Oct 31, 2011

catharsis.

I am learning that not everything needs to be explained.

So without going into needless detail; I spent my Sunday at a wedding. Here are some memories:

...camo cans of beer in a pagoda in the woods before the noon "western" ceremony (cheers to my date for the day, Zach, who kept me somewhat sane and reminded me to pull up my dress every hour or so):

balloons (and mosquitos):

right after I had panic attack #1 (out of 2) of the day:

Asian games between ceremonies (feeding each other out of a bottle):

the grand prize:
the groom paying us a visit between ceremonies:

the Chine.se ceremony (over 400 people in attendance):

our table-mates who flew all the way from Canada for the occasion:

contemplating stealing the life-size groom cutout and taking it to the bar:

after 7 hours of wedding-ness, I end up here in the light tree forest:


a little video:


video

I learned something yesterday.

I am incredibly strong.

I have been blessed with the most amazing friends I could ever hope for - here, half way around the world.

I found out how incredibly strong I am - and when my strength cracks, there is a support system ready to carry the load.

Today I was having lunch with a friend and she said to me, "Aren't you so proud of your life experience?"

Yes.

Catharsis: achieved.







walk slow. xoxo.


catharsis: intro.

I did it.




More to come.






walk slow. xoxo.


Oct 29, 2011

official.

Look what came in the mail today from my boss in Shanghai?




Embossed and shiny.

Baller.

I'm a real adult person. Call me. :)


(but only if you want to marry me, give me money, or help me write my dissertation in Chin.ese.)







walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 28, 2011

my heart.

Fun fact: I have been called by two different men on their wedding day. One white, one yellow. One the month after I graduated college and one last summer.

The human heart is able to withstand so much.
We really are resilient, aren't we?

I was hand delivered a wedding invitation today. By someone I have not seen in 1.5 years. My first (naive, ignorant, immature, reckless) love.

It came with a side of, "You know you will always be special to me."

One of the most painful sentences to hear.

(don't worry, I sweated it all out on the treadmill and left my feelings there to die).

My poor, bitter, non-overweight heart.

This weekend is going to be a doozy - tutoring 2 kids, a Halloween party, online work, shopping for a wedding gift, gym, coffee with a friend, getting my hair done - all culminating in Sunday's all-day wedding festivities.

The heart is a resilient, courageous organ.






walk slow. xoxo.




Oct 27, 2011

what the...?

A monumental occasion occurred yesterday afternoon.

I put on my big girl panties and actually went to class.

(haha.)

I showed up ten minutes early with my 800 bags in tow (gym bag, school bag, work bag...I carry around so many bags,) and stood in the hallway of the education building trying to chat it up with my random classmates.

*please like me, please like me, please take pity on me* is my new mantra and I just made fun of myself and acted a fool in Chi.nese until I had my classmates laughing and looking at each other like, "who is this girl?"

But alas, time for class came and I resorted to old habits and hid in the back by a student who did not look the least bit happy to sit by me, "crap, I don't want to have to help this girl," his face said.

From my hiding perch in the back...

Class went along and I understood less than usual. They are giving presentations on topics like, "phenomenology" and "hermeneutics" (this is after looking them up in my dictionary...)

My class notes have nothing to do with the class topic, but instead I make a stream of consciousness list of new (or forgotten) Chine.se words I hear being used...

I would be lost without my dictionary. But sometimes, the dictionary fails me and I find myself playing a silent game of, "what the *beep* are they talking about??"

I look up a sound of what I think I heard. Then the trusty dictionary gives me a list of options it could be - all based on the tone the sounds were said in - (yikes). Every so often, this list makes no sense and leaves me wondering what the heck these people are talking about.

Exhibit A in the game of, "what the *beep* are they talking about?"

my choices: disastrous or silkworm eggs.....?????

Exhibit B...

prison, spiritual tongues, or domain/sphere/territory....????

Exhibit C....

bonnet, statue of Mao, or human chronic gjoijvjnslivnd...???


Then of course, the ultimate act of, "I do not care" - self-portraits in class.



Silkworms, jail, Mao, bonnets...what are these people talking about?!??!?!

I have no idea. And somehow I am supposed to pass this class.

ha.






walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 25, 2011

BAM.

This morning I woke up feeling great.

I threw on my workout clothes (I'm bringing spandex to asia, one awkward bike ride at a time) and headed to Starbucks (right next to the gym) to meet my friend Jess for our weekly debrief session. Then I said words I never thought I would hear myself say...

