Tuesday, December 30, 2008

my new year's resolution

Everyone's been asking me what my New Year's Resolution is. Okay, not everyone, just my 12th graders, but they're my only contact with the outside world during the work week, so they're "everyone" to me here in China.

I don't really like the idea of a New Year's Resolution. First, I never really know what to resolve. I googled "Top New Year's resolutions" this year trying to find some ideas, and every list included: going to the gym (I do that), quitting smoking (I don't do that), and saving money (not gonna happen). AKA, lame, lame, and lame. Second, doesn't everyone always have the same New Year's Resolution? Does anyone actually stick with it or what? I feel like the answer is usually "yes" to my first rhetorical question, and "no" to the second.

Despite all that, I'm a conformist and thus will conform and make a New Year's Resolution. I've done a lot of resolving in my life recently, so this was a tough decision to make in terms of actually thinking of something that would be tough to give up or change in my life, but I finally found a goal I'd be interested in trying to keep in 2009.

I'm quitting dessert.

Yes, you read that correctly. I'm quitting dessert. For 2009, at least. And yes, I am fully aware that I have given up sweets on my blog before (twice, actually). Clearly that didn't stick since I am resolving to give them up right now, but you know what they say, third times the charm. It's a new year and I feel like I have more motivation to actually follow through with my goal. Plus, I can't bake here in Shanghai.

Last year I quit soda, and despite a few slips (or should I say sips? har har har) here and there, I did amazingly well in keeping my resolution. I was the girl that used to buy 3 12-packs of diet A&W rootbeer at a time "just in case", so it was definitely a struggle to kick the habit. But I did for the most part, and I'm happy I made the choice, too.

There are some rules to the quitness of dessert. They are as follows:
1. My birthday (January 2nd, mark your calendars) does not count as I will be having at least part of a slice of birthday cake. It's a tradition, after all.
2. 100 calorie packs of any variety, even candy or cookie, do not count as dessert.
3. Fro yo is not dessert UNLESS it is topped with a not healthy topping (anything syrupy, chocolatey, or otherwise tasty).

Those are the rules. Wish me luck.

If I had more self awareness I would say this whole eliminating stuff from my diet thing (remember I gave up all meat but fish a month or so ago) is my way of dealing with a quarter life crisis. I feel so helpless when it comes to what the fuck I'm going to do with my future, that I'm controlling the one thing I feel like I can control: what I eat.

But I don't have that kind of self-awareness--despite having read both The Power of Now and New Earth--so I'll just call a duck a duck and say that giving up sweets is my New Year's Resolution. So there.

another year bites the dust

It's interesting having a birthday so close to New Year's. It really makes you think. Reflect. All that.

Actually, it doesn't really, it just means I usually get gypped on birthday gifts since Christmas is the week before. I feel sorry for people born on Christmas day, that must really suck. And to share the same day of birth as Jesus? Man, talk about some competition for attention.

I mean, I shared the womb with someone and all, so naturally I have to share a birthday, but instead of "sharing" the day, it usually ends up amplifying it, making it seem like a bigger deal than it really is. So there's plenty of attention to go around. Wearing sequined clothes and funky headware helps in the attention department, too.

Well, it's December 30th, two days away from 2009, so am I supposed to make a "year in reflection" post? Is that a requirement of every blogger? This is my first legitimate New Year as a real blogger (whatever that means) and I'm not familiar with all the rules.

I guess just to cover my bases, I'll do a little 2008 in review:

High point of the year Reading my paper on Martin Scorsese's gangster films at an undergraduate research conference. I was sitting on a panel with some other students with papers related to film and when the presenter before me finished with her paper and people were allowed to switch rooms to go to other presentations, a flood of people came into the room, more people than there were even chairs for. It was quite exhilarating talking about something I had researched so much and felt so passionately about to a room full of strangers who were there because they wanted to hear what I had to say.

Low point of the year Saying goodbye.

Song of the year "Butterfly" by Jason Mraz.

Book of the year The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Best idea of the year Taking a trip to South Korea. I had no idea I loved Koreans until I moved to China, imagine that!

Dumbest idea of the year "Let's switch cabs!"

Hmm, guess I kinda suck at reflection. It's overrated, anyway.

Monday, December 29, 2008

flashing, flashing, lights, lights

Way back in November when I still had hair, I went to a Kanye West concert in Shanghai. It definitely made my Top 5 Lamest Concerts of All Time list (which is also graced by Avril Lavigne and Hootie and the Blowfish, hey, I go to a lot of concerts, okay? Don't judge).

The Shanghai Indoor Stadium is MASSIVE. I have no idea how many people it holds exactly, but considering this is a city of 18+ million people, I would guess somewhere between a "shit ton" and "helluva lot". At the Kanye West concert there were 43 people. Okay, I'm sort of lowballing that number, but the stadium wasn't even close to being a quarter filled.

Despite the lameocity of the event, I managed to have a fabulous time. Mostly because I was wearing shutter shades and a cat shirt. Oh, and we also got to sit way up in front since no one actually paid for the good seats. Sweet.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

le nom eiffel

An edible replica of the Eiffel Tower? I'm all over it.

I don't know how long it took Marilyn over at Simmer Till Done to create this gingerbread masterpiece, but it was totally worth it! Joyeux Noel!

I miss France. There's actually a significant population of French people here in Shanghai, mostly Algerians, so that's pretty cool. Every time I hear someone speak French, it warms my heart a bit and makes me wish I could find some decent bread in this country. Mais, tant pis, mon amie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

everybody was kung fu fighting

Today is a momentous day. Not only is it my 4 monthiversary with China, it's also my 1 year blogiversary! How serendipitous is that?

To commemorate this, I would like to share a story with you. A very Strawberry story. One in which I kick ass and take names, of course.

A few nights ago a bunch of my grad school friends went out to celebrate our last day of the semester (that's right, I'm half way done!). Good times were had by all, cheesecake was eaten by some, it was a pretty kick ass night to say the least.

It's about a 30 minute cab ride home from Puxi (where all the night life in Shanghai is), so unless I plan on staying out until the subway opens at 6AM, I try to leave "da club" by 3:30 at the latest. Plus, the DJ was playing way too much Sean Paul and not enough B Spears, so Romy and I decided to call it a night a little after 3AM.

Our friend Penny lives kind of near us, but not really close enough to share a cab, at 3AM, though, a lot of things seem to make sense that normally wouldn't, so the three of us shared a cab back to Pudong. After dropping Penny off the cab ride was already more than it usually costs to get back to our dorms from Puxi, but since we were splitting it three ways it wasn't that big of a deal. At first.

It started to become a big deal when the tab was twice as much as usual (140RMB compared to the usual 70RMB), and we were nowhere near our school yet. Then, I noticed the cab driver was literally driving us around in circles. I don't know if he was legitimately lost or purposely running the meter, my guess is a mixture of both. He kept pulling up to other cab drivers and asking them stuff, but since I don't know Chinese he could have been asking them a number of things. Who knows.

Finally around 160RMB and the third taxi our driver stopped to ask for directions, I told Romy we should just get out, toss 100RMB at him, and jump in the other cab. In theory, this was an excellent idea. The driver was clearly lost and/or dicking us around, and there's no way that a cab ride from Puxi to our dorm would be over 100RMB, so giving him that much was more than fair.

In practice, however, this theoretical excellent idea of playing the ol' switcheroo on our directionally challenged cab driver turned out to be a very shitty idea. After all, it was 3:45 in the morning, I literally had to wake Romy up to even tell her about my plan, neither of us were exactly in the right frame of mind to do much of anything, much less ditch our cabbie and stiff him on the fare.

