12.24.2015

Yellow 尴尬

I came along,
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called "Yellow".
-Coldplay

This following is brought to you by the Annals of Foreigners in China.

Three years ago one particularly cold winter, my Aussie friend’s lingering cold turned into pneumonia. An ambulance ride later, she found herself laid up in a hospital bed hooked up to breathing machines. After a while nature was calling--she simply had to go. The nurses told her she could not. There were too many tubes and she needed to rest. Finally, one nurse grew weary of the pleading and begging and told my friend’s husband to buy a bedpan. He did and gave it back to the nurse. After my friend gratefully emptied her bladder, the nurse put the excreta in a clear glass jar and brought it out her husband in the waiting room. Perhaps nurses aren't paid enough to flush people's uh hum down the toilet? As if peeing into a bedpan in front of nurses weren’t humiliating enough, the waiting room was full of concerned friends who got to see the color of my friend’s tinkle.

Thankfully, my friend recovered fully from both the pneumonia and her embarrassment.

Chinese Word of the blog: 尴尬Gāngà
English translation: Embarrassing

Example sentence: 大家都看到我的尿尿。我很尴尬!
Dàjiā dōu kàn dào wǒ de niào niào. Wǒ hěn gāngà!
English translation: Everyone saw my pee. I'm so embarrassed!

12.22.2015

Finger Back 锤状指

Bend my finger back (snap)
Wrap it in a paper towel
Break a twig in half and set it straight
- Vampire Weekend

One Friday some three weeks ago, I had spent the entire morning busy preparing for a lunch party of eight guests. In my usual fashion, I was overly ambitious about what I could make in four hours. Yes, it takes four hours to make vegetable soup, deviled eggs, pumpkin pie, and roasted sweet potatoes. My kitchen lacks time-saving conveniences like a microwave (for now), dishwasher, multiple stove burners, multiple pots, and canned pumpkin. Let’s just say...cooking (like a westerner) ends up taking a long time.

So the clock was ticking and I hadn’t showered or changed out of my pj’s. I decided to skip the shower and make-up and go straight into wearing my skinny jeans. After zipping up and buttoning the fly, I thought, I really don’t want to wear these jeans. I will go with boot-cut flares. I had about fifteen minutes until people were to show up and I still hadn't finished peeling the eggs. Those pants had to come off like NOW. 

But those dang jeans resisted. They hugged my larger than average calves (I blame my Cantonese genes) like caramel on an apple. Irritated, I jammed my hands in between the jeans and my calves. Jeans stubbornly clung on for dear life, but something was strange with my left hand middle finger. The top most joint was stuck in a strange bent position. Not painful, just a little sore.

This injury did not seem to be a dire emergency so I carried on with a very enjoyable lunch with my friends. Soup was good and I had made the best pumpkin pie ever. I mean, good grief, I was only taking off my pants.

All my lunch guests were likewise dumbfounded at my injury. We had recently moved to an insanely filthy apartment, and they speculated that I had over zealously scrubbed the filmy cigarette smoke off every nook and cranny thus weakening my poor middle finger. Maybe I should soak it in hot water--no, maybe ice water? Maybe acupuncture? Nobody had a good answer.

My Chinese friend, Heqing, offered to take me to a nearby clinic that specializes in Chinese medicine (中医). After lunch and everyone but me finished cleaning the dishes, off Heqing and I went. In a typical Chinese fashion in an overcrowded place typical of China, Heqing entered the clinic running from uniformed person to uniformed person, to reception window to reception window, yelling in Chinese until she got an acceptable answer. All right, go to this little room with a doctor. The doctor took one look at my finger and told me, “Go to the hospital emergency room (急诊).” Will I need surgery? He wouldn’t say.

Well, this dreaded day was bound to come sooner or later: the day I would have to go to a Chinese hospital. The place where cheap medical care means sacrificing your dignity and sanity. Where patients are treated more like sick cattle rather than sick people. What can I do? My finger needed help.

Emergency rooms are different in China than the US. In the US, you fill out a form and wait patiently in a waiting room until your name is called. Then you see a nurse who assesses your condition and directs you to an appropriate doctor. Then you get your own room and you stay there until your treatment is over. You might have to leave the room to get an x-ray or something, but you always go back to your room. The doctor and nurses speak to you at soothing volumes and respect your privacy. If you aren't suffering a trauma, I dare say ER visits can be a somewhat peaceful experience.

