Friday, March 29, 2013

gossip, gossip, shut up, just stop it!

hey ya'll! 

i find myself posting at the weirdest hours in the morning. it's been months, yet my body still thinks it's on america time. it's not unusual for me to be up until 5-6am (true story, insomnia is a horrid whore) anyway, while i am up, i watch netflix, youtube, get on facebook and twitter plus an endless amount of blogs/websites. some of the stories i see online are HILARIOUS. laugh out loud for real funny. and i do! i laugh so loud that i probably wake up my neighbor next door and the people above me. i don't mean to, honestly. i am not that loud ass obnoxious neighbor who comes in at 3am and bangs on the wall because it's a good idea. i don't decide to run my loud ass washing machine at midnight, or play my music at concert level sound. but... i do laugh. laughter is what keeps life from getting boring and letting your problems get a hold of you. laughing makes the future seem brighter. i love to laugh and it's not a crime- except that my neighbors now think that i have "ill-advised" visitors in my apartment every night of the week. at least... that is the word on the street. or, in my case, the word around the school yard.

i was both shocked and amused by this new found information. that i, a foreigner, a foreigner who speaks no chinese, a foreigner who once told her taxi driver to "take off your clothes" instead of  "take me to the mall", would have tons of guest in her apartment. my major question to that is: HOW?! like 2 weeks ago i couldn't phone a friend or find one person to smile at me but now: i have "tons" of people in my apartment. ummm. no. first of all- that is logistically impossible- my apartment is the size of a bedroom with no real sitting space and a makeshift kitchen/study area thingy. 3 people in this motherfucker would be a cause to call the fire department for capacity overload. so NO... I don't have tons of people in my apartment. don't get me wrong: i do wish i was so popular that chinese natives and western expats alike would flock to my apartment to hear me tell jokes and see how much coffee and chocolate i consume in a day. but the reality is that the only people who have been inside this place is me, my imagination, and the plumber (even he only stayed 5 minutes) so you see... the notion that i'm throwing 'project x' type gatherings is a big overstatement. 

my coordinator voiced concern over it and i replied honestly. i told him that i can't sleep and thus watch a bunch of nonsense until i can. that nonsense makes me laugh and that is what is making the noise. in a hurry to get out of my closet  apartment, he nodded his head and told me that any visitors had to be signed in. le sigh. i guess i'll have to register my netflix account at the front desk.

the next bit of information i learned about myself, came from a student. the rumor is that i am 24 and single (well i already knew that) but in china, being this age and single makes you an "old maid". in a chinese women's eyes- i might as well start collecting cats and wear sweaters 10 sizes too big for me because my lady lumps and curves have no more value or appeal. the student told me that the teachers believe i have come to china to "get a big business man's son" she said that because this school has A LOT of rich students and i may be looking to get one to date and eventually marry. MIND-BLOWN excuse me?! huh? you are telling me that i flew my ass to china so to teach IN A HIGH SCHOOL so i could find me a young underage boy to take back to the states with me because his parents are rich? here lays Darcy *casket pose* anyone that knows me.... knows that that is the further-est most biggest most unbelievable lie on the face of this planet. honey if chasing money was important to me, i would still be on my slave ship working for massa and juggling bowling balls to get a raise around christmas time. money ain't the motive for me being here. the student who told me this at like 8 in the morning, sat stone faced the entire time while i laughed so hard i almost peed myself and had to take deep ass breathes to keep from snorting. every time i tried to answer her, i ended up laughing again. that rumor was pulled out from the crack of someone's ass. i mean.. really? no, ya'll need more people. apparently all of the visitors i have in my apartment at 3am don't like me enough to date me... or they are old ass cat ladies like myself who enjoy knitting by the fire and sipping tea for fun. i told the girl that i am saving myself for someone special. she looked at me and smiled. 
10 bucks says that she tells the student sitting next to her what i said (or some version thereof) before i even get the chance to upload the power point i had planned for today's lesson- gossip in china travels faster than precious running away with that bucket of kfc 

i usually don't like doing the whole "trendy picture post" thing because following trends are for people who have no mind of their own. or for people are too lazy to think for themselves. however, this picture is in solidarity for those of us who believe in marriage equality.