Once you set a ball rolling, though, it's hard to stop it. The problem is, once we got out of the cab, the other taxi had already driven off, so we had nowhere to run to. The driver comes over to us screaming and yelling, presumably about us paying him the rest of the fare. We start screaming and yelling and then the guy grabs my arm and tries to pull me back over to the cab so I started hitting him with my purse and we scream and yell some more. Of course, I couldn't have been wearing an outfit less conducive to fighting crime:

Me and my effing headware and peacoats, but I digress.

In typical Chinese fashion, a crowd starts to form of passersby (4 truck drivers on their way to work I'm guessing). Also in typical Chinese fashion, they did nothing to help.

I'm trying to get this guy off of me but none of the ball kicking self-defense moves I learned in college seemed to be working, probably because I was wearing ridiculous shoes and could barely even stay balanced. Romy is yelling at him to let go of me and also hitting him with her purse. The guy starts hitting me and grabs onto my purse (which, remember, I was using as a weapon) and we played a game of tug of war which ended with the strap from my purse breaking, my shoes digging a gash into my foot, and Romy throwing 30RMB at the driver to distract him as we ran off to another cab that had stopped to see what all the commotion was about.

Romy jumped in the front seat and I tried to open the back door, but all the adrenaline pumping through my veins made it impossible for me to perform any task that required thinking, and pulling a door handle was too much thinking for me at that point. I hopped in the front seat with Romy, and I'm sure we were quite a sight to behold with me sitting on her lap for the remainder of the taxi ride home.

Which, I might add, was a measly 15RMB.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

so this is christmas

Behold my humble Christmas tree(s). The little one lights up which is super cute, and the big one is, well, pink and sparkley. Enough said.

My family sent me an entire box filled with Christmas gifts about a week ago. They lasted probably 5 hours in my room before the temptation to open them became to great to ignore. None of them actually made it to Christmas day to open, but it's not really Christmas without family anyway so it's not like it matters.

It's so strange being in a country where Christmas is completely commercialized. People think it's bad in the States, but at least there's a little bit of pretending about the origins of the holiday, here it strictly revolves around buying crap you don't need. Which I'm all about.

Anyway, Romy got me something so I do have a gift to open tomorrow. AND, I splurged and bought some blueberry muffin mix at the market to make for Christmas day breakfast. Yum.

As the Chinese like to say, Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

if you give a mouse a cookie

...soon he'll be knocking down your door expecting reliable internet. Or something like that.

One of the reasons I was attracted to the school where I am teaching in Shanghai (other than it being an IB school) was the on-site housing and supposed dependable internet connection. Now, I've come to loathe the fact that I live on campus (way too much coworker/student interactions) and have been disenchanted in regards to the internet situation.

Sometimes it's fun to have a technology-free day or two, y'know, turn off your cell phone, leave your laptop in its cute little Kate Spade case, unplug the TV, and curl up with a good book while pretending we're not being bombarded 24/7 by the electronic world. That's by choice, though. When you're forced to have technology-free days, it's not so fun. Especially if you're in the last 2 weeks of your internet-based graduate coursework.

Finally, the internet problem here got so bad I decided to talk to my supervisor. He is definitely The Man, as it were. One phone call from this dude and problems get solved, if you know what I mean. So I went by his office, expressed my concerns, and he assured me he would get to the bottom of the situation "Maybe I will call the computer technician..."

Five minutes later The Man shows up in the office and informs me that, yes, there is an internet problem, and that the problem was students were draining too much server power (I don't really even know what this means) during the daytime so they just decided to shut the internet off in the dorms between 8AM-4PM.

Great.

At this point I did what I do best: threw a fit. Really, it's the only way to get things done in China. The Man said he would work on the problem, and had me bring in my laptop the next day for the IT guy to look at. I don't know what this guy's qualifications are, but judging by the horrified expression that came across his face when he saw that Romy had a Mac, I'm guessing he's not very experienced in the world of computers.

He "fixed" the problem. And by "fixed" the problem I mean he made it so I couldn't connect to the internet at all. Which, if you know China, you know is such a Chinese way of fixing something. Oh, you have a problem? Here, let me make it 100 times worse for you. No, no, don't thank me. Inconveniencing you is thanks enough.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'M DONE!

WITH MY GRADUATE COURSEWORK!!!

....until February. Still, it feels pretty awesome.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

most awesome top 10 list ever

I have this love/hate relationship with flying.

I love the fact that it means I'm going somewhere, I hate the fact that it means I'm up in the air with my life in the hands of two pilots. I love the single serving meals (all about portion control!), I hate that they usually don't taste very good. I love looking out the window as we land and seeing the patchwork of all the crops, houses, and shopping malls, I hate sitting next to people who want to be my BFF for 3 hours and then never talk to me again.

Most of all, though, I love flying because it means I get to read Skymall. Forget that I read it cover to cover about a dozen times a year. It's one of those things that gets better with time, like, say, a fine wine.

Skymall: the champagne of in-flight reading material.

And so, behold, the 2008 Best/Worst of Skymall. You have to wonder, is it a top ten best items list, or top ten worst items list? The amazing thing about Skymall, is that you could really make an argument for either side!

I wonder if they ship to China.

the things we do out of shame

I spent 20 minutes fishing green tea out of my toilet because I was too embarrassed to show the ayi (house mom/maid/GRD/plumber) that I had clogged my toilet by pouring my used tea leaves down it.

Have you tried removing tea leaves from an overflowing toilet? Well, let me tell those of you uninitiated to the task: it's not easy. At first I tried to do it using some paper cups I happened to have in my room. The problem is tea leaves are really small--and there was a lot of them, too, damn my green tea obsession--and not heavy at all, so they sort of, swim away from you if you try to scoop them up from a toilet bowl.

The trick is, you have to be patient and let all the leaves sink to the bottom, then sneak up on them very slowly and scoop them up bit by bit. After about thirty seconds elbow deep in the cold water I realized how stupid it was to be using my toilet as a tea disposable system the past few weeks. Thankfully, that's all that was in there.

But still, not one of my finer moments here in China.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

changing it up

I made a new banner and switched the colors in my layout a bit. Thoughts?

Personally, I like this a lot more, a little more muted, good for the winter season I think. I also really like the photograph, I took it this summer when I visited the Chinatown in Los Angeles.

Now I'm off to try to find a knitting store here. Apparently they're all over Shanghai which is fine and dandy for people to tell me, but I've never been able to find one. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

dear blog

I have decided that I'm going to write four sentences in you once every three weeks, two of which will be me apologizing for not writing in you.

KIT in case nothing better comes along for me,
Strawberry

p.s. JK! I'd totally never do that to you. I LOVE YOU, BLOG!

pin-up princess says goodbye

I've really gotten into Pin-Ups recently. Err, by recently I mean since summer. So a good five or so months. I'm considering getting a pin-up tattoo near my poppy tattoo, but that would have to wait until after I get home from China (translation errors on tattoos...I don't think even I would find that amusing).

That being said, some sad news came my way today, Bettie Page the ultimate pin-up diva passed away today at the age of 85. Can you imagine all the crazy and amazing things she did in those 85 years? So jealous.

There's no doubt that Miss BP could work it, but I have to say...I'm partial to blonds. Usually of the strawberry variety. For a brunette, though, BP had it goin' on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

adventures in salon services

I have a motto for my life here in Shanghai, which is "every day is an adventure in China" because literally, every day is an adventure.

