Today I spent several hours at a Chinese hospital. My ayi’s husband (who used to do construction) was over this morning trying to repair the rods for my draperies. The nail had come out of the wall (concrete, not drywall) and so he was up on the ladder, drilling a hole and pounding a wooden peg into the space. While on the top rung, he turned around and the flimsy alumninum ladder just crumbled. On his way down, his arm hit against the tile ledge of the bay window. It all happened in a matter of seconds and though there was no blood, the situation did not look good. Within 20 minutes, we were at No. 6 hospital–thankfully, they are well-known for their orthopaedic department. I’m glad Wu ayi was there too. She’s gone to numerous hospitals in the area (taking the elder folks in their family), so she had the process down pat. Registering at one place, filling out paperwork at another, submitting payment at a third, getting xrays at the fourth, etc. It was quite an experience for me, and I was really worried Mr. Yang had broken his arm. Luckily, in three hours, we got everything taken care of: two sets of x-rays, an IV drip, anesthetics, a resetting of the socket, and complete bandaging. Four weeks he’ll be in the bandage. Looks like the shoulder bone was fractured, but the bone should grow back ok.
As for hospital cleanliness, it wasn’t as bad as I expected but still, far below western standards. I definitely took note of blood stains on the floors, blood on the transport beds, inconsistent glove use, people spitting on the floors, etc. Not pretty. And the chaos at the hospital was similar to that at the post office or bank or supermarket: a billion people waiting to see the doc, and no real queue. Oh well, I’m just glad it’s over, and Mr. Yang is ok.
Hey all, I’ve got some fantastic news. These last several months, I’ve been in touch with Animals Asia Foundation, a super cool org doing animal protection and community education in Asia (including lots in China). Among their many great efforts, they operate Dr. Dog and Professor Paws– programs that demonstrate the benefits of companion animals. The former project involves therapy dogs visiting people in orphanages, eldery centers, hospitals, and hospitals. They just hang out and make peeps smile. In the latter project, dogs visit primary school kids to teach them about responsible pet care and dog safety. All of this is part of a broader campaign to promote dogs as pets (rather than food). It’s quite clever and the programs have really taken off in HK and Chengdu. Now, they’re bringing it to Shanghai. The details are still in the works, but I’ve been offered the chief coordinator position for the Shanghai office. I am so stoked; I feel like this is finally an opportunity to mesh my love for dogs, my passion for NGO work, and my desire to further my Mandarin.
Now for the bad news: totally unrelated to AAF but still relevant to my life and happenings (ok, maybe not my life per se, but at least to my interest in gossip). Jude Law. What the fuck? The guy is such scum. Sounds like a frickin’ nympho, but shit, ain’t getting any sympathy from me. I mean, honestly, a history with wife swapping and then divorcing his wife right after she’s given birth to his third kid (and suffered through post partum depression–let’s not even talk about the fist-pumping, conceited, psycho drama king Mr. TC)? Grow up Jude. Just because you played Alfie on screen doesn’t mean you gotta be him in real life. Hope you end up old, shriveled, and alone. Ugh. Obviously, I’m disgusted and annoyed. I don’t know why I get so pissed off about these things. Admittedly, I had a similar reaction with Mr. Beck-man. Not that I was fond about any part of the Beckham empire. Still. It’s the thought process (or absence thereof) that bugs the shit out of me. As if 1) this kind of inconsiderate asshole behavior is ok 2) they could get away and not suffer the consequences 3) some ridiculous, feigned public apology is all that’s necessary to gain forgiveness. Fuck off, man. I mean, at least the good news is that Sienna Miller now has the sense knocked into her. A tough lesson to learn at the young, impressionable age of 23 but a critical one all the same. Poor gal. She was going all full force too, spending time with his kids in anticipation of step-motherhood. Ditch the sandbags, man.
I’m sure many of you have heard the Rice Crispies treats story. Yes, when I was in college, I mailed John a package of homemade treats. His sister Susan found him eating them (rather unenthusiastically). After biting into one herself, she went off on how terrible they were. She insisted they were absolutely inedible (practically toxic) and forced John to toss them immediately. My defense is that they turned stale during shipment. I had personally tested them myself before sending, and they were fine. But after that, the word was out: Vicky is a disaster in the kitchen. Susan only flamed the fire: “How does one mess up Rice Crispies Treats?”
The last few months, I’v been spending more time in the kitchen. Trying to become more wifely, I suppose. Actually, when it comes to baking, I’m usually quite good. Unforutnately though, I’ve encountered some bad luck lately. Even my famed chewy chocolate chip walnut cookies (which won rave reviews from my students) have bombed (maybe it’s the local butter?). Then last night, I tried to make mango black sticky rice and well, I burned the rice into a black, gritty crisp. But TONIGHT, I was trimphant! This is my day of redemption! The recipe? Portuguese sweet rice. And it even has Bubbey’s stamp of approval. Hehe, I feel so lucky, I might even give my cookies another go. Stay tuned!
