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.