Entries from April 2009 ↓

Me vs. She-Man

me vs.

Intro (Courtesy of Lisa’s Status Message on Chat)

WHAT A MORNING!… Mimi and a Chinese coworker, who is a BEAST, were battling (literally)!!! MIMI WON!!! But the Beast didn’t take it well so she hits Mimi w/ her purse, but of course Mimi didn’t let that go ;) Then the Beast tried to fight ME!!! WTF!!!

OK…. so through the power of “social networking”  – many have been tipped on my mini altercation at school yesterday morning.  Here’s the story, morning glory..

Backdrop:

Waking up at 5:30am, 5 times a week is NOT my most favorite thing to do. I am not a morning person (but I think I’ve been coping quite well, if you ask me) …especially at 5:30 in the morning. Nevertheless, I do it on the daily, hit the snooze button a couple times…and be up and out at 6:15ish to catch a taxi….. to catch the greyhound/ bus  that picks up all teachers on the Puxi side of town at 6:30am. Being that I/we are the 2nd pick up of like 8 stops or so, Lisa and I sit in the front row, directly behind the driver. (The driver is MANIC where I fear for my life every other morning if not every , but that’s another story.)

As soon as I plop my butt down, I close my eyes and go for a lil catnap (which makes the ride a bit less scary). Bus goes onward to pick up the other local teachers (myself, Lisa, Charlotte (of New Zealand) and Adam) are the only foreigners on this packed bus — all of which keep to ourselves – ipod / sleep, etc.  As more teachers climb aboard, volume goes higher where they chatter amongst themselves in Mandarin and/or Shanghainese. A bit annoying, but I’ve come to adjust. (And, might I add…. their tone is naturally … a screech!)

As we pull up to the school, the stampede begins — local teachers bum-rush to the front of the bus in the aisle to be the first out. (Think: my previous rants of (lack thereof)  subway etiquette over here – the elbowing, pushing, shoving etc. ..and walking etiquette in general.)  Now, at times, the (manic) driver STEPS on the breaks…which… as Physics prove.. velocity.. and all… the local teachers in the aisle come close to flying through the window! But! This never seems to stop them from doing it EVERY FRICKIN’ MORNING! (insert: headshake)

Next, coming off the bus…as you can imagine.. as myself, Lisa and Charlotte are in the first two rows of the bus– we are stuck and have to make our move to make for exit— because, depending on who’s in the aisle… you may never get out if you just stand there to wait your turn. Now this is of course ridiculous, as since WE are in the first two rows…”order” would dictate us being the first out. But  again, here’s the “ass backwardness” that I speak of here. And still.. noooooooo problem. I’ve dealt with this all year…and it’s never been a huge issue.  However!………..

On This Particular April 29, 2009 Morning….

This renowned She-Man Beast of a woman was trying to get off the bus ….. and she really truly is beastly….Super tall, broad shoulders and just manly built….(She works in the non-International Department..so I don’t even know who she is or what she teaches, or care for that matter.)  I was getting up as per usual in my half-awakened state .. put my arm up on the headrest across the aisle for balance… Beast tried to RIP THROUGH (totally NOT exaggerating)  my arm to get out, from behind me. Of course I stiffened up my forearm and used “blocking out tactics”  I learned from my junior high and high school basketball days, standing firm my ground, squaring up and all…as she also tried to booty bump me out of the way …bc shes a Beast and 3 times my size……Apparently she didn’t like that.. I stepped off the bus… still half-asleep…(and I later found out that she had somehow tripped – on her OWN – while stepping down from the bus) …She-Man comes behind me and childishly and stupidly hits me with her purse….Of course…. natural reaction ..my arm pushes her back as to wave off her purse..and surprisingly, I was still very much  cool as a cucumber (I dunno… my blood pressure wasn’t even rising…. probably because it was still just 7:20am!!)… and I recall saying..”What are you doing??!! We are all going to the same place!! You’ll get off a second after me…What is the difference?  All this pushing and pushing… “..sumn sumn..

