June 20, 2007


Is it wrong that I painted my toes while watching Braveheart this afternoon?

It felt like I broke some unwritten rule.

June 14, 2007

$12.50 to the support fund!

For those of you supporting me next year, I have good news! Instead of needing to raise $20,000 in support, I just need $19,987.50. I won a 100 yuan bet tonight ($12.50) off of a teammate. He underestimated me.

Let me explain some of the context.

Every week our team has dinner together and almost exclusively we go to the same restaurant. One of the advantages of living in a country that you can't read the language (Wo can bu dong!) is that you can name the restaurants/streets/stores. Our favorite restaurant is one we named Babylonian Minstrel (long story).

Tonight was different than the dozens before it, I really stepped out in my language skills. Dan encouraged me to write our order in Chinese characters. I successfully wrote 4 dishes. They were (typed in pinyin here): gan bian dou jiao (green beans), jing jiang rou si (pork slivers and onions), kung pao ji ding (kung pao chicken), and rou mou qiezi (eggplant).

Chinese food in China is eaten family style, so everyone normally votes on dishes. I said, "Ok, what about "tou dou si"? (potato slivers)

At that point, Mikayla confessed she didn't like them and that they were tasteless in her opinion. (gasp!) Dan and Rachel agreed. I was shocked. We ordered them only because I suggested it this whole year?

Stephen and Adam joined us later, because they were across town when we left for dinner. When they sat down I asked them what they thought of "tou dou si". They both said they liked it. Then I told them that Mik, Rach, and Dan didn't like the potato slivers we always ordered. At that point, Dan suggested that if I really wanted some, I could ask the couple next to us for a bite. Indeed, next to us sat a super cute and young Chinese couple with "tou dou si".

It quickly turned into a dare with Stephen offering 100 yuan (one day's salary!) to me, if I got a chopstick full of potato from the couple next to us. Everyone was adding hilarious commentary. In my mind, I was stringing together sentences to explain to the couple that I needed a little bit of potatoes to gain a large sum of money.

I did it, I got some potatoes. And this is verbatim (translated) what I said. (Insert tons of hand motions and a big smile.)

I walked over to their table, chopsticks in hand. Pulled out a chair and sat down. This is what I said in Mandarin, "My name is Allison. They (pointing) are my friends. I want a little potato sliver. My friends have 100 yuan for me. I'm sorry. Is that ok?" They nodded and smiled back. My friends were knee-slapping, watery-eyed laughing. I had a potato sliver and said "Thank you!"

We left almost immediately afterward and Dan asked the couple if they understood what happened. They said they completely understood. Yeah!

Don't worry, I picked up their tab. Everyone won, and Stephen got a great laugh for just $12.50! (Insert a wink here.)

June 7, 2007

8 Random Facts

This blog is dedicated to Katie over at http://l-i-t.blogspot.com
She requested 8 Random Facts about me, and here they are. I tried not to self-monitor, these are the 8 that came to mind right away.

1. My Body Is Asymmetrical. After careful observation for years, I have come to a few strange observations about my body and how asymmetric it is. First I am convinced that right armpit sweats more than my left. My right arm is significantly stronger than my left and in high school when I raced in the backstroke, I would sometimes veer into the lane ropes on the right. Recently I have discovered that my left leg is shorter than my right. I won't bore with the discovery, but I can assure you, it's a little bit shorter. I remember a conversation years ago with my mom when she pointed out the asymmetry of most newscaster's faces. I haven't been the same since, I'm always looking for that droopy eye.

2. Seven Years of Ballet. When I was 4 I was enrolled in ballet lessons. The lessons didn't stop until I was 11. I danced in the Nutcracker every year. Now that I think about it, I did jazz and tap some of those years too. I also was a cheerleader for 4 years. All that to say, I have no coordination. A slight variation in the sidewalk and I'm on the ground. In our stairwell in China, I've tripped on the same stair at least 5 times. If we've spent more than 2 hours in each other's presence, you probably have a story about a time I fell. Now, I blame it on the shorter left leg.

3. Matilda- When I was in the 6th grade, my aunt got my cousins and I on as extras in the film, Matilda. It's a kiddie movie with Danny DeVito and my aunt was working Wardrobe. As a 6th grader this was huge. I was a freckled 11-year old that managed to get a shot of my face in the film. No, not just in the background, but my entire mug filling the screen. I don't usually tell people about this, but my mom sent the new Matilda DVD to me in a care package a couple weeks ago. My teammates wondered, "Why Matilda?" The truth came out and before I knew it, my faced was paused on the screen and everyone was taking pictures of their face with the same expression. My awkward 11th year is forever documented.

4. First concert was Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart Tour" in South Florida. A couple of us rebellious girls snuck in at a fair after selling Girl Scout Cookies. I was great at selling Girