Jan 31, 2011

Bienvenido A Miami!

My mom just completed her 36th half-marathon.

36. Thirty-six. th-ir-ty si-x. 三十六。

Obviously, I come from a crazy brood. The cool thing for me in my family's running obsessiveness is that I get to travel to awesome places!

This past weekend my parents loaded up the car and we drove 5 hours south to Miami!

The weather was brilliant - 70 degrees. Blue sky. Stars at night. Ocean as far as you can see from the hotel window. Friendly people. Orderly traffic on the interstate. I love America.

The best part of the trip for me was getting to see my old pengyou (friend) Patty! We were roommates in California at the start of grad school and lived across the hall from each other the first year in China. She's a workin' woman now in Miami and was able to move her schedule around so we could catch up for a few hours. What a joy.

Have a look for yourself:

Congrats to my mom the running rockstar! And yay for blue sky and old friends.

walk slow. xoxo.

Jan 27, 2011


"There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."

I made it home to Florida just in time for my Gramps' 81st birthday. Happy Birthday to the best man I know, the person whose advice I most cherish; a man admired, respected, and loved by many.

being greeted by Annie with a bop on the head...

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some major jetlag to attend to...


walk slow. xoxo

Jan 23, 2011

15 hours til the journey begins...

Today was presh.

We had chrch, rocked out some african/chin.ese/english tunes, ate middle-eastern food, then wandered around the tourist street with my friend's visiting parents and my friend's visiting friend (so fun for my friends to have visitors and to get to take part in the festivities!).

Then we ate green tea blizzards. YUM.

Since my new friend Mary is a doc, we sauntered our freezing toes into the Chinese Medicine Museum and took a little peek. It was choc-full of fake animal hides, jarred herbs, and other random things to cure "fear," "anxiety," and specific organ ailments.

It was cold inside (like every building here) but it was beautiful:

At the end of the museum there is a working pharmacy where pharmacists can be seen divying up the herbs for chinese medicine prescriptions. It didn't look too precise to me, haha.

the pharmacy was a huge tourist attraction...

Around dinner time we said our goodbye's...

And I got to say the most glorious words known to mankind...


Tomorrow afternoon I leave my home to walk a few blocks with my suitcases to the bus station where I will board a 3 hour bus to Shanghai. I'll be staying in a hotel near the airport, then taking off Tuesday morning and arriving home about 20 hours later via Detroit!

Because my flight leaves from Shanghai in the morning, I have to head there tomorrow because there is no decent way to get to Shanghai in the morning early enough. That means I'll have an evening of chilling in the hotel alone, reading, and being creepy people watching. One of my favorite things to do is watch people in the international terminals of airports. I've seen my share of marriage proposals, tacky signs, tears, awkward hugs, the "run and jump" greet, strangers shaking hands, and matching tourist groups with big eyes and bigger suitcases.

Speaking of suitcases, I packed up in about 30 minutes tonight.

This 2 day journey is old hat. And it's comforting going this way around the world. Whatever I need, I can get there. Coming here...that's a different story.

Oh America, you and your Target/Publix/salad and sandwhiches glory are so close...yet so far away...

15 hours til the journey begins!

walk slow. xoxo.

Vacation is Awesome.

I'm not sure there are many better ways to spend a day than today.

This afternoon we all met up for 2 hours of glorious KTV. Then we went to dinner and the night market - all very awesome things.

After buying out the night market (pearls! mittens! hats! socks!) we proceeded to the foot massage place. My foot massager texted me a few days ago that his store had moved locations. After a little fanagling, we found it and in we went for another foot massage adventure - seriously one of my favorite things with some of my favorite non-english speaking natives.

Because it is a new place, they decided to have a photo shoot of us:

About one hour into the massage, Bu Wei (the boss man, my friend) decided that my bruised knee from yesterday's fall needed some fixing. The fix would be to place hot cups around the bruise to pull out the blood to other areas and help it heal faster.

So before I knew what was coming, I had flaming glass balls attached to my bruised knee...

then, because I stopped caring, he placed them on the bottom of my feet, too. I have previously opted out of this part of the massage. Though, when my mom was here, she loved this!

This is what my leg looks like. I don't really believe in the medicinal aid of hot cupping. I think he just gave me more bruises. But whatever. When in Rome. I mean, Chi.na.

Then we had a little photo shoot with our new socks and our fave foot rubber.

and our other two fave foot rubber extraordinaires...

KTV, dinner, night market, and 2 hours of massage/stretching/picture taking = awesome day.

...When in Chi.na!

walk slow. xoxo.

Jan 22, 2011

Food and a Wipeout.

