Entries from December 2008 ↓

NYE: From Brooklyn to Shanghai

Wow! I just had a little 360 epiphany! Things kinda just come around full circle…. in that …. at this time last year, I was dizzying myself with returning to NY from Christmas family festives in Boston… to celebrate NYE with some good folk, in a suite @ Marriott in Brooklyn with a memorable midnight toast on the BK Bridge….

This year, I find myself dizzying with my return to Shanghai from Christmas in Vietnam…. to celebrate NYE, “Winter Wonderland”-style atop of the JW Marriott @ People’s Square in Shanghai….

Crazy, crazy. Who woulda thunk? I mean, last year… it was a special farewell toast for many of us in that suite…as for the majority, we were looking to peace to lands afar from the States for one reason or another in the ’08…and here I am….

Apologies for the choppiness, but just needed to share that quick little flashback… From Brooklyn Marriott to Shanghai Marriott…



. . don’t burn the day. .

Got Mah’ Hair Did

Even prior to coming overseas, I had been dreading the day that I would have to have a stranger who I can not communicate with, touch my lovely locks… (See, I’ve got sibs who are professional stylists with our own salon at home…. so you can say that I’ve definitely grown up with convenience.) And I’ve been waiting out far too long for a good snip out here… Sooo I popped into the salon that had been recommended by foreign colleagues and was told of a specific stylist, named “Suzanne.” I lucked out… she was available…and I did my best to explain to her what I wanted…. the layers, angles yada yada… and was just crossing my fingers and everything else with hopes that she “got it.”  But there was no way in telling because the communication was super duper brief and her level of English was more or less non-existent!!  So I sat in the chair…and was crying inside as the blades were seemingly non-stop. Cut here, cut there…note: NOT snip here, snip there…. But in the end…. at least it doesn’t look atrocious in that I came out with a mullet.  I give her props for getting the style down..but damnnn she cut it way shorter than I had wanted!!!  But I just keep telling myself, some times this happens back at home too. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.  But yeah… I’m just going thru long locks withdrawal now and needed to share….hopefully I’ll be over it soon…

To help, I did end up video chatting with one of my stylist-sisters and she checked out my cut, and gave me the “Wow, Mimi, you’re hair is short… But the actual cut looks goood..It gets  a Pass….. It’s short, but doesn’t look bad..It looks like a healthy cut.”

Yes, healthy. I’ll take healthy!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Little Miss Saigon, Was I

Soooo I’ve returned to the ‘Hai after celebrating my Christmas in Vietnam…. The trip gets an “A” for Awesome; On the very personal level, the experience was very gratifying. More in depth write-up to come of course, but just wanted to touch base and let ya’ll know I’m back safe and all that jazz…and thank you to all who kept me in mind with their holiday well-wishes… trust me when I say I am very appreciative and grateful for your thoughtfulness. :)

To leave off with a tease….  Saigon – I’ve never seen anything like it…. makes even Shanghai look tame. The number of motorbikes in traffic is out of control!

Check these clips:

#1 – Street Crossing in Saigon is ridiculous! and in retrospect, I was even more ridiculous for having filmed it while trying my darndest to come out alive while doing so!

# 2 – Night time traffic in Saigon is no different from day time…. motorbikes takes short-cuts on sidewalks!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Gooooood Xmas Mornin’ Vietnam!!!!

….. Those words will be shouted by me on the morning of the 25th this year. For why? Welps, I’m heading off to Vietnam tomorrow evening! Whooo Hoo!!!  I have been SOOO looking forward to this one!  Temps have been dropping over here, and I need relief from this bloody cold, baddddd!! Mid-High 80s… Beach… FOOD….. Ahhhhhhh! Calgon, take me away!!!


(hmmmm… I wonder if they’ll show “It’s A Wonderful Life” down there… )

. . don’t burn the day. .

First Trip to the Movie Theatres! – “If You Are The One”

Holidays are fun because teachers receive gifts from the kids and kids’ parents. A pair of tickets to the theatres dragged me out of my apartment today, or else would’ve been a lazy-pop-in-dvd-while-staying-in-my-robe type of day… which I am absolutely, perfectly content with! Being a teacher now, I’ve learned to reallllly appreciate my chill time weekends!!

