Dec 15, 2011

I'll Be Home For Christmas.

The past 3 years I have skipped the song, "I'll be home for Christmas" on my Christmas playlists because it made me cry.

The past week or so I have been playing it on repeat!

I'm chilling at Burger King in the departures terminal of the Shanghai Int. Airport waiting for my flight to board. This is old hat by now. I always leave out of the same gate because I always fly United.

I love airports. Sometimes I dream of quitting all my professor/writer/Chi.nese speaker ambitions and being an airport check-in person. I just love the energy in airports. The anticipation is intoxicating. Everyone is going somewhere. There's stories, emotion, agendas.

So I'm sitting here in my usual perch at Burger King participating in operation: poop and hydrate. It is a ritual before I fly across the world. Water and fiber capsules are my friends. And my skin's friends.

This is my 12th flight between the US and Ch.ina. That's a lot of air time. Therefore, this trip is extremely easy by now.

My time-line is streamlined. I started packing at 2am this morning. Was in bed by 2:30am. Woke up at 8:30, left my dorm at 9:30 (after a scuffle with the dorm workers over adding my monthly electricity). Got a bus to Shanghai at 10:30. Arrived at the airport at 2pm. It's 3:20pm and I board in an hour.

I'm so ready to get the heck out of dodge. America is like a bright shining light in the smoggy and spit-infested world I inhabit.

Packing is super simple also.

I open a bag and think "what do I want to wear?" For this 17 day trip, I chose 3 outfits and one Christmas dress. One bag of dirty laundry to do at home (gym clothes) and then one pair each of boots, tennis shoes, and flats. I bring home no toiletries except my makeup. That's the beautiful thing about America...24 hour Walmart with everything your heart could desire. There's no reason to overpack on this leg of the journey, the world awaits me on the other side. (coming back to Ch.ina is another story).

I pack gifts, chargers, and books that won't be read on the plane, and then wa-lah! Done.

The carry on is trickier. Things I must have every flight are: books, chapstick, eye drops, eye mask, spare underwear (you never know what could happen), contact case, passport, school ID, American credit cards, US and Chin.ese money, small bag of makeup, hand sanitizer, camera, hair ties, mints/gum, socks, neck pillow, wet wipes, Pepto Bismol.

I pack up and do a checkover that includes this checklist: passport? wallet? camera?

If I have all three of those things, I'm good. Anything else is bonus.

And that my friends, is how to pack for an international flight in 30 minutes.

If you'll excuse me, I must concentrate on Operation Hydration! In Ch.ina, you are not allowed to bring any liquids on international flights, which means that I have 2 water bottles to finish in the next 20 minutes.

Cheers. See you on the other side.

America, I'm ready for your Christmas glory.

walk slow. xoxo

Dec 13, 2011

the pearl lady.

The days before a trip to America are always nuts.

This time is no different...laundry that needs days to hang dry, international flight luggage restrictions, emptying the fridge, preparing kitty for his stay at "camp," buying a bus ticket to Shanghai, buying gifts for family, telling friends that I won't be able to recieve calls for the next few weeks (when I'm gone my Chin.ese phone doesn't track messages/calls), putting money on my phone so I have credit when I return, bringing enough Chin.ese money to exchange during a layover, plannign what to wear on the flight, charging my electricity for my room, taking off work, finishing final grades for my real job...etc.

I've been procrastinating by going to the gym for long periods of time. This is good and not good. My body feels great, but my mind is going haywire.

Tonight I decided to head to the night market because I thought my gift for my mom was lacking. I have no debit card now (thanks to the Shanghai trip from hell) but I have some money and would hate to travel around the world to my family from an exotic locale with nothing cool. The thing is, after 3.5 years here, I feel like I have bought everything "gifty" already. Ties? check. Jade? check. Tea? check.

So a trip to the market was in order.

I found my friend the pearl vendor and got to work ordering some goods. We chit-chatted and she asked me why I haven't been in awhile, "I have no money," I laughed.