Even the smallest task like ordering a drink at a restaurant becomes a huge deal. Oh, when you said iced coffee you meant a coffee with ice not a coffee with two giant scoops of ice cream? Oops. Want some peanuts from the supermarket? Be prepared for a surprisingly not peanut-y tasting peanut. How about some dried strawberries? Oh yeah, you just bought hawthorn, whatever the eff that is.

A lot of it is the language barrier, but it's also the cultural differences and everything else. I've learned to laugh it off because when I think about it, I'm a guest in this country so I can't really expect my host to bend over backwards to try and make me comfortable (although that would be awesome). Besides, translation errors are pretty much my favorite thing about this country, though they have gotten me into trouble from time to time.

Despite my recent posts on shopping and getting coats and dresses made at the fabric market, I have made a little bit of an effort to live more Chinese aka less American. America is a land of luxury and credit cards, China is a land of spitting in public and poorly made knockoffs. So I've tried to avoid all the tempting Western restaurants in my area and opt for more traditional (and inexpensive) Chinese fare, or I'll just cook something myself.

But there are some things a girl just can't give up. What's that saying? You can take the girl out of the valley, but you can't take the valley out of the girl? I'm not sure if that's how it goes, but this Cali chick needs a little pampering once in a while. Thankfully massages here are super cheap (10 USD for an hour!), other salon services...not so much. I've been doing my own mani/pedis mostly because it's easier than going to a nail salon, but waxing is something I can't do on my own, and it's something I always did at home that has become a staple in my beauty regime.

So, I had been here a couple of months and I really wanted to get my bikini waxed. I'm still holding off on doing my brows because seriously, a slip up with my eyebrows could make me look deformed for weeks, but I figured a bikini wax was a safe zone for a mess-up, I mean how could you really mess that up, anyway? *cue foreshadowing music*

There's a few places in my area that offer waxing services. Chinese people don't get waxed (at least not the Chinese women who attend my gym) so it caters to all of the foreigners in my area and thus charges a ridiculous price. As I was looking at the "menu" for services I noticed they had three types of bikini waxes, in ascending price order: bikini, playboy, and Brazilian.

I figured "playboy" would be my best bet because it was right in the middle price-wise and I didn't want them to just barely wax me. I didn't really know what they meant by calling it a "playboy" wax, but I figured it was in between a regular bikini and a Brazilian because I KNOW what a Brazilian is, and I didn't want that for sure. I'm not against Brazilians, but there is a time and a place for them and it's friggin' winter time, I don't need to go too crazy with my waxing choices.

So anyway, I go in, tell them I want a playboy wax, then the chick takes me to this little room and starts the service. Of course, I couldn't see what she was doing, and even though I get waxed regularly it's always super painful and feels like they're taking off way more than they really are. She used this weird putty stuff that you don't need paper for, which I actually really liked, but there was a lot more touching than a usual bikini wax because of the absence of a paper barrier.

Flash forward 20 or 30 minutes. She hands me this mirror to see the end product...and OMFG...she gave me a Brazilian!!! I was SHOCKED! The look on my face was classic, and she got really nervous because I sort of freaked out mumbling stuff about "Wait...isn't there supposed to be...wait...what?...this isn't right..." and I may have even waved my arms around a bit. Later, I looked on the salon's website, and they described the procedures like this:

  • Brazilian Waxing – removal of unwanted hair from the front, back and in-between, leaving just a 2 cm "landing strip" in front. Tailored for wearing a 'thong' bikini.
  • Playboy or Hollywood Waxing – removal of all unwanted hair from front, back and in-between. When you don't want to wear anything at all.
Obviously, it was my bad, however, every other country in the world knows that a Brazilian is the removal of all hair. Then again, China is the exact opposite of every other country in the world, so I should have known better.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

call a friend not the peace corps

I used to have this shirt with a screen printed cell phone on it that read "Don't Drink and Dial. Call a Friend, Not an Ex". I tossed it out during my "I need to minimalize my life!" phase that I went through pre-China, but it was a pretty cool t-shirt.

Amazing advice if you ask me. I've never been the type to drink and dial, mostly because I don't drink, but I have been known to do "drink and dial"esque things while under the influence of sleeping pills.

My drug induced stupors usually include rambling Tweets, finishing the Power of Now, an occasional long-winded text message to someone I barely talk to, trying to help the dorm students bake a cake, or applying to the Peace Corps. I guess that's better than other things I could be doing while on sleeping pills, like, um, actually sleeping or something.

very merry unbirthday to me!

A lot of things suck about being away from home. Probably the most noticeable for me right now is my upcoming birthday. In the States, my birthday is a friggin' event. It's not even a birthday, it's a birthmonth.

When you're in a new place surrounded by new people, though, change is inevitable and sadly my birthday is one of those changes.

It will be the second birthday Twin & I have spent apart which is lame, but I hear she's going to try to take Disneyland up on their offer of free admission on your birthday, so I'm happy for her.

I'm planning a smallish party with some graduate school friends and some work "buddies", but it's not like these people are my REAL friends, y'know? Like, friends that have actually attended a birthday party for me in the past.

Either way, this is the dress I bought for the event:


When I travel, I really like to immerse myself in the local culture, so I purchased this at H&M. All their stuff is made in China, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

strawberry's beauty gift guide

Cheez-its, Christmas is only three weeks away! WTF, when did this happen? Being in China has really effed up my whole sense of reality, and by reality I mean my sense of American holidays.

In the spirit of the season, I've compiled a list of beauty must haves that would make great stocking stuffers. Stockings are my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Well, that's sort of a lie, I love everything about Christmas, but I do think that stockings are super awesome.

Strawberry's Beauty Gift Guide

Bare Escentuals Flawless Radiance
This isn't a blush...and it's not a bronzer...it's just a light shimmer that makes your skin absolutely glowing. Even after a rough night of grad school homework, a quick brush of this in the morning makes me look bright eyed and bushy tailed. I'm really into blush, but I like to add this on top and on my nose and forehead for a subtle glimmery look.

Burt's Bees Watermelon Lip TintIf I forget this at home for some reason, I usually have a mini-panic attack, especially if I'm somewhere sightseeing and taking photographs of myself and various Chinese landmarks. I'm not the biggest fan of lipstick, but this color is SO adorable. It's a light pink with just the slightest shimmer. I absolutely love it. And of course, it has Burt's Bees signature minty fresh feel. Mhh, mhh, mhh!

Murad Perfecting Skin LotionI've been using this product since before it was re-marketed as an "acne" lotion and have always loved it. During winter my fair skin can get super dry, and applying Skin Perfecting Lotion at night feels like my skin is getting a tall drink of water. There's not much more satisfying than feeling your face hydrate after a long day, and it helps me to relax and get in a calm mood for bed. This product is so light that I wear it under my sunscreen every day, and my skin has never looked better!

Benefit Brow Zings Eyebrow Tint
I used to think it was weird to color in your brows or tint them in any way, until one day in high school when my normal waxer was out sick and the lady they put me with insisted on dyeing my brows. WOAH. Seriously, it makes such a huge difference! My hair is so light that my brows sometimes are hard to even see, this is a good thing when, say, you're living in China and haven't found a good waxer yet and thus have not groomed your eyebrows in three months. But, if you want to really look put together, eyebrow tint is the one product that really does it for me. A little color goes a long way to frame your face and really pull a look together. I don't usually wear eyebrow tint every day, mostly because I'm too lazy to apply it in the morning, but if I want to look really sharp and professional, Benefit eyebrow tint is a make-up must.

Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot PerfumeThis is the one gift I have consistently purchased for myself every year since I started using it. The large bottle lasts me a whole year, so it's pretty convenient to get it for myself every Christmas (if I'm lucky I can convince my mom to drop the $80 bucks on the bottle). Anyway, I was hesitant to even share this with all of you, because it's sort of my personal beauty secret weapon, but I figured I should share the wealth and spread the joy and let you all in on the mimi (secret in Chinese). Fellas absolutely ADORE this scent. It smells like cotton candy or fresh baked cookies or vanilla and sugar or jawbreakers...I've gotten all kinds of "it smells like..." when I'm wearing this perfume, but one thing all people agree on is that it smells delicious and wonderful.

moments in teaching

From a writing quiz I gave to my 10th graders, the topic was "What is an obstacle you have had to overcome in your life?":

"One day my mom said I must go in China to study Chinese for 3 years. At the first I was hungry, but at the last I accept."

Bahaha, I'm pretty hungry, too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

chinese efficiency at its best

I saw this man rolling his overpacked cart along the street outside of my school. If I could sum up all of my experiences in China over the past 3 1/2 months in one photograph, this would be the photograph.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

xoxo strawberry

Readers, you're awesome. I don't check my blog stats very often, but every time I do a big smile creeps along my freckled face. I had no idea when I started this blog that people other than my mom and sister would actually read anything I had to write. I definitely never expected that so many of you would read it.

What I'm trying to say is, and this might be the wine talking, but, well, I think I'm falling in love with you.

If anyone out there reading this blog wants a super cool postcard from China, e-mail me at strawberrysays@gmail.com with your address and I'll send it off next week (just in time for the holidays!).

I promise not to stalk you for at least another 8 months, since that is the soonest possible date I will be back in the United States.

the omnivore's 100

So I'm not eating any meat (other than fish), but once upon a time, like, two weeks ago, I did eat meat, and I've also tried a whole bunch of crazy food, so I figured I would give this a try.

Below is a list of 100 things that someone seems to think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either, Wikipedia or Google has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The Omnivore’s One Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill um wtf why is this on this list?
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Woah! I've tried pretty much everything on that list...and the only things I wouldn't try seem to all be of the sausage variety. True story, one of my roommates last year only ate sausage. She was a sausagterian, if you will. It was gross.


Friday, December 5, 2008

gone with the wind


It is extremely windy here. I'm talking good 15 MPH gusts, enough to blow the head band right out of my hair. On top of that, it's 30 degrees so the wind feels like a million tiny knives stabbing you in the face every time you walk outside. I've taken to being a hermit and snuggling up with my stuffed animals in front of my heater.

It only seemed natural to write about Gone with the Wind today. I have this strange connection to Scarlett O'Hara. Well, I don't know if it's strange, really, it's just a very serious connection. Blah, blah, blah, she's a fictional character, she's not real, how could you feel a connection with a pretend person? I just can, okay.

My grandma owned five movies when we were growing up: Annie, Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind, Little Women, and Mary Poppins. As a result, I've seen each of those movies at least a dozen times. Might I remind you that Gone with the Wind is four hours long. That means I've spent, at the minimum, two full days of my life watching Scarlett O'Hara pine over Ashley Wilkes only to realize that it was Rhett Butler she loved the whole time. I've gotten to know Scarlett a lot during the many, many viewings I've had of the film.

And Rhett Butler with that mustache? Swoon.

When I was 18, Twin and I decided to get sister tattoos. We chose hearts because "they were cute". I got mine on my hip and she got hers on her shoulder. It wasn't my first tattoo so it wasn't that big of a deal to get it, but I always felt bored with it and wanted to add something but never could quite decide what. This summer after a lot of research, I found an artist in Los Angeles who specializes in cover-ups and had her put a poppy on top of my heart. If you look really closely and know it's there, you can just see the outline of the heart, but she worked hard to make it look like a part of the poppy (the middle bud part) so it's not easy to see especially if you're not looking for it. Unknowingly, I had picked out a Scarlett O'Hara poppy. Totally fate, right?

Before I left for China, my grandma gave me an old copy she had of the book. It actually is old. The binding is coming undone, the pages are all tinged yellow from age, it smells like walking down the isles of a library, the price of 95 cents is printed on the front cover.

It was my first time actually reading the book, and it impacted me in a way the movie never did. Granted, I loved the movie, but something really struck home for me when I read the novel. A lot of it had to do with all the changes I was making in my life, mostly moving on both physically and emotionally from things in my past. I started the book on the plane and took my time reading it. I was sort of trying to savor it, for whatever reason.

After I finished, my grandma sent me the sequel, Scarlett, written by a different author. I started it on a Sunday and finished it by Saturday. It's over 800 pages long. I stayed up until 6 AM one night just to finish it. Even though I knew how it would end, I just had to keep going. Now that's it's over, my life feels kind of empty. Like I've lost a friend or something. Maybe I should write part III?

moments in teaching

Occasionally I'll walk by my 12th grade class on my way to the copy room or another campus errand and a few students will be in there hanging out or napping. I'm not really sure where they are supposed to be (probably PE or something) but I usually stop by and chat with them.

They always want to chat during class, most likely so they don't have to actually do work, but when I talk to them outside of class they are much more willing to open up to me. So I stopped by the other afternoon and there were four students in the classroom talking with each other. They feel pretty comfortable with me because deep down I think they consider me "one of them". I haven't told them how old I am but most of them have guessed my age exactly, and if they don't know it for sure they know that I'm at least pretty close to their age.

We started talking about relationships and breaking up. Sometimes I forget how serious everything seemed in high school, though suppose everything seems serious when it's happening to you, no matter how old you are. I contributed a little to the conversation, but I mostly wanted to hear their perspectives on life and love.

One of the boys initiated a discussion of how it's sometimes a relief to end a relationship, especially if your significant other isn't supportive of you or is extremely jealous or stifling to you in any way. But then that relief eventually dies away and is replaced by a sense of mourning for what you lost.

So I asked him, "Well, so, did it make you sad to end the relationship?"

"No, not sad really." He thought a little before he added, "There's no point in being sad. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be sad, I'd rather be happy."

I was taken aback by this. I know people my parent's age who still haven't made that realization despite all their life experiences. Sadness and happiness is a choice we make. Sometimes we cannot choose our life situations, we don't choose to be laid off work or to lose someone that is close to us, but we can choose how we react to those situations. And if my 17 year old Turkish student can understand that, well, that gives me a glimmer of hope for the human race.

I told him he was very wise for his age, to which he ironically asked, "Wise? What does 'wise' mean?"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the honeymoon is over

ARGH! I JUST REALLY WANT A DELICIOUS DELI SANDWICH. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?! This country does not believe in tasty deli sandwiches. Where is a legit Quizno's or Mr. Pickle's when I need them?? OH ya, in America. My bad.

Oh, and just as an FYI for those who care, I'm doing the whole pescetarian thing again. Throw back to my first few years of college.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

snip snip

So I cut my hair. Twice. In two different countries. In the past two weeks.

I've been thinking about cutting my hair for a while, but I don't know, for some reason I got pretty attached to it which is completely NOT me (I got a pixie cut in high school without so much as batting my eyelashes).

Well, in Korea I suddenly just had to chop it all off. I called the Seoul hotline and asked for a legit salon whose stylists spoke English, turns out there was only one that they knew of which made the decision for me a lot easier. Made the appointment for a few hours later and went in prepared to cut a good 12 inches off of my mane.

But.

My hair stylist would NOT cut my hair! He even tried to talk me out of it which is so the opposite of what any American hair stylist would do (they love cutting your hair off even if you don't want them to). After much arguing, he finally agreed to do an A-line Posh Beckham style bob (aka a "Pob"). Thirty minutes later, my hair was shoulder length and a good 8 inches shorter, but definitely not as short as I wanted. That was all he would do, though, asserting that he "did not want to lose his title". P.S. he sang Korean songs the entire time he was cutting my hair and was also wearing several hair clips.

Flash forward a week to Shanghai and I was still unhappy with my hair. It was cute, I guess, but not anything special. And definitely not what I wanted. I decided yesterday to just bite the bullet and get another hair cut, this time by someone not afraid to cut my hair.

And....behold the before and after picture!

Friday, November 28, 2008

sometimes surveys are fun

Three names you go by:

Strawberry
Strawberry
Strawberry
(As I so eloquently said to my twin when she used my REAL name on a comment on someone's blog: "it's "strawberry" you dipshit, I use an effing pen name on the internet to keep my precious identity secret. gawd.")

Three things you like about yourself:

My fabulous new Pob (that's the terminology for the Posh bob) hair cut
I'm making a conscious effort to eliminate negativity in my life
I read a lot of books

Three things you dislike/hate about yourself:

Sometimes I'm too nice to people to the point where I feel like I'm being taking advantage of
Sleep is a huge priority in my life
I interrupt people a lot if a conversation is exciting to me, and most are

Three parts of your heritage:

Italian
Irish
Korean (I WISH!)

Three things that scare you:

Indecision
Stepping in puddles
Being coughed on

Three of your everyday essentials:

Kindle
Coffee
Watch

Three things you are wearing right now:

My #1 favorite t-shirt that is nearly a decade old
Red velour zip-up hoodie
Yoga pants

Three of your favourite bands/artists (at the moment):

Dave Matthews
Jewel
Death Cab for Cutie

Three of your favourite songs at present:

Love Ridden - Fiona Apple
Crooked Teeth - Death Cab for Cutie
Who Will Save Your Soul - Jewel

Three things you want to do in the next 12 months:

See Mount Everest
Live in the Now
Complete my thesis

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given):

Enjoys cooking
Likes to laugh
Lots of date nights

Two truths and a lie:

I am obsessed with banana chips and pretty much anything banana flavored
I think you're a cool person
I changed my major four times

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you:

Mustaches
Good teeth
Nice hair

Three things you just can't do:

Watch Saved By the Bell
Understand people who like South Park more than Family Guy
Not laugh when something is funny, trying to stifle it only makes it louder

Three of your favorite hobbies:

The three Bs:
Baking
Blogging
Being the bomb

Three things you want to do really badly right now:

Have my tailor make about a dozen new dresses
Watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Talk to my friggin parents

Three careers you're considering:

Housewife
Writer/glorified housewife
Stay at home mom minus the mom part

Three places you want to go on vacation:

Thailand
Guatemala
Virgin Islands

Three kids names:

Scarlett
Rhett
Leonardo DiCaprio, Jr.

Three things you want to do before you die:

Live in France again
Write a book (shocking...a blogger who wants to write a book before they die? Unheard of.)
Feel satisfied

i swear i didn't forget! it just...slipped...my mind...

I feel like such a man. I forgot my own anniversary with China! How is that even possible? I mean, I remember people's birthdays who I haven't even spoken to in five years!

Argh. I'm such a failure.

I hope I can find it in me to forgive me. Happy Three Monthiversary, baby, sorry I'm two days late. I'll make it up to me, I promise.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving was never important to me in America (blasphemy, I know), and it's definitely not important to me in China, but I do believe in the whole giving thanks thing, so I figured I would use this opportunity and mention some things I am thankful for.

- cats (specifically of the LOL variety)

- Korean boys

- the pet shop down the street

- enlightenment

- hearing "maybe" fifty times a day

- mustaches

- trail mix

- care packages from my family

- tiaras

- banana chips

- GChat

- the fabric market

- my Treo 650

- being a citizen of The World

- best friend prices

- hair cuts

What are YOU thankful for?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

hey mr. postman

I thought only United States Postal Service employees got disgruntled. Not so, as I have learned now that I am so worldly and living in China. Postal employees of all nationalities, shapes, colors, and smells can indeed be disgruntled. And indeed it is over the same inane crap they get upset about in the States.

I'm the type of girl who loves stickers and glitter and pink ink pens. Who knew, right? Well, apparently there is some kind of sticker law in the world of the postal employee who was waiting on me tonight in which stickers are forbidden, and he expected me to peel off every single one of my perfectly placed postcard stickers (which had adorable commentary, I might add) just so he could scan the things through his automatic stamper and not have to give me a physical stamp.


This could not be, I thought to myself as I sadly ripped a glorious blue shimmery kitten from my Aunt Mary and Uncle Frank's postcard. There has to be another way.

Me:"Um, do you have stamps?"
Him: *blank stare through his long emo bangs that he kept sweeping to the side to show off his eyeliner*
Me: "Um, y'know, a stamp, a real stamp, to put on the post card. Like this *lllLLlllllLl pantamiming the action of licking a stamp and making the accompanying noise*"

He huffed and puffed about actually being expected to perform a job duty, but lo and behold, there was an entire treasure trove of stamps! WTF, man! Why were you holding out on me? So he gives me one for one postcard, but I have 6 postcards, so I ask for more and he shakes his head no. And I say "No I need more" then at this point I might have stomped my feet a little bit like a child and whined, but that's neither here nor there. So he gets his beloved stamp treasure chest back out and throws the stamps in my face to mock me or something, who knows.

Then, I went tit for tat with this fella and whipped out 10 MORE postcards (stickered to the max) that all needed stamps. HA! Take that Mr. Stingy Post Man! What are you gonna do NOW? He threw more stamps at me while the security guard laughed and then waved me over to another desk to lick them all so he wouldn't have to look at me any more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

some definitions, by strawberry

In light of one of my more recent posts re: loving a former Korean student, I found it necessary to define a few things for my readers. These are mostly taken from the only reliable dictionary I know of, which is urbandictionary.com. My comments are in italics.

tongue in cheek:
When someone speaks tongue-in-cheek, that means they're joking and kidding.
AKA 80% of the posts I write.


cougar:
A 40+ year old female who is on the "hunt" for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar in San Francisco (or other cities) waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path.

Gimme a few more decades, I'll get there, boys.


strawberry: Equal parts pink princess, redhead, zen master, domestic diva, bitch, sensitive young lady and straight thuggin' gangster. She'll wear a crazy hat or tiara to your party, laugh a ton, mingle, share some homemade goodies with the crowd, then hurry home to talk crap about you all on her blog.
Nuff said.


cradle robber:


A person who taps people significantly younger than he/she is. If X is the older person's age then they are a cradle robber if they date a person who is less than half of their age plus 7 years. But for this function to work, X must be greater than or equal to 18.
I'm not sure I agree with that whole "must be greater than or equal to 18 part", but a decent definition nonetheles
s.

Anyway, I hope these definitions cleared up a few things for you. If you have any more questions that need answering, holla!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ohmigawd whaaaaaat

I rarely call my family anymore. I like to think that it's because I'm soooo busy here doing fabulous things, but it's mostly because there's a 16 hour time difference. And I rarely have phone cards. But I got one today, so I figured might as well give the house a ring and see what's new in the land of red, white, and blue.

