“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!

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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

Family Time!

Ok, I swear I’m working on the Nanjing TV show post (don’t stone me yet!), but i have to make a short post about my family coming to visit me in under a month. I am soooooo excited, we talked for hours this morning about specific timelines and plans. By visiting family includes one of my favorite cousins, Wendy (she has a much lighter skin tone than me, so I wonder what race everyone here will think she is….full white?), my older sister, Stephanie (she commutes to college and lives with our overly strict parents, so I can’t wait to see her carefree and travelling), and my little sister Diana (the one who learns Chinese as well, and was with me last summer). The four of us can make anything into a funny situation. When it comes to me and my sisters I always tell all of my friends that it’s like hanging out with me, but times three. And trust me, I’m kind of crazy (in a good way!) on my own. Nevertheless, I have yet to meet someone who was a friend of one of us, who didn’t love the rest of us. Wendy is crazy, funny in a more low-key manner, she can get shy around people she doesn’t know but gets into schemes easily enough. Actually, she has never partied before so I can’t wait to corrupt enlighten her. We are going to take Tianjin, Beijing, and Qingdao by storm!

Also, Stephanie was an aspiring writer when she was little (wrote a lot of awesome short stories and novels) and I’m going to force her to let her write a few guest posts. Hopefully, she can help readers see China from a non-biased stand point…I’m sure you guys will enjoy it~

In the “Southern Capital”

Just a heads up- I’m going to reserve this first update to be specifically about everything we did in Nanjing that didn’t include the TV show. I will talk about that experience in the next post 🙂

My friend Alex and I left early in the morning on March 31st to catch our train to Nanjing. Getting to the train station was a bit of a hassle because of traffic and the location of the station, it was a far off one that only has trains heading to Shanghai. Well, Nanjing is a stop along the way to Shanghai so off we went! (Hooray!)

It took 4 hours and we were in Nanjing by 1:30, bought return train tickets for the 2nd, ate dumplings, lost my luggage, found my luggage, and then hopped in a cab to the hotel the TV station reserved for me. Quite the eventful time at the train station, haha. Side Note: Something we noticed right away was how funny Nanjing dialect sounds, they make sounds that is not even normal Chinese. I don’t know how to explain it, Chinese has only so many phonetic sounds, which aren’t a lot, which creates the need for tones, but people from Nanjing were speaking all kinds of crazy! Back on track: The cab ride to the hotel was beautiful, Alex and I couldn’t help but notice that Nanjing seems greener than Tianjin…weird observation but it is true. There were parks, clean skies, bushes of flowers, trees everywhere, and actually plant life on the street meridians. I don’t mean to make Tianjin seem like a barren wasteland, because it’s not, but there is a distinct difference. After a stop at the hotel and TV station we were free, and went back to our hotel room to plan our trip. I’m way too casual about touring…I never know what NEEDS to be seen or what’s famous until I get there. Heck, I went to Hong Kong and still don’t know how to say, “My name is…” in Cantonese.  The only thing I ever heard about Nanjing was about the Japanese invasion, so we promptly got onto Google and Baidu (basically the Chinese version of Google) to find out where we should go. Since it was already late afternoon we heard that a nice place to go was the Confucius Temple at night. We met up two Nankai University classmates, Avi (an American friend of mine…literally we go to the same University and have known each other for years) and Lynn (a Vietnamese girl born in Germany…the funny thing is her parents speak Japanese rather than German like she does), and hit the temple up.

It’s located on the side of a famous river in Nanjing, and had a bunch of different light festival attractions going on. Not to mention there were all kinds of street food, we ate so many snacks that we didn’t even need to eat dinner. Then Lynn and Avi took a 50 minute boat cruise down the lake. Alex and I didn’t join in because I have been on enough boat cruises in this lifetime, or so I tell myself, it’s just that being on a boat gets SO boring and I always feel like it was a waste of time or money afterwards. In the end, we got back to our room at 11 and had a pretty early night so we would be ready for a full day of touring.

