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June, 2011

  1. I have this friend…

    June 28, 2011 by admin

    I’ve talked about her before, she’s Chinese and lives in my complex, 17 yrs. old, wants to go to an American University when she graduates and her mother wanted her to have an American friend to discuss things with.  I guess there weren’t any American girls her age around here so she got stuck with good ‘ol Aunt Marie.  She asks me questions about America and it’s colleges and I tell her the important things like how 90% of the students from the top schools are either drunk or hungover through most of it (i.e.George Bush) but they still manage to pass with honors and go on to big jobs on Wall Street where they will continue to rape and pillage through our financial system or they’ll run for Senator…or both.

    But I digress…this girl, I’ll call her Kiwi (because that’s her name) is extremely smart and hardworking, she just got her SAT2 scores back and didn’t miss ONE question.  I know. When I first met Kiwi, I was afraid  it might be one of those “tiger mom” situations and got frightened the mother might try to interrogate me or even beat me.  But then I realized no good tiger mom would let their child spend time with me in the first place (childless and in my 40’s, no career to speak of, loves dogs too much and drinks wine like she’s part of the Medici family).   AND, I’ve since had dinner with her parents several times and they are just the most wonderful people.  Which brings me to the Yang Mei Berries.  Kiwi’s mother is the gift that keeps on giving.  She sends over chocolates, black glutinous rice, moon cakes, tea, Hermes perfume (swear to god) and only the best.  So when my door bell rang and her Ayi dropped off a basket of goods it was no surprise.   This basket contained Yang Mei berries which I’d seen in the stores recently because it’s their season but had never tried them.  I immediately took several out, rinsed them, ate them and thought they were the most delicious berry I’ve ever had.  About 10 minutes later I received a text from Kiwi making sure that before I eat them I must first soak them in salt water so the worms come out.  I was like, TOO late lady Jane, I’ve just eaten 10 of them!  Anyway, they truly are the most amazing thing ever, especially AFTER you soak them.

  2. Sister

    June 23, 2011 by admin

    Probably the worst part of being an expat is that you miss your family…and I actually LIKE my family, so it’s hard sometimes.  My best friend and sister, Jenny, is turning 50 this weekend and will be celebrating with her friends in Palm Springs and I will have to miss it.  Dang it all.

    Dear Jenny,

    I love you.  I love you because you were the kind of tiny little girl who managed to put a chair in front of the fridge, climb it and get to that chocolate cake mom was hiding from you.  I love you because when we were in Rome and heading out for the evening, you said “I’m tired, let’s not stay out late” and two glasses of champagne later I couldn’t peel you off the dance floor.  I love you because you are so beautiful and charming that when a particular hotel owner fell for you, he gave ME free margaritas.  I love you because when I had foot surgery and was in pain, you brought me a scotch to wash down my vicodin and then said, “wanna dance a little?”.   I love you because when we’re body surfing and the waves get too big and scare you, you want to hold my hand when we dive down under them. I love you because you are a beautiful singer and you once had a party and Michael Stipe came and made me a martini.   I love you because you love nature and animals and taught me to do the same and we’ve hiked so many wonderful places together with our dogs (the snowy Rio Grande trail!). Lastly, the one thing I don’t love about you is that you’re my older sister but you look SO MUCH YOUNGER!

    Happy Birthday Jenny, you’re the best sister ever!!

    And your little dog too!

  3. Sexpats

    June 22, 2011 by admin

    It’s that time of year in Shanghai when the birds are singing, the azaleas are blooming, the expat kids get out of school and the moms take them to their home countries for the summer…and the local girls come out in their shortest shorts hoping to find their bored husbands.

    I just love summer and Shanghai is having a big celebration!  (I know, I know, we have one every 5 minutes for goodnessakes).  It’s the 90th Anniversary of the Communist Party!!  Just down the street from our house is the museum of the “1st Meeting of the Congress for the Communist Party” (not easy to remember after a few beers) so the tour buses are coming nonstop to see the wax figures of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai et al, standing around the conference table looking like they can’t decide whether to order Chinese take-out or get a foot massage.  Anyway, the government has been cracking down on corruption in honor of the “standards” (and you can read as much sarcasm into those quotes as you like) created by the founders of the party in 1921.

    Of course, like every holiday, there will be the firework bombings and raids and Bernie will go into hiding yet again.

    Here’s the new garden sculpture erected for the celebration (it’s lovely but nothing will replace dear Haibao)

  4. Bartering turns violent at “Fake Market”

    June 21, 2011 by admin

    Do not shop at the Nanjing Lu “Fake Market”!!!   First let me say this was told to me by my friend who has lived in China for 21 years and her sons were both raised here their entire life and speak as fluently as any local person.