"I can't wait to get to the gym and weigh myself."

Um....what? She laughed at me. I meant it.

After a month of hovering stagnant 2-4 pounds over my goal weight that I set for myself in February...I just knew it was today.

Yesterday I took a "rest" day. It was almost painful. I "ate clean" (bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, oh my!) and just chilled at home when I would have been at the gym. I watched an episode of Biggest Loser and played with my cat and had to verbally tell myself, "No gym today." It's become that much of a habit - or need.

A rest day was just what the fat fairy ordered because when I got to the gym today I practically ran to the scale, that was being used by a naked Ch.inese person so I had to wait which made it even more climatic...

I hit my weight loss goal!!!! I squeeled on the scale and the cleaners stared at me and the naked people blow drying their lady bits stared at me and the yoga teacher in her flowy garb stared at me and I did.not.care. I did it - 5 days short of the October 30th deadline I set way back in February.

I weighed myself 2 more times just to "make sure" and practically floated out onto the floor and ran a celebratory 5k in 29 minutes. (another sentence I never thought I'd say).

I'm floating today. I am so happy. Nothing can steal my spirit. I went to the grocery store after the gym and was smiling at randoms. I entered the dorm and was waving my newly purchased cucumbers to the Africans on the first floor yelling, "Nihao!"

I've worked so hard hoping this day would arrive.

The numbers:

-I have lost 27 pounds in 7 months - average of a little more than 3/4 pound a week
-My BMI has gone from 29.0 (overweight) to 24.0 (healthy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

27 pounds seems like an awkward goal, but for me I was looking at BMI and wanting to get into the healthy range. I choose the highest weight for my height for a female and went for it. I choose October 30th because it seemed like forever away and because a certain someone from my past gets married that day and I wanted to look awesome at the wedding (more on this another day).

I.am.elated. I am not overweight.

Because I am really awkward, here's a picture montage. Somewhere along the line I started taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirrors at the gym. Almost every day. I told you I was awkward. What's even more awkward is when your friends look through your camera and find tons of pics of you in workout clothes at the gym. Ha.

This is the very first day at the gym, February, 2011...I wish I had a better "before" pic...


along the way, starting to love those jiggle-hugging spandex...


this was after my fastest 5k ever, getting closer....

buying new workout clothes because I want more tanktops (what? me?)...


BAM - today, October 25th, 2011 - 27 pounds lighter and stoked about it...

So what's next?

I have had to take an entirely different approach now that the jiggle is fading away (but trust me - there's still plenty). Now we (we = me and Body personified) are getting serious about nutrition and weights. We've got the cardio down, it's time to work on the details.

So what's gonna happen? More fiber. More water. More protein. Less sugar. More time spent with free weights (which means getting over my fear of the scary Chine.se muscle men starers). And more ab/core work (I've basically done none so far).

What started as, "I'm here to work out stress la la la" has turned into a serious numbers chart in my brain. And I hate charts. And numbers. But these things are important. Our bodies are science. This whole thing is so interesting to me. It's like my body does what I want it to. It just takes a lot of time. In order to be the best me I can, I need to know my daily protein and caloric needs - I do this by using the Fitness Tracker App (love it).

I do not reward myself with food because I am not a dog. But I do eat whatever makes me feel happy. Nothing is off limits. Ever. If I want to eat at midnight - I do. If I want candy - I eat it. But months of slowly changing my habits has caused me to naturally desire better stuff. My grocery cart is usually 3/4 produce, some tofu, and yogurt and nuts. No more fake crackers, cakes, or Chin.ese crap.

Speaking of Chin.ese crap - I rarely eat Chine.se food. All the oil makes me feel heavy and gross and lethargic. I love it from time to time, but if given the choice, I go home and have a yogurt bowl. You know what I do eat? Subway! 2-3-4 times a week. They know my order. (chicken on wheat with all the veggies, thousand island dressing).

So what's my new goal? I have played with the idea of a non-numbers goal just to get my brain off of numbers and the scale, but for now (since I still have weight to lose) I think I will remain in the numbers game, especially since I have the hang of it (finally).

I haven't talked tooo much about this journey on the bloggy because it's really personal for me. But I want to celebrate today and perhaps help to motivate other people too.

