Three weeks.

Oh man, 20 days to go, and the tears are already trying to peek out.

It’s strange and unexpected and yet totally normal.
In 20 days, I’ll get on a plane with a one-way ticket to America, and I’ll say ‘goodbye for now’ to the place I’ve called my home for the last three and half years.
For the record, that’s nearly as long as I spent in Chapel Hill for college, and third in line for the places I’ve lived the longest in my life so far.  I’m still young, and far from what I’d call an ‘adult,’ but I’ve grown up so much here.  I don’t know what life post-college is like in the U.S.  This is the place I’ve grown my social network, my professional network, my self-esteem and myself.  I’ve made some of the best friends here.  I’ve also made some of the worst friends here.  But those bad things seem to fade away when I think of leaving these people and places I’ve come to love.
For a long time, I was ready to get out of here.  I had had it with the pollution, the traffic, the spitting, the snotting and the crowds.  I set my sights on getting out, and felt a relief, an excitement for a new adventure and a readiness to do something different.  Now that it’s here, I’m utterly unprepared.
I am so happy to be going back to the people that have supported me through my time abroad.  The people who kept me going when things got tough, who sent me cards, packages, e-mails and spent hours on skype with me.  I am so thrilled to get to be a little closer to them and be able to pick up the phone and call when I feel like it, instead of scheduling a skype date weeks in advance.
The problem (if you can call it that) is, I now have to do that in reverse.  I’m lucky enough to have friends on this side of the world that feel like family.  People that I don’t know when I’ll see again and can’t imagine not meeting up with for Friday night drinks and Sunday brunches.  People that helped me grow up and gave me a support system I could lean on when home felt so far away.  They’ve helped me overcome challenges and see me through things I wasn’t sure I could handle.
Things are always sweeter when they’re coming to an end, so I expected to feel this twinge, this pang of sadness mixed with excitement.  I did not expect to feel choked up mid-day at work.  I’m not an overly emotional person, but my love-hate relationship with this city seems to bring it out every time.  This city puts you through the wringer of emotions.  I have never felt happier, sadder, more angry or more alive anywhere else, yet.
So, friends and family in the States, get ready.  I’m comin’ for ya!  And remember that I am so so happy and grateful that you’ve stuck with me and thrilled to see you, even if I’m sad to be leaving my second home.
To my friends/family in Beijing, get ready.  We’re in for some long skype sessions!

Arbeit macht frei.

The stories of my paternal grandparents in WWII are as ingrained in me as their family name I carry.  My Grandmother Sappenfield, or Grandsap as she preferred to be called, was too young to contribute to the war effort.  Not one to sit idly back, she lied about her age to work in a munitions factory.  She was a real life Rosie the Riveter.  My grandfather, a few years her senior, was a soldier in General Patton’s Third Army, the most heavily decorated army in US history.  He died almost ten years before I was born, so the only memories I have of him are the photos he sent home from the war.

birkenau

I was very young when I first saw the pictures.  They were graphic and gruesome and a real piece of history in my tiny hands. Pictures from inside concentration camps.  Black and white scalloped photos of bodies that looked like skeletons with skin, stacked in piles.  Open expanses of earth that looked like landfills until your eyes distinguished the charred body parts.  Dead soldiers of both sides lying on the ground. These photos were haunting at the time, but perhaps not for the right reasons.

My grandfather wrote on the backs of each of the photos he sent home.  On one he wrote (paraphrasing from memory now), “Scenes like this make me know that I won’t regret anything I have done or will do in this war.”  He wrote that he didn’t understand how anyone could deny these truths when he could smell the stench of burning flesh from miles away.  He understood the reality of war and the abilities of humans to do unspeakable things to each other.

flag

When I first saw these photos, I was terrified of the decaying bodies and the emaciated creatures I saw before me.  Now, I’m almost ashamed that that is what struck fear in me. I didn’t see the victims as humans, I saw them as objects that scared me, when the truth is they were people forced into unimaginable suffering. But that was the goal: to reduce these people to sub-humans. To break them, mentally and physically. The fact that humans could inflict that on any other living being is now what horrifies me.

