Wednesday, August 29, 2012

THEY EAT DOGS!!****...and other stereo-types, THE HORROR EDITION

"They eat dogs!!!" The hyper vigilant foreigner said, protecting other foreigners from the fido filleting, mutt munching nation...of CHINA. Okay. I will say it right off the bat, Beijingers don't eat dogs. Not, that I am aware of...I don't think. Maybe, probably, mostly not...ish...I think, sort of, mostly not. Actually they spoil them, dress them up in clothes, carry them around like children, talk to them like they understand what you are saying. This I know to be true, dogs do understand what you say. But for the most part, Beijingers who have dogs, and most are of the yappy variety, treat them like little royalty. So the idea that anyone would eat a dog is far far far from the truth....or is it? (cue creepy music) So. There is no real myth to living in China, its not the straw hat wearing, rice paddy wading, snow sculpted mountain towering place I have seen depicted in the scroll paintings on like every Chinese restaurant wall in America. I think people take long train rides to visit those places. There are some more traditional looking tableaux in the local tapestry, such as the rickshaw drivers and the Hutong dwellers, but for the most part Beijing is a thriving metropolis chuck full of swanky Chinese and spattered with foreigners speaking every language on the globe. Its a fun place. :) really. This is what China is NOT!!!!! This is more of what China really is.... HOWEVER...there's a little old school in there. I pretty much see this everyday....vomit my insides, really. The thing missing from this pic are the flies buzzing on and about the meat....yummers. All was relatively well in our veggie world, we knew where the bastions of dead meat evil lay and we avoided them, apathy in play, ignorance/innocence maintained. Then me and the divas visited the rooftop outdoor balcony during spring and again in summer and we watched the baby ducks and chicks grow and disappear, we try not to think anything of it...but um...well...yeah, lets not think anything of it shall we. There is also the live food market downstairs that sells fresh fish that swim around for now, as large indoor aquariums are definitely not their destiny. My little family of vegetarians has learned to plug our noses and dash, while the fish vendor yells, in English Hello, Fish, Hello, Hi, FISH!!! He loves the girls and is always saying how cute they are...but sorry sir, we want none of your fish...or frogs, or turtles or SNAKES. :( I have come to deal with the live fish vendor guy, I have taken off my militant animal rights hat and stepped aside only to let a culture continue to be a culture without my influence. I can't change them, but I can abstain from it and blog about it and reflect the cruelty of it in my writing work, outside of that...I must choose my battles. I will leave the championing of live fish markets to Diva Dad and possibly Aria..when she gets older. So...these are known horrors, to us. To some they are yummy dinner, fresh duck, chicken and fish. To me it is a life destroyed by an animistic lust for flesh. Sorry...the title is Momma Dramma for a reason...shall we continue. The live market looks like this.... And it smells like the ocean polluted with dirt, decay and death. Yum...who brought rice. Well today a man comes up to Indya while we are trying to load ourselves onto the SUV bike. We still don't have a photo of us, but we get some. He has a bag full of dark black objects. He quickly approaches her and my brain scrambles...nothing more, it just scrambles. I am at the alert though ready to grab my baby back. However, his smile, while rather toothless, is also harmless as he takes a robust looking puppy out of the plastic shopping bag (of the grocery variety). At first my heart melts, then the "I want one" gene sets in and yet is tamed by the thought that I have one in America who I miss and can't see...cue heart breaking. So I back off from, the "we'll take two" mentality and focus on my daughter having a good moment/memory with a puppy. He drops the bag with the rest of the puppies on the ground, to let the puppy in his hand sprawl. My first kick to the heart happens. WHY DROP THE BAG OF PUPPIES...and then I watch the fat, blind little puppy wriggle and my heart dies a little. Questions fly across my mind...why the plastic grocery bag, where's the puppy's mom? Why are they being so roughly handled, they are too young for adoption. Words are flying around in Chinese and I catch like ONE....and then its over, he gathers up the puppy, plops it back into the bag and I load Indya onto the bike, thinking NO THOUGHTS (because I am in shock) and drive off as a word stream slowly seeps into my brain. Those puppies are too young to leave their mother..... They were in a plastic bag.... He dropped them... My friend told me a story about her Grandma's mom cooking her pet puppy.... The ducks and the chickens on the roof dissappear.... OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY EAT PUPPIES!!!!!! So here's the thing about living in a foreign land, it is FOREIGN, you don't understand the language or the culture fully, you live outside of it in a haze, like a partially materialized ghost. People can see you but can't talk to you and you can't talk to them. If I have been able to talk to them, I would have asked about the puppies and had I found out that they were gonna be dinner I would have rendered this man infertile, with one swift kick to the groin, then all those puppies would be mine. But rather, I lilted and dazed in a fog of mysterious unknowing making horrendous assumptions. And there they stand....horrendous and sh!tty as I am probably wrong. I try to remain culturally accepting and aware. I am not one toss out a blanket of stereotypes, we have been so well cared for by the Chinese people and I have found this to be a sophisticated city full of thoughtful, educated people...and yet some are still old school and thus the question remains....do they really eat dogs? I am not sure still. Probably not, this man was probably bringing the pups to their mother, maybe they were given to him to nurse to more mature puppy hood....maybe right? So I will not think the unthinkable...and then again are we (in America) any better really? We eat fish and chicken and duck. We don't eat puppies but we do kill them, hundreds a day in shelters. We kill puppies every time we drop them off at shelters, yes the odd one may survive and find a family, but really most are killed. We "drop them off" we buy things prepackaged we don't see the HORROR. I commend China for at least being real enough to live it all. And for the most part, like anyone who lives on a farm, they care relatively well for these animals before their slaughter. At least the rooftop chickens and ducks are doing pretty well, I can't say the same for the poor fish. :( But again...we are really no better. So we may not eat puppies (and this man probably didn't either, I just have an over active imagination) but we do kill them, by the thousands, we just do it discretely by purchasing pedigree animals with winning bloodlines verses adopting the little whatahoosiz at the shelter, we let our amazing pedigree pets get it on with the neighborhood and turn our eyes away from the little minions that they create...so we don't eat puppies, but their fates are absolutely no more sacred in America that they are in China.