    Her son and two of their friends (who are all very tall, big 19 year olds) were walking around the Fake Market when they saw an American or possibly Canadian woman, speaking loudly with a local shop keeper over a purse.  She was bartering and the price was too high so she said she didn’t want the bag.  The shop keeper told her “you’re shit!” and then flipped her off (I’m glad we were able to teach the locals our more pleasant habits).  The woman then gave the shopkeeper the bird right back at which point he slapped her across the face so hard she fell on the floor.  The boys ran over to help her as did another expat woman, where the man then picked up a stool and went over to charge at the other female expat.   The other shopkeepers got involved telling the man to use the back stairs and get out of the building and then turned on the boys threatening them that they better not start any trouble.  They got out of the building as fast as they could, as did the woman who got hit.

    So here is my first and last lecture on this subject.  The “fake market” is actually a COUNTERFEIT market.  It’s full of goods that are cheaply copied with stolen trademarked logos that are illegal in the Western part of the world (for good reason) and usually made in sweatshops run by bad people so that locals and Expats (who can typically afford the real items mind you) can look bitchin’ in front of their friends.   Except now you might get slapped in the face for not paying enough for your so-called fake item.  BE REAL people.

    There, I got that off my chest.

    KITTY PIX!!!

  5. Gross

    June 14, 2011 by admin

    I don’t know if it was the 3-day-old piece of Tiramisu cake I ate for lunch or reading this news from Shanghai Daily that is causing great pain in the pit of my stomach.   Before I tell you the story though I want to say that I had been staring that cake in the face for sometime now and had no problem simply shutting the door on it.  So why today, all that time later, I had to eat it is beyond me.  It’s like it sprouted arms and was pulling my face into it.  Weird.

    But weirder than that…“SWARMS of termites resistant to normal pesticides swept across downtown Shanghahi yesterday, bringing misery to householders and businesses.” Shanghai Daily reports.

    “I was startled to see so many termites flying into my face in a supermarket on Zhenning Road,” 27-year-old Jing’an resident Kevin Zhou said yesterday evening. It Gets better…“But when I came out, there were thousands of them flying and crawling under every light and neon sign along the street.” Is your stomach hurting yet??? Meanwhile, Alex Dong, a 31-year-old from Hongkou District, told Shanghai Daily that she had been terrified to see hundreds of termites marching into her room in an old building on Yulin Road. “My father sprayed water on them but that didn’t seem to work,” Dong continued, “I don’t know whether these ugly insects will tear down the old building. There’s more… “Another termite control worker surnamed Liu with Zhongxin Environment Protection Co advised residents not to spray normal pesticides on the insects.  They have become immune to these and spraying them would only drive them into nooks and crannies where they would produce more offspring, he said.  Short of calling in the professionals, Liu suggested residents who suffer from termites turn off all the lights at home, leaving only a flashlight next to a bowl of water.  “Ideally, the termites will be attracted by the light, crawl into the water and drown,” said Liu.

    These termites are pretty fascinating.  They are immune to pesticides, they like to march and are able to tear down large buldings but cannot swim in a small bowl of water.

    Alas, some pretty things in Shanghai

  6. Xiao Mao

    June 9, 2011 by admin

    It’s that time of year when all the unspayed cats give birth and so Shanghai is bustling with kittens.  Our complex has a favorite cat because this particular cat isn’t afraid of people or dogs and will come up to anyone for a scratch on the head.  It was no surprise then when she recently gave birth to 5 adorable kittens that all the worker’s, expats and children came together to take care of them.  A “home” was made for them and there is always plenty of food, water, love and attention.  About a week ago another kitten, somewhat older, joined them out of the blue and was happily adopted by the entire brood.  I noticed today, however that this kitten’s stomach was going in and out in a rather unusual and rapid way so I asked Zhai to drive me to the local animal hospital because it’s close by and they could take him right away.   They ran a few tests and then said he would need some X-rays (Odd side note: The technician led me to the X-ray room and then instructed Zhai and I on how to hold the kitten in place on the machine while he walked behind the protective wall and took the picture!  He ended up taking 3 X-rays so if an arm grows out of my hip or all my hair falls out, you’ll know why).

    Unfortunately, they told me they don’t think this kitten is going to make it.  If he was older they could try a surgical procedure but he’s just too young.  As soon as I got him back in the car he fell asleep in my arms and I criiiiied like a baby.  I placed him back in his “house” with the other kittens and they were so happy to see him.  At least he won’t be alone.  It’s also possible that hospital doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about and I exposed myself to radiation for no good reason.  Will keep you posted.

    Here he is lying on top of the smaller kittens, keeping them cozy while they sleep.

  7. Motorbed, Comfortscoot, ParknSleep

    June 8, 2011 by admin

  8. The Good, The Bad and the…

    June 7, 2011 by admin

    what in the flashdance hell is going on here!?