In China, each medical procedure (x-ray, blood test, body scan, stitches, etc) has its own room or area requiring a separate prior payment and doctor approval. Suppose you go to the ER for an arm injury. The visit might go something like this:

1. Wait in line to register and pay fee.
2. Wait in line to see doctor.
3. See doctor. He sends you to x-ray.
4. Wait in line at register.
5. Pay for x-ray.
6. Go to x-ray room.
7. Wait in line.
8. Get x-rayed.
9. Wait for x-ray. Pick up your x-ray from desk.
10. Wait in line for the doctor.
11. Give the doctor your x-ray. He makes a diagnosis. This doctor may not be the original doctor you saw the first time.
12. You start over with the next step in medical treatment.

You get the picture. 

Thankfully, I had Heqing. A native Beijinger, she knew which hospital to go to and how to get there. Having spent several years living abroad, she knew enough English to translate medical speak to me so I was not completely in the dark. Thanks to her, my dreaded ER visit wasn't all that dreadful.

A thirty minute bike ride later, we entered the Peking University 3rd Hospital (北京大学第三医院) emergency room. And in typical Chinese fashion in a crowded place typical of China, Heqing skirted around the elderly laid up on gurneys or in wheelchairs, running from uniformed person to uniformed person, reception window to reception window, yelling questions in Chinese until she got a satisfactory answer. Then we did the registering, line waiting and x-ray procedure as laid out above.

After looking at the x-ray and asking my nationality, the young doctor assessed that my finger was obviously not broken. Yes, I had to explain what happened. I was changing my clothes when my finger suddenly went askew. If you think that sounds silly in English, imagine how silly it sounds in Chinese. What a crazy foreigner.

The doctor told us to go to another hospital that has a hand specialist. He scribbled some stuff on a piece of paper and sent us off, x-ray and scribbles in hand. Again Heqing was a lifesaver. She understood what the doctor said (I sort of phased out during that part) and she knew how to get there. We hopped in a taxi headed to the renowned Jishuitan Hospital (北京积水潭医院).

This hospital was less busy and more straightforward. Heqing didn't have to run around asking a bunch of questions to an array of people until she got a satisfactory answer. I was just hoping I wouldn't need surgery. I paid the registration fee and went directly to the hand specialist. We only had to wait ten minutes before entering the tall, handsome and gleaming white teethed Dr. Wu's office--who also spoke English. I immediately gave up on speaking Chinese. He promptly diagnosed my finger's condition as屈肌炎. Uh, what's that in English? Unfortunately, Dr. Wu's English wasn't that good, but I understood that my finger ligament was broken (韧带断了). Again, I explained how taking off my pants resulted in this injury. What a crazy foreigner.

Later, I made like Sherlock Holmes and put my internet sleuthing skills to use deducing I have mallet finger. Mallet finger is caused by blunt force trauma, damaging the upper tendon connecting the upper finger bones. I guess my pants and I are equally matched in strength.

Dr. Wu told me I would need to wear a splint continuously for six weeks. Don't take it off or get it wet. Eighty percent of patients with this kind of injury heal in six weeks. If not healed by then, surgery may be required. 

Six weeks of my finger not getting wet? I can't wash my finger? Won't my finger start to stink? How will I wash dishes? This is really going to be a damper in my upcoming Indonesia vacation. I guess surfing is off the board.

Dr. Wu sent me downstairs to the splint making room, where I paid a fee for a young technician to customfit a splint. An hour later, my finger straighted up and buttressed, Heqing and I hailed a taxi and sat in rush-hour traffic back to the first hospital.

In summary, we went to one clinic and two hospitals in about five hours. The total cost came to about 55 USD not including taxi costs (see cost table below).

So for now, I am donning my ever so fashionable splint and getting plenty of poor you looks. BirdMAN has to clean more dishes and I'm making simpler meals. But I'm still wearing my skinny jeans. I am just much more careful about taking them off. One finger injury is enough.

