One Thing I Won’t Miss

I’m taking a quick study break (has to be really quick because the exam is in..oh, 6 hours and I’m not even done with the flash cards…yup, Queen of Procrastination)  to talk about one thing I DEFINITELY won’t miss when I go home next week…my roommate. She doesn’t say much and when we actually talk, we get along fine, but the hotter it gets, the more annoyed I get with her.  She sleeps on the side of the room that has both the window and the air conditioner. I used to let her have free reign with both items because it was never a problem before, she came in October when I wouldn’t want more cold anyways. So I have discovered too late that she has this crazy, crazy strange aversion to the AC. I don’t know if it’s her African blood giving her superpowers, but this girl sleeps under covers still in our muggy (Tianjin is humid) non-airconditioned room. While I lay there in a tank top, short short, no covers and still sweat up a storm. I felt bad about turning on the AC before becasue the wind does blow directly on her, but I think she may be a bit of a drama queen. I mean how cold can you really get from it under covers. So I have started turning it on after a few hours to make this a more give-and-take relationship. She hasn’t recieved the memo because the longest I have been able to keep it on without her reaching for the remote is 3 hours. Guys, I feel lucky when I get to two hours…my life is misery. The only thing keeping me going is the thought that I only have one more week of this crap. Thank God~~

Also, what makes it worse is that she likes to leave the window open (her version of AC I guess), and while there is a vent in place, bugs still find the cracks to get in and terrorize me while I sleep. She doesn’t understand the correlation between the window being open and the increased numbers of bugs she has to kill. I described it to her but it went in one ear…and sadly out the other. I’m feeling blissful just thinking about leaving her (she never even leaves our room so I have no respite!). Okay, I’ve bitched and moaned enough, back to studying!


Ignored Call

I got a bit of a semi-shock after my nap just now. My phone rang and guess who it was….”Bad Guy”. Or as some might know him, XiaoLong. I have no idea why he was calling, and can’t say that I’m interested either. From his call though I can see that he didn’t change his number…which also means he still lives in Tianjin (people enerally change numbers when they move to new cities here). Thank goodness I haven’t ran into him at one of my haunts, because I can just imagine the awkward forced politeness, haha.

“Awkward” First Date?

I put awkward in quotations because it wasn’t really awkward to me, but my sister Stephanie referred to it as such in her blog post, haha. But first let me describe how I met this guy (I swear my life should be a sitcom….some of the things that happen people).

We met at Helen’s a few months ago while we were both grabbing drinks at the bar. He seemed nice enough, nice eyes, tall, and Canadian so I stopped and talked with him for a bit. Nothing serious of course but we made light conversation. I found out that his name is Irish (Kieran), I’m pretty sure he said his family background is Irish as well, and that he goes to Nankai. Other than that we had no contact until early May, when we met at the club. I was pretty tipsy at that point and saw someone who looked manly (I kind of have gotten sick of the small statures of Asian men, not completely but I definitely like them more muscular now as a result)…you all know what that meant. I saw him approaching me for a dance but I stopped him and asked, “Do you belong to Nastya (my Russian girl friend)?” This felt like a perfectly normal question at the time because I wasn’t sure if she was making eyes at him or not. Well apparently not because he gave me a confused face, I shrugged, turned around, and kept dancing. We danced for a few songs and in my typical fashion I decided that I wanted to dance on stage (when I dance I don’t care if it’s with others or by myself, I do whatever I want basically). After a few more songs I decided I wanted to dance with someone again, but I think the alcohol settled in and I felt drunker than before….so (embarrassingly) I got stuck…between two guys? Why do I always end up that way? So I saw two guys, both white, tall, brown haired looking at me as if they expected a dance, and I couldn’t remember which one was which, I have morals! I couldn’t grind on one guy, and then grind on another in the first guy’s face. So I danced with none of them, haha. Luckily Kieran got my number before I went off and he texted me the next day. We talked for a couple of days, then nothing until 2 weeks ago, when he asked if I wanted to go out for coffee. I was very apprehensive. I’ve really only ever done the school girl dating, where you meet each other in class, or the halls, or through mutual friends, hang out in a group, and then move into asking each other out privately. This will sound silly, but I felt like this would be a “grown-up” date…does this make sense to anyone else?!