Then she paused and looked me in the face. "You are thinner," she said matter of factly. I shook my bum in my happy dance and said, "yes." "How? You cut fat?" "Yes, I cut fat." (the Chin.ese language is so straight forward). And that was that. I knew I liked her.

I was in such a happy stupor from her noticing my efforts that I just rambled away in Chinese until she cut me off, "your friend?" Then I heard a foreign male voice from within a foot of me, "no."

I didn't notice the white dude show up at the table. "Yo," I said. "Are these pearls real?" he asked. I assured her that my pearl lady is the bomb and I've been going t her for years and yes the pearls are all real from her hometown of Zhuji, but she hides the great quality ones in the back.

The pearl lady was just smiling at us while we jibber jabbered. Then the tough part began.

He asked me, "how much do these earrings usually go for?"

Well, crap. Another case of 'whose side am I on?'

I told him to ask her himself because I had not been to her shop in a long time and maybe prices changed. He asked her. She answered, "10." "If I buy more than one?" he asked. "Always 10."

After some deliberation and me biting my tongue, he wandered off into the sea of vendors and young patrons wearing glittery ensembles to impress each other.

After he left I looked at her, "is the price for me still 5?" "Of course, we are good friends," she said as she asked me how many pairs I wanted and packed them away for me. 4 pairs for 20rmb (3 dollars). I paid half of what she offered him.

I've got people in all the right places.

Here's some pics from the past few days:

Riding bikes in the rain is one of my least favorite things in life. Just ask my poor, patient friends who have to deal with me when I show up to dinner looking like this...

I can't wait to ride in a (warm) car in America!

Taking pictures of my kitty is one of my fave things in life...(obvi I am now an old fart)...

Imagine if there was something like this in America, "My White Friends" written on a notebook...hahahahaha,

Baby kitty...

I'm preparing to leave this baby doll and I am so sad!

on the bus tonight to the night market to get some goods for mama...

40 hours til lift off, so much to do...

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 11, 2011

the popping corn.

I've been on a popcorn kick lately.

I spend way too much money on imported microwaved popcorn (like $2 a bag) and eat it at all times of the day. 8am breakfast? Yum. A popcorn lunch with a side of fruit? Doesn't get any better. Popcorn for dinner? Yay, healthier than oil covered dumplings!

A few days ago I ventured again into the freezing hallway (buildings are not heated and it's a high of 30 degrees Fahrenheit today....) to the communal microwave. I left my bag in the ancient machine and headed back to my room (and warmth) to wait out the first few minutes of popping.

Soon, my Sri Lanken neighbors commandeered the kitchen for their afternoon meal of rice, fish, and whatever else make my hallway smell like Seaworld on a daily basis. I heard their doors open and pots clank down onto the metal table.

Then I heard yelling.

Yelling in another language is always disconcerting.

Someone could either be exclaiming, "Yay I won the lottery!" or "Everyone here is about to die!" and you wouldn't know the difference. So I poked my head out of my door to see what the commotion was about.

They were yelling at the microwave.

My neighbor saw me and motioned to me in giant arm circles and Chi.nese, "Come quick! The machine!"

I lept out thinking the machine was on fire or something worse since I have a stereotype (however earned) that things in this country are not wired

I lunged toward the machine, pushed open the door, and yanked out my bag of popcorn in a swift motion. And was left standing with a bag of half-popped corn. Smelling of butter and salt and fibery goodness.

"Ahhhhhhhh," the Sri Lankens sighed in collective discovery, "the popping corn."

I doubled over in laughter as they went back to their cooking, slightly red with embarrassment.

How precious is that? To be surprised by the popping sound of microwaved popcorn.

I was telling some friends the story and I made the statement that, "I don't think I'm very shockable." Like, nothing really shocks me anymore. I'm sure that is a comment ridden with pride and that I haven't really seen as much of the world as I think I have, but I don't know that there are many daily actions that would surprise me.