Meanwhile, I’ve got Lisa on my left  side… mouthing off all sorts of profanities aloud in English. (what a great friend!)  I, myself wasn’t even at all riled up (surprisingly).   I just wanted to get up to my office and get started on my day (plus there was an important game online that I needed to check on). I think I’ve grown immune to crazy beasts or something (except on subways..they still piss me off…) Anyway, we crossed through the school gates… Beast is yelling all sorts in Mandarin….and I’m still half asleep, but recall thinking that she’s a crazy woman… and also managed to hear Charlotte say, “Go Mimi!” (Charlotte and the Beast has history of battling in the Breakfast Line…. Spilling milk, etc. .) Then, as per usual…I went upstairs to the office to boot up my computer…. and as it was a special morning, I typed in nba.com …so that I could track down Game 5 of Celtics vs. Bulls, while making my coffee and getting my own breakfast ready. :-) (If you haven’t figure it out, I consciously choose NOT to have breakfast in the school cafeteria as since I don’t like to start off my days ala Milton Bradley’s Battleship Galactica with the locals.)

15 Minutes Later…

Lisa came upstairs to my desk and shouted, “OMG! Everything happened just so fast!  You battled the She-Man earier and won, so now she wants to fight me!! …. The She-Man went into the breakfast cafeteria and announced it to everyone that foreigners are rude. This is China and  that foreigners need to understand…” blah blah blah (Upon hearing this,  I interrupted Lisa and said..ummm sooo she wants to BATTLE EVERY MORNING???!!) But anway, sooooo she went on a crazy rant to Monica (sweet, innocent assistant to the Dean of the International Department)…pointing at Lisa and Charlotte having breakfast… and Monica replied in Mandarin.. “I don’t care.”(insert: LOL!!) Laterrrrrrrrrrrrr…. She-Man Beast went up close and personal to Lisa’s face and went off in Shanghainese blabber…. To which Lisa didn’t understand…and replied in English, “What??! You want to fight me?!”  Next, She-Man’s friend pulled the She-Man away from Lisa….. and lastly… shouted to Lisa in Chinglish: “You…… Stupid!…. Disgusting!”  —– Lisa and Charlotte had full chuckles….

What’s Next?

She-Man Beast “reported” the “3 foreign girls” to the Principal. (What is this, Mean Girls????!!)

I ended up speaking to my Dean about it… to which we both found it to be all sorts of ridiculous.. because ya’ll know what an ANGEL I am. ;-)

Anddddddd now, I/We await our fate…… (which means, they’ll do NOTHING.)

PS. I am FINE. In fact, I get a good, hearty, healthy chuckle over every time I think of how ANGRY She-Man was and how COOOOL CUCUMBER I was…and how riled up Lisa was over this.. LOLLOLOLOLOLOL!

But in all seriousness, ya’ll know how mindful, respectful (insert all good words) I am towards others, especially colleagues and such. I never once, raised an ounce of aggression towards the woMAN at any point during the altercation, even with her whipping her purse at me. In fact, I was quite the opposite – super melloooow. But clearly, I was the victim in this uncalled for attack. Now, as ya’ll ALSO know… I could’ve reacted different…. to which this recap could have included mentions of fisticuffs and headlocks, but nope… I was chillllllllllaxed, trying to get to my C’s game! (I wonder if this had happened later in the day, when I would’ve been more awake, what the outcome would be, hmm…..)

I leave ya’ll with a track I’m VERY proud to say I’ve been a part of… (Plus! Best and Most Memorable #1 Debut Party ever with my Arista heads!!!)  Pop it in and give “Roses” a listen, particularly the chorus. That’s what I have to say about She-Man.  :-P

“Roses” from album, Speakerboxx/The Love Below by Outkast (09.23.03)

. . don’t burn the day. .

I Love Flip Flops and I Love Cupcakes…

Forget the cupping experience I was rambling about the other day….

These are the most creatively scrumptious lil’ things I’ve seen in a long time!!!  Flip Flop Cupakes!!!  Kudos to my bro and girl’s Minneapolis-based catering company, Cocoa & Fig!  (ps. Happy Birthday “Bart!!”)

