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.
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.
Holy crap, it’s 2016. And how neglectful I’ve been with this blog! Tsk tsk.
I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions, but I suppose the ol’ standby is to eat healthier, which is always a task given my sweet tooth, fairly abysmal cooking skills, and dislike of anything green and leafy. That said, I’m fine with vegetables if they’re just an accompaniment or side dish, and I’ll cook/eat vegetarian/vegan due to some of my friends, but I’m generally not a ‘salad as a meal’ person. So this here is a rare meal for me indeed. It’s a salad. Woot.
Iceberg lettuce, cha shao (barbecued) pork, hard-boiled egg, Gouda cheese, avocado, sweet peppers, tomatoes, apples, and soon-to-be-added Thousand Island dressing. With a side of buttered toast. Healthy? Oh yes. Granted it could be healthier, but … baby steps, people! Score one for the new year.
For those of you not in China, you may not have heard, but it’s the Chinese New Year! And according to the zodiac calendar, it’s the Year of the Horse! Happy New Year! 新年快乐! Woot!
The nation of China has basically shut down at this point, which might be a hard concept for people to understand. It’s not just that it’s a holiday … it’s DEAD here. I’ve stocked up on snacks (maybe not enough given the rate I’m chowing down) and plan on basically hibernating. Some places will reopen on the second day of the (lunar) new year, but the official holiday (which most people follow, crazy make-up days and all) is for one week starting today, from January 31st (first day of the new year) to February 6th (seventh day).
There were some fireworks earlier in the evening around 9 and 10 or so, but wow … once the clock struck 12, it was like complete madness out there. There were fireworks going off left and right, some of them really really close. It looked like the apartment securitiy guards were having a ball :) The air quality was pretty bad today so the sky wasn’t very clear to begin with. But now, with all the smoke from the fireworks still lingering in the air? Visibility is … pretty darn low. Cheers!
Today is Chinese New Year in the lunar calendar, marking the start of the year of the snake according to the Chinese zodiac. It also marks the start of two weeks of celebration! But to be honest, I’ve never done the full celebrations because I can’t remember what each day means and … that’s a lot of effort.
In Chinese culture it’s tradition to put up these red banners around the doorway with phrases of good will or what-not. However, when you’re not in China, it just looks tacky. I was in Flushing (aka “the other Chinatown”) with some friends a few weeks back, so I bought a little token for the new year that I’m hanging on the doorknob to my room. The character embroidered in yellow is 福 (fú), which translates to “good fortune.” It’s commonly seen on Chinese New Year decorations, because everyone’s wishing that the new year brings good fortune. And ya know, I could always use a bit of fortune.
Last night it snowed! The fresh snow wasn’t all light and fluffy; it seemed a bit harsher with more crystals, which made surfaces shimmer. I hadn’t been expecting snow, and the hard soles of my cowboy boots definitely did not agree with the icy slickness of that fresh snow! I almost slipped a few times, but thankfully I never fell. It only snowed for a few hours, and by this morning most of the snow had been swept away or melted.
School has once again started and everything is already starting to feel overwhelming. The weather’s cold, my schedule is in flux, and my thesis is being mean. But seeing snow fall is probably one of the most calming things ever.
It snowed today! It’s still snowing! Because of the nor’easter! And I almost froze to death! I really, really need to check the weather more often. And I really need to listen to people when they tell me that it’s going to snow, because a light jacket and Keds were really no match for snow, especially snow that was coming down at an angle due to the wind. Waiting at a corner to cross the street, the trash can next to me blew over – woah.
I wonder how long it’s going to continue snowing for. Hm … I guess it’s time to break out the winter coat, scarves, gloves, hat, and snow boots. Acks, so excited! Snow is still sort of a novelty since last year was quite mild. Roomie E ain’t too fond of it because she grew up with lots of snow, but I still think it’s cool. Then again, I am sitting in my nicely heated apartment and it’s only the first day of snow … we’ll see if my opinion changes as the winter progresses.
Woot! I woke up to snow, in my super warm room! Such a weird juxtaposition of climates. My room, which is verging on sauna (not really, but I’m a little warm in shorts and a t-shirt) and outside, where there is white stuff COMING DOWN FROM THE SKY. Cool.
So good you have to say it twice. I’ve pretty much settled into my new apartment, and part of me is really giddy and cannot believe that I’m actually living in New York. And then the other part of me is like, whatever, you lived in China last year, New York’s no big. But still … it’s New York. I like the neighborhood, and the apartment’s actually not too small. The only really big downside is the fact that everything is ridiculously expensive, even more so because part of me still thinks in RMB (Chinese currency). Oh, and I live in a walk-up which is oh so fun. I’ve already fallen down the stairs twice, and I have a skinned knee to prove it.
I am no longer in Shanghai. I am no longer in China. After my last post I did some traveling around China, and it was amazing. Shanghai isn’t really a tourist place, but it’s a nice place to live. Beijing, however, has so much of Chinese history stuffed into it, from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace. And the Olympic buildings? Amazing. Xi’an, similarly, has the Terracotta Warriors. And then Zhangjiajie has the nature that I had been sorely deprived of in Shanghai.
It’s kind of weird to be back in the good ol’ United States. But it’s the beginning of a new adventure. So – what’s going to happen to this blog? Eh, not quite sure. I think I’ll keep it active and just switch it to focus on New York instead of Shanghai. I’m going to reactivate my old blog squareby’s corner and just keep the topics separate with this one being more of travel and life and the other more of crafting.
[NOTE: Well … that didn’t last to long. Squareby’s Corner merged with From Here to (There), because frankly … there ain’t much crafting that gets done these days.]
Sigh. So much left to do. I like the quiet and space here, but I miss the availability of everything in China. The convenience stores open 24/7 that are on every block, the fruit stands with amazing variety that are on every block, the little food stalls with dumplings and noodles that are on every block, et cetera. In Xi’an one of their specialties is a type of noodle called “biang biang mian.” I don’t know if it can really be considered a noodle, because it’s almost like a flattened and elongated dumpling (the American kind that’s basically just flour) so it’s kind of chewy. It was good, but I think I was a little turned off because there were some tomatoes with the noodles and I really dislike cooked tomatoes.
Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the rabbit as of today (February 3), the first day of the Chinese new year. Basically I’ve been eating a bunch (dinners with the extended family), in accordance with tradition. Shanghai’s emptied out quite a bit with so many people having gone to their hometowns or traveling, so streets are quiet and many stores and restaurants are closed.
Last night there were a bunch of fireworks. Today there were also fireworks, and the next few days will also have fireworks. Some of the fireworks were really, really close. Below is a picture of the fireworks that my apartment complex had set off. Standing on my balcony, they were like … RIGHT THERE. Ridiculously close but pretty darn cool.