Friday, 27 February 2009

Life Updates...List Form!

Here is some stuff that I have been doing/eating/thinking...

-It's been over a year since I last worked at Kamatics. And yet almost every time I get up to get to class/use the bathroom, I still instinctively reach for my safety glasses. (I used to work in an office in the middle of the workshop and we were required to wear safety glasses in the shop)

-I have a sudden intense desire to play 1000 Blank White Cards but I don't think anyone I hang out with here has either the right sense of humor or any desire to play.

-I have been listening to bellydancing music at work while I correct homework/make lesson plans to help get myself pumped. It works, although one side effect is that sometimes I end up dancing around in my chair without realizing it.

-Yesterday I wore a bandanna to keep my hair out of my face. People said I looked like a pirate. today I am wearing a shawl. People say I look like a witch.

-Wednesday night I went out to dinner with Charlotte to a Greek restaurant in Thumb Plaza. They didn't have ANYTHING I wanted to order so I ended up with something I wasn't excited about and it didn't taste good. I probably won't go back.

-It has rained for about a week now and says it's going to rain for the next ten days too. BAH! Stupid Shanghai and it's rainy season. Maybe I should buy rainboots....

-Last night Zeno and I got dinner at Yummi House. I got curry seafood risotto. It was 6 different kinds of tasty. We also got these delicious desserts that were real fruit that had been hollowed out, frozen and filled with a light ice cream. It was so fruity and refreshing and not too sweet. I am definately going back in the summer.

-I am happy because I think I have a better sense of how to fill up a class now. Not once so far this semester have I run out of stuff to do in a class period. I know the kind of questions to ask so I can make class discussions last longer and I always have a backup plan just in case. It's a good feeling.

-Tonight Zeno and I are going to make dumplings. I am super excited about this. I am finally going to make dumplings from scratch!

-I have been called cute 4 times today (all online) and it's not even noon! :-)

-Tomorrow Zeno and I are going to help with the River of Hearts Charity again (remember that sorting/packing of clothes thing I did in like...November?) and then I am taking her out for dinner at the DongBei restaurant for her birthday. Yum.

-Instant coffee and a little bit of hot chocolate make a delicious midmorning treat.

That's all for now!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The New Three Musketeers

Last night me, Isabelle and Lucy went out again. Ladies night at the Bulldog Pub. Free drinks all night! Whoo! Yes I am aware it was a school night. I was home and in bed my midnight. :-P
Also it should be noted that hats are super awesome. See below evidence.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


I have a new student in one of my classes and he is possibly made of awesome.

His English is excellent, but that's not the reason I like him. He is very creative and has a fun sense of humor.

Remember how I said I gave a lecture of X-Men so they could practice taking notes? His notes are hilarious.

Here are some of the reasons why:

-He drew a sketch of Wolverine and under his special powers he wrote "super sense, super healing, super hairstyle"
-Wolverine also has a note that says "pointy claws" and an arrow pointing at his claws
-Under Mystique and next to the word "shape shifter" he drew a picture of a person turning into a cow
-Under Iceman he wrote "good for picnics"
-And my personal favorite? All over the notes he has little sketches of Nightcrawler next to a cloud that says "poof" as though he just teleported there. Two pages later in his notes, at the bottom of the page that has his X-Men summary is another little Nightcrawler and another little *poof*.

I seriously want to photo copy his notes and keep them.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Weekend Burnout

I apparently put all my weekend-ness into Friday night and then spent the other two days being a bum...

After work on Friday I got a knock on my door from Chris and the other foreign teachers. They were going to (drum roll please) Blue Frog! Anyone sensing a pattern here?

I already had plans with Isabelle and Lucy but those plans weren't until later so I headed out with them. Chris was kind enough that after he used his electric bike to drop Becky off, he swung back and got me. If I sign on for another year I am so going to get one of those things. Chris said the ones that are more like bikes and less like motorcycles can go for around 1,200RMB or like $180.