Read and salivate more here…. designs include: Beatles’ inspired birthday cake, Cadbury Easter Egg cupcakes, an incredible hors d’oeuvre buffet, wedding dessert spread…and so much more!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Success Is…

I gotta give props to my girl Janee for having this as her email signature. The first time I read it… I was prompted to do a triple-read…because there was so much in there that rang true to me … and it has STUCK with me since. Here I share; read slowly, carefully and repeatedly..

. . don’t burn the day. .

Is China the New “Land of Opportunity?”

It’s not new news when I say we’re in a bit of a pickle with economics nowaday…especially stateside.   And, as I am closing in on my initial 1 year contract here in Shanghai, the question still lingers with what’s on tap for the next? I miss parents, family, friends, the familar, communication, civilization, fresh air – the whole nine. But! Really, what opportunities are there back home? Whereas, here in Asia land….. it seems like despite all the varied (cultured) frustrations, there all sorts of things a’happening… Hmmmmm… things that make you go hmmmm….

. . don’t burn the day. .

Got Cupped

(Disclaimer: This is NOT me in this pic.)

Yup, I did it. Why? Welllllllll… Lovely Spring Saturday afternoon plus a cramped up neck (for me) and ill-stricken Kim prompted us both to make a visit to the “Blind Man Massage” spot. I was introduced to this place by word of mouth. First Nathan, then Ralph, then Lisa then me. L & I checked it out a couple weeks ago and found it a very clean, spacious and nice establishment with wonderful workers who are sight-impaired. The theory is that since sight is under par, their other sensory organs are much more acute – particularly the sense of touch. I was recommended to get the top experts there: “#113 and #110.”  Unfortunately in our first run, #113 was already booked, so I happily settled for #110. Dude did an excellent job fixing the cramp on my right side.

Anyhoots later in that week, my left side felt the pain. Bewildered and concerned, I made an appointment to return, this time making sure I get their Numero Uno, that is #113….and handing #110 to Kim. Done deal. We showed up and all were ready to rock.

I could tell #113 lovedddd his job and I quickly understood why he was always booked!  Dude was VERY skilled in all nerves of the body and did all sorts of fancy moves on me…. not to mention super deee duper strong. Now usually, I suck it up…but this was like no other… to the point where I had Kim translate for him to take it easy on this kid!!  He replied, “I wasn’t even applying that much pressure.” Jeez! I swear, he was practically going THROUGH my spine! But he dug deep into the nerve in my neck and asked if it hurt. I replied in my best-attempted Mandarin, “yes, a bit.” And of course, his response… “Pain is good!” So after all of that (some may call torturous episode, depending on how you look at it)…. we were somehow convinced on getting cupping (me to rid of stiffness and all the “cold air” in my body) and scraping (Kim to rid of bad toxins and her cold) done.

At this point, we both realllly wished we had brought our cameras for this little random happening. So there I laid on my stomach….to be fire-cupped.

What Does It Feel Like?

Hmm.. with my head down, I couldn’t really see/tell.. but figured that ….he lighted a match of some sort and gathered some skin and placed the cups strategically all up and down my back. Initial suction hurt a lil bit in certain areas, ie. my arse.

The Removal

Again, certain areas hurt a tad more than others..but the pain is all bearable.

The Result

A “Domino” Effect – My back is now filled with huge hickeys from top to bottom…. It definitely looks worse than it feels. In fact, I feel absolutley nothing on my back… just wondering what is it really doing to my internal organs. Natural skeptic as I am… waiting to find out if I can tell if there’s any difference…as is Kim with her scraping experience aka left “skid marks” on her back as I like to call them…. ho hum….

. . don’t burn the day. .

Earth Rocks Rudd!

More reason for me to love Paul Rudd (Anchorman, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Some of ya’ll know that I’ve been on a serious quest to find a copy of this funny man’s latest, I Love You, Man over here.  And as I hastily  put some activities together for my littles in honor of Earth Day this morning…. my homette, Diane fed me this cute albeit short clip of Rudd and some Sesame Street friends rockin’ out to Mother Earth. :-)

Check the clip here… My kiddos loved it! … and I do too!  Enjoy!