We woke up early and went to the train station (for reasons that are explained in the TV Show post), and then we met up with Avi and Lynn for lunch and a trek to the Sun Yet Sen Mausoleum. It was a very hot day, and there was a hell of a climb to get to his mausoleum…in fact I’m still not sure if he was buried there or not…meh. A really cool part of this attraction was a section called “The Music Stage” (I’m translating from Chinese…it sounds more normal in the original language, I swear). It had a large fountain in the middle, benches, Grecian architecture, flowers, trees, music, and doves. There were so many of them, and you could buy food and feed them, it was a very nice, relaxing place. Then, we also took a five yuan bus to another nearby sight, The Nanjing Xiaoling Mausoleum. We originally went there for the tombs, but got sidetracked and walked into a Plum Blossom Festival, don’t ask questions…I have no answers. It was beautiful of course, but it took us over an hour to get back on track, and almost another hour to find the tombs. In the end we made it most of the way, took a look at a map, and gave up….the place was HUGE and our feet hurt. I must say Lynn is a trooper, she wore heels the entire time and not one complaint.

The most amusing part of this trek was watching Alex try to dodge middle school girls and women taking photos of him or asking for photos with him. It’s funny because they always assume we can’t understand Chinese, so we can hear them saying things like, “You go ask him…No, YOU go ask him…OMG, and doesn’t he look just like Edward from Twilight?”  So he has an advantage, it gives him time to know which way to run and where to hide…it’s hilarious! He has to hide though, because if one asks the others all rally up courage and then it becomes an impromptu photo shoot. (I’m going to ask him if I can put a picture of him up on this so you guys can see, he actually does look like him….and in China that’s practically a death sentence.)He’s a veritable heartthrob among the masses (don’t get me wrong, I hate Twilight, but I am speaking from the Chinese stand point). Whenever we walk into a room, it doesn’t take that long for the words, “Vampire”, “Edward”, and “Twilight” to get thrown around, but in Nanjing it was crazy, it would take only three seconds. Then we would have to pick a corner of the subway train with the least estrogen to go around.

That actually leads into the next day of touring, because we decided to go to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. Over 300,000 Chinese people were killed during the Japanese invasion and the Memorial is at the burial ground for 10,000 of them. It was very sobering and sad to see the corpses of babies, children, and old people, apparently soldiers used copper nails to drill into children…don’t ask me why this was a better method than guns, I will never know. Regardless, the memorial was tastefully done because it ended with a “Peace Garden” with signs encouraging everyone to love and embrace one another. I really liked that place, but anyways, somewhere in between the burial ground and the garden, we got separated from Alex. Then we spotted him, but were so far away…too far to do anything when the group of middle-schoolers on a field trip spotted him as well. It was like watching a train wreck, don’t get me wrong, we laughed and let him be tortured for a while, but after a few minutes swooped in to save him. Didn’t want anyone to have a chance to ask for a souvenir neck nibble. It was too late though, and a crowd began following us, so Alex and I had to hold hands like a couple to scare them off. I didn’t work though because we realized, too late, that seeing an interracial, interspecies (vampire/human?) couple was just as appealing. So we smacked sunglasses on him and walked quickly away. Afterwards, we went to a peaceful garden next to a lake and kicked it with a bunch of old people. They were really nice, but we could barely understand them, their Nanjing accents were strong. I wanted to adopt an old lady who reminded me of my grandma though, she was so adorable! Tiny lady with strong opinions and a very loud voice, haha.

That night Alex and I walked around to find any attractions, but Nanjing is pretty dead after a certain time. You can’t even watch any shows like Beijing Opera, Kung Fu, or Acrobatics. The next night after the TV show recording we tried to find the Nanjing party scene, but it was basically nonexistent. We went to two bars and a club then called it a night. All in all, I was really glad I got to the chance to see another area of China practically for free…life is good!

Impromptu Chinese Party

I got a text message from my Canadian friend, Gotiere, that simply said, “Come to the Chinese Department’s fifth floor, Party with Chinese people.” I originally meant to go running, but my opportunities to make new Chinese friends aren’t many, so Alex and I went on over. The room was decorated in pink and purple balloons and had about 20 Chinese students and 20 foreign students (Americans, Koreans, Japanese, a Ukrainian/Mexican/ and Canadian) split into two teams. All of the Chinese students screamed my name as I walked in, a strange experience but it always happens now, for some reason all of the Chinese students know who I am and KIND OF worship me (not in a make a sacrifice in my name sort of way, haha). It’s strange, but I think they are sweet.  When we arrived they were already well into a game that is kind of like charades. One person sees the picture and word then turns to the next person and does a move to tell them what it is, but then THAT person has to turn to the person behind THEM and do the move as well. And so on until it reaches the fifth and final person, it gets hilarious by the end, but for some reason no one was playing with joy. That’s right folks, it was a dead party, and barely anyone was laughing. It might have had to do with the fact that almost all of the foreigners had no idea what they were doing or supposed to do, they have only learned Chinese for 7 months so there were a lot of blank stares going on. Alex and I almost decided to leave, but I felt bad because we just arrived and EVERYONE noticed we came in (I’m semi-popular and Alex looks like an American movie star that will remain unnamed. Our departure would hardly go unnoticed. So what else was there to do but liven it up.

I volunteered Alex and myself to play the next game. They would give three words and we had to make a satisfactory impromptu play. Our words were “Valentine’s day….chocolate….purchase”, so we linked arms and pretended to stroll down a street. I put on my high-pitch, cutesy Taiwanese girl voice and started saying things like, “Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart”, “I love you soo much”, and “what are you going to get your favorite person on this special day?” Everyone was rolling with laughter, then we stopped by a chocolate shop and he grabbed a box that was $10,000, but I smacked it out of his hands and said, “Does our love mean so little to you?” and in the end he got me a box of chocolates worth $100,000, haha. Yup, I’m that great~ Well, that lifted the spirit of the party slightly and it turned out to be really funny. Everyone did a little performance (I step danced for them), we played acting games, tongue twister games, and even voice acting. It lasted a few hours and we had plenty of Chinese practice along the way. There were prizes given out as well, I have a new stuffed panda, mini-mirror, and coffee mug. Overall it was a successful night.

Side note: It was so funny to see the Chinese girls fight over whom got the “privilege” of handing Alex cups of chips and whatnot. Secret photos were taken galore. Also, yesterday while we were eating lunch a Chinese girl turned around, literally gasped, and then turned to her friends and went, “Doesn’t he look like…. From….?!” We had a good laugh about that one.

St. Paddy’s Day

Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope that you all had a good time; I know I did, though I am still recovering from my night out, haha. This year was my first legal St. Patrick’s Day (21 and everything), and this year it fell on a Saturday. What a wonderful coincidence. I know if I were still in Boston it would’ve too crazy to describe. BUT this year I got to celebrate it here… I was disappointed to discover that Chinese people have never even heard of this holiday…let alone celebrate it. So my group of foreign friends and I had to bring the American/Irish holiday spirit. Everyone wore something green (to avoid the pinches) and we hit all of our Chinese friends who had the misfortune of going to Helen’s in inappropriate attire (aka no green). I’m sure they will never forget another St. Patrick’s Day in this lifetime~ Actually I don’t own anything cute and green, so I brought along a leprechaun who remained perched on my shoulder all night. My friend’s mom sent it in a care package and he was too ashamed to wear him out, being the shameless crazy that I am, I had no such qualms. It was adorable; he had curly red hair, green clothes sprinkled with four leaf clovers, and a cup of beer. His eyes also had a hazy drunk look to them, I called him McDuffy.

