On our own

On our own

On Tuesday, Nai and Yeb began the painful 24-hour journey back to the States. They’re both in their 80’s and still making crazy long trips like that! It’s amazing. I don’t know where they get that kind of stamina. Yeb spent his final days taking advantage of all the pampering services SH has to offer. He went to the bath house down the street for the third time. Soaked in the hot tub, took a dip in the cool tub, went to the sauna, got a back rub. Then went to the local massage parlour and had got a foot massage… For dinner, we went to a tiny food joint a few doors down. It has the same name as I: Xiao something Hui. The place was so mobbed, with dirty dishes left on the tables and soup spilled all over the floor. Seats were so few and far between that random people shared seats at a table. After a few minutes of strategizing, we secured four seats at a table, but the fifth seat was taken by some random young lady. We consumed so much food at this meal: a dozen wontons, two bowls of beef noodles and 24 shen jian bao’s (dumplings). Total cost? A whopping 20 kuai (or $2+ USD). Yeah the food is cheap as hell and according to John, the dumplings are incredible. But still, I prefer my PBJ. Old habits are tough to break.

So Wednesday was our first day without Nai and Yeb. It was definitely a little strange. No more waking up to a hot morning breakfast. No more constant commotion in the kitchen. And no more cab rides everywhere. One good thing: we were able to break the Chinese food diet. For dinner, I was so excited to eat non-Chinese. We went out for pizza at La Casbah… unfortunately, this place was all quality not quantity. We devoured the thing in a matter of minutes and then headed to good ‘ol McD’s to fill ‘er up. I know, it sounds ridiculous. In the States, we rarely visit the golden arches. You’re probably familiar with all the news about the multinational corporation falling into a rut, closing shops and suffering losses for the first time in the company’s history . Well whatever the story is in the States, it’s completely different here. McD’s is always packed. You have to push and shove just to get in the front door and then you have to wrestle with all the line butters at the counter. When you finally do get your food, there are no seats. It’s insane. But I have to admit, those fries hit the spot. And at McD’s you can always count on the food tasting just as it should… the fries, the coke, the apple pie– processed, packaged, and heated to utter perfection! Other successful US MNC in Shanghai include: KFC (that place has more business than McD’s), Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. But the Colonel definitely rules in Shanghai. KFC’s elite status has even prompted some knockoffs (see left).

Thanks for sending all your positive comments regarding John’s new hairstyle. I think Mr. Fancypants is quite pleased with his new look. The ball is now rolling… The latest change? His fingernails. Let me explain. I’ve known John since 1995. He has never, and I repeat NEVER had that white part on the tip of his fingernails. He has always ripped them off (yes, violently) with his teeth, resulting in red, raw little nubs for fingers. Early on, I had already accepted this idiosyncrasy. Fingernails occupying just half of the nail bed were fine. We’re married, after all. Then all of the sudden, John tells me he’s going to grow his fingernails. As a test of will, he said. A way to demonstrate that old habits can be broken. Fine, whatever floats your boat, right? Three weeks later, voila! There was about 3-4 mm of white on every fingertip. It was all uneven and jagged, but a huge victory nonetheless. We went to the nail salon for his first manicure (I know, a little primpy, but it’s just this time). Even got the clear gloss. 🙂 And boy do his hands look nice. Have a look for yourself. Smooth, trimmed nails. At this rate, in another month, I won’t even recognize him!

In other news (I almost forgot), I was offered a couple of teaching positions this week. After facing weeks of discrimination (to put it bluntly), I finally found some employers who agreed that I could both be Chinese and a native English speaker (Imagine that!). So I will be a part-time ESOL instructor for two places, starting after the Chinese New Year. Hurray!

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