Almost a year since my last post....okay whatever! Lets Gab about my Kids...(and capitalize whenever the hell we want to...)

I really don't have the time to go into why I haven't blogged FOR A YEAR, but lets just say, it has something to do with not having time. :( So lets just move along shall we? Recap for those who don't follow my every infrequent Facebook post with baited breath. I live in Beijing China, the kids are now 3 and 6, I work for the Mouse, I still write and um Prince Charming must have fallen off of his horse somewhere....in the desert...in a galaxy...far...far...away. Okay, that should get everyone up to speed. Both of my kids start new Chinese schools on Monday. Aria has been at Disney summer camp and she's loved it. I have enjoyed having her at work, hearing her giggle in the halls and having fun with her new friends is really heart warming. And as blessings go she was there on a day when I really really needed a friend and I was so very happy that the friend I needed was her. I discovered that day that Aria, my dear daughter, was one of the truest friends I will ever have and my pride and joy grew, if that's possible. Thanks baby, you have NO idea what you did for mommy...but thank you. So Aria starts Primary School in China this is the equivalent of Kindergarten except for it is actually 1st grade, however all of the kids are going to be the youngest in school. She's already had a trial run and she did great. I don't worry about her, my only real concern is that no one there speaks much English. If there were ever a problem, I would need an a translator. Scholastically, I will also need someone to help me...so I'm a bit freaked, but the trade off is, she's in a full immersion environment with accelerated educational goals, so I think she's getting an incredible education. YEAH me for pulling this off. And Indya.... Okay and Indya starts a new school on Monday. Here's the deal with my youngest. She's a "take the world by the balls" kinda girl, actually she's a take the world by the balls and squeeze HARD kinda girl. Both of my kids are beautiful and both are charming and yet both are really good at being the boss. Aria is a bit more subtle in her approach, you don't know that you are being swaggered, you don't see the manipulation and plotting until you have already capitulated. With Indya....she'll just nail her request to um...your face most likely. If she doesn't get her demand, something will.be.hurled. Don't get me wrong, she'll crack a smile that will break your heart and she's a real beauty, but she's got a bit of brawn as well. So in the shadow of her more deft sister, Indya has always seemed to be a bit of a bulldozer. So while Indya has always been good at making friends, (like Li Hao the little love interest at her school who trips over himself to be near her)she has never quite been the social butterfly her sister has. Granted she is 3. But she is making inroads into social graces by solidifying her friendship with Macy, being closer friends with Zhao Si Han and being a little more adroit when approaching a new potential friendship where her usual strategy was to growl or roll her eyes at them. Even with her grace and charm...she still has a streak of bull in a China...well China. :) So when I told Indya's preschool teacher that she would be leaving for a new school (one Macy's mom want us to go to) she burst into tears. Big sobbing tears. Through her cries she confessed that she thought that she would have three years with Indya (um...I didn't know I was staying in Beijing for 3 years...but I digress) and that Indya was the MOST special child she had ever met. I wasn't shocked...exactly, but stunned. Stunned that somehow my baby had grown up before I even realized it, that she on her own accord, without the large shadow of her sister, made an indelible mark on a human life. Today, I realized that both of my children have set their paths for greatness, it is evident in the way that time and time again people have gravitated toward them. This is not a boast and not a reflection of my mothering, but a simple statement of wonder about the two souls I am shepherding on this planet. See, back in the day, I was also a bit of a star...ish, in my own way. However, that star shines differently now. It's not brighter nor is it more grand now, in fact the opposite, but it is still a star. I see my kids and their outward ability to influence others time and time again and I see their destiny unfolding. In every setting they are memorable, they don't blend in and this is not just in China. I see greatness in them and I marvel as it reveals itself daily. These days, now, I tend to blend...a bit and yet I know where my influence, my greatness and my twinkle lies. It is in the quiet expressions of my mind, my voice and my creativity that I shine. I am the silent invisible force behind it and yet it is a force and it is mighty. :) I am excited about the months and years to come as I unleash this force up on the world. Yes, world domination...is my plan. A fat mommy can do it!!! What? okay...I find some other way to phrase that...later. But I feel safe and happy, having a plan. So today, while frought with "Must do" things that I tend to loath doing...like sitting in an hour orientation all in Chinese about boring bureaucratic things I will probably end up being in trouble for not doing. I found a little ah ha...a little moment that I almost missed, the moment when my baby, the loud one...became a star.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well Hell.....

So I keep falling asleep every time I sit down, which sucks... even on the subway, if I am lucky enough to get a seat. :( It probably has nothing to do with the fact that my commute to and from work is now a three mile sprint walk to a subway, where I stand, nearly transfused to an expressionless stranger, then straight to teaching classes, lesson planning, dealing with drama, after which I return home to Gaga Drama and the Divas and if....and that is if, I don't fall asleep on my one hour off a day, I try to reach out via facebook to the friends I miss and adore and finish my pending book deals. This blog sits unattended, which makes me sad :(

Luckily on the writing front, I have finished one pending book and hope to have another competed soon and then the third....so cross fingers I can get caught up with that.

Life in China....

Well, I have already learned so much...and have changed a lot in a few ways, good ways, thanks China.

Culture Shock: I expected massive culture shock and never really got it. I HATE the live food markets that make me really sad, but if I dissect it down to the least common denominator, its not the live food market (who are we kidding, fish are floating around half dead waiting to made into dinner in the States too, we just don't see it) its the inhumanity to animals that gets me...but we have that in the States too, so that's not really a culture shock. And this may be surprising to most, but most Beijingers eat at least one vegetarian meal a day, and it is really easy to find a vegetarian and even vegan meal in most restaurants, that is delightful. The food is incredible and very simple. Wok + oil + some spice (not tons)+ FRESH food = heaven. Seriously cooking here is very simple, flash fry in a very hot pan with oil, chili, garlic and salt, use fresh veggies and some tofu, warm steamed rice or noodles and you have a meal. Somehow the restaurants can make the simplest ingredients taste incredible....not sure how.

The refrigerators in Beijing are a little bigger than dorm sized and fit only small amounts of food....here's why, you shop every day. You also throw your trash away everyday in tiny flimsy gauze like bags that rip when lightly touched. Those Ralphs plastic bags we used to get for free in the States are really envied here and usually are used for other things like storing clothes or as luggage, but if you are affluent enough to use one as a garbage bag, your life is a lot breezier. Also you don't waste anything, NEVER, you dont't throw away food, you don't usually make too much, everything can be used again and if it can't be reused you recycle it. I was so blessed the other day to find parmesan cheese, the crappy Kraft kind in a snack sized container, but it felt like I had struck oil, I covet that little green tube and am so happy I found it as it is a little taste of home. Even though I didn't like it much at home I like it now, even more so because it cost me almost $5, so some stuff in China is very expensive. You seriously use and covet every tiny thing. In this way China is much better than the US who wastes a lot, the Chinese just don't waste...so for all the ills that have been preached to us about Chinese lifestyle, I have found the Chinese to be a very peaceful, resourceful and environmentally aware people, at least my friends are.

Everything is fresh, the open air markets that stay open almost all day and night have fresh food delivered from the farm daily, if not twice a day. We have a fresh food vendor just outside the doors to our Hutong (compound) and they have fresh fruit delivered every morning and they are open until about 2AM every night. Everything tastes amazing...from this stand point we are really being spoiled.

Our Hutong is a series of about five large blocks that house a super market, hair salon, restaurant, hole-in the wall restaurant thing (2) a hospital, police station, convenience store, liquor store, pet shop, masseuse, odds and ends market and a few clothing shops as well as a central "park" where the kids play. Living here is like living in an episode of some 1950's family comedy, where it is very safe, everyone plays with your kids and everyone knows your name. For example most people in the compound know we live on the seventh floor, and many if not all know that the kids are adopted. We are local celebrities and my mom and the girls are always meeting an talking to new people. This is cool.

Culture shock....well, guess what the Chinese WILL eat almost anything if they are poor, and the level of poverty that most Chinese experience is beyond most of our comprehension. I happened to wander into a "normal" hutong that was much more like the way most of China lives, they had their convenience store, but a family of four and grand parents slept on the dirty mattress behind the crumbling facade, kids bathed in buckets outside of windowless brick dwellings that smelled of urine and had a dirt floor, torn and ratty clothes hung from clotheslines as stray dogs ambled along the dirt road where people sat on taped up or broken stools staring at the ground or prodding a stray noodle in a chipped bowl of soup. I was always greeted with a gracious smile, but behind the kind eyes was a distant stare that pleaded with me to keep walking and not take in the sights around me as it would expose the vast difference between us as I lived my life in affluence and they lived theirs in filth. However, even despite their dire poverty, there was a sense of community among them, this was their home, their land and their place to share with each other. High above them, the gleaming towers of a new more capitalistic China stand as a beacon to bargain hunting foreigners looking for a good deal on diamonds and gold, where just below, hidden in a dark alley, the people of China lived without ever making enough money to even order a coffee in the trendy cafe that sits below the jewelry market.

So these people, the poor will eat anything....they simply must. However, most middle class Chinese will absolutely not eat a dog, goldfish, ferret, scorpion and are, shocking as it may seem, exactly like us. In fact the friends I work with, both Chinese and Foreign are just like the friends at home (minus the fact that I have known most of you for years and years and years and miss you terribly!!!) But they are not running each other over on the roads and they are not cooking up fido....they simply don't!!! And some of my Chinese friends make no more that $500 a month, which would in some people's eyes, cast them in the barbarian class, but as I said, they are absolutely no different that us, for the exception (my friends excluded) that they are more gracious, more kind and more willing to help you than most.

However....remember those split pants on the kids, well I have had my ass chewed out by fiesty grandmas in the park that Little Diva (who is big for her age) is A) not potty trained...okay she is a little over 2 and a half and we are working on it AND, not wearing split pants....diapers are just a no no!!!! Shame on me for keeping my 2 year old in diapers...she should either have her little brown butt out for all to see, or just be done with potty training by now...GET IT TOGETHER MOMMA DRAMA...we are NOT impressed. Okay, but in America kids wear diapers till three sometimes, in fact they are not diapers but pullups, which aid in potty training, in America, kids don't pee on the ground anywhere, like in parks, at malls or on buses....cause, um in America that's gross, so you are telling me that my kid wearing a diaper is just so NOT OKAY with you and shows a lack of parenting skill on my part and it is BETTER (read: more desired) that I let my kid pee anywhere, wear slitted pants that make her butt hang out, than to allow her to continue to wear diapers, which are really pull ups...um, okay, I'll get back to you on that.

Other shocking thing...people sleep ANYWHERE....I first noticed this in Ikea, when all of the beds where occupied by sleepers and I had to actually move a man's foot over on the toddler bed I was looking at to see the price...okay really...SLEEPING (and I mean the snoring kind) in IKEA is just wrong!!!!