here's to change and most of all to LOVE

Thursday, March 21, 2013

no country for hurt feelings...

howdy! i decided to write this post for my fellow expats, backpackers, wanderers and those who are living far away from their family and friends. i want to talk about the confusion, frustration and anger that can consume you when you would like to talk to someone who understands you but are unable to due to time differences, work schedules etc. those of us who are away from home usually don't want to just talk to someone who only understands the language we are speaking, but someone who understands what we are trying to say and how you feel. no one can do that better than the ones you love. unfortunately, it is a common complaint among long term travelers that, once you go abroad, many of the relationships you have at home are tested. 

this pass week, i have had very little communication with anyone back home. i decided to go a week without social media. why, you ask? why would i be 14,000 miles away from the nearest friend or family member and not be online constantly? well, the answer to that is simple- my feelings were hurt. before i took my social media break, i felt like the people i wanted to talk to were nowhere to be found. i was upset and angry at my friends and some of my family members because they weren't showing me that they were thinking about me. or that they cared about what i was going through. i believe that if you miss someone or are thinking about them, you need to do more than just shoot a dry ass email once a week, or mention them on twitter. these last few days i felt isolated. not just alone in china, but alone in the world. and believe me when i say, that is a very fucked up feeling. so i turned off my fb notifications, i didn't tweet and i didn't email anyone. i needed to get to the source of my frustration and my pain. i am not the kind of person who is going to look outwardly for help with these kinds of situations. i tend to trust myself to make the right kinds of choices more often than not. i wanted to make sure that when i started talking to people again, it was from a place of objectivity and love. not from bitterness and rage. 

now let me be 100% honest, i went to china to GET AWAY from people. seriously. i was working like a dog in a place that neither valued me as an employee or as a person. being there ate away at my self esteem and my confidence. anyone that knows me, knows that i am a very hard worker and i keep my word. i don't scare easily and very rarely will i give up on something without giving it 1,000 percent. but, there comes a time in your life when you have got to stop making excuses for your unhappiness and take control of the situation. i wanted to live life on my own terms. but, i am not delusional and i didn't think that in china, my life would be sunshine, rainbows and unicorn tears because- it's not. life is hard for everyone. no matter where you are or what you do, life can beat you up and sometimes the weight of the world is on your shoulders. even celebrities and those we think "have it made" are fucking sad sometimes. i understand that. but i know that my trip to china was a much needed break from corporate monotony and self deprivation. it was an opportunity for me to do something that didn't really make sense logically (according to some people) but it made perfect sense to me. i am a much better person now that i was 5 months ago. living in rizhao is like living on another planet. all the writing and blogging in the world can't capture what it is like to be here. you have to see it for yourself. the town has a lot of old traditions mixed with a energetic population- seriously- people here say hello to strangers in the street. in other words- new york city, it ain't. when is the last time anyone on the street smiled and said "hello" to you? i'm not counting the dirty old man that smells like the 40oz they drank 3 weeks ago- or the woman with 100 bags on the train trying to guilt trip you into giving up your seat. i'm talking about people just having plain, old fashioned, manners. i get to meet a lot of nice people in this city. the change of pace has helped me be more relaxed. i'm less jittery and on edge- i feel great being here most days. i'm even forgetting that i almost got to see china from a small dusty window on the inside of a cement cell. 

by being away from those i care about and without tons of social interaction, i get to see the real me. the good, the bad, and the ugly. one thing about myself that i realized this past week, is how much of a needy person i can be sometimes. not the kind of needy that will land my ass in a psych ward, but the kind of person that has expected, or convinced myself that people would actually be available to me whenever i needed them while i was in china. and that is not the case, not in the way that i believed it to be. oh, i am not saying that my family and friends have abandoned me (i know they would never do that). i am not saying that if i skyped my bestie with a real problem, she would pretend not to see my 3x3 inch picture blinking on her computer screen. but what i am saying, is that sometimes people get caught up with their own lives. they are involved with their own personal drama and situations. and because of that, sometimes, they can't help you with yours. i debated about writing on this topic, i didn't want people to read it and think that i am throwing them under the bus- i am not. i'm just being honest about my feelings. 