Because I grew up with these stories and photos as a part of me and of my family’s history, I’ve always felt a personal connection to the war, despite being born more than 40 years after its end.  It’s something I’ve always felt should be remembered as a tribute to the victims and a warning to the world of what can happen when we stand idly by, or don’t act fast enough.

barracks

Yesterday, I made my first trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.  Admittedly, I was nervous.  I was afraid that the fear I felt as a child would come rushing back, but more intensely now that I fully comprehend the gravity of the Holocaust.  However, my visit wasn’t traumatic, but educational.  Growing up with a part of history in my possession helped prepare me for this experience.

auschwitz gates

I went with a small group and tour guide for the day trip out of Krakow.  As we stood on the tracks where victims were carted in and doctors made their ‘selections,’ our guide reiterated that visits like this aren’t to see an exhibition, but to pay our respects.  To visit the world’s largest graveyard without a single grave.  To remember the suffering these people went through, to put a face to their pain and to make them human once more.

My grandparents were the lucky ones; their homes and lives weren’t being threatened in the same way the as the victims of this war.  Though fighting wasn’t a choice at the time, they believed in what they were fighting for.  They felt compelled to do their part.

Arbeit macht frei. 'Work makes you free.'

Arbeit macht frei. ‘Work makes you free.’

The sign hanging over the entrance of Auschwitz in English roughly means, “work makes you free.”  My grandparents understood this.  They understood that they had to work to end this terror and to ensure their children would be safe.  Today, we have to continue this work.  We have to recognize that hate is a learned quality; it is a habit to be broken in some and one never to be taught to our children.  I carry my grandparents’ stories as my reminder to never stand idly by.

 

All photos pictured here are from my trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau this week.  My grandfather’s photos are stored safely at home back in the States.

I got mail!

Yes, it’s worthy of a whole post.  I really like getting mail.

Pandas!

Pandas!

Thanks, Sara!

Also, reason #410983109283 why I should move back to America: chevron tape!  Too cute.

photo-28

Also, this gem:

More Beijing tummy time.  Keepin' it classy.

More Beijing tummy time. Keepin’ it classy.

I don’t get why he did this today.  Usually, men here do this to stay cool, but this afternoon was really lovely and not miserable at all in stark contrast to how it’s been the last 3 weeks.  Oh well, to each his own.

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

 

Oy vey.

Ayeyay.

I don’t even know where to begin.  Last week was a bit of a mess.  Remember how I said I was so lazy that since I had started working out I would keep at it just to prevent the trauma of re-starting?  Yeah, tell that to the full 7 day break I had.  Oops.
For some reason, I was just SO. TIRED. last week!  Work has been a lot busier the last week or two with most everyone back in the office, but that’s a change I’m very happy about.  Maybe that had something to do with it?  My brain can only function so long now?  Whatever it was, most days I came home from work, made dinner (except for that one day I just had five oreos instead), and was fighting to keep my eyes open by 9:30.  I don’t know if it was the fact that Beijing is currently a soggy oven with heat and humidity, the pollution is slowly killing me, or what, but my body was just not having it last week.
It's been so polluted lately that I almost forgot what the moon looked like.  Oh yeah, that's what it is.

It’s been so polluted lately that I almost forgot what the moon looked like. Oh yeah, that’s what it is.

Thankfully I managed to pull it together by Sunday and start the week off right (exercise-wise at least)…I hope.
Yes, my roommate and I are cool enough to each have our own workout calendars, and yes, sometimes I can only get in a power walk at lunch and it goes on the calendar.

Yes, my roommate and I are cool enough to each have our own workout calendars, and yes, sometimes I can only get in a power walk at lunch and it goes on the calendar.

