Monthly Archives: March 2015

Hello There… SOL #20

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Hello there…

I am silly yet serious, friendly and finicky, loving and loquacious.
I keep my word, memories, and a writer’s notebook.
I wish I could live in Sydney, Australia or Inle Lake, Myanmar or Edinburgh, Scotland.
I love goat cheese, a good book, lazy days, traveling the world, challenges, and the anticipation of something new.
I dance more when I’m around my friends, but never very well.
I sing loudly and generally off-key.
I think about where to visit next, about what’s best for kids, and about my family often.
I really love my family and friends and the richness they bring to my life.
I need a massage right now. Good thing I’m planning on one later today.
I should work less and relax more.
I can talk about literacy all day long.
I like familiar routines as well as change, trying new restaurants, swapping funny stories, and writing.
I make friends easily.
I always like to sleep in. Mornings are meant to be eased into… 

Dinner with Linner- SOL #19

Last night, Linner (my nickname for her) and I headed out to Shook, a restaurant in the Swatch Hotel on the Bund, for a fancy Restaurant Week dinner. We both love fine dining, and when we can get it for a cheaper price, we love it even more!

Our first course was the Tomato Basil Bisque with Grilled Cheese “Soldiers.” Giggling as we ordered it, we talked about how we can’t understand why restaurants feel the need to make up names for food like that. They’re mini sandwiches, not soldiers. Just call it what it is. As far as the taste, the soup was really nice, but I personally make better grilled cheese.

Linner with her Espresso Martini…she’s brave drinking so much caffeine at night! Hope she was able to sleep when she got home. 😉

I opted for a Pina Colada, a girly drink where the alcohol taste is masked in sweet goodness. 🙂 Later, my drink would be the idea for a song I would sing whilst walking along the Bund. “Do you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?”…

Our main course was the Pan Roasted Snapper with Potato Puree, Blistered Tomatoes, Cucumber, Fresh Herbs, Ginger, and Tamarind Sauce. First thought was that the presentation was gorgeous. Second thought was what’s all this cilantro doing on my plate? I despise cilantro, and would have noticed that on the menu. Ahhh…it must be the fresh herbs. Luckily, it was just on the top, so I could easily pick it off. After that, the meal was really tasty, but on the smaller size portion-wise.

Our third course, always my favorite, was dessert. Linner had the Lemon Cheesecake with Maple Cranberry Compote, Toasted Walnuts, and Whipped Cream while I had the Coconut Lime Creme Brulee. My creme brulee was perfectly done, with that crispy sugary coating you have to hit just right with your spoon to get into the creamy custard beneath. We shared both, as we sipped our cocktails and shared stories.

Linner is one of those friends who will always be there for you. Whether we’re getting together to swap funny stories, laugh at the happenings of the week, and reminisce about the past, or we’re supporting one another through a tough time, she’s a sweet, loyal, dear friend.

Tonight’s conversation was light and fun, filled with stories. We remembered the time she got the nickname Linner, and how she hated it every time I called her that….until I was relentless and she gave in, accepting that, to me, she was no longer Linnea, but the less beautiful-sounding Linner. I playfully call her ‘Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner.’ Secretly, she loves it. We also recalled the time I changed her boyfriend’s name in her phone to ‘Dee my lover’…haha, she was so mad about that one because she couldn’t figure out how to change it back. It stuck until she finally was able to change it a few days later. We talked about the time in Seoul, on vacation together, when I realized that Linner was not to be messed with in the morning. Taking pictures of bed head is not her idea of fun…haha. I’ve realized that throughout our friendship, I pick on her, but she’s a good sport and we’re still friends. 🙂 She’s the nicer one of the two, for sure!

After I passed the fifth woman taking ‘glamour shots’ on the Bund, I decided to take some myself…haha! I love being in China…you can be completely silly and it’s no big deal! 🙂

My favorite selfie of the night…Linner with her serious face and me with my silly one! She’s definitely a friend for a lifetime. Love you Linner!! 🙂

Be Yourself- SOL #18

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“Be yourself. If you water yourself down to please people or to fit in or to not offend anyone, you lose the power, the passion, the freedom, and the joy of being uniquely you. It’s much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.” ~Dan Coopersmith

I find that being yourself is both easy and difficult to do. In one way, it’s easy to own who you are- your likes, dislikes, interests, quirks, failures, successes, and more- but in another way, it’s difficult to be yourself, to show the world who you are, warts and all, when everybody is watching you and critiquing you. But when you change who you are to please others, are you really fooling anyone? Are you able to make genuine connections if who you’re portraying yourself to be is an altered version of yourself? In the end, those people who you’re trying to impress or not offend won’t be there. The people who really matter will, and they’re the ones who love you for who you really are. So be yourself. Stop pretending. You’re unique- own it.

Broken Chinese + Charades- SOL #17

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Ring, ring, ring…”Ni hao,” I said as I answered the phone that’s connected to the front door of my apartment building. I had just ordered dinner, and although it seemed too soon for my food to be here, I was hopeful.

A frantic voice on the other end began shouting something in Chinese, desperate to get me to understand what he was saying.

“Sherpa’s ma?” I questioned, wondering if this was my food delivery guy.

More shouting, without confirmation that my food was here.

Thinking that maybe this guy just needed in the building, I pushed the key to let him in. About a minute later, there was a knock at my door. Opening it, I found a security guard yelling in Chinese about something, but I had no clue what he was trying to say.

“Shenme?” I asked, like even if he told me what was going on, I’d actually understand.

At this point, the Chinese was accompanied by charades. I got that he was talking about a bicycle or e-bike by the handlebar gestures.

