Mar 31, 2012

a spark.

It always happens this way.

I don't know why I am so doubtful and faithless. I should see it coming every time.

Every time I think the world is evil, that I am surrounded by darkness and wallowing pitifully in a sea of emptiness...a tiny spark shows up.

This time in the form of people's care for the orphaned.

Last week during our Saturday afternoon lunch ritual, Dr. Xu informed me that he would be picking me up at 8am next Saturday so our lunch was off. "Where are we going?" I asked, used to this kind of non-invitation invitation. "We're going to help the babies," he replied. All the response I needed.

Michael is an incredible force of a person (I seem to be surrounded by amazing people). After introducing him to L from the rehabilitation center last Chrstmas, the orphan program has exploded under Chin.ese care - a foreign aid person's dream. I know that I could walk out of this country tomorrow and the orphan program would last beyond me - it does not need me. This is humbling and awesome. I've learned in the past few years that I am not really the person called to DO incredible things, I'm the person called to LINK incredible people. And then cheer them on and go for the ride. Great by me.

Michael picked me up and we drove around town collecting people before congregating at the center. As we were picking up one doctor, Michael said, "He is an ENT doctor. Ears, Nose, Tears." "Um, Michael, isn't it ears, nose, throat?" hahahaha. We didn't let him live that down. SO funny.

We eventually met our group of 15 - 5 doctors, some pharmacists, some family members, and random me. As it was most of the group's first time at the center, they had a formal meeting at the round table. After being made to introduce myself in Ch.inese, I ducked out of the room to hang out with L in the hallway. I'm not really into this formal stuff after 4 years of going there.

While the doctors did their doctor thing, I did my Jessica thing which is - collect children. (Everytime I go there I wish I was more useful and contemplate nursing school. Then I remember that I can't even get my blood pressure taken without freaking out and I dismiss the thought. ha.) Hugs it is.

I love my people. And those baby eyelashes. This little dude in the top left is a dwarf - no other ailment. He really tugged at my heartstrings. Everytime he would go down the slide, he would bang his head because his body preportions are off. He's head-heavy. So he finally retreated to his corner in a fit of tears. Precious baby.

The mundane reasons these kids are abandoned are so sad sometimes. (well, all the time). This is just the way it is in a country with a one-child policy and no social security system. The one kid is required to care for his/her elderly parents. If you get a non-perfect's gotta go.

Can you find the little downs syndrome boy in the balls in the top left? I was just wandering about and asked the ayi's (worker women) how I could help. They giggled and dragged me outside for a photo session on the roof like they had been scheming it all along and were just waiting for me to approach them. Presh.

Then it was lunch time -for the babies and the big people. The center fed us bamboo shoots, sliced pumpkin (my fave!) and preserved vegetable. Our lunch time convo centered on the english translation for "preserved vegetable" (I had no idea) and me giving people's kids English names. Towards the end of lunch people started handing me their un-eaten bowls because since I am, "so big," I should, "eat more." Bah.

Then I got a lesson in durability. If this little leg-less boy can but his own chair away by hobbling on his knees like it ain't no thang- I can suck it up on many occasions. Humbling. What a little rock-star.

Group photo with the lovies.

And my ultimate lovies, Michael and L. Two of my fave people in the universe and two of my heroes. Two inspiring, relentless, giving people in the face of adversity that I will never fully comprehend. The fact that my favorites are now partners in good is AWESOME. It's like an orphan care power team.

While this photo was being taken I yelled out, "L sandwhich!" No one understood me. Haha.

While compiling the pictures back at home, an old camp song crept into my head. I realized that this was a spark. That there is good in the world, people who are working against odds greater than any I will ever know, and I need to buck it up, scrape myself off the valley floor, and truck on.

We all enter the valley sometimes - hard times, sadness, uncertainty,'s part of the human experience. But we can't stay there forever. There's orphans to care for, people to feed, languages to learn, bridges to build, work to do. Today was just what I needed. I should have known it was coming.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going
and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing
That's how it is with Gawd's love
Once you've experienced it
You want to sing, it's fresh like spring
You want to pass it on

I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I've found
You can depend on Him it matters not where you're bound

I'll shout it from the mountain tops, I want the world to know
the King of Life, has come to me
I want to pass it on.