So, on that point, we have a market under my work, its really just a few stalls with people who own propane heaters that cook on them, but the food is really yummy...and fresh. So we all usually order the same meals everyday that consist of a soup of fresh tofu (dried into strings that have a meat like texture) glass noodles, fresh veggies and a fresh Salt bread (hand made just an hour before purchase) to dip into the soup. The Chinese call this dish Hot, Hot, Hot, because the temperature is hot, the spice is hot and in the flow of Chi...the energy is Yang....or hot!!! It is really delicious and costs....8 Yaun which is $1.20 in US dollars. So, like I said most of us either get the fresh (made in front of you) Gyoza (or Joyza as said here) for $1.50 (which is for about 25 dumplings) or Hot Hot Hot. Well I was working late and missed lunch so I went down after I was done with my lesson plan and when I arrived EVERY VENDOR and I am not exaggerating!!!! was asleep. I finally woke up the Gyoza vendor for a few dumplings and he almost barked at me and went back to sleeping. The fruit vendor then stirred and I believe told me off....not sure....but it sounded that way. So I went upstairs and skipped lunch. NOW...this is not some alley in the back of someone's house, this ia a market with an escalator and signs and stuff...and everyone was too sleepy to sell me my lunch so I skipped it...welcome to China.

Transportation....I will show pics at the ends of this, but I'll just say the family vehicle here is a bike with a padded book rack. Hubby peddles, wife sits on the padded book rack and kiddo balances precariously between pappa's legs as he weaves in and out of death defying traffic. EVERYONE does this...this is not just a side show freak...these are everyday families going to and from places...everyday. One bike three people...Welcome to China. Also everything is transported by bike...bedding, water, flooring, pets...all bundled up and perched on that book rack on the back, or a small trailer....the bike IS Beijing's mode of transit.

So, we have a holiday coming up and I plan to get some sleep and some photos and some better blogging down, but for now here are pics to show you of life here. I will have more videos up on facebook in a day or two....

Viva, Nihao....Goodnight.

The last pic is of my Beijing Family Dream "Car", if we stay in China longer (hint: um...well, IF WE STAY IN CHINA LONGER....we will be home for a long vacation....if..) I will buy one of these as our family car :)...can't really fit two Diva's, Gaga Drama and Me on a bike...but we could in one of these bad boys :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Did I say I was gonna blog again....what day is it?

So I have a lot of really good excuses as to why I haven't even cracked my blog again until tonight, but the most relevant is the fact that every time I sit down to write after working 12 hour days and taking care of the kids, I fall asleep. It is really annoying and I'm starting to get p!ssed about it. I have a lot to do and sleeping is never high on the list in my life, I have too much life to live in a day to bother with sleep....but sleep happens. A note on sleeping though, the Chinese think that their BOX SPRINGS ONLY are a healthy way to get a good night's rest....um NO! Even the cheapo Ikea mattress pad I got to make my hard as a board bed softer...doesn't really make it soft, but since I seem to be able to sleep standing up...anytime I lie down, I pretty much sleep. Which sucks cause this silly sleep thing is ruining my life. :( I wish I wasn't so tired, so exhausted and so overworked ALL OF THE TIME, I may actually enjoy my life here if I had a minute to myself....oh well, hopefully I will get a nanny soon and I can start writing again.

So here are some fun facts about China....

Everything is a mile...EVERYTHING!!! If you walk anywhere it will be at least a mile if not more....upside, I am losing my fat @ss, downside....argh....its a lot of miles. "So where is the only store in Beijing where I can buy cheese and peanut butter again????" oh right....A MILE!!!!! down the road.

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, you can get cheese and peanut butter in more than one store....but not many more than one.

The Chinese people are mostly really nice, but they slurp their food and blow snot out of their nose and that is just fine. However, on a whole the Chinese we have met have been lovely, kind and accepting of me and the kids. We live in a compound and already my mom and the kids are local celebrities. It's fun to come home and see the kids riding their scooters (or someone elses while theirs are being used by other children) and mom surrounded by local kids using her ipad and playing games together...it is really amazing to see.

The kids really don't wear diapers just pee through slits in their pants. Some people say that kids in China don't wear these pants anymore...but they do in our neck of the woods. Its a little weird to see kids just squatting anywhere, but that's what they do.
The Chinese are SHOCKED the Little Diva is still in diapers...but well, she's almost potty trained. :)

Quippy English sayings abound in China (and Japan) and mean virtually nothing....just sound good.

