30 September, 2016

Across the Sea

Greetings from beautiful Beijing!
 We arrived Tuesday evening, and were taken out for "Beijing Duck" and many other dishes, by our one known friend here, two people from the main school we'll be working with, and another friend. There is a right and wrong way to eat the duck, which kind of cuts the greasiness. It was delightful.
Carving the duck

The next three days were a blur. We went to meet the principal of the (main) school. (Between the two of us, we will be teaching at 4 schools.) Then we were taken around to look at several apartments that had been selected for us. We liked one, but were supposed to look at more, selected by our one friend. I'll call him M.

We went up to M's school, and told him what we'd seen, and when he heard we found one we liked within our price range, he urged us to just take it and not look at his, as they were more expensive. One of M's staff took us to get a Chinese sim card so that we can use our phones here. HOWEVER, the phones cannot yet be unlocked from our US account, so... we have no data plan.

Oh well.

That was just Wednesday!

On Thursday, we spent the morning going to get the medical check-up for our work visas. What an eye-opener! It took an hour to get there, but we saw about 10 medical professionals in a half-hour. It was so stream-lined we only spent a few moments with each. Actually, that half-hour included getting pictures taken and queuing to pay! America could really learn something there. The sacrifice? No bedside manner. It was very abrupt, but that is, to me, a worthwhile sacrifice.

We spent the afternoon wandering through an historic, yet touristy area, and saw a wild selection of trinkets to send back as gifts someday.
I love the funny English

Long story short, yesterday we signed a lease and took over the biggest suitcases. Today we will finish moving in, clean, and explore our new neighborhood.

In our neighborhood. There are trees throughout the city, actually.

Joy of joys - Today begins a week-long holiday for Chinese National Day. So we can settle in, buy necessities like bedding, and visit some well-known sites (I'm looking at you, Tienanmen and Forbidden City)!

Tragedy - We do not yet have wifi at our new home, so it will again be at least a week before I can post.

14 September, 2016

Into the Abyss...

I just realized I know *nothing* about my life after September 27th. 

That is the day we arrive in Beijing. Apparently someone is going to put us up in a hotel...for that night at least.

At some point we will sign paperwork (I assume) with the schools who have promised to hire us.

At some point - hopefully the first day - we will look at apartments that have been selected as good options for us.

No idea how we will eat, what we will eat, where we will live, where we will work, or how we will get around.

We do not speak the language. 
We cannot read the language.

Imagine seeing the entrance to a very dark cave that you cannot see into at all. You step into the entrance and cannot even see your hands in front of your face. All you can hear is a friendly voice saying, "Come on in! It's awesome! You'll love it!"

You answer, "I can't see anything - give me some directions!"

They shout back...from way in the depths of the cave, "Don't worry about it - just keep walking!"
And then, "Oh! But try not to fall into the giant potholes!"

"...WHAT potholes? I can't see anything!" you say.

And the greatest reassurance you get it, "Meh. You'll be fine." 

That is the best description I can give for what this is like.

13 September, 2016

Moving On...

Yep. It's here.
This is an insane week. It all happened very suddenly.

The first flight on the trek to Beijing is on the 19th.

On Sunday, I made my final donation to the women's shelter, and today Brett made his final run to Goodwill. Any small stuff remaining will just get tossed.
Nice ladies' clothes, a few blankets and a pillow, for the shelter.

Packing has begun: 

Books will line the bottom of each suitcase. We're not taking many, but as soon-to-be-teachers, we each have some books that will prove useful. Also, not knowing how long until we will have a TV hooked up, and not knowing our way around, reading material may be vital entertainment! (Yes, we each have e-readers, too.)

Last night I packed the first suitcase, with winter clothes and a few other things. I think we were getting stumped by trying to decide on what to keep, and then getting discouraged at not making enough progress (at least, I was a bit discouraged). So I put in a few books, two pairs of my winter boots (stuffed with winter socks, to save space), and piled in a bunch of winter clothes that I knew we wanted. One suitcase sealed is a helpful turning point.
At 44 lbs., that sucker is full!

If I do a suitcase each night, we'll be okay. Brett is off all week, so he's doing a lot of throwing things away and running things into storage. Today I went home at lunch to clear out my desk. Goodwill is coming tomorrow to collect all the remaining furniture. THEN the apartment will feel empty.

We are trying to eat only food we already have on hand, or just run to the store for perishables - I need my apples, and prefer a salad at lunch. Today I threw away the container I brought my lunch in (which would have come home to be washed).

09 September, 2016

PSA: Get a Mammogram!

Good morning all!

I thought I'd throw this out there because I was prepared to skip it this year. 

I've been getting mammograms for about 10 years now, because my sister got breast cancer in her 30s. I've never had a sign of cancer, and never felt a lump. So this year, with everything going on, and my PTO running out at work - so not wanting to take all the time to drive across town - I thought, "Meh. It'll be clear anyway. I'll save the time and skip it."

When my friend visited a few weeks ago, she asked if we were getting all our medical check-ups prior to moving, and specifically about the mammogram. After I explained my view, she suggested finding a place with extended hours, or going somewhere that wasn't across town, since a lab is a lab, and my doctors are part of a network in my city.

Long story short, if she hadn't had that conversation with me, I would have gone without my annual mammogram. So now I'm having that conversation with you! I finally had mine this morning. It will probably be clear, but better to get it now, while I have insurance and know about the quality of care I'm getting, right?

If you haven't had one, or are scared, just know:
  • It's uncomfortable, but only for a few seconds
  • Nothing is poked or prodded - no needles, no scalpels - just squishing
  • The techs (I've only ever had female radiology techs) understand that you are exposing yourself, and do their best to make you comfortable. Emotionally, at least.
  • They've seen every type of breast before. 
  • It's quick! I was at my office a half-hour after my appointment.
 What's stopping you?

07 September, 2016

The Labors of Labor Day

This App - to learn a language
A language partner of mine in China seemed befuddled that we celebrated Labor Day this past weekend. "We celebrate Labor Day in the spring. And that's International Labor Day, so why the US does it now?"

I had no response, but I like the idea that the US just does things differently. 

I also had to define "cookout" as compared to what he basically was describing as a picnic.
"We actually cook the meat - outside!" ...I never did send a picture of the grill. Mind you, our downstairs neighbors are Chinese, and they cookout a lot. Maybe it was just a new idea for this particular dude.

Our weekend was delightful. Everyone got along, everyone had fun, the only screaming was of the occasional "don't touch that - it's hot!" variety.

Siblings and their offspring/spouses arrived between Friday evening and Saturday night, and departures began that Saturday night, but there was a reasonable overlap. It was just fun. On Saturday, some adults went out to a local winery, did some tastings, bought some wine, listened to music. That evening we cooked out, and the cousins played basketball, soccer, and made up games (courtesy of the 6yo). 
It was so retro, I used a retro filter. This was my generation of cousins, decades back.

On Sunday, church, then pizza, some general chillaxing, and then after a few group pictures, most of us parted our separate ways. It was a good weekend, and the missing brother was hardly noticed. Or at least, I'm sure we each noticed but there was no cloud hanging over the day because he was gone.

On Monday, we got rid of a bunch of stuff - small things had been distributed earlier in the weekend - Monday was larger furniture - bookcase, desk, etc. which my eldest sister took with her.

I really thought the apartment would look more empty. I guess all the furniture that's left will either be sold, donated, or stored, but only the fewest, most important items will be stored.