May 30, 2012

the every day.

Today I mopped the floor. 

Did laundry. Hung it out to dry. 

Took a self-portrait outside the school gate. Reminded myself to wear sunscreen. 

Responded to work emails. Read a 34 page student thesis.

Met a friend for coffee. Got bug bites. 

Snuggled with the furry man in my life. 

Had a veggie burger on toast for dinner. 

Watched the Bachelorette on Hulu. Found out Dolly Parton has been married 47 years. Wow. 

And sang Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother who turns 29 again today. 

You'd hardly know I live on the other side of the world. 

I like days like this. 

Adventure-less days. The every day. 

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 29, 2012

call me Chaska.

C.hinese timing is impeccable. I found out yesterday that I had a presentation in today's Tang/Song Dynasty class.

Last minute discovery is so normal around these parts that I rolled with it. I continued my evening plans and decided I would get up early today to write the paper in Chi.nese and prepare. (Am I over confident? The answer is a resounding - y-e-s). 

After hitting snooze a thousand times, I reminded myself of my task and I sat down at my computer and tried to figure out whattheheck I was supposed to write about. I had written a topic in pinyin (alphabetized Chi.nese) in my notebook and after some intense googling, I found out that my subject was Zhuxi, the Song Dynasty Neo-Confucianist who was sentenced to death for his unorthodox ideas. Mmmm, exciting. Thanks, Wikipedia. 

An hour of a little Google searching, a little Google translate, and a pounding headache later, I had a 4 page paper in perfect Chinglish ready to go. 

Since I take classes at a campus across town, I hopped on the bus aimed for the print shop and planned to walk to class from there. I do not have a printer (should have invested years ago, now don't want to spend the money). You can't print in the library at school, everything has to be placed on a USB and taken to a shop where you can make prints for 10 cents each. This is often on the list of a foreigners least enjoyed tasks and one day when I have a job where I can print/scan/copy I will appreciate the luxury to the fullest. 

Anyways, I was chilling in the print shop miming that I needed some paper work for work scanned (never learned that word) when I got a text in English from my only friend in the Chin.ese Philosophy Department, "Class is quit. Don't come." At that point, it was 15 minutes til classtime and I had already spent a whopping $1.50 printing out copies of my paper for the whole class. 

"So should I email my paper to the teacher?" I responded. 

"No need. Score has already been given." 

I checked the computer later and found that the entire class had been issued an 85%. We only had class 2 times this quarter, never actually met our teacher, and no one wants to read my assignment. And yet I got an unexplained 85. 

As a previously high-performing student, Ch.inese academics has really brought down my expectations for life - I take what I can get. That kind of sums up much of my experience - there's no explanation or logic, but I'm just happy to keep truckin' along. 

Since I was already on campus, I met with my dear friend who was in the library and we walked and talked for awhile before I headed onto the bus home to actually do something productive with my day. The bus was packed and I wasn't surprised when someone tapped my shoulder. 

I turned and a Middle Eastern man was 5 inches from my face. Unfazed, I asked, "Yes?" He asked me the directions to the International College, and I informed him that he was on the right bus and would get off one stop after me. Unable to move away from him, we carried on the usual conversation that happens when I am approached by a Middle Easterner. (If you are a MIddle Eastern reader - I love you). 

He asked me how old I am, if I am married, if I have children, and why the answer is no to those questions. He complimented my hair, then asked my job and salary. All normal questions. I did my usual gig in which I ask the person the same question they just asked me. I figure if you get to know my details, I get to know yours. 

His name is Zeer and he's from Pakistan. Unmarried. No kids. 400$ a month working in tech. 

There was still some time left on the bus and I was feeling friendly and he was a nice dude, so I told him my story from going to the Wagah Border ceremony at the border of India and Pakistan in January. Having travel stories that can act as a common denominator or fill empty space is golden. His eyes lit up and he went into a long story about the rivalry between India and Pakistan and what it was like at his university when the two countries faced off in the World Cup. He informed me that India won and I offered my condolences which seemed to please him. 

In true form, he asked for my number as I was getting off the bus. My phone is full of random encounters. What made this encounter memorable was that as I was walking through the alley to my dorm, contemplating the passion in nationalism and sport, I got an obviously accidental text from my new friend's number. 

"Chaska America."

And I smiled to myself. 

It wasn't even late afternoon and I already recieved an 85 in a class I never went to, and had my name mistaken for, "Chaska," by the Pakistani on the bus.

