Dec 31, 2010


I never really liked New Year's Resolutionss.

I have this idea that people should be healthy/build character/and try new things without having the pressure of a year's timeline.

This year, though, I'm having a lot of fun with them. I was lazy and didn't want to plan a class for this week so I thought what better way to use up 1.5 hours than to have students make New Year's Resolutions and do various discussions.


It was a perfect class. I got to ask them about how they view this New Year (Jan. 1) and the Chinese New Year (according to lunar whatever). They told me these long stories about how "modern" changed the name of the first day of the Spring Festival to this "Western celebration" to make China more "worldly." But they view "both" as the beginning of the year.

How can you view both as the beginning of the year? The year starts twice? I asked them.


Um....ok. Chin.ese logic.

None of my students had ever written New Year's Resolutions down before and most told me they never even thought about it. It was like a revolutionary experience to think about how you have the power to choose to be different or do something new and different. And if you write it down, it might happen. You are choosing purposefully to do something. That was like a whoahthing for some of them.

So, I shared with them my New Year's Resolutions. I thought it was only fair to give them some examples before I made them write a list and share it. Here's my NYR...keeping in mind that I do not out any deep stuff on the list because, duh, character stuff and personal growth stuff should be ongoing.

Jessica's NYR in no particular order:
1. send more postcards
2. enroll in a dance class or yoga class (any kind of class)
3. learn to cook some chinese dishes (i only know dumplings and easy stuff)
4. be more kind to strangers
5. create an orphan donation website
6. grow herbs in my dorm
7. learn to knit
8. read more for pleasure (I haven't read one non-school book since beginning my PhD program)
9. become better friends with the people in my dorm (I keep to myself a lot around here)
10. remain alcohol free and low on caffeine, no more Diet Coke ever (I've not had alcohol in 6 months, caffeine of any liquid form (including diet coke) in 4 months, when my medicine is up I want to remain alc free and low caffeine/no DC)
11. train for and run another 1/2 marathon (this one was a bust this year...)
12. manage time better, less computer, go outside more
13. take more/better pictures (my "nice" camera died a year ago and since then my picture taking has decreased in quantity and quality...sad since I live in such a beautiful place)
14. learn more Chi.nese pop songs
15. save 1/6 of my total income (on target the last 4 months)

Topics I want to learn more about in 2011:
-ESL teaching methodology
-american and chi.nese history (some people were asking me about the early american colonies the other day and I had no idea about dates, ugh, embarrassing. and chinese history because, well, that's obvious)
-public health initiatives in Hangzhou - what can I do personally to help with a grassroots effort to spread the awareness of germs/infectious diseases, etc? There must be something.
-jokes, I need to know more jokes in english and one joke about "european" in the bathroom is getting old...

So there they are. My resolutions.

My students came up with some very different resolutions of their own which I think are a nice little glimpse into Chin.ese society.

They said (keep in mind these are 25-55 year old doctors and nurses, mostly female):

-buy an air conditioner for my parents in the countryside
-have a baby
-get permanent eyebrows
-more time away from the computer
-be more patient with my husband
-learn to bake a cake
-learn to swim
-learn more songs (chin.ese)
-buy a better phone
-buy a bigger tv for my parents
-teach my son to be a good man
-make more money
-get a boyfriend/girlfriend
-keep in touch better with my parents

I enjoyed this with them and wondered why I hadn't been doing resolutions all this time with my classes! Live and learn!

My students were uber presh and brought me New Year's flowers. They know they way to my heart! I felt so special (and a little bad for everyone else) when I was riding the bus home with a bajillion flowers on my lap. It was also the first time the bus has ever smelled good. ;) I love my studes.

In other news, today after classes I met up with an old friend, Penny.

I met Penny my first year in and we hung out several times. She is an amazing human. She's been living in Texas the past 1.5 years studying at Abilene Chrstan University. It was so amazing to catch up with her. I love hearing about America from her perspective (we have so many bands, not just singers, we sing more richly, there is Chrstn music, we are too shallow, the sky is so blue, the stars are gorgeous at night, we plan our lives so far in advance that it's overwhelming, and we don't eat enough vegetables).

She told me that when she first got here to HZ a few days ago she was overwhelmed by the traffic and didn't know how to cross the road! She can't believe how many people are everywhere and how loud it is and she is so happy to have food again.