i want other expats to know that just because YOU had a major life change, doesn't mean everyone else in your life is on the same page. i had to understand that while, i went around the world to start a new life, the people i love are still working the same jobs and paying the same bills they were before i left. their lives have not changed drastically like mine. they are still going to the same places they have always gone to and living life like i never left- because, life goes on. we expats need to realize that our life changing journey isn't a shared experience completely with our friends and family members. i am sure they are excited and thrilled that you have decided to climb mount everest, or save kittens in africa, or teach english in katmandu- but they can only be there to support you while you do it- they are NOT doing it WITH you. and that is something that took me longer than i like to admit to realize. don't get me wrong, my friends are doing great things- no doubt about that. i can honestly say that all of my friends have a lot going for them (birds of a know the rest). i am very proud of the accomplishments they have gained since we left college. in fact, i brag. i brag all the time about how my team rides for one another. there isn't a birthday, or special event, my girls have missed. we have celebrated life and death together and our love is strong. no matter how mad they make me- i still will always be there for them and they will always be there for me.

it's a little cheesy, but you get my point!
i had to take a step back and understand that part of being an adult- means being OK with being alone and enjoying your own company. part of being a expat is about learning how to let go of the fear that your friends and love ones are throwing parties to celebrate your absence every time it takes them longer than usual to answer your email or missing a skype date. another part of being a expat is learning not only how to live in the country you moved to, but learning how to LOVE it. since embracing this new philosophy- i like travelling around my city and riding around on a random buses- just to get lost. i  have discovered all kinds of cool things i would not have seen while buried in my apartment staring at my computer and waiting on _____ to send me a IM. now, i know how to get to the bank, movie theater (no english movies or subtitles, but chinese movies are HILARIOUS), the cleaners, the bus deport, the bar, to the airport, and i know where to get all of the silk scarves and green tea i will ever need. i feel like this place turning into my home. by fully embracing the culture and the people. i have learned to love china. i no longer fear travelling (it can't possibly get much worse than what i have already been through) in fact, i plan on going to beijing to see the great wall next month, i also want to see the famous terracotta warriors in xi'an this may. i might even get to the island of zhoushang for a tropical vacation right before i leave this june. in the mean time, i am going to visit all of the cities next to rizhao- who knows, i may find a deal on the next iphone400 or something :-)

travelling  and exploring the world can be fun, or it can be a nightmare but that totally depends on your attitude and your outlook. someone smart once said "you can't get ahead, looking behind" and i agree. sometime your feelings will get hurt when you can't communicate with the ones you love. and yes. sometimes you will feel a pang of resentment when your friends go on and do stuff without you. but that it the price you pay for being freaking awesome and living life on your own terms. remember that not too many people have the opportunity to do what you are doing. enjoy your time away from the responsibilities and bullshit that comes with being home and working a 9-5! enjoy the time you have left being an expat. take advantage of every dinner invitation (free food is the BEST food) every close encounter you have had with the police, and laugh at yourself when you realize you thought you told the taxi driver to, "take you to the mall" but  what you really said was, "take your clothes off" (or, maybe that kind of stuff just happens to me, SO embarrassing). your families love is always going to be there. true friendships are not going to be lost by distance or time. in fact, you appreciate people more once you have been away from them for awhile. be grateful that you have had the chance to see places people can only dream about. the next time you find yourself drowning in your own pity, remember: the moment you get off the plane and finish hugging all the people you "missed"- someone is going to bring up that time you fell down the stairs at the club on your birthday and how it ended up on YouTube or WorldStarHipHop....home sweet home!