The stories are endless. 

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 28, 2012


One of my best friends texted me this afternoon, "What are you doing?"

"Self-medicating," was my response. 

"You'd better not be in bed drinking wine with your Kindle and your cat." 

Hmmm, I thought. That's actually a good idea. ha. 

I sent her this picture in response: 

Great Wall champion chip still attached to the right foot! 

"Good girl," she said.

Self-medicating at it's finest. Four slow, happy miles with Kelly Clarkson's, "Stronger" on repeat. I feel fabulous. I'm not sure what I did with my emotions before this whole marathon training thing. (Actually, I do know, the emotions were drowned in oreos). I'm thankful for a healthy outlet.

Kelly's right, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Now about that bed, wine, Kindle, cat thing....


walk slow. xoxo. 

May 26, 2012

because I can only sing to my cat for so long.

Jessica's wisdom tidbit of the day: breakups suck.

Seeing the person you broke up with and finding out they are leaving for good...super sucks. (darn expat revolving door).

While I alternate between crying into my pillow and singing to my cat, (we all deal with heartbreak judging...ha), look at these pics from the last few days:

Hello Kitty toilet paper- my mom's fave

A preserved egg display at the grocery store

the view from my classroom at the hospital, love this city

Jess and I got foot massages and were given cucumbers on plates as  a snack. Special. 

Chick on the treadmill in her pajamas. Crazy or genius? 

Mushu kitty mid-yawn. My perfect furry ball of love. 

I'll be back to regularly scheduled non-overly dramatic and super sensitive posts soon hopefully. I know you have other things to think about than my weepy soul. But no promises. :)

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 25, 2012

today's comfort.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

C. S. Lewis

Here's hopin'.

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 24, 2012

baby dragons, baby snakes.

There's a baby boom going on across right now. 

It's the last month(s) to become impregnated and birth a dragon baby. The year of the dragon ends with the next New Year in mid-January 2013, and babies born after the New Year will be snakes (my sister's year! Hisssssssss). 

In the Chin.ese zodiak, the dragon is the most powerful animal (followed by the tiger - me) and I guess the thought process is, if you only get one kid (as per the one-child policy), you want him/her to be the most powerful. 

Every day on the street I encounter mid-term pregnant ladies and I smile to myself, "You got that dragon baby, good job."

However, as you can imagine, this deadline poses some stress for those who have other life goals besides birthing a child in the right zodiak year (imagine that) and also who do not get pregnant quickly after beginning to try. This is the case with my dear friend Michael and lucky me, I get to be privy to all the conception details. 

This stuff is just too funny not to share. 

Michael has been telling me that his mom wants him to, "make the baby," before he spends a year in America. He is scheduled to leave sometime between September and December. In families, they concieve their one baby very quickly. My college students could not seperate "marriage" from "babies" they seem to come together at the same time. Most couples are expected to concieve within their first year of marriage, if they don't, they have dishonored the family and/or are selfish. (These are traditional ideas, yet I have encountered them among my modern friends quite often). 

Michael was married last October, so the one-year anniversary is coming and if they were to not concieve before he leaves, that would delay the baby-making another year, which would dishonor the family. Mind you, Michael is 27 years old and his wife is 23, they are very young. 

Last month, Michael's mom asked them to have a baby as soon as possible and to try to have a dragon baby. At this point, the only way to ensure the baby is born before January would be to have a scheduled C-section. This is shockingly common in C.hina, over half of all births are C-sections, the highest rate in the world. (I love working at a hospital and knowing these things). 

Michael shared his mom's request with me over coffee one afternoon and then informed me nonchalantly that she would be fertile before my marathon and maybe after my marathon they would find out if, "it works."

I was amused at being told this information, but observed that having a baby is a calculating measure when there are deadlines and family pressures involved. Culture, what a funny thing. 

I have been giggling to myself these past few weeks thinking that Michael was trying to make his baby and could not wait to ask if it worked. (TMI? nah...) I kind of like being front row to one of the greatest events in my friend's life. Even if he sees it as a pressure rather than a blessing. 

Last night in the elevator at the hospital after my english class, Michael was explaining that his boss wants him to go to America in September, but he wants December. The elevator stopped at the cardio ward where he was going on night duty and I called out to him as he turned to leave, "Are you having a baby?" 