Wow, this has been a busy week. I picked up a brief gig at Motorola. As usual, I received very little information about the job– just that I had to read things in English. Turns out, I had to test voice recognition on four mobiles. First off, “testing voice recognition” wasn’t like reading off ten names. No. It involved reading five pages of names on four mobiles, each under three different settings. Fucking A is right! Setting 1: conference room. Setting 2: a bus stop. Setting 3: cafeteria. So, not sure if you’re up on Motorola phones, but THEY SUCK. Beyond their cool-looking Razor, all their other stuff is crap. Take it from me: when I first moved here, I bought a E380. Nice and small form factor but cheap, odd-shaped plastic buttons and a horrible user interface. I was always getting lost with the user menus. So one phone we tested had a relatively swift voice response system, but the other two? Forget it. In robot voice, “Please say a command or name. Sorry, please repeat. Please say a command or name.” The voice prompt was SUPER slow and then if it pulled up the wrong name (which happened a lot), I had to instruct it to cancel and then go back. Pressing the buttons didn’t do squat. God. It was a hair-pulling experience. Think it took an hour to read two pages.
Yesterday, we went to test the phones at the cafeteria during lunch. That didn’t last long, because after ten minutes, two authorities came over and started grilling us on what we were doing. What the hell were they thinking? That we were spies or something? Four women in office dress plotting a coup? Because we weren’t technically eating there, they kicked us out. Didn’t care to hear our explanations, just insisted quite hostilly that we leave. Immediately. Fuckers. So we ended up at my favorite MNC: McD’s. I was forced to consume their tasty yet surely toxic food. Same deal today. No wonder I feel bloated and gross.
I must say, I did luck out with mobile number 4, a Samsung (a competitor!). That thing was kick ass: slim, responsive, super accurate. Reminded me of my awesome Samsung back in the States. Can’t afford Samsung here. It’s damn pricey, but geez, the Koreans are getting their shit straight. If John and I move back to the States, I think we outta check out the Hyndais too.
Since moving here in December 2003, John and I have definitely noticed a regression in our English skills. Oral, written, reading… all of the above. The most blatant example, beyond the increased stammering and oral inarticulation, has to be my coining of a new word (during my business English class, of all places): dynamicism, as in the noun form of dynamic. Yes, it occured to me the next day on the metro that the noun form was dynamism, but what good was the realization. The damage had already been done. Ah well, the joys of admitting wrong. That’s the lesson for next class.
John’s a victim of language regression too. The other day we went to a new restaurant called Fish & Co. For some reason, he kept insisting the place was Japanese or Japanese-run. Strangely though, the fish and chips, lard-drenched fries, and real ketchup seemed more reminiscent of western fare. Something was amiss. Then, we saw the neon sign: Fish & Co., seafood in a pan. Apparently, he misread it as “seafood in japan.” Even on re-reading the menu, he thought it was Japan! Guess you had to be there.
For months, I had been dreading the onset of Huang Mei Tian, days wrought with heat, high humidity, and daily downpours. Well, those days are now over. According to the Shanghai Daily, HMT was the shortest it’s been in years: just 12 days.
I’m pleased because I have this thing against wet feet. Then again, I guess the reason for the short rainy season isn’t all that consoling either: heat wave. I saw pictures of cracked-dry rice paddies in Anhui province. The poor farmers there have no crops to harvest. Totaly SOL this year. Reports say power grids are maxing out, resulting in blackouts across the city. Yesterday, we saw a ton of people outside sleeping on cardboard on the sidewalks. I wonder if their homes lost power. Surely, the mosquitos will have a feast!
We’ve been trying to conserve, but it’s tough to concentrate on work when you’re sweaty. The other day, I called up a bunch of nearby cafes and restaurants inquiring about free wifi– gotta find alternative places to work, especially with John getting all stir-crazy.
The other day, I was complaining about Chinese parents to my hair stylist. You see, I have a friend here, a beautiful, intelligent, professionally accomplished woman, who happens to be 30 now, and her parents are constantly harassing her about still being single. Her mother leaves magazine articles about grandmotherhood on the kitchen table! Already, my poor friend (I’ll call her Jenna) is flipping out about not having found Mr. Right. So on top of her own insecurities, her mother is bitching about missing out on being a grandma?! What the fuck? My stylist offered no sympathy. Instead, she said calmly, “Women are like balls.” Huh?
A woman in her 20’s is like a basketball. Everyone grabs and fights for her. A woman in her 30’s is a ping pong ball. She’s pushed around from one person to the next; no one wants her in his (or her) court. A woman in her 40’s is a soccer ball. Get her as far away as possible. Women as objects in a game. Real. nice.