS of stores that carry petites but not talls!

Forget dress pants. I have the option of jeans, or skirts. Well, shorts and capris are okay.
Yoga pants? Nope, one washing and they are floods. 
Flannel pants? Sure, at home, when I can wear them hanging off my hips.

But that's just half of it. Observant folks may notice that I only ever wear solid colored shirts. That's because they are easy to pair with bottoms and accessories.

My mother is always nicely dressed. She has enough accessories to wear something different every day for a year! Sister Diana is the same, and a bit of a clothes horse, to be honest. But always completely unique outfits - she looks artsy and cool, and no one could ever replicate her look. Even Hestia, who chooses clothes based on comfort, has well-matched outfits for every occasion.

I hate clothes. Shopping for clothes is the worst kind of torture, for me. People talk about "The curse of Eve" because she ate the fruit first and now we are all doomed to a life of sin... to me, "The curse of Eve" is that we now have to wear clothes. If there was no fall into sin, we would be blissfully naked and comfortable about it.

Maybe in Heaven. 
For now, I'll stick to jeans and tees as much as I can.