kfc: my last meal in china

For my last meal in Beijing, I had KFC. Yes, that’s right. I had American fast food in China. Judge me if you will, but you shouldn’t, because it’s totally not the same. Way back when, KFC was Kentucky Fried Chicken, but now it’s just those three letters. Which is fitting, because they’re not really just about fried chicken anymore (although I would gladly dig into a bucket of the stuff). In China at least, rarely anyone orders their fried chicken. They don’t even have biscuits! Or macaroni and cheese! SCANDALOUS!

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But I guess it’s a small price to pay. Because seriously, when did you last see a KFC this big and clean? And so full of people there was barely any seating available?

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As I mentioned, I love me those KFC buckets of fried goodness. But … I’m also kind of obsessed with their shrimp burger. I first had it a few years ago when I was traveling around China, and I really, really missed it. It seems weird, but it’s actually DELICIOUS. The fried patty is chock full of shrimp, then there’s lettuce and the sweet mayonnaise that Chinese people seem to love. I had to remove much of the glob of mayonnaise so it didn’t overpower my taste buds, but yeah … delish.

I also really like KFC’s chicken burgers in China because they use dark meat instead of the fat-free white meat Americans seem to prefer. Mmm … now I’m getting hungry.

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the end – of may

It’s the end of May, and what a month it’s been. Classes done. Thesis done. Internship done. End of year show done. Commencement done. Graduation done. Graduation parties done. Apartment packed and ready to move. Portfolio and job/fellowship applications in the works.

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Goodbye, Columbia. I’ll be (seriously) indebted to you forever.

thesis? oh, that thing i turned in?

Thesis – done. Not fantastic and not actually done, but turned in so … DONE. Not completely happy with what I turned in so I’ll probably work on it some more before the End of Year Show, but that’s just for me. But basically I’m done. Absolutely done. Commence intake of food and alcohol and long periods of sleep!

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A bunch of us went to Five Lamps Tavern for dinner in celebration. Some people still had work for other classes so couldn’t join, but … it was a good night. I had fish and chips, which were yummy, made all the more yummier by the fact that they represented FREEDOM FROM THESIS.

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weird morning in new york

Thesis presentation went well – woot! Class paper finally done – woot! Final thesis turn in is … uh oh, back to campus then.

Yesterday morning I walked to campus, taking the same route I always do. Walk walk walk. As I was climbing a set of stairs in the park, a guy in a black suit walked by. Weird, but it barely registers. Walk walk walk. More guys in black suits. Huh? Eh, whatever. Walk walk walk. Woman in white puffy wedding dress. Walk walk walk. WAIT. WOAH NELLY, WHAT? Stop. Double take. Stare. Gaggle of women in sage green dresses walk by. They stare back. Oh, I get it now. Wedding pictures. They’re not actually crossing the park to get to Harlem, they’re just using the park and stairs as a backdrop. But still … woah.

I know it’s not that weird, since it’s a park and the weather is AMAZING and it’s wedding season, but it was still surprising, maybe because my walk to campus is usually done on autopilot. After I made it out of the park I was still thinking to myself: That was weird, right? And then I was confronted with a children’s carnival. Right there along my normal path. It was set up in the street with pony rides and face painting and inflatable bouncy castles and OH MY GOSH IS THAT A LLAMA!?!

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Yeah. Weird morning. And in the afternoon I saw another wedding party, but those bridesmaids were wearing blue.

tuesday – yet not at the camh

I used to work every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday … but it’s Tuesday and I ain’t at work! I worked at the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston (CAMH) in its curatorial department, and it was an amazing experience. Last Thursday was my last day, so I’m going to toot my own horn a bit … because I can! I was an amazing intern. Truly, I was.

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[NOTE: This image is a scan and not mine. Purposefully low quality.]

One of the other interns recently created a Tumblr page for the museum and one of the posts featured my work on Issuu! Not my work as in work I created, but my work as in the results of over two months of work I did scanning, cropping, optimizing, and uploading a whole bunch of old exhibition catalogs! Yeah, that was validating. I think I was a tad overqualified for the position. I also scanned a whole bunch of old photos which will be uploaded to the website by whatever intern replaces me. Ah, I’ll miss the scanner. I spent a good amount of time with that thing.