Eventually I said yes, but it changed into a meet at Helen’s kind of date. So I worked, sang KTV and had lunch with my family and friends, and then got dolled up to go to Helen’s. I wasn’t sure what to expect but he sure made it into a date-date. Like I sat next to him, we talked almost exclusively the whole night, and he bought almost all of my drinks (I had to buy one to show him that I wasn’t a leech haha). He was really nice and if I were staying in China longer I would definitely consider dating him (he’s staying for another year). Interesting things about him: He’s studied abroad in 5 different countries, knows six languages (Chinese being his sixth), has a Master’s Degree from the best economics university in England, and was nice. From this list though, you guys can probably tell a glaring fact in what separated us…that’s right, age! He’s 29, I honestly wasn’t freaked out when I realized that but after pondering the fact I can see where it might create a problem. I was even shy about flirting with him because he was so mature…not like the boys that I’m used to. It was hilarious watching him try to fish around for my age, he was really smart about it though. He asked about my first experience in China, how old I was then, and then a few minutes later he asked what year I came in on….very smart indeed. He took it in stride though, I think what made him not pursue further dates was the fact that I am leaving in two weeks. It’s a bumer but this is how my life is, whenever I’m leaving to go somewhere a nice boy comes around who wants more. I think it has to do with my karma 😛

Sidenote: I think Stephanie called it awkward because there was another boy there who I have had a long-term flirting relationship with…in the same room that night. Whenever Kieran would get up to get drinks or go to the bathroom, my friend would come by and take his seat, asking if I needed rescuing. Also, whenever Kieran was there, my friend would come over and touch me on my neck and shoulders…haha, yeah that does count as awkward now that I think of it. Oh well, overall I had a fun night and now I have dipped my toes back into the cold, cold river of love!

Stephanie’s Reflections #2

What has been your favorite place so far in Tianjin?

I really loved the amusement park here (sorry, I don’t know its name). It was absolutely beautiful with pavilions full of breakdancing groups (the degree of talent these groups had was another question) and older people ballroom dancing. There was also the place where they put brass animals symbolizing the Chinese zodiac and I took pictures of others next to their zodiac (I couldn’t take a picture next to the dragon because it was the only one missing- BOO!). Little babies were running everywhere and people were smacking down cards during a picnic as if they were playing dominoes.   There was also a Ferris wheel and bumper cars but it cost around 50 RMB to ride them :(.  So, if you’re in Tianjin I recommend going to the amusement park that I’m sure Marsha will be kind enough to write out and the Joy City mall because of all the shopping you can do! I bought tops there and trust me, I am NOT a petite girl.


What do you think about my friends after reading about them and now finally meeting them? Were they what you expected?

I don’t know what I expected after hearing about your friends but I was pleasantly surprised. For some reason, when you described Moon (for those of you who don’t remember him…look back to check on the Moon Saga), I was expecting a spindly, awkward geek who sported taped glasses. Instead, I met a swearing stocky guy (my first impression was of him shouting “F**king stupid driver!” in English after our taxi got us lost trying to meet him) who can play a mean game of cards and walked like a yakuza character in an anime. I still have a mission to see what he’s like drunk before I leave because it looks like it would be hilarious.

Brandon wasn’t as buff as I expected but as I was sipping my rum and coke he got cuter and cuter. In my inebriated state, I told him he was a “hao ren” (good person) because he didn’t seem to speak a lick of English and that was one of the phrases I had in my extremely limited internal Mandarin dictionary. Even though I saw him that one time and didn’t really talk to him, he seemed alright.

Patrick seems really cool, especially since he had to chase my little sister when she tried to run out into the streets after inhaling about half a bottle of rum. He even let me pet his hair after a few drinks although he laughed when I described it as “soft and strong.” I even whispered to Marsha, admittedly tipsy, that I wouldn’t mind him as a brother-in-law while she was having the Awkward Date That Must Not Be Named with another guy.