My dad was home and in the middle of making dinner for my little sister and some friends. The idea of that alone cracks me up because my dad is a crazy chef. He likes to play "survivor" whenever my mom is out of town which means he can't buy anything at the store (usually he will make an exception for milk--but only milk) and has to only eat things we have in the house. Thankfully for him my mom keeps a pretty stocked pantry and freezer section, not to mention he is the least picky eater in the world. Example: My parents went out for Chinese one scorching summer day for lunch, couldn't finish their meal so they got a doggy bag which they proceeded to forget in the back of the car for a few days. My dad notices the restaurant leftovers after a couple of days have passed, and instead of thinking "Oh, gross, this should be thrown away" he put it in the microwave and ate it for dinner! He subsequently got food poisoning, but affirms to this day that it wasn't because the food was disgustingly old and nasty from being in a hot car for half a week, but that he didn't heat it long enough.

Anyway, so my dad was making dinner and we talked a little bit about my trip to Korea and how teaching has been going and the whole living in China thing. Then my sister (hereafter known as Meimei which means little sister in Chinese) starts to make a big stink about talking to me, which is totally weird since I haven't talked to her in about 2 months out of pure disinterest on her part (Me on the phone with my mom: "Does Meimei wanna talk?" Mom: "Meimei, do you want to talk to your sister?" Meimei: "Nah, I'm watching America's Next Top Model"). I was curious what she could possibly want to talk to me about. Cute Korean boys? Something panda related? Sending her some delicious Pocky? Well, she got on the phone, and we had the following earth-shattering conversation:

Meimei: "Ohmigawd. Sister. Whaaaaaaaat? How come I'm not in your top 8? Put me in your top 8."

Strawberry: "Huh? Dude, you just friended me."

Meimei: "Yeah, but still. Put me in your top 8. Ok, here's dad."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

reason enough to move to south korea

I hadn't even been in South Korea for more than 12 hours when God gave me a sign that I am meant to live here. Forget that I'm not a very religious person. This was a sign. From above.

My first full day here, November 11th, 11/11, is Pepero Day! Pepero Day is sort of the Korean version of Valentine's Day, except instead of roses and conversation hearts, people give and receive boxes of Pepero. Supposedly, the holiday originated in 1994 as a marketing scheme from the Lotte corporation which manufactures Pepero, the popular thin straw-like wafers dipped in chocolate (the exact same thing as the Japanese snack "Pocky").


Every convenience store in the city had huge Pepero Day displays with a large variety of Pepero treats to choose from. My favorite was the giant box of oversized Pepero about as thick as an adult's thumb and 12 inches tall. Total nom! They also had crazy Pepero formations you could buy, the most popular being a giant heart.

Koreans are way more into holidays than the Chinese, it's fabulous. They even have an amusement park in Seoul that is holiday-themed, and the rides/attractions change according to the season.

One of Romy's students had to leave our school and move back to Seoul with his family. The details of why are sort of shady, but he e-mailed her offering to show us around and is on his way to meet us at the hostel now, so I'm stoked. He and his BFF Shin used to play against me and Romy in doubles table tennis, though, so it will be sad next week when Shin has to find a new partner, but I'm happy to have a tour guide for the evening.

Now that he's not a student, anything goes, right? Is that how it works? I'm still new to this whole "teaching" and "being appropriate" thing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

seoul sister

I'm off to Seoul, South Korea for a week! Lots of updates (with photographs hopefully) when I return.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

sort of like flag football

Whenever I'm thrown into a new social situation, I always try my best to really put myself out there and get to know as many people as I can in a truly genuine way. This isn't always possible of course, and when it's not possible, I like to come up with little games I play in my head. Not like "tic tac toe" or "hide and seek"....more like...social experiments. But even that doesn't describe it really.

Let me give an example. My sophomore year of college I was taking a general ed Western Civ course with a sorority sister and there was this dude in there that totally intrigued us. Usually he came to class clad in a full-on business suit, but other days he wore pajamas. No matter the outfit, he always skateboarded. This guy was a mystery. He was so much of a mystery that we didn't even know his name.

So we made it our little semester project to get to know him, and since I was the ballsy-er of the two of us, I made the first move by asking him if he wanted to work on a group term paper together. He did. We learned his name (Gary), found out that he was a 9th year senior or something, was married to a waitress at Applebee's, and basically was a total douche. He brought us chocolates in the shape of nipples for our first meeting on the term paper. He insisted his wife made them, which made the whole thing even more bizarre. There was a lot of laughing that evening, and not the "with you" kind, it was more the "at you" kind, but he was so clueless I'm sure he just thought we found him hilariously entertaining and fun to be around.

Flash forward four years to 2008 to Shanghai. The location and people may have changed, but the game is still the same. Red flags? Bring 'em on. I'll completely ignore them then make it my personal goal to change them. Perhaps I'll eventually learn that people don't change, but for now it's still slightly amusing to me to meet kooky people and try to figure them out. We'll see how long the amusement lasts until it becomes complete annoyance, with Gary it lasted two weeks. He was much more interesting when he was a mystery.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

you win some, you lose some

Won: Obama for presidency (can I get a "hell, yes!"?).

Lost: My favorite non-student (he's in Romy's class) MOVED TO SOUTH KOREA. I'm so sad. I didn't even get to say goodbye.

But.

Silver lining.

Romy and I are going to South Korea on Monday for six days! And the student e-mailed her asking our travel details so he could meet us and show us around! Score. I'm still sad, though. Romy and I used to play doubles with him and his BFF in Romy's table tennis class, now who will we play? Le sigh, this sucks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

vote OR DIE

To date, that is my favorite voting slogan ever. It totally powns "rock the vote". Who cares about rocking the vote when there is the possibility of DEATH?

Anyway, all you American peeps that read StrawberrySays better go vote today because I'm all the way in BFChina and I voted. So you have no excuse.

VOTE OR I WILL KILL YOU.

Ok, I like that slogan the best.

at least it's imported

Can you overdose on colby jack cheese? I feel like my body is having a serious reaction to eating cheese for the first time in 10 weeks.

Also, what is the deal with this melamine thing? The news here is horrible so ya'll probably know more about it than I do. I just know that I don't drink soy milk anymore and now I hear that it's in egg and poultry products, too! Which is just perfect since the one Chinese dish I don't hate is fried eggs and tomatoes on rice. Lame.

Friday night I'm spending the night at a student's house with Romy. It's for one of our grad school assignments (an ethnographic research course, the assignment being to spend the night with a Chinese family) and it should be pretty interesting. My student e-mailed me earlier asking me if Chinese dinner and breakfast were okay because her mom wanted to know what to cook...then she told me her mom was going to make us homemade baozi balls! Total score. Too bad the student is already a straight A overachiever, or I would totally give her some extra credit for this.

I still haven't figured out how to post pictures ever since my internet started acting shady. Perhaps Big Brother has his eye on me. I need to stroll over to Coffee Bean and steal their wireless internet and check out the sitch soon.

Monday, November 3, 2008

moments in teaching

I think I'm going to have a new "segment" on StrawberrySays called Moments in Teaching where I will share funny moments from my teaching experiences, whenever something strikes me enough to remember it (the days go by so fast I have a hard time remembering much).

For my 12th grade essay writing class I have my students keep a journal which I have them write in every class period from a prompt of my choosing. Usually I try to do fun stuff like "If you could invent anything new what would it be and why?" but sometimes I aim for entries that are a little more serious and revealing like "What is the greatest lesson you have learned in life?".

I collect their journals every 10 entries or so and read them over for spelling and grammar errors, and also just to get a sense of their writing style and the things they write about.