Experience any sparks lately?

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 30, 2012

hunger games, lancelot, castration.

Excuse my short blog absence.

I have been reading The Hunger Games.

OMG. So good. I read the trilogy in the last 3 days. I carried my kindle with me everywhere and even logged 1.5 hours on the elliptical because I didn't want to take a break from reading to ride the bus home. My feet went numb but I was too enthralled by the book to care.

It was so fabulous to read something that did not have to do with teaching methodology or Chi.nese philosophy and was written in simple English. It felt like me again - absorbed in a book.

Things are winding down and I'm about to have a decent break to do life - marathon train, catch up with friends I haven't seen while doing my crazy amount of travel, start tutoring again since I'm broke, and maybe do some day trips around town. And orphan work - the most important thing.

My school is on the quarter system and right now there is a 2 week break between quarters so I am free of the classroom for a few weeks. (cue the angels). I do, however, need to bust my butt to learn something in this time off so I stop looking like such a doody-head worthless white person. Maybe I'll read some philosophy. Or find a new young-adult trilogy to read. Either one.

I'm slowly but surely making my way back to the world of stable people after my work incident from h-e-double hockey sticks. (clarification - I did not go crazy, a student did). I'm still sticking mostly to myself and declining social offers though - hopefully my need for constant solitude will end soon and I can trust myself to be sociable again. I declined an offer to participate in a Chin.ese student poetry reading last night. I just don't have the energy now for Chi.nese strangers - they take so much out of you. All the, "Where are you from? You are so tall! Can we make friends?" can really wear you out. But soon. The mojo will come back.

I'm working really hard at not harboring bitterness. I don't want to feel superior or prideful or angry at my place of living. These are all real feelings and that I am warding off - slowly but surely. I've formed extreme judgements (based on truthful observations, but not worthwhile or helpful in any way) and I'm working to clear those, too.

It's one thing to say, "Mental health care in is a new field and hopefully will develop along with other social systems in the decades to come." And another thing to say, "Screw the ignorant fools who lack common sense and good judgement and treat people like crap, they'll never change." Right now I am somewhere between those phrases, working my way to the first phrase. (this is honest stuff here, people).

In better news, the funniest thing happened today in one of my observations that I don't think I can even do justice with the written word. One of my students asked his students where they would like to travel if they could go anywhere. A young dude in a purple hoodie rose and said in a contrived British accent, "Well, as you know, my English name is Lancelot. So I would go to England."

I almost burst out laughing. It was such a classic moment. My student and I laughed about it after class over bowls of steaming dumplings. What a hoot. I really love my students and love helping them be better teachers.

Enough random thoughts, have some random pictures!:

Street propaganda is my favorite...

this lady sells toys outside the hospital from under a canopy of umbrellas...

I showed up to class yesterday to find empty room. They ended class and did not tell me, "Oops, didn't tell the foreigner". This did not make me feel good. I was pretty upset about it until I got a text from one of my classmates, "It is like we take a joke to you." And then I lightened up and laughed.

I'm trying to figure out how to go about getting Mr. Mushu kitty neutered. He's 7 months old now and it's time to steal his manhood and tame him down. This is a big deal though, because vet care is also not very advanced here (why treat animals when you can eat them - makes sense in developing nations). I have a friend whose cat died getting neutered and the vet tried to give her a different cat and say it was hers. Finally they relented and gave her her dead cat in a box. I am PETRIFIED this could happen to Mu. Petrified. So I'm debating - neuter or not? Is it really necessary? Almighty Google is mixed on the issue. I tried talking to Michael about it, but after some translation problems ("neuter" translates to "castrate") he thinks it is not necessary to do this to any animal. I'm going against language and culture here. (how about that for a random Friday rant on the bloggy? haha. This is my life).

Baby boy blues...

And that's my life.

I hope yours is well, wherever you are.
*And may the odds be ever in your favor.

walk slow. xoxo.

*Hunger Games!

Mar 26, 2012

possibilities and challenges.