Our time together was precious because we can really connect on a deeper level. I really wish that girl the best! She's studying something very adversive to her own culture, yet she loves her own culture very much. I will never understand what it's like to be in that position, and I admire her all the more for it.

I'm off to shower, nap, and get some last minute homework in before the festivities begin!

Me and Penny!
my students and my New Year's flowers! :)

I tried loading videos and it didn't work. I'll try again later.

I hope you are getting some reflection as the year comes to a close!

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 30, 2010

More Fave 2010 Videos.

As a tribute to 2010, I'm posting some of my fave videos from the year! I don't take nearly enough, but there are a few gems hiding out in my iMovie.

This first one is self-explanatory...a little candle-lit amazing grace in a foreign language. Don't mind the tone deaf person holding the camera. :/ haha

Next a little glimpse into what living in China is like on festival days...sounds like a war zone from the fireworks/firecrackers that are lit off...everywhere. No laws. In a fit, I grabbed my camera to document it one night that I couldn't sleep....haha. Don't mind the cranky attitude..haha:

The sunrise on Yellow Mountain after hiking up at night and sleeping in a tent at the top. May, 2010. These are the mountains that inspired the mountains in Avatar. And they don't let you forget it either. What you can't tell from the video is that my friend Jennie and I were in the very front of about 50 people all on this peak waiting for the sunrise, it was crowded, but we were stoked to be in the front and not backing down, until finally we did and swarms of people took our place. It was gorgeous and there were birds singing, what more could you want out of life?:

At the orphan hospital a few weeks ago:

More to come tomorrow!

Walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 29, 2010

the drunk monk.

Today was hilarious.

It's not every day a drunk monk gives me is phone number.

Say what? Ya, you read that right.

Here's the story.

I get on the bus minding my own beeswax, earphones in place blocking out the world, and take my usual seat in the back corner. The bus rolls to the next stop and two golden robed monks stumble onto the bus. "Haha. National Geographic moment," I chuckle to myself, then keep on listening to Rhianna.

A few minutes later, I realized that the people behind me are talking about me. I turn around and there are my monk buddies, beet red in the face and reeking of alcohol. "Nihao," I say, smile, and turn back around.

"She speaks Chinese!" one of them says, "Go talk to her!" At this point, the seat next to me is empty because people would rather stand than sit next to a foreigner (true story).

Two seconds later a crisp golden robe emerges into my perephial vision and there plops a monk beside me. I inconspicuously take my earphones out because I know what's coming. A question/answer session with my new friend. I had been exposed as a Chi.nese speaker and therefore lost all rights to privacy for the remainder of my time on that bus (30 minutes).

MONK: Hello.
ME: Hello.
MONK: How old are you?
ME: Guess.
He stares at me blankly.
ME: Ok nevermind, I'm 24.
MONK: You foreigners look so old.
ME: Thank you.
MONK: Are you married?
ME: No. I am too young to be married. (my standard response to make me feel better).
MONK: In China we get married at 20. (not true).
ME: That's nice. Are you married?
MONK: No. I wear these clothes. I'm drunk. We just went to a party and we drank a lot of alcohol.
ME: Really? Oh. haha. It's ok.


MONK: Do you have a boyfriend?
ME: No. No one likes me I'm too tall. Other people are cuter than me. (standard response).
MONK: Oh. I wish you one. (basically wished me good luck to find love).


ME: So you are a love Buddha person?
MONK: Not really. Almost love Buddha.
ME: How did you be a monk?
MONK: I did not get high grades in school. Could not continue. So I go to the temple. Now I make my family proud and I live easy.
ME: Where do you live, the temple?
MONK: nods head and smiles. Have you been there?
ME: Yes. 2x. Once alone and once with my mom and sister.
MONK: Your mom and sister are in China? Good I was worried about you not being married living here alone.
ME: No, they came to visit me. I am fine here alone.
MONK: No you are not.
ME: silent (keeping peace).


MONK: Are there Buddhists in your country? (he never asked me where I am from)
ME: Yes. There are many religions in my country. I am a Chrstn.
MONK: Yes, I know.
ME: How do you know?
MONK: I know.
ME: Ok.
MONK: Do you have time?
ME: Yes.
MONK: I want to see you again. When you have time.
takes out a piece of paper from his pocket and writes his phone number. Monk sitting behind us lets out a weird sound.
ME: Your phone number?
MONK: Yes. I am so happy to know you. (repeats about 10 times).
ME: My stop is next. ....insert standard Chin.ese farewell...
MONK: extends hand awkwardly for a handshake. I am so happy to know my new friend. I am drunk. I am Chen. (his name). Call me.
ME: Goodbye, Chen.

