Monthly Archives: February 2005

What’s Up with the Phlegm?

What’s Up with the Phlegm?

Okay, so it’s no secret. Despite my best attempts to hide my cold (the billionth one I’ve caught) from my father, he still detected my illness over the course of our two-minute phone conversation. Blame it on the damn phlegm that practically choked me to death in my sleep. Yes, I had some bizarro dream last night (No, not the one from last week where Brad Pitt was whispering sweet nothings into my ear…). I started wailing, and then I suddenly couldn’t breathe. Good thing the choking woke me from a shitty dream; otherwise, I would have been pissed. Yes, after I abruptly awoke during the Brad Pitt dream, I pathetically tried to go back to bed to resume my dinner. Of course, I should tell you frankly: he was way more in to me (than I was him). Yeah, I know, that’s why it was a dream.

Anyway, back to real life. I’m starting to feel bummed out, because John’s slated to head out in a couple weeks. No more 24/7 buddy. 🙁

We had a lot of fun today. I met Kai Wing and his cousin Kira at the webblogger’s meetup on Wednesday night. They invited us to join them for dim sum at Si Ji Xuan, the Cantonese restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel (where Kira works). Usually, I scoff at calling dim sum a meal, but boy was I stuffed above and beyond today. Our lunch was awesome. The service was superb. We were flipping pages of the menu back and forth, trying to figure out what of 40+ items to order. Fortunately, the manager saw us floundering and suggested that he pick about 15 popular dishes for us. Boy was that the way to go! Every dish was a winner. Then, there was fruit, tea, juice. All you could eat. Not bad. John and I will definitely be taking some peeps back to that place.

After the two hours of intensing gorging, we decided a nice, long walk was in order. Today was actually sunny, so we got in some good exercise. Along the way, I got a pair of kickass, superwarm Thinsulate gloves, two DVDs (which Bubs is calling me in to watch… NOW!), and we stopped by this new place called Garden Bookstore. Really nice bookstore/cafe. Okay, I have to go now. That’s about the sum of my day though. Off to movie night!

Goodbers Lives Again!

Goodbers Lives Again!

Ha, ha! Goodbers is back! After months of inoperability, we’ve located a new web host and this time Goodbers is in the hands of a professional. Kudos to Jason Ford at BlackMesh! He’ll keep us up and running for sure. So Goodbers itself needs some work… after putting up with the previous site’s flakiness, I ended up posting content on various sites, for example, on Blurty for my free blog and on Imagestation for my photos. Meanwhile, John established his own blog on Mac… Needless to say, our stuff is a bit unorganized at the moment. I’m currently thinking about switching to Movable Type or something a bit more sophisticated than Blurty, but my research is just beginning.

Since returning to Shanghai, I’ve been busy learning. I feel so energized and motivated. Imagine that: brain-dead, gradschool burnout Vicky learning again! It’s a wonderful feeling. CA was great that way: it really jumpstarted me again. So I just finished reading that book I mentioned last time about networking. I’m going to a Shanghai Webloggers’ Meetup tomorrow night. Gonna try and get some info about local webhosting services and about getting a .cn web address. Why, you wonder? Because last weekend, I created StarPups Shanghai, an online resource for my fellow dog lovers. Of course Bubs helped me a ton (he’s the best!) but I’m very proud. I did the colors, content, and found the graphics/photos. I still need to get input from the other dog fanatics, but that’ll come later (once they reply to my emails!). For now, I’ve posted a link to StarPups on Goodbers. What else. Oh, Thursday I’m going to the Toastmaster’s club meeting. I know, isn’t it totally bizarre that I’m going to all these meetings? Well Bubs gonna be gone for five weeks next month so I might as well find new buddies and stay busy.

Ok, off to take a break from the computer. I really am on this little thing 24-7. Addicted to the net. Well I’d love to hear your feedback on my site. I do hope to eventually add a mailing list feature or forum…

Slow but Steady Progress

Slow but Steady Progress

So I had all these plans for the new year right? Well the gym isn’t happening (I dunno what my deal is, but I just have a strong aversion to going…); however, I have been taking walks with John. He got this Polar watch last time we were in the States, and now he’s obsesed with getting his target heartrate or whatever. I’m happy that he’s really into exercising now, but sometimes it seems a bit much. Better than the other way around I suppose.