Here's a breakdown costs:












Chinese word of the Blog: 锤状指Chuí zhuàng zhǐ (hammer shape finger)
English Translation: Mallet finger

Mallet finger
Splint Finger

10.31.2015

Happy Meal 吃饭

No one can be happier than me
Happier than me, happier than me
Happier than me
-The Cardigans




This last year I developed a bad attitude-- a bad attitude about Chinese food. It’s oily with a side of greasy. It’s so loaded with MSG and salt that I have to drink a gallon of water. Every restaurant serves the exact same dishes. I can only eat so many noodle bowls.

I guess I was like a Chinese person living in the USA who only eats at Denny’s and McDonald’s. What would he conclude about American food? It’s oily with a side of greasy. It’s so loaded with salt that he has to drink a gallon of tea. Every restaurant serves the same thing. He can only eat so many hamburgers.

Thanks to my generous Chinese friend, my food attitude has been renewed.

She told us where to go and what time to arrive. We rode our bikes to the specified Chinese restaurant. I’ve passed by this particular roast duck restaurant a thousand times and never looked twice. It looks like every other Chinese restaurant-- the exterior beams embellished red, green, blue, and gold looking distinctly like a Chinese restaurant. It's just another Chinese restaurant dishing up kung pao chicken (宫保鸡丁) and xiangyu pork (香鱼丝肉). But this evening proved to be anything but ordinary.

Can I just say... the food was AMAZING. The plates kept coming. Sizzling spicy cauliflower. Salt crusted spicy green beans. Steamed bamboo stalks. Fresh soybeans. A salad made of colorful succulent leaves drizzled with a light and tangy dressing. Then there was the meat. Beijing roast duck eaten like a taco: slivers of fatty meat folded into a paper thin tortilla along with hoisin sauce, scallions, and cucumber. Barbecued fish with a sweet and sour sauce. Beijing style dry beef. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth roasted lamb. Kung pao chicken (a Chinese meal would not be complete without kung pao chicken). And the star of the meal (in my opinion): cumin lamb ribs. Those cumin lamb ribs were the BOMB. I drooled and dreamed about them for weeks afterward.

The company was just as good as the food. Our small dinner party represented all different parts of the globe- we were from England, Germany, Japan, United States, and of course, China. Do you know how amazing that is? All of us speaking Chinese, all of us laughing uproariously. Somehow we all ended up in a small dining room feasting on lamb ribs, roast duck, and sharing our stories-- stories about growing up, learning life-changing knowledge, and how we ended up in a huge, sprawling city speaking one of the most difficult languages to learn.

An amazing evening.

Go ahead ask me, is Chinese food good? Yes! Just stay out of the Chinese fast food joints and eat a meal with me before you judge.

Chinese word of the blog: 吃饭 Chīfàn
English translation: eat


Vegan friendly salad

More lamb ribs puh-lease

Roast duck carved to order

10.17.2015

Cups 拔罐

It's got sights to give you shivers
But it sure would be prettier with you
-Anna Kendrick


Here are some ideas how to beat the common cold:
  1. Drink plenty of fluids
  2. Rest
  3. Load up on Vitamin C
  4. Eat chicken soup
  5. Have your back vacuum sucked into small cups many times all over, leaving an array of circular hickeys.
One recent evening, we went to our favorite massage place to get our muscles pounded to a pulp. As usual, the masseuses were full of helpful suggestions: You need to drink more hot water. You need to exercise more. You need to get massage at least twice month. Your shoulder is too tight so you should get oil massage. Your feet are too dry, so you should get “foot fixing.”*

This particular evening, the masseuse noticed birdMAN’s sniffly nose and said cupping will definitely get rid of that pesky cold (See Dr. Yang).  For only an additional 40 RMB (6.50USD), we again could put Chinese medicine to the test. Will the ancient art of cupping mysteriously release birdMAN from the grips of his bothersome cold?

Soon birdMAN was prone on his stomach and his back lathered with oil. This is what happened:



The masseuse burns up the oxygen inside a glass cup with a flaming cotton ball and in a swift motion, places the cup in appropriate places along the back. As the cup cools, the skin gets sucked up into the cup breaking blood vessels and supposedly promoting blood circulation. The darker the circle, the bigger the problem. As you can see in the below photos, birdMAN’s right shoulder seemed to be suffering.The masseuse deduced that birdMAN spends too much time on the computer. Also his body is too cold (as in energy, not as in ice) because he spends to much time in air conditioning. Good thing he got the cupping. Now his body was in balance.

