Thursday, April 2, 2009

the opposite of laughs all around

Yesterday I had a lot of fun with my seniors. We've been watching Into the Wild and discussing it, but in honor of April Fool's Day we spent an entire period writing about and sharing stories of awesome pranks that they've either pulled on someone else or had pulled on them. We were all laughing like crazy. They had some hilarious stories to share, and couldn't believe my dad actually dressed up like a woman, so I promised I'd bring in a picture for them next class.

Today, though, not only did we finally see the ending to Into the Wild which is sad (though arguably sort of uplifting), but it's also Saemi's birthday. She's 19 today. 19 and in the hospital. She's not even conscious, so it's not like she can celebrate it or anything.

We arranged with the school to all take a trip to visit her in one of the high school's large vans. I haven't gone to see her since the beginning of the semester, but I knew not much had changed since then other than her hair growing out a bit. Last time I was there I nearly had a panic attack.

You know how some people say they hate hospitals? I don't really hate hospitals. I think they're just fine and I don't get nervous or upset walking into one or going to a doctor's appointment or anything, but when I visit someone I know that's in the hospital, I freak out. My high school boyfriend was in the hospital for several weeks after rupturing his spleen and I cried every time I went to see him (which was every waking moment that I wasn't in school). So, I'm not surprised that visiting Saemi is a panic attack inducing experience for me.

I just...feel like I need to go to show her I'm there for her. Today, though, was a sort of breaking point for me. First, the room reeked from all the herbal Chinese medicine they've been giving her, so it was kind of disorienting. You could smell the odor from down the hall it was that strong. The hospital, while one of the best in Shanghai, is just plain dirty. People are allowed to smoke in the halls, there's no sort of regulation of guests and visitors. Second, it was her birthday. I'm starting to realize that this is it. This is Saemi's fate.

Her eyes were open today and she was blinking but not looking at anything. There was nothing behind her gaze, it was like staring into the eyes of a doll. Her mouth kept opening and closing, like a fish breathing under water. Muscle contractions.

The minute my students started singing happy birthday I lost it. I had to leave the room. My heart felt like it was missing every other beat and my lungs suddenly starting contracting and I couldn't get any air into my chest to fill them back up no matter how much I gasped for air. I started crying, frantically looking for my handkerchief in my purse and trying to get as far away from the room as possible. I went out into a waiting area to compose myself. It took a few minutes then I walked back to the room trying to control my sniffling.

I lingered outside the door waiting for my students to leave to take the van back to campus. Little Amy and Bora walked out and I got choked up seeing them, thinking about how it could be them lying in that hospital bed, too. I was trying to hold back my tears so they wouldn't see me cry. I have this huge fear of my students seeing me so vulnerable. But I couldn't stop the tears soon enough and Little Amy and Bora saw my cry. They were both visibly upset by the scene in the hospital room, too, and Little Amy put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. Without thinking I said, "You guys need to be safe. Promise me you'll be safe?" They both nodded, Little Amy wiping tears from her eyes. I pray to God they keep their promises.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

april fool's day shenanigans

"I call shenanigans!"

Did anyone get pranked or pull any awesome pranks? I love April Fool's Day and trickery. My dad is an awesome prankster. He's even gone so far as to dress up like a woman in order to play a prank on the employees at the flower shop my parents own. His pranks are always super elaborate, y'know, getting strangers involved and what not.

Luckily, I'm in a different time zone than pretty much everyone in my life (other than my Chinese friends), so I used that to my advantage since it was April Fool's Day in Shanghai but not in the United States. I changed my Facebook status to "is officially staying in China another year to teach!! :D"

To be fair, I over-exaggerated my excitement with double exclamation points AND a crazy happy face emoticon, but tons of people still got duped! Within seconds of posting it I got a bunch of comments saying "srsly?! congrats!" and so forth. Bahahaha. I love it. It was the only successful April Fool's Day prank I've ever pulled.

Thank you everyone for believing my unbelievable status update. Like, really? Staying to teach? I've got to get back to the real world, people. And Trader Joe's. I really miss that store.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

free stuff: barney butter

My favorite kind of stuff is free stuff, especially if it's edible and delicious.

I've never had almond butter before but have heard of the Barney Butter company and since I love peanut butter and love almonds, I'm pretty sure almond butter would be amazing. Anyway, click here if you want a free sample delivered to your house! It's only available to US residents (sorry Andy). Oh, and Twin, I used your address. Oops. So, um, use the flower shop's address or something.

product review: amazon's kindle wireless reading device

As a graduation gift last year my parents gave me a Kindle. Kindle's were still relatively at the time but a friend of mine told me about the product and after some research I knew I had to have it IMMEDIATELY. Unfortunately, I had just decided to go to graduate school and wasn't exactly in the financial position to be spending 400 bucks on an electronic device that, while I reallyreallyreally wanted it, didn't technically need. Thank goodness for milestone celebrations (college graduation) and generous parents.

The Kindle is an amazing product for any avid reader. It's so simple and easy to use, I'm pretty sure even my mom could figure it out, and she can't even figure out how to text on her cell phone. Not every book is available on the device, but they are adding new books every day and there's a ton (over 250,000 to be exact) to choose from. If you travel a lot, a Kindle is a great travel companion. It's not much larger than a paperback book and it's much thinner:

If you're in any other country other than internet-blocking China, you can wirelessly connect to Amazon's Kindle store and purchase a book instantly. They're delivered to your Kindle in under a minute. It's so crazy simple and convenient. If you can't access the internet from your device like me, then you simply download the books to your computer and sync it with a USB cord.

Can the Kindle save you money? The short answer is no. The long answer can be found here. Yes, Kindle e-books are cheaper than the paper or hardback version (they're under $10 each), but the device itself is several hundred dollars alone. Basically, you'd have to purchase and read an average of 6 books a month over the course of a year in order for you to "make back your investment."

Recently, Amazon unveiled its Kindle 2, which I wouldn't be averse to owning if I didn't already have the original, but personally I'm not that impressed with the improvements, which, as far as I can tell from, include:

Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging

More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books

Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns

Read-to-Me: With the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you, unless the book is disabled by the rights holder
I really like the size of Kindle 1, specifically I like that it feels like I'm holding a real book. The Kindle 2 is much thinner and I personally don't think I would like holding it as much. Plus, it's also longer which I think is a negative in terms of carrying it around in a purse or small bag, which I do often with my Kindle 1.

Here's a side by side comparison of Kindle 1 VS Kindle 2:

As far as the other "improvements", I've never had an issue with battery life (it lasts me weeks on end sometimes), I don't think I would ever need 1,500 books on my Kindle, the page turn speed has never bothered me, and I don't like audio books unless I'm listening to them via my iPod (EDIT: actually, Kindle 1 can read to you, too. Didn't realize it since it's not an option I've ever used before). That's not to say that the Kindle 2 isn't a great product, because it is. I just wouldn't buy it as a replacement for the Kindle 1 or anything.

So the take away message? In the words of Ferris Bueller, "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

things to include in your facebook "about me"

1. If you have children/will be having children soon
2. If you are married/will be married soon
3. If you are completely insane now

Thanks. This information would be very helpful to me when I am "reconnecting" with you via social networking sites.

P.S. I partied with Mark Zuckerberg at a Delta Delta Delta party back in 2005 (Bebe was the sorority prez). It was a "Most Wanted" theme. He dressed up as the pope. I dressed up as Britney Spears.