I went to Toastmasters on Thursday night, but the meeting was canceled and they didn’t tell people. Nice. That’s a terrific first impression in my book. Met some people– they are all locals. Seemed very nice and professional, but sometimes I wonder if Toastmasters here is more about honing their oral English than about improving my public speaking. I dunno, seems too demanding to expect that it can do both for native English and native Chinese speakers.

I attended an American Women’s Club of Shanghai Meet and Greet earlier this week. It was well, a lot of intimidating middle-aged, uppercrust women– really well-dressed with lots of bling… I know, I can be so judgemental. They were certainly nice enough; sometimes I just feel like an outsider– I just can’t relate or maybe I just don’t want to relate. But I suppose networking is all about relating right? Regardless, the best thing that came out of this meeting was that I sat down at a table with three other women, and all of them had doggies. I was so psyched. I went home and went on and on about it until John convinced me to setup a Shanghai dog website. So StarPups Shanghai is in the works. I have written and pulled together a good bit of content, but I’m struggling with the aesthetic parts of it. Mainly, I need a logo and color scheme. I chose a black background with gray and some orange, but John says it’s too serious. To further his point, yesterday, my friend Amanda asked if I ever wear colors. 🙂 I can’t help it: I’m just drab and depressing that way. Anyway, stay tuned. I hope to launch StarPups soon. Of course, special thanks to Bubs, the star coder. He doesn’t believe in using WYSIWYGs so he’s gotten several good laughs from my coding mess… I’m trying to learn.

Oh, I also emailed the Women’s club about volunteering for Lifeline, this telephone hotline for expats. I know, I don’t really want to help expats given that there are so many locals who have far more serious issues, but I do want to get some phone counseling experience. To volunteer with Lifeline, you have to undergo 24 hours of training, so I think that would be valuable for me, if I want to get into domestic violence work.

Job-wise, I’ve decided to focus less on trying to fill my schedule with full-time work (whether it’s teaching or some shitty IBM-like job) and more on doing little gigs here and there. My only exception is this Microsoft job. MS is a 5-minute bike ride from my place, and I dunno, somehow I’m hopeful that there is a big Fortune 500 company out there that does things right. I was disappointed with Big Blue, but maybe Gates won’t let me down. I like MS products. Sorry Macophiles and MS-phobes. So the interview for that job is next month. I haven’t heard any details except that it’s a tech writing position. Other than that, I’m looking at some part-time editing work.

This weekend has been really cold again. What’s new, right? Yesterday, I woke up to snow and ice. People were out taking pictures and someone made a bunch of snowpeople. The snow in SH rarely sticks, so this was apparently a day to remember. In the evening, John and I went to Amanda and Enrico’s. John set up their wifi, and afterwards, we went to a house party. Ugh. Yeah, it was like a smoky, overpacked, college kids’ thing. At least that’s how it felt. It was all about yelling at the person right next to you to hold a conversation. We left as quickly as possible (but still not soon enough). Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to practice my social/networking skills. Well, sometimes, you gotta pick who’s worth it. I’m into making professional contacts, not club night buddies. Writing this, I suppose my absorbtion of Lowndes’ “How to Speak to Anyone” wasn’t very successful. Well, I’m trying: I mean, I did my share of small talk. But come on! I have standards. 🙂

Good to be Back

Good to be Back

John and I finished our final week in CA without much fanfare. The last weekend in January, we drove down to San Diego to visit Karen and Joel. San Diego is a cute lil’ place. The city is actually very populous and it has a heavy DoD influence; still, you’d never guess.

Joel and Karen have the sweetest 2-bedroom condo, just down the street from Whole Foods. A quick walk to a downtown with tasty food joints. It was so sunny and beautiful all weekend. CA definitely scores high in the weather category, especially southern CA. Yeah, I know, it’s not big shock especially with the song about it never raining in southern CA… So sue me. I’m a cynic til I see things myself.