He turned and flipped his wrist in the air, "No. Didn't work. I want a snake." And with that he was through the doors and I was surrounded by hospital patients left to contemplate my friend's parental fate. 

Another nurse who is very close to Michael and also is privy to this personal information looked at me and said with a knowing smile, "September is only three months away. December gives more time." 


The dragon deadline is over. But there are still 5 months left to make a snake. 

The longer I am here and the deeper I go with my friends, the more I have no idea what is going on. But I'm ok with it, that's the tiger in me. :) 

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 23, 2012

lessons on professionalism.

My contract for my first year as an adjunct professor is officially over.

Yet the work continues since my students stil have time left on their work contracts in Ch.ina and I am needed to represent the university if need be.

Recently the student who hurt my feelings (darn feelings) so badly a few weeks ago has run into some troubles with his employer. I am getting a great lesson in professionalism. I am young and emotional and want to react one way, but the rules of being a gracious grown up require big girl behavior that does not necessarily come naturally to me (yet?).

I sat in a meeting yesterday while this ran through my mind, "I wanna punch you in the balls you big turd-head time waster piece of dump." But what was coming out of my mouth was, "I hope that we can work together to find the best possible solution for all parties involved."

Whooooo for learning about professionalism first handedly and three cheers to my mother for coaching me through adulthood. ha. I am thankful for my work experience, but dang real life jobs are hard. People are complicated.

Here, have a picture of my cat for listening to my rant....

The transit bus to work...

My, "yay, I'm not letting my emotions do the talking!" victory face on the way home from the meeting...

And now I'm off to my other job at the hospital. Got bills to pay! Actually, no I don't. I don't have any bills. Got plane flights to save for! And professionalism to practice.


walk slow. xoxo. 

May 22, 2012

free yourself.

Three months ago my friend Jessica and I decided we would train for the Great Wall Half Marathon. 

At the time, three months felt like such a long time into the future. May was practically summer and the snow flurries in the air made summer seem like a distant idea. 

But we trained through the winter as the weather warmed up and our running tights were replaced by shorts and tanks. We ran countless flights of stairs and kept each other up to date with our Runner's World iphone app for training (highly recommended, FYI). 

We reminded each other to steer clear of sugar and alcohol and staying up late. We made decisions based on, "will this be good for the marathon?" From what I ate, to how I spent my money, many aspects of my life these past few months have revolved around this one distant date in May.

I read blogs and looked up photos of past races. I cannot count the number of times I sat at my computer and got teary eyed thinking that I too would run those stairs soon. I read everything I could about the race and people's experiences. And the more I read, the more excited I became about our choice to participate despite the great commitment of time, energy, and money. 

And now the day has come and gone. And it was all worth it. Every lunge, every squat, every mile, every stair, every penny, every 9:30pm bed time. 

What an experience. I wish something like this for everyone. I can hardly form words to express how much participating in this race meant to me. A year ago I would not have been able to physically complete the race. Now, 30 pounds lighter, I was able to not only complete the race, but enjoy each step. I'm so thankful for the experience. That this is my life and I get to do what makes me come alive. 

During training I would choose a mantra for each long run, usually based on whatever was going on at the time. They ranged from dumb, "you're not fat," to funny, "push push push," to serious, "don't give up." 

Saturday's mantra was, "free yourself." As the miles added up, my shoulders hunched and my stride shortened. My back started to hurt and my body was tight with the stress of activity. Every few hundred meters I would remind myself, "shoulders back, boobs out, lengthen your stride, free yourself." And the stress I was putting on my back would momentarily disappear, (until I had to remind myself again a few minutes later - isn't that how life goes? ha). 

In light of my recent break-up that has left me with a cloud of sadness, I was so inspired by the freedom that running through the village and along the wall gave me. Not only was I able to free myself of the fleeting pain of distance running by making small adjustments, but I was able to reflect on the freedom that I have given myself by making the choice I did. I'm free to be the person I am meant to be - a person who does not conform or make excuses. It was a good mantra for the time and I had plenty of thought space since I did not listen to music for most of the race. 

I'll do a legit race re-cap soon (when my internet is not being dumb). But for now here are some pictures of one of the 5 great adventure marathons on earth, a beautiful, well-planned course along a remote section of the Great Wall (Huanguyuan) and through a village...

We did it! I can't believe it is over.

Jess and I kept saying, "We can't believe we did that!" It was a dream come true.

At the finish line, I sobbed and laughed and squeeled at the same time. (that's a pretty sight, FYI, ha - a big, squeeling, slobbery redhead).

You really can do anything you set your mind to. How cool is that?

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 17, 2012

the problem with public announcements.

Two nights ago, this man stood outside my dorm with a single red rose. It was our 3 month anniversary and I was treated to a special dinner and a walk in the public park, surrounded by dancing Chin.ese grandma's and children on roller skates. 

We were so, so happy. 


Last night I broke his heart and in the process, my own.

The problem with posting on my blog about my relationship, which took me so long to do, is that now that I have ended my relationship, I have to post again. Sucks.

Breaking things off was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make. Mostly because I love him dearly and he did nothing wrong. But after 3 months, I woke up and realized that our religious difference (which has been becoming more clear to me) was going to end in disaster down the road and that I was disconnected from God.

I had a lightening bolt of realization that I would rather be in tune with God and alone than be in a healthy, happy relationship and feel distant from my Creator. I had to break two hearts to feel whole again.

I feel embarrassed, guilty, regretful, sad. But also courageous and relieved.

And most importantly, I will be running on the Great Wall in two days without a mess of lies and compromise swirling in my head.

Sometimes the hard thing and the right thing are the same.

walk slow. xoxo.

May 15, 2012

the revolving door.

The expat world has a revolving door. 

Some stay and plant themselves here, eventually calling this strange city home and adapting to the nuances of living in another language and culture. 

Others, like my friend K, come and find that China is different than how CNN portrays it and purchase return flights to their homeland sooner rather than later. 

We met together tonight to celebrate K's return to the SUNSHINE STATE tomorrow. I cannot believe that this weekend she will be so close to my home andfamily. (slightly jealous, though I have an exciting weekend planned too, so that helps the impending homesickness that her flight to Tampa would normally ensue). 

I am not the homesick type, never have been, but knowing that she is going to be under the blue skies of Florida soon makes my heart flutter just a teeny tiny bit. Oh Florida, home, what a glorious place. 

We met at the local fave restaurant and had a feast of garlic eggplant, pumpkin, cabbage, fish soup, and meat for the meat-eaters. 

Goodbye K! (center)

This is what a Chin.ese feast looks like at the end - food that lept from chopsticks littering the table, a sign of well-fed people.

Because we were high on food happiness, we decided that money is no object and went in search of foot massages. We found a place perfectly names, "Big Foot Ancestor" and were rubbed down for 80 minutes for a whopping 20$ each. (I'm never leaving

We said our goodbyes on a street corner, shielded by umbrellas from the night rain.

And so goes the revolving expat door. They come, they go, but I'm still here. 

May 12, 2012

what is fun?

What do you like to do for fun? 

Have you ever given it much thought? 

I found myself contemplating this question a few days ago while stealthily reading, "The Happiness Project" on my Kindle during class. I'm really enjoying this book even though I think the writing is poor, because the one-liners and general ideas are fab. 

Like, have you ever thought about what you like to do for fun and how that makes you you? I sat in class and listed the things that I think are fun - not deep, meaningful things, but things that I would do on a random Tuesday to enjoy myself in the absence of pressing responsibilities. A random sampling of my list: 

reading in bed
getting massages
working out alone
going for walks with other people
reading blogs
writing my blog
online shopping (dreaming - darn international shipping)
looking up motivational quotes
painting my nails
reading magazines (whenever I can find one in English)
planning parties/activities (more fun than actually attending) 
doing my hair/make-up
going to Wal-mart

To see both sides, here is a random sampling of things I find absolutely no fun at all: 

board games
get-to-know-you games 
group running 
biking on streets

It's interesting to think about the small things you do each day for, "fun." Not things you do once in a while, but what you do on a regular basis to have a reprieve from life's toils. If I look at my list with an analytical eye, I find that most things are solitary. I think this is because I am surrounded by people in all the responsibilty portions of my life- work, school, volunteering, etc. 

I've been thinking a lot about how I fill my days while reading The Happiness Project. She says, "it matters more what you do every day than what you do once in awhile." I'm sure this has been quoted a thousand different ways, but it really hit home with me. 

It matters more that I am kind to the people on the bus every day than if I do one orphan drive a semester. It matters more that I exercise and eat healthy daily than do a cleanse once a season. 

It's what we do daily that counts. 

