Monday, 27 April 2009

An International Day

Saturday was a day like any other. I woke up in my Chinese apartment and got dressed in my clothes which were made in Sri Lanka. I decided to wear a necklace from Cyprus that was given to me by a friend who is currently in South Korea and the matching ring that was given to me by a friend living in Scotland. I read a little bit of Misery and then marked my place with a bookmark from Venice.

I had a late lunch of some food I got at the French supermarket down the street. I packed up my purse that I bought in Beijing. I thought about wearing my Irish cap or my Quechua jacket, but decided I would be warm enough without them. I went to the Shanghai Grand Theater (the same place I went last week to see a Japanese composer perform and the same place I am going next week to see an American orchestra play) with some co-workers. We watched Swan Lake performed by a Russian Ballet troupe. During intermission, one co-worker called her fiancee living in the UK and the other told me another story about when he used to live in Ghana.

Afterward I had a quick American cheeseburger and walked to a bar that my German friend was bartending at. I ordered a drink made with Puerto Rican Rum. I met and chatted with two girls from Switzerland, a half Taiwanese girl from Texas, and a man from Australia. I also met a Chinese man whose English name was Shakespeare who was wearing a chipmunk costume. I took a quick picture with my Japanese camera.

Around 3 am I very tiredly headed home in a cab (a VW). I changed into some sweatpants I got at a French sports good store, set the alarm on my Swedish made cell phone and went to sleep.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I need to have my final decision about whether I am going to sign on for another year or not by May 3rd. This is driving me crazy. I don't know what to do.

I am making a list of reasons to stay and reasons to go. Feel free to add your own or to give me advice because I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Reasons to Stay
-I'll be getting a raise (nothing special, but a raise)
-My Chinese hasn't improved and I won't feel good coming home until it has
-I'd rather stay too long than feel I ran away for a challenge or had unfinished business
-It's a horrible time to be looking for a job in the US right now
-I still don't know what kind of career I want to pursue to staying would give me time to think and also time to see if I could really do teaching in the long haul
-I have a good job with a good boss and great co-workers
-I still really want to travel around Asia more and staying would give me that chance
-When else in my life will I have the chance to leave everything behind and live in a foreign country?
-I like my apartment and the area I live in
-I'll be home this summer so I'll have time to visit people before coming back

Reasons to Go
-This has been a rough year for several reasons and I would like some time home with my family
-I REALLY miss my friends/family/dogs/country
-I have a stupid fear that if I stay here too long it will be hard to rejoin my groups of friends when I get back
-I know it's a silly reason, but I would be really sad missing Revels and Medfest again
-Most of the people I know here (other than co-workers and Lucy) are leaving in June, so I would be back to nearly no friends here in September
-I miss swordfighting and all other things Medieval/Rennisance, and I just can't do that stuff here
-My parents found a masters teaching program in CT and I also got an e-mail today that Drew has a one year masters teaching program too...
-The good days of teaching are AWESOME, but the bad days SUCK
-Did I mention how much I miss everyone from home?

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Impossible is Nothing!

Dear Adidas,

I like your products, but I have a bone to pick with you.

Stop teaching my students bad grammar. Please.

I am so tired of hearing debates/correcting tests/reading homework and stumbling across "Impossible is nothing!". I cringe. I groan. I cry. A little piece of me dies inside.

Please make it stop.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Heather in Shanghai!

This weekend was PACKED. I had about zero down time.

Friday night I went to a concert...sort of. The school had some free tickets to a rehearsal for a concert with a famous Japanese conductor. I headed over to Puxi with Zeno after work on friday and went to our seats. It was kind of cool since it was a rehearsal a lot of the performers in the orchestra were wearing street clothes and the conductor looked like he was wearing sweatpants. They played two main pieces, one by a composer I didn't know and one by Beethoven. I really missed hearing live classical music and they played very well. After the concert I went out to dinner with June and Luo (the principal of the high school). Friday night I cleaned my apartment so I would be ready for Heather's visit.