I've talked a lot about the "how" but not much about the "why." The "why" is so much harder to express. I did this because I wanted to love myself. I did it because I want to have a baby in the next 5 years. I did it because I was sick of hating all pictures taken of me. I did it because I felt out of control of my emotions. I did it because I have a big girl job now and don't want to face fat discrimination as I enter a career. I did it because I was sick of blaming other people for the way I treated myself. I did it because I deserve to look as awesome as I am.

So, the new goal is 9 more pounds by February, 2012. That would make 36 pounds lost in 12 months - slowing my weight loss poundage to exactly 3/4 a week and allowing more space for weights/muscle growthage. At that point I will be 4 pounds away from when I was my strongest/leanest in high school and on the swim team. (high school!?!?!) We'll see how I feel in 9 pounds, but I might switch to maintenance at that time and give myself a break after a year of getting on the scale everyday (I do - everyday).

But I won't get too far ahead of myself.

I'm relishing the now.

I did it. I reached my goal.

(and if I can - anybody can).





walk slow. xoxo.


Oct 24, 2011

innovate this.

Lately I've been dreaming of Italy. Just 2 months ago I was frolicking around the Venician cobblestones. Feels like so long ago!

ahhhh....Venice....


Well today a few folks brought some Italian dust with them as the Italian Education companyEduLife rolled into town to attend/conduct a seminar on Entrepreneurial Education. As the time I spend in a Chine.se Uni becomes longer, I am becoming familiar with popular buzzwords (I am - after all - just an observer here). A few popular words with the natives are, "innovation," and "entrepreneur."

Now, I have a bajillion observations and feelings about all this - but the short version is this: when a society's education exists solely for the purpose of boosting economy and lacks any vision for human needs or societal justice - it. will. falter.

I am sick of hearing about economy and entrepreneurship and profit. I am an EDUCATION major. I care about educating people. About sharing information and knowledge. About creating a better world through education reform and educational systems based on honesty and forthrightness. Unfortunately, all of my ideals place me at exactly the opposite end of the spectrum as my host country whose only thought is, "money money money."

It was interesting to hear the Italian speakers present. A thought that stuck with me was that a small business should never be opened solely for the purpose of creating a profit - that businesses should be human centered and have a vision of creativity and gift to society, not just to suck money from customers.

While the Italians spoke of the importance for people-centered business and social obligations within a burgeoning society - the Chin.ese professors spoke about profit and the goals of Chi.na during this 10 year education reform (2010-2020 - as set by the gov).

My advisor was a key-note speaker and spoke about the idea that all Chin.ese students should be required to take an entrepreneur class as a required course in their undergrad. He spoke about the need for the Ch.inese to "innovate" and create, since while most things are made in Ch.ina, they are not developed here. Nothing comes from the Chi.nese people's brains, products just come from their factories.

My advisor also showed pictures of the Occupy Wallstreet riots and of protests in Libya and London. This made me angry because while he is showing this as a sign of unrest in democratic countries (besides Libya), he would never mention any unrest here in Chi.na. And if anyone were to try to speak their opinion - who knows what would happen. I wish the Occupy people realized how dumb they make America look abroad and how those news pictures can be construed in so many different ways by countries with different agendas. His agenda was, "dear little Chin.ese students, look at the unhappy people in other countries under non-Commie gov's...be happy where you are and stay quiet and peaceful."



I have absolutely no interest in entrepreneurship (or innovation for that matter). But I was required to attend the conference so that I would "give face" to the Chin.ese people. The more foreigners that were in attendance, the better the Chi.nese Uni looks.

My advisor is giving me the cold shoulder after my amazingly bad attitude via text this past week (yay). But I was able to mingle and meet the EduLife Italians and was invited to another even tomorrow afternoon.

At one point during a break, one of the Italians asked me about my experience in a Chine.se school. "It's...interesting," I said, trying to be diplomatic without lying. She nodded her head and looked at me understandingly. "Good choice of words," she smiled.

It was difficult because they all praised my advisor and told me how lucky I am to have him (apparently he is really famous in Chi.na, dear God.) I just bit my tongue and nodded my head and thought to myself, "If only you knew he was a creepy pervert and he might be missing balls by the time I graduate."

After the break, most of the Chine.se students had left, and those that were left were talking. I just kept thinking to myself what a waste for these Italians to fly all the way here.