As I made my way through the crowded bus, I looked back and saw the two drunk monks giggling. A drunk monk just gave me his digits, I thought. Oh my gosh I love my life. And I love being able to speak Chi.nese so these encounters are possible.

Chen the monk. (with some digits blocked out)

and it's written on the back of a monk talent show advertisement from 2009:

seriously, is this real life?

To countdown to the New Year I am going to be showing my favorite videos of 2010. Unfortunately, videos take forever and a day to load, so I never load them. But I really should. Because this crap is funny.

Today's video was taken on Valentines Day/Chinese New Year 2010 on a bus from Phuket to Bangkok, Thailand, which we referred to as Banger because we are really mature. We had no idea how long the bus was, we were in seats over night, we were dirty and were fed random Thai sandwhichs, and the bus kept playing the strangest music while everyone around us slept.

Sometimes when I need a good giggle I watch this clip. Enjoy. There's more where this came from.

That bus ride ended up being 10 hours. And yes, the same energy was there when we reached the Banger. Because there was a Dunkin Donuts at the bus station. PTL.

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 27, 2010

Thanks Red Cross Hospital...

...for the memories~

I am happy/ecstatic/pleased/overjoyed/tickled/relieved/stoked to announce that today was my last trip to the Red Cross Hospital to pick up my monthly bottle of TB candies.

I have 2 more months on the treatment, but I talked the doctor into giving me two bottles since around this time next month I'll be in glorious America. It's much easier to get two bottles now instead of trying to get them earlier at the end of this month or trying to go get a prescription from my home doctor. So much easier to just bat my eyes at a Chin.ese lady and save all that hassel.

Even though I still have to take those 3 little pills every day for 2 more months and one more blood test before I go home in January...I am so so happy that I never have to go to the TB clinic again. It is one part of this journey that is over.

My friend Steph accompanied me to the clinic (I don't panic if there's someone with me) and then we went to a coffee shop to study. Everything went smoothly, Steph and I were even excited that we could read most of the windows in the clinic - where to pay, where to get meds, etc. Our reading is getting good! (well hers is...mine is....ok.) :)

After exiting through the meat locker curtain doors I did a little jig and started singing the old classic Audio Adrenaline from my days of attending Chr. Rock concerts with my dad, "I'm free.....dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun I am FREEEEEEEE!" I turned and bid everyone goodbye, better health, and told them to stop spitting on the floor. That's what got all you sickos in this mess anyways.

Going to the clinic each month these last 4 months has been an interesting experience. I've seen farmers barter in panic for their medicine. I've been cut in line by women wearing sequins. I've looked at cloudy x-rays of people with full-blown TB and heard them get given their prognosis. I've had to plead my case to a doctor in a language that is not my own while other patients stared at me and listened and talked about me.

I've been humbled by my "being one of them" and the fact that my body is not invincible. I've been humbled by the help I've recieved from people making this process so much smoother than if I had to figure it all out alone. I've been humbled by the willingness of my friends to listen to me patiently while I lament the situation. And by my friends Hannah and Steph who each went will me once to the clinic (it's far away) and listened to me say my accidental word choice when I'm panicked (hint-rhymes with duck).

Some photos of my last day at the clinic:

Steph opting for safety from the germs:

gettin' those pills: (at this point I think I just said "jiggity jiggity jiggity" (made up Chin.ese) and handed her all my papers. ha:

Jesska wuz here:
I went back to the doctor who has helped me each time to ask her to take a picture with me. It was a really awkward encounter. She was upset I took the picture while she had her face mask on. She was talking to a patient and paused for our kodak moment. This woman is a gem:

This is one of those things where I'm not really sure why I've gone through this experience. Why have I seen these things and been in this place with these people? Why have I witnessed dying people in hospital beds and deplorable conditions? Why have I been the recipient of the kindness of a doctor who watched me cry (when I went alone)? Why have I had to face my fear of hospitals/blood alone in a foreign country? What will I experience years down the road that this TB journey has prepared me for?

I am content in knowing that this has been part of my life not for the drama, which there has been, not for the crazy stories, which I have many - but because one day I will draw strength from this experience.