Photos/Snippets from today:

observing a student at the China Academy of Art and Design...

walking to West Lake after the observation via the, "Heaverly Wind over Wu Hill...?"

pagodas and weeping willows...

reminding myself that I love my city, especially now that the weather has taken a turn for awesome...

then the gym, night class (final one of the quarter!), cafeteria take-out (cabbage, eggs, tomatoes, rice) and back home to my baby boy kitty doodle...

A productive, good day. Work, school, gym, healthy food, and a breather by the lake.

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
Thomas Merton

And I didn't flick anyone a bird today so + 5 points, me. :)

walk slow. xoxo.

metaphorical poo.

Yesterday the metaphorical poo hit the metaphorical fan.

After my work situation reached an all-time stress high, I walked a few miles to retrieve my bike from a hopital where I had left it when I first responded to the emergency.

I found it to be stolen.

While walking back I broke things off with theguy I have been seeing for 6 weeks.

Then I just broke. I found a squatty potty and sobbed in a stall for a few minutes which felt so great. Sometimes you just have to cry it out, especially after staying strong through a crisis for so many days.

Eventually, I ventured back out into the street filled with Chin.ese tourists to walk back to my campus and meet a friend (misery loves company).

While walking, I openly cried - which did not attract any more attention than I normally do. Ha. I walked slowly because I just didn't have any more fight left. So there I was, crying and slogging along a bamboo-lined road when a monk in a golden robe and shaved head approached me. He handed me a Buddhist track and told me to, "kan yi kan," or, "have a look."

I flicked him a bird and kept walking.

So yesterday will go down as the day I flicked off a monk. (I realize this is bad behavior, but it is also hilarious to me.) In what world does that happen? This one.

Dear crisis,

Thank you for the chapter in my future book. It's gonna be a good one.


walk slow. (and keep your head up.) xoxo.

Mar 24, 2012

vague but necessary.

It's been a hard few days.

I can't talk about it in depth because of the private nature of the cirumstance and the public nature of a blog, but this blog is my journal so I want it recorded that this happened here. At this point in my life archives. For my own memory.

I also want to be recording what I observe and learn as I process the experience and as it comes to an end in a few days. So bear with me and my vagueness. I'm hoping to be able to write the story after some time passes.

In every leadership position I have had, there has been some type of personal crisis. It happened to a resident when I was an RA, it happened to one of my staffers when I worked at summer camp. And now I've navigated yet another emergency, this time on a larger scale, as a professor. (I wish God would realize that I am just a doody head and stop making me have to deal with heavy stuff in a leader role.)

Last night I did not feel good. I felt strange and sad - affected by the events and thankful that I have a kitty bug at home to keep me company and cuddle with me. (best spontaneous purchase I ever made). This morning, after a cup of coffee and strawberry oats, I feel much better, more clear-headed.

Here are my thoughts as of now:

1. I am so thankful to be an American and have the American medical system. Yes, people complain. Yes, the bills are outlandish and the industry has issues. But our culture has a developed sense of self and a deep-rooted sense of responsibility to mankind. What took two days and me screaming and yelling in Chin.ese would have taken one hour in America. The mental health care system here is despicable. Horrendous. I want to say more, but can't because of no free speech. But I can say, that I have been through another experience where I am so thankful for my country and my ability to navigate this one.

2. I am thankful for my Chin.ese skills. I kind of surprised myself by my ability to deal with the heaviness of the event in mostly Chin.ese. I think it was adrenaline and the fact that I work well under pressure. I did not need to pause to translate in my head before speaking - I just spewed out demands without thinking - leaving Chin.ese professors, doctors, and nurses shaking in their boots - and ultimately doing what I said. (suckers). I have more confidence now to face my PhD classes, where I often feel beat down language-wise, because hey, if I can do this in Chin.ese, surely I can pass, "Philosophical Thoughts of the Han Dynasty," in Ch.inese.