You can give as many speeches as you want (and I'm not sure how much English was understood....especially with Italian accents) but if the culture of a country is unable to grasp the concepts of what you are saying (people-centered business, globally minded business originating from the start-up), then there is no point in coming. It all looks "Hooodyhoooo yay we are together - one world!," but if there is no real understanding or any principles that will be put into place - you might as well stay home.

What is true global teamwork if one side is unable to think like the other? Sharing of ideas takes two sides being open and able to understand - and I do not think that the Chine.se students are capable of understanding most of the points that were made by the Italian professors because they do not come from a system where they are taught to think critically or sympathetically.

All of this got me thinking about my dissertation and how culture really affects an educational system's ability for reform. What I'm dealing with here is not necessarily just values of education based on culture (what I plan to study), but also where those values come from, their ability to morph over time, and the potential of sharing information over a culture line. It was an "interesting" morning.

I came home looking like Mu Shu.....



Another random day in Chinatown. What the heck is my life?
I miss 'Merica. Land of the free (thinkers), baby.



walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 22, 2011

bits and pieces of happy.

There are lots of things making me happy today. I'm trying to find them.

It's been a good, normal day - besides my advisor's texts about attending an, "entreprenuerial education" seminar on Monday - all day. I told him I can't go all day and that I do not give a crap about entrepreneurial anything, but he insists I go because there will be other foreigners there and I need to show my white face to make the school look good. Bah.

So, let's focus on the happy...

Friends and birthday parties make me happy.

Today's sunset made me happy. (so did the 800 natives who looked at me like I was crazy when I stopped biking to take this pic).

The back of this package of crackers makes me happy...


"It can serve as snacks during the breaks at school or work, and is undoubtedly the best choice for people working in the field, on business or sight-seeing trips on voyages, and the like."


This gigantic package of Walmart brand dried seaweed snacks makes me happy (I LOVE seaweed snacks!)...


And baby Mu Shu kitty makes me happy...


Today one of my students asked me to be their thesis advisor - this makes me nervous as well as happy. I do not feel completely qualified, but after some soul searching and asking of the question, "what does someone become qualified, does it come with age? And when does that happen?" I decided to go forward in discussions with the student and his direction of study. I have the same qualifications as many of the other professors, just not as many years of professional work experience, but someone will have to be my first advisee and why not start now?

And now I'm catching up on tv thanks to my VPN and drinking some tea...generally happy.

I hope you are too (happy. not necessarily the tv and tea part.)




walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 21, 2011

fancy time and baby time.

Last night I remembered that I am just in my 20's (and not the old lady I often feel like) and put on my fancy pants for a night out with my fave dorm girls.

We attended a wine tasting event at an Italian restaurant - 100rmb (18 bucks) for 4 (small) glasses of wine. Yum. And because we are good smoozers and all speak Chin.ese - we chatted up a table of two Chin.ese dudes in suits who left early and gave us all their drink coupons! 6 glasses each - glad I saved calories for the evening!

I met some interesting and nice people and just enjoyed the evening with mah girls.

After 6 glasses of wine, we needed to dance it off - so off we went to a lame Chin.ese club where something hilarious happened. A ran into an old Chin.ese acquaintance, Dan Dan, whom I have not seen in a long time. After hugs and small Chin.ese talk, she leaned to my friend Yemi (below) and asked her what my name was. Yemi was like, "Um, that's Jessica." And Dan Dan was like, "What! That's Jessica? She got smaller!" (In Chin.ese she said, 她瘦了!- I'm not sure of the exact translation to English, nothing really translates perfectly, but the meaning is that I got smaller.)

Homegirl did not recognize me.

That. Is. Awesome. And strange. I'm a 5'10" redhead in Chi.na. Losing 25 el-bees should not make me unrecognizable, but for sweet Dan Dan, I was a stranger.

hahahahaha. That was great motivation to go to the gym this morning while battling a wine headache. Gotta work it.


Later this morning, regretting my decision to stay out late the night before I had to get up early, I took Hannah and her mom who is visiting from Wisconsin to the orphan hospital.

A group of 6 of us went to see Lin and the babies. I love telling people about the mission and work and about how awesome Lin is. They gave a gift of diapers and we played for about an hour - even getting to see some therapy sessions going on.


And of course the boys loved playing with the little people.


It was great to introduce some of my friends to my heart here in Ch.ina. None of the group except Hannah had been to see the babies before. It was a meaningful morning.



