Tuesday, November 29, 2011

little victories, big smiles. :)))))))))))))))))

I feel like, when you have a really good day.... in a lot of little ways ... you should celebrate it just as much as those really good days that happen for ONE BIG AWESOME reason. :)

so here are a lot of little reasons why today was a really good day ...

. I got over my awful 24 hr flu from yesterday ( ran the full gamut of symptoms had everything - started with coughing, then a sore throat - fever/chills, nausea, vomiting, finally ending with a killer headache.)

. I got my WIRELESS INTERNET hooked up in MY APARTMENT ( I'm here... right now! It's 2am... Starbucks would have kicked me out/closed two hours ago.)

. I found REAL Orange Juice ( not "Orange Drink") in the supermarket today ... sooooo good.

. idownloaded the iHandy Translator Pro to my iphone so that now Lisa and I can communicate anytime/anywhere/ outside of work with text messages instead of QQ ( she doesn't have access to her QQ account right now - at her new job or at her friends apt that she's staying at in Guangzhou currently)

AND I realized that I can access TUMBLR from my computer with this new connection. So I will be cutting and pasting these old Blogspot posts and MOVING BACK to the TUMBLR neighborhood .... coming HOME! ( I've really missed .... the "newsfeed" and "the gifs" ... regularly catching up with my friends blogs... and EVERYTHING about Tumblr).  I haven't set much up over there yet but I am 99.9% sure my new tumblr address will be katyschinaadventureS.tumblr.com ( adventures with an "s").

also randomly: finding real orange juice makes me crave toast. I think I might have to buy a toaster.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful. Grateful. ( and HUNGRY for T'giving FOOD!!!)

After having a "not so great" yesterday

(dealing with a bad sinus/PMS? headache and also encountering a slight frustration with my boss - me needing some clarifications on this "marketing/teaching" course that we are doing at a school outside of our school two Thursdays per month, 2 different classes, each 45 min long - using completely different software- not Best Learning stuff)

I tried to make sure that today would truly be " another day..." a better day. Today was/is Thanksgiving, I didn't want to be feeling irritable, ungrateful, etc.

For me, waking up early and "getting there" ( "there" usually means "to work" or "rehearsal" or wherever I need to be) earlier than everyone else .... is the best way to start things off on the best foot.
So I got up, showered and dressed by 11am ( I know, in most parts of the world that's already 2 hours too late, but I worked from 1:30pm to 9:30pm tonight) and went out and got myself a nice "Cafe Americano" at Starbucks and 3 Portuguese egg tarts  (click on the link HERE to see them  http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/04/photo-of-the-day-portuguese-egg-tarts.html ) and took myself and my breakfast and went to the office.

When I got there I was about 1 hr and 30 min early. So I checked email, QQ, etc .... and I found two emails that immediately added to the warmth and goodness that I was feeling. Both my Mom and Dad and Aunt Joan had sent me Thanksgiving emails. It was still Wednesday in the USA when they sent them, but they knew that it was Thursday on my side of the world and rather than waiting until their Thanksgiving, they sent me some LOVE on mine. 

Here they are below. 

Dear Katy,
Thinking of you today. It is Thursday , Thanking for you. Itis Wed here and it is 3.15pm now I'm heading to work for a meeting and Dad is working this evening.
Weare both off tomorrow and will be up at Aunt Joans about 1pm, eating around 2pm. Im bring the apple pie some fudge that Aunt Doris made, the pickles,olives,
crandberry sauce,celery sharpe chedder cheese slice granny apple and oh yes don't the creamed onions!! I wish we could bring YOU!!!!
Kate when you come, we willdo it all again with YOU..I read the nice to everyone that you sent. That was so nice. I am working Christmas eve and the night of
the 25th. Dad and Greg will go down to Marys on Christmas day after Joan and Annie leave here. Probably around 3p.m. I will take a nap while there gone.
It's all GOOD. Grandma would say " Your station in Life"'. The place doesn't close down. Who knows, Maybe I'll bring some JOY to them!!?!
  I love you a BIG BUNCH and  so thankful for YOU!!  BOOP BOOP BOOP!!
Love you,
Happy Thanksgiving!! This is our first one without You, Greg,and Pumpkin too.
We ll be with The Girls and Frank at Joans.
I doubt the Chinese celebrate Thanksgiving;but I m sure you ll Have a Good Meal and a wonderful time with Friends.
Glad to hear that your in the Hall of Fame at starbucks! Sounds like Greg when he ate 15 hot wings in something like three minutes.
I think they put his picture and name up in the bar at Highpoint N.C.
WE will be thankful for all we have as we celebrate this Thanksgiving.We will also remember all those who have gone before us: who were so instrumental in our lives.
May the roads rise up to met you
and the wind be always at your back
may the sun shine warm upon your face
the rain fall soft upon your  fields
and may God hold you in the Palm of his hand;until we meet again.
Have a glorious day !!!

Dear Katy,  Thanks for your email and Thanksgiving good wishes.  Wishes you also a very blessed day!!!  Your Friday night with Jenny's family sounds like a great way to celebrate the day. 
We're having Thanksgiving here this year.  It will be your mom and dad, Frank, Aunt Annie and me.  Aunt Annie is doing the decorations.  Your mom is bring lots of food--cider, appetizers, creamed onions, gravy, rolls, cranberry jelly, pickles, olives, celery and apple pie.  Uncle Frank is getting cooked Turkey breast from Hannafords,  I'll make the stuffing, turnip, mashed white potatoes, string beans, pumpkin pie.  Of course,  all the end stuff--Ice cream, strawberries, whipped cream and coffee. 
Doris and Eileen  will be in Palisades.  Barbara and her family will visit George at the Nursing Home.  I'm sure that Michael, Barbara and Joseph will stop in to visit Doris and Eileen before they head home.
Your vacation to N. Thailand at the end of January souls wonderful!!  
Have a Great Day!!!  Yours is almost here.   Love and prayers,  Aunt Joan

"I read the nice (email) that you sent to everyone ... that was so nice" LOL. Yes, there ARE some spelling/grammar mistakes, but you understand the email. Really, my parents have only been emailing regularly for the past 7 months now ... so they've definitely come a long way - they even include CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS to STRESS MEANING !!! ( sometimes) :) 

The "May The Road Rise To Meet You" poem that my dad added at the end is a very traditional Irish blessing. When my mom says "the place doesn't close down" she's talking about the Dutchess County Jail. Yes, apparently she will be in jail on Christmas. But she's a NURSE ... and that's where she WORKS part time. She used to work in a nursing home and then she did home care for some time... but her current "station in life" - is prison. :) It's funny too because my mom is not a "gangsta" ... really. My mom is not "hardcore" .... and at only about 130 lbs she's not physically overwhelming either. But she's got a very strong interior. She has lots of inner strength and energy and she's spiritual .... and just shares her love and kindness and her little "helpful hints from Hannah" as my dad likes to call them. She's not there to judge anyone or make anyone there feel any worse than they already do. 