Today was good/weird.

I had lunch with my old boss, new boss and a few of my students. It was good for open communication between me and the hospital. Relationships (professional or personal) are such a different ball-game here, so these big meals are an important part of keeping everything cool.

Sometimes when I am in a group with these students I can't believe such professional and successful/smart people are my students. I feel in no way up to par with anesthesiologists, heart surgeons, and pharmacists. It's still strange to me that these people listen to and respect me. ha. I guess that's just an inferiority complex that needs to get worked out.

Anyways, it was a great time.

my old boss who is not my boss anymore (cue the angels), sidenote: Chin.ese people make me feel huge:

I went home to clean up a bit and then biked over to the best restaurant ever - Grandma's Kitchen to have a dinner party for my friend's parents who just arrived into town yesterday from America.

It was a great time, made me nostalgic for when my mom and sister came. I really wish they would come back (hint, hint). There's just something about having family around that is so special. Because we all live here without our families, when someone's comes to visit it is awesome.

After dinner is when things got weird.

We set out in a bike gang of 7 heading toward our friend's house to meet up with everyone again (some people taxied).

While we were biking cheerfully, I skid over some black ice and my bike flew out from under me. Before I knew what was happening I was face down on the bike path sprawled out.

I just layed there as bikes and motorcars skidded to a halt around me and slid to avoid me.

Miraculously (for real) no one hit/ran over me. This is seriously a miracle. I was in the middle of a group and no one hit me. Hallelujah.

I am shaken up and my knee is swollen and according to my doctor friend has a huge pocket of blood that will turn purple before it gets better.

It was a weird mix of emotions again tonight. First last night with the snow/fear/climbing thing and then tonight I was really not wanting to bother anyone with my hurtness. I didn't want anyone to wait for me and kept apologizing for being hurt. I hated the attention of people asking me if I was ok and telling me to take care as I left a few hours later.

These emotions are weird. I don't know where they are coming from.

But PTL it wasn't worse. I'll be fine by tomorrow.

I hope you are safe and happy wherever you are!

Walk Slow. xoxo.

Jan 21, 2011

a birthday bash with a side of fear.

Living as a 20-something female traveler in Chi.na has taught me that there are many things I am not afraid of.

Also - living as a 20-something female traveler in Chi.na has taught me that there are many things I am afraid of.

One of them being...snow.

It's not really a fear of snow, it's not knowing how to walk on it/deal with it.

It's been snowing for 3 days. This is the biggest snowstorm I have seen in my place of living ever. (Hangzhou had a huge snowstorm last year, but I was galavanting in Thailand at the time.)
Needless to say, I have no idea what to do/wear/how to get around.

(mom - this is the main gate of my school where you have been)-

Fast forward to tonight.

Tonight after my last class at work, I hurried over (after waiting for a taxi for one hour in the cold/sleet) to my friend Hannah's for her birthday bash! She is the big 2-5 and a gathering of friends were meeting to celebrate her existence...

after some food eating, game playing, and chit-chatting, everyone decided to venture up to their favorite new evening past-time- a fire on the roof of the apartment building (in a metal trash can). I went along with it because I have been hearing so much about the fires and how much fun they have been having up there. And it was Hannah's bday. So up I ventured (last) to the tunnel in the attic of the 7 story apartment building and prepared to crawl through the hole leading to the roof...

UM. There was a lot of snow up there. And even though cognitively I knew it was safe because there was a cement slab and a cement wall thing blocking someone's fall, I was still shaking and petrified. After I crawled through that hole it took me about 15 minutes to walk up the 10 feet of slanted roof to where everyone was gathered around the lit fire.

I froze up. First I was afraid then I was embarrassed. As someone who relishes adrenaline and drama, it was a scary place to be. My mind was thinking "Why the crap am I on top of a 7 story building in the snow. My tennis shoes can't handle this. I'm going to slip and die. This isn't worth it." But another voice was telling me, "All your friends are already up there safely. This is tried and true. Your friends are wilderness people and know this kind of stuff. It's just because you aren't used to snow. Get over it and stop being scared all the time."

Fear fear fear fear fear.

I've turned into quit the old lady recently. I've realized that my good times come from very different sources than many of my friends. I have no interest in doing anything that could be remotely dangerous.

But to my friends, walking over a slight patch of snow on the roof was not danger. So I finally sucked it up and made my way on my hands and knees. Getting down later wasn't quit so bad. I just slid down on my butt, causing severe coldness but ample safety.