“Yes, I have a bike,” I said as I nodded, wondering if he was trying to tell me that my bike needed to be moved or that it had been stolen.

Then, he began making the “crazy” gesture, you know the one, where you spin your finger around and around near your ear. Alternating between charades for a bike and crazy, I was so confused. My bike is crazy? You think a crazy person stole my bike? I’m crazy for having a bike?

Realizing he wouldn’t leave, I put on shoes and a coat and followed him downstairs. Once outside, I pointed to my bike, letting him know it was, in fact, still there. And nope, it didn’t look crazy to me. Another security guard joined the party, pointing in the opposite direction, yelling something I couldn’t understand. I continued pointing to my bike saying, “Wo de.” Mine.

Then I heard it. The annoying sound of a bike alarm blaring, over and over. Ohhhh…they thought the bike alarm incessantly going off was mine. The crazy gesture must have had something to do with the sound (or was it that they were going crazy because of it? :)).

Realizing that he called me outside for nothing, I was waved off with a “Dui bu qi.” Sorry.

“Mei guanxi.” No worries. It happens.

And this is why I really should learn more Chinese.

 

A Slice About Not Slicing- SOL #16

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This is my fifth year to join the Slice of Life Challenge. In 2011, I sliced, but not every day, and I was OK with that since I was a newbie. During my second year, I sliced every day- all 31 days- and felt really good about it! It was tough, but the fact that I proved to myself I could do it was really rewarding. I continued my 31-day streak in both 2013 and 2014, and was excited to once again finish strong, with a perfect 31/31 record. But, I messed up.

Let me start from the beginning. Prior to the start of the Challenge, I was going through a lot and knew that this commitment might be hard to keep, but I was determined not to let anything get in the way. I sliced through some really tough days, and it came out in my writing. I guess you can say I wrote through the pain and, while therapeutic, there were days I wasn’t sure I’d have time to slice, but I powered through anyway. Then, on day 11, the fog started to clear and I was starting to get back to the old me. My slice was about just that, getting back to who I am and seeing the positive side again.

Well…day 12 came along and I took a beating. I looked for a positive aspect that day, some sliver of something good to slice about, but nothing came. I couldn’t write about something negative right after I’d just posted this “everything’s gonna be alright” post, could I? I decided to sleep on it, and write about something in the morning (being in China and 12 hours ahead means I can technically post 12PM-12PM, so halfway between days), figuring that something would happen to give me an idea to write about. From the time I got to school, it was nonstop! I actually had a really good day, full of slice ideas, but it wasn’t until after lunch, when my Head of School asked me to take a quick walk down the block to buy a Coke, that it hit me. He asked me, “So, how’s your writing coming along?” Really great, I told him, suddenly remembering I still needed to slice for yesterday. Glancing at my phone, I realized it was nearly 1PM. Man! I just missed the deadline to post today! Surprisingly, I didn’t feel defeated then, but it’s been weighing on me ever since, bothering me every time I slice and my SOL# in my title is one less than the date. I know I need to forgive myself and not be so hard on myself, but I made a commitment to slice 31 out of 31 days, and I failed. Writing about it has helped, and it isn’t the end of the world. I’m looking forward to next year, when I’ll once again slice all 31 days!

One of Those Mornings- SOL #15

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You ever have one of those mornings where things don’t always go as planned? Of course you have! Everyone has them from time to time. Well today was one of those mornings for me! I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed, despite the fact that I went to bed early. I was soooo tired! I finally peeled myself out of the bed at the last possible second that I knew would give me just enough time to get ready for work.

All was going ok, and I got to work just before 7:45, but when I reached into my bag to swipe my card into the building, I realized I didn’t have my lanyard, the one with my badge and keys! With the warmer weather today, I switched to a lighter jacket, forgetting that I put my lanyard in my coat pocket yesterday when I left school. Ugh! Now I can’t get into my office. My office that contains my computer and notebook and everything I need to function at work today. Scrambling around, I tried to find someone with an extra key. Since this being a new building that we just moved into last week, the systems and people to go to aren’t all ironed out yet. Frazzled, I cancelled my 8 o’clock and headed out the gate to run home and grab my lanyard. Just when I got outside, someone told me that the guards have a key. Whew!

The guard, shaking his head, turned around to head upstairs to sift through his keys and find the one that would open room 304A. While I don’t have my badge, I am happy I was able to get into my room. 🙂 Hoping the rest of the day is better!

Birthday Lunch- SOL #14

Even though her birthday isn’t until next weekend, the two of us celebrated today. Michelle has been with me since 2010 when I first moved to Shanghai. She and I are colleagues and friends, and I wanted to spend some quality time- just us- for her birthday. It’s Restaurant Week in Shanghai right now, so I booked us a table for lunch at Porcini, a restaurant in the Radisson Blu hotel in Pudong. After a starter of spicy bread, we enjoyed a lovely 3-course meal.

I had the carrot ginger soup with herb croutons and crab meat. Even though I’m not a big fan of ginger, the soup was really tasty! 🙂

For my main course, I had the Mackerel with a creamy caper sauce and spinach risotto. The fish was okay, but I was a little turned off by the skin and bones left in it. I picked at it a little bit. The risotto was nice though. My drink was a Fun Calypso, their take on a pina colada, sans rum.

For dessert, I had the New York cheesecake. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was creamy and tasty. The strawberries were a nice complement. After dessert, we had a nice conversation, catching up on what’s new in our lives. I’m not sure how much time I have left to spend with Michelle, but I’ll definitely miss her when we no longer live in the same place!

As we were leaving, we found this random thumb statue…kinda weird, but we (well, I) couldn’t resist a thumb selfie! 🙂