Sooo, of course it was an experience to say the least. We called ahead to see what was showing in the evening and were given two choices: IP or If You Are The One. I did a  quick google and the latter title won. We arrived at the theatres with approx. 20 min to spare till show time. Now, I just wish I had brought my camera… It was nuts as per usual when the mass-Chinese are involved. Just imagine: Union Square Theatre filled with Asians. So, me being the sneaky foreigner that I am, had Lisa stand with the masses while I poked around to see what the deal was around the gigantic pole that was obstructing all view…. and behold, there was a shorter line… I “psssst’ed” over to Lisa and had her swing around… Awesome. But not really, because the folks in front of us were slow-ass, mo-lass. We did our best to maintain our huffs and puffs….and still a bit clueless with what to do with our gift certifcates etc. Can we walk in? Can we not walk in? Some dude appeared to also be giving away gift certificates, or was he sellling? We still don’t know. Plus the expiration date had been rubbed off  a tad from ours etc. So of course, this is when Lisa decided to make use of my looks. She says.. “Ok, you hold the tickets because they won’t question your foreign face.”  Fast forward – our turn. I step up, had my “I speak English, Do you speak English?” conversation, and eventually got us seats. Get this, they have ASSIGNED seats here. Theatre was packed, (I later found out it was Opening Weekend for this film.)  We got the last two-seats-together deal…and dashed back to the cinema rooms.. We sat, movie started..and at first I thought.. “Wait a minute. This isn’t the film we wanted. Did we walk into the correct room? But this looks interesting nonetheless…..”……But…. it was all part of the movie…. (That would’ve been a good story to tell.. but good fake-out!)

Ok, the movie itself..I’d give a thumbs up. It reminded me of something I’d probably see at the Angelika or something. Highly anticipated romantic comedy directed by Feng Xiaogang is said to be the most expensive of its kind, at the expense of 50 million yuan. Leading the cast is renowned mainland funnyman-actor Ge You and Taiwan actress Hsu Chi, through tales of complicated and conflicted love and another, searching for the one to wed… of course twists of angst combined with slapstick humor kept me entertained. But I do think, perhaps this film could’ve been edited a bit to be a shorter… A 2-hour movie…but by 1.5 mark, I had thought it was nearing 2.5… But nevertheless, still a good one to check out… Romantic comedy? Yes. Serious undertone? Yup, that too.

. . don’t burn the day. .

A Katalyst Kristmas

My Cali homette gets to see Ashton Kutcher everyday and her name is not Demi. Rather, Ana is her name and she’s staffed at Mr. Kutcher’s media company, Katalyst Films (- Punk’d, Beauty & The Geek, The Butterfly Effect). Here’s a little holiday cheer from the Katalyst Krew…

Oh and Ana is the Elf-Executive whose line is, “I mean take a look at these numbers, I think we need a bail out.”… Well done, Maca! and costumes look fab too!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Have Yourself A Swig of Swag With Your ‘Nog

One of my Cali – DJ homie’s, Pelau is the music man behind newly launched e-zine highlighting all things I love: Music, Business, Lifestyle, Fashion and Art…. Introducing, Swagger Lifestyle

About SL

Swagger: a self-confident, unique, stylish, unpredictable, open and yet forward outlook for oneself

Lifestyle: the typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture
SWAGGER LIFESTYLE is about developing connections through the celebration of culture, music, fashion, art and business. When we embrace the richness of the world’s cultures our awareness and taste levels are elevated. Swagger Lifestyle exists for those in search of such elevation; those that live in the constant pursuit of new music, new cultures, new expressions of art and fashion, new business practices and new forms of healthy living. We believe that it is this search for elevation in personal & professional tastes that ultimately determines a person’s quality of life, and Swagger Lifestyle seeks to be a conduit for improving our subscribers’ quality of life.

All individuals should embrace that which is beyond their borders in the constant search of excellence and forward thinking. It is through our achievement that we can inspire greatness from those around us and it is through the achievements of others that we learn. Respectfulness, appreciation, exchange and progressiveness, are flagstones on the path towards embodying a Swagger Lifestyle.

So, while you’re fireside with eggnog in one hand… take a swig of swag with the other, here.

Plus! If you click NOW, you can find the insightful headlining article, “The Perfect Man Gift According to Entourage“…. Hmmmmm, egg nog and Adrian……  :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Simple and Sweet, Always Wins

I’ve been spending wayyyyy tooooo much time and effort than I really need to, for holiday activities for my kiddos…. (but, somehow I find worth it…. because they are my little babies who’ve been working really hard this year and I want to reward them. Afterall, I’m known for being the “passionate, energetic, jovial, silly at times…yet… “don’t you dare push my buttons or else, I’ll put you in check” teacher… :-) )  Now, it may sound pretty basic, but  believe me when I say it wasn’t as easy as it should’ve been. Holiday Activities for this coming week will include, but not limited to:

  • Viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas (yup! I got me a 20-disc dvd collection of Snoops), Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Shrek the Halls.
  • Kid’s Christmas Mix -  opener is Jiminy Cricket’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and down a playlist that includes treats from A Charlie Brown Christmas to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” to “Rudoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bell Rock ft. Muppets, Deck the Halls, Jingle Bells” and “Twelve Days of Christmas” ft. Disney friends and more!!
  • Holiday Activity Packet with coloring games, word searches, puzzles, mazes, make-it-yourself Christmas ornaments, reading, writing………….. all on THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS!
  • oh and a little baggie treat with a personalized Rudolph bookmark, complete with song lyrics… getting the kids in the mood for the current Read-a-Thon competition….anddddd I sat and hand made all the damn To/From tags…. Phew! Yes, you can call me devoted and/or crazy…  I’ve heard it all before in the office…

Here are some “getting them ready” flicks:




And while I was running around in a doozy looking for stuff on the net for images and activities for the littles, gathering all of that together, buying candies and ziplocs and all that ish…..my kiddos were involved in a Creative Christmas Card contest….