Yet when living in community with this many cultures under one roof, there are bound to be discoveries. And what I take for granted from my developed country, others may find surprising.

I was touched by the innocence of my neighbors. By the discovery of an unfamiliar sound; the violent poppoppop of "the popping corn."

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some popcorn to go make. :)

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 9, 2011

see you in heaven.

It's hard to find good chapstick in

There is one kind of Nivea chapstick that is sold in some drugstores, but for the most part, lips go chapped in this country.

So when an old man crossing guard asked me for my cherry Chapstick last Tuesday, I forgot all the teachings of generosity and told him that it was my only one.

It was a selfishness check.

And I failed, then passed. I'm guessing that G0d still honors delayed generosity? ;)

You see, I was hauling butt across West Nanjing Road in Shanghai trying to make it to my 8:15am appointment at the US Citizens Services to get more passport pages. I was a little high on the stress meter due to being in unfamiliar territory and under a time deadline.

I noticed that the crosswalk would change to red before I reached it, so I slowed my pace, took some deep breaths, and made a concsious effort to be...happy.

Early morning Shanghai is a jam of pedestrians, luxury vehicles, and motorbikes, so crossing guards are stationed at most intersections to keep people from venturing out into the road before the green light - and thus preventing pedestrian deaths due to stupidity.

This particular crossing guard, in his neon green get-up, was singing Christmas songs in Chin.ese with his back to me. "Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you...." he sang. As I approached the corner, he turned and saw me then said to me, "Christmas is coming quickly, Merry Christmas! It is G0d's come to earth!"

"Yes, Merry Christmas." I replied, my curiosity piqued, "are you a Xtian?"

"Yes. Every day G0d blesses me," he said, continueing singing his Christmas songs.

"So we will see each other in Heaven, then," I said.

At this point, a few people had joined us at the corner. One man in particular, a business man in his 40's, looked at the crossing guard like he was crazy. The guard noticed him and walked up to him, "G0d blesses me every day, you should know your blessings, too! It's true!"

As he was talking ot the other guy, I pulled out my chapstick. It was a blustery cold day in Shanghai and my lips needed some lovin. The guard turned back to me, "Is that foreign or from China?" "It's from America, this is much cheaper and better in America," I replied while lathering up my lips with $0.99 cherry goodness.

"Give it to me," he said so bluntly that I almost couldn't understand what he was saying even though it was so simple.

"No. This is my only one," I said, and tucked it back into my backpack. I was taken aback by his blunt request and started to question him. A person who a minute before was a jolly fellow beliver rockin' out the street corner with Christmas tunes was now a demanding old man who was taking advantage of our common-ness.

How dare he? Was the prevailing thought.

The old man had gone back to singing his Christmas tunes, undeterred by my shooting down his request. About 20 seconds later the light changed to green and the man waved his crossing guard neon flag to tell us pedestrians we could continue on our journeys.

Struck with a feeling of 'wow, you are so selfish' I reached into my backpack pocket and handed the man my chapstick before crossing the street in the rush of Asians.

"Thank you," he called out. I just nodded my head in reply.

I could hear him singing as I made my way through the crowd.

I have several thoughts about this interaction. Why would he just outright ask me for my posession? Why did I hesitate to give it to him instead of giving freely? Was he afriad about speaking so openly about taboo things on the corner? Does he do that everyday? And what did he say to his family when he went home that day after his shift and showcased his brand new foreign object - probably the only foreign thing he's ever owned?

One thing's for sure, there is going to be a very supple lipped Chin.ese crossing guard when we get to Heaven.

I'll know him by his cherry scent.


walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 8, 2011

the hurdles come in droves.

The hurdles really do come in droves.

There was a month of pushpushpush and gogogo and fightfightfight getting my major changed and then a few weeks of downtime - lots of rest, exercise, reading, and feeling on top of my job.

