24 April, 2017

Wisdom for all Ages

When I get a cold, it takes over all of me. I am the worst. I'm also on my 5th cold since moving to Beijing and seriously thinking it's not me, it's the place. 

Suffering through a stopped nose and a fuzzy brain, when asked what words of wisdom speak to me, the best and brightest gem that floats to the top is:

Starve a cold, Feed a fever.
I know, that's not "wisdom" per se, but it has stuck. 

For the longest time, I couldn't keep it straight in my head which got starved, but then a few years ago I read something about cold remedies. Ahem, ahem, ahem...

A COLD is a virus. Viruses love the sugar your body turns food into. Eating sugar or simple carbs that turn into sugar is bad. 

A FEVER means that your body is fighting off an infection of some sort. Your body uses energy to do this, so it needs you to fuel it appropriately.

Should you fast when you're sick? Of course not. But I like this logical way to think about it: eat less to feed a virus, but keep your body fueled for a fever.

23 April, 2017

The Struggle is Real

"Share something you struggle with."

BAHAhahahahaha! I moved to China 7 months ago. I could make this a list of the chaos of big and small hurdles that require maximum agility to survive. 
But I won't. That would just annoy me. Humor is better. 

There is one thing that is a daily struggle in my life, regardless of where I live. It is a part of married life, I suppose, and perhaps you can relate:


Yes, I married a blanket hog. It's a sad tale, but true. Love him as much as I do, a part of me catches a draft several times a night as he rolls over and takes the blankets with him. We celebrate our 3rd anniversary next week - just THREE YEARS! - and we have already discussed the need for single beds. 

The struggle is real.

First, he is bigger than I, so I recognize that it takes greater blanketal area to cover his body than mine. Add to that the fact that he wraps himself around both a large pillow and a bunched up quilt, and the volume of his space that the blankets must cover is doubled.

Then, that pillow and quilt act like velcro on the cotton duvet cover and grab onto it with each somnolent movement.

I know he tries to be careful. He wakes up to turn over, and tries to keep that velcro action from happening, and cautiously rolling without taking the blankets along. But inevitably I awaken too, either to grab tight hold on my end of the blanket and hold it in place, or with a freezing shoulder, arm, or hip - whichever is exposed.

Do we need a larger blanket? Yes. But the bed is not very high, and I don't want it dragging on the floor. We actually added a fleece blanket on top, which gives several additional inches on each side. It does help, but not completely.
This is us in a few years.

There is no resolution. Only separate beds will fix this.

22 April, 2017

The Music of My Life

I'm not up on popular music. Heck. I live in China. A prompt asking my favorite current music is kind of moot.

Lucky for you, I was raised in a musical family. There is always music in my head even if I can't hear it with my ears.

Just today, I belted out, along with iheart radio the version of Nearer My God To Thee by Vocal Point. This is not a hymn I've ever really liked - kind of slow and dirge-like, usually. But I will always crank up this a capella version.

Listen or watch, here.
I love the counterpoint of that pulsing Latin chorus running all the way through. (My mom does not like this version. I guess it's "too weird.")

Lately, Phantom of the Opera songs have been parading through my head in succession. This is my favorite musical, which I've sadly never actually seen. I've even read the original book, which just adds depth to my love for this. It's actually a heartbreaking love story. I played the soundtrack again a few days after we saw a Chinese Opera, and suddenly wish that it would play here and I could take my musical Chinese friend to see it.

Sadly, I can't find any decent versions on youtube to share here, and I don't know how to drop in a sound file from my computer. You just have to imagine it.

Then, yesterday, randomly, while Brett and I were standing at a bus-stop, something reminded me of narwhals and we were singing that song.

Remember this? It was in an ad in the US last year.

But growing up, we all learned piano and sang in church choirs, from a young age. Mom had a huge Reader's Digest music collection of hits from all different eras. In high school I impressed a friend by knowing all the words to "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head", "Blue Moon", and "The Beer Barrel Polka." Including multiple verses, the bridge, etc.

So many of these have fun little stories within the lyrics. I love it.

Those are just songs. I love classical music, and going to the symphony brings me joy. Number one favorite is Sheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, but my favorite composer overall is Beethoven. His music resonates with me and definitely affects my mood when I listen.