I had a cup of soup to stave me off until my late dinner, and some mojitos. Yum. When I left they were still hanging out, but I didn't want to be late to meet the girls. Isabelle scared the CRAP out of me by sneaking up behind me and grabbing me while I was waiting in the subway. Our plans were to go to Adobo, a Mexican restaurant in the French Concession. Lucy's plane was delayed so she was going to meet us there. When Isabelle and I got there, the place was PACKED. Apparently there was a joint birthday party going on. I can't remember the last time I heard that much Spanish! The kitchen was apparently closed so Isa and I turned around and went to what was going to be our second stop of the evening, "The Spot". After looking over their huge menu (seen below)...
Isa decided to get some sort of Thai spicy salad and I got a Greek Feta Pita Burger. The only weird thing about my burger was that they took the pita bread and cut it in half so that it was literally being used like a bun. I had a disc of pita that far extended the size of my burger both below and balancing on top of the patty. Once I stripped away the excess (to be used later for soup dipping) it was DELICIOUS. Lucy showed up just as we were finishing eating. We got our one free Ladies Night drink at the Spot but then decided to try and head back to Adobo to see if the crowd had thinned out a bit.

It had not. The same amount of people were there...and now they were drunk! Whoo! We talked to a waiter who agreed to let us pay 50RMB each and have whatever we wanted from the bar until 1AM. That was INSANE. When we went out to Sin I had to pay 70RMB for one mojito. We helped ourselves to shots of tequila (with salt and lime slices of course) and beer. After midnight things started to get really crazy and the drunk bartender literally started just pulling alcohol off the wall and pouring it into cups that people put in front of him. It was like being at a college party all over again.

The people were tons of fun. We were welcomed into their joint birthday party instead of treated like outsiders. We are even in the HUGE group picture that got taken about an hour after we arrived. We were taught how to say cheers in Spanish, we chatted and danced and then we watched in bemused horror as the birthday boy and girl were each presented with a cake and then immediately had their faces shoved into them. Which then turned into cake wrestling on the floor. Between that and spilled drinks the floor was sllippery as an ice rink.

Here is one picture from Friday night at Adobo that I mostly posted cuz a) we look silly and b) I finally wore that shirt mom got me for Christmas and I wanted her to see.
I was quite tired after that, but Lucy had heard about Shanghai Studio and wanted to go so we headed off. When we got there, we sat at a table for a minute before my favorite spot opened up. It's this low table with curtains around it and pillows to sit on/lean against. It speaks to the kid in me that misses building forts. Isa and I hung out there chatting and fighting off sleep while Lucy went dancing and socializing. Soon after we got yelled out for a waiter cuz he thought we actually had fallen asleep...doh! What party animals are we, huh? After that the club was starting to thin out so we all headed home.

After going to FOUR restuarant/clubs/bars on Friday night I was ready to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing. I slept late on Saturday then cleaned out my entire sinkful of dishes. Uck. I realized I hadn't played guitar in a very long time so I tuned YingLong up and rocked out for a bit. I learned how to play "Fear You Won't Fall" by Joshua Radin and I think it's my new favorite song to play on the piano. I also headed out to New York Pizza for dinner and got a four cheese white pizza that was quite tasty and made leftovers for Sunday.

Sunday I had to do correcting and lesson plans. My brain can't seem to concentrate lately so it makes it hard to focus and get stuff done at work. Which sadly means that I have to do work at home. Becky, the Canadian woman who has actual teaching experience, gave me some advice at the beginning of the year. One piece of advice was to stay as late as you had to so that you didn't have to bring work home with you. She said eventually doing that would just wear you down. I agree. Here's hoping my brain has restarted enough so that I can focus in the office now.

Sunday night I started to feel ill. I was supposed to have a video chat with my parents but that ended up not happening. I tried to fall asleep early. My dreams (nightmares?) were AWFUL. Every single one of them involved me throwing up. By the time I woke up I wasn't certain whether or not I HAD puked (I did not). I still don't feel 100% but I feel better now.

Well, Imma try to focus on work now so I can get my stuff DONE.