Everything is dirty, even though people clean everyday, they still use string mops and fallen tree branches to clean toilets and the streets. You also often are only offered "squatty potty" in public restrooms....not fun. There are other things that are different too, you take your trash out every day and they only have tiny thin trash bags for you to use. The area where we are is VERY GREEN (as in eco) and you recycle everything but the kitchen waste (no one has a dishwasher, garbage disposal or a dryer...).

EVERYTHING IS HUGE!!!! Los Angeles seems like a tiny little morsel for the mammoth Chinese cities to munch on. Beijing is enormous and even though our neighborhood is "small" and hip...it is as big as the Las Vegas strip and as loud as a freeway near a construction site during the World Series.

Personal tid bit, every time I live anywhere it is always on the Eastside (even though I didn't know it this time) and is always a little rough and a lot trendy...fun. Same applies to Donsishitiao which is my current hometown, there is an amazing restaurant row all covered in red lanterns and loads of places to eat. The most disturbing are the "live" markets where you pick out your living food, to be cooked/killed before your very eyes. We have a live market right next to our house and we have to pass it on the way to our grocery store that is in the basement of our housing complex (the only thing in Beijing that is not a mile away) and I have to say, it has really sicked the kids and I out, especially when they have a sale on turtles or frogs....sad.

We are loving China as I thought we might and are strarting to find our way around things, which is still pretty hard because we don't speak the language, but if the ladies who sit and smoke near the elevator have anything to say about it, we will be speaking Chinese in no time as we are not allowed to enter the elevator without speaking at least one new Chinese word....okay ladies...this is gonna take some time as Chinese is really hard.

Anyway enough stuff...I have been taking video and will continue to do so...so here is more video about living in Beijing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So Much To Say....no really

Okay, so I am finally up and running on the internet, lets hope this lasts. So far my VPN is working and I am able to get on facebook and we have a pretty decent internet connection in our house which is pretty awesome for Beijing as usually the websites are pretty heavily blocked. So...I'll admit that the last two weeks have been a blur, a serious and total blurr of physical movement, emotions, learning, eating weird stuff, managing a house and kids etc.

The plane ride was long, hazy and hard with a screaming two year old and a bored 5 year old after about 48 sleepless hours prior as I packed and repacked bags to get them to the required weights, finally making final decisions on what stayed and what went. At 3am we boarded a van to the airport only to have to wait at the curb as my mom called my sister to join us at 3am and bring the keys to my mom's house to let us in AGAIN while I went upstairs and retrieved the kid's SHOES...yep....I forgot to put shoes on them. Remember 48 hours no sleeping and um....stress, may cause a mom to forget to put the kids shoes on her kid's feet.

So fast forward past 3 hour layover in San Francisco and an endless....endless...no end...endless...wait okay...its over, plane ride from HELL!!!!

Enter CHINA... in a thick heavy fog of haze? fog? oh wait no... POLLUTION that's what that is...okay. The pollution was so thick and hot that you could actually taste it in your mouth. And the smell....well to get an idea of the smell, you have to go to Chinatown and walk into those basement stores, the ones that are hot and covered with flies, now take a wiff, its a mix of moth balls, cardboard, some putrid indescribable smell with fried food and um teriyaki??? is't that Japanese??? add sweaty sock smell and perfume and voila...you have the smell of Beijing.

Now...get outside and start walking down your street...only really WALK like you are in New York or something, MOVE YOUR LEGS like fast and swing your arms, if you bump someone with your arms every few steps while taking quick brisk strides...you are in Beijing.

Now cross the street....ready, GREEN LIGHT, WAIT!!!!! NO!!! DON'T WAIT...GO!!! F*ck that taxi almost hit me and so did that bike and hell, where did the grandma in a wheel chair come from???? If the above is true, you are walking on a "green man" across a cross walk in Beijing. Note to the wise, if you step your foot out...um, well really your door, but lets just say anywhere within 10 feet of a street, you may die in an automobile or cycling accident....hell the grandma may be the perp that ends it for you. So heed the advice I was given when attempting to cross the street. "Look down, and walk, then pray you make it"....okay...that sucks.

