rainy days, crowded subways

It’s fun to run around and splash in the rain. It’s refreshing to have a slight drizzle on a hot summer day. It’s calming to hear the pitter-patter of rain on your window while snuggling up with a good book. But it is super, super annoying to have the skies open up as you’re leaving for work and need to get to the subway to get home. Especially when it wasn’t forecast to rain until a few hours later, leaving many people (such as me) caught in pouring rain without an umbrella.

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I could’ve joined one of the many groups I saw that were huddled under awnings trying to wait out the worst of it, but who knows how long I’d have to wait? So I braved the short trip to the subway station, because I could not wait to change into pajamas. And then I had to wait for what seemed like forever for the train to come on a crowded, humid subway platform. And then I got shoved into a subway car and was pressed up against way too many slightly damp/sweaty people.

Because in New York, rain means puddles galore, wet and slippery streets, lots of slightly damp strangers, and super crowded subways. And considering it’s the middle of summer (hot and humid), it’s the city (so the rain was probably toxic), and subway platforms have basically no airflow, it was kinda gross. So … that was a fun ride home.

rain rain go away

This past month or so has been absolutely damp. It’s rained almost every day. Kinda depressing, but acid rain is better than choking air, right? Er … or is it a toss-up? When there’s bad air, everyone is basically forced inside and you start writing your will because you figure you’re going to die soon. When there’s rain, there are umbrellas hitting you in the face left and right and taxis are near impossible to find.

However, rainy days make for some pretty reflections with the wet pavement. Shanghai loves its bright rainbow lights, and while they generally come across as ostentatious and gaudy, they can make an otherwise gloomy day a bit more fun. Take for example the below rainbow-fied East Nanjing Road, one of the main shopping streets in Shanghai (at least historically). Kinda cheery, right?

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Rain rain go away, come again some other day. It’s got the “come again” part down, if only we could work on the “go away” part ….

wishing you were somehow here again

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This time last year I was in New York. I was working on my thesis, there was snow piled up on the fire escape outside my bedroom window, and I was cozy warm. Amazing how much changes in a year, eh? Snow, how I miss it! Free heating, how I miss it! Being from Texas, I’m totally cool with endless summer, but if I’m going to be cold, there’d better be snow.

Lately Shanghai’s weather has been … odd. For a bit there I thought we had completely skipped winter. Last week there were a few days that were in the low 20s Celsius (60s-70s Fahrenheit) and it was actually kind of depressing, like seasonal affective disorder in winter but in reverse. Well, yesterday it snowed! Crazy, right? It dropped 20 degrees in a week! It snowed for a bit on Sunday and more yesterday, but it didn’t stick and the weather’s warming up again.

But it’s still really cold! Shanghai’s longitude is similar to Central Texas, but since there’s no central heating here and buildings are poorly insulated, it feels soooo much colder than New York. Either give me a radiator or give me snow! In New York I had both, in Shanghai I’d like at least one. This air conditioner/heater unit (which is mounted on the wall above me) is quite inefficient (because hot air rises) and it is totally drying out my skin.

every breath you take

On December 6, 2014, the PM2.5 in Shanghai went “beyond index” … which is scary speak for WOAH WE DIDN’T REALIZE IT COULD GET THIS BAD. Sigh. They say it feels like life is longer in cities like Shanghai because everything moves so fast and there’s always something happening or new to do. But … that gets canceled out by the crappy air that’s slowly killing us and drives us into our air-purified apartments.

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Since then there have been a few other days of “I really should start wearing an air mask,” but for the most part the air quality is much better (meaning that we’ve been staying in the Moderate to Unhealthy range). But when I was here a few years back, most people never even thought about air quality because Shanghai’s air was always fairly decent, especially in comparison to Beijing’s. It’s actually quite frightening.

You know that song “Every Breath You Take” by The Police? Good song. Well, here’s the Shanghai version (keeping in mind that I have no sense of rhythm):

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every day in China
Every step outside
You die a little

Oh can’t you see?
Oh wait no you can’t
It’s a blank white sky
That definitely isn’t fog

But how I still love Shanghai! Sigh. Despite the air problems, I’m here and loving it. Maybe not as much now that I’m worried about developing asthma, but China’s still the place to be. For me, for now. A donation to cover my future respiratory medical bills would be appreciated. Thanks.

dying mosquitoes: one benefit of winter

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My office is located near the Suzhou River. Where there’s water, there’re mosquitoes. And goodness gracious are there mosquitoes. Thankfully, as the weather cools (IT’S GOTTEN REALLY COLD!), the mosquitoes are lessening, which means there are less of them bothering me and I have less mosquito bites, which is probably also thanks to the sweaters and leggings I’ve been wearing.

I almost feel bad for the ones that still come by to visit because they’re hanging on to life so dearly. But it’s quite obvious they’re on their last legs since they’re slower and much easier to kill. Woot! Die, little buggers, die!

november’s end

Wow this month has been crazy. Crazy busy, crazy stressful. But the good news? I have a work visa! Woot! Well, not really … but after many trials and tribulations I have finally received the employment license, which will allow me to get the work visa. Still quite a long way to go before everything gets finalized. Next step: Hong Kong! More paperwork! And more cash to shill out! (Ugh, I have a headache already.)

Below is a picture I took on the subway, er … “metro,” on my daily commute. For no special reason. It’s just so clean!

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Thanksgiving was good fun and I’ve basically gotten over my cold, but the weather’s steadily advancing towards full-on winter, my apartment is cold even with my heater on, and I really miss American food. Like, I really want Domino’s. And I would kill for apple cobbler. Sigh. Moving on, work is good! I like the people I work with, I like the day-to-day, and I really think Shanghai’s good for me. So, to the powers that be that finally granted that employment visa: Thanks! It only took you FOREVER and a day.

As hectic as November was, I have a feeling December’s gonna be pretty crazy as well. Wish me luck! And stay warm out there!

summer in new york

This has been my first summer in New York, and wow it’s hot. The temperatures have been in the 90s except for a few days of rain, and it’s not really the temperature that gets you, it’s the humidity. It’s not to the point where I’m going to embarrass myself as a Texan by overly complaining about it, but I must say, this lack of central air-conditioning is annoying. Otherwise, it’s kind of nice. No school, work only two days a week, and a lovely ceiling fan spinning overhead.

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To me, summer in New York means:

  1. Broken fire hydrants and flooded streets.
  2. Brunch every weekend. (Bad for the wallet, good for the soul.)
  3. Hot trash smell.
  4. “The Entertainer” on repeat from that ice cream truck that seems to circle my block.
  5. The extreme temperature difference between waiting for the subway (that steaming concrete hell that is the underground airless platform) and entering the air-conditioned car.
  6. Aguas frescas on the street. Watermelon, hibiscus, tamarind, horchata, oh my!
  7. All those damn tourists who walk slowly, crowd the museums, talk obnoxiously loud on the subway, and make my life just that much more miserable.

sheesh it’s burning up in here

New York, ah how I love thee. It’s great that heating is covered by the landlord and there are guidelines in place so they don’t skimp, but GOODNESS GRACIOUS, PLEASE TURN IT OFF ALREADY. It’s the latter part of May, the outside temp is about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. AND THE HEATER IS STILL ON. At this point it’s just wasteful because I have to have the fan on to combat the heater.

Last year my room had an overactive heater, but it was only really crazy during the winter, so it was just mildly uncomfortable with the windows open. I switched apartments and the heater here worked fine during the winter, but now it’s basically summer so having the heater on is just absurd. My room is not actually 97 degrees, it’s just that I keep my thermometer on top of the radiator. Regardless, it’s REALLY HOT IN HERE.

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remember nemo?

It has been about a month since Nemo hit. Remember that? The storm was called Nemo, and I have no idea why. It didn’t really need a name. It was a snowstorm! They don’t get names! Plus, if they really, really wanted to give it a name, Nemo was a bad choice. First of all because it’s the name of that cute little fish and secondly because it continues to ignore that great movie from the my childhood that was based on a comic strip from the early 1900s. Oh and also because THERE WERE TWO STORMS, not just one. But I suppose my main quibble is that apparently my sister and I were the only ones to ever watch “Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.”

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The storm itself was kind of overblown in terms of New York. Apparently there was about a foot of snowfall, but … it really didn’t seem like it. Quite pretty and not a big deal considering that the morning after, even without all the sidewalks salted, it wasn’t too bad except for crossing Morningside Park (which hadn’t had its stairs shoveled at that point). But everyone was sledding and the kids were having so much fun. It was funny to see because it’s New York City! Sometimes I forget there are so many kids around here.

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[NOTE: Image is the “Little Nemo in Slumberland” comic published on March 11, 1906, and retrieved from the Comic Strip Library.]

The name Nemo is Latin for “nobody” … but no one really cares about dead languages, right? I didn’t even know the stupid storm was named Nemo until way after the storm had already started (ah, life without cable) but when I eventually heard the name Nemo being tossed around, I immediately thought of Little Nemo, whereas I’m sure most people thought of the fish. Sigh … on the other hand, Google knows of my Nemo (the comic at least) so that’s gotta be worth something!