Then I hit the gym, did some errands, took a nap with my kitty cat, and now I'm off to a friend's birthday celebration! I promise I'll work tomorrow. :)




walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 20, 2011

randomness.

Today was a good day.

I didn't go to my afternoon class - instead I stayed home and did my professor things like submit grades online, reply to student's online journals, and read student's observation responses.

(have I mentioned I like my job? :) )

Some other things I like today...

Mu Shu the King of all Kitties...I am thoroughly obsessed with this little cuddle bug...


I peeked through the pajama section of Walmart since Winter is coming and I have no heat - I might need to buy this for entertainment value, "Do You Have Any Needs?" ...



Honey Baked Lotus Root. I was gifted a bag of lotus root after Sunday's BBQ and had no idea what to do with it. Not wanting it to go to waste, I googled "lotus root recipes" and found this one:

Mix 1/3 cup honey and some grated ginger in a bowl, pour over 2 sliced lotus root. Bake for 15 minutes - rotating lotus slices half way through - wallah! YUM...



Wednesday night dinners. Every Wednesday me and some friend bike out to no-mans-land (one hour away) for our night class. 6:30 - 9pm "Chi.na Survey" taught in Chin.ese. It is Zhejiang Universityy's biggest campus (25,000 students at this one campus alone) and thus has tons of awesome street food, restaurants, and shops nearby catering to the students. We 3 meet for dinner before class each Wed. and this is quickly becoming one of my fave routines.

Tonight we had pizza...

In the beginning of class I sought out the other foreign student in the ed. department. He is the only other one - a dude from New Jersey doing his Master's in Adult Ed. He seems like a great guy and is very positive, so I wanted to pick his brain and have some of his positivity and motivation rub off on me.

During the first break in class (class is so long there are 2 breaks), we went for a little walk around the courtyard and I bemoaned my situation of hatred for class. I told him that I think he is being successful at this and I am not and asked him to give me some of his, "deal with Chi.na with a smile" pixie dust.

He looked me in the face and said, "What are you afraid of?"

I was like, HUH? I had never thought of it like this before, because in my mind I am not afraid of anything.

But suddenly a lot made sense to me. I'm afraid of being nitpicked for being different. I'm afraid of being in the way because I don't want special treatment - but need it. I'm afraid of my Chine.se not being good enough.

He told me that, "you have to make it fun." Which is exactly the opposite of what I've done - I've made it a living hell for myself by hiding in the back hoping no one sees me (ya right).

I was so thankful for our chat. I really took what he said to heart. Nothing he said was monumentally amazing, but I consider the source. Many of my friends at school have papers in English and classmates who help them. I do not.

But I do have a million resources. There are a dozen people related to school who are in positions that can help me understand, help me do my work, and help me be successful. But instead of tapping into my amazing resources, I have been avoiding - what I always do.

Our Wednesday professor rotates each week and this week's teacher was my head teacher from last Fall (who I was/am obsessed with). After class we had a chat and he asked me how things are going and expressed that I could seek him out if I ever need anything. And you know what? I'm going to do just that.

So while I don't feel happy-go-lucky about this whole school in Ch.ina thing (and probably never will), I do feel stabalized and generally positive again. Just gotta go to class next week. I have a good ally and role model in that classmate. Thank goodness no man is an island (or however that goes).

SO...changing topic...wanna see a video from my 2 hour commute to LinAn last week for a student observation? I thought the mountains outside the city were so pretty that I videotaped them, I was thinking that I really wanted my grandparents to see the views!

So here it is...random views from a bus...


video




walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 18, 2011

motivation. or the lack of.

Emotions.

They suck sometimes.

I'm in a high of life and a lull of school and I'm not sure what to do about it.

I have zero motivation for school.

Like, zero. Zilch. Nadda. Ling.

I have more motivation to pick my butt than to do anything related to my school.

I think it's a joke. If they emailed me tomorrow I have to leave, I think I would just email back, "ok." That's how numb I am to this whole thing.

The problem is that I have a job I love. I want to just work here and be happy. This whole school thing is crampin' my style. Sitting in class not understanding, being handed books you can't read, and getting text messages you don't understand is not my idea of awesome. And I think getting your PhD should be awesome. Or at least educational.

The problem is I am not learning anything. I'm not learning Chin.ese. I'm not learning education. I am learning how to deal with the ridiculous school system here, but that's about it.