In other news, after a stressful few days of contract/money discussions, I had a mini breakdown about life and what I’m doing with mine Friday evening.  I cried to just about anyone who would listen.  I ate my feelings a little bit and I am not even a little bit sorry.  That and the puffy eyes that came Saturday morning made me a bit anti-social.  So, I went grocery shopping, picked up some dvds and brought it all back home to cook and hang out with myself.
Snickers brownie.  My feelings have never been more delicious.

Snickers brownie. My feelings have never been more delicious.

Sidenote: please never ever watch Magic Mike.  I know it’s misleading with the hot men and the dancing and the abs, but it’s not a funny light-hearted rom com, and  you will want a shower after watching it.  Consider yourself warned.
A few friends went to the anniversary of a club in Beijing, but I opted out.  Clubs are loud!  And this one almost always has terrible music and looks like an abandoned warehouse.  I’m sorry, but I have no desire to pay too much for poor-quality alcohol and be judged by hipsters with bad taste in music.  No, thank you.  (See, I have been properly initiated into Old Ladies R Us.)
Hello, friends.

Hello, friends.

Anywho, I made a lovely summer veggie pasta sauce and washed it down with a nice glass of Merlot and season 2 of Girls, or at least a few episodes.  Perfection.
Mmm.

Mmm.

Sunday brought a nice afternoon beer with a friend and then book club with the ladies that evening.  A lovely re-introduction to society, it was.  I also managed to catch up on Suits – man, I love that show.  My boss told me last week I was the Mike Ross to her Harvey Specter (she’s a winner), which made me think, where’s my hot paralegal?  Oh well, I suppose that’s a question for another day.
So, twentysomethings, anyone else struggling with where you should be in life and what to do about it?  Let me know when you figure it out so I can follow suit.  This growing up stuff is hard sometimes!

The Color Run

It’s colorific!

Hey everybody, come see how good we look!

Hey everybody, come see how good we look!

Yesterday, I “ran” in my first ever “race.”  Somehow, I managed to make it nearly 25 years without ever registering, paying for and participating in an actual race.  With my natural athletic prowess and background mainly consisting of years of musical theater and voice lessons, how I managed this is truly a mystery!  …Said no one ever.

This would be an example of my athletic ability...if I could ever get my leg up high enough to kick myself in the head.

This would be an example of my athletic ability…if I could ever get my leg up high enough to kick myself in the head.

Now, “ran” may be a strong word.  With a high of about 97 degrees, beaming sun with a slight haze, lots of humidity and almost no breeze along with the thousands of people who seemingly had no idea what they were doing or what a race was, actually running the entire thing would have been quite a feat.  Even relatively fit people who looked like they run on a regular basis walked most of the 5 kilometers around the Garden Expo.  However, they let me in and even gave me a runner’s bib with a real number, so I think that makes it official.

Pre-race, looking real clean and real fly with the roomie and our fannypacks.  Be jealous.

Pre-race, looking real clean and real fly with the roomie and our fannypacks. Be jealous.

Despite the heat, and of course the subsequent buckets of sweat, IT WAS SO. FUN.  Seriously, getting sweaty and colorful with some of my favorite people is one of the best ways I can think of to spend my Saturday afternoon.

When else do I get to look like this?

Delirious from the heat, or normal day?  You decide.

Delirious from the heat, or normal day? You decide.

I think my favorite part wasn’t the actual race, but true to form, the beers and (veggie) burgers that came after.  There’s just nothing like a cold, frosty beer to help re-hydrate after approximately 12 hours of sweating our bums off, amirite?

Check out my creepy eyes peepin' over the top of my glasses.  Nailed it.

Check out my creepy eyes peepin’ over the top of my glasses. Nailed it.

And being able to fist pump the air while yelling “Color Run!” to anyone else who looked like they got into a fight with Elmo, Big Bird and a pack of smurfs.  That’s pretty great.

We made this guy's day.

We made this guy’s day.