What about you? Do you have favorite songs, or musicians? What is your go-to music?

21 April, 2017

Be Still my Beating... Really?

Today's annoyingly saccharine prompt wants me to tell 5 ways to "win my heart." Bleah. How cheesy can you get? Really. Besides, does anyone really know until it happens? Of course not. So my version of this will be a brief discussion of how I got together with Brett. For more details, see the tab at the top of this blog "The Saga of Red and the Transformed Nonconformist". It needs to be updated, but the early stuff is there.

For me to have interest in any man, he must first and foremost be smart. I have a high intelligence and do not suffer fools easily. Besides, I have seen guys who were interested in me lose interest as soon as I show myself to be a nerd. So, 1. SMART.

My feelings for Brett really spiked the night that things came crashing down around me as I prepared to move from my home in Delaware. We still had never met face to face, but were emailing regularly. When I came home in crisis and sent him an email about it, he answered, "I'm here if you need to talk," and we emailed (I wasn't foolish enough to give my phone number to a stranger!) all night. 2. BE THERE FOR ME.

I was not one to let religion stop me from dating someone, but the fact that we both had a similar understanding of the Bible - and that he had a theological education - made discussions about religion easy to have, and interesting. Although I wouldn't say that categorically, sharing a common religion is a key to "win my heart," a valuable part of our current relationship is 3. SHARED FAITH.

Some people (my BFF, for one) cannot abide liars. I would hope we all hold ourselves in high enough esteem to steer clear of those who habitually deceive us. If I'm honest, though, Brett "won my heart" through deception. Not malicious lies, but let's just say he's very quick with google. I had posted an Audrey Hepburn quote from a favorite movie, and he responded with a suitable quote from the same movie, making me think he was familiar with it. I was impressed. Months later, after we'd met and were happily dating, he informed me he had never seen that movie, but did a quick search for my quote, and found a good response! This was just one time he showed that he could 4. FAKE IT.

I should perhaps have mentioned this first. Although it isn't the most important, the immediate, first thing I notice about a person is their attitude. Granted, it's a perception that may be wrong - you may not be angry, but merely frustrated in the moment. Still, if I spend an afternoon with you, I can get a pretty good idea of your general attitude towards life. NOTE: I am not talking about a mood. Do you feel the world owes you something? Is everything someone else's fault? Are you rude to the wait staff? I cannot stress enough how vital to winning my heart was Brett's 5. POSITIVE ATTITUDE.

There you have it. I hope by not addressing this topic as a bullet list, and by sort of flipping the script to put the item at the end of the description worked for you, because it was an entertaining exercise for me!

20 April, 2017

Oh The Places I Hope to Go!

Five places I want to go? They're only asking for five?
*blows on nails*
I got this.

First, a few from the bucket list, in no particular order:

1. Easter Island.
Giant Stone Heads! 'Nuff said.
Apparently I have a thing for rocks. Stonehenge is another favorite (which I've already visited). I always say I missed my calling to be a geologist. If I get to Easter Island, it would only be logical to hop over to Chile for a visit, too, which is another bucket list place.

2. Pamplona, Spain.
This could be me!
Yes, I want to run with the bulls. (please keep your moral outrage to yourself. I've heard it.) Since I married a man who has this on his bucket list, too, and we have begun a life of travel, this might actually happen someday!

3. Chichen Itza.
Actually, any of the Mayan, Aztec, Toltec, or Incan temples would suffice.

Another big, man-made pile of rocks. I want to climb this thing.

...And for the last two items on this list, I'll put two new ideas: places that have high demand for ESL teachers, and are therefore possible future homes.

1. (4.) Vietnam.
I miss beaches.
I had heard that Vietnam has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It's a shame most Americans only know it for a horrible war. Nowadays, this country is highly ranked by ESL teachers for opportunity, cost of living and other factors. I really hope that we like it when we visit. Even though I'm sure I wouldn't be sitting on a beach everyday, being near enough to visit semi-regularly would be delightful!