Saturday morning I went to work. Jane had asked me earlier in the week if I would mind helping to interview the candidates for next year's class. I agreed. I was in the office from about 8am to a little after noon interviewing the candidates and giving them scores. It was surprisingly exhausting. I had lunch with some coworkers and had a VERY short nap before I trekked for nearly two hours to get to Heather's hotel (it was further then I thought it was). We hung out at her hotel for a while catching up. She showed me her chainmail. Then she packed an overnight bag and we met up with Isabelle at the DongBei restuarant.

I took charge of ordering at dinner for once (I usually don't like making decisions). We got a variety of dumplings, a chinese style pancake, gubaorou (crispy sweet and sour pork), rice with millet, lamb kabobs, a vegetable dish with eggplant, peppers and potatoes and of course some Harbin beer. We also had candied apple dumplings for dessert.

After dinner we went back to my apartment to drop stuff off and then went out to the Cloud Nine Bar. The Cloud Nine Bar is on the 87th floor of the JinMao tower (seen below).
It was kinda cool to be so high up (you have to take THREE different elevators to get to the bar!) but it was otherwise unimpressive. The drinks were WICKED expensive. Heather got a can of coke that cost 60RMB. At Family Mart you can get a can of coke for about 3RMB. Yeesh. I figured I was there, I might as well get one of their specialty drinks. I got a "Unicorn" just so I could say I had a drink called a unicorn. It also sounded tasty since it had Bailey's and other deliciousness. It was not worth the price. At least now I have been to the Pearl Tower and the JinMao Tower. Now I just need to go to the Financial Center and I'll have the three giants of the Pudong skyline crossed of my "to do" list.

After that Heather and I walked to the river so we could see the Bund all lit up. Just when we were about to the river's edge we saw all the lights on the other side turn off. I was rather miffed. Heather seemed to be amused. We went back to my apartment and watched my X-Men Origins bootleg and went to bed.

Sunday morning I made us pancakes for breakfast (Heather is another friend that has been abroad for a long time so no one is allowed to judge us for enjoying a little western food!). After that we went to the Science and Technology museum. I have been to the mall under the museum MANY times. I have been to the subway stop outside the museum MANY time. I have been to the park next to the museum TWICE. This was my first time actually going into the museum. It was pretty interesting. I was very sad because they had listings for different I-MAX 4D shows. One was about PIRATES. And it was staring Leslie Nealson and Eric Idle. But it was only in Chinese. I probably would have gone to see it anyway if I was alone but I didn't want to make Heather sit and watch something she didn't understand at all.

We started with the "Animal Wing" which was stuffed animals in "lifelike poses".
We also walked through a fake rainforest.Here's me and Heather in front of a fake waterfall. We were both wearing Irish caps, which was funny. Tourist groups in China often wear the same color hats so they can find each other easier. So we were a tour group of two.I thought this was pretty cool, what your arm would look like if you just saw the veins and arteries and such.In the lobby there is a big whitish-gray sphere and I have no idea what it's purpose was. Heather decided it was "science" which made me crack up for about an hour. Here is Heather pointing at "science".After the museum we had some dinner. I got us some shengqianbao and xiaolongbao, some of my favorite Shanghai foods. Then Heather packed up her bag and we went to her hotel to drop off her bag with her group. Then we tried to get a taxi for a half hour so we could get to Shanghai Circus World.

It was awful. The rain was pouring down. We tried to get a taxi in front of the hotel and people kept shoving in front of us. We tried walking down the street and catching one at the corner but there were already a lot of people there trying to get taxis and even the ones with their lights on weren't stopping. I was slowly but surely turning into the grump. I HATE BEING LATE. It makes me so uncomfortable. I had booked us tickets for the show and the woman said to be there at 7pm to get the tickets in time for the show at 7:30. We arrived at the hotel at 6:40 and even if it had taken us 10 minutes to get a taxi we would have been fine since the circus was nearby. Instead it got later and later and later. It was after 7 and we were still standing in the rain with no taxi. I was feeling so angry and guilty. I thought for sure they were going to give our tickets away and we were going to miss the show the last night Heather was in Shanghai.