Just a few days before we flew out, I developed a crazy full-body rash. I still have no idea what it was— I thought maybe it was the anesthesia from my dental work (I visited the dentish THREE days in a row!) or a new makeup I was trying… I dunno, but it was unbearable. I tried cortisone cream, neosporin, zinc oxide grease, everything. To survive the plane ride, I took a Benadryl which knocked me out completely. But once we arrived in Shanghai, it recurred. I am doing better now… yesterday was my first day free from the itchies. I now suspect it was the laundry detergent I used in LA. I seem to be fine now. Cross your fingers.

So Chinese New Year was a little more sedate this year. We were still suffering from jetlag, so we conked out early. But the holiday lasts like 15 days here so when it’s not raining or snowing (which seems to have been rare these days), the Chinese pyros emerge to wreak havoc on the city. Actually, John and I enjoy the pyrotechnics all over the city, including in our community courtyards, but the dogs still shudder and run for a corner.

I’ve made some Chinese New Year resolutions. I’m going to refocus on learning Chinese and honing my networking skills. I already finished reading Leil Lowndes’ “How to Talk to Anyone.” Excellent and very informative. I’m going to the XuJiaHui Toastmasters’ meeting this Saturday. And I’ve begun yet another round of emailing China NGOs. I also ordered Iris Chang’s book, “The Chinese in America.” I’d like to get into reading. There are so many areas I want to improve. I need to start exercising more regularly. I want to study fundraising and Raiser’s Edge software. I want to play more guzheng. Argh. I need more discipline. 🙁

Okay, well it’s Valentine’s Day today. John’s at the gym. I’m going to tidy up the place and try to make a nice lunch. Wish me luck.

Gotta Love the Chinese Parents

Gotta Love the Chinese Parents

Well I was guilt-tripped into a trip back East. Fortunately, I was smart enough to know that four days is more than sufficient for QT with the fam. Essentially, I was my retired parents’ bitch for the week. My trip was timed ever so carefully, falling right in between two snowstorms. Monday morning, when they picked me up at 7 am from Dulles, it was butt-ass freezing cold. I had to endure all the parental nagging right off the bat: put on this sweater, wear this coat, put on these gloves. Jesus Christ. My coat is in my duffle bag; just let me get it out please. The drive to Frederick was thankfully quiet, and then as soon as I got home, I had the list to tend to.

Well at least I can pride myself in getting shit done. My dad got yet another HP laptop (I hate HP), so I had to install software, set up email, move all his files. Meanwhile, his desktop harddrive went kaput and his other laptop kept reverting to its old issues. You’d think my dad is a computer whiz with all the equipment he has at home, including the wifi but he’s not. At all. In other duties, I was strongly advised (i.e. forced) by my parents to get together with John’s parents for lunch. I know, it didn’t kill me and they are nice people, but do I really have to do lunch with the in-laws when I’m spouseless on the East coast? Other PA tasks included cell phone shopping, rebate processing, cancelling Verizon services, faxing, making service complaint phone calls, collecting/mailing trade-in phones, checking frequent flyer balances, etc. Yup, a whole host of fun shit.

Then to top that off, I got an earful about so and so’s kids getting PhDs, MDs, and JDs. Well sorry dad, your kids are a pair of losers. Sorry I don’t want to be an elitist Republican who believes that everything I have I earned all by my very self. Ugh. Needless to say, the rest of my stay was full of explosions. Can’t help it. I’m not going to fly all the way to the East coast to be your bitch only to have you poke and prod and compare me to your friends’ kids. I’m not your fucking prizehorse. I’m not your fucking Lexus to show off around the neighborhood. Whatever. You can’t get through the dense skulls of Chinese parents. You just can’t. They NEVER get it.

So I’m back in LA now, in the arms of my loving and supportive husband. John’s the best. 🙂 And we’re heading back Saturday. I’m looking forward to reuniting with my puppies. Now that I’ve got a few episodes of the Dog Whisperer under my belt, I’m ready to test out some new training tactics.