A few pros and cons of the race (in my very limited knowledge of these things of course): who thought running a 5k in the middle of August’s heat and humidity would be a good idea?  Waiting just a month or two longer would have greatly decreased the risk of heat stroke.  The color stations at each kilometer did all have water stations, but some were easier to find than others.  Also, the water may as well have been boiled for how cool and refreshing it was.  The heats were supposed to be 15 minutes apart, but about three minutes was more accurate for how it went down.  That made for tight spaces and bottle necks, so the few times I mustered the energy to pick up the pace, I was quickly shut out by a phalanx of walkers.  Oh well, I’m not a runner, anyway.

color group

Directions were given entirely in Chinese (someone correct me if you heard English directions, too), yet it was the locals who seemed to not be able to follows any directions whatsoever.  That’s probably just a Beijing thing, though. We were highly amused/perplexed at the droves of people participating who didn’t seem to know that they were at a race.  Many “runners” showed up in high-heeled strappy sandals and long flowy skirts.

The lines for on-site check-in did seem to go much faster than I anticipated, so kudos to the people organizing that part.  Signs to entrances, check-in, bathrooms and other appropriate labels/general directions could have been done a bit better though.

photo-15

All in all though, it was a super fun day, and I would absolutely recommend doing a Color Run – I will definitely be doing it again should the opportunity arise.  There are very few times where you get to get slathered in color and be silly with your best friends, so I’m very happy we did this.  The most surprising part for me was that I really enjoyed the 20 second spurts of running in between the power-walking.  I usually hate running, but this was kind of fun, and I wanted to do more of it!  We’ll see if that feeling continues past this weekend.

Just a couple short runs and I'm sure I'll look like this.

Just a couple short runs and I’m sure I’ll look like this.

I do think this was the perfect first race because it wasn’t timed, it encouraged frolicking instead of sprinting and people of all ages and levels of physical activity do it, so its athletic intimidation factor is pretty low.  I tend to cave pretty quickly and hide in a corner around people who are legitimately athletic.

One of my favorite coworkers!  She cheated a little by cleaning off in the fountain post-race, but we still like her!

One of my favorite coworkers! She cheated a little by cleaning off in the fountain post-race, but we still like her!

Today has been spent in a heat hangover.  It’s not a real hangover because three beers is not enough to get this girl nearly drunk enough for a hangover (aren’t ya proud, mom?), but I have been sluggish and dehydrated all day.  We did make sure to hydrate yesterday, but I think something with electrolytes is in order for such sustained sweating.

Anyone who approached us got this answer.  Why they approached us with how I'm sure we smelled is still a mystery.

Anyone who approached us got this answer. Why they approached us with how I’m sure we smelled is still a mystery.

Luckily, today’s skies have been riddled with pollution and thunderstorms, so I’ve taken this as God’s way of telling us this Sunday is for resting.  I’m making sure to take advantage of getting re-acquainted with my couch by rewatching season 1 of The Newsroom.  God, I love this show.  Despite the fact that I have zero emotions and was born without tear ducts, I cannot get through an episode without tearing up.  Superb writing, amazing acting, I can’t get enough.

Damn you, Jim Harper, for being so cute.

Damn you, Jim Harper, for being so cute and nerdy.

So has anyone else done a Color Run?  What was your experience like?

Go Heels. Go America.

I woke up this morning to find this little tidbit of news.   Former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  From President Obama.  Alongside former president Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Sally Ride (posthumously of course) and Oprah Winfrey, among others.  Is this real?

Yeah, girl!  It's REAL.

Yeah, girl! It’s REAL.

I’m not even gonna lie, I almost teared up out of joy and pride when I saw this.   I love Chapel Hill so much, and I love what it stands for even more.  Carolina has always been that little dot of blue in a sea of red, a beacon of progress in a whole bunch of crazy.  Especially right now, with all the negative going on, this is a fantastic reminder that we’re also known for doing right, whether it’s popular or not.  Dean Smith left that legacy at UNC, and Roy Williams continues to deliver that same message to a new generation of Tar Heels, along with other leaders across the state.  I’m thankful for my alma mater, my state and this reminder that we can do amazing things with determination, a lot of heart…and maybe a little Tar Heel pride.
dean smith
It’s a good day to be a Tar Heel, y’all.
I was actually AT this game.