Much love!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Cookies and Crabcakes

So these pictures are kinda random. I am just taking pictures off my camera and sorting stuff and I thought I would post them.

These are some no-bake cookies that Emily sent me the recipe for. I used the chunky peanut butter that Ali sent me. These cookies were pretty freakin' tasty. I made them as a thank you for Yuki's dad for picking me up at the airport. Since he never ended up picking me up at the airport I ended up eating some of them and giving the rest to Ned. The recipe was easy and if anyone wants it, let me know.
These crabcakes were another try at cooking something new in my kitchen aka hotplate. Dave had posted in his blog about crabcakes and then I was watching an episode of friends where they talked about crabcakes. Made me start craving them. The "recipe" was really me just having a go mixing some stuff together. Crab meat, pieces of bread, egg, some seafood seasoning...after frying them up in some butter and garlic they were really tasty! I'll have to make them again sometime.
I've been keeping an eye online for more tasty recipes that don't involve having an over. I found a recipe called "HolyCrapTheseAreAmazing Cookies" that looks even easier than the cookies pictured here. I also found a recipe for Meatloaf in a Mug that sounds easy enough. I might give it a try if I get brave. :-P

Knitting Update Five

First off, Happy Birthday Mama-San! :-)

I am a bit behind in my knitting updates. I got some squares mixed up but I am about 95% sure I got it all figured out. For some reason blogger is being stupid and even though I rotated and saved these pictures in the correct position three times, they still have half the pictures flipped one way and half the other. Bah.

First off, we have this square from Sabrina and Mike. I worked on it while I was on the plane both heading home for my visit and on the way back.
This is the first square I finished after my trip back to Shanghai. It's from Alice Powers at Kamatics.
This square is kinda special because I knit it on my trip to Harbin. It's from Emanuela from my mom's work.
And this square is from Auntie Bonnie. The colors in the yarn look so much better when I take the pictures in sunlight. I should do that from now on.
I am currently knitting up a square with yarn from Emily G.


Thursday, 19 February 2009

Where Are Your Notes?

Today in class I had my students write me a summary on the lecture about X-Men I gave them a couple days ago. In the class I just got out of I have two students who always talk to each other and never pay attention. So even though I gave them plenty of clues like "you should take notes now" and "you will need these notes later" I could clearly see them not paying attention.

So today when I told them to start writing the summary, I walked over to the two of them after the other students bent their heads over their notebooks to write. I addressed one student;

Me: Where are your notes? (even though I KNOW he wasn't taking notes in the last class)
Student A: In class downstairs. (Surrrrrrrre)
Me: Did you take notes?
Student A (pointing to the student next to him): I copied his notes.
Me (to Student B): Where are your notes?
Student B: I didn't take notes.

*cue brain exploding*

I don't want to waste my time and energy on students who aren't even going to try, but at the same time I don't want to just ignore them. For one thing it distracts the students who actually are trying to pay attention and for the other I don't want to abandon them if they just need a little encouragement. And oy yeah...I'm obsessive and don't like to give up.

Ah well. I really should focus on the good students and good classes. Yesterday's morning class with Class B was so good I twirled around the room after my students left I was so happy. Everyone was taking notes and paying attention. I had students who normally don't even pay attention asking questions and everyone seemed really interested.

Well, as per usually I should run to make my lesson plan. Seems thats what I'm doing 80% of the time.

Much love,

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Stressed Out Kids

So I am nearly finished correcting the holiday homework (60 students...5 pages of writing each? That's a lot to read!)

Mostly it's been enjoyable reading. Some went on cool trips, others wrote really interesting stories, some just told me about their day. I like learning more about them. My students are cool people.

I noticed a strange trend while I was correcting. First of all, MANY of my students took TOEFL or similar English Language classes over the break. I can't imagine how I would feel if my parents had made me take classes during my winter holiday when I was in high school. I am all for working hard but people need to take a break now and then.

Anyway, I think I mentioned in this blog that we did a section on dreams and what different dreams symbolize last semester. Some of my students therefore decided to write about dreams they had. To me it looked like case after case of stress and being overworked, reflected in their subconscious.

