Monday, May 26, 2008

donna martin graduates!

whoa. finals are here. if my life were a tv show, this week would be the season finale and heady shit would go down. but alas, it's not, so instead this splendid time is filled with studying for two tests, an oral presentation (done, schwing!) and a two-person skit, yes, a skit...oh, man, takes me back to ms. stockmann's drama class circa late 90's. i, also, sadly to say, have been frequenting starbucks a lot recently since i cannot study in my room, and, truth be told, miss good coffee. tonight, however, i was rewarded kindly for such indulgent behavior. you see children, i was preparing for my lit final tomorrow when an employee came over and invited me to participate in their 'party' beginning at 6 o'clock. of course i accepted. to make things easy, i have created a bulleted outline of the glorious festivities.
  • first, we--there were about 10 other guests--were escorted to the back area of the cafe and got to order any drink we wanted for free.
  • then, we filled out a card with our names, favorite store--yeah, i didn't really get it, so left that part blank--and favorite starbucks drink.
  • after this brief introduction, they gave us a sample cup of water--not sure why, perhaps to cleanse our palettes?--and told us to down it. then filled it with coffee, made us smell it and slowly sip it. once we finished half of it, they came around and poured orange juice, yes, orange juice, in it and instructed us to finish it. whaaaat? as expected, orange juice + coffee=not so delicious.
  • now, it was time for the games.
    • game one: spelling contest! after taking us behind the bar and showing us how to make a caramel macchiato, they had us spell out 'caramel macchiato' in english and in chinese. i spelled it correctly in english, although had no idea what it was called in chinese, yet still managed to score a 'geography is a flavour' map type thing.... score!
    • game two: picture contest! we were split into two groups. they gave us a bunch of little, colored magnets and we had to make a collage to be judged by the employee moderators. my group made a picture that read: SC (for starbucks and coffee, respectively) = heart. creative, no? the other group wrote out 'love' and had two stick figures holding hands. they declared all of us winners...oh man, takes me back to the parker-'everybody is a winner'-days--and gave us a fold-up starbucks shopping back thing.... and one!
    • game three: trivia! they asked us three questions: where was the first starbucks? when did the first starbucks come to hangzhou? and, how many starbucks are there in hangzhou? i answered the first one right--seattle, duh!-- and won myself a purple stuffed rat... count it!
    • game four: bonding game! so, for the last game, we played a middle-school retreat/NOLS/MOO-esque game. i'm too lazy to write it all out, but i'll tell you this much, it involved holding hands in a circle, pointing, dancing and singing. but yeah, do you believe in miracles? yes! yes! because just as those young americans defeated the unbeatable russians, i, too, came out victorious in this underdog battle.
end of story: i dominated that fucking party. and left with some baller tchotskies...oh man, takes me back to the time i tried to put becca cohen in the charity tchotsky box in 7th grade.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

crazy eights

so, i don't know if y'all have noticed, but this year, thus far, has certainly been an interesting one for china. according to superstitious folk, however, this is not a coincidence. in china, eight is the luckiest number because the word for eight 'ba' resembles the word for prosper 'fa'--source: 'numbers in chinese culture'. yeah middlebury, i referenced wikipedia, whatchu gonna do bout it?! anyways, since the beijing olympics are in 2008, the chinese figured, well shit, that's kinda lucky, now lets make it even more the opening ceremonies are scheduled to begin on 08.08.08 at 8:08:08pm. recently, due to unfortunate events, some are nervous that all this eight business is backfiring. check out this nutso/creeeepy conspiracy i just heard. (ellen-i basically copy-and-pasted this from the email i sent you, so you can skip over the next paragraph)

since the start of the year there have been 3 major, not so fortunate events: a massive snowstorm that stalled all the trains and prevented a whole lot of people from going home for the new year, the riots in tibet and now, this devasting earthquake. here's where shit gets totally crazy...the dates of each occurence add up to eight... snowstorm: january 25 (1+2+5), riots: march 14 (3+1+4) and earthquake: may 12 (5+1+2).....ahh conspiracy theory! clearly there is some sort of higher power and it is not happy with the chinese. i have decided that for the remaining "eight" days--tomorrow for instance--i am going to be extra cautious.

in other news, the olympic torch came to hangzhou on sunday morning. ann, chynna and i went to check it out, but due to a two-layer wall of people--see picture--we were unsuccessful. nonetheless, it was still quite an experience. a lot of screaming and 'i heart china' t-shirts, my favorite was the 'i heart china more than ever!' slogan....because let's face it, before i only sort of loved china, but now, maaaaaan, you don't even know!

even though i am taller than most chinese, i'm not that tall. bummer.
everybody was screaming, and i mean screeeeaming, 'jia you (gee-ah yo)!'
direct translation: add more gas!
my entourage

Thursday, May 15, 2008

who's the awkward one now?

as you have probably figured out, i love awkward moments, live for them, at times, even seek out these muscle-cringing experiences. most of the time, i am fully aware--at least i think i am--that what i am doing, or the situation i am in, is uncomfortable and take it all in. what i am slowly realizing, however, is that some chinese people put my awkwardness to shame, but don't even realize they possess such an empowering attribute.

two examples:
a. i was working at a cafe, and the woman sitting next to me asked to look at my work. i handed her my material, and thought after a few minutes she would simply return it and we would both continue with our respective activities. well, just moments later, she pulled a chair up to my table and began drilling me about my chinese. we hit an awkward silence, so i signaled that i should continue working, once again thinking she would head out. but, no... instead she told me she wanted to watch me work. whaaaaat? so...i...did. it was weird. about twenty minutes later, she asked for my email address and left. while i was tempted to give her the address i usually give people i don't actually want to hear from i decided that was not necessary. still haven't heard from her though...should i be insulted?