I'm not sure why I was so afraid. In the situation there was not any present danger and many had gone before me. Yes, I am not used to snow, and yes I don't really like standing on a 7 story building made up to Chin.ese standards (aka crap-ola). But why did I make it such a big deal?

I hope for more stability in the future when I am faced with something that frightens me. At least for my friends' sake. Poor things, putting up with a drama queen red-head like me.

Here's some of our pics from the top:

Camp Ridiculous Reunion Photo:

all the remaining females at the shindig:

the trio of manly men:
oh, just on a 7 story apartment building in the snow, no big deal (to any of these people!)

look at those footprints!
and we made s'mores with products from Hong Kong (marshmallows) and a friend's care package from Ame.rica (crackers and Hershey's chocolate).

And it was a beautiful, snowy night.

Happy birthday to my dear friend, Hannah.

walk slow. xoxo.

Jan 18, 2011

one month vacay starts: NOW.

End of semester re-cap:

It's done.

These semesters seem a lot longer when you are a student than a teacher. It just goes on forever - past Christmas, past New Years, without taking a breathe. Then, suddenly, everything around starts popping up red, fireworks start erupting in the night, and lo and behold it is Spring Festival and we can finally end this sucker and be done with it.

Whewww. I feel good that it is done. I feel terrified that this PhD thing is just beginning. That was a hard semester and there are 7 more. Harder ones. (yes- SEVEN).

I plan on blogging more about school life next semester. I tend to not mention it here in e-world because there's not that much exciting stuff to say about writing Chi.nese characters over and over and over and over again until they get imprinted into my brain (and then soon forgotten). I want to fully document my months up to the HSK though, so stay tuned for whining, bemoaning, and cursing of the Chi.nese language. Maybe even some cursing IN the Chi.nese language - now that would spice things up a bit.

But I digress.

Yesterday was my listening test (lame) and then our final class dinner. My teacher was also lame and texted me that he was "too tired" to come to our dinner. Bucko, I used to fall asleep on the public bus because I was so exhausted from working all day and then spending the evening with my students. I know your life, I've lived it - you aren't that tired. So that was disappointing, but we still had a great dinner.

We ordered/ate ostrich.

Unfortunately, I took NO photos of the evening because I completely forgot to record my life. I was just having fun. Whatevs. Picture a plate of tender, pink meat, tasting like a hybrid of pork, silk, and oil. That's ostrich.

After dinner some classmates and I moved onto KTV where we let out our inner Rhianna. And I was reminded yet again why I am so happy I do not drink alcohol anymore (thanks latent tuberculosis!)

Around 11pm we headed home and called it a semester. That was the last time I will ever see some of my classmates (on this earth, anyway) so it was a special night. It was also my last time being their "monitor." They thanked me and jokingly referred to me as their "eternal banzhang." I pretended that was dumb, but really it made me feel special. We all need those moments of specialness. (note to self: remind someone this week they are special.)

Anywho: Today it SNOWED.

So what do you do when it snows? Of course go to the movies! I had already made plans to go to Xiasha where I used to work and hang out with Yangxue (my ex-student turned friend). We decided that we would go see Narnia 3 in 3D. (asians love their 3D).

Reinforcing my thoughts that my ears are not even, my glasses were a little crooked, haha:

after the movie, we had an amazing feast that had me saying, "what am I going to do without Chin.ese food for 3 weeks!" Seriously, Chin.ese food is so good.

then we had a little photo shoot in the snow/sleet. It is freezing cold, but not cold enough for the ground to freeze so everything is wet and the snow is sticking to everything but the ground. Walking in tennis shoes = not fun.

The movie was ok. 3D makes me dizzy. But the message of the movie was very encouraging.

Poor Yangxue had never seen Narnia 1 or 2 so I had to bring her up to speed really quickly - "so, there's this lion, he represents Good. there's these kids, they find a world called Narnia. in that world evil is in control, but then the lion gives his life and saves the world. now the kids keep going on adventures because evil is still in the world even though it does not have control..."

The movie is great fodder for conversation. And we both agreed on one thing, Prince Caspian is a cutie. ;)

“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”
“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that,
for I am the great Bridge Builder…”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Walk Slow. xoxo.

Jan 16, 2011

walk with me for awhile.

Here's a little snippet into my Chi.na life that I don't always share on the bloggy:

...sometimes I want to forget I live in Chi.na. Sometimes I hole up in my home, close the curtains, stay in my pajamas, and don't go outside for over 24 hours.

No one speaks Chin.ese to me. I don't speak Chine.se to anyone. I don't think about Ch.ina. I don't think about Amer.ica. I just...exist. There is no language, there is no cultural barrier to cross, there are no Chin.ese people making me go berserk...there's just me...in my bed, reading books, reading blogs, reading poetry....just living.