These here are my Top 3 winners:


# 1 goes to little boy, Washington. This little boy… is a jolly kid who had a short case of innocent violence (pushing others etc.) in the beginning of the year… then aced 2 out of 3 of my  midterm exams — All teachers, including myself were shocked. And now, he’s becoming one of my faves… and check out his card… he put himself in as Santa… with a cotton beard…  just goes to show, with me……Simple and Sweet, Always Wins!



Till next week, when they perform in our school’s Christmas Show!..and Yes, us teachers in the International Department will also be performing/singing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” …. Oh Joy!

PS. In class this past week, we discussed the importance of accepting others for who they are, how they look and their abilities/disabilities. I asked the class, “Who does not like the way they look?” and two kids raised their hand: Allison and Washington. I asked Allison, “Why?” and she answered… “Because I’m fat.” (now… as a disclaimer. this is china…so if you’re like above a size 1, you’re considered fat, but that’s a whole other post.) So we discussed this as a class, using a story from the books about a little bird who didn’t like the way he looked and wished to look like a lion or a goose instead….but in the end the bird was the one who had the wits and ability to save their squirrel friend from a cage. ANYhoots, so then I asked the class, “What can we say to Allison to make her feel better because we are all her friends and we care about her?” Little Washington held up his hand (and I just had to call on him because he also indicated that he didn’t like the way he looked.) andddd little boy Washington responded:

“You can say ….. ‘you’re not fat, you are very cute!’” – Washington, who has been chosen to play Santa in his class’ Christmas performance.

Again, I say… Simple and Sweet, Always Wins…

. . don’t burn the day. .

Elf Yourself! – A MUST See!



From Inner Mongolia Survivors to You……………………..


. . don’t burn the day. .

Just Like The Ones I Used To Know…

Well, I certainly won’t be getting any of that white stuff this year, especially since the weather here has been super strange; One day, I could feel Chicago-like winds through my jeans and the next, is as if Spring is in the air. But lately, it’s been more on the Fall side. Simply bizarro. (And Shanghai typically doesn’t get any snow anway, though last year was a major exception. fyi.)

This past weekend, I:

  • Attended my first holiday party over here, hosted by a fellow colleague from New Zealand; of course that just meant folks, bites, tinsel and libations.
  • Planned for the next couple weeks’ worth of lesson plans = Watched both Dr. Seuss’ Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Shrek the Halls and put together a “mixtape” to play for my kids during the Christmas activity I have planned for them — because I don’t plan on teaching the week of Christmas.. I won’t be that Grinchy, Scroogey teacher!! (…. along with putting a mix together for my upcoming Gooood Christmas Morning, Vietnam trip!..more on that on another post) I amaze myself with what lengths I go for my kids, but I just can’t help it once I get an idea going …. Now, if only I can get my hands on A Charlie Brown Christmas, that’d make it complete!!

While doing all of this, I was buzzing, humming and singing along to Christmas tunes all around my apartment… but there was one song in particular that hit home – literally. Morning of, I had read on the news of Bush’ State of Emergency declaration for Massachusettts, in reaction to severe ice storms (though, word has it…. my hometown was not affected much, so no worries.) But still.. shortly after…. this came on my itunes:

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I’m gonna get a little mushy for second, but I think I was hit with my first real bout of homesickness this past weekend, triggered by the classic melody above. See, this will my first Christmas away from home, so naturally, flashbacks of “the ones I used to know” came to mind. The shouting madness, headaches, kids running around, food from every creature known to man, spread across the adult and kiddie tables – oh wait, that’s like every family gathering… but Christmas…. ah yes! Christmas includes, “Who will put on the big red suit this year?” My pops had handed down the duties to my bros a few years back and since then, they’ve taken turns, showing off their best St. Nick impressions. “Santa J” has  a pretty memorable James Brown meets Michael Jackson meets Kris Kringle – if only I had the video footage to share right now!! Ha!! The boardgames – scrabble, taboo and/or whatever games the kids had scored under the tree. Going wayyyyy back would be Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Battleship, Operation, Remote Control cars, Twister…. making the little ones performing song and dance……always good time fun!  Then of course the liquids flowing amongst the big kids: egg nog, wine, beer, champagne… and various drinking games with the sibs, card games + drinks, or just singing + drinking games…D transforms into Pat Benatar, N being the “treasure chest,” A as a cocktail waitress, Bingo is Banned! and so much more!  ….  Boy, Oh!

I love you all, miss you all and will be thinking of you all, as I always do!  I’m dreaming of a White Christmas this year…. ;-)

Enjoy the Drifter’s version of White Christmas!…

. . don’t burn the day. .