21 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.
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. 


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.