photo courtesy of

side note: chocolatewonton has over 800 views! OMG! i never knew almost a thousand people would be interested in what i had to say.i am very happy when readers email me and tell me i made them laugh or how they can relate to what i write. don't be afraid to facebook, tweet, instagram or email stories you like  to your friends and family. i appreciate the feedback and the support! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shanghai & Sh*t pt 3

hello :-)
nice to see everyone's back here to come and read about my travel struggle extraordinaire.
where was i? oh yea... i was all like:
after i was told i could be homeless in china and then, deported if the police caught me with my expired visa. it was a dream vacation from the 7th level of hell and i was really tore up about the idea of going back home early with police escorts and a prison issued orange jumpsuit (orange is not my color). so, i reached out to the only person who could help me: the manager of the hostel. after i cried on that lady for a good 5 minutes she promised to see what she could do to help me. i was left sitting at the table with red eyes and a runny nose that drew a lot of attention to me. i didn't care- ya'll will deal! i don't care that your sunny side up eggs and toast are getting cold because you rather watch me grovel instead of eat.

not wanting to sit there and be the breakfast show entertainment, i went back upstairs and showered. david and guillermo wanted to go check out some dumpling spots in shanghai and i wanted to get the hell away from the hostel so we got dressed and went downtown. all was going well until i felt my phone to ring. it was the hostel. i sighed and answered, "hello?" the manager said "hello, we need you to come back here, the police are here, they want to talk to you" ummm damn! this is it. it's been real china. guess i'll be packing my shit and on the first plane back to the u.s.a. "i'm on my way". i choked out a pitiful goodbye to david and guillermo but they were convinced i would not be put out on my ass until the evening -so if i wanted to, i could always come back and eat dumplings. what the hell?! i'm bout to be on a real life version of locked up abroad and you mofos are talking about dumplings?! men. i snatch my money out of my wallet and got back on the train. transit in shanghai is the shit. seriously, aside from the overcrowding, their trains ZOOM. i mean no delays or dumbass "please watch the closing doors" auto messages. i love. when i got back to the hostel, there was this little lady with a police captain's uniform on. she looked at me and i looked at her. i tried my hardest to look extra innocent and non threatening. i mean, if anything, i was literally at her mercy. after what seemed like an eternity, the manager came to the front desk and says, "ok, i have good news" good news?! that is great, i hadn't heard any good news in 48hrs and now i was about to be saved. yes lord. "you can stay in our hostel until after the new year, but after the new year, you need to leave" YAAAAY! "thank you, thank you!" i went to give her a hug but she was quick and ducked away from my arms. i got played hard, but it didn't matter, i was ready to hit my dougie -but then she blurted out "you must go to the train station and purchase a ticket out of the city today. then show it to me. that way, i can tell the captain you are really leaving shanghai"  oh. that means i was going to have to do battle against all the travelers going home to see their great aunt Ling Ting. OMG. that is the last thing i wanted. but it beat being homeless and having to do my own version of beyonce's 'dance for you' on the corner to get someone to take me home with them for the night.

yup, it was bout to get this real.

i had to plot my plan of attack, i couldn't just go to the train station, and expect to get a ticket. this is the world war 3 of travelling and i'm an american and i don't speak chinese. i asked the manager to write down the directions and instructions for my ticket in chinese. see, i planned on travelling around china for at least another week and going back home to rizhao sounded lonely. i wanted to spend more time seeing what i could see see see and meeting new people. but, i had no other choice. the police captain looked at me and with perfect english said "you must get a ticket today. otherwise you can't stay here" ummm ok lady, i heard ya'll the first time. as much as i wanted to roll my eyes, i just asked how much tickets usually cost. she looked at me... rolled her eyes (the nerve) and then said "500 RMB" 500 RMB? THE HELL?! I had only paid 300 RMB to get to shanghai and now i have to pay more to leave...and leave early?! the devil is a liar. the look on my face must have told her that i smelled bullshit and she said "but, it may be less, get a early train" thanks. i feel so much better now -_-. it was already 2pm. very late to start getting train tickets in china...most people get to the station at freakin 7am. whomp. i went upstairs to my dorm room to get some money and my roommate was sitting on the bed clipping his toenails. YUCK. i opened my locker and prayed that his claws wouldn't land on my shirt or belongings while i tried to count out the 500 freaking RMB. i took 600 just to be sure. looking up from his toenail party, my roomie asked, "going to do a lot of shopping today huh?" excuse me homie- why are you looking at me while i count my money? i managed to get out as nice as possible, "nope, i am going to buy a ticket out of shanghai" he looked pleased and said. "oh, ok, well at least you are not getting deported, i mean, who gets deported TO the united states?" then he laughed. what the hell? did the whole hostel know that i was a featured guest on china's most wanted? i hadn't even told homie that i was having visa problems. damn gossipers. by that time it was almost 2:30pm and i still have to get to the train station so i mumbled a good bye and then raced to the station.