Just don't let me anywhere near my doctor in the States who was ignorant enough to tell me, "oh, they have these meds everywhere it'll be easy to treat in"

Lady, come and see for yourself.

Or don't. Because it's over. I never have to go back there again.

Hallelujah, I'm freeeeeeeeee!

walk slow. xoxo.

ps- this marks 4 months without caffeine and 6 months without alcohol. Two more to go until both of these substances are ok again, I am debating in what way I will add one or both back to my diet. We'll see.

Dec 26, 2010

Christmas '10: A Celebration Story.

This Christmas (despite a minor gloom of homesickness and Ihatemydormroom-sickness) there was a lot to celebrate:

celebrate a friend's apartment having a live "Christmas" tree:

celebrate homemade jam cookies in my toaster oven:

celebrate bright lights at midnight church (and the snow flurries that followed):

celebrate Chin.ese friendships:

and international friendships and a place to worship somewhat freely:

celebrate hearing Christmas songs being sung in another language by people who love Him:

celebrate imported cheese from the grocery store as a Christmas gift:

celebrate a mother's soup recipe and a gifted ham to complete it:

celebrate having a family on the other side of the world:

celebrate Jesus. everyday. wherever you are.

peace on earth.
goodwill to all (near and far).

walk slow. xoxo.

Merry Christmas

Missing these folks today...

Thank God for skype.

Merry Christmas from Hangzhou.


Dec 22, 2010

Presents. Presence.

Well, while everyone is doin' the Christmas thang...I'll still be here. Bloggin' away. Like it's normal. Because well....everything around here is.

It's hard to truck on through what feels like should be a "break" of work and school. It's weird that Christmas just happens, amongst everything else I have to do.

I do love Christmas in though. Because it's so meaningful. It's the nitty gritty of Christmas.

I don't wake up to a tree surrounded by pretty boxes. I have gotten maybe a hand full of gifts in the past 3 years. I can name every one of them. A scarf from my good friends Katie and Laura last year, a snow globe from a student, a bottle of wine this year from Lin (re-gifted because I cannot drink alcohol or I'll die - dang tuberculosis). Presents mean so much more to me because there are so few. And when I get a present, it is really thought out, not because it's a mandatory gesture.

A few weeks ago I was skyping with my mom's 3rd grade class (so fun) and one student asked me what I wanted for Christmas. It caught me off guard because I haven't been asked that or thought about that in several years. It's my 3rd Christmas away from home, away from Walmart, away from Sunday sale catalogs and access to things I actually like or want.

What do I want for Christmas? These exact things ran through my head in this order:

An off-campus apartment with a washer and a heater.
A hand mixer for baking so I don't have to attempt to hand-whip meringue (I recently quit after an hour, dumb idea).
An orange cat.
A husband who wants to live in with me (in our off-campus, heated, with a washer apartment of course - and with our orange cat).
Baking soda.
An hour of being able to drink caffeine and then unlimited reign on a Starbucks. (I have been caffeine free for 4 months. NOT COOL).
A new boss.
A silicone cupcake pan that fits in my toaster oven.
A bagel.
A plane ticket to anywhere. Preferably, India. Or Greece. Or Egypt.

So basically, Santa, if you're out there...I want stability and travel and baking equipment. Who am I?

Anyways, I decided for this week's class that we would do Christmas (duh) but my way. In the past I was really restricted by what I could and could not do/say at Christmas time. I even got in trouble for decorating the door of my classroom with a felt red bow. No Christmas allowed, I was told. Basically the university system is a com.munist scrooge.

Well, this year I have no contract. Whooopdeeeedooo helloooooo Christmas.

I taught tonight and it went as expected. Good at first, then awkward, uncomfortable, and silent. I like when that happens. People are listening.

Then we sang songs. And I tell you what - it was gorgeous. We sang, Do You Hear What I Hear by Carrie Underwood, O Holy Night by N'Sync, The Christmas Song by Billy Whoever, and Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Amy Grant. All the good ones. And they loved it. Awkwardness dispelled.

Then I thought it would be a great idea to have an "elephant gift exchange." Last week I told them to bring in wrapped presents worth under 15rmb (about 2 bucks).

We played the version where you steal someone's gift if you want it and that gift can only be stolen 3 times. It was a medium level fail with an uptick at the end.

They don't want to steal each other's gifts! By finally they warmed up to the game and it ended up being fun for everyone.