Today was extra special in that it was Jess and I's last stair training run! The Great Wall Half Marathon is exactly a week from today! Eeeeeee! We met at her house early this morning for some errands and then a last haul up the stairs. 

I was really slow going and got lapped by my speedy friend, but I just kept telling myself that every step mattered, every step helped me be a healthy person, and this is for my life not just next Saturday.

I wore my official race shirt just to pump me up since running the stairs is not my fave thing in the worked...

I might miss that awful stairwell! I'm actually getting nostalgic over all the race training now that we are in the home stretch/taper. It's been 3 months of calculating distances, following a regimine, and accountability with Jess.

We both decided though that it will be nice to exercise without an impending date in our minds and the pressure to, "be ready."

One thing's for sure, I know we are!

Because of what we've done everyday for the last 3 months.

And it's been fun.

Imagine that.

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 10, 2012


These flowers bloom among busy, city streets....

greeting me on my walk home from class with pink petals and sweet fragrance...

I love Springtime in Hangzhou.

"The days are long, but the years are short." 

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 9, 2012

words will suffice.

I just checked my iphone and realized I have no pictures to document this great/hilarous/full day.

Oh well, words will suffice.

I woke up and did some work online before meeting my presh-head boyfriend for lunch at a Western cafe across the street. I was craving a veggie burger and he was craving me-minus-the-attitude so by appeasing me, we all were happy. :) ha.

We came back to my home where I loaded up my goods, changed into my work clothes and headed off to my afternoon of adventures. I was reminded of our culture/gender difference when I asked, "Does this look ok?" about my work outfit and he responded with, "You look fresh." "I have never been told that in my life," I said, "I am a white girl from Florida, picket-fence, suburbia. I own poodles and a cat. I never look fresh." hahahaha. He rolled his eyes at me and laughed, "Nice, you look nice."

We said zai jian and I got on the bus to meet one of my American college students at my old hair place. I have not been there in moooonths and asked some of my students if they would go with me to use up my money on my VIP card. I would give them the service for free just to be nice and because I want to use up the 100$ on my card so I don't feel tied to the place anymore. I can't justufy going anywhere else when I have pre-paid at this place, so I want to use the money up. Why not use it on my students?

I got a trim and she got her Persian hair straightened. I kind of laughed to myself the whole time because there was a definite difference in expectations. She was not entirely happy with the outcome of her hair and I was like, "ah, whatever, I'll throw it up in a bun if it's bad." My standards of everything are low now after living here so long and I sometimes forget that not everyone does everything just for the experience.

A new guy cut my hair and then one of the few people who still work there came over to blow dry and straighten my hair. We chatted a bit and after awhile he told me that it was his day off. (They get one day off a week.) I asked him why he was doing my hair if it was his day off and he said he had come into the shop to get somehting and had seen me after so many months and asked if he could do my hair.

That.Is.Precious. I was so touched. How can you complain about a non-perfect blow dry when someone is giving you their day off to spend time with you? It was sweet. And I was happy with my hair.

I said goodbye to my student and headed across the street for dinner alone in a noodle shop before heading back to the Children's Hospital for my first day back at work! I got my part-time job back!

I have learned a big lesson in Chin.ese work relationships and after some maneuvering on Michael's part, I was re-hired as the English teacher at the hospital. I left this job around Christmas time because I was majorly stressed about school, changing majors, and adding another section of my adjunct classes, but I have realized lately that I miss my students so much and I miss the money, also. (I'm broke, thanks to Chin.ese fixed economy and inflation).

I had to hang my head a bit at the beginning of class and assure them I will not just up and leave again. (note to self - you can never quit this job again.) But it was SO GOOD to see everyone! I had a geat turn out - over 20 students and we had a great class. All my favorites were there and I was so happy they still believe in me to show up. I love my monkies and missed them so, so, so, much. Having a job that I am excited to go to is a blessing and I'm not giving it up again because of worldly stress. I'm hanging on tight this time. (Note to self).

After class one of the students I love the most hugged me and started crying and told me her story of recently being denied entrance to the PhD candidacy in Shanghai because of corruption in our hospital. Her department head apparently doesnt want her to be the only person wit ha doctoral degree in the department (higher ranking than her bosses) so she was conspired against and lost the opportunity for further study. She is disheartened and feels the world is against her.

My heart broke listening to her. I also felt guilty. How could I have left my people? They need ears to hear and shoulders to cry on. I have ears and shoulders. And I am not in the system. I know I cannot, "save" anyone, but I should never take myself from a place where I know I am helpful in some way.