We finally got a taxi and ended up arriving at a minute or two after 7:30. We ran from the taxi to the door (we were in such a rush Heather left my umbrella in the taxi...oh well). Luckily our tickets were still on hold. We missed the very beginning of the show and got escorted to our seats in the dark.

It was the exact same show as I saw last time with Lucy, but I didn't mind going again. We got better seats this time and it was fun watching Heather's reactions especially since I knew what was coming up next.

After the show was done we headed out. There was an empty taxi driving by and I pounced immediately. We said some quick goodbyes and I sent her off back to her hotel. I realize now that I was a very fast goodbye for someone I hadn't seen in a year and might not see again for a long time, but I was just so excited to see an empty taxi. I didn't want Heather to have to wait in the rain for another 45 minutes. I took the subway back and walked for about a mile towards my apartment, trying to get a taxi the whole way. I finally got one.

I started writing this post yesterday so now my time sense is all messed up so I think I am going to wrap this up with picture proof that I am too tall for China. The sign says "Watch Your Head" and I am wedged underneath. Oh dear.
Much Love,

Monday, 20 April 2009

Package From Elysse/Julia

Elysse sent me a package of awesomeness. It included a pretty ring from Cyprus, Cadbury creme eggs, scotch whiskey, an awesome drawing, a stuffed haggis, hand spun wool and more!

Here are two of my favorite things in the package. First is this picture she drew of our characters from our school's medieval festival in 2007. We were sisters, but I was playing a woman dressing up as a man so she could be a soldier, so she called me her sbrother. Her name was Julia and mine was Joseph(ine). Tom is in the bottom of the picture all bruised and scratched up because we beat him up on the living chessboard.
Just to show you how awesome Elysse is, here is a picture of the three of us that day just for comparison.She also sent me some hand spun wool (that still smells like SHEEP!). To all my knitter friends, if you have an idea for a good pattern with which to honor this fine wool, please let me know!
Also, here is the video of me opening me the package (since Elysse specifically asked). Youtube has been blocked in China for a while so I posted it on facebook instead.

Anyway, thanks to Elysse/Julia and once I travel out to a super secret location and buy super secret gifts, your package will be put in the mail.


Friday, 17 April 2009


We are doing debates next week for oral midterms and I wanted my students to grade each other. I just printed out and cut up a bunch of rubrics.

And I used the PAPER CUTTER.Maybe it's just me but I get full and righteous sense of satisfaction whenever I use one of these. In grade school the paper cutter was a deadly weapon kept well out of reach of all the students (on top of a cabinet if memory serves). In middle school it was kept on the teacher's desk and was NOT TO BE TOUCHED. Even in high school we were supposed to use it for "safety and legal reasons".

But now? I am the teacher. I get to use it. Hehehe.

I am a weird kind of grown-up.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

A Good New!

Watching the mistakes that my students make often shows me just how stupid the English language is sometimes.

In their recent midterm, one of the prompts they could choose was writing a letter to tell a friend about winning a contest.

Many of my students used this phrase in their letters: "I have a good new..."

It took me a second that what they meant was "I have some good news".

It kind of makes sense, though, right? If you have a lot of wonderful things to tell someone you would say:
"I have some/a lot of good news!"
but if you only have one thing to talk about, shouldn't you be able to say:
"I have a good new!"

It's kind of like the eternal question of if you have a bunch of odds and ends and you get rid of all but one...what do you call it?

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Knitting Update, Lucky Seven

I have been obsessed with knitting the past couple of days. (Yeah, ok, what's new...right?)

I'm not exactly sure what started it. I've been flying through some blanket squares since I realized I intended to finish all of them within the year and I only have two months left in the school year. Elysse also mentioned that she might be sending me Scottish wool. And the Spring 2009 Knitty went up recently. I've also been hugely distracted by the Yarn Harlot's blog for the last few days. It got so bad that I told myself I wouldn't even turn on my laptop today at work until I corrected at least 20 midterms. My newest dream is to start spinning my own yarn one day.