3. No man is an island. I am so incredibly humbled and thankful for my posse of students who supported me along the way. I really can't believe the outpour of love that I felt from my students. It is humbling in a way I've never experienced. A student stood by me as I made tough decisions, held my elbow as I signed my name where I didn't really want it to be, and took over some duties when I was too mentally exhausted to continue. They laughed with me through the hardship, brought me chocolate and diet coke (they know me so well!) and waited in the hallway for 2 hours while I was in another place doing my professional duties. They allowed me to talk incessantly as I verbally processed my feelings and showed deep compassion to the circumstance when my well had run dry. We group hugged when it was all over. And I think we all feel a heightened sense of closeness. I could not have made it through as a pseudo-leader without my incredible support system. I'm just so thankful and aware of the necessity of community.

Now I am going to go to Walmart, go to the gym, read some school books, and meet Dr. Xu for dinner and a chat. Then I am going to drink 100 mojitos with my friends who just arrived back from the Philippines. (ok, maybe just one - too many calories). All the while, directing calls between many sources until our recent event is over (won't be over for a few days, though my responsibity now is just to be a people-linker and information-transferer).

I'm just trying to move forward with strength and leadership and a sound mind-- big words that require coffee and good people, but do-able nonetheless.

Whatever you are going through, (because let's face it, I'm not the only person who's had a hard few days in the world,) you can get through it. Maybe you'll surprise yourself with some skills, maybe you'll be jaded by incompetence of others, maybe you'll be humbled by the giving and care of people around you. But most of all remember, when you are weak, He is strong.

And go buy a cat.

Thanks for listening to the vagueness, dear blog.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 22, 2012

thoughts on teaching.

The most repeated commandment in the Good Book is, "do not fear."
It's in there over 200 times. (heard this once and never forgot it.)

One day when I write my story, I will remember this week as interesting. Different than the rest in that there was a conglomeration of emotional need swirling around me. And in a twist of roles, I was the giver of care rather than the recipient.

Being a teacher is an emotional job. If you do it right. (so is being a friend).

I've learned that it does not matter if my students are or American, they still have needs and desires, and dreams and fears that require a teacher's presence. A tangible, personal guide.

I have fear that I am not adequate enough to be that person for my American students. When confronted with a phone call from my boss today to, "take care of" a situation - I instantly had a jolt of fear that I am not mature enough, grown-up enough, experienced enough to "handle" things.

Dude, I'm a mess myself. I wanted to say to him.

But then I remembered my role as teacher. It is not a role that requires perfection, but rather, empathy. I do not need to have all the answers, I just need to be able to point my students in the right way to find the answers themselves.

Thats much less scary of a task.

Today I am thankful for my job. I am thankful to be a teacher. I am thankful that my mom is a great teacher so that I have an example. I am thankful to have my career jump-started while living in

While taking care of my, "first of many incidents," according to my boss, I am reminding myself, so that I can remind my students, "do not fear."

Easier said than done. But we forge ahead, nonetheless.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 19, 2012

in the words of my homeboy...

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.


We're trying, dude.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 18, 2012


I'm trying to find balance in my life these days.

St. Patrick's Day was a great example...

The day began with running, (I use the word "running" generously), the 16 flights of stairs in my friend/half-marathon partner's apartment building. I biked over to her place, we set our water bottles at the top of the 16th floor, (so no cheating - have to make it to the top to get water) and set out on our run up/elevator down 40 minutes of torturous bliss.

Waiting for the elevator on round 3/8... (she's already left me in her dust which means and extra long wait for the elevator while she goes to the bottom...)...

While "doing stairs" my heart rate skyrocketed to the point of dizziness a few times and I had to actually stop once to catch my breath. This makes me concerned for my conditioning because my eating has been off this month and my workouts have been halved since my job got so busy. I'm too afraid to brave the smog and traffic to run outside and the gym doesn't open until 9am. This is a problem. This workout showed me just how much work I have to do in the next 2 months. "Less chocolate, more squats," is my new life motto.

No matter what though, the stairs felt great. We are going to have awesome butts after this training is over! (or I want my money back... :) )

But of course all that sweating had to be balance out... :)

The rest of the day was spent on the roof of the same building at my friend's birthday party. Jess made homemade carrot cake for the Mexican bday girl that was lucious and reminded me of my sister's carrot cake that she makes for my mom.

The birthday was laid back and fun with new faces and old friends from all over the world...

and then we drank (a lot of) green beer that was tinted by using Chi.nese cough medicine medicine that was scooped out of a can.