One student dreamed that as she tried to come back to school there was nothing but huge stairs that she had to struggle to climb. She got so scared that she ran away. Another dreamt that he was being chased around school and he didn't know what was following him but he knew he just had to keep running. Another dreamt she was taking her TOEFL test and the test sheet was blank so she didn't know what questions to answer.
These are just the dreams I remember off the top of my head. I know there were more, and not every student even talked about dreams.

I don't know why I felt like talking about this other than I think it would be an interesting study to look at the dreams of stressed out students.

In other news I am teaching my students some note taking skills and to help them practice what I taught I gave them a sample lecture.

About X-Men. Aww yeah.


Monday, 16 February 2009

Valentine's Weekend

So my weekend started Friday night with me doing my best to stay up until midnight. I think I can safely say I am totally over my jetlag now. It only took a week. Saturday I had plans to meet up with Isabelle for brunch. We both ended up getting big salads (mine was a warm spinach salad...yum) and mango smoothies. Then we went back to my apartment and knitted for about 300 hours. Ha. We listened to some CDs and watched some Friends and chatted and knitted. We left my apartment around and met up with Lucy and her friends around 9pm.

We met at a bar called Bluesroom. When we got there Lucy and her friend Audrey were already there. Then her friend Lynn showed up. Then randomly a friend of Audrey's showed up with three friends of his own. This was the whole group at Bluesroom.
The three guys are Eddie, a concert master violist man whose name I sadly forgot, and Jonathan. The girls from left to right are Audrey, Lynn, Lucy, me and Isabelle. Do you like the scarf Isabelle is wearing? That was a birthday present from me! She gave me a birthday present this weekend too. It was kind of perfect. The two times we hung out before we ate cheese, listened to CDs and knitted. Her birthday present was two burned CDs, a bag of yarn, and some cheese!

Anyway, after Bluesroom we walked to this bar called Sin (don't you just love ridiculous bar names?). Apparently it was free drinks for ladies until midnight but we didn't get there until about 12:15. Alas! Once Lucy sends me the pictures from that club I will have to post one. Sin had these couches with HUGE flowery backs. would look at it and think Louis XIV had designed it. We met up with some other friends of Lucys there. We had some drinks, did some dancing and lots of chatting. I got home around 3. I had one of my cheapest late-night cab rides back and I think it was because the driver didn't know where he was going. I had to direct him where to go and I took him on a back route. Go me!

Sunday I slept late, did some lesson planning, grading and cleaning. I met Lucy for dinner and a show. June had given me these tickets on Friday for a show at the Shanghai Circus called "Era: Intersection of Time". It's supposed to be a big famous show. It's really mostly aimed at tourists but I figured "Hey! Free tickets!" It ended up being a pretty cool show. There was a lot of acrobatic/Chinese show standards. Contortionists, a big guy throwing around vases, tossing bowls and balancing them on your head, jumping through weren't allowed but I found this picture online from the show.
One of my favorite acts, and one that surprised me, was the classic American circus act "motorcycles in a big round cage". I didn't expect to see that in a Chinese circus. It was kind of insane. At one point there were 7 motorcyclists going at breakneck speed in the one cage.

Lucy's favorites was the aerial dancing with the couple holding on to long white sheets of cloth. This is also a picture from the show.
Yes. That woman is flying up in the air with nothing to support her but her partner's neck. There was no net, no safety harness. It was very graceful and breathtaking. After that I headed back to my apartment, corrected more homework and went to bed.

EDIT: While I was writing this post, Lucy sent me her pictures. Here is Isabelle, Lucy and Me in one of those ridiculous couches. Isabelle and I talked about sneaking one out when we left, but I guess we forgot.
Now it's Monday and I'm back in school. :-P

Anyway, sending love!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Wanna take a trip?

So if anyone was thinking of visiting me/checking out China but thought that the idea of a $1,200 flight was a bit much, I stumbled upon THIS when I was checking out a Shanghai website.