So the question is: Did cupping get rid of his cold? Are we now disciples of Chinese medicine? Nope. The cold proceeded as normal. Maybe I should have made him some chicken soup and dosed him with Vitamin C.

*”Foot fixing” is my loose translation from the Chinese. I know it involves a knife 刀and fixing修。I am somewhat sure this procedure involves scrubbing callouses off dry feet. Some day I am going to try it just to see what happens.

Chinese Word of the Blog: 拔罐 Báguàn
English Translation: Cupping (as in Chinese medicine, not the kind you drink out of)




10.03.2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Love 结婚纪念日

It cries (Like a baby)
In a cradle all night
It swings (Woo Woo)
It jives (Woo Woo)
It shakes all over like a jelly fish,
I kinda like it
Crazy little thing called love
- Queen

On September 30, 2001, we got married. Fourteen years later, we are  still married. It's been good. Happy anniversary to us!

Watch what happened over the last year in (only) seven minutes.



Chinese Word of the Blog: 结婚纪念日jiéhūn jìniàn rì
English Translation: wedding anniversary

8.29.2015

Vanilla Twilight 时间飞逝


I'll taste the sky and feel alive again
And I'll forget the world that I knew
But I swear I won't forget you
Oh if my voice could reach back through the past
I'd whisper in your ear,
"Oh darling I wish you were here"
- Owl City




After three consecutive summers, Lake Tahoe has become a family tradition. The first summer was partly for us -- we had been in China the previous year and a summer retreat got us together without distraction. The second year was for birdMAN’s dad, Baba, who had been diagnosed with cancer earlier that year and a family trip to his favorite place would make good memories. This year’s summer retreat was also for Baba, only he wasn’t with us this time. He passed away last February.

This summer, we stayed in this exact same house as the first Lake Tahoe trip. Let’s call this house Magnificent Beautiful House. The house faces east and sits on a steep mountain slope having a Magnificent Beautiful view of Carnelian Bay. Every morning the sun peaks over the east mountains. The sun, ray by ray, bounces off the lake’s placid blue waters exploding into shimmering golden jewels. Meanwhile, the sky transitions from light shades of coral to a deeper shade, to grey-purple, to gleaming blue. A symphony for the eyes. Magnificent. Beautiful.

Baba especially loved the morning view.

Three summers ago, as the family ignored the sun’s wake up call, Baba would sit in the patio spa amid the bubbles and chlorine, and greet the day serenely. He was healthy and youthful at 62-years old, happy that all his children were under one roof. He was happy that his children all loved each other, that they lived happy and healthy lives, relatively free of disturbance or anxiety. True blessings in a world fraught with trouble and uncertainty. Magnificent. Beautiful.

This year, Lake Tahoe was as beautiful as ever, the sky and lake as blue as ever, the air crisp and fresh as ever, everything Magnificent and Beautiful as ever, but Baba’s absence was like black cloud in an otherwise cloudless sky. The large lounging chair in the living room corner was empty. That deep seated lounging chair was after all Baba’s chair. Three summers ago, he had sat in it like the patriarch he was, listening to his kids banter back and forth. This year the chair was empty.

His gentle smile and subtle cocky humor, however, resonated in our memories. We found ourselves saying things like, “Baba would have liked this...This is Baba’s favorite.” Even 9-month old Sabella’s first distinct words were not “Mama” or “Dada,” but “Baba.” Baba would have been thrilled--no, not just thrilled--doubled over with joy with much deserved bragging rights. We also imagine how happy he would be watching his two chubby grand baby girls roll around on the floor clumsily grabbing their plastic toys and 5-year old Milan busy with her art projects.

Yes, this year saw the addition of two baby girls. birdMAN’s family now has a total of three grand-girls, which means a pink blanket, squeaky toy, chew toy, doll, stuffed animal, or book was constantly within arm’s reach. Conversation among birdMAN’s brothers and sisters also changed. Discussion topics were as normal: namely, what sales are at Nordstrom Rack and why Big Bang Theory is the best television show in television history (I vehemently disagree). Now topics included what minivan and car seats have the best security features and how much they cost.