I was actually AT this game.

deandean roy and mjPS – sorry for two posts in one day.  I just couldn’t hold in my Tar Heel pride.

Let’s just start over, shall we?

Do you ever have those days or weeks where you start off with the best-laid plans and intentions, full of energy and drive?  Yeah, well this wasn’t one of those weeks.

This week started off with food poisoning.
Monday's lone nourishment.

Monday’s lone nourishment.

Somehow, for only the second or third time ever, food poisoning snuck its way into my system late Sunday night, making for a rough Monday.  I spent most of the day doubled over on the couch, watching movies with my roommate.
Sidenote: everyone please go see ‘42.’  So good, it’ll make you believe in the good of people again.  Also, where have you been all my life, Chadwick Boseman?
Hey, hubby. (Source)

Hey, hubby. (Source)

Since that, every thing has been a little off this week.  Even yesterday’s blog post got deleted half way through (thanks, Internet!), and what I ended up re-writing wasn’t really all there or how I wanted to say it.  Ugh.  The food poisoning also really threw off my appetite and hunger for the week.  I am generally always in the mood for food, but I could hardly force a poptart down my throat for dinner on Wednesday, not cool.  I did manage to get in a little workout that evening though, so huzzah for small victories!
Speaking of working out, I’ve been trying to do so consistently again for the last two weeks, and I think it’s finally starting to stick!  I have a love/hate relationship with exercise.  I feel so much better and happier and less angry with the world when I have those endorphins flowing, but sometimes it takes way more effort than it should to get me going.  And then if I stop, it’s that much harder to start back up again.  So, out of sheer laziness, I’m trying to make it a regular habit.  It’s not like I’ve lost any weight or anything – and my goal is to feel better, not to look like a 14 year old pre-pubescent teen – but it’s a great feeling to put on your pants in the morning and not have them cut off your circulation.  As we all know, tight pants are cranky pants.  Hallelujah amen.
I also managed to get in some planning for my Christmas vacation at home, and my 25th birthday trip to Bali.  I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  Seven whole days in this paradise.
On the downside, I’ve realized I’m poor and will probably be in debt forever.  Yay!  Oh well, I won’t always have the opportunity to skip on down to a beautiful island, so what’s a little debt now for a lifetime of memories?  (Yes, that’s my bank account and credit score you hear weeping.  Luckily, I can’t hear them over the sound of crashing waves and delusion.)
Tomorrow, I’m doing the Color Run!  I abhor running.  I never do it, and I’m bad at it, probably because I never do it.  I think this will be more of a color power-walk, especially considering the race starts at 3:30 p.m., and the high is supposed to be 97, which will really feel like 197 with Beijing’s humidity.  Oh well, I’m excited to get sweaty and colorful with my friends and pretend that I enjoy “running” for a day.  We’ll see how that one goes…
On the plus side, my coworkers and I managed two trips to Obentos this week, yummm.  They know us by name, face, company and location now.  Perhaps because we gave them our business cards (like all the cool people do) on our first trip, but whatever.  Avocado makes me happy!  Again, folks at Obentos: I think all ones of threes of my readers seeing my recommendations are really going to help your business, so don’t forget me!
And now I leave you with this:
Happy Friday, y’all.

The REALLY?! Wrap-up

This week’s edition is devoted to my beloved home state of North Carolina.  This is by no means all-encompassing of anything, and seriously, don’t take my word for it.  Knowledge is power!

North Carolina is back in the news, and once again it’s for all the wrong reasons.

No sooner had the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act than North Carolina began to lead the charge of southern states in disenfranchising voters everywhere.  These thinly veiled attempts at combating voter fraud are merely that, and everyone sees right through them.  John Oliver did a hilarious (if it weren’t actually true) bit on the Old North State that is spot-on and says it better than I can – and with slightly less personal misery.