3880 RMB round trip NYC to Shanghai?? That's only $570! Less than HALF of what my round trip ticket here cost me. Jeez.

Of course I am not 100% sure if it's true and you would need to check out the details, but City Weekend is a good website/magazine and checks their sources to prevent scams.

Anyway. Thought that was cool.

*goes back to drinking cheap instant coffee*

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Valentine's Day Themed Class

First off, I really like being back in the office. My office mates are all really nice and plus everyone is so generous and likes to share stuff. I've only been back since Sunday and I already got 4 different kinds of candy from Beijing, a little cake from Taiwan, some beef jerky, something called "fish candy" (which I only had one piece of so far), and some sort of prune candy. I try to do my part too. I brought back candy hearts and shared some of my chocolates. Last semester I shared candy corn, smarties, and reeses. I try to just share stuff that people send me, AKA that you can't get here. I mentioned before my big classes are gone, so I see each class three times a week instead of four. The other change this semester is that I am supposed to teach two classes of writing and one of speaking. I think that's a little weird. Last semester it was three classes of "English" and one of writing. Ahh well.

I started doing poetry with my students but they looked bored out of their skulls. They had more fun with today's class. I am doing Valentine's Day themed stuff. First off I had them "translate" a Robert Burns poem from Scottish/Ye Olde type talk to modern day English (ex: "bonnie lass" to "pretty girl"). Then I passed out....CANDY HEARTS!
I gave each group of students a cup of candy hearts, which they were super excited about. I had them write a story using as many of the phrases on the hearts as possible. When they were done, they got to eat the hearts. Yum! They had fun writing and eating.

Last night I had dinner with Charlotte. The plan was to go "somewhere other than Blue Frog" because she was apparently sick of it. As we were heading out we saw Chris, Becky and Adam going to Blue Frog. We ended up going with them. Ha. Later Stephanie showed up too. We swapped vacation stories. Chris and Becky shared with us the worst vacation story I have ever heard. They met a couple that went scuba diving and while they were out their beach hut burned down. That means they lost EVERYTHING except the bathing suits they were wearing. Passports, money, laptops, cameras, clothes...everything. Ugh. After dinner and drinks I went back to my apartment and had a video chat with Rose. :-)

I am surprised how fast my first week back went by. I have a stack of holiday homework from my students to read this weekend. I have plans for Saturday brunch and knitting with Isabelle and then possibly a night out dancing and drinking with Lucy and her friends. And I seriously need to clean my apartment. I haven't even been back for a full week! Why do I have a sinkful of dirty dishes and a messy floor!?

Happy Valentine's Day if I don't post until after then.


P.S. I was eating the little cake from Taiwan while I was posting. It looked like cornbread but it was filled with a sweet pineapple filling. Delicious!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Back in School!

So I am feeling much better now, just so you know. :-)

First of all I got some nice gifts while I was away. Zeno sent me a postcard and card from England. June got me these lovely Celtic knot earrings. Jane got me English Breakfast tea. The older woman in my office got me a purse with like 5 little purses inside. One of my students got me a key chain from Hawaii that has my name in Hawaiian. Plus lots of candy from different places. I also got a crank pencil sharpener shaped like a cow as a thank you present for judging the drama contest at the primary school about a month ago.

I put the picture frame from from Liz and the small stuffed frog from Rose on my desk so it feels even more homey.

I didn't realize how much I missed my coworkers and students until I saw them again. I just had my first class back and it was very laid back. One of my students who usually never pays attention talked a lot. I take it all as a good sign for the semester.

OH! And remember when I said that some of my classes were being taken away for another teacher? They took away my two whole class periods. The two periods every week where I had to teach all of class 1 and all of class 2. YAY! I hated teaching 30 students at once. I felt really outnumbered and more nervous. I couldn't move the desks around or really get a conversation started. I am SO HAPPY that they took those two classes away.