So we check into our hotel, its cozy to say the least. The Divas start climbing the walls on day two...and I do mean "Climb the walls" But we met a nice guy who is Chinese and now our friend...yeah us. My Disney English coworkers are AMAZING PEOPLE....like so so so nice...this is refreshing and the sun is finally shining and I see blue skies...all of a sudden I start to like Beijing. The Chinese people have been very nice, everything is dirt cheap and I am really enjoying the adventure and then on day six....I get an email.

"You will probably want to be sitting down for this.....Marco died!" and my air seized up in my throat....MARCO IS GONE!!!! I am half a world away....and he is gone :( ....FOREVER!!!! Marco... Here's the thing about Marco, I haven't seen him for awhile and before that, it had been years, he was best friends with one of my best friends, who I love dearly and who will miss him always...however, beyond that Marco was my family, the kind of family you never leave. I met him when I was 22 (I am now 43) he was from Quebec, strong, handsome, funny, gay (drat!) and yet he introduced me to his friends and his world, where I met my dearest friend and brother Robert!!! Marco was also a brother to me and I am so blessed that he met the kids and they him. Marco always had a smile and in his life achieved wealth and success, but he was always loving and always gracious. When I went to his clubs or his restaurants, I never paid a dime and his smile was always there always warm and he always had some wonderful witty thing to say. He gave the kids DVDs and Robert made us amazing food the last night I saw Marco. The sad thing is, I carried his card around in my car ever since our last meeting intending to call....and now I can't. Life got in the way...and now life is gone. I'm not being tragic, I know Marco knew I loved him, I know he didn't doubt that...and yet...

So since I couldn't be at the memorial, I will say this here on my little blog, Marco, I will always love you...thank you for being a tremendous influence in my life, thank you for being generous and kind, for reaching for the stars and touching them, thanks for your smile and your gracious heart, you will always live within us, but for now...we will need some time to adjust to the fact that you are no longer with us.

Rest in Peace my love...good night sweet prince :(

From the shock of Marco's death, I move on to finding a house in Beijing as you all know I have been pouring over the internet trying to find a place, well I will tell you that we have been absolutely blessed and found an INCREDIBLE place for us....simply perfect!!!! I was very lucky. There will be pics to come, but it has two stories, a sun room, three bedrooms and a top floor location in a hip part of town right next to a huge Hutong, which is some of Beijing's oldest style housing. Just as a preview I will show you a place that is "like ours" and a "hutong" none of them are the real thing, but I will be filming the real thing soon as the dust settles from our move. Which we did IN CHINESE....crazy. I don't speak Chinese, not.one.bit...but somehow it happened....how? is a mystery.

The job is pretty hard, no so much the teaching bit, but the intense lesson planning and creative structure that has you creating a new activity everyday-ish, also the children, are all cute (except for some of their teeth, which have rotten out....but they are still cute) some are amazingly smart (okay, I thought the diva's were smart....jump back, these kids are scary smart) and some are very good, some are really shy, like bury your head in the sand shy and some...most of whom are named "tiger" are absolute monsters. China doesn't mind monsters (which is good, cause my kids have been beastly at times in China) they are only allowed one child in most families and they spoil that child to no end and so when a child goes to school and is offered a "fun" curriculum sometimes (at least two per class) that means you, never sit in your chair, take a crayon to an expensive multimedia system, stick out your tongue at the teacher, hit, bite, scratch, throw shoes etc....eeek.

I am starting to write again (um...hello blog) which is giving me my peace of mind back...yeah. I have a few books to finish before I can focus on my own writing and the work I need to do for my new agent :) SO I am very very busy, but China is amazing and I promise to share more of it with you as I exit the haze, fog and pollution of my brain that has lasted almost three weeks. "Welcome to China" this will be a phrase you hear a lot as I take you through some of the craziness/awsomeness of living here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blessings and You'll be in Beijing on Thursday!!!!


"Yes...Thursday you will be in Beijing a driver is picking you up at the airport and taking you to your hotel and he will give you a bag with your schedule in it, welcome to China, I'm looking forward to meeting you...."

Excuse me while I pick myself up from the floor....


This is a part of the conversation I had with my HR guy in China....I think I am going to pass out now. I did remind him that I was bringing two kids, a grandma, a stroller, a gillion bags and a pet elephant, so we would need the BIG Car...here's hoping that worked.

So that's it at 3am on Wednesday we are picked up, driven to the airport, get to shuffle two sleepy kids through TSA and on to San Fran, then we have a nice little three hour layover where we will eat...or something...and then 12 hours in the air....oh holy fun-ness Batman.