Watch the video here.  Sorry, I couldn’t get it to embed.  (Technology is getting the best of me today.)

I mean, REALLY, if the North Carolina legislature has it their way, soon the only people allowed to vote will be those already in office.

Oliver also touches on some other pieces of legislation North Carolina has recently put through, or is attempting to do so, particularly in reference to abortion and women’s health and reproductive rights (and yes, it is that all-encompassing).  REALLY?!, North Carolina?  You think religious law is a problem?  Maybe you should remove your own from our public policy before you sit down to work.

I find it ironically amusing that while Republicans claim to want less government, they have no problem getting their laws all up in my lady business.  Really, if I wanted you there, you’d have an invitation.  Oh yours didn’t come in the mail?  Then stay out, please.

Think that’s enough?  Nope.  Our government is also attacking our teachers, the people charged with not only the textbook education of our students, but also their well-being more often than not.  (This article from the New York Times touches on this.)  We depend on teachers to instill in our children not only math, science and proper grammar but also integrity, confidence and the values we used to pride ourselves on.  How are our educators supposed to do this if they can’t afford to live?  And what will the effects of losing these educators do to future generations of students?  I hope something changes and we don’t have to find out.

Does it sound like I’m angry?  Well, I am.  I’m angry that this is happening.  I’m also angry that the people working to fight these horrendous assaults on basic rights are not in the news as much as the crazies in control.  I’m echoing myself from something I wrote last year, but there are SO MANY amazing organizations replete with incredible individuals that are working their tails off to represent the best interests of our state.

Two groups that I have worked with personally, the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), are doing amazing work and making headlines themselves, all blazing a trail for justice.

SCSJ’s Allison Riggs on Rachel Maddow

I’m so proud to have been a part of these groups, and it kills me that I’m not in the thick of it with them right now.  

Despite my friends from other states and countries giving me crap about my state right now, I’m so proud to call North Carolina my home.  I’m proud to see protesters at Moral Mondays.  I’m proud to see my friends and former colleagues standing up for each other, because if we don’t who, who will?  And who will stand up for us when our time comes?

So come on North Carolina, let’s show everyone what good the South is capable of.

I am a riveting human being.

Y’all, I have officially taken this whole anti-social thing to new levels.  I may be bordering on misanthropic right now.  It’s not that I don’t adore my friends – I really do!  I just think I need more personal space than the average human being, something that is very difficult to come by in this can of sardines city.  So, prepare to be thrilled by my week.

Since I am Queen of the Hermits, my work week usually consists of work, visits to the Starbucks around the corner from my office, and home.  However, a coworker and I spiced it up this week by venturing outside of our office for lunch, and boy was I one happy girl.

Vegan heaven.

Vegan heaven.

 

Forgive that this is sideways.  I forgot to rotate and am far too lazy to do so now that it's FINALLY uploaded.

Forgive that this is sideways. I forgot to rotate and am far too lazy to do so now that it’s FINALLY uploaded.

I had the tofu burgers bento box for lunch, and ordered the pumpkin tofu salad to take home for dinner that night.  The bento box was tasty and SO filling, and I nearly licked that salad container clean.  Ginger soy dressing.  NOM.  Go ahead and scoff, but healthy food that is also delicious is very hard to come by in Beijing outside of my kitchen, AND the Obentos location near my office is 50 percent off all food for the entire month of August.    These people don’t know it yet, but they met their new best friend last week.  And hey Obentos, if you would like to pay me for my endorsement, I will gladly accept daily and/or weekly payments of meals.  Thanks!

I felt so happy about eating healthily for two meals that I managed to even get a workout in on Friday evening before skyping with this fine lady.

 

IMG_1034A

 

Look at that form!  Guess we didn't get the memo to wait for the picture before consuming those jello shots...

Look at that form! Guess we didn’t get the memo to wait for the picture before consuming those jello shots…

Ok, last one.  I just have pretty friends and like to show them off.  Sue me!

Ok, last one. I just have pretty friends and like to show them off. Sue me!