So needless to say - these emails MADE my day. I am SO THANKFUL to have these people in my life. To call them MY FAMILY. It made me miss them but at the same time made me so grateful and happy. Then the day got better - the "outside class" that we held at the public school went well, my Pre-K1 class went well - we had a little breakthrough too because 3 yr old "Brittany" who NEVER speaks ... she speaks very softly and very rarely both in English and Chinese. She has no behavioral issues but I don't know if she might have sort of developmental speech delay. Even one of her little classmates Nathan who is also 3 yrs old has noticed and according to my TA who translated for me, Nathan told little Ashley who was trying to talk to Brittany the other day - in Chinese- "she doesn't speak, don't talk to her"  
BUT TODAY Brittany was smiling and seemed to be enjoying herself. We spent most of the day learning about animals and colors and when we were learning about COLORS Brittany said repeatedly and very loud and clear "YELLOW, YELLOW, YELLOW!" So... this was really great. Maybe she's felt very shy and that's why she's been holding back? I don't know. But it was surprising and a real treat to hear her speak so clearly today.

It is 11:30pm here on Thanksgiving right now.... so it is 10:23am on Thanksgiving morning in the USA. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is probably on tv right now. I hope that you are all STARTING TO EAT!!!! ( or at least snack while you're starting to cook). I will be celebrating and having a little party tomorrow night - 4 yr old "Jenny" who is in my "Pre-K3" class here and who I also tutor privately on Saturday nights, is turning "5" tomorrow and her family has invited me to a family birthday party at her father's cousin's house. It's different this year .... but I feel even more thankful for what I have, being so far away. In a strange way, I feel even closer and more happy. 

(ALSO: speaking of closer, I may finally get my internet hooked up in my apartment in DECEMBER. MY TA Dona, from Uzbekistan, her husband speaks Chinese and he's gonna talk to the cable guy. I might not even have to pay an installation fee! Now that my parents are email PROS.... I'll have to teach them about SKYPE! ;) )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Popped In The Eye By A Heart Shaped Balloon ... it must be love.

OK - so at this point I'm 90% sure that my gas-constipation- lower abdominal pain is of my own doing.

I took the advice of "Nancy" here and have been drinking more water, making sure to eat my veggies, and  have basically stayed away from cheese and/or making grilled cheese sandwiches all this week.

However - I've been drinking caffeine and I've been putting sichuan chili sauce in the noodle dishes I've been making for dinner the past two nights ... soooooo.... that might be why I'm not back to 100% and still feel a little cramping/pain. But the bloating is DEFINITELY gone.

I feel like whatever the health issue is though ...  when you are living abroad (specifically in Asia/Africa/The Middle East) it's magnified and/or exaggerated a thousand percent. The language barrier, the types of medications available (they don't have Tylenol or Advil  or any real type of over the counter pain medication like that here in China - they don't even have ANBESOL ... you know THIS stuff  http://www.anbesol.com/baby/index.asp - I remember when Yoyo was teething, my TA Dona gave Yoyo a similar kind that she had brought with her from Uzbekistan, for her own daughter who had also been teething ... and Yoyo LOVED it. That is GOOD stuff), the kinds of services available, your health insurance ....

Back in July, my boss had a little birthday party for her daughter Yoyo who turned 1 yr old on July 15th. We had the party at our school and I was helping to blow up the balloons. We had a few of those little hand held pumps to blow them up - along with our mouths.

I was using my mouth to blow up this little RED HEART SHAPED balloon ( not realizing that the red heart shaped ones were smaller than the "regular" ones that we also had). I didn;t know my own strength and blew too much, too hard, and popped myself in my left eye with the balloon. ( I think this miiiiight have been a metaphor - a FOREWARNING of the LOVE that was about to unexpectedly EXPLODE into my life. Only a week or so later was when I started to fall for Lisa)

My boss, trying to literally "save face" ... or "give me face" ( what it's called when you try to cover up someone else's shame) said that it was "good luck"... that I was "the lucky one" ...  but all I could do was try to just stay in the moment.  My eye was tearing ( naturally flusing itself out, taking care of itself), I put a few cold compresses on it, and observed it. No bruising around the eye. No broken blood vessels in the eye. I did a little "Self-Assessment" and all signs pointed to "everything will be ok"

and everything was ok ... but in the moment it was scary (and embarrassing).

In other news, after finishing The Hunger Games last month,
I have been hemming and hawing about what to read next. I wire transferred some money to my US Bank account to pay my credit card and student loan bill and still had some money leftover. So I bought two little "Christmas Gifts" for myself. A book & A pair of sandals.

I wanted to start reading this http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0439678137/ref=cm_cr_asin_lnk     
but I thought it was too soon. I was worried that it wouldn't live up to THG and I would constantly be comparing it to everything in THG and wind up disappointed. So maybe I'll read it in the future... but not just yet.

I finally decided on this http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0738713708 . "Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception". I like fantasy/YA books  specifically themes dealing with survival of the fittest, time travel, ghosts, ordinary people with extraordinary abilities/powers, oddities in science/medicine... with a dash of love/love story mixed in. I'm hoping that this will be good. The reviews seem pretty good. I like when a reviewer goes in skeptical about the book, but then concludes that he/she was SO wrong and was blown out of the water with the book's awesomeness.

I'm NOT interested things like "The Lord Of The Rings", "Twilight" or Vampires - in general. ( Nope. Never even a BTVS fan - despite "Faith's mom" - Judy Dushku being a Government professor at my university and meeting Eliza Dushku at Judy's 60th bday party. Her brothers and stepfather and a bunch of people were there... it was a nice casual fun little dinner/party at "The ( good ol') Red Hat" )

while I was searching for new books I discovered the Goodreads.com website. I think I've been living under the last emperor's tomb or something here though... because it looks like I am the last one to discover this treasure. Can I tell you HOW MUCH I appreciate the little "SPOILER ALERT" memos that are posted before certain book reviews ?!!! ... lets you know that you are entering into dangerous territory at your OWN RISK where at ANY MOMENT the books conclusion could blow up in your face and destroy any and all reasons for you wanting or needing to read the book in the first place.

AND  yes, in addition to a new book I ALSO ordered these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004TUHUE6/ref=ox_ya_os_product .

I downloaded the season of "Samantha Brown's: Asia" from the Travel Channel and these reflexology sandals were featured in the episode where she took a trip to Singapore. I've had a reflexology treatment once before. Halfway through, I fell asleep on the table but then I felt so much more energized afterward. Plus, going back to what I was saying before about health in foreign countries ... I will take all of the natural help that I can get! I will make sure to keep you all updated on how these feel and how they impact my life here.... who knows? maybe they will improve my overall chi and help me to graduate to next level walking... walking in more challenging situations.... like on nails or hot coals? ;)

I wanted to post a QQ message that Lisa wrote to me two days ago. I saved it in Microsoft Word on my work computer but I forgot to email it to myself. I'll have to post it next time. She's been tired... training a lot in Guangzhou ... but she seems to like her job ... there are a lot of "celebrities" that will be coming to the car show that's happening this month. She also talked about looking forward to the day when "we can settle in New York ...." I look forward to that day too.