Every time I finish a blanket square there is always a tiny amount of yarn leftover. Too much for me to even consider throwing it away, but too little to do ANYTHING with. So I'm trying to be creative with ways to use it up. The first was making a scarf for my mother for Christmas out of all the scraps I had at that point. (I didn't take a picture of it, sorry.) The most recent thing I did was make a guitar strap. I did a similar pattern to the blanket and then felted it and sewed it into a tube. (That was my excitement for Easter, by the way) It's probably not strong enough to hold up the guitar by itself so my plan is to buy a cheap, plain guitar strap when I get home and cover it with this colorful tube.
Isn't it pretty? Yinglong (my guitar) said he liked it very much and wanted me to use it right away. I explained he would have to wait until I got a base strap to use. Then I realized I was talking to my guitar and made sure to leave my apartment and talk to real people.

Anyway, on to what you all actually want to see...the blanket squares!

This first square is made with yarn from Debbie Knapp.
This one is yarn from Alice G. over at Kamatics. This square gets bonus points because it is behaving and uploaded horizontal. Stupid blogspot, why do you keep rotating my pictures??
And the last finished one in this batch is from my Aunt Lynn.
I just have to knit about three more rows on the square that's on my needles right now (from Donna) and then I am moving on to Frank and Flo's yarn.


P.S. OMG I just discovered Wikiknitting! You may not hear from me for a few days...

All Along The Watchtower...

First of all, Lysse, I got your message. I am super excited about a Scotland package and will surely open it with joy and record it for you. For some reason I haven't been able to get on youtube for almost a month now, so I will probably have to try the blogger video or facebook. Please give me more ideas for what to send you! I don't want to buy you stuff that you already have from your trip to China.

I completely didn't mention it in here yet (baaad Stephie), but I got a very very nice pacakge from some of my B1S2 college friends again. There was an adorable card with a picture of an octopus that was saying "If I could hug you with eight arms without totally freaking you out, I would". The package was this cute blue Snoopy holding a box of chocolates. The box of chocolates was viciously stolen from me by chocolate gnomes! Send more chocolates as replacements please! ...Ok I ate them. They were tasty.
THIS is seriously my new favorite song. I just finished watching BSG season three the other night (If anyone tells me who the last Cylon is before I watch season four I will poke you in the eye), and when I heard this song I fell in love. It's a redone version of "All Along The Watchtower". Please someone send me this song or tell me where I can download it.

Last night I went to Ladies Night at Bulldog with Lucy and Isabelle. Lucy had gone on a trip to the Phillipines for break and Isabelle went to Qingdao for the long weekend. They both brought me back keychains. Whee! Meghan showed up again and we all had a few drinks and then I played horrible pool with her. I didn't feel too bad about it since I never play. Meghan said I have a natural talent and with some practice I'd be good, but I think she was either crazy or trying to be nice. There were a few weird moments last night. Lucy said I looked like a school girl. One guy (that we met while playing pool) said I looked like a doctor and another guy (watching us play pool) asked if I was from Scotland. Wha? Huh? I guess that's what I get for wearing an argyle sweater vest...

Leaving the bar Megan and I stoped for munchies from a street vendor making kabobs. I normally don't get street food just to play it safe, but Megan says she has bought from him before. It was very tasty and so far I haven't died so I think I might be safe. We made tentative plans for Megan and her wife Nicole to come over to my apartment for dinner. Yay cooking for guests!

It's midterm week which is both a blessing and a curse. I don't have to actually teach classes and the ones I do have to show up to I just need to make sure the students don't...I dunno...fall out the windows or something. I just watch them study. The drawback is that now I have ANOTHER pile of tests to correct. Dang. At least they are more interesting to read than 60 essays about statistics (last month's test).

This weekend Heather from TMT is going to be in Shanghai with her semester abroad group. We have plans to get together but I'm not sure exactly what we are going to do. I'm looking forward to seeing another person from home.

I think that's about it for news but I have some pictures...sooo...picture time!

