hello, it’s me. hello from the other side.

Welcome to 2017, everyone! Yes, it’s me. It’s almost a full month into 2017 and I haven’t posted in over two months, but … whatever.

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This was the first year that I rang in the new year in New York. I live about 15 minutes away from Times Square, which means that for New Year’s Eve celebrations, I got AS FAR AWAY from home as possible. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate. I stayed in Manhattan, because late night subway traffic, especially right after the New Year, is ridiculous. But I definitely escaped to the Upper West Side. Only tourists are in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and they clutter up the place. Roadblocks everywhere, traffic diverted, heavy police presence, and no access to certain subway stations. Total madness. Starting at 2 PM, you had to go through police checkpoints to get east of Eighth Avenue. STARTING AT 2 IN THE AFTERNOON. That meant no access to the NQRW trains for me and long lines of people on the sidewalks. ARGH.

But Upper West Side? Nice dinner, hung out at a friend’s place, then headed over to Central Park and watched fireworks. Yay. Nice and simple. And so far? 2017’s not been too horrible. There’s nothing to be happy about, but at least the world hasn’t exploded or imploded yet, so that’s good, right? The key to happiness is low expectations.

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i climbed a mountain – go me! (tbt)

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I’m not much of an outdoorsy person, but growing up in Texas, going camping, and taking weekend trips to state parks made me really appreciate fresh air and nature. Plus, sometimes I just need to get out because otherwise it’s too depressing to have carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists at my age from typing too much like the sad indoor grunt that I am. Now I’m in a city among cities, but last year, before leaving China and Shanghai (another city among cities), I climbed a mountain!

My friend &C had gotten involved in one of Shanghai’s many hiking/meetup groups, so I joined her on a group trip to Anhui Province’s Tiejiang Mountain and Wuyue Ancient Path. It was a Golden Week holiday, I had nothing planned, and I was itching to get out of the city. The description said “easy hiking,” but golly gosh if that’s what you’d call easy, then I’d say you’re reading from the wrong dictionary. On the first day I just about died – from exhaustion, my legs giving out, slipping on wet rocks, and half-falling into a river. But I survived (obviously), albeit with a waterlogged camera and legs absolutely covered in bruises, and had a great time!

On the last day before heading back to Shanghai, we took a break by a lake and despite all the trash, it was just so great. All those endorphins, ya know? And ya know what? I had climbed a mountain! I was pretty darn proud of myself for doing all of that. Now I’m back to spending the majority of my day sitting at a white desk, staring at a computer screen. And my go-to footwear are black pointy-toed flats that are merely marginally comfortable. Eh, it ain’t fresh air and it may seem stuffy, but I still like it. When the weather warms up I really need to visit Central Park and Calvary Cemetery though.

in your easter bonnet … in the easter parade

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I hope everyone had a happy Easter! Since I last posted, I got a job, I moved, I had family visit, and I joined in on the Easter Parade!

This was actually the first time I’d been to the Easter Parade, but it’s definitely been something I’ve always wanted to do … pretty much ever since I saw the 1948 film Easter Parade. I mean, who doesn’t love Judy Garland? Especially when she sings about walking down Fifth Avenue in Easter bonnets in the Easter Parade … and now I’ve done it! With my sister! Wearing pretty wreaths she made us.

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Technically it’s the New York City Easter Parade and Easter Bonnet Festival, because it’s really all about the bonnets. And it’s really not a parade. It’s more like they just closed a bunch of streets so that people can gather and walk around and take pictures of each other. And although there’s nothing to actually do, it’s still pretty fun. Because New Yorkers are weird. And children are adorable.

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happy year of the monkey!

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Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the start of the year of the monkey – woot! And … I’ve moved back to New York! Surprise!

As you can imagine, Chinese New Year is a big deal. China is currently on a week-long holiday with many businesses closed, large cities nearly emptied as people are in their hometowns, and practically every surface decked out with red knots, lanterns, and ribbons. But here? It’s pretty much business as usual. Last night people were far, far more concerned with the Super Bowl! And I had sushi for dinner.

way behind the holiday schedule

Seriously, what holiday season is it now? Apparently I completely missed out on St. Patrick’s Day yesterday. Easter is coming up on April 5th, so ostensibly it should be Easter season, but that’s not celebrated in China and the next Chinese holiday, Qingming Jie (Tomb-Sweeping Day) is more of an observance than celebration.

But whatevs, it’s been almost four months since Christmas, three and a half months since the New Year, a month since the Chinese New Year, and two weeks since the end of the Chinese New Year (Lantern Festival). And you know what? All my Christmas, New Year, and Chinese New Year decorations are still up. Why? Because I’ve been busy. Can I just get that phrase made into a stamp already?

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Oh well. Maybe I should just turn the tree into a year-round holiday tree because I have nowhere to store it anyhow. And the little ram is pretty adorable, so he can stay too!

happy year of the sheep/goat/ram!

Happy New Year’s Eve! Tomorrow is the first day of the Chinese New Year, the year of the 羊 yáng … which translates to sheep, goat, and/or ram. So yeah, that doesn’t make things confusing whatsoever.

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And just like on New Year’s Eve of the Western/Gregorian calendar, I am sitting at the Pudong Airport waiting for a flight. But this time it’s domestic and the flight will probably be on time. Woot!

Hope you have a prosperous year of the sheep/goat/ram!

a bit of burned love for valentine’s day

Back when I was still in New York, I attended a cousin’s wedding and they gave out these little candles as wedding favors. Pretty standard little tealights. I like candles. Yay. When I got home, I lit the candle, because that’s what you do with candles. Huh. It charred the back of the L♥VE. Kind of menacing looking, no?

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I suppose I could extrapolate some sort of deeper meaning out of this, like how this means that my love life is doomed to go up in flames blah blah blah or whatever, but I won’t. Because I don’t believe in ‘signs’. This just means that the person who designed this tealight did not think things through very well.

So … Happy Valentine’s Day! May your day be less blackened.

airline food for new year’s eve

Happy New Year’s Eve! Yeah, I know, you thought I died or something, right? Well, I’ve been … busy. And lazy. It’s cold! My apartment has crap insulation and when it’s so cold and I’m all snuggled up in my blanket next to the heater, I want nothing more than to watch Miss Marple and drift off to sleep.

But today I’m out and about! Although I’ve spent the last two hours sitting and waiting for my delayed flight to Korea. I wonder, what is it about waiting for flights to Korea that inspires me to post?

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Anyhow, because the flight was delayed, they handed out meal boxes consisting of rice, tofu, vegetarian chicken (a tofu patty), and lion’s head (pork meatballs). It was on the level of cafeteria food, meaning not good. But hey, it’s more than a US airline would do!

Have a happy 2015, everyone!

red maos make china go ’round

October 1st was National Day, for which we got a one-week holiday as one of China’s two Golden Weeks. But that’s over and done with, and now it’s work work work. So here’s a picture of money. It’s Mao! Because this is why all of China basically shut down for a week and why we’re all back to toiling away.

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Red Maos are the 100 RMB banknote in China, and even though they’re the highest-denomination note, they’re worth less than 20 USD. Credit cards are becoming more widely used, but cash is still more widely used, especially among older people. Which is super annoying because you end up carrying a fair number of bills and it just feels oh so sketchy. Or worse, you end up stuck at the bank waiting behind a line of old ladies with stacks and stacks of bills that need to go through the counting machine. And as opposed to when I was in China three/four years ago, I have yet to encounter a fake bill! Progress!

And in related news: I’m going to be working in Shanghai for at least one more year!