In the meantime, I am just trying to keep "having my own little adventures" here - and learning more Mandarin and Cantonese .... and to keep a level head and look out for myself. I feel like mentally I am in a much better space than I was when Lisa was working alone in the Marketing department at my school and I knew that any day, she would be leaving. I don't know what the future holds .... but not knowing doesn't drive me crazy anymore. I feel like we are both on the right path ... we are each doing what we have to do for ourselves ... and that's a good first step for any two people before coming together.

Yes, I was unexpectedly popped in the eye by a heart shaped balloon. But it's all good.
I can still see clearly...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Your Health IS Your Wealth" - Grandma Lucid ( who lived to be 99 yrs old)

WARNING: if you squirm at the mention of bodily functions or sickness, you might want to pass up reading this post. That said...

I think my answer that "Shopping" was/is my biggest fear here in China was a little ... extreme.
Yes, it's frustrating, but with time ( and in different stores and situations) it gets easier. Food shopping here is no problem and now that I've learned how to say "39" ,my shoe size here in China (somehow it has magically  quadrupled from the old "size 8" that I was in the USA. Too much salt/soy sauce maybe.) in Mandarin, I'm pretty confident that future shoe shopping will be a breeze too.

Truthfully ... getting really sick here scares me. Like filling out forms and talking to doctors and having to go to the hospital sick. I just found out tonight that Harvey's ( from my Pre-K2 class) mother is a doctor.  My boss told me. I don't know what kind but Thank God because at least now I can go to her as a reference for any future concerns/needs.... what about an OB-GYN? What about a basic physical?

I am generally a pretty healthy person - cursing under my breath and banging my head when a sinus headache and/or stress headache hits me. That's pretty much it - I get pretty regular sinus/stress/tension/caffeine withdrawal headaches once a month or so ... and then maybe the occasional itchy/watery eyes when I'm around a long haired cat.

I've never broken a bone. I don't need/wear glasses ( yet - my mother and father both got them in their mid-40's - so I assume I'll need them some day).

I've had some "serious" close call moments in the past. When I was 4 I got poison sumac in my eye and my eye completely shut and would not open. I had to go to the hospital and be hooked up to IV's for a few days. Thankfully all of my vision returned. Then when I was 16 I became anorexic and kind of lost myself and battled with that for a year... so crazy how it seems like a world away now... just a "blip on the screen". But it was very scary at the time. More scary for my family and Joy and some of my friends I think. I couldn't really "see" myself... but thankfully "I" have returned... and I did not lose circulation to any of my arms or legs and I have my vision... and I'm here.

The point it, right now I've had cramps/gas in my stomach for the past two days. I haven't really had a good #2 in the past two days either. Maybe it's the grilled cheese sandwiches I've made for  lunch for the past 3 days? .... Maybe it's just a case of too much ( "binding") cheese and not enough fiber?

Today I went out and restocked my supply of vitamins - bought a bottle of  multivitamins, Vitamin-C, and a bottle of "Colon Cleanser" pills. I'm hoping that this constipation and gas is just... not enough fiber.  But living in a foreign country ( specifically CHINA) ... of course, my mind goes to "crazy land" and worries about the worst. ( SIDENOTE:  I'm burping now ... and this is making me feel a little better. I know you wanted to know that. You're welcome.)

I don't have ovarian cancer "in my family" ... but you truly never know. My mother is the youngest of 5 girls. Ironically- they are ALL nurses ( or they all WERE - now everyone's retired or semi-retired). None of her 4 sisters ever had breast cancer -- but two years ago my mother was diagnosed with it. Thankfully, that was just a "blip on the screen"  in her medical life- and thinking back on it,  it all seems like a bad dream now. She is healthy, all of her hair has grown back and she is "cancer free" ( knock on wood) today. But two years ago ... it was very scary.

Whenever you go through those... health scares I feel like there are certain moments that are frozen in time and completely 3D and burned into your memory. With me with the anorexia - it was buying my dress for the Sophomore Semi Formal and trying it on and hearing my mom gasp in the dressing room and then "the sleepover" where I saw my childhood best friend cry for the first time - watching her run out of the room - after a trip to the city for an Italian Dinner and a Broadway show with her dad and step mom- because I would not eat the ice cream that she and our other friend were eating when we got back to the house. Then another 3D moment was me at 3am hanging my head over the toilet bowl shaking and clammy saying "God Please Don't Let Me Die, God Please Don't Let Me Die, God Please Don't Let Me Die" .... (kind of transitioning from anorexia into a short stint with bulimia before truly starting to "get better" ) after taking too many laxatives and worrying that my sodium/potassium levels were out of balance and that my heart was going to give out and that I would die on the cold floor there at 3am alone. Because I was so underweight, I used to have these moments where I would lose circulation in my one foot- randomly while I was walking - and I remember this happening during lunch in 11th grade - tripping and trying to play it off like my shoelace was untied. I remember going for my "weight and blood pressure" checks every two weeks at my pediatrician and having to use the "Children's" blood pressure checker.... because my arm was so thin.

It seems like another life now... but it was and is so vivid. It's hard for me to look at that today. It's really sad but it scares and frustrates me to see someone battling it. Now, seeing someone on the subway or whatever, I feel somewhat like what my parents and friends must have felt back then ... a mixture of "snap out of it!" and "oh my god..... I'm scared and I truly don't know how to fix this".

It's hard for me to empathize with them, even though I DO. It just frustrates me because I know that there is no magical cure and it's a pretty lonely battle. I could never be a therapist who counsels anorexic/bulimic/binge eating clients. I know... it would just frustrate me and make me sad. Everyone has their own unique prescription for "getting better" and ... there is not one surefire cure. You ultimately have to want to live and to save yourself. It sounds... a little "out there".... but it's true. For me, anorexia had nothing to do with "wanting to be a model" or ... "feeling too fat in ballet class", etc. etc. It was about sexuality. I was realizing my attraction to girls at this time. We didn't have "AfterEllen.com" or "The L Word" or  any "It Gets Better" campaigns. I think all we had at this point was ... Melissa Etheridge and The Indigo Girls - neither of whom I really related to. I had fallen for one specific friend- very hard, very deeply and I was afraid that I was "losing her" ... to this "new" high school life - filled with french kisses and boyfriends and .... new " girl friends" who might be something more? I never talked about it and the fear and the shame is what almost cost me my life. I cut her off because my feelings were so deep at this point and yet at the same time I was hurting missing her and I wanted to be "as thin" as one of her new friends... thinking maybe she would notice and care more about me? - so crazy I know. What was WORSE was that I TRIED to talk about my sexuality with my therapist at the time and she pretty much told me that I wasn't a lesbian BECAUSE "butch women are really women who want to be men, and femme women are women who have issues with men" - and since neither of those things applied to me - I wasn't a lesbian. This was 1996-97'. I am truly hoping that the bulk of therapists don't share this overgeneralization and completely skewed mindset now in the year 2011.

For me - seeing "Les Miserables" on Broadway is what saved me. It was a start. The first step was me wanting to have the energy to sing and dance and ... ultimately I did. I got that back. Years later .... an A'cappella group, a musical improv group, hip hop dance classes and shows. I had( and have) the energy for all of it.

As far as my mom- a big "3D, frozen in time" image for me of her... was Thanksgiving two years ago. She had just started chemotherapy and she had lost most of her hair and she was lying on my dad's lazyboy chair in their bedroom, halfheartedly watching tv ... and looking so sick and out of it. It was scary. We had a very, very quiet Thanksgiving that year. I was sad and scared but I felt like I had to be a little strong- for my dad - he was downstairs- crying ... he lost his father to leukemia.... and seeing mom... who is SO strong and really SUCH a DYNAMIC ACTIVE force ... looking so weak and out of it ... and probably remembering his father when he had chemo... was a little too much for my dad. So needless to say last Thanksgiving, one year later, was truly something to be thankful for.

OK- so I've burped about 5 times now in the past hour. I am happy about this. This feels promising. I know you care.

Bottom Line is - "Your Health Is Your Wealth"- as my Grandma Lucid used to say. She should know. At 99 yrs old she outlived two husbands, one brother, one sister,  one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law, and one granddaughter.

If you have your health .... you have everything....
you have the best chance to go out and be the best "YOU" that there is in this world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 ( or 6) Things (and a THANK YOU)

5 questions for me, by me, about China.

1.) Something I've never mentioned in this blog before: I've really kind of fallen in love with Cantonese culture. I am "Team Cantonese" all the way. I want to learn more about it. The language, the history of the language, the history of Hong Kong, Macau, (and yeah Guangdong province too), etc, etc.

2.) Something that scares me here: Clothes shopping. I would just rather shop alone- just browse without any assistance. But here, that's not always possible. Especially as a foreigner. I feel like the shop girls are often at my back, trying to get me to buy something no matter how often I may tell them "Wo juh shi kan kan" ( "I'm just browsing"). I just dread it and end up putting it off .. until I've washed my clothes so much that they start to rip ( or wait to go shop in Hong Kong - where it's a little easier). It's a mixed bag though- some shops are easier than others to browse in. Today I went to "ONLY" and "12-City" ... just to "kan kan". The shop girls in ONLY were all smiles and asking "Ni seehwen ma?" ( Do you like this?..) and easy. The experience in "12 City" felt more like an interrogation. An interrogation without words.  The shop girl there just seemed to be at my back at every turn. It was unnerving and made it hard for me to truly focus on what I was looking at. To block it out and continue to look around without being distracted I played a game with myself.

Do you want to hear my silly game? - I pretended that I was a celebrity. A new celebrity to the celebrity scene. Not like a "Beyonce'  or "Mariah Carey" who could shut down stores. I pretended that the shop girl was a paparazzi who had entered the store and was at my back because I was that "new story"... that "fresh meat" ... and she was intent on making a quick buck off of me.  ( silly as it may sound this "meditation/visualization" actually helped a little)

3.) Foods that I miss back in the USA: shrimp cocktail, NYC bagels, and guacamole. 3 completely random but true things. I actually don't miss much in the way of food - just those things. ( And I miss lychees here in China- because they're not in season now, won't be until next June/July. :-/)

4.) Something that has surprised me about Foshan: IT. GETS. COLD. HERE. ( at night). We are in Southern China and I guess I just assumed that it would always be hot and/or rainy ( a fair assumption because it usually is... during the day.). The spring and summer were very hot. We are in November now and the days alternate between being breezy and cool and sunny. Right now I am wearing a pair of black capri pants, a tank top with a loose t shirt over it, and flip flops. I originally left the apartment in jeans and a long sleeved shirt and sneakers but went back and changed b/c it was too hot. However, at night it feels like the sun gets swallowed by the "Frost Demon". The apartments aren't heated here and without enough layers ( and a space heater) you definitely feel it. It has not been uncommon for me to go to bed in 3 layers of clothing. One night I even wore two pair of socks to bed! I've never even done that walking in the snow in NY. I KNOOOWWWW that they sell space heaters here- saw them in the "Park and Shop" ( grocery/home goods store) near my apartment today. I'll probably buy one tomorrow.

5.) My Favorite US Holiday: Christmas. (with the 4th of July and the US Presidential Election Day tied in a close second). I never thought about it much before I left the US, but I already know that Christmas is the holiday that I will miss the most this year. My TA Dona has already invited me to spend Christmas with her and her husband and daughter and two of their friends who also came here from Russia/Uzbekistan. So I'm looking forward to that, that will be nice and it's sweet of her. I'm going to need some distractions because (we all know) there's no place like NYC at Christmas. The lights, the store windows, the skating rinks - Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, The Tree. Even going to church with my family- the rituals-  will it be midnight mass or 6pm mass? seeing the manger, seeing the poinsettias- the beautiful combinations of red and white and pink potted plants -on the alter, singing the songs....

... hmmmm and THAT would probably be #6. on this list of "5 things" here- Having a Church/Spiritual Center to go to. I miss that. Over the years, I've fallen into the habit of only going to services during the holidays. But I consider myself to be a prayerful and spiritual person in general. I pray on my own but I also enjoy being in with the community sometimes - going home to my parents church and seeing their friends and people I know there. I don't really think that I myself am "Roman Catholic" anymore - but I do like the rituals and the songs and the community at my parents church.  I like to see them interacting with their community there. I don't really know where I fall on the spectrum- and maybe that's why I never took the time to find a church in NYC. Even just a reiki/meditation/chanting/singing center that recognizes the "divine" in life without any specific dogma attached to it would be nice to find here...

*** (speaking of prayers- I know that some people sent some out into the universe and so I just want to THANK YOU for your prayers regarding my safe travels to and from Macau, as you can see from this post, I made it back to Foshan safely and without having to pay any extra fines/fees. Also, THANK YOU for your prayers for Lisa. She sent me a QQ message the other day and it turns out that she has found a job working for Land Rover here in Guangzhou ( a bigger city that's just few subway stops away from me here). It looks like a promising move, with more opportunities to make some international connections. She's helping out at an International Auto Show going on in Guangzhou this month. So I'm ... hopeful that this move will lead to more...international moves. (and I'm very happy for her and so proud of her. She works hard.) ***

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

(PART II) Blood May Be Thicker, But We'd Die Without Water...

I don't want to waste my money paying fees.
I don't know what I'm doing. 
I want to save up more money for my Thailand trip in January ( don't want to waste on fees again).
I feel alone.
I hate being the only foreign teacher (STILL) at my school ( even though I love and appreciate my TA's).
This is all new to me. 
I feel like no one really cares or understands ( no one, only really meaning my boss really).

Those are some of the things that I meant to say before, things that I was feeling, that came out as anger in Part 1 of this rant/blog. Reasons for my anger and frustration.