I love that even though I’m halfway around the world, and we barely see each other, and she’s a crazy awesome/busy businesswoman, an hour and a half on skype flies by without us even noticing.  Need more of her in my life!

Saturday I made these bad boys:

Peanut butter-stuffed banana chocolate chip pancakes.

Peanut butter-stuffed banana chocolate chip pancakes.

They were vegan, but they still used sugar and lots of other delicious things that are sadly not calorie-free, but I made sure to polish them off.  In my religion, it’s a sin to not finish your chocolate.  After that I treated myself to a nice two-hour workout because, hey, why not?  A few errands and a trip to the wine store later (because a house without wine just makes me uneasy), I was talked into breaking my solitudinal (yes, I made that a word) ways, and met up with Amelie to enjoy the incredibly rare sunshine and blue skies.  Naturally, an adult beverage on a rooftop is the only way to properly enjoy such an oddity.

I swear she was happier about seeing the sun and me than she appears.  Also note that I made up for missing National IPA Day.

I swear she was happier about seeing the sun and me than she appears. Also note that I made up for missing National IPA Day.

Since I met my social interaction quota for the week, I headed home to catch up with my heterolife partner via skype:

Us in the Philippines a couple of years ago.  Dang, we're cute.

Us in the Philippines a couple of years ago. Dang, we’re cute.

I miss her.  Sigh.  I also watched this:

drinking buddies movie

That title is misleading.  When I hear drinking buddies, I picture this or this.  I didn’t dislike this movie, but be warned, it’s actually kind of serious and bordering on depressing.

Sunday morning I caught up with my sweet mom and these cuties:

My Nana & Papaw.  And also, their new car.

My Nana & Papaw. And also, their new car.

True to form, my grandparents decided that at least 8 minutes had passed since they last purchased a car, so it was time for another.  A possibly related sidenote: I sold my car at Christmas, they now have three cars for two people.  Happy coincidence for me when I’m home?  I think yes.  🙂

So yeah, that mostly the high points.  Think your week was better than mine?  Think again.  I HAND-FED A PANDA THIS WEEK.

My office's adopted panda, Mei Mei.  Yeah, my job rocks sometimes.

My office’s adopted panda, Mei Mei. Yeah, my job rocks sometimes.

*Drops the mic.*

 

 

 

 

 

The REALLY?! Wrap-up

No matter where I am on this lovely planet we call Earth, there are certain things I will just never understand.  These are some of those things.  A new weekly installment for the blog.

Using the facilities when there are no facilities.
Now, it’s been a while since I lived full-time in America, but if my memory serves me right, the only people that pee on a regular basis outside of the bathroom are my dogs and teenage boys.  However, in China, that is a regular occurrence in the most non-sensical places and ways.  On my trip to the zoo Monday, I was standing near the ramp exit of an underground walkway.  A family of four was walking up, presumably to also see the pandas.  Apparently though, this little girl, probably about 7 years old, had an urgent need for the bathroom.  I get it; I, too, have a tiny bladder.  But homegirl decided to go to the top of said ramp, pop a squat and pee downhill.  REALLY?!
Men who roll their shirts up just past their bellies.
It gets hot in Beijing.  Temperatures this week are hitting the upper 90s at about 18739 percent humidity, which really makes for a great hair week, lemme tell ya.  Aside from the point.  Men here seem to think it’s a great idea to roll their shirts up just past the tops of their rib cages in an effort to cool off.  These same men pop the collars of those shirts they’ve rolled up.  If a woman did this here, well…a woman would NEVER do this here because everyone is too damn self-conscious about their bodies.  But REALLY?!  Is it that much cooler, guys?  Because I’m callin’ your bluff.
Tummy time in Beijing.

Tummy time in Beijing.