Also, a difference in culture is that Chin.ese people do not open gifts in front of the giver. Because if you dont like it or already have it the giver would "lose face." (the Chin.ese idea of always looking ok).

Here, when you give a gift, the reciever says thank you, then puts the wrapped gift away until you part ways.

So this also comes into play in an elephant gift exchange game. They are forced to open the gifts in front of everyone. This was hard for them at first, but then it got better as the game progressed.

Oh, culture. Oh, Christmas in another culture. Again.

When I was walking to the bus stop after work I had a scary/sobering thought. I thought to myself, "I only get to teach people about Christmas while in 3 more times." (I've got 3.5 years left until I graduate and get the heck out of dodge).

Now there's a wacky thought. Only 3 more times. Ugh.

Here's my little doctor/nurse monkies, tonight there was a hospital-wide test, so all of the doctors could not come to class. All these people are nurses, anethesiologists, or other whatevers:

While I was cleaning up the room and closing down the computer we use for class I had a chat with the hospital's head nurse (very back corner of the pic in brown).

Her English is suuuuper low, the lowest of any student I have ever had. She is a very beginner. She is no where near the level of my intermediate class but she still comes. And she always stays after to chat. Of course, our talks involve a lot of Chi.nese, but we are able to communicate better one-on-one because in class she barely understands me.

We were chit-chatting about Christmas and I told her that I would be attending the hospital Christmas party on Christmas Eve. I had previously told them all I would not be going because of various bad attitude reasons, but have decided to go.

She got all excited and said in English. "we are happy!"

My cold heart was warmed. I don't need or really want presents while I am here in Chin.a. Of course there a a bajillion things that could make my life more comfortable and "better" like a hand mixer and a husband (ha). But in the end, what I really need to be asking for this Christmas is presence.

I need to be present here even when I am homesick.
I need to be present here even when I wish I could spend Christmas with my family.
I need to be present here when times are good and when times call for some long-suffering.
I need to be present with my students, classmates, dormmates, teachers, boss, friends, and strangers.
I need to be present in order to teach.
I need to be present in order to be taught.
I need to be present in order to know what to say and when to say it.

I need Father's presence.

...but just in case you're still reading, Santa...I'll take some baking soda, too. Just for good measure.

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 21, 2010

wtf moment #1865743974858

I was minding my own beeswax while grocery shopping tonight after a full day of classes and lo' and behold I came upon "WTF" moment #8 million and 2....

Look closely below the Prawn Crackers and what do you see?...

oh, just a newly stocked supply of Lonely God Crackers...


walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 19, 2010

Oh Come All Ye Faithful...

I MC'd the Annual Hangzhou Int. Fellowship Christmas Party today for the 3rd year in a row. It was at the fancy schmancy Sheraton. There were 600 people in attendance, mostly natives.

Good news was shared to strangers and those closest to me. And it was understood by many.

It was a good day. One of those days where you get home and think: all of this is worth it. The distance from family, peeing in troughs, no heat in winter, being stared at on the street, loss of friendships back home, language and cultural barriers, latent tuberculosis, being uncomfortable 90% of the is all worth it to one day hear, "well done, good and faithful servant."

When people get together, especially people from different cultural backgrounds, it is chaotic, hair-raising, nutso. But the end product is teamwork and joy. Every year the Christmas program is a testament to this idea: that all things done for good are worth it in the end, no matter how crazy the ride is to get there.

My table had 9 guests, we were only given 8 tickets, but I smuggled some more last minute. Of course 2 were these BFF's Christina, and Michael:

ZJU students and friends:

me and Namibia's Next Top Model:

the ballroom that housed 600 hungry people:

MC's for the 3rd year in a row:

L and her mother (she is in charge of the donations at the orphan hospital):

after the nativity play guests are allowed to go take pictures, this is always a ruckus haha:

I imagine that one day in heaven I will sit with many friends whom I met with today. And we will laugh about the giant Christmas tree that fell over, how the choir sang off key, the wisemen held bamboo wlaking sticks, how I forgot to load the music for Star's singing performance, and how the letters to "Merry Christmas" kept falling off the wall so that by the end of the performance it read, "Me is mas." We will rejoice in this day because we were together, and we heard Good News.

What a joyful day that will be.

Until then, we will celebrate Christmas.

...Oh come ye, oh come ye, to Bethlehem.

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 18, 2010

Adios, Ciao, 再见, Goodbye.