Let me make it clear that people in general here in Foshan, in China have been, for the most part very friendly and curious and helpful to me. I got my "Starbucks Crew"who all know me by name and give me free coffee sometimes. I've got my doorman who calls me "beautiful teacher" and attempts to have ( the smallest of) conversations with me. I've got my kids- like "Happy Hannah"  and "Extremely Bright and Well Behaved Vivian" and adorable Jimmy and my girl Ashley ... who all make me smile and who really want to learn. I've got cute moms......( specifically Jack and Cherry's Mom "Crystal"... .. with her short shorts and her Dior sunglasses and her cute shoes and her smile that seems like she always knows a secret...lol.. that makes ME smile. LOL.) I AM the one who came here not speaking THEIR language ... and the people in general have been very nice and patient. It is not their fault that this city does not have a big expat community. It's not their fault that I don't speak their language. 

What's frustrating is just... business... and my boss. Her husband is a little more quieter and caring and a cool guy in general. But she is like a game of "New Choice" on speed. I think it's because she doesn't know what she's doing. When you don't believe in your decisions, you will "hem and hawww" and ultimately change your mind several times. I know this --- I've done it. I'm sure we all have. 

I've just gotten to the point where I've stopped asking questions - like WHEN will we get a new foreign teacher? WHO will be our new foreign teacher? -- doesn't she realize that I could potentially be leaving here in April and then what?.... they will need at least one new foreign teacher to cover the 4 classes I'm teaching right now AND at least one additional one if they plan on adding and new classes and enrolling new students.  

I tend to rely more on my TA Metis in general here
- to help me with my banking- wire transferring money 
-to help me figure out where/how to pick up my packages at the post office

Maybe my boss expects this- that my TA will be the one I go to. But being that SHE ( my boss) invited ME ( here to China). I thought there would be some sort of friendship or connection established. Not just "business as usual". 

I have ideas -( like most recently I emailed my boss saying that I want to do a Christmas Toy Drive at our school and have the kids/parents of our kids drop off toys in a box here at our school for the Foshan Orphanage) - and I bring them to her and she approves them-- but she does nothing to help me. So I'm thinking for the orphanage I've got to get Metis to help me... with everything. She's good though- so hopefully we can create something AMAZING for those kids at the orphanage in Nanhai ( and collect some really great toys). Probably won't start collecting until the last week of November. Around Thanksgiving. 

It's just been a "live and learn" kind of day. Just PRAY that all goes well tomorrow ( about 7 hrs from now - it's 11pm here now and I'm leaving at 7am tomorrow) and that I can leave China and enter Macau and then leave Macau and re-enter China ... easily. 

Blood May Be Thicker, But We'd Die Without Water ... just sayin'

you know this is true. ... and I'm saying this because I'm kinda frustrated right now.

( read: that's  a really sweet soft nice way of describing when someone with a long fuse like me starts getting angry- whereas short fused people would have already been wilin out and GONE.)

This surprise trip to Macau tomorrow is just the most recent example of ... the "new choice" ... fly by the seat of your pants"... etc. etc. stuff here that I am ...growing tired of.

Thinking on your feet is an important skill to have in your arsenal of human talents.
but it should not be your  regular "go to". Sure back in the day of the caveman yeah, but not today.

Not even when you are living in a foreign country - not when you are being HOSTED by the natives.

I'm going to drag my 140 lb body out on a limb and say something heavy here:
My boss has no idea what she's doing.

She's never run a school ( or "training center") before. She has never hosted foreigners before. She and her husband apparently used to have another business somewhere in China but it didn't work out, it didn't last. She has no Marketing Department here at the school ( because the Chinese salary is so low and she is difficult to work with - from what my Chinese co-workers have told me). We STILL don't have a second foreign teacher.

Studying abroad in college ( like she did) and living and working in a foreign country are two DIFFERENT things. If you are the principal of a school and you are HOSTING foreigners in YOUR country - you are the one who should know the rules and laws of your own country and check in to make sure that the foreigner is abiding by those laws (and ... maybe even help them setup their home internet or at least check in and ask how it is going).

I thought we had cleared everything up going to Hong Kong last month ... getting my visa "fixed" so that it was multiple entry and I could come and go for the next 6 months. But NO apparently I can come and go ... BUT  not completely on my own terms. I still have to leave once  every 30 days. I did not realize this until today , and I'm about 10 days late. If there's a little fee- my boss and I have already said that we will split the cost. Even though I am the guest. Even though I truly thought that I was set for the next 6 months and coould come and go as I please.

*SIGH* It's very hard for me to take my boss seriously as a boss when she has no idea what she's doing ... and as time goes by more and more, seems to be so self centered and careless. It's hard for me to take anyone like that very seriously.

There are a lot of people in China - and yes, you should look out for yourself and your family.
But I think the world becomes a sad... sad... place if we don't consider and look out for the people in our COMMUNITY. Our extended, non "blood-related" family. Our church family, our book club family, our improv team family, our co-worker family, etc. etc...

I feel like ( and I've read that this is true too) business relationships rarely become personal in China. It's very - sterile. The interaction is intended to benefit both sides and both walk away getting approximately what they want. But there's... something missing ... and it's not like I was hanging out all the time with my co-workers at my old job back in NYC ... but it's just a different feeling.

It's like everything is for the MONEY. We had our Halloween Party at the Foshan Golf Club, with 99% of the reason being that it could potentially attract new families to our school. Meanwhile - our center was decorated really cute for Halloween -- and all that decorating was pretty much done in vain.

I'm not all about MONEY. The majority of the time, I don't DO things for the money. Am I wrong or right? Should I care more about money? I care about being happy ... but I get that in a lot of different ways... not just through money.

I AM about relationships, community outreach, arts n crafts, singing, unsung heroes, creativity, animals, traveling, ... accidentally making money from tapping into your creativity and making/writing/creating something awesome...

I can't live in a sterile environment. It's time for the world to take off the gloves and get dirty.
Start caring about people outside of your gene pool. More importantly, at least realize that they matter.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This is not a blog.

This isn't really a blog post- just a list that I wanted to make. I was just exploring amazon and making some notes for future books to buy/read. I didn't have paper or pen and didn't want to store it in my phone -- so I figured I'd just open up my blog and post it here. Feel free to add your own suggestions ( or read any of my own!) here.  :)

Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China - by Philip. P. Pan

Postcards From Tomorrow Square: Reports From China- by James Fallows

Jenny Pox ( The Paranormals, Book 1) by JL Bryan

Tommy Nightmare (The Paranormals, Book 2) by JL Bryan

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I have been psychological you too!!!!!

These are a few QQ messages from Lisa that I wanted to post the other night. Just to save here. Just to have. My grandmother saved a lot of different letters from my grandfather when he was courting her and then when she would go away back to Ireland to visit friends and family or to Lourdes and on different trips and he was back at home with the three kids ( My Uncle Stuart and Aunt Mary and my father). I love old letters... I actually still have some "locker notes" that my childhood BFF's Joy and Lisa used to leave in between classes in my high school locker... and it's nice ( though sometimes, yes, a little painful and bittersweet) in the future to look back to see where you were... and where you are. 