Well, it's been super fun reading them (though time consuming) and so far my favorite spelling mistake is "relationchip". How cute is that? Relationchip. I want one of those, it sounds wonderful.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

dolla dolla bills, ya'll

Man, I think I'm coming down with a case of the Shanghai Cough. Damn this air pollution and my sensitive lungs.

Today on the subway I saw a young Chinese man vomit violently into a trash can, it was pretty awesome. I almost felt sorry for the fella, but you KNOW he had a friggin' awesome night, so why feel sorry? I have yet to get that out of control here, but hey, I still have another 9 months at least. It could definitely happen.

Before coming to China I was in a very zen place in my life. Things just seemed to be working in my favor and I was very much at peace with...well, pretty much everything. I was also going through a big cleansing period, getting rid of a ton of stuff that I had been holding on to for years without really having a reason why. The blog Unclutterer played a pivotal role in this period of my life, and I felt more and more empowered with each garbage bag full of old classroom notebooks to recycle and each tub of clothing to give away. I wanted to simplify my life, get rid of all the junk, strip away the layers of uselessness and get down to the real deal.

And then I moved to arguably the most capitalist country in the world, err, excuse me, the most "socialist with Chinese characteristics" country in the world. Those characteristics of course including buying as much stuff as you can and slapping some kind of name brand logo on it.

I made a conscious effort to not bring a lot of clothes here because I wanted to minimize my wardrobe to a few essential pieces. Then, I got here and realized "Hey, this is Shanghai, the Paris of Asia, not some rural farm town". So after about one week with my minimalist wardrobe, I had my mom ship me a few things from home and went on a shopping spree at H&M. And had 3 coats and 6 dresses hand-tailored at the fabric market.

What have I learned from this? I don't know. Perhaps the Chinese proverb "Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness" explains it. The Chinese are a very materialistic people, so why fight against that and distance myself from the culture when I can keep doing what I do best, which is spending money? Ya, I couldn't think of any reasons, either.

Friday, October 31, 2008

boo!

I'm stealing this idea from Frank.

So if I were to come trick and/or treating to your house, what would you give me?

By the way, I would have looked like this, condom lollipop optional.

Sadly, the Halloween celebration in China is completely Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday...WEAK WEAK WEAK! (Ah, I love a good play on words).

there was wood everywhere, too

"We're always lucky," I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood. There was wood everywhere in that apartment to knock on too.
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

My life suddenly became a lot more hectic and crazy recently, hence the brief pause in Chinese misadventures from Miss Strawberry. Don't worry, I've been having a ton of them so I have lots to catch you up on.

Isn't it annoying when life gets in the way of blogging? I hate that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

18 million people? really?

Shanghai's population would be impossible to ever really pin point to an exact number because of the quality of the government census bureau (very low) and the constantly shifting rural population moving here from small towns and villages. In any event, there's a crap load of people here, on the low end I've heard 16 million, on the high end I've heard 20 million...I think 18 million sounds about right.

So, you'd think it would be impossible to ever just happen upon a person you know, wouldn't you? A couple of weeks ago I was on the other side of town and ran into a classmate in the subway. Not that weird I guess, but what are the odds of that? Then yesterday I was getting into a cab coming back from a trip to Ikea and Fox was on his way to the subway and I saw him, too!

THEN, and this is the part that is weird to me, I was walking to meet up with Romy at Starbucks (she had made a fabulous Chinese friend and wanted to share him with me) and I see a guy wearing a college sweatshirt from MY alma mater!!! I was so excited! He was going to an ATM to take out some money, but I ran up to him anyway (he probably thought he was being mugged) and tapped him on the shoulder and pretty much made a fool of myself blabbing on and on about our university. I think in the end he thought it was pretty cool to run into a fellow Tiger, but not nearly as cool as I did.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

time flies when you're having fun

Happy Two Monthiversary to me!

Oh, p.s., I'm not dead. In case any of you thought that was a possibility.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

computer issues

Blogger has been hating on StrawberrySays.com recently and hasn't been letting me upload any of my photos which is totally lame since I've been taking some super sweet Shanghai pictures as of late. I'm not sure if this is a Chinese government thing (likely) or an issue with my Gateway (equally as likely), but hopefully I can get it figured out tomorrow while I'm supposed to be lesson planning during my free time.

In less boring news, I've been having a great time introducing myself as "Meow Meow" to people. Euro/American ex pats are usually totally dumb about it and try to get into some argument with me about how that's not my real name, but Chinese people are all so sweet and even make their best effort to not laugh for fear of offending me. I was talking to a vendor today and told her my Chinese name was "Lin Meow Meow" and she stifled a giggle fit and told me "Oh, such a pretty name!"

Damn right it's pretty. Pretty friggin' awesome.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

working on my fitness

I've been wanting to join a gym in Shanghai since I got here, but dragged my feet on following through with it because...well, I don't really have a reason. I guess my reason is I'm lazy. Which is why I wanted to join the gym, to y'know, not be lazy.

I knew that the foreign teachers last year all joined a gym that was "close by" but no one ever told me exactly WHERE it was, so I kept using that as my excuse to not workout. Oh, I don't know where the gym is, guess I can't run 3 miles today. I'll just eat this entire package of oreos instead.

Well, two of my co-workers joined a gym last week and told me where it was, so I really had no excuse to not check it out. I was still feeling a little hazy from last night, but I thought I should start off the day with some productivity so I went by the gym at about 9 to check it out.

When I got there a guy told me to come back at "shi dian" (10 o'clock), putting his index fingers together in the shape of an X which is how they hand signal the number. This put a damper on my whole productivity thing, but I went back to my room, made a few phone calls, bought some stuff from Carrefour, then went back to the gym to talk to whoever I was supposed to be waiting for.

I didn't really need to be sold on the gym. It's the only gym close by, I need to work out, convincing me wasn't necessary. But, the guy gave me an awkward tour of the gym anyway. A friend of his decided to tag along and laugh at him every time he spoke to me in English. I can't decide if this made the experience more awkward or less awkward, but it was definitely entertaining.

I ran into one of my students which was great since I was hungover and looked like crap. I heard from Fox that the kid puked in class the other day (after drinking a bunch during lunch to get the courage to talk to a girl, so he said), so it's not like he has anything to judge me over, but it was still weird seeing him. Now I know how all my teachers felt when I would see them outside of school. It's kind of nice, like "Oh hey, I know you" but also kind of lame like "Oh hey, don't come talk to me because it's my day off and Miss Strawberry probably still smells like the white russians she was drinking less than 5 hours ago".

My tour finished up, then another friend joined my tour guide and talked to me about prices. It was a little overwhelming sitting with three Chinese dudes that were all talking to each other, then me, then laughing at each other speaking English, then shouting across the room, then laughing nervously at me, then talking to each other. Somehow they managed to convey to me that it was going to be 3,000 yuan for a year. THREE THOUSAND! That's two weeks salary for me. Even when you convert it to USD, it's outrageous. I wasn't really in the mood to bargain with them, so I just said it was too much and left, but I'm going to try again tomorrow and hopefully I can get them down to 2,000 which is far less ridiculous of a price to be paying.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

quote of the day

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With the Wind

That pretty much sums up my life here in China.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

oh, internet

Oh dang. I love when people post things on the internet, then regret it and try to take it back. THERE'S NO TAKING IT BACK ONCE IT'S FLOATING AROUND CYBER SPACE.

Shortly after I posted about Holly taking it to her Myspace re: getting the boot (or is it slipper?) from Hef, she deleted her post. Well, lucky me for knowing how to CTRL + C and CTRL + V.