It's all about the babies
Baba's favorite: Sunnyside Cafe Hula Pie! I think its my favorite too.

Otherwise, we did what families sharing an awesome house do together: eat a lot of food, tease each other, bounce babies around and just plain catch up. We dined on favorite meals: barbecue cilantro chicken sandwiches, tri-tip and asparagus, chicken marsala with raviolis, tacos loaded with sour cream and avocado. Of course Moomoo brought out a box of See’s chocolates, each chocolate carefully chosen according to each one’s favorite. We also did what vacationers do: lay on the beach and swim, hike, bike ride, and stare at the view. After a year of hard work, a little R&R goes a long way.

Magnificent. Beautiful.

Chinese Saying of the Blog: 时间飞逝 Shíjiān fēishì
English Translation: Time flies

Click HERE for more pictures

Spa with a view
Aunties are the best!
An EPIC ride along the Flume Trail
Family friendly hiking

7.17.2015

Island In The Sun 爪哇

When you're on a golden sea
You don't need no memory
Just a place to call your own
As we drift into the zone

On an island in the sun
We'll be playing and having fun
And it makes me feel so fine
I can't control my brain
-Weezer


Last February, we made our winter migration south to the beautiful, balmy, coffee loving island of Java, Indonesia. For one week, we found refuge along a one mile stretch beach called Batukaras. Batakuras was a perfect place to lay on the beach, watch the clouds float by against a backdrop of equatorial blue, admire kids effortlessly surf the waves, and not think about tomorrow or yesterday.

At one point, as we savored a cup of freshly brewed Java coffee, birdMAN said, “We moved to the wrong country.” Yes, we had fallen in love with Indonesia. Not only is the food amazing, the language decipherable, but the coffee was as abundant as the sea has waves.

Whereas some Chinese dishes seem to have more oil and MSG than actual food and the predominant flavor is salt, Indonesian cuisine is fresh, flavorful, and oh, oh, oh so good. As we always do when on holiday, we lived from meal to meal. Morning banana pancakes, noontime guacamole, afternoon lemon refreshers, evening curries--our bellies never went empty. Even now, I dream of gado-gado salad, blanched vegetables and fried tempeh topped with a fragrant concoction of coconut milk, ground peanuts, chilies, and garlic. Indonesia is the birthplace of chicken satay, skewered barbecued chicken doused with a sweet, gingery, and salty sauce. Papaya, pineapple, lemon, and avocado were just a few kinds of the juices made fresh upon ordering. We feasted on barbecued fish, squid, or shrimp drizzled with lime and served with a side of garlic, chilies, and soy sauce while sitting beach side and listening to the waves lap the shores. It was simply, deliciously, entirely flavor heaven.

Meal with a view
I go gaga for gado-gado

As the cuisine is pleasing to the palate, the ebb and flow of the language is pleasing to the ears--and much, much, much easier to learn than Chinese.  Like English, Indonesian is not tonal and written using the alphabet. That means learning Indonesian avoids major difficulties: remembering tones and meaning based on pictographs (Chinese characters). For me, I have to say a new word or phrase a gazillion times to say the tones correctly and convey meaning. Mastering simple phrases like, “How much does that cost?” can be a painful and frustrating.

Not so with Indonesian. The first time I ordered chicken (ayum) with no coaching or hand gesturing whatsoever, the server understood me. What crazy world is this? Some of the words are derived from English, such as taksi (taxi) and resto (restaurant). Furthermore, we encountered several westerners who not only spoke Indonesian, but appeared to be in deep, philosophical conversations with local Indonesians. As Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, there are many opportunities to make Indonesian friends.

We also found a common bond with our Indonesian friends: a love for coffee. In China, finding a reasonably priced and decent cup of coffee sometimes may feel like an elusive dream. But coffee dreams come true on the island of Java. Cheap and delicious coffee was available 24-7 at every street-food vendor, guesthouse, street corner, and 7-Eleven. How Indonesians feel about coffee may be summed up by Bono (not the U2 pop star, but the civil-engineer-turned-artist/surfer Indonesian we met at our beach retreat): “When I don’t have coffee, I feel like dying. I see a beautiful girl, I don’t care. I still feel like dying.”