QQ Message 10/20/11

I'm sorry, these time no contact you · · · · I these days are busy interview, are there more to guangzhou run, because there's a market, the company is much also, so the opportunity is relatively more, but a wonder every company after the interview to wait for second-round exam again, and will need to a few days time, so a little long, I now is full of things work, ha ha... But if we can find a job after stability, I think everything will be okay, although sometimes very negative, but I won't give up, thank you for your blessings!

Yesterday you why leave? Is the body uncomfortable? Still feel very tired so want to rest? I'm glad you like cantonese, and work hard to study it... Perhaps we could soon in cantonese simple communication? Ha ha.. I hope so.. As for English.. I think in my job stabilized, I'll go to English education institutions of learning in class..... I think in the near the ideal and life is to hope to be able to travel abroad.. And my passport had handled well..

So, this message made me happy. She sent it after we went out to dinner at "Modern Toilet" ( truly a surreal experience .... I felt like I was in an episode of "South Park" and that the "Christmas Poo" was going to pop out at any second... but contrary to what you might think, the food was pretty good there.) Seeing that her "ideal" future included structured "English classes" and "traveling abroad" made me very happy. excited. hopeful. -- It's crazy but for the first few times after we hung out - even while she was working at my school -- the day after hanging out (EVEN if I would see her at work) I would go through this type of withdrawal .... I would MISS her... deeply and a part of me feared that it would never be like that again... and I would get jealous all over again - of EVERYONE who could speak Mandarin/Cantonese better than me (which is about 99.5% of people in China at this point) ... and I would wonder who she was talking to on QQ ... because we had such a wonderful night ... and I wanted (want) more of that... and wanted to make sure that she did ( and does) too. When these feelings hit me I would try to just be grateful and appreciate the moment, the day .... but then HERE when she talks about LEARNING ENGLISH in a structured setting and BREAKING the communication barrier between us AND wanting to "TRAVEL ABROAD" it brought back that.... longing, that yearning... that hope....that things could and would be different.... and I became impatient and missed her deeply all over again. 

QQ Message 10/27/11

Lisa Li2011-10-27 00:16:06
Forgive me this time for your indifference, I the time is busy looking for a job thing, every day is guangzhou and foshan two places to visit, people tired heart also tired, I don't want to get my these negative emotions or not happy one side giving you, so I think a man silently bear it all, until I get a satisfied new work, I will be the first to leave a message to tell you!
Lisa Li2011-10-27 00:16:17
Please believe, not contact with or without any message doesn't mean that I am so that you forget, the more without the influence our friendship, actually, I have been psychological you!!!!!
Lisa Li2011-10-27 00:16:38
The last time not with you together movie because I went to the guangzhou interview back very late time, temporary change time but don't want to hold up your arrangement, so let you go and play. It will have a lot of such opportunities, rest assured! The weekend if no special circumstances I'll tell Helen ahead, look at whether we can have dinner together.
Lisa Li2011-10-27 00:16:51
As for last time KTV didn't invite your reasons, first because you still is on the late shift, the place is not easy to find more troublesome, another of my friends do not speak English, if you come over, they will feel unable to take care of you and feel very sorry...... In addition the KTV is my friend's friend, everybody is not very familiar with, so... But if the next time you have the right opportunity, I will invite you?

Sooooo.... this message above was sent as a reply to my "snarky sarcastic" (aka "I'm Missing You And PMS-ing") email where I questioned whether or not she truly wanted me in her life and told her that "In English, we have a saying: Actions Speak Louder Than Words". (not my finest hour. Or ....more accurately, not my finest 5 minutes for sure.). I knewwwww that she had been running around looking for jobs and that she was not having much success... and she was ( always is) working/trying SO hard. I knew that she was tired. The only thing that I didn't know was about the KTV night - until I went out with our mutual friend Helen alone one night - to dinner and a movie - when Lisa was in Guangzhou- that I found out about it. And, in hindsight ( and in reality) ... she's absolutely right. There was no way that I would have been able to make it to KTV that night. That workday was ( is always) a crazy one. I would have made it for maybe the last hour of the KTV ... I would have had to take a cab, alone. My phone was not working at this point ... so... it would not have made sense. I was definitely just overreacting out of jealousy here.  

--- but it's nice to see that I'm not alone in this crazy "withdrawal" as a result of  "the more without the influence of our friendship..." judging from her message, we have both been a little "psychological" (!!!!!) without the other.

QQ Message  11/3/11

Very happy to hear you speak cantonese, I believe that as long as you are willing to and study hard, and not what is not able to do it! I believe I also. I will learn English it, or I will be the social eliminated, ha ha.. And I'm glad to last Saturday and you can dine, made me feel a little love is, you don't like to eat fish head, but it's ok, next time you have time to hang out, we then find another good thing, can have, please believe that!!!!!

Lisa Li2011-11-03 23:14:22
This is two days or busy for a new job, for several days in the bus and subway of wandering around, it is a little tired, but I won't give up easily, so please don't worry about me, add a little small cold, but nothing serious also asks you to take care of yourself, health is very important. Free can leave a message

            Then Lisa sent me this message yesterday. Almost a week since we went out for dinner ( and yes, I ate fish heads for the first time). I have been practicing some cantonese from a free podcast that I've downloaded on my computer - CantoneseClass101.com- and I shared some with her at ( and after)  the dinner ( for example- Doh Jeh, Gum Yet Hoe Hoi Sum = "Thank you, I had a good time.").

          ..... she's very perceptive...lol. even though I said that the fish heads were "Hao Chu" - tasty, delicious, while eating them ( aka "swallowing bits whole without chewing much"), I think she knew that I was being a good sport for the most part and that I just wanted an excuse to see her. I sent her a reply email to this and told her that I DO love seafood and that we should go out for sushi here ... I love sushi! ( no bones, no eyes).

        btw-  I felt a "little love is" that night too. When I spotted her waiting for me in KFC, I rushed up to her and hugged her and said "I've missed you" -- and everything that was frustration and jealousy immediately turned back into it's original form - which has always been LOVE. She grasped my hand and we walked arm in arm to the restaurant ( with our friend Helen walking beside us) and in that moment I didn't feel like I was grasping for dear life... or holding on to something that would slip away. Something felt more firm, more concrete. It felt as if it was 2 yrs from now and as if we could be on any street talking and walking together.