I am so sad about the corruption here (and around the world) and how it affects good people with honest hearts. Pray for Marie. For hope and a future.

After Marie left to catch a movie with her hubby, Michael and I drove to a coffee shop near my house for, "coffee time," as he calls it. After some promting from boyfriend, I told Michael about my leg pain and he wants me to get checked out (no way). It was such a great way to learn new English words for him. "Do you have pain in your fingers?" he asked. "No." "What about your feet fingers?" "My toes? No, no pain in my toes."

I love that man. I told him if I still have pain on Monday (a week after it started) or if the pain gets worse, I will go to the international clinic. But I am just hoping it goes away by then. I have a half-marathon to run in 10 days. Imustgetbetter. And there's no pain in my feet fingers, so I must be ok. :)

I returned home to my American neighbor knocking at my door, "I heard you!" he called. I just wanted some peace and quiet and kitty time, but in came another person who wanted to talk. I felt like a conversational revolving door today - boyfriend, student, hair do'ers, students, boss, Michael, neighbor.

It was a great day of interactions and reminding myself how blessed I am to be here with these people. I need my job with my Chin.ese students to remind me of that. I am so glad they took me back. Things don't work like that in America, you can't just quit your job via text and then beg your way back in, but it worked for me here. I am so thankful. For the extra $150 bucks a month and for the sustained friendships. Mostly the friendships.

My heart was so happy to be back in the classroom that it could have jumped out my chest and danced on the table. It's where I belong. In a room of Ch.inese people with a whiteboard all to myself. I want everyone to feel the way I do at work at some point in their lives. It's glorious.

It's been a day. My hair looks fab. There's a sleeping kitty in my lap. My boyfriend is patient with me. My students came to class. My hairwasher gave me his time. My best friend tried to diagnose my pains. My neighbor and I had a chat about the meaning of life.

Who needs photos? Letters will do.

walk slow. xoxo.

business as usual.

I got out of bed at midnight last night to sweep my floor and do the dishes because I was convinced I was going to die in the night. 

Someone check me into the crazy house. 

I've been having pulsing pains in my legs the past few days and my mind is not making the situation any better. WebMD doesn't help either. The internet is a place full of horror stories and I've put myself on a strict, "no more googling blood clots," rule until further notice. Having any medical emergency in China would be horrible. I have been hesitant to discuss my pain with my doctor friends because they would just tell me to, "drink hot water," and, "wear more clothes." (the two most divied out medical advices in this great land). 

I've also put myself on a, "do not make any big life decisions until after the half-marathon," rule. This is because my stress levels and emotions are haywire these past few days and I don't want to say/do/decide anything that rational/sane me would regret once my mental dust settles. (self-awareness is a beautiful thing). 

After talking to my wonderful, rational, fabulous, patient mother, I realize that the odds of me having a blood clot are very small and I need to make sure I am watching my electrolytes, drinking enough water, and chill the heck out. I love that woman for listening to me every day. 

Besides my mental freak-outs of leg pains, things are business as usual over here. 

Lots of kitty cuddles! He's getting so precious as he ages. I decided not to neuter him because I do not trust the vets here to give him surgery. I figure why put him through that risk if the surgery is not necessary. He hasn't started spraying and I think keeping him au naturale is the fair thing to do considering he has no run-ins with females since he lives in a dorm room. He has figured out how to open my dorm door, however. He jumps onto my towels that hang on the door and uses his right paw to swat the door handle down. He's a kitty genius. I was woken up at 3am the other night with a run-away kitty. The door is staying locked from now on! 

kitty genius at rest. 

Classes are....fine. Just philosophy class. In Chi.nese. I'm surprised the throbbing pain I'm experiencing is not in my brain instead of my legs. ha.

stealth photography, a by-product of sheer boredom.

Today I ran the stairs with Jess. 16 flights x 8. She did 10 but I wussed out because I had plans for body pump class afterwards. For the record, doing squats with weights after running 16x8 flights of stairs makes you feel STRONG and awesome. I love my legs. Even if they hurt like monkeyturds right now. I kept checking myself out in the workout room mirrors....that, my friends, is a good feeling.

waiting for the elevator to take me to the bottom to run it all over again.

Boom, 16th floor.

Chinglish joys. This is a kids notebook. Thanks for the free entertainment,

Kitty love, learning, running, laughing at randomness. Feeling thankful to be alive and hopeful for some leg healing.