See, balance. :)

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 16, 2012

178 centimeters and ox stomach.

I get reminded that I am tall everyday by the natives.

Sometimes talking to me. Sometimes talking about me.

My responses vary based on the time of the month.

Sometimes they get, "I am not tall, you people are just too short." Sometimes it's, "Heehee, I'm a dinosaur."

Today I had an hour between my two observations and I went on a noodle-shop hunt. After finding copyshops and stores selling tea in small plastic bags I finally found a little, dirty noodle place. Heaven.

I walked up to the counter, read the menu, and ordered my plate of, "celery, beef, fried noodles." The little family running the place was shocked. "This foreigner speaks Chi.nese, this foreigner speaks," they repeated over and over while I stood there waiting to pay.

I paid my $1 for my meal and found a seat, aware of the talking about me that was spreading throughout the small shop but choosing to just have a neutral/nice face and act like I was just there for some noodles like everyone else. I soon heard the familiar observations and questions arising through the air, "She's so tall. How tall is she? She must be 180 centimeters."

I pulled out my Kindle and quickly got lost in my book, but was jolted back into the real world by a tap on my shoulder. I jerked my neck up to find myself nose to nose with an elderly Chi.nese woman whose wrinkles concealed her true age. "How tall are you?" she asked with a yellow-toothed smile.

"Yi mi qi ba," I responded for the zillionth time. 178 centimeters. (5' 10" for all you 'Mericans).

"Mmmmmmmmm," she nodded her head slowly while looking me over in disbelief. Then she turned on her heels, and returned to her noodle crew with my valuable information.

"178 centimeters, 178 centimeters..." soon the whole dang place was talking about how I am 178 centimeters tall. I tried not to look up or laugh and kept focus on my book until my plate of deliciousness arrived. I felt like I was in a comedy and was so humored.

Half-hour later when I walked out of the shop I waved to the family. "Are you full?" One woman asked. But in my half-consciousness (I was thinking about my book), I shook my head "no" thinking she asked if I wanted more - when in reality I was really full of her great cooking.

5 seconds later once I was on the street walking back to the Finance College for a visitation, I realized what I had answered. I was embarrassed because in Chi.nese culture, I dishonored them. I said my plate of noodles that they offered was not enough for me. And I embarrassed myself in my own culture by saying that my 178 centimeter body can pack it away and wasn't satisfied.

Oh well. haha. It was a funny lunch nonetheless. Knowing Chin.ese has it's advantages and disadvantages and today it was just funny.

More work pics, (this blog is getting boring....classrooms and colleges galore....)

My noodles with a side of e-literature, (reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall - highly recommended to runners and half-runners and non-runners alike)...

Gray, but thankfully not raining.

After my second observation, I rode the bus (standing in heels) for 1.5 hours home and rushed to my dorm to change out of my professor clothes and bike to campus to meet a former student from HDU. Robin is taking the entrance exam to my university tomorrow (all applicants must travel to the uni's they want to apply to and take a test that only happens once a year. If they pass, then they get in. If not - no chance.)

He messaged me online a few days ago and asked ifwe couldget together so he could practice his english listening. It was fun to see him after 2years! I miss my Chin.ese munchkins. Teaching graduate students and American graduate students is so different.

One thing I did not count on was eating "Ox stomach" for dinner. I tried really hard to eat/like it, but found myself hiding a gag half way through my first bite. Weird foods don't really freak me out (anymore) but the slimy texture reminded me that I was eating the guts of a dude cow with every bite. (and I am trying to wean meat out of my diet for good so this was hard to stomach regardless of gooey texture.) haha, pun intended. Luckily, it was a spicy dish so I could blame the spiciness for why I did not eat any more slimy slivers.

Good luck to Robin on the entrance exam! I really hope he achieves his goal because he is a precious soul and I would hate to see him dissapointed.

I (almost) feel like an adult, I am so exhausted from the work/school week.
This 178 centimeter dinosaur is getting into bed.

Happy Friday.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 15, 2012

old stomping grounds and word lists.

The observations continue.

So does the rain outside.