I forgot about this picture until I was taking pictures off my camera. It's from my last webchat with my parents. You can see me in the corner!
I meant to show this off earlier. D'Arcy got me this at a sumo match in Japan. It's got all the different sumo fighting moves.
I took this picture on Saturday when I was leaving the park. The sky was FILLED with kites. I thought it was so pretty I took a bunch of pictures. Then I came back to my apartment and realized that all my pretty pictures looked like a big blue nothing filled with rainbow sprinkles. This was one of very few close up pictures I got of kite flying.
And this is what I wore on Monday. I thought I looked cute so I took a picture. I also like it because this is the ONLY dress I own that is from this time period (aka not a Medieval or Renaissance gown). Ha.
That's it for now.

Much love,

Saturday, 11 April 2009


Today was a really good day.

It started off rather lazy. I woke up at 8:30 am and puttered around for a few hours. I listened to some good music, chatted with some wonderful people on line, listened to an audio clip of spring peepers that my mom sent me and played around on facebook. Had a little lunch and a shower and then headed out.

I got a couple snacks (an orange and some sunflower seeds) and a bottle of water and hopped a bus to Century Park. As I was walking from the bus stop to the park there was a weird moment. I was walking through the barrier of people walking around asking if I'm going to the underground market, offering to sell me good stuff for cheap and encouraging me to go to THEIR shop. I was playing the deaf-mute, as per usual, when I realized that the woman walking next to me was not only speaking to me in Chinese, but was calling me "teacher". I then realized she was the shop woman who helped me buy some presents for Rose in early December. She not only remembered me, but she also remembered what I bought. It was weird.

I stayed for hours at the park lying in the sun, munching on sunflower seeds and reading. The feeling of grass under my bare feet was so therapeutic. I finally finished reading Dune. I was sad when the park was closing and I had to leave. I stayed outside the park a little while longer watching the tons of kites in the sky. I then decided to walk around a bit in the direction of home. I stopped to have dinner at a Japanese place (dumplings, squid-on-a-stick and fried rice...yum!) and then caught a cab back to the apartment.

All in all, a good day.


Thursday, 9 April 2009

River of Hearts Pictures

So this is old news, but since I have spent the last few days holed up in my apartment being sick-face I don't really HAVE new news.

I was trying to find a picture of my students and I accidentally found pictures of ME. Do you remember THIS entry where I talked about helping with the River of Hearts again? Well, I was checking out their flickr account when I found two pictures of me. And both were labeled with "Stephanie making sure your bags do not get shipped to Henan". I thought it was sweet that the guy taking pictures remembered my name!

Here you can see me with some adorable bears that Zeno bought.
And in this picture you can see me in my glorified coat-check glory. You can see the small space I had to work with. I feel I should also mention that this was towards the end of the day when a good portion of the people had already left. You can see how many bags and coats are still behind me. It was crazy-go-nuts.
I looked through the whole photo set and couldn't find one with my students in it...grrr.

Tonight I am celebrating my health by going out to dinner with Charlotte. So far I'm not sure what else to do this weekend. Both Isabelle and Lucy are out of town. I suppose that's one problem from having a few good friends...when they are gone, who do you hang out with? I still plan on going out though. After spending about a full week in my apartment I am getting a bit bored (and I have been watching so much Battlestar Galactica that I actually said "frak" the other day).

Next week is midterms, so it'll be an easy week for me with no lessons plans or real "teaching"...until I have to start grading. Blech. At least some of the topics they have to chose from are interesting. That weekend Heather Greco from TMT is going to be in Shanghai. Yay!

I suppose that's all for now. Except to say that yesterday I had a really happy and peaceful moment. After lunch I sat outside in the warm sunshine and ate a delicious pear. It was really nice.


Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Me no feel good.

So Sunday night I went to bed around 2am and woke up at 1:30pm. Had a little lunch and then napped from about 2:30pm to 6pm. Corrected homework and ate dinner and went to bed around 10pm. How is it possible that even though I was only awake for about 5 hours yesterday that I still feel like I ran a marathon? I feel so exhausted and sick and gross and tired. And my brain is NOT ON today.

Luckily I had already decided to play a game with my students today. I set it up like Jeopardy but the questions are from "Are you smarter than a sixth grader?" which Savannah and Lynn got me for my birthday.