If you’re in Houston, go visit the Contemporary Arts Museum (always free!). The current exhibit is trippy. Then grab some lunch at the food truck in the parking lot of the Museum of Fine Arts. My favorites are Phamily Bites (the Vietnamese eggrolls or pork sandwich) on Tuesdays and Creole2Geaux (catfish po boy) on Wednesdays. Yum. And yes, there are a lot of links in this post. Au revoir, CAMH!

the end … ish?

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.

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goodbye expo 2010

Last year at this time, Shanghai was completely in Expo mode. The Expo was inescapable. There were tourists milling about, prices were higher than normal, statues of Haibao (the blue Gumby-like mascot) were EVERYWHERE, and the news was basically constant coverage of the Expo. It got to be really annoying, but when the Expo closed in October, it really closed. It got quiet. And the Expo was never heard from again. Sort of.

The statue of Haibao that was once prominently displayed on the campus of ECNU is still on the campus of ECNU. Except that once the Expo closed, it got moved to the storage/junk yard in the back corner of the campus. Where it still is. The only reason why I know it’s there is because I take a shortcut that winds between buildings. Depressing, but despite his ill treatment, Haibao still looks quite cheerful in his bright blue.

Oh, and remember this story? At the time I thought his comment about kissing him came out of left field, but now that my Chinese has improved, I realize that he was making a joke about my dismal Chinese skills. In Mandarin, 请问 (pronounced qing3 wen4) means “May I ask?”, which sounds awfully similar to 请吻 (pronounced qing3 wen3), which means “May I kiss?”. So yeah, mystery solved. Good gosh that was a long time ago.

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no work! weird fruit!

Today was my last day of work. Yay! It was also my first final. Boo! The person who handles payroll wasn’t here today, so I’ll probably have to go back tomorrow to check in with her. If she’s not there tomorrow, then I’ll have to go in on Monday. And then … that’s kind of pushing it. I don’t have much time left over here!

As for the final this morning, I’d rather forget about it. It was horrible. Wow. So bad. No matter, I got three more to go. Last night I made a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese because unhealthy American food is my kind of study food. I only ate part of it last night, so I just finished the rest off. It was delicious. But now I feel like my stomach is simultaneously gnawing at itself while verging on explosion. It’s very annoying and kind of painful. It’s a love-hate relationship.

Before the cheesy goodness was some lovely weird fruit. They’re called mangosteens. And they’re very, very weird. When I type “mangosteens” I get the red squiggle line underneath because my computer thinks it’s a typo – but it’s not. The shell is pretty thick and a bit hard, but the inside white stuff is really good. Really sweet and yummy. My friend had given them to me … without actually knowing what they were. Ha. We’re great friends.

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coming to an end

I have taken my last malaria pill. When I went to India I took malaria medication as a preventative measure, but the kind I took was doxycycline, which you have to continue taking a month after you return. Anyway … no more pills for me. It’s kind of weird, because I got so used to taking them that I’ve started drinking a cup of water in the mornings.

Work is ending really soon. School is ending soon. My stay in China is ending soon-ish. Time to get ready for my next adventure!

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no halloween here

Today is October 31, 2010. Today is Halloween, but you wouldn’t guess it if you were in Shanghai. Here it’s just like any normal day. Stores aren’t shelling out candy, there aren’t pumpkin decorations all over the place, and I haven’t seen kids scampering about in costume. Yesterday I saw two babies dressed up though, one cow and one pumpkin, but I’m not really counting them. It appears that America’s consumerization of the holiday has not stretched to China, but then again most Chinese people have no clue about Halloween anyway. It’s really kind of sad for me. So no Halloween this year. Too much effort for no reward.

What I have noticed, however, is that Chinese people love rainbow colors. Almost as much as they love fireworks and twinkle lights. Today is also the last day of Shanghai World Expo 2010. So below is a picture from the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion. Unfortunately part of me could not help but think of Albert Speer’s cathedral of light when I saw those searchlights. These lights sometimes moved around so thankfully it didn’t have the same effect, but for part of the time they pointed straight upwards and … yeah.

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