Today I was at my old stomping grounds, HDU where I taught for my first two years in Ch.ina - the first year as a masters student finishing classes, then wrote my thesis during the second year. It was memory lane! The halls even smell the same! (like wet books). I picked up this school this semester when I took over the city for my job, so it was my first time observing students at my previous employer. It felt strange to be in a role-reversal from 3 years ago. I'm now the one being called, "Professor." Cool.

One of my students referred to me as, "Mam" and, "Miss," during his lecture. I almost didn't realize he was talking about me. Guess it's time to be a Mam. Ha. I'll let you know when I figure out the secret to being a Mam. Any tips? :)

The classes went well and then I rushed to my campus on the bus (after a stop for sea salt coffee!) to attend my readings in philosophy course. I have no idea what is going on in that class. But I'm there, so it has to count for something.

My other philosophy class, what I understand of it, is incredibly interesting. Last week we were discussing if Chin.ese medicine was science or not. My prof was saying something like Chi.nese medicine was before the discovery of science and it is more holistic in nature while Western meds depend on science. I disagreed because I think Western medicine is also subjective - doctors guess what is wrong with you based on your description of symptoms. There is also room for error - unlike scientific fact. So, to me, both Western and Chin.ese medicine refer to science but cannot be characterized AS science.

Nerd alert!

And that my friends, is why I don't talk a lot about school here - bored yet?? :) :)

Here's some proof that I work:

I love looking through the notebooks in the desks. Chin.ese classrooms are incredibly messy. Books are cheap (as opposed to America where you sell your soul for a textbook). Books here go for about 3$ and can be photocopied in a copy shop. No copyright laws! Tea bottles, notebooks, umbrellas, even packaged snacks are strewn across the under part of the desks - for days. I like to see what students write. Here were some of my findings today...

A vocab list including "must-knows" like: sushi, hostel, yummy, pooped, breeze, neat...

Another student did what I do with Chi.nese characters, made them take over the paper..."segregate, nucleus, antenna, invasion, excrusion, stoop, colonial, inertia..."

Your job is to use all the above words in a paragraph and get back to me.

I'll be bussing all over Hangzhou in the rain if you need me.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 14, 2012

a work day.

I was greeted by the sunrise and eerily quiet roads while I waited for the bus to the distance bus station this morning...

and I knew it would be a good day when I walked into my student's classroom and the word, "gangster," was written on the board...

the Agriculture University is located in BFE and takes forever to get to, but the views are gorg...

I fell asleep on the bus ride home...

then transferred busses (sense a trend?) and had a nice chat with an elderly man. Him: "What country?" Me: "America." Him: "You fly here?" Me: "I swam. I am very strong." Him: laughter.

my bus money, 1.5rmb ~22cents...

And it goes down again tomorrow, gangsters.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 13, 2012

and so it goes.

Yesterday it stopped raining for the first time in 20 days.

20 days.

But the sun is out and we are having a few of those fabulously gorgeous days that make me think I could live here forever. (someone smack me).

Things are still nutso busy. Today was the last of one round of meetings and my observations will go on until the end of the month, meaning lots of hours traveling are in my near future. But after March it's all downhill inthe American semester and I can focus on the marathon adn my own studies.

A few days last week I was an emotional wreck. I'm blaming PMS so that I don't have to accept that those negative emotions could possibly be my own. :)

When I am not purposefully joyful (takes work, people), my ability to make good, concerting life choices about how I should react to my non-native environment wanes. A few women called me fat behind my back in the gym, (look at the fat foreigner...") and I layed into them with all my redhead fury in Chines.e. Later that day, I had a wonderful afternoon with Michael and his cousin, and then went into a convenience store to grab a bottle of water. It is customary for workers in stores to shout, "welcome" when the door opens, usually in a monotone voice and without eye contact. Two seconds after the, "welcome," a customer said, "Foreigners don't understand Chin.ese why would you say welcome?" Again, the redheaded dragon reared her nasty head. I should not have reacted so aggressively, yet in that moment I felt singled out and prejudiced against.

When I am not conscientiously choosing joy on a minute's basis, my ability to "turn the other cheek," is nonexistent.

But sunshine helps.

Hallelujah for sunshine after the rain.