This gave me a laugh today. My horoscope on myyahoo page was this: "You should try to explore ideas from a different culture if you can, today -- don't worry, it will be easier than you think. You don't have to polish off your passport and hop a flight to Thailand..."

Umm...I live in Shanghai.

Then end.


Sunday, 5 April 2009

Three Posts In One Day...Oh My.

Apparently when it rains it pours...third post today!

I haven't been feeling too well lately. I blame Isabelle since she was sick and then I got sick. So there. Luckily this is a three day weekend (Tomb Sweeping Festival). Since I went to Hangzhou two weeks ago and Suzhou last week, I am thoroughly enjoying taking it easy this weekend and staying within a three block radius of my apartment. Oh wait...that's not true. I went to Lucy's apartment with Isabelle on Friday night. She made dinner and we spoke only Chinese for about 2 hours.

I have a stack of homework I need to read through that is taller than my 250 GB external hard drive, and I need to plan my lessons for next week. Ah well. At least the week after next is midterms so I'll probably just be showing movies in my class or watching my students study. Wheee.

I got a call yesterday from D'Arcy's friend Erica saying she had missed her flight back to Japan and had no where to stay. So I got a surprise visitor last night. I'm glad I was able to help her out and since her flight was supposed to leave around 5:30 (aka NOW) and I haven't gotten another panicked phone call...I'm guessing she made it.

OH! I almost forgot to mention this. I got an Easter package from my parents. THANK YOU! I was so excited to have a package that I opened 'er right up and forgot to take a video or pictures or anything. I got a Drew calendar (which I hung up at my desk), mayo (on the DAY I ran out...great timing Mom!), a BUNCH of yummy candy (including some maple sugar candy which totally and completely melted into one blob it's way to Chinaland), an egg dying kit (which I have plans to use with Lucy and Isabelle), and some more window decorations! See below:
I (think I) use too many (way too many) parenthesis (like woah, how can you even understand what I'm writing?)(.)

I guess that's all my recent have some more pictures!

Zeno got me these as a present cuz she knows how much I love those stone lions they have outside of a lot of Chinese places. I currently have them guarding my TV.
And I found these in Carrefour. I already tried the Tandoori chicken one, which was very tasty, and the Thai Basil and Garlic Italiano, which was good but not as good as I had hoped. I don't even know what to expect from the Milky Shoyu Butter flavor...I just got it because the other two looked interesting and it was the only one left on the shelf. I went back a couple days later to see if they had any of the Tandoori chicken left and I couldn't find ANY of the Fusion flavors...
Anyway, that's all from me for now. I think I might go get some sushi for dinner.


Suzhou Pictures

I feel like I am playing a lot of catch up recently with these posts...

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from my day trip to Suzhou with D'Arcy, Isabelle and Erica.

Playing around in a funky doorway:
Classic foot picture. From left to right it's Erica (brown boots), D'Arcy, Isabelle, and then me (in the sneakers):
The flowers were so pretty...
This picture happened by accident (unlike me chasing the bee for 10 minutes for that other picture...) but it is my new favorite picture:
It's a hard job carting laowais around all day:
This was attempt number three I think:
I like this one a lot. D'Arcy makes a good model:
At the Master of the Nets Garden:
The links to the rest of my Suzhou pictures are HERE and HERE.

Knitting Update Six

Time for a knitting update!

This square is yarn from Emily Gaudinski.
This is from Kathy Pelky.
This is from Cori Brauer (told you I would get to it eventually, Cor).
And this square is yarn from the Socolosky family.
I am pretty sure the yarn I am working on now is from Debbie Knapp but I'm not 100% sure..

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

April Fools!

Every western holiday that has gone past, I've given my students a crossword puzzle and/or a word search about it (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day). Today was no different.

Although in today's word search, even though I gave them a list of fool-related words like bamboozle, jokester, and zany, the only word they could find in their puzzles was the phrase "APRIL FOOLS"!

Hehee...I've become the corny teacher that everyone has had at least once in their life. I think I'm ok with that.