2. a few weeks later, the SAME thing happened, except this time instead of studying, i was running on a treadmill. so yeah, i was just getting my treadmill on, and this little chinese staff lady came to my side. i removed my headphones, and said hello. after returning the greeting, she just stood there...watching me. i had NO idea what to do. so...i...kept running. a minute later she reached over and increased my elevation. um, thanks? then, she left. i thought i was in the clear, but, once again, was mistaken. instead, she came back with some paper towels so i could wipe off my sweat. um, thanks? after 13 minutes of her staring and periodically jumping up and down due to excitement(?), i cruised over to the rowing machine. she squatted down next to me and then just started talking and talking and talking...'i want to speak english with you! oh! but i can't! it's too bad! hehe! i want to take you to my hometown with my boyfriend! hehe! you are so tall, i am trying to grow taller--good luck with that girlfriend--hehe! etc...' after ten minutes, i gave in and we exchanged cell phone numbers. i have since received many text messages from her, asking me when i'm going to return. (un)fortunately, i threw out my back--the same thing happened to me just two days before the production of 'hair' sophomore year of high school. i was bed ridden for a full day and was deathly terrified i wouldn't be able to star in the musical as 'no-name tribe member #7'. but, alas, stole that fucking show--so haven't been back in a few days. as for that trip with her and her boyfriend, i'm thinking about it...

annnnd, totally unrelated to is a glorious day for chicagoans all over the world. after two long, liver-less years, the city council finally reversed the ban on foie gras. now i can look forward to eating a 'joe moore/tom tunney' when i get home...
hot doug's: 1 chicago: 0

Monday, May 12, 2008

bouncing dance floor, hidden dragon

i am glad to report that i have successfully infiltrated the chinese gay scene, and i couldn't be happier. i don't know where my comfort level with gay guys originates from--maybe my cousin chrissy? oh wait, was that a secret?!-- but, regardless, dancing with gay guys is, well, just fun. i have yet to make it to the legendary roscoes in chicago, but for the time being jundu, the gay bar we found in hangzhou has hit the spot. aesthetically speaking, this little dance club looks more like a hole-in-the-wall dive bar you might have stumbled upon in bucktown ten years ago--at least how i imagine bucktown pre-real world/yuppie invasion. the dance floor is pretty small, and while watching the skinny men with shirts pulled up past their stomachs dance, it was hard not to snicker at how their heads/bodies amazingly bounced in sync. well, that was until we ventured onto the floor and realized that it was not suspended into the ground..whaaaat? yeah, i know, increddddible...a little dangerous, but nonetheless absolutely fantabulous. let's just hope that a bouncing dance floor is in the works for the mccullough social space would become a freshman heaven on earth.

the day after this groundbreaking discovery--more on earth-shattering activity later--ann, chynna and i headed to the anji bamboo forest, the location of 'crouching tiger, hidden dragon'. rumor has it this place was untouched ten years ago, therefore making it an ideal spot for the film, but leave it to the chinese to completely transform such a pristine area into a crazy tourist site. below are pictures that show the pretty and the hilarious sides of anji...

we ventured off the stair trail...if we had gotten in trouble, we planned on pulling out the "i don't speak chinese" foreigner-card...
chynna: warrior or monkey? you decide
because hiking is just too tiring...
roller-coaster type slide...because hiking is just too tiring...
ok, so they had a blow-up human-sized hamster wheel on water. i couldn't say no. but let me tell you, that shit was hard, as seen in the sequence below...

making my way up...

finally, some of you may have heard about the earthquake that hit sichuan today. apparently it was felt all over china, hangzhou included--i was feeling under the weather and i think slept through it. i still don't know how bad the damage was in sichuan, but aside from a few swaying buildings, nothing serious occurred here, so no need to worry. k, that was almost too serious for me, so have a look at my new boyfriend...i heart comb-overs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

a second reference to 'newsies'

hola, amigos. what do you hear? i know it's been a long time since i rapped at ya, but i been dragging my ass through the routine. the past few weeks have been both monotonous and crazy at the same time...possible? yes. school work has yet to slow down, and with four weeks left, it seems like it never will. so yeah, not fun. buuuuut, i have also had two crapulous--great word, yeah?--nights in shanghai, one in hangzhou. highlight was when chynna and i ended up at a gay bar dancing with shirtless brits and malaysians in shanghai... yeaaaah college, no parents, ice cream for breakfast!

in other news, summer has hit hangzhou. surprisingly, hangzhou-ians/ans/ers(?) still wear long sleeve shirts and pants, but accessorize the look with the 'sun' umbrella. the past week has brought out more umbrellas than an indian summer monsoon. it's awesome, suddenly rihanna's song is multi-functional. this weather has also led to my increased usage of tad. while riding that little guy is effing sweet, i sorely miss cruising in lloyd, my fantastically ugly turquoise subaru legacy wagon. in order to fill this void in my heart, i have put aside my pride and dignity and started singing like a fool while tearing through the streets. i don't know if it's fate, or all in my head, but i swear every time i hit a scenic bridge or the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, the song hits the chorus and, therefore, the crescendo of the my life-movie montage. top three: 'sunday bloody sunday', 'unwritten' and 'carrying the banner'. the last is the best...each time i hear the line 'we need a good assassination!' i think of that epic jack kelly pelvic thrust.

finally, today i tried to make breakfast--egg/toad in a hole--and failed miserably...big surprise there. *update* apparently in new jersey they call this fine delicacy "rocky mountain toast"...i don't understand...jersey, they would.