I have found myself back in the pushpushpush mode thanks to my work semester soon ending, a Christmas trip to the States next week, some more school crap, and securing my Indian visa. Everything comes at once it seems. Hurdles. Droves.

I'll pick up my story after the marathon on Sunday. I've waited some time to blog because I needed some processing. And a lot of sleep. And to center myself again on my belief that things do fall apart, and that things do work out. But mostly they work out.

My friends left after the marathon lunch and I hopped on the metro to meet up with my favorite Brit. She is leaving for good next week (super sad) and wanted some clothes made at the fabric market before she leaves, so off we went to the land of tailors hawking rolls of silks and cashmeres in every color imaginable.

After a few hours everything started to look the same and our feet were pulsing in pain from all the walking, so we headed to a Muslim restaurant for a feast. Cabbage, lamb, chikpea/veggie bake, and Xinjiang beers was a great end to a loooong day.

The next morning I awoke on Steph's couch and packed up my things. My plan was to go to the Indian visa office to get our visas processed, meet Steph for lunch, then head out on a 5pm train back to HZ in time for an evening workout and to see my kitty.

As you probably can tell, this did not work out.

What would happen was a string of unfortunate events that at times made me want to lie down in the Shanghai street and give up. I had a moment of jealousy for everyone I know who is married, lives in a cute house in comfortable America and doesn't have to "deal with the things I do alone out here." In short - I became irrational, emotional, and absorbed by self-pity. Ha. Not pretty.

But then I dug deep and found the pieces in me that tell me to continue on when faced with trials. I asked God for grace. And was granted it repeatedly. (even though I was still using the F-word far too often in two languages). God forgives. ;)

So what happened? Let me tell you. And then you can judge me for making mountains out of molehills...

As Steph and I were heading to the metro, we stopped at a "cash-point" for me to use my American debit card and take out the exhorbitant amount of money it costs for an American to go to India on a tourist visa. I took out my dough and asked for my card back.

It wouldn't come out of the machine.

I called the bank. Our conversation started out friendly enough, but after 40 minutes and a run-around of being told it would take me 4 days to get my card back I told them I don't live in Shanghai, I was leaving that day, to cut it up when they got it out of the machine and to ....&%$%**. You get my drift. Not pretty.

So now I have no access to my paycheck in America until I get home. Awesome.

I tried to tell myself it is no big deal and I can live off 30 bucks til I get home, and hopped on the subway to the Indian visa office. (India outsources their visas due to internal corruption, so I went to an office, not a consolate - weird).

I took a number and waited 1.5 hours to be seen. I sat in the chair, spoke to the Chinese man, and told him I wanted 3 Indian tourist visas. We started with mine. He took my passport and after a few seconds said with a shocked tone of voice, "There's not enough pages here!" "Yes. There are." I assured him. I had checked that I had enough pages. I had 3. You only need 2.

Turns out the last two pages in your passport are for endorsements. You didn't know that either? Now I feel better.

So I processed the boys' visas, then called Z in a tizzy. He looked up directions to the American Citizen Services Center while I hemmed and hawed about, "why is everything so hard?" and "And I don't even give a crap about anything anymore, I give up," He patiently listened to my patheticness and then responded with a, "Go, Jessica, Go!"

That was all I needed to get the energy boot required for a 3 line change-over and 20 minute walk to the US office. However alone the way, I was telling God that all I want for Christmas is a permanent house in America, a yard, a picket fence, and to never leave that neighborhood except for yearly domestic family vacations.

An hour later, I rolled into the office at 11:25. (Funny enough, the American Citizen Services office is located in a mall. Fitting for an economy that is suffereing because its people rely on debt and credit).

I rushed up to the window. "Hi, I need pages in my passport." "Do you have an appointment?" the Chin.ese man with an American flag appliqued shirt on asked me. "No. But I am an American and I need these today, please." I begged. He laughed and waved me away.

