Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blog Break

So I've discovered that grad school isn't very conducive to keeping up with a blog. Plus I don't take nearly as many photos as I did while I was in China (I know, I'll probably regret that). Plus, my life is a lot less adventurous on this side of the world. Any blog post that I would write about my life now would probably just be related to what I'm studying and I don't want to be a boring blogging (I think what I'm studying is interesting, but the rest of the world might not find it so enticing). So, to anyone still checking my poor neglected blog, I think that posts are going to be sparse. I'm not giving up on my blog completely; however, I think I'm on blog sabbatical. But, feel free to send me an email or a Facebook note.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Movin' On In

Getting moved into my apartment in Bloomington. Dad making good use of his truck, some rope, and his redneck packing skills. (Mom refused to sit on top of all that in a rocker as dad drove down the highway)
Cleaning and getting stuff organized in my apartment. Max Magee pulled a trailer and helped get my larger stuff down. He is also responsible for me having the cutest small vacuum ever. (sorry these pictures are slightly out of focus . . . I think my camera was on some odd setting)
Mom helped me do lots of cleaning and organizing, especially in the bathroom and kitchen.
Max taking a break. He had just finished installing knobs on my kitchen cabinets helping avoid future broken fingernails, for which I am very thankful.
Since my furniture was red, it clashed with the already red wall (not to mention there were spots on the wall in a different shade of red from someone trying to cover up holes or something). Dad was skeptical of the brown, but I like it and think it goes nicely with my Chinese/Asian hodgepodge decor.
My apartment is a work in progress as far as decorating is concerned. In a few weeks when I've finished painting and gotten some more pictures on the walls, I'll try to take some "after" photos to post. The apartment is small but good enough for me and the location is nice. I'm about a 10 - 15 minute walk from almost anything on campus. Since parking on campus is not an option, being within walking distance is a big plus for where I live. Check back with me after a series of rainy days or after the first Indiana blizzard to see if my opinion on this has changed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Together with Family

Last Saturday, my cousin Ben got married. I was glad to finally be on this side of the world for a family event. I missed my cousin Michaela's wedding back in March. It's hard to believe my "little" cousins are getting married! (I'm the oldest of the grandchildren). Here are a few pictures of my family and my cousins. Sadly though, neither Kara or I got a picture of the bride or groom together at the reception!

My Grandma and all eleven of her grandchildren. This is the first photo we've all taken together since we were all together for a piano recital I did back in 1999! The guys got a little hidden back behind all of us girls. Guess we should have put the guys in the front!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Visit to N'ville

I met back up with Katie on Sunday and we drove together down to Nashville, TN to be reunited with all our "awesome" Yichang friends. It'd been about nine months since we'd seen Amy and Brad and a little over a year since we'd seen Beth. Happy to be reunited on this side of the world.
Fun to get to stay in the "House of Awesome" and get some quality porch time in (love the rocking, collapsible lawn chair and the hammock!)
Corn hole (which might mistakenly be called Beanbag toss by us newbies) was a new experience for me. Seems to be a popular Southern lawn game. Brad and I took on Katie and Justin. I was no good. Katie get the much improved award and won the game for her and Justin at the end with two bags in the hole and one on the board.
We were there for Brad's birthday but the celebration was low key since Brad had to spend almost the whole day studying for his finals for his summer school classes. But we did go get some amazing Greek food which we took to the park and enjoyed the swings. We then returned to the House of Awesome for grasshopper pie, lots of glasses of milk, and some good porch time.
Getting ice cream at The Pied Piper--a fun independently run ice cream shop in Nashville. I got Trailer Trash 2.0 which was chocolate ice cream with about every kind of candy in it you can imagine--M&Ms, Snickers, Crunch, Oreos, and much more. Other great flavor to choose from included Some Like It Hot (had Cinnamon and Cheyenne pepper in it!), Dough-Re-Me, Melon Dramatic, and Banana Fanna Fo Pudding. Fun place!
Other fun activities included helping Beth organize her classroom library, visiting the Parent Teacher Store (where Amy works) and lunch at Chick-fil-a, Tacos in a bag, watching The Brad open gifts (if you know Brad, you know what I mean :), 6:00 a.m. Zumba class at the YMCA, a ride on Beth's Vespa, and pool time at Beth's parents house.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rice Visit

Last Wednesday the Rice family came to Coatesville! They've been in the States this summer traveling around to visit family and friends. I was so happy that they could come visit and that we could have a chance to catch up and see each other in America. To make it even better Katie and Kristy came out from Illinois. A China reunion in Coatesville!