Last night I planned to take a nap from 330 to 6, then wake up and eat some dinner and stay up until 9 or 10. Instead I slept through my alarm until 1am. I stayed up until 2 and then slept until 6. Wow. Hopefully because of all that sleep I will be able to stay up until a normal bedtime TODAY and be back on China time by tomorrow. Unfortunately I missed dinner at Blue Frog with the other foreign teachers. Apparently they knocked on my door around 6 but I was dead to the world by then.

Anyway, even though not much has happened I wanted to post to let people know I was in much better spirits today. I feel full of vim and vigor. Although that could be the two cups of coffee. ;-)

Much love!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Hello Again Shanghai...

I am back in my apartment in Shanghai after a mostly good visit home.

My grandmother unfortunately passed away a few days after I arrived home. If this sad event had to happen, I am glad that it did when I was home. I was able to say goodbye to her and also turn to friends and family for support.

I also got a horrific cold that cut my trip to NJ short and had me home bound for a couple days. Bah. I am still a congested mess.

Other than that, it was a good trip back. I got time with friends, family and the dogs. Everything I wanted. I ate the foods I missed. I got to drive. Liz and Emily stayed over. There was an open house in which I got to see bunches o' people (including Bonnie, Nate and Beth, which was a nice surprise). I visited Drew (yay seeing everyone at Drew!!) and Burf and Jacob and Stacy's new apartment (along with lotsa B1S2 people). I went out to dinner with Sabrina and my cousin Savannah. I even gave a talk at my old high school. One of my favorite moments was when I was visiting Drew and my Chinese professor called me to tell me to come to class. For a moment I thought, "I did graduate...right?" Turns out she wanted me to talk to her class.

I received a couple of very sweet birthday gifts including a sword, a flask, a picture frame, a cross-stitched birthday card, a bow-tie and a bunch of candy. Hmm...if you look at that list of presents I think it shows my odd personality.

One thing I kept saying to people was that it felt strange to be home didn't feel strange. I lived in another country for five months and had to depend on myself and create a new life and make new friends and learn all about this new job. I've been living in my own apartment for the first time. And in a city for the first time. I spent 5 months away from everything familiar. I felt like I had grown. Like I had changed. And yet...after only one day home I felt like I had never left and I was the same person I always was. Like my time in Shanghai was just some dream I had...

My ride to the airport was fun. I spent most of it chatting with a guy from CT on his way to Scotland. We talked movies, books, and a lot about LOST. At the airport I got myself something to eat with him and then waited for my plane. I apparently fell asleep as soon as I got settled into my seat. I don't remember taxing or even taking off. Wowzers. Unfortunately I woke up about 3 hours into the flight and didn't sleep for more than 20 minutes or so at a time for the rest of the trip. I watched "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", read a knitting magazine and all of the book "Stardust". I also tried not to wake up the woman sitting next to me that fell asleep on my shoulder. I figured one of us might as well get some rest.

It was strange going through customs and getting a taxi. I could remember how scared I was when I did that by myself only 6 months ago. Now it was just routine. While watching the streets signs and buildings pass as I got closer to my apartment, I didn't feel the same feeling of comfort and warmth as I did when I got my first sight of home two weeks ago. But it wasn't scary anymore. It was familiar. And that's something.

After a 4 hour van ride, 5 hours of waiting in the airport, a 15 hour flight and a half hour cab ride, I am a bit awash in feelings. I'm exhausted for one thing. I am already a bit homesick but I think that's because I am focusing on the things I just left behind and haven't yet gotten back to the things I like about Shanghai. And did I mention I was exhausted? Exhaustion makes me depressed. I also have to teach tomorrow and I have no lesson plan or anything. Not being prepared makes me antsy.

Right now I am waiting for the water heater to get cooking so I can take a shower and wash the feeling of travel off of me. Today is supposed to be a work/office day before school starts tomorrow so I am going to go in the office and hopefully someone will give me an idea of the lesson plan for the week so I can prepare.

Now that I am back in Shanghai it feels like home was the dream...

*sigh* Sometimes I wish someone would just come along and make all the decisions for me again like when I was a child.

Much love and hugs,