And that was that. With no hope of getting in that day, I could not make it back before the 3pm closing of the Indian office. I called Steph at work, asked her if I could stay with her another day, then had Z make my appointment online for the next morning. I called a friend in the dorm who was checking on Mu Shu to see if she would mind checking on him another day. Thank goodness for good people.

I then spent a day walking around Shanghai trying to burn as many calories as possible and people watching. I became very nervous because my visa was going to be delayed a day, it takes 6 working days, and I was leaving the US in 9 days. That is cutting it close so losing a day was not ideal. But C'est la vie.

A day wandering Shanghai:

That night Steph and I went to the Yu Gardens and I was really thankful to have more time with her!

So the next morning I woke up bloody early and made it to the American consolate for my 8:15am appointment. I went through security, sat in the American room while hoards of Chin.ese people sat outside in the "hoping to go to America" area.

And found out AFTER I paid 100$ for pages that the PRINTER WAS BROKEN.

Talk about stress.

But a nasty old white man beat me to the negative emotions and caused a scene, "We have to be at the airport today! We need these pages! I'm white and obnoxious! blah blah." I was so embarrassed by his behavior that I vowed to be as pleasant as possible in order to counter-act his asshole-ness. I resigned myself to waiting in that room for as long as it took to get my passport India-visa-ready.

Luckily, America really is an awesome and efficient country because a mere 2 hours later I was hauling butt out the doors and into the metro again, passport in hand with a new bunch of fresh pages.

I made it to the Indian office by 11:30 and sat for 2 hours waiting to be seen. Everything went well for me, until the guy noticed something fishy on my paper. My heart sank as I realized what was going on..."C-c-con-Concordia?" He said.


I wrote my job in the employmet line of the paper.

Without going into details I shouldn't post on the interwebs...that was a dumb mistake.

4 hours later, I had re-done all my paperwork. All I needed was an email from my gmail account sent to the visa email account because I didn't have a hard copy of something I needed.

"You have computer?" the guy asked me.
"Does your phone go on internet?"
"Noooo." I was getting frustrated. I use a 10$ Chin.ese phone because I could care less about electronics and would rather spend my money travelling than on shiny things. But in that moment, I wished I had every i-device known to man. (and is the reason I am contemplating a big purchase...)

He thought for a moment. Then gave me my suggestion, "go ask one of the people here with an iphone to help you email."


After fighting him he was like, "You want India visa? You do this." So I marched up to the first rich Chin.ese lady I saw and plead my case in Chi.nese. She looked at me like I was an idiot. I looked back at the guy in the window and he was waving me towards a young girl in the corner. "Ok," I thought, "You've done more embarrassing things..." So I sat by the girl and started my pathetic speel in Chi.nese, "Can I please use your phone to email the office....." She cut me off in perfect English. And I am happy to say that after 40 minutes of sitting with Joyce, I have made a new friend in the visa office. We are even facebook official. Homegirl is so cool. Grace in the hard moments.

After 4 hours of being in that office, I walked out feeling...strange. They have my passport, and so my fingers are crossed that they really do grant visas in 6 days so that I will make my flight to America on Thursday. Here's hoping.

I headed to the train station and found out that my ticket from the day before was non-refundable so I was out 12$ on a train ticket. Oh well. Life goes on.

3 hours of travel later, I was home in HZ. With my kitty and my friends. Exhausted.

It seemed like every step of the way something was wrong. Debit card/access to American money gone. Not enough passport pages, No appointment at US consolate, printer broken, disclosed job, no internet access.

But hopefully it will all work out just like everything always does. By grace.

Then last night I biked an hour in the rain to my Wednesday night class at the far away campus. And the teacher told me in front of the entire 100-person class that I have not been signed up for the class this whole time, so I have to re-take it next year. Somehow my name got left off the roster and no one cares enough to let me have the credits even though I haven't missed a class and wrote the midterm paper.

The hurdles come in droves.