EARTH ROCKS…. and so does RUDD! :-)

“One Sweet World” from album, Remember Two Things by Dave Matthews Band

(06.24.97)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Kids’ Reminder: K.I.S.S.

CUTE ALERT! CUTE ALERT! CUTE ALERT! (K, just had to get that outta my system…plus! I’m sure that was an attention grabber…)

One of my many mottos is:  “Simplicity is Bliss.” I just see no use in complicating things if need not be. Life as it is, and all things questioned-marked that comes with it, hits us with enough trivial pursuits to keep us dizzy for days….. so why not kick it back to basics whenever we can.

The other day, I had the pleasure of observing a prospective teacher conduct a demo lesson to my Grammar class. (Fun and interesting for me to see how my lil babies act and react to a foreign adult in the front of their classroom.) Now, I gave her a brilliant class of students and the content was easy enough. I had her review super, “piece of cake” (as my kids would get a giggle out of saying) work to warm them up; That is, I had her review the usage of End Punctuations (period, question mark and exclamation point), before she got into the real lesson of the day on identifying Subjects in sentences. Superdee-duper, easy-schmeezy stuff from the wayyy top of the school year.

Anyhoots, I’ll give her kudos on attempting to engage my kiddos with some visuals  (as since, I’m a proponent for balanced literal/creative lessons…use of visuals, etc.): She went ahead and drew a stick-figured boy named “John” on the left side of chalkboard. In the middle, a park setting: some trees, flowers, a bee, a butterfly…..and on the far right, a girl named “Jenny.” Follow? (I wish I had taken a  picture to share, but didn’t have my camera on me, nor had I planned on having something worthy to photograph on that day; But, oh well!  Dig down for the kid in you and use your imagination!)

Next, she asked the students to give her an example of a statement, a question and an exclamation of  what the boy might say to girl or vice versa. Like to hear it? Here it goes!….

Statement

Little boy Alex (Spanish/Chinese cutie), raises his hand and says: “Hello, my name is John.”

Question

Super smart, straight A+ Gloria (Canadian/Chinese), raises her hand and says: “How are you doing today?”

Exclamation

Twinkle-Eyed and Dimple-Faced Maddalena (Italian/Chinese), raises her hand with her naturally,  infectious smile (with a few teeth missing of course) and shouts: “WOW! I like you!” :-D

………….. SEE HOW SIMPLE THINGS CAN BE (TO A KID)??!!

There’s definitely a few things we can pick up from our lil’ munchins: their innocence, their honesty, their optimism. As grown kids, let’s bring it back to basics and K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid. :-)

“A Kiss To Build A Dream On” by Louis Armstrong (1951)

. . don’t burn the day. .

True Rewards

Yeah, I know I’ve been taking the cop-out route with regards to updating my blog lately via my co-signs rather than personal reflections/observations etc. out here (though, they are just as important components in the make-up of yours truly, teeheehee). Sooooooo here’s a little something more reflective…

Some of you may recall of my mini freak-out session a couple weeks ago that lasted prolly no more than 48 hours….umm ok, maybe 72; but still, it was a freak-out sesh nonetheless. Reason for the freak? Welps, my contract will soon be expiring and the million dollar question of “What will Mimi do next?” that everyone likes to ask me, will soon have to be answered….for real.  <insert: Ahhhhhhhh Freak Out!> Not only that, but as I’ve said numerous times before, one of the best and worst parts of the living abroad is the friendships/relations that you have with other expats out here. The Good is obvious; but the Bad is the varied timeclock that all expats are on. Trust me when I say,  I acknowledge that I’ve been super fortunate and blessed to have had a seamless transition upon arrival — with exception of the 1st week of jetlag, adjusting to disgusting humidity, culture shock – wondering where all these Chinese came from, ha!, thrown into summer class fire — but I buddied up with some expats quick by the end of my first week…and all the rest is now, historic chapters in my life story! :-) Though a good bunch of them left… some made return visits…and well, we’re all still in touch despite continent divides — I’m not gonna complain too much about that! Just gives me more reunion/cool folks to visit! :-)

The last few weeks have been pretty socially demanding but wonderful nonetheless. Many times, I honestly feel as if I never left NYC. My social calendar is rather non-stop for who knows what reason!  But I find myself constantly “obligated” to hit up if not one thing, than another…. but yet, somehow still not enough. I don’t even know how I gathered all these people over here. I’ll just chalk it up to my magnetic spell, ha! :-) But seriously, I do enjoy my down time and sometimes do have to put my foot down for some much needed “chillax to the max-me” time.