I don't want to go to class tomorrow. The thought of it is repulsive to me. Being stared at by ignorant classmates who know nothing of the outside world and being told by my teacher that I am, "not one of them," doesn't sound like the way I want to spend my afternoon. If I go, I will cry. Or be really rude. If I do not go, then I risk not passing the class (but how can you pass a class you do nothing in? This boggles my mind).

The thing with these emotions is that I want them to change.

I explained it to a friend recently, that it is like the experience is an umbrella. The umbrella is in tact and sturdy, but there are ways for rain to get in around the sides. And I need to cover the sides. The sides are all the small feelings and circumstances, but the main idea, the umbrella, stays firm.

I know I won't quit. But I'm apathetically moving down a path that is not good (not going to class, avoiding my class monitor's phone calls, not doing an online test, and texting my advisor that I don't care.) These are not good behaviors, but they are how I'm dealing with my feelings of nonchalance.

I hope this passes soon. That I wake up with a spurt of gumption and desire to do this degree to the best of my ability - however that looks in a Chin.ese environment.

I don't want to have the end of the year arrive and me regret a decision I made based on emotions or lack of motivation. These little decisions add up to something big, and I don't want to have my attitude change later on and then regret something I did during this lull. I'm aware of the umbrella - but feeling the water sprinkle in.

But until it passes, I am asking myself these questions:

When do you tell yourself to suck it up and keep going and not be a quitter, and at what point do you decide that maybe something just isn't for you and there is another path that is better? When do you know to give up something that makes you unhappy? And when do you put your head down and grin and bear it?

I just don't know.






walk slow. xoxo.




Oct 17, 2011

quality time.

On my first trip to Chi.na in 2007, we made a pit stop in the capitol of the Muslim Autonomous Region on our way back home.

There, we met with a family who was in Chi.na with a group and a Purpose. We sat in their clean, nice living room on a college campus and chatted with them for a few hours before hopping on a train. They fed us baked goods and melons and soda and we salivated like we had never seen such goodness (because for a month, we had not). I remember several details from the visit that continue to impact my life abroad.

We were asking the mom, a woman probably in her late 20's, early 30's, what it was like to do "M" work in Chi.na. She answered that it was like real life, she gets up and has her coffee. There are good days and bad days. She talks with people and makes friends. She chats with her house keeper and stands outside the Chi.nese kindergarten waiting for her children with the Chi.nese moms and grandma's.

She replied that you do every day things when living this life - just remembering that your actions are meaningful and purposeful.

I'll never forget that and I have been sustained by those words repeatedly over the past 3 years.

I get up and I have my coffee. I make friends. I have quality relationships. I talk when I should and ask questions when I feel it's appropriate. And I listen. Always listening to hear the people's stories. To know them. To make the Work more meaningful.

So when my friend asked me to join a Chin.ese Fellowship in a BBQ in the park, I jumped at the opportunity.

Meaningful friendships. Quality time and discussions. Real life activities.

Here's some pics from today:

A bear in the woods!

workers preparing for the autumn flower show...


Chin.ese BBQ's are quite different...(messier, louder, not much rhyme or reason - like everything else)...

some of the girls washing veggies...

me and my dear, dear friend posing with our eggplants on a stick that we ripped with our hands...

the table (half of that is in my fridge right now)...

chillin, waiting for the food to cook....

sweet potatoes, meat on a stick, green beans on a stick...

me being a doof as always, walking around in make-shift paper socks because the mosquitoes were killing me, watching/talking while the others do all the work, haha...


I never in my young life thought that I would one day be sitting in a park in Ch.ina discussing the Old Testament while pouring MSG over lotus root and eggplant. But alas, the unexpected always happens.

Then I came home, played with my cat, and went to the gym. All in all a good day. A meaningful day.

One of those days that makes me wonder how I could ever leave these people and this meaningful work. One of those days that keeps me here - just a little bit longer.





walk slow. xoxo.

Oct 15, 2011

the pet market.

Forget everything I've ever told you.

Ok, maybe not everything, but definitely my kitty cat's name.

Mao Mao has a new moniker! After a short chat via Skype with my sister and some googling, kitty baby's name is....Mu Shu.

Recognize the name? It's the dragon from Mulan, and also the name of a popular pork dish in Chi.na, haha.

I think the name fits this time. For some reason, with this pet no name seemed to mesh well! He's been called Mi Mi, Oliver, Xiao Bai, Xiao Hu, and then Mao Mao. Now, it's Mu Shu and it's gonna stick.