the honquiao railway station in shanghai is huge. i mean it is massive. i had no trouble finding the place. once i got off the escalator and walked toward the ticket window with my handy hand written note, i felt like maybe things could be looking up. i wait in line for about 5 minutes before i got to the window. "Ni hao" i said in my best chinese accent and then slipped the operator the note. he looked at it, rolled his eyes (what is up with ya'll doing that to me?!) and then said in broken english. "wrong window, you go over dere" he pointed to the left and i almost fainted. there was 20,00,000,000 billion mofos standing in 3 lines. i blinked and swallowed and then took my note over to the correct section. i stood behind this old lady and her grandson.... well i assume it was her grandson as she was probably 100 years old and having a 5 year old son was very unlikely. i wanted to slit my wrist. the line was long, people were shouting and pushing and a couple of fights broke out. not physical fights but a couple men shoved each other while waiting for their turn at the window. i saw some other unfortunate foreigners and we made brief "i'm so sorry for you" eye contact. all of a sudden another window opened and the place went animal kingdom wild. the little old lady and her grandson ran like usain bolt over to the new line and i was just standing in one spot trying not to get trampled. i felt like i was in the stampede scene out of 'the lion king', except there was no mufasa to come save my ass. i mean the women were WORSE than the men, pulling out money and shouting in chinese.

my thoughts exactly, simba
i waited until it calmed down a bit and then moved up to my place in line. the window was being serviced by this older looking guy with gray hair and glasses. i knew i should have gotten a drink at the bar before i left. who cares it's not 5pm yet. i was ready to just lay down. finally, after 300 years of standing in line. i got to the window. this time, i didn't bother with any chinese. fuck that. i was tired, thirsty, my feet hurt, and i had to pee. my life was in his old ass hands and i was praying he could get me a ticket out of shanghai. he took my note and started typing on his computer. he told me that there was 1 train i could take out of shanghai the day after new years. hell yes. then he told me the train would have 10 stops and may take 7 hrs to reach qingdao  lord, what have i done to piss off thee? 7 hours. i wanted to kick something, but i just nodded. handed over my money and took my ass back to the hostel.
one, is the loneliest number...
once i got back to the hostel i located the manager, showed her my ticket. victory was mine! i then called david and guillermo. we decided to stay in for the night since it was raining and snowy. we ordered drinks at the bar and watched 'rupaul's drag race' (love him). the next couple of days were filled with so much awesome. i can't write it all here because i don't want to turn this into shanghai & sh*t pt 50. i wanted to make the most out of my time left in this wonderful city and man... did i! the next day we went to the shanghai museum, took a walk along the bund, and saw some pretty awesome sites. i had a ball!
below are some of the photos of my adventures in shanghai, weitang, wuxi, qingdao, jiangsu and rizhao (i had to pass these cities before getting to my home destination) of rizhao:
G, David and I hanging in Shanghai
The "Urban Accessory Store" Um. No...

Rizhao's National Bull during Sunset
At the Pearl <3

Downtown Shanghai. The Architecture is SICK

Making Dumplings in the Hostel

Good Ole Chinese Toilet.. Who's First?
Lantern Festival 

Take Care of Your Belongs.. . English Translation FAIL

taking child care to a whole other level

my favorite lantern
P.S. happy saint patrick's day. hope your liver and designated driver are all good to you today!