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 6, 2011

Pt. 1: Shanghai Half-Marathon

*I'm blogging the last 3 days in parts, because so much happened that it would not do the stories justice to lump every encounter and experience together.*

I cannot think of running without thinking of my parents.

They are synonymous.

My parents have run a gazillion marathons and running even has a staring role in some of their favorite stories of their college days. My dad worked in the college mail room for a summer and would deliver my mom's "Runner's World" mag and wonder who would read that.

We've had a subscription to our house for as long as I can remember.

So it was no surprise to me, when after a sleepless night and a ridiculously early train, I came out of the subway in Shanghai, took in a whiff of gritty factory air, and got tears in my eyes as I approached the Shanghai Marathon 2011 finish line.

It's hard not to be emotional taking part in something that is synonymous with my parents, but my parents aren't there.

I decided to mix my India visa run with the marathon because my dear friend Rachel was running. She set her mind to it and finished her goal and I'm so proud of her.

A group of friends gathered to cheer her and a few others on as they rounded the last corner to the finish at the Shanghai Oriental Stadium.

Overall I had a good impression about the race, apart from the repeated Superman song at the finish line that was so loud that no one was cheering the runners. There were many foreigners in the race, and there was a professional feel to it, with Asian charms. My friends told me that it was much better as a runner than the Hangzhou marathon, which would make more sense because Shanghai has way more money and is more international. It was a good time.

We went back to a friends house and then had lunch together before they all took off on their seperate ways - the Hangzhouvians to the train station bound for home, and the Shanghaiers back to their homes for an afternoon Study. I headed out on my own to find my fave Brit! I was staying with Stephanie, an old classmate who now lives in Shanghai doing an internship.

Little did I know how interesting things in Shanghai were about to get.....

but first, some pics from the marathon:

sunrise from the train window:

train breakfast of applesauce in a bag! I just started buying these for breakfast because there is no added sugar and it is an easy snack/breakfast so I don't load up on carby crap for breakfast:

Dragon dancers on the marathon course:

that sign says, "Jia You" or, "Add Oil," for all you Englishy people.

The finish line spectator crowd:

And what would an Asian even be without awkward Kodak moments?

some of the marathon crew heading back to the metro after the race! In this group shot, Nate (seated) and Rachel (medal) finished the race! :

Congrats, runner friends!

I'm glad I was able to be a part of the event with my friends. Marathons will always be special to me. I can't help but have memories of the 5 halfs and 21 miler that I've done in the past. I like that I can look at the people plodding through, see their faces, and think, "I know that feeling."

On Sunday the feeling for me wasn't of physical accomplishment or personal achievement like most of the runners, it was instead a feeling of aching for family, who I always think are amongst the throngs of runners.

But I will see them soon.

More to come in the morning...

walk slow. xoxo.

Dec 3, 2011

poop in the shower, and other stories.

Just a little tiny informational post to prove I'm still kickin'.

I am in what has turned out to be the busiest season of my life thusfar.

I think the busyness is being exaggerated in my mind by the fact that everything I am doing now will DOUBLE come next semester - classes at school and work.


Good news is that my observations are done. I have become slightly nostalgic for the 11 students I have observed this semester - since next semester my quaint little group of students will group to a larger group of 25. I'll always remember my first American students.

Now I'm onto the online stage of the game and our American semester ends the day after I fly home: Dec. 16th. Can't wait for a break from being a grown up. I want to sit on my parents couch and be "Jessica the daughter" rather than "Jessica the Professor." I don't want to have any answers for a good two weeks.

In other news, my hair dresser has moved back to Hangzhou! YAY! But the turd got a job at a different shop, and I have a butt-load of money on a VIP card at the old shop. I am going to see if I can sell it online and then follow my dude to his new place. All my little friends have moved on from the hair place, except for the front desk girl and the old cleaner people - whom I also adore. But because the new dudes don't know me and I don't go often, I don't get the Chin.ese practice that I used to get, so I need to follow Qu Ping so that I can have a good solid 2 hours of chat while I'm getting my hair done! I'm so happy one of the characters in my life is back! I'm also still in contact with my foot massager who closed shop - he is in his hometown.

