Monday, May 29

the inventions of this country...

I ruined my keyboard on my laptop by spilling coffee on it, so I had to buy a new one. This is what I bought. I couldn't resist it. It's flexible! The instructions are in English and are quite comical.
"The roll keyboard cannot be used in below conditions. It cannot be putted into the oven and putted on the fire to roast."
"Made by high quality silicone, the keyboard has no poisonous and evil smell, according to the requirement of the environmental protection, it is a kind of creative new product."
''The button bears to type 2 million times." (and then it will quit working?)

And one more photo for your viewing pleasure. Look carefully at the title. I bet you can't rent this one in America!

Wednesday, May 24


I went to Shenyang Tuesday night, slept on the train, and got there about 6:30 in the morning yesterday. Not much was open at that time, so I wandered around for a while. I happened upon a very happening park which was full of people doing interesting morning exercise routines. Some people were doing aerobics, some were doing fan dancing in costumes, some were playing Chinese hackey sack, badminton, or this weird yo-yo type game, and some were just jumping up and down or hitting their backs against a tree. Who knew Chinese old people were so creative?

In this dance, there weren't enough men, so some of the old women were dressed up in men's costumes.

I ate at McDonald's for breakfast (they only have an egg burger, but it's OK), wandered around more, found the right bank to take care of visa fees for a friend, found the "foreign language bookstore" which had a total of 3 English books, and spent the rest of the morning reading at Starbucks!

These guys looked so cute gathered around a fishtank on the street on my way to the American consulate.

My afternoon at the consulate took up much more time than I expected, and was much more costly than expected, but I did get what I needed done and fed-exed to America.

I also got my trip to Wal-mart in as I went back to the station. I found some spreadable cheese, different flavors of jam than we can get here, spaghetti sauce for cheaper than we can get here, and a few other goodies. It looks a lot like an American one, but mostly stocked with the same stuff as any other larger Chinese supermarket.

And, just in time, I made it back to the train station for my 6:15 train. I got back to the university just in time to teach my 8 am class. Now to finish the work that's been piling up.

(This is the deals they have on phones inside the shop, I think.)

Sunday, May 21


to my dear readers... I have not written a real post in a while. I guess I haven't been busier than usual, and I haven't had a shortage of good things to write about... but I spilled coffee on my computer and it was out for a week. It's not fixed yet. The computer itself works, but the keyboard is out forever, they say. Maybe I can take it to another place and try again. Right now I am typing on a separate keyboard attached to my computer.

Meanwhile, we've had some beautiful weather. At the end of our May vacation the weather changed and brought along the first blooms of spring, and we've had pretty great weather since then. Last week, we had three days with weather in the 80s and beautiful sunshine. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. Last week, the apple pear (it's one fruit here) trees all blossomed and we had snowy white fields to the side of our school. Beautiful.

I got a cell phone on Saturday. If you want to call me, now you can...anytime.

I'm going to the US consulate to sign my house papers in front of a notary. That's a 13 hour train trip each way. I'll miss one class and just sleep the nights on the train, but I'll have some time in Shenyang to visit Walmart and Starbucks. Fun times ahead.

Sunday, May 14

Happy Mother's Day!

A quick message to Mom as I go to class this morning.

We had a performance on Saturday night, so my friend braided my hair and we were rap stars. I took these pictures for you, Mom, after the show.

Sunday, May 7


The circumstances are not ideal, yet it seems to me that life's moments don't have to be right or not right anymore, so fraught and weighted with "value," but just of themselves, what they are...

from A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee

I've read these two books recently - the one above and another one by the same author called Native Speaker - that are basically about Asians fitting in to "normal" American life. I've been thinking that perhaps I'm on the opposite end of that picture, a white girl trying to fit in to Asian life, although it's certainly much easier for an Asian non-American to fit in to American life than it is for me to fit in here. Of course, I am also segregating myself in many ways, some necessary and some not so much so. I hang out with the teachers in the English conversation office, mostly stay on campus, etc. This happens because I'm really too busy not to do that, my students and my work requires me to, and so on. I spend as much time as possible in language study, but I don't make as much progress as I should because I'm not in an immersion environment. So, while I love what I do, I'm torn, because I think language study is actually the most important thing so that someday I won't have to live this segregated life.

None of what I just wrote has to do with the quote I copied above. I do love that quote, though, because of how I feel circumstances have been normal lately and yet not so. Circumstances aren't ideal and the moments haven't been so weighted with value lately, but yet they have been good.

Wednesday, May 3

everybody loves pictures!

I thought this couple looked cute looking out over the bay.

We went to an off the beaten track beach and watched people gather mi-yuk (seaweed) from the waves. This guy was one of the more successful gatherers. They'll use it for soup later, I guess.

A store on the side of the road. I actually took this picture because the products inside the store caught my eye, the way they were arranged in shiny packages, but that didn't come out as much as I thought it would.

Our self-appointed guides of the group, leading the way.

A rather conspicuous group, wouldn't you say?

some pictures

Our group after we searched long and hard for this bus stop.

the girls of the trip (minus one who got sick and had to stay in the hotel) making use of a photo shot for couples at the ocean front park

the beautiful coast on our hillside beach walk

I'd post more, but blogger is being difficult about pictures. Maybe more later.

a train trip

We had three weekdays plus the weekend off for our May holiday. Seven of us went to Dalian, one of the closer cities on the beach. It was too cold to swim, but we were granted warm weather and sunshine, especially the second day. It took us 22 hours on the train to get there, but we had sleepers and the time passed quickly. At the first sight of a cherry tree in bloom, we all marveled. As I was walking across campus today, though, I noticed that we have one or two cherry trees of our own in bloom here. Were they in bloom before I left, or did it just take a little trip to give me new eyes to see what was already taking place in Yanji?

The spring blossoms in Dalian are wonderful. Forsythia, cherry trees, and all sorts of other greenness. It was warm, and the sea air was refreshing. I got to know some teachers from the German department better and that was fun. Sometimes we don't make enough time to be with each other in our own worlds here, so it's nice to get away, enjoy a new city and develop some friendships. We played spades, passed around Sudoku (someone's friend sent it from America), studied languages on our train bunks, ate cup ramen and shared snacks to pass the time. A wonderful trip.

In Dalian, we met some former teachers who now teach there. They got us a room at their university and got us oriented. They told us about the wonderful buffet at the swissotel downtown and we went there on Monday night. We splurged (around 18 bucks) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Other than that, we got a snack at a Dairy Queen, bought some cheese, wandered around at night, walked up the hilly beach road, hung out at the hotel, sampled the fares at the night market near our hotel and other relaxed stuff. Oh, two of our crowd went bungee jumping. I went along to take pictures, but wasn't really interested (much to my mom's relief, I'm sure) in participating.