Today I went on a search for some toys for Mu Shu. The pet industry is still developing in Ch.ina, so pet supplies and care are not easy to find commodities. I've been able to get kitty litter in the grocery store, but the poor little dude was in need of some toys since he is left alone most of the day!

He hasn't hurt anything, but I have been coming home to shoes on the other side of the room and underwear from my dirty laundry strown across the floor. Little dude needs something to entertain himself with besides my things.

I went back to the market where he came from and went store to store seeing what they had and asking prices. Some people's pricing was outrageous because I am a foreigner. I went back to the lady I bought my cat carrier from and she gave me a fair deal on some small toys - little furry mice, a small rubber ball, a fish-shaped scratching toy, and a stick with a furry thing on the end. I made sure to chat with her so that she would remember be, then told her that I would be doing my cat business with her. In an economy where ou bargain for every little thing - it pays to make friends. I now have a cat lady friend. haha.

I'm adding her to my list of friends - the pearl lady, jade lady, hair people, foot massager, nail people, fruit stand people, bread man, and now....cat lady.

I also have a...cat bed man! Remember the dog bed exporter to Target guy who I met at Michael's wedding? I called him today and told him I had a cat and asked him if I could buy some of his products. (it's good guanxi to keep business within friend circles). He told me he's in a nearby town on business and next week when he gets back I can go to the factory and pick out whatever I want for free! Weeee I hope that happens, I hope the dog bed man pulls through, haha.

Anyways, beside the pet market is a dog groomer/boarder/shop and I peaked in to see what it was like. It was very nice, very expensive, and very clean compared to the market. I bought some Whiskies snacks and didn't notice that on the package it says for cats 6 months and older, haha. I guess Mu Shu is waiting til February to eat those treats.

I met the people and got the prices for boarding - in case I go back to America this winter (or next Summer).

If I go away for a few days, I'll just have friends watch him, people are excited about having a cat in the friend circle. But if I leave for an extended time, I would feel better boarding him just for convenience. It is 50rmb a day for a small cat (about 9 dollars). Totally doable. I'm glad to know I have a boarder, now I just need to find a vet. Because I definitely have scratches, and he definitely has not had shots (yikes).

I am currently asking around about vets because I have 2 friends with horror stories at vets in town - both resulting in death from routine visits. So, finding a vet is a serious thing for me - it's going to be hard to trust someone when the time comes to take his manhood (in 4 months).

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry because the weather was insanely gorgeous today. This is the best time of the year in Hangzhou. Now I am waiting for my tutoring kid who is 30 minutes late! Her mom is out of town, and she told me that this week her dad would bring her and we would still have class. But it looks like that is not happening and I stayed home this afternoon for no reason. Father's of the world, step up! Things should not fall apart when mom leaves town - and I want my 30 bucks for tutoring!

Oh well. If they don't show up soon, I'm off to the gym after finishing some paper work for work. Then to foot massage with a friend's mom who is in town. (mom, come back! Come meet Mu Shu!)

Wanna see a Chine.se pet market? Sure ya do...
View from the street entrance, stores on the left and cages of dogs on the right...


I was afraid to take pics because I thought people might get mad at me (it isn't the cleanest place and they know that foreigners treat dogs differently, so I was nervous they would take offense to me taking pics). So these are all stealthily taken...more doggies in cages piled up...


I want to say that while the place smells bad and is not the picture of cleanliness (where in China is??), I do not think that they mistreat the dogs. There is just a difference in cultural ideas of space (we Westerners love personal space as people, and for our animals. You would probably be upset at the big dogs in little cages). Space and cleanliness aside, I think these people really do care for the animals and I never saw anyone treat an animal badly.

If you are wondering about animal prices - some cats were up to 500USD and dogs ranged from 250USD to 1000USD based on breed. I paid 30 bucks for my cat - the cheapest one on the block.

I went into this store and found a lady (the only worker present) sleeping with a dog in her lap. The other dog on the right is hooked up to an IV. (see it?) Dogs outside were all barking and she was just sleeping away.


Biking home, I had to snap a pic because they sky was blue today!!! So rare and amazing.


And I came home to this...a baby Mu Shu kitty sitting on my couch waiting for me in my dorm room...


Yay for pets. And name changes. And fair bargainers. And business friends. And blue sky.






walk slow. xoxo.