In my Ch.ina life, I tend to roll in groups of three.

First there was the Dream Team. My dearest friends, classmates, and workmates at HDU. There's also my CREW, my traveling group of the best people I will ever have had the chance to travel the world with. My best memories in are with these two groups of people.

Then I came to ZJU and bonded into a group of 3 again. Two of my classmates and I have become really close and formed a little unit. We sit in a row in class. We help each other out with school stuff, life stuff, living stuff. It's been almost 4 months together of intense classes and intenser lives. We bonded together quickly because we can get each other's humor because we are all native english speakers.

Today we lost a member. Waaaaaaa.

The three of us had breakfast together this morning one last time to say "zai jian" to Kenneth. He's going to Hong Kong next week to visit his dad, than back to Vermont where he will finish school.

Kenneth is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. First of all - he's seriously a global citizen. Born in Hong Kong, English passport, USA green card, and attending college in the US. What are you? :)

He's a comedic relief, always late, has a horrible memory, and doesn't believe in jackets in the cold weather. And he sleeps in class. Every day.

Stephanie and I will miss him these last few weeks in class! Our row in the middle of the classroom will seem so empty.

Our semester officially ends January 20th. But because some students are studying abroad for a semester, they must leave early to make it back for the "western" time line of classes beginning in January after Christmas.

Another of our classmates, Ondrej from Prague, also left this week. We had a jolly farwell for im in class. He was quiet and kind. I hope to make it to Europe one day to see all my European classmates. They're good people.

a goodbye breakfast of Hangzhou's famous xiao long bao and red bean soup:

on the street where I live. Peacin' out.

This is one of the worst parts of extended life abroad. People leave. Out of the afformentioned 2 groups of people (dream team and the crew) I'm the only one left. My classmates will soon be dispersed to new classes for the new term.

I was contemplating all the wonderful people that I have known in Hangzhou that are not here anymore and I was struck by how lucky I am to have come into contact with such great people. How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye hard.

Bon Voyage, dear friend!

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. ~Henry David Thoreau

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 16, 2010

emotions and a frozen pig.

Today was an emotional doozy.

I'm blaming Aunt Flow for my rollercoaster of uncontainable emotions (mostly low) today. It's been a rough ride. But all is well, I didn't run over any Chinese people, and I'm home, warm, and decently clear-headed.

It's common speech amongst expats that living abroad in a different culture, especially in an intense place like, makes your highs high and your lows low. I'm thankful as I've gotten older I've befriended my emotions. I'm a feeler, it's ok, and days like this one sometimes happen.

My poor teacher didn't know what was coming when he went around the room asking us if we "missed home." At that point in the day I was extremely low, and answered, "last year I didn't miss home, but this year I really miss home." When he asked "why"? I answered somewhere along the translation lines of, "this year blows." Oops. Of course I don't really mean that. In my heart of hearts, when I am still and quiet, I am content. I am pleased with my life, and I see divinity in at all. It's not an easy road, but it's my road and I'm not alone on it.

Work was great tonight and after returning home I recieved news that sent me working for many more hours. There is a possibility of something big on the horizon...but I'm just waiting it out to see what happens. Vague, yes. But I still want record that there is somethin' a brewin' in these here parts!

In cuter news:
My friend Rachel and I spotted this little piggy outside a hair dresser studio!


walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 15, 2010

joy to the world.

Snow happened today.

I decided against my bike and walked to class. The only thing that froze was my feet. I need some thick socks or better boots or something. But other than my tootsies, all body parts were decently warm and accounted for.

The international dorm was quite a site. Apparently, many people from African and South East Asian countries have never seen snow. It was a ruckus of African snow ball fights. A dude pummeled me with a hard snow ball as I was walking out of the dorm. I wasn't too happy about it considering I didn't even know the guy! And it hurt! but then I laughed realizing the hilariousness of it all.

While I was walking home I ran into my new friend from Iran. The first time I met him in our dorm (he lives here) he was weird and said, "we are friends?" when I told him I was from the US. Then he went into some speech about governments or something, I wasn't really understanding. Now, every time I see him I make sure to chat. Just because you are from Iran doesn't mean we can't be friends. He was telling me about the snow in Iran and that he is "no surprise this." (translation - this snow does not surprise him, it is normal). I told him I'm from Florida. He's never heard of Florida. I told him to come visit someday.