For those interested, this is what Holly had to say last night, I'm assuming it was written in a sugar high stupor post Ben&Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie overload (everything seems like a good idea after you've eaten a pint of ice cream):

"What’s Going on . . . .
Current mood: :( lonely

Hef and I will always be friends . . . I do have my own place, but I am still at the Mansion, too, right now . . . I'm too busy to move! hahaha . . . Bridget, Kendra and I are all still best friends and plan on doing several projects together in the future . . . even though Bridget is in Europe right now and I am sad and lonely without her . . .

You will see how it all happens in Season 5 . . . Sunday nights on E! . . . How lame, I just turned that into the most shameless plug ever . . . lol!

Love-Holly"

I'm diggin' the ellipses, Holly. And ya right, everyone hates Kendra.

man, even bunnies get dissed

IS NOTHING IN THIS WORLD SACRED???

Of course, I'd heard the rumors. But I didn't want to believe. I guess there's no denying it now.

The "girls next door" broke up with Hef. So lame.

Good thing I'm friends with Holly on Myspace, or I would have been totally out of the loop.

Monday, October 6, 2008

new chinese name

My Chinese friend Philips spent so long coming up with a bunch of options for me for my Chinese name, and all his hard work means nothing now because I've adopted a new name. LiKou (beautiful red), the name Philips thought suited me best, just wasn't doing it for me. NiKe (pretty stone of jade), the name my Chinese professor gave me, was missing something. I felt like I needed a name that truly embodied my personality. I was thinking about the Chinese word for "Strawberry", but that seemed sort of lame.

Then. It hit me.

You ready for it?

Meow Meow.

That's right, my Chinese name is "Meow Meow". "Lin Meow Meow" if you want to be official about it. I can't wait to get business cards made. Oh schnap.

I'm glad "meow" sounds the same in Mandarin as it does in English. Interesting fact revealed to me by my high school student crush (don't worry, I'm keeping it professional, yo. He's not even my student): in Korea cats say "ya-oung, ya-oung" instead of "meow meow". Good thing I'm not in Korea because "ya-oung" wouldn't cut it for me.

This is sort of what my name looks like in Chinese characters:
I say "sort of" because they look more like cave drawings than Chinese there, but I can barely write Chinese characters with a pen and paper, much less with a mouse on Microsoft Paint.

I feel like you have to be pretty hard up to go out on a Monday night, but I'm tempted to throw caution to the wind and just do it so I can introduce myself to people. Hi, my name is Meow Meow. "Your name is what?" Meow Meow. "Meow Meow?" Yeah, y'know, like a cat says. "That's your name?" Uh huh.

I haven't been this excited about anything in a while.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

hopefully people bought them as pets

A friend of mine took this picture later the same day in front of Ikea where I had seen the box o' puppies:

Several are missing from when I was there, I hope they went to good homes. There are a surprising number of pet owners here in Shanghai, so it's not totally doubtful.

One of the favorite dog breeds here in China? No, not the pug...the pomeranian! Isn't that adorable? There's a Chinese man who lives around here who always walks his Tater Tot look alike in Thumb Plaza sans leash. I usually just follow him around and snicker to myself while fantasizing about petting the dog, but finally on Friday night I mustered up the courage and asked the guy to pet it.

And by "asked" I mean I smiled really big and then pointed to the dog and made a petting motion with my hand. The guy seemed cool with me petting it, I'm hoping maybe I can form some kind of friendship with him so I can play with his dog all the time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

example of why i hate most surveys

If your lover betrayed you with someone of their own sex, what would your reaction be?
"I totally knew it."

What would you do with a billion dollars?
Two chicks at the same time. Er, wait.

Will you fall in love with your best friend?
My best friend is a girl, so no. But, I am a firm believer that men and women can have platonic relationships, even if When Harry Met Sally insists otherwise.

Which is more exciting while already in a relationship: coveting someone else or being coveted by someone?
It's always exciting to get compliments.

How long do you intend to wait for someone you love?
5 minutes.

If the person you secretly like is gay, what will you do?
Gay boyfriend, gay boyfriend, I don't really mind that you are queer. Gay boyfriend, gay boyfriend, I never feel lonely when you are near.

If you could root for one useless cause, what would it be?
For Delta Gamma to adopt a fraternity animal, and for that animal to be the pomeranian.

What takes you down the fastest?
Champagne.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Interesting question. Hopefully I'm on my way to becoming the next Martha Stewart by then.

What’s your fear?
Falling down stairs.

If you fall in love with two people simultaneously who will you pick?
Dave Matthews.

Would you give all in a relationship?
Define "all".

Do you prefer being single or in a relationship?
There's pros and cons to both. But if I'm in love with someone, I'd prefer to be in a relationship. As Chris Rock says, "married and bored, single and lonely".

an exercise in vanity

I've always really like those blogs of people who take one picture of themselves every day and show their progression through the seasons and temperatures and fashion styles.

I'm thinking about doing that here on Strawberry Says, but I want your opinion. Should I go the traditional mug-shot route of most personal photographers, or should I have a picture of China not me? Or is this idea too stupid to even do at all? Vote until next week!

captain obvious to the rescue!

I do appreciate my friends and family back home being concerned for my safety here in China. I do. Really.

But.

Well, this New York Times article has sparked a noticeable flux in my inbox and Facebook wall posts. Apparently the Chinese government monitors Skype conversations for politically sensitive words.

Is this really news to anyone?

Wouldn't this kind of be like some "investigators" in the United States writing an expose on airlines using racial profiling during security searches. Isn't that just common knowledge? I wouldn't call this Skype article anything mindblowing, except in the sense that it is mindblowingly obvious.

And anyway, I hate politics so I'm not at risk for any hardcore Chinese snooping.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

whisk me away

There's a chocolate cafe here in Shanghai called Whisk. I've never been there, but some friends brought me and Romy some chocolate chip cookies from there a few weeks ago and they were seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. Even better than my grammy's chocolate chip cookies (though I will deny ever saying this if anyone ever tells her).

Today was just one of those days. Y'know, those days when you just need a damn chocolate chip cookie.

So I decided to take a little solo adventure through Shanghai in search of Whisk and it's to die for pastries.

I should have written down the address, or maybe even looked it up. But instead, I relied on my memory of a vague conversation Romy had with a mutual friend discussing where it was. How difficult could it be to find? I thought to myself as I exited the subway in the middle of nowhere.

After several texts to my friends who had been there before and a frantic call to Romy, I still had no clue where I was or where Whisk could be so I decided just to walk around and look for it. For an hour.

Long story short, I couldn't find it. Actually, that's the entire story. So I guess it's not really as long as it is stupid.

When Steven Speilberg's film ET came out in 1982 my father was living in Alaska working on the pipeline in Prudhoe Bay while my mother stayed back in California. He really wanted to see the movie and asked my mom to wait for him to visit until she saw it so they could see it together for the first time. I guess my mom didn't think he really cared that much, so she saw it with some friends anyway and when he found out he told her he would never see ET ever. He was that mad about it.

The movie was re-released in 2002 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and having been told this story by my mother I asked my dad if he would go see it with me (he was unaware that I knew his history with the movie). I'll never see that movie, he curtly replied. And he hasn't.

In much the same way, I'll never go to Whisk. My friends absolutely love it and I know they will try to get me to go some time in the next year that I'm going to be here, but nope, it's not going to happen. I tried too hard to find it and was left hungry, empty handed, and with 15RMB less in my wallet from the cost of transportation.

And to think, I was actually going to risk my health and buy a carton of milk to go with the friggin' cookies.