Care for a spot of coffee?
A cup of Java in Java

The food, the coffee, the people, the all around pleasantness of Batukaras certainly revived our tired Beijing souls. While we mostly spent the days chillaxin’ beach side, we managed get in some jogging and surfing.  We slept at the comfortable Villa Monyet in bamboo hut under a thatched roof. There we chatted with the surfing-loving staff over cups of Java-fresh coffee, waved off the vicious mosquitoes (note-to-self, must bring mosquito repellent), and breathed in the tropical breeze fragrant with durian, bananas and rain.

Click HERE for more pictures

Chinese Word of the Blog: 放轻松 Fàng qīngsōng
English translation: Relax, chillax



Do I blend in?

Our surfing instructor



6.12.2015

Beautiful Day 美好

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
...
It was a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
-U2




Just before 7 am yesterday, I hopped on my bike headed to my usual Thursday morning boot camp exercise. Suffering from a minor cold, I wasn’t feeling great and had contemplated canceling. I am glad I didn't.

As I turned the corner at the end of the alley, I caught sight of the sky looming large over an adjacent construction site. Clouds upon clouds stretched from here to the aquamarine mountains in the far distance.

This usual eyesore of a construction site seemed oddly beautiful. The blue grandeur and imposing white clouds gleamed over the piles of excavated dirt, towering cranes, and the grimy, spitting, urinating hard-hatted workers. As I stood on that street corner mesmerized by the vastness of it all, a gentle coolness breezed by. And I...I inhaled...and inhaled again through my sniffling nose. Ahhh, it’s going to be a beautiful day.

Seeing those clouds upon clouds stretching from here to there miraculously imparts energy and healing to even the most depressed of souls. Beijing suddenly seems beautiful. Beijing the beautiful. Beijing the clean. Beijing blue. Beijing made anew.

Headache...what headache?

Those clouds make those cranes look good!
Yesterday--and today-- will go down in history as the nicest days EVER I personally have EVER experienced EVER in Beijing. In fact, the previous month had so many remarkably nice days, that the remarkable days stopped being so remarkable. Is Beijing’s notorious air problem being resolved? Is this the start of a new era of easy breathing for Beijing and her inhabitants? Will Beijing gray turn into Beijing blue?

We may not be standing at the door of a pollution-free China just yet, but recent reports do support anecdotal musings that air quality is in fact improving. The average density of PM2.5 dropped 20 percent during the first four months this year, compared to the same period last year [1]. The year 2014 saw an average decrease in PM2.5 concentrations compared to the previous year [2]. These reports are based on U.S. Embassy gathered data, so we don’t have to be concerned that China’s government is making it all up. Truly, Beijing’s air quality is improving.

The government may be finally responding to both domestic and international discontent. Air pollution is a popular conversation topic here (especially when a Chinese person is trying to understand why a foreigner would move to such a polluted city). A recent online documentary blaming a newborn baby’s benign tumor on air pollution and criticizing China’s air pollution policies went viral [3]. Rare forms of cancer in children have been attributed to prolonged exposure to PM2.5 [4] . In general, China has a poor reputation internationally for not caring about the environment. A scientific study linking China’s air pollution with erratic weather in the United States is another reason to put China on environmental blacklists [5]. In addition, Beijing is in the running for hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics. Surely, China wouldn’t want persistent pollution to sway voters to say nay [6].

The government claims that this year’s improved air quality results from implementing air pollution policies in and around Beijing. Drivers have been denied car registration. Coal plants have been shut down or moved elsewhere. And most recently, smoking has been banned. (Smoking is probably not a major contributor to poor air quality, but any decrease in pollution is more than welcome!) Recent strong winds and intermittent rain also keep Beijing gray at bay.

So for now, we are breathing a little easier under Beijing’s luminous skies. We leave the air masks at home. The stars greet us at night. Clouds upon clouds stretch from here to there. And I...I inhale...and inhale again.

Sniffling nose. What sniffling nose?

Word of the blog: 美好 Měihǎo
English translation: fine; glorious

Chinese Sentence of the blog: 多美好的一天嗯?Duō měihǎo de yītiān ń?
English Translation: What a beautiful day, huh?