I wonder too at her joke, her comment ... about being the "social outcast" or " the socially eliminated" if she doesn't learn English. She speaks EVERY language - Cantonese, Mandarin, and her local hometown dialect - that her friends in her "social circle" speak here. None of her friends here really speak English. So I have to wonder, is she thinking about.... somewhere else? Thinking about sometime in the future when we move back to New York and she meets my friends and finds herself  immersed in that 99.9% English speaking "social circle"? .... I can't even... go there right now. I've gotta pull it back and stay in the "no day but today" mode. Let's get her a job and enrolled in some English classes -- and then she can tell me  her "heart feelings" as she has (typed) that she wants to tell me .... in words. (because I know she doesn't trust the safety/privacy of the internet)

ALSO - just a random fact about her. Lisa is the THIRD of four children. Where most families in China only have one to two children -- Lisa's family is truly.... different. ( secretly a bunch of rebels I bet!) She has an older brother, an older sister, and a younger brother. So .... leaving the country to live in the USA... her family would still have 3 other kids to rely on ( and eventually live with). I'm just sayin'...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hungry for More. *nom nom nom chomps on a book*

Thinking about "The Babysitter's Club" after that last post.

I wish "The Hunger Games" was as long as "The Babysitter's Club" -- AND I wish it had a "Little Sister" series version ( remember like Karen - Kristy's Little Stepsister had !!!????). PRIM could have her own series .... ( a kind of prequeal series -  with her as the narrator .... leading up to the "Mockingjay" book.)

*SIGH* I just enjoy really good books with great characters and it's sad when they come to an end. I think a lot of people feel this way. That's probably why/how all of the "fan fiction" for different tv series, book series, etc. started to pop up. People can't let go of ..... these "other worlds" that they become emotionally invested in.

One of my childhood best friends, Joy (aka Carissa DiMargo - I'm one of the handful of people - maybe 8 in the world who call her "Joy") and I used to go to the mall on weekends with her mom. We would go to "Waldenbooks" - before Barnes & Noble took over the world- and look for the LATEST BSC book. Drinking our pink lemonade and eating hot dogs at the place in the food court. It's funny actually, I think the ONLY other book characters/events that I have ever dreamed about ( besides that dream I had a few months ago about "The Hunger Games" being a REAL thing... and Beijing being "The Capitol") were things involving the BSC back in the day.

I remember I had one dream and it was SPECIFICALLY about Adam Pike. Adam, Byron, and Jordan were Mallory Pike's triplet brothers ... but I remember, God knows why, this dream was just about HIM.

I heard a rumor that Ann M. Martin didn't really write all of the BSC books. She originated the idea for the series --- but I think at one point a lot of them were written by "ghost writers" at Scholastic. Which would explain whyyyyy "Dawn" was a "vegetarian" .... and yet she ordered "CHICKEN" instead of "SPAGHETTI" on the airplane during the flight to California in the "SuperSpecial #5 - California Here We Come" or whatever it's called... when she takes the BSC to visit her dad in California. It would also explain the variation in Mallory Pike's hair color description - sometimes "brown" .... MOST times "red".

Maybe I'm being a little nerdy about this -- but it just goes to show that these details STICK when you're a 10-11 yr old.

I need to order something new to read online and ship it to my parents house and then have them ship it to me here in China. Yes- I still REFUSE to give in to the whole "Kindle", "online reading" or whatever you want to call those.... computerized/ sanitized... "books" (aka: still jut computer screens) evolution that's going on. I'm not on board with that yet. I enjoy the texture of hard cover vs. soft cover.  I enjoy the colors and variety of paper texture in each book. I even enjoy the smell of books .... especially those old books that you find in your basement that have a smell that's a combination of mildew and memories and ... love. I can't give that up.

ESPECIALLY children's books..... CHILDREN'S BOOKS are 95% about the illustrations .... and each artist is so different from the other. Look at "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" or "The Little Engine That Could" or "The Berenstain Bears Book Series" ... take away the drawings... put them on a computer ... and they are just ... CARTOONS. VIDEOS.

I will give my books to used book stores. I will recycle my books. But to me, a "book" will always be a "book.... ...and a "computer screen" will always be a "computer screen".

( SIDENOTE: I truly had no idea that this entry would turn into this rant... I originally intended to post some cute QQ messages from Lisa here... but clearly this hunger for  REAL books was more pressing!!!!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Don't Want To Go Too Far Away....

(ironically enough) - now that I'm on the other side of the world.

OK - so yeah I'm givin ya' TWO posts BACK TO BACK here ...
for the low, low price of ... "FREE if you wanna read em'"

I just got hit with a wave of anxiety. I've got butterflies in my chest creeping up into my throat. They started after reading a beautiful post about "beautiful Taipei" on http://www.myseveralworlds.com

In the 45 seconds it took me to read that post I realized

I don't know where I want to be.
I don't know what my next 'concrete' ( non-vacation-related) step will be.

Thinking about next year, like I said in my previous post - KNOWING that time is going to fly here in these next 6 months. It's all going to happen, and be over, very soon.

I kind of feel a little like Stacey from The Babysitter's Club (anyone in their late 20's to mid 30's reading this might remember this book series back in the 1980's-1990's) in that book- what was it "Stacey's Big Decision" or something? I forget... when her parents are getting divorced and she's trying to list the pros and cons of living in either NYC with her dad and her best friend Lane or in Connecticut with her mom ... and her other best friend Claudia and all of the rest of the BSC.

My situation is NOT THAT similar ... my parents are still married and I never had to make a choice like that when I was 13 yrs old. But still, right now, the feeling.... is similar. Deciding where I go next year.... is a big decision. I don't want to leave anything important behind.

I have personal vacation plans for my immediate future here - a trip to Chiang Mai Thailand to live with the elephants and the rest of the animal family here for a week here http://www.elephantnaturepark.org in January (I already put down a down payment and bought travel insurance). I'm going to spend a few days back visiting Hong Kong in February or March. Then a one week vacation to either Tibet or Phuket in March/April before heading home....

Then yes, I will go home in April 2012 and ENJOY my FAMILY and FRIENDS and my HOME. My HOME BASE ... NEW YORK in the good ol' USA. Then I anticipate coming back for my second year of teaching two months later, in June.... but where will I be coming back to?

Thinking of Lisa and how much work and time I want to put into this... I don't want to go too far.

I was talking to/emailing with my recruiter Carrie Kellenberger (who is the Global Director for Reach To Teach Recruiting and also the creator of the blog/travel website that I mentioned above http://www.myseveralworlds.com ) about living over here... and all of the cultural differences in regards to decision making and communication. It can be a little frustrating because communication is not as "direct" here as it is in the West. In my email to her I compared it to playing the improv game "New Choice". I also opened up about being a little lonely and wanting to find a bigger expat community and possibly a gay community. I had no idea what kind of response I would be given, but she was very warm and understanding. She is originally from Canada. She and her husband have been living in Taiwan since 2007 I think... and before that they were in China for a few years. Reading her email was like a breath of fresh air.

Here is the last email that she wrote back to me ( see below)

Hi Katy,

OK. I don’t have QQ, so I guess we’ll just have to rely on good, old-fashioned email for now. When you do get a home internet connection, please let me know. I’d be happy to give you a call anytime!

I’m glad to hear that you worked out the training issues involved with a new teacher at your school. It sounds like you’ve come to a very fair agreement with your boss.