Blasphemy.
Duke University scored higher on a list than Carolina?  A list that factors in the cost of tuition?!  Who wrote this thing, Coach K?  I mean, REALLY?!  (Sidenote: my computer hates Coach K so much that his photo refused to upload.)
Where’s my Tim Riggins?
In my recent nostalgia for all things America, I’ve had a hankering for the television delight that is Friday Night Lights.  It’s NOWHERE to be found in any bootleg DVD shop all over this city.  I nearly peed my pants with excitement the other night when I discovered it on Baidu, the free, crazy-awesome Chinese version of Hulu and iTunes and Google, all combined in one.  Happy dance!  Then I discovered, there are only TWO EPISODES.  What a tease, Baidu.  How am I supposed to make it in China until Christmas without my daily dose of Coach Taylor, #33 and adorable little Matt Saracen?   REALLY?!  (And don’t forget everyone’s favorite girl crush Tami Taylor, hallelujah amen.)
Oh Matt Saracen, just give my heart back already.  Source: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m744juKNS51qznrtgo1_500.png

Oh Matt Saracen, just give my heart back already. Source: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m744juKNS51qznrtgo1_500.png

Heyyyy, Coach Taylor.  Did y'all know Kyle Chandler went to UGA?  God bless the South.  Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/kyle-chandler/images/1741394/title/coach-taylor-photo

Heyyyy, Coach Taylor. Did y’all know Kyle Chandler went to UGA? God bless the South. Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/kyle-chandler/images/1741394/title/coach-taylor-photo

Grab the bucket, because I think I just melted.  Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/tim-riggins/images/26266716/title/tim-riggins-photo

Grab the bucket, because I think I just melted. Source: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/tim-riggins/images/26266716/title/tim-riggins-photo

This zit poppin’ up between my eyebrows.
Because the humidified Hermione hair just wasn’t enough.  REALLY?!
We're not amused.

We’re not amused.

The dangers of group fitness.
I love me some heyrobics.  Lord knows I am not even close to a very fit person, but I do enjoy sweating it out every week with the Swedes.  However, in my recent realization of oh-god-i’m-so-out-of-shape-and-can’t-do-the-intense-classes-like-i-used-to, I decided to test out the starter-medium level class on Monday nights.  Holy goodness, they forgot to mention I’d need padding.  It is a danger zone.  I get not being coordinated.  I struggled through dance classes and paraded around the back of dance numbers in show choir for YEARS, but come on y’all, if you have zero rhythm, keep a personal buffer of at least 5 feet.  I’m tryna lose some jiggle over here, not get plowed to the ground because you’re flailing at me!  REALLY?!  (Word to the wise: never google image search ‘sports injury.’  I’m still recovering.)
P.J. Hairston
For the love of all things good and Roy, stop effing up, Hairston.  You’re part of a team with not only a tradition of winning, but one of integrity.  Get it together, or pack your bags, dude.  And try not to hurt anyone in the process.
My craving for chocolate.
No matter how good I am, my true self the Cookie Monster makes an appearance at least once a day.  Kale salad?  COOKIE MONSTER DON’T CARE.  Omnomnom.  I mean, really?!
This is an actual photo of me at bedtime.

This is an actual photo of me at bedtime.

Dancing like you don’t care.
This weekend, we hosted a ladies evening at my apartment where we enjoyed a delicious, home-crafted meal and just enough wine to make us want to dance.  And then maybe a little tequila.  And then, we DANCED.  We went out in public (shocker!) and danced our little hearts out and booties off to a 90s cover band.  Pure, unadulterated, sweaty heaven.  Who cares if I possibly looked like a teenager who had never escaped her parents basement until that day?  It was fun.  I mean, really?!  Why don’t we do that more often?
awkward dance party
Vehemence against people getting married.
I for one am actually, very secretly, NOT offended by all the happy photos of people gracing my Facebook feed whilst getting married.  Weddings are one of the very few occasions in life where the bride and groom will be able to have all the people they love in one room.  I may be heading up the Beijing chapter of Spinsters4Lyfe, but I still like the hope and happiness that weddings symbolize.  And who doesn’t love the electric slide?!  So come on y’all, let’s be happy for them because, really, life’s too short.  🙂
wedding