But! In all, I am very grateful for the friendships I’ve built here…..and going back to my freak-out session: just as my contract is nearing expiration, so are my buds here. The only difference is that the majority of them have made the decision to head back to homebase after this experience….. which made me re-think a lot of which I had intended for. The fickleness of friendships here really kills me… esp since it’s rather hard to find “cool” and “down” expats to kick it with…. without finding them too annoying too quick. But truck on, I shall….right?! – I have no choice, but to cross my fingers for a good, new batch of cookies to come out of the oven.

Aside from the socially rewarding experience of meeting different folks, exchanging different outlooks etc….. let’s go back to what allowed for me to experience all of this, in the first place: Teaching.  I’ve taught a plenty to my little cherubs and I truly believe they are going to be stars when they grow up. I will be the first to say, I put great expectations (maybe too much) on all my students (ranging from 5-8 years old). I treat them and speak to them as mini adults, and many times, I don’t realize this until I have a one-on-one conversation with their parent about their “little baby.”  In, then, pops in my head, “Damn Mimi… he/she is only a ___ year old!! Take it easy!”  But at the same time, the support and never-ending praise from the parents make it all worthwhile and encouraging. Ie. a couple weeks ago, during parent-teacher conferences, there was not one single parent that was displeased with my dedication and efforts I’ve put forth into their child. If anything, it was the total opposite. Each were amazed with how much I know of each and every one of my little munchkins (all 29 of them) inside and out; and can pinpoint all areas of strengths as well as challenges. I came out of those little chats – a very proud teacher. A teacher who has most certainly influenced not only my lil students’ but also their parents — a few parents remarked on how their kids would come home from school and correct their parents with.. “But Ms. Mimi says……….” :-) Cute!

So there ya have it…. I’m nearing the 2-month mark to close out the school year… and I’ve most certainly felt some true rewards from this whole experience. And CONTRARY to MANY’s beliefs…. I work my arse off over here!!  5.30AM Wake-Up calls, 5 days a week, putting in a long days of lesson planning and running dizzily to and from classes on the daily….coming home at 7pm / 8pm….the commute – THAT’S WORK, man!!!!

But!!!! Of course the OTHER true reward is: TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL!  and I don’t need to say much on this, aside from ya’ll KNOW that I’M DOING IT every chance I get!

And as a little PS. to this entry. I was talking to a good friend, Chad the other day and he had mentioned he was amped to embark on a 18-day volunteer assignment at an orphanage down in Kenya this summer. He’s excited, and I’m excited and proud of him for doing so! Many folks say they wanna do this, they wanna do that (and understandably some really would ..but can’t for srict personal reasons/obligations) but my boy is gonna do it… and return with a widened perspective and truly rewarding experience, guaranteed!  For those interested, the program that he is going through is called Volunteering Solutions — with varied destinations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. His motto: “Someone’s gotta do it.”  — and that’s why he’s my friend! :-)

What’s your true reward? (and I don’t mean credit card points.)

“Somebody’s Gotta Do It” from album, Tipping Point by The Roots (07.13.04)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Youku = My New Youtube

So they are still being jerks aka Youtube is back to being down in this land…and has been for a few weeks now. As an alternative, my bud Rodney tipped me on a bunch of sites to help me circumvent the situation.

So here it is, who needs Youtube, when you’ve got YOUKU?!(China’s version of Youtube.)

About Youku:

Youku permits users to upload videos regardless of their length and currently has over 161 million videos. Youku has partnered with a number of TV stations, film and TV production companies in China that regularly upload media content on the site. According to a Compete.com survey, the site attracted at least 6.5 million visitors in 2008.