I know exactly what you mean about your comment on New Choice. This is such a Chinese way of dealing with things. I actually wrote about this on my blog several years ago. I’ve attached the image here. I hope you get a bit of a laugh from it. This lady by the name of Yang Liu was born in China and she moved to Germany. She came up with a series of icons that explain the differences between Eastern and Western cultures. Anyways, my whole point with this is that almost every foreigner experiences the same feelings that you’re experiencing right now. I’m glad you’re reaching out and talking about this, and I really wish my blog wasn’t blocked in China so you could see what I’m talking about!

The image is Dealing with Problems and this is what I wrote as a quick blurb underneath it.
No doubt this one frustrates all Westerners living in Asia. I’m sure we frustrate Asians to no end with our own problem solving techniques.
Westerners tend to take the most direct approach to problem solving, while problem solving, decision making and relaying information in Asia is a bit more complex. Often the most direct approach is ignored, the information is never delivered, and sometimes the problem is never dealt with.

I really wish I knew of an online forum in China that you could join, but the only one I know of is on MiddleKingdomLife.com. The forums are here: http://middlekingdomlife.com/forum.html

The other thing I wanted to address in this email are your plans for June 2012. I can definitely help you find a position in Shanghai or Beijing. Both cities have large expat communities and you wouldn’t have any problems finding and making friends. With that said, if you’re interested in coming to Taiwan, we could certainly work something out for you here as well. The LGBT community here is huge (in fact, we’ve got our LGBT parade happening in downtown Taipei tomorrow with over 10,000 participants).

Anyways, now that my ‘chapter’ is complete, over to you! :) Just joking.

Have a great weekend, Katy!


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This picture above is the "East Vs. West Communication Styles" image that Carrie was referring to.
(The BLUE = THE USA, EUROPE, etc... The Western World. The RED = CHINA, JAPAN, etc. The Eastern World.)

At this point I am thinking of going to Shanghai. It's a little further north but still considered "in the south" of China. It's a big city with a big expat community and plenty of bright lights and distractions. It's not too far from Lisa.  Taipei is... a world away. I really want to say "Taipei" ... but to have a big gay pride parade and a ton of expats around you when you don't have the ONE person who you want around you.... when that person is a boat and/or a plane ride away... it's not worth it. (Plus I'm pretty sure Shanghai has it's own Pride Parade and scene anyway)

She- Lisa, is having trouble finding a new job here.  She's gone on several interviews in Foshan and Guangzhou -- but nothing has stuck yet. So if you are reading this and you are at all religious, if you believe in a higher power -please just pray that she be put on the right path and that she finds the job that she is meant to have. Pray that her mind be put at ease and that she is filled with a confidence and deep faith in herself and her abilities. Pray that her intuition is strengthened and that it guides her so that she intrinsically knows which jobs are worth pursuing and which ones aren't. Finally pray that she get all of the rest and good sleep that she needs. I know that she's been having trouble sleeping. I love her very much... I've told her before, early on, way back before she left Best Learning - that if she wanted to live with me next year, my door would always be open. I had told her that I would probably be moving to Shanghai. That offer still stands.

I can't go too far away .... not yet. Not on my own.

Full Plate

I have a feeling that these next 6 months of teaching here are going to fly by VERY quickly. I have reached my "maximum capacity" in terms of my classes and the time I have in each 5 day/35 hr work week here. My schedule is "complete". It currently looks like this.

Mondays- OFF
Tuesdays- OFF
Wednesdays- 1:30-9:30pm (teach Pre-K2 from 7-9pm)
Thursdays- 1:30-9:30pm (Teach Pre-K1 from 7-9pm)
Fridays- 1:30-9:30pm (Teach Pre-K3 from 7-9pm)
Saturdays- 9:30am-5:30pm (Teach Pre-K1 from 10am-12pm, Teach K Level from 2-5pm)
Sundays- 9:30am-5:30pm (Teach Pre-K2 from 10am-12pm, Teach Pre-K3 from 1:30pm-3:30pm)

We TRULY need another foreign teacher at this point. WeekDAY classes cannot be scheduled any earlier than 7pm because the kids are in school and/or eating dinner before then. WeekEND classes cannot be scheduled any later .... because the day is done for everyone at 5:30pm. So we need another foreign teacher in order to schedule more classes for the same time slots. AND/OR to hold classes on Monday and Tuesday nights.

My principal has not had much luck with men. I mean, with prospective male teachers. The first guy who went to training in Beijing with me, Robert, backed out of his contract because he was worried about his visa. (ALSO - in my opinion he was not qualified... ) He only had his Associate's Degree, had no experience dealing with kids in any work-related situation, and he was very "quiet" and "passive" and not very "outgoing" -- which, unfortunately seems to be the fatal flaw that hinders all of "our men". The 2nd guy left after just two days because he too was worried about his visa. Then this 3rd guy from Ireland came in for an interview but Linda thought that he was too passive- standing back rather than interacting with the kids. THEN just the other day we had a 4th guy come in. He seems really sweet and happy and good natured.  He's from Washington, DC. He speaks Mandarin and has lived in China before, for 6 months. He miiiiight be teaching with us... however, he had to take the contract home to review it with his family. To see if it's good? I don't know. I think it's a decent contract for a "3rd tier city" like Foshan.  I think it's good for your first year living in China. If you're living in Shanghai or Beijing you're naturally going to be making a little more because the cost of living is higher.

We have a LOT of dynamic, loud, active, opinionated women working in my school. I count myself as one of them. It's funny though because for most of my everyday life, in general back in the US I'm pretty "blowin in the wind"... "go with the flow".... and I don't stress too easily. However, living in a foreign country has brought out another side in me.

It's kind of like with siblings - say when a younger, maybe just about speaking age- 2 yr old girl has a very talkative, helpful, older 5 yr old sister who talks FOR her ... sometimes there is a speech delay in the younger sister. She doesn't feel like she NEEDS to talk because she has so many other people talking for her. ( and usually making the right choices).

But here - I don't have that "older sister".... I have to look out for myself and make sure to double check to  "dot my i's" and "cross my t's" and read between each line. I have to make waves a little bit if I expect to get things going. (like making sure that I had two days off here, etc.)

It's not that I always had other people talking FOR me .... it's just that I could trust my surroundings more easily in the US. Believe me, just because I may have a longer fuse than other people, doesn't mean the explosion is any weaker. -- and that's not meant to be a threat ... it's just the truth man! lol. We ALL have breaking points. But there is that space between "catering to other people" and "breaking point" that's called simply "standing up for yourself" --- and that's the place that I'm living in on a regular basis right now. Just firmly but calmly making sure to always stand up for myself.

So between me and Dona ( my TA from Uzbekistan) and Metis and Bella (MY TA's both from China).... we've got a loud, active, fun, bunch of women in the Academic Department. I think if I was a man... I might be a little... overwhelmed? lol. Maybe it would be easier to hire another woman? ...hmmm  I don't know how this story will unfold.

Stay Tuned.