I'm heading to Shanghai in the morning to apply for our Indian visas. Getting one is a real bear of a process. And an interesting fact: the Indian visa application has "transgendered" as a sex option. They also require you to choose your religion from a drop-down tool bar and "athiest" is not on the list. So apparantly, you can be transgendered but not an athiest if you want an Indian tourist visa.

I am turning everything in for the boys and Z will be picking it all up next week. I'm nervous because it is cutting close to the time I leave for America. We have to leave our passports at the consolate, and I better get mine back in time! Nothing like a constant adrenaline rush.

In other news, there was a human turd in the gym showers last week. Only middle-aged women use those showers. Isn't that exciting. When the time gets closer to me heading to America, I start to really be thankful that I can live here, but also that I can leave here. Societies do not advance as fast as economies and this society is crappy. (haha, get it?)

There have been a bunch of birthday's happening lately which is a great reprieve from serious stuff. Last night we ended up at a swanky bar after dinner at an Indian restaurant. I made sure to butter up the singer and asked him to sing to our birthday girl. He asked me where everyone was from. I looked at the table and realized everyone was from a different country. Amazing. Australia, Mexica, USA, England, Indonesia, and China were represented. How great! He then went on to sing to her in English, Chinese, Cantonese, Spanish, German, and French. The little bar singer put us language students to shame!

Another completely random China story - on the distance bus back from my last observations, I sat down across the aisle from a man who was more scraggly and dirty looking than the average Asian male. (greasy hair and long finger nails are the norm).

I didn't think anything about anything and settled in for the long ride, my iTouch streaming country music into my ears, and my Macbook safely tucked under my arms. I checked my phone for messages, then looked around to take in my surroundings as I do before I go to sleep on public transport.

And then I saw something strange.

The guy across the aisle from me's hands were covered in something. Blood. Blood was crusted in his blacked nails and the tips of his fingers were stained deep red. Maybe it could have been a stain, maybe he was a painter. But his clothes did not have the typical splashes of a painter's clothes.

And he looked deranged. And this is Personal hygiene is lacking, so washing hands with soap is not common. It totally could have been blood.

And then my mind started wandering. There were were on the same bus, with the same start and end point, but on competely different planets.

I cuddled my Apple computer that is worth more money than that man makes in half a year. I have a tally of flights in December and January that is worth more than he makes in a year.

I had pearls in my ears. And warm wool socks on. I complain about lack of water pressure in my shower and timed hot water.

I spray myself with perfume and wear deodorant. I care how I look, smell, and am percieved by others. I want my shoes to match my outfit perfectly. I like to have bows in my hair.

And this man was sitting on the public bus, touching public things, with blood on his hands.

I don't know what the story is. I'm not sure I want to know. But the contrast between me and people I come in contact with daily is sometimes shocking. Yet we co-exist.

I made eye contact with the man for a split second before looking away. I was embarrassed of my computer and nice work clothes.

And then I went to sleep. When I woke up, he had already gotten off the bus as an earlier stop.

Some pics:

I love the leaves out at the Agriculture University! This sign says that, "little grass also has life," telling people not to walk on the grass.

workity work work:

a woman holding her child to take a dump outside the bus. AT THE BIS STATION WHERE A BATHROOM WAS LITERALLY 15 FEET AWAY. and this was about 3 feet from the bus door.

Gross Gross Gross.

Zackaroonie's birthday! With his better half, check out the flaming, singing candle:

Jessica's birthday!

outside the Indian kitchen where I tried to train my taste buds to like spicy food (an uphill battle). Good thing we had amazing ice cream cake at the end!

So, that's that. Happy December!

I'm off to the Indian consolate in Shanghai! Wish me luck!

walk slow. xoxo.