Read More:
[1] Chinese vice premier demands improved air quality
[2] Got to Admit It’s Getting Better: Beijing’s Air Pollution Improved In 2014
[3] China pollution documentary goes viral attracting at least 155 million views
[4] Chinese child's lung cancer linked by doctors to air pollution
[5] China's air pollution leading to more erratic climate for US, say scientists
[6] Beijing accelerates air pollution control for Olympics expectation

My bootcamp got posted on a bystander's Wechat. The captions says something like this, "Came out for morning exercise, there was an exercise group. American girl led the group. So tired! Love self on the second day."
I'm diggin' the umbrella hat
Facebook is very happy because he can see blue sky today.
Happy lotus
This is a sidewalk movie theater under a Beijing blue sky


My happy face because of happy weather

A freeway overpass is a great place to get a good view

6.01.2015

Why Don’t You Write Me? 写作障碍

Monday morning, sitting in the sun
Hoping and wishing for the mail to come.
Tuesday, never got a word,
Wednesday, Thursday, ain't no sign,
Drank a half a bottle of iodine.
Friday, woe is me
Gonna hang my body from the highest tree.
Why don't you write me?
- Simon and Garfunkel


I blame learning Chinese on my lack of enthusiasm for blogging. Living as a foreigner in China certainly provides plenty of material for interesting blogs. There’s air pollution, finding beets in a western market, working as an indoor cycling instructor, sand and rain storms, bicycle repair, buying electricity, Chinese viewpoints on love and marriage, learning Chinese, recent trips etc etc etc.

Unfortunately, all I have swirling around in my head is Chinese. I give up. Here are some pictures from the last few months.

Enjoy!

Chinese Word of the Blog: 写作障碍 Xiězuò zhàng'ài (literally writing obstacle)
English Translation: writer’s block

3/23 Chicken lady asked if I wanted the tough or the tender chicken.
I said give me the tender one and cut out the guts, and cut off the head and feet.
3/ 23 That poor chicken made a delightful chicken noodle soup.
4/3 A nice day to hang in a pagoda.
4/3  A modern take on an old style: mohawk mullet kid
4/15 Nasty sandstorm
4/16 Nothing but blue after the sandstorm! Great day for morning boot camp!
4/16 Cherry blossoms are such show-offs
4/21 birdMAN went to Sichuan for a week with his highschoolers. Here is a Chengdu panda.
4/23 birdMAN chillin' with the cool kids

4/28 Love is in the air!

4/23 Occasionally I pretend I am a professional photographer.
Here's a nice shot of soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Happy Smiley Couple. They were so much fun to photograph!

4/30 Last summer, I started leading a boot camp session with my friends twice a week.  You can imagine what a spectacle we are running around doing burpees, push-ups, and jumping jacks.
This is Selena. She asked to join and has become a regular participant. Usually I have four to five random people join each time. Then they bring their friends. It's nice having my own fan club.

5/1 Rainy day hike up Taiyang Mountain
5/1 Rainy day bike ride to Taiyang Mountain
5/2 New pizza place run by a Californian opened up nearby. We are sooooo happy.
5/8 Threw a ladies only party in honor of my almost married friend. Most cheesecake in Chinese bakeries are spongy with a slight cheese flavor. This cheesecake is not like that. It was dense just like cheesecakes are meant to be. Totally worth 180 RMB.
5/8 Mmmhhh Chinese food
5/9 When my bike tire gets a flat, I find this guy for a quick and cheap repair
5/10 Evening chill-laxing
5/12 Dumpling lunch
5/14 We had a straight week of AMAZING weather. Perfect temperatures and blue skies.

5/17 Yunnan food with Beijing's latest and hottest newlywed couple
5/18 Sandwiches in Sanlitun. Sometimes we like to pretend we are rich and hang out where the rich people are.



5/18 The weather was so sublime that day. Come back nice weather!
5/21 What's that in my salad? BEETS! Yes I found real beets at a foreign market.
I admit, not as sweet as California beets, but good enough to satisfy my beet cravings.
5/29 It's officially summer. It's hot. It's muggy.. And it's time to eat BBQ.