We got to Helen’s around 8pm, ate and hung out until 10pm, and then got a bottle of Russian vodka. We played card games and drank until everyone felt tipsy…everyone that is, except me. Warning, don’t judge me: I have the alcohol tolerance level of a football playing frat boy. It’s horrendous, so after multiple shots and glasses of vodka (lots of them), I went to the bar and told my friend to give me the strongest stuff they had. I forget what it was called but it was 70% and I did three small glasses of it, and had a mojito afterwards just to be sure. FINALLY, I felt ready to go dancing, haha. We all piled into three cabs,  got to Xitang (basically the only good dance club in Tianjin), and it kind of becomes a blur after that. Not because I blacked out, but because I stopped paying attention and just danced. I’m an equal opportunity dancer, I danced with everyone and everywhere haha. We stayed there until a little after 3 and stepped outside for a breather. A random guy came up to me and said, “You’re a great dancer” I’m almost 100% certain that I didn’t dance with him, so he just probably saw my craziness from afar. After a while we grabbed our bags and coats and walked out into a winter wonderland. Yes, it snowed for the first time this winter that night. We all turned into big kids, running around and shoving snow down each other’s shirts and jackets. Running away from one of my friends I slipped and fell in a major way, my knee is still sore and bruised, haha. It was a really fun night.

One bad note though: My crush on Brandon has diminished greatly over the weeks, but I still felt an attraction of sorts. Ever since last week his flirting has practically ceased and I wondered why, well it’s because he has a new, long distance girlfriend. She’s from his hometown and I am so over him now….crusty savage. He didn’t even have the balls to tell me himself, a mutual friend of ours did and when I asked him about it all he had to say was, “Who told you?” Like it was supposed to be some kind of secret. Honestly, I don’t understand the thinking process of guys. Thank goodness I stopped crushing on him earlier than St. Patrick’s Day or that would have ruined my night, haha.

Happy International Woman’s Day!

Yup, it’s finally arrived, March 8th, the day that we wait all year for, Woman’s Day! Well, maybe there isn’t that much anticipation, but it’s nice to be recognized anyways. I’ve only heard of this holiday mentioned in a passing joke one time, Woman’s Day can also be referred to by the date it falls on (March 8th), which in Chinese is 三八节 (literally the numbers 3 and 8 Day). Why is this funny? Because 3 and 8 can be used as a derogatory term for a crazy person. *Shrug* Can’t win ‘em all right?

I was asked two weeks ago to perform for a Woman’s Day celebration, which took place yesterday. I was skeptical at first, but found no way to get out of it (you all know that I am trying to slowly step away from the lime light). In the end, I’m glad I did it. One of my Tianjin Language Competition co-competitors KeXin was also doing it so I was glad to get more time to hang out with her. We left from our school yesterday at 3pm; it was a rented bus that carried us, some teachers, and about 20 other female classmates. It took an hour to arrive, I’m assuming it was a place on the outskirts of Tianjin…literally, I saw a sign that said “Beijing: This Way”, haha. Surprisingly, for a place in the middle of nowhere’s land it was pretty snazzy. There were chandeliers, well dressed hostesses, and observantly speedy waiters. The room with the stage was set up in banquet style with a good sized stage at the front. Also, all of the tables were decked out in top-notch finger foods and desserts. KeXin and I were very nervous about performing, no matter how many times you do it, performing it again you feel just as nervous as the first time. There were many lovely performances before ours (we were number 8), like acapella choirs, a lion dance, an award winning singer, and Beijing opera solos. All of the acts were performed by women, one was even a mother-daughter singing duo, and the girl was only five but sounded SO mature and sang so well! Finally, it was our turn, all I could think in my head was that I was going to mess up on my opening clapper section and hit someone in the face….luckily! That was not the case. It went well and I didn’t make any mistakes that I noticed, plus the crowd loved it so it doesn’t matter 🙂

After the banquet finished (there was an Italian opera performance from an American woman that was fantastic, by the way) we were bombarded by photographers and met some of the “Outstanding Women” guests. There was a really tall, skinny one who is a famous volleyball player, and a shorter woman who is a part of the Olympic Chinese Taekwondo team. We had to take “candid” shots with them, and then retired to our bus. The teachers surprised us with a free meal at a nice Chinese restaurant nearby. I met a bunch of people I didn’t know before yesterday, plus got a gift bag, a free meal, and 100 kuai that the head of the Department surprised us with today. All in all….a very nice way to start off Woman’s Day~

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