Youku’s video library includes many full length, popular films and TV episodes from the West. Viewers from around the world can see these films on Youku for free, though often with Chinese subtitles. Other popular sites such as Youtube cannot display this content because of copyright restrictions, but these laws do not exist in China, enabling Youku to broadcast pirated versions from their website.

At first glance, I was crazily intimidated with all the Chinese characters, but after being told, “Silly, just type in what you want in English in the search box…” I was wow’ed!  My requested video was up..and the load time is IMMACULATELY AUTOMATIC! (I’ve learned to appreciate these little things… No more pressing pause to wait for youtube videos to full load, then going back to watching them without interruption.)

Cheers to Youku!

. . don’t burn the day. .

BEIJING & THE GREAT WALL > Flicks

OK, lots and lots and lots of laughs on this trip with some hilarious, fun-loving dudes. Prior to going on this trip, I was linked up via my friend Ralph here with his old college bud, Rodney who currently resides in Beijing. Life of expats here is so interesting; the more you meet, the more random stories of how/why they got chose a life abroad. After living a bit in Thailand, Rod landed himself in Beijing … he and his other bud, Conor (both Americans.. WHOO! I have a newfound appreciation for Americans now…) put me to shame with their Mandarin skills. I mean, albeit they actually STUDIED the language on the for real’ for real’…. wrote full on essays and all in university…. but jeez, two white dudes originally from Nashville and Minneapolis respectively … were MY translators for the weekend!!

But yeah, so Adam and I made our way up north and met up with the hospitable duo. In his visit to the ‘Hai about a month ago, Rod had blessed me with the greatest pick up line I had ever heard: “The Polar Bear Pick Up”… and from that moment…. I knew this was gonna be a weekend of belly chuckles! …and I surely was not disappointed! Good times all around…

Anyhoots… way too lazy to type up the whole weekend saga, but was good times filled with of course, random fun…including:  Rodney showing up for our Great Wall excursion in flip flops!  (He has trekked the wall a couple times prior but on “less intense trails.” We, on the other hand.. opted for the killer off-beat trail with the reward of Zip-Lining on the descend + Pleasure Boat ride to take us back to the start. Super duper awesome…and as soon as youtube ever decides to work around here, I’ll be able to load up the video of me flying high to share….. and another random thing: We paid to eat in darkness. Read more about that here. Fun for the “freaking out” experience, but not at this location.. food wasn’t all too scrumptious… but I’ll perhaps, one day, I’ll try to original Switzerland location and/or Germany, I heard is fab too…

But on the personal tip, it was a bit surreal for me when I stood in T’Square… and looked dead-on at the portrait of The Chairman; felt a crazy rush of history permeate thru my body. My parents have never even been to Beijing nor Shanghai … but all I kept thinking was…. the only reason why I am alive today is because of the man in this portrait’s “movement”… that steered my parents on a relentless journey to allow for a more opportunistic life for their children and their wish to have one American-born to call their own :-) . I love my parents and am forever appreciative for their devotion to their children – all 13 of us. They are truly the bestest parents in the world!

And The Great Wall = WOW!…. unimaginably impressive and intimidating!! This Wall is a Beast!!! They had a cool thing where you can buy a gold medal with your name enscripted. Soooooo I remixed it with writing my name in Chinese and showing it to the lady  (yup, my pops taught me that)…so I came away with a Gold Medal for climbing the Great Wall with 美美. Translation of my name: Beautiful Beautiful.  :-)    And the same “Mei” as in “Mei Gor” = America, the beautiful country. The boys, too, came away with one with their “Chinese names” of “Typhoon” (Rodney), Adam and “Ice Cube” (Conor),  after I told them of my cool remix idea. They are such biters! But here we are nonetheless.. what a bunch of true winners! We’re coincidently reppin’ the red, white and blue too …..

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Check the flicks…Enjoy!

BEIJING – PART I OF II

BEIJING – PART II OF II

THE GREAT WALL / SIMATAI SECTION

. . don’t burn the day. .