In recent events:

I helped Michael fill out paperwork for a visiting surgeon position in California. Describing words like, "under penalty of perjury," and, "are you a registered sex offender?"was fun. I expecially appreciated being told that, "there are no sex offenders in"

Oh ya? Ask my old advisor about that.


I love Michael. We are meeting every Saturday to discuss the book, "Turning Bricks Into Jade," that deals with cultural differences between Chin.a and America to help him assimilate when he goes abroad. It's a fabulous read, I highly recommend it.

I also highly recommend afternoons with Michael and his kissy-faced cousin.

I do not recommend going to my gym after our renovations. I used to get to watch the 4'10" meatheads stare at themselves in the mirror and lift weights. The cardio machines overlooked the weight floor and I had great entertainment via tiny shorts and tiny men.

But unfortunately after the renovations now I have to stare at myself! The ellipticals are smack up against a mirrored wall! And the treadmills are no different. Now I have to watch myself jiggle! I never knew I had neck fat. My last 5 mile run left me in such a bad mental state that I am contemplating taking all my runs outside into the smog and crowds. I just can't stare at that for 50+ minutes.

Work means long hours on the bus...

Yesterday I was reunited with my old bosses at HDU from my first 2 years teaching in Chin.a. It was weird to see them now that I am in a different role. They were more relaxed than I remember them being as their subordinate. My heart tingled with sentiment. We had a feast for lunch and chatted about our memories more than the business at hand.

Then we had a fabulous meeting at the university where most of's news anchors are trained. They have to send in a picture as part of the admission requirements and most of them come from the northern part of Ch.ina because, "their Chi.nese is more standard." It is common thought that the closer to Beijing you are, the more standard your language is. (But I personally love living and learning Chi.nese in the south, because I do not like the Beijing accent - it sounds like you are a pirate with marbles in your mouth. The southern accent is so much nicer to my ears).

And so it goes.

I'm off to the gym to stare at myself and try to think happy body thoughts while my neck fat jiggles.

Wish me luck.

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 9, 2012

Month of Mayhem.

March is turning out to be crazy.

I am travelling for work every day except for 2 until March 30th. I came home this afternoon after 4 observations and took an accidental 4 hour nap instead of going to the gym. Just passed out in my bed - boots still on.


In other sad news, the revolving expat door continues to turn. A friend of mine for the past 2 years returned home to Kazakstan this week. We had a good-bye dinner for her at our fave local restaurant, "Grandma's Kitchen." It was great to be with good friends and re-live old memories since 3 of us have known each other over 2 years here and have a lot of hilarious stories together in our friend arsenal. We walked to the bus stop after dinner singing old Chin.ese songs we used to karoake together when we were younger and had more energy for 2am revelry. Saying goodbye is not fun when people go back to their corners of the earth, but so goes life in a distant land....

After dinner we got gelato, where 'Butterscotch' translates to 'Whiskey Cheese.' Isn't that great?

Today was more observations. I like going to this school because the classrooms are decorated with random Christmas decor and post-it art. I had a tug of nostalgia talking wiht my students because these are our last "in-person" observations until they float away to thesis writing land and I never see them again. I find that I feel the same way for my American students as I did my ones...just really wanting to cheer them on to success and happiness...(even though both cultures respond differently, ha)...

This was the door to one of my student's English classrooms. Santa and post-its..

Happy Friday!

walk slow. xoxo.

Mar 7, 2012


I don't want to do anything today.

My brain and body are mush. I'm so tired. I know you know the feeling.

All I want to do is sit around and eat chocolate and popcorn and hug my kitty cat while watching tv on hulu. Even typing this is effort I don't want to exude. I don't want to think about philosophy or teaching or education or multi-cultural whatever. I don't want to have any answers - I am being laaaazy in my brain. My brain is shut down. But my body still has work to do today.

But I have a half marathon to train for. And a body I care about, so farting around is not an option for my evening. When I don't feel like working out, I often turn to my good friend Pinterest for some fitness inspiration. I don't pin things, I think it's a waste of time, but sometimes I lurkaround for inspiration.

Here's what helped me today....

Sometimes we all need a kick in the rear. Today I sure did.

Thanks, internet, for the Pinspiration. I'm off to run...

walk slow. xoxo.