Business as usual.

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 7, 2012

a trip down the specialty aisle.

I've been on a mission to find protein powder that is not a million dollars and that I am sure is not made with plastic. (as many powdered substances in are....)

While at Walmart the other day I decided to look through the aisle of the store where boxed "gifts" are located. There were boxes of, "American ginseng," and some Chi.nese brand protein powders, but what really caught my eye was the interesting stuff. 

Imagine getting any of these as a gift....

Brain Stronger Capsule...

 Shark liver oil...

blood replenishing supplement...

yak bone powder...

needless to say, I ended up with some groceries, fried noodles, and coconut water - no boxed "gifts" for me...The protein powder hunt continues...

If you ever need an exporter of shark liver oil, let me know. :) ha.

walk slow. xoxo. 

a bride-to-be and a birthday boy.

There was a lot of celebratin' going on in my life yesterday! 

A few friends and I planned a surprise bridal shower for a friend who met her Mr. Right here this year and is planing a shot-gun summer wedding. These two are a great example of, "when you know, you know." 

Mushu was not a fan of my baking all day for the parties. He would much rather I give all my attention to his furry face! ha. He let me know his feelings by using the bags of walnuts for my brownies as a pillow...

I love my cat a sickening amount.
 The party went well and I think everyone had a great time. The Bride was surprised and looked beautiful and the room was filled with genuine joy. It was interesting to corral the Chin.ese guests who were not aware of bridal shower protocol. (bridal showers don't happen here in the same way.)

We had a dessert table and a home-made paper sash...

Ring pops from Chin.ese Wal-mart...

and a Ch.inese propaganda banner exlaiming their love in!

We played games that tested their opinions of each other...haha...

The whole gang and the love-birds...

traditional American bridal shower games were a hit, even if chaotic to explain and see through to the end...

The bridal shower was precious and fun. Unfortunately, I had to leave a little early because someone's birthday party was planned for the same day (stressful)...

I headed home for a quick change and then met the Ethiopians (as I lovingly refer to my recently adopted crowd) at the Reggae Bar to celebrate Yoni's birth. His friends are welcoming and fun and we danced late into the night. His roommates brought cake and the band sang to him.

After two parties yesterday, I was exhausted today. (and wondering why life's events couldn't be spread out more!)

As I looked through my pictures today, I was taken aback by how diverse and interesting my life encounters are. In an evening I celebrated two Milwaukians' nuptuals and my Ethiopian boyfriend's birthday.

That's awesome. The world is small. And people are all the same - we may not celebrate the same, but we recognize events in each others lives with gatherings...and cake. Thanks goodness cake is universal. :)

Happy Wedding to Zach and Steph and Happy Birthday to Yoni.

walk slow. xoxo. 

May 4, 2012

full speed ahead.

Things havebeen busy but wonderful lately. I am sad I let the time build up before updating this thing so that I lose the little funny stories in liu of writing general updates. 

Oh well, live and learn. :) 

Last weekend was "Labor Day" here in Commie world and I got the priviledge of heading up to Shanghai with a group of friends for a retreat. We stayed in the urban jungle of the Shanghai 'burbs, a land of smog and never-ending rows of identical housing....

I've also been going to class. I have no idea what goes on in this class, so I just sit and read my Kindle while the teacher yells and smokes his pipe...

back to the retreat...there were 30 of us in atwo-story apartment, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor and cooking up yummy treats in the oven (so excited for an oven!) We sang and played, and I took note that I am surrounded by amazing groups of people. It was a glorious (though exhausting) time and I was thankful to be invited...

good people and homemade Western food...

re-focusing together through songs and fellowship...

some brave souls slept on the roof (to the chagrin of the security guards), I opted for the floor indoors...

It is the last week of my first year as an adjuct professor (hellooooo grading!). I'm getting a little nostalgic but at the same time need a break from checking my emails every 2 seconds. My boss was in town last week and we had a little gathering at a Thai restaurant...

AndI am finally done with my observations. One of my fave students bought me breakfast to celebrate the occassion...steamed bun, egg pancake, hardboiled egg, and half a sweet potato...

I'm moving at full speed with final grades due, a (surprise) bridal shower tomorrow, thesis revisions due to my students, and my boy's birthday this weekend. Oh, and I run a half marathon in 2 weeks...

Full speed ahead.

walk slow. xoxo