2. (5.) The Phillipines.
Mountains AND beaches.
This was a surprise to me, but it also showed on the list of highly ranked places for ESL teachers. My grandparents lived there for a while when I was young, so it would be cool to walk where they walked. This is a highly likely destination within the next year, as some friends of our here in Beijing "have connections" there.

Where would you choose to visit?

Who Inspires You?

Right now, the person who comes to mind is Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. Not just because of her writing, which I love.

As someone who suffers from depression, I admire her getting out of bed and functioning, and sharing her journey! I'm not brave enough to share mine. I don't talk about it. So reading her struggles, which are truly greater than mine. Helps.

I follow her on twitter, and every now and then, seemingly out of the blue, she tweets something like, "Hang on. You are needed. You are loved." Or words like that which can actually be the most positive point in my day!

Of course, if you've read her blog or her books, you know she is laugh-out-loud funny, too. There is light and darkness in this woman, and I love her for all of it.

Short post today because very little sleep last night.
I'm counting this short post an achievement.

18 April, 2017


I told Brett last night that today's post was about my top three pet peeves but I could only think of one.

He laughed, then proceeded to list several things that annoy me, most of which I would argue are not "peeves" but simply situations I've been in. I'm not really that peevish, am I? However, his comments did provide a needed paradigm shift to set me on the right direction.

First, my Cardinal Pet Peeve: Unsolicited advice
Yes, anytime someone posts on social media they have a cold, everyone says, "So sorry you're sick. Get some rest," or generic advice like that. I guess I consider that something of an "I'm showing my concern" statement rather than actual advice.

No, for me, the unsolicited advice is when my best friend - yes, ironically enough my BFF does this to me All. The. Time - says things like, "Oh! You should buy a car in Beijing and be a kind of uber driver for the expats," because she's trying to solve my problem of getting around. Fortunately, with a BFF it's okay to snarkily respond with, "oh sure, if I wanted the expense of a car, or knew my way around the city well enough to drive it, or even WANTED to drive in this hellish traffic!" and she can laugh it off.

One time, I said I was looking for an apartment in the city with a rent of about $XXX, and my brother-in-law, who doesn't live there, has never lived there, and doesn't know anyone in that city, said, "You'll never find that! You need to be looking in XXX range!" WTF? I stuck to my guns and got what I wanted. Suck it, B-I-L!

I think this peeve rankles so, because as the youngest girl in a large family, I have been subjected to TONS of advice from those older and wiser, throughout my life. I'm a grown adult now - have been for decades! - so just shut it. Please. 

Second, surprise events. (at least, those directed at me)
I don't mind surprises like my husband making the bed, or a gift of flowers, but I am a planner. DO NOT deny me the ability to plan what I'm going to wear, whether to bring a gift, how to get there, or any errands that can be planned in conjunction with said event. How do you know I didn't have things that I need to get done at that precise time? Nope. Count me out.

Finally, I give you a knew one: Lack of information
This one I would never have considered before moving to China.

Not lack of general information. You can keep your child's potty-training progress to yourself. But if it pertains to me, TELL ME! Who knew this wasn't an obvious concept? 

Case in point: Qing Ming festival was a couple weeks ago. This is a Chinese holiday to respect your ancestors. While in the office of a private school where I help with their English printed materials, I heard talk of having Monday off. I mentioned this to Brett, asking if he had the day off. He hadn't heard about it. So on Thursday, he asked the head of his school's English department, "Is there a holiday Monday?" and was told, "Of course! We have off for Qing Ming Jie!" Great. Was anyone going to tell him? No. But it gets better. They make up Monday classes on Saturday! If he hadn't asked, they would have expected him to be there on Saturday, but he would not have known about it!

Tell me what I need to know. Or even, just answer my question! Our leasing agent has ignored our pleas for a mailbox key. We've lived here for 6 months, and know there is mail in the box downstairs. He insists: "Key is useless. No one uses." Most mail here is sent by courier. But news flash! We didn't ask your opinion! We asked how we can get a key! 

It's vastly annoying, but hopefully just a China thing. I won't be here forever.

...I have to say, this was an annoying post to write. I think next time this writing challenge list has an idea that focuses on the negative, I will skip it and come up with my own subject. Now I'm all angry about these things!