After class, Steph and I headed by bus to West Lake to check out the scenery. We didn't last long (cold feet, slippery ground = awkward Jessica), but we soon found ourselves warm and happy in a Starbucks admiring the scenery from inside.

I walked from there to work, about 30 minutes, because the snow was just to fun to pass up by taking a bus. This is the most I have seen it snow in HZ, it has snowed in the past, but never stuck. It snowed all day today, and is planning to snow into the day tomorrow. I can't wait to see what it looks like outside when I wake up!

Snow is fun when it is a commodity!

"...let heaven and nature sing...."

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 14, 2010

always winter never Christmas.

It's cold and I'm feeling dangerously honest.

I am sick and tired of Chi.nese people telling me they "don't have Christmas in"

This happens just about every day.

Well, I guess technically they are right. There is no holiday, we plug right on until the end of January in work and school. (those of you taking finals, I am officially jealous). There's no mention of Christmas on the streets except for the random odd decoration in a window. And the only places you can find Christmas music are the fancy mall or a Starbucks. (Which is probably why my trips to Starbucks increase exponentially in the winter, even though I have to buy a bottle water because they don't sell decaf anything.)

And truth is...most of these people have never heard the Christmas story.

It's like the white witch's Narnia..."always winter and never Christmas."

Well natives, I'm here to tell ya that Christmas is everywhere. Look inside yourself and wonder what you're missing. You see that little hole? Ya, that one that you fill with the desire of money and alcohol and western movies and Jackie Chan kungfu moves?

Fill it with Christmas.

The Christmas message and spirit is everywhere. Not within country boundaries. This isn't Thanksgiving. Christmas belongs to no country. It belongs to a child who was born 2000 years ago. It belongs to you and me.

All winter and no Christmas? That's a sad, cold way to live.

"Wake up, O sleepers! Arise from the dead! He has come...."

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 12, 2010

2 Party Evening = proof I'm getting old.

Last night began with a Christmas party at my friend's Shen Kan and Wei Wei's house. I took my classmate Steph along for the ride...

We sang songs and chatted for a few hours. Singing was a little strange though because I was the only person in the room who celebrates (or even is aware of) Christmas for its true meaning. And when the other Americans mocked "Sient Night" I was upset. But so goes life. There's haters everywhere. I kept it to myself and we still had fun. And I brought cupcakes decorated with sprinkles that my sister sent me from America! whoooo...

Shen Kan and Wei Wei were nervous for their first ever Christmas party, but they did a great job as host and hostess.
the whole group. Americans, one Brit, and Chi.nese. A beautiful mix of Chinglish all evening.

I left the Christmas party early to make it to KTV for Angel and Haiyan's wedding celebration. They were married on a whim last week, shocking most of us, but I still feel the need to suport my friends. We sang songs until about midnight when they went to another party destination and I went home...
Two parties in one night makes for a very tired Jessica. Maybe it's becase I live a caffeine-less life. Maybe I'm just old.

This morning was Chrch and Christmas performance practice. A friend and I were teaching the kids their dance performance. I could write an entire post about how frustrating it is to deal with parents from different countries with different parenting ideas. Screaming, crawling on the floor, defiant children are not dealt with the same here as in my home. And I had to bite my tongue to not "go american" on some parents. That would have been easy to do. But we've got to rise above cultural differences and just live. Just keep on.

Tonight is homework and learning more characters. Tomorrow starts another crazy week of this whacked out, nutso, blessed life.

Go outside and look at some Christmas lights for me. I sure do miss Christmastime.

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 11, 2010

Photo Update...

Just catchin up the little bloggy on recent-ness via pictures because tonight is full of events that will surely eclipse these recent happenings. And if there's one thing that we don't want - it's an event being eclipsed, kappesh?

So, here we go...I'm going to let these photos upload and go take a quick nap. I need some rest/patience in order to make it through the coming night. See you on the other side!

lunch with Hailong and Yangxue:

sweeties making sure I'm on the right bus, while I'm sitting in the bus taking their pic, haha:

Dr. Xue came over this morning and brought me this: a bread/chocolate Christmas Tree decorated with dog bone candies. Oh, Ch.ina. Clueless.

walking with my class:

my class at the Hangzhou Museum:

My British friend's first Dairy Queen!

I'm puttting on my sparkly pantyhose for a 2-party evening! First up a Christmas party, then a wedding's hoping for some endurance....

walk slow. xoxo.