About once a month this happens - when I can't physically do anything that involves Chi.na.

This weekend was one of those times. And it was glorious. I read the book, Water for Elephants (SO GOOD) and got caught up on bootlegged uploads of The Batchelor (Brad Womack, really?)

I didn't take a shower, change out of my pajamas, eat a hot meal, or even leave my bed for about 30 hours.

When I woke up this morning I was refreshed, ok with Ch.ina again, and not really sure if my legs remembered how to move.

A friend came over and after she left, I decided to shower and go for a long walk since I basically lived as a vegetable for the past 36 hours.

I was reminded what a beautiful place I live in. Hangzhou is one of the prime tourist cities in Chi.na. I'm lucky to be here - it's much more "liveable" for foreigners than other parts of the country. And it's just plain beautiful.

I started at my house and walked about 10 minutes to the bamboo forest. Yes, I live within 10 minutes of a bamboo forest. ha...

it was peaceful and not many people were out walking. Must have been the 30degree temp...

I made my way for about an hour down Longjing Road, the road that leads to the tea fields. While I was walking I was reminded a little of Disney World because there are tourist busses that pick up passengers along the way, much like the Disney busses, haha...

A Chi.nese guy was following me taking my picture, so I made him take this of me. Public Service Announcement: If you're gonna be a stalker, I'm going to put you to work...(I'm lookin lovely in my 6 layers...)

Then I mae my way into the Hangzhou Flower Park...

snapped this pic, and then turned around because there was no one there and the sun was going down...
eventually I made my way to the waters of West Lake, Hangzhou's most famed destination...

it was cold, but I was happy to be out of the home and walking...

I looped my way back around and made it back to a main street by my uni, then walked to the grocery store. The lanterns are out for Spring Festival (Chi.nese New Year)...

the grocery store always has such friendly animal greeters, today it was Mr. Piggy...

It was a great weekend to recoop, rejuvenate, forget for a little bit, not think about the Big "C" and then go for a walk and remember that I do in fact love it.

My last final exam is tomorrow afternoon and then my class is having a goodbye dinner. Should be presh.

I hope things are good in your hood.

Walk slow. xoxo.

Jan 14, 2011

a life with a view.

the view from my classroom at the hospital, January 13th, 2011, 5:15pm.

echoes of mercy. whispers of love.

walk slow. xoxo.

Jan 13, 2011


Being caffeine-less at finals time sucks.

That's all I have to say today.

walk slow. xoxo.

Jan 12, 2011

About those orphans...

Last Saturday I had the priviledge of taking my friend Rachel's class monitors to the orphan hospital to drop off the money that their classes had donated.

I have a generic powerpoint about orphans in Chi.na that I passed around to some of my foreigner friends to show to whoever. My friend Rachel has a heart for justice and was very proactive in showing the PPT to her students and matching their gifts.

I'm thankful for her. It was a good morning. We spent about an hour playing with the kids on the two floors: the extreme retardation floor whose kids will never go up for adoption and most of whom will not live to adulthood (because of improper care). And the fourth floor whose kids have a greater chance of international adoption and long, prosperous lives.

Two of the male students teared up when I gave my usual speech, "orphans are not accounted for in Chi.na so there are no state statistics...there are 30 orphanages in our Province (the richest province in Chi.na)...because of the one-child policy handicapped babies get given up 98% of the time...blah blah babies and justice blah blah help the kids..."

I try to be objective - to not make critical remarks, just factual remarks. But I find myself becoming more and more cynical and bitter and judgemental and racist. The longer I stay here the more hardened I am. Idealism is still there inside me, but I see reality also. And reality sucks.

But, I cling to the hope that Someone above has always been here. That efforts for good are not in vain. And that even the smallest act of giving can help people to understand their own culture towards orphans and hopefully affect change in the decades to come. There's an incredibly long road to go in the realm of orphan care in Chi.na. I just have this tiny role, but it's my duty - to tell people, inspire people, and gather tangible things like money and supplies for as long as I live here.

Rachel's college students heard and responded.

That makes my cold heart a little warmer. When I see people - especially natives - responding to message of social responsibility, everything becomes a little bit clearer.

one of the students brought teddy bears bigger than the kids!...

there's so few downs babies because most of them get aborted, if a downs baby is in the orphanage it is because the mom did not recieve pre-natal care and did not have the mandatory downs test during the second trimester. I have a soft spot for the downs babies...

me, Lin, Rachel, and her students, and my friend Hannah...

You must do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.

walk slow. xoxo.