We have had a bunch of goodbyes in the last few weeks and more so in the last few days. It is getting really intense saying good bye to everyone, but it has reminded me of one very important thing. I AM BLESSED. God or whoever helms this thing...has given me the best people in the world to be a part of my life, either in real life or on the internet, I am surrounded by amazing people, who are loving and beautiful. Every single opportunity we have had to say goodbye has reminded me of this blessing. I can not believe how much love surrounds us and how much support we feel from each other.

From my dear friend in New York taking Shiloh into her home and family to the amazing goodbye party today where the Diva's said goodbye to their cousins with a great big pool party and play time with AMAZING FOOD and friendship, it reminds me every day at every step, who blessed and loved we are. And we have another goodbye tomorrow with the God parents who have loved and shared their lives with us every Friday night for five years....

I will confess that this is the hardest part of our adventure is saying goodbye. I will miss my little Nephalump as he grows from a shy foster child to an adored son and nephew, I will miss my sister who has been my best friend since her birth and her hubby who has been such a great friend and brother to me. I will miss Diva Dad and all his nuttiness and the countless friends who I have known for over 20 years. The party was full of ex husbands and wives who are still friends, adopted cousins and families in law, people from Ireland, Japan, Hungry, the Midwest, Vietnam all joined together as a family. There was the presence of love in the room with an amazing edible bouquet from my cousin who couldn't be there and all of it...points to God's greatest gift in the world and that is the love that surrounds us. It is hard to leave that love and embark on this crazy journey and yet I know that when we return it will be there ever present and everlasting.

My fortune cookie today said....

The journey to life's greatest adventure begins with a single step.....

Well, on Thursday as my foot falls in Beijing...that journey begins.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

We Have Our Departure Date and Plane Tickets....in 10 days WE MOVE TO CHINA

I can not believe that in ten days we move to Beijing!!!

I AM FREAKED!!!!!!!!!!

Eeek. In that amount of time I have to write 100 pages, meet with an agent WHO LOVES MY WORK :), finish an online class for TEFL certification, fly to New York with Shiloh and meet my online friend for the first time, see friends, have a goodbye party (or several)repack our 5 um...I mean 6 bags, buy stuff that we need....and then get on the airplane. WHAT?

The Pros....

The kids are climbing the walls at my mom's house cause they are so ready for their adventure and they are not used to apartment living. While Gaga Drama is doing an excellent job keeping her cool, I would be freaked if the Diva's were sparkle spirals of craziness in my abode....bravo gaga Diva. I am not sure I would be as cool with it!!!

I still don't believe this is happening but in less than two weeks it is. EEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKK.

The upside, we have had some amazing goodbye experiences....

Wonderful playdates, an amazing goodbye camping trip, a great cocktail catch up party a great goodbye party being planned with swimming and Chinese food and fun stuff... and then another goodbye brunch and a goodbye party at both of the girl's schools...and a deep sadness that I will miss everyone so very much. Wow...its overwhelming.

I will miss everyone...and I will, deeply, but tomorrow I get on a plane and let my dog adventure with a dear friend. I will leave her house, her beautiful children and her family and Shiloh will stay with them. Shiloh who has been the best friend any mom could ever hope for, Shiloh who fell off of a five story building and survived, Shiloh who is the reason I met Diva Dad, Shiloh who Little Diva walks every morning and hugs every night. Shiloh who has laid beside both girls cribs as they slept, who used to walk back and forth from the front of the pack to the back when we hiked, making sure that not one person was unaccounted for. Shiloh, simply the best dog on the planet~~~~~~~

THE ONLY ONE AND VERY MAJOR DOWNSIDE (apart from missing my friends and family desperately)IS SAYING GOOD BYE (for now) TO MY AMAZING BABY GIRL, my very first and most beloved dog, Shiloh, better known as Squish!!!!!

Dear Shiloh (Squishy as we call you)

I love you baby, I love you so very very very much, I pray you know that you are in loving hands, that you will be with a family dear to my heart. This is not goodbye sweet soul, dear little one, this is just so long for now. I hope you enjoy your adventure, I know that I will see all the exciting things that you are up to, and take good care of their family as you always do. I must say I have never been apart from you more than a few days and the reality of this is really hitting me tonight. So all I muster to say at the moment is, I love you.....I love you dearly.