The Rices talking about China and giving a presentation at C.M.B.C.
While standing up in front of everyone, Grace and Esther found the air-conditioning vent to be quite entertaining. Everyone else found them quite entertaining and adorable in their Chinese outfits :)
Group shot - Rice family, Kim, Katie, Kristy, and Dad and Mom
Having dessert and coffee at our house afterward while recounting stories of Mr. and Mrs. Tomato Head. Brian even had family from Terra Haute, IN who came to visit and hear their presentation.
Dad reading Dr. Seuss to Esther and Grace. Practicing for when he's a grandpa (which will be in March by the way, my sister and brother-in-law are expecting a baby!).
Always fun when Katie comes for a visit! She went on from my house to see friends in OH and then we met up again and made a trip down to Nashville, TN to see Brad, Amy, and Beth our awesome Yichang friends.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stand in Line, Get Your Game On

On Monday, I went to the downtown branch of the Indianapolis Public Library and checked out a stack of books about China. I was on the history-travel-biography floor (by far my favorite of the 6 floors, if only the cafe was on that floor instead of the first floor) and I didn't make it any farther than the Chinese history and travel sections before I had as many books as I could carry. I figure I need to get in as much "fun" reading as I can before I start school next month, after which I'm sure my reading time will be fully consumed by dense, inscrutable scholarly discourses which I will be expected not only to read but also to give intelligent opinions and criticisms about. Anyways, here's an amusing excerpt from one of the books I picked up about standing in lines in China. I've tried to explain Chinese lines (or the lack thereof) before, but this author gives a humorous and accurate description of the sport of Chinese Line Standing.

"Lining up in China, I soon discovered, was played as a contact sport. Men and women, young and old, cigarettes dangling from their lips, used their elbows and shoulders to muscle their way to the cabs. With knobby elbows in my ribs, strange hands on my arms, and my back feeling the amassing weight of the hundreds who had not yet slinked ahead of me, I began to ponder the idea of personal space, and after being shimmied aside by a grandmother who could not have been more than three and a half feet tall, concluded that no, such a concept is evidently alien to the Chinese. And so I, too, began to dig in against the line hoppers, flinging my shoulders to contest the passage of three businessmen behind me. A shoulder here, a foot there, soon I was moving like a heaving linebacker. Some fifty people had managed to bypass me in the scrum, but now that I knew that lining up and getting bruised were intertwined, I was determined not to let this troika of businessmen pass me by. If I hadn't begun to regard the queue as a forum for physical sport, it is quite likely that I would still be there today, for lining up in China is not for the meek. " --Lost on Planet China, by J. Maarten Troost

It might be hard to comprehend if you've never experienced it, but this really is exactly what you have to do. Katie and I would work as a team--one of us would "box out" while the other pushed up to the front (I remember doing that especially at train stations) all the while shouting warnings to each other: "Watch out for Grandma over there! Hey, they're trying to send their kid up to the front since he's smaller! Don't let that guy behind you stick his money on the counter and order first!"

The other day I was eating at Chick-fil-a with dad and mom and was amazed to see dozens of people waiting to be served but no one pushing. A line like "Oh, were you here first? You go ahead." would never be heard in China. Before the Olympics, there were "Practice standing in line" days on the 11th of every month. I've come to learn that I can accept and forgive a lot in the name of culture, but standing in lines (and not hacking and spitting) is something that I think should be a common courtesy no matter where you're from.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Experiencing Everest

Last week, I met my college roommate Hillery at King's Island, an amusement park in Ohio. Hillery had her two kids with her and also two nephews and a cousin. Since Hillery's baby is only 6 months, she needed to go to the "Baby Care Center" to feed him a couple times during the day. One time while Hillery was feeding Micah, I asked the cousin, a sweet 13-year old girl named Liz, if she wanted to go ride something while we waited to meet back up with Hillery. Liz was extremely timid and nervous about the rides, but finally decided she could handle a "Scrambler"-type, county fair caliber ride. While waiting in line, I tried my best to sympathize with Liz's fear (me who will ride any coaster, has been bungee jumping, and has endured hours of turbulence on Chinese domestic flights). Liz told me about going to Disney World so I asked her if she was afraid to ride the rides there.
"Oh Disney World is so much better than here so I rode lots of rides there."
Said with all the logic of a 13-year-old mind. We stood in line a few more minutes as Liz watched the swirling, octopus-like ride trying to decide if it would make her "puke" which I sincerely hoped she wouldn't do since I would be sitting next to her. Then she looked at me and asked--
"Have you ever been on Mt. Everest?"
I found this a rather random, surprising question coming from a 13-year-old.
"Yeah, actually, I have."
"Did you like it?"
"Yeah, it was an amazing experience."
A few more minutes of line standing pass.
"Well, I didn't want to ride it, but my friends, like, pushed me on it and then when I got off I thought it was totally awesome."
Ah, there's a ride at Disney called "Mt. Everest." Silly me. Adulthood and six years of living out of the country have put me slightly out of touch with the Disney scene.
"Oh, I didn't know Disney had a ride called Mt. Everest. I thought you were asking me about the actual Mt. Everest in Tibet. I've been there." (You know, most people think that's pretty cool)
To which I got a slightly confused, quizzical look from Liz, a little like the way a puppy tilts its head and listens to you but doesn't quite know what you're saying.

Later in the day, while waiting in line to ride "The Beast," the song that was playing on the P.A. system was "Oh I think it's gonna be a long, long time." The projected wait was over an hour. How fitting.