Alex reminds me of the people who we used to hang out with in Boston – he has the dry humor thing that Northeasterners come out of the womb with down pat. He also seems into doing whatever, which is probably why him and Marsha get along so well. As a Midwestern boy, I’ve also had the pleasure to teach him some of our more…colorful…phrases such as “ratchet,” “doing the most,” “finna,” and various words in Kreyole which he was able to pick up fast since he took French. It was also hilarious to watch his expressions while showing him twerking videos. He’s cool peoples.

Avi’s hilarious with his unnecessary comments and the emotional abuse the group piles on him. Mustafa is a cool guy with an iron stomach (he drank copious amounts of sake and still wasn’t the least bit drunk). Nastya was awesome for shooing away that pervert in the club and for being another tall girl.  Overall, I think your friends look like good people…at least not psychotic haha.

Which place in China are you most looking forward to visiting?

It isn’t necessarily a place but I really want to do two things before I go: drunk KTV just because and light fireworks because I was always too much of a wuss to do it.

What do you think about Chinese food?

It’s definitely not like the Chinese food in America. If you ask for “fried rice” in most restaurants, you’ll get white rice mixed with fried eggs. The food here is more refreshing than the fare offered in America. I know that isn’t the correct term, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it. What I mean is that it doesn’t create the stick-to-your-stomach fullness that the other food gives you. But there are great dishes here that I wish they had in more American Chinese restaurants. One of my favorite things to eat was the hotpot, which you boil whatever you want and dip it in this yummy sesame sauce: beef, cabbage, chicken, eggs, anything. You even get a cute red apron to wear so you don’t stain your clothes. The only thing I miss about America is the salty snacks because there is no way of cooking in the hotel. The snacks in China seem to be on point when it comes to sweets but when it comes to salty ones there’s always something…off. Either I don’t like the flavor or there is a twinge of sweetness that I was trying to avoid. So, as long you pack up on the Cheezits and Doritos, you’re good to go!

This is Marsha again: About that “awkward date” that my sister brought up, i think it deserves a post of it’s own…look out for it! lol

Stephanie’s Reflections

Hey, lovely blog readers! This is Stephanie, Marsha’s older sister and, in my unbiased opinion, the prettiest of us all. Since I’ve been here in China for over a month, Marsha wanted me to answer questions she prepared.  Even though I could use this time to recount horribly embarrassing stories about her from our childhood, I’ll just answer these questions as honestly as I can as a black woman travelling through China with absolutely NO knowledge of Mandarin (I just learned the proper tones for “ni hao” 2 weeks ago).

What was your first impression of China?

I’ll break this into two parts because I first landed in Hong Kong five hours before heading to Tianjin. When my plane landed in Hong Kong and I saw the pretty green mountains and clear blue skies, all I could think is: This is it? Where is the beastly, ghetto fabulous China that my sisters told me about with smog and streets that would make you regret wearing open-toed shoes? When I landed, there it was, the China-beastly-ghetto-fabulousness that I was seeking. There were people pushing in lines…a lot of people and I had to choke back my anger when more than a handful of them wedged in front of me in line.  At 5’6”, I know that some of them thought that they could squeeze past the Amazon, but I definitely didn’t think it was cute. Then there was the fact that gate for the flight to Tianjin wasn’t announced until a half-hour before takeoff. In Tianjin, the air was smoggy and during the initial taxi ride, since my sister Diana told me it would be rude to buckle the seatbelt, I had a good time trying to hold onto the seat because apparently my taxi driver was an extra in Fast and the Furious and found it amusing to put my life in danger multiple times weaving through rush hour traffic. All in all, my first impression of China was pretty memorable.

What shocked you the most about China or Chinese people?

I was shocked at the variety of heights I saw here. I came expecting to just completely tower over people (yes, I know I’m only 5’6” but I have body dysmorphia, OK?). While this is true of a good portion of the people here, there are plenty of people my height and taller. I heard it might be because I’m in northern China, but I don’t care as long as I don’t feel like Gargamel preying on innocent Smurfs. I was also shocked at the spitting that happens here. It’s not the fact that the men here spit that shocks me but the method that Chinese men seem to have down pat. Imagine someone hocking a loogie from deep within their soul before spitting it out anywhere with impunity. Yup, the sound traumatized me when I first came but now I just keep on moving after making sure not to step on it. I was also shocked at the level of PDA I saw in the younger Chinese couples. I’m talkin’ kissing-all-over-your-face-and-rubbing-your-rump PDA. Maybe it’s specific to Tianjin but it definitely broke the stereotype I had in my head of Chinese people being conservative virgins, ha.

What DO you think about Chinese people (coming from a non-Chinese speaker’s point of view I’m curious)?

I think I summed it best the first day I was in Tianjin and I tried to make myself as small as possible in Helen’s while the waiters and patrons were rushing past: “I have never felt so in people’s way in my life.” Chinese people seem to always be in a hurry and don’t like to be inconvenienced. When I fumbled for the change in my clutch at 7-11, the person behind me already has their products laid out and their bills ready to hand to the cashier. There also seems to be a language Chinese drivers developed with their car horn that allows them to switch lanes with impunity because the taxi drivers I had did not seem to like to wait in lanes when they could just make their own by squeezing between other cars and honking to announce our presence. Another observation I made was that Chinese people seem to be TERRIFIED to speak to foreigners. Not in the xenophobic sense that one would assume but because they are afraid of exercising their limited English. I won’t be a douche and be angry about that, though, because my Mandarin is VERY limited and whenever Marsha asks me to recite a phrase I learned to one of her friends, my tongue gets twisted so fast it’s ridiculous. But it’s hilarious seeing the panic on the faces of people at a fast food restaurant when all I have to do is point out what I want and seeing a cashier literally push us onto another in Beijing while muttering “sorry” to his partner in Mandarin before rushing off with a red face. It makes me wish that I spoke Mandarin because whenever Marsha is around, they get sooo relieved when almost perfect Mandarin comes flowing out of the lips of a black girl. From what I’ve seen, though, Chinese people seem fairly friendly and I’m sure would be even more so if we could properly communicate.

I also love how girly and over-the-top accessories can be for Chinese girls. Chinese girls seem to relish in being excessively feminine. Everything is sparkly and frilly and colorful…right up my alley. If they had covers for Kindles here I would have bought it twice over because they seem to have pretty covers for everything: cellphones, IPhones, laptops, you name it. I bought nail art sparkles to paste on my nails and about seven bows to jazz up my locks and I’ve gotten compliments on my hair throughout the whole trip. I guess my locks can also look a little confusing to Chinese people and the question my sisters, cousin and I get about our natural hair is: how do you wash it? Pretty hilarious.

Chinese people also seem to live in both the past and the present. I see Chinese people riding fast cars with headlights that blink red and blue; on the other hand, I’ve seen rickshaws being peddled down streets and old women practicing traditional dances in the park. I kinda like how the Chinese embrace new developments while holding on to their culture.

Non-Fat Latte?

I am getting a serious case of second-hand embarrassment here sitting in my corner of a coffee shop! I am innocently sitting here catching up on homework (I am SO backed up), when I heard loud English being spoken at the register up front. The girl ordering a latte obviously doesn’t speak Chinese, which is fine, but the way she is screaming every syllable is enough to embarrass. But that wasn’t all, she had the audacity to ask for non-fat or skim milk. Alex and I heard this, looked at each other, and burst into silent laughter. Skim milk? In a place where regular milk is a luxury?

The workers looked at her in confusion and the girl continued to say “SKIM milk” in her face. I haven’t had a drop of milk (fake or otherwise) since I left America….as I mentioned before, milk in pouches on counters that don’t expire make me iffy…call me picky. Anyways, I just had to take a break from studying to share the hilarity. The thought of what just happened still makes me giggle.   

PS. Don’t pull out the pitchforks just yet, I know I haven’t updated in so long, but it has been a HECTIC month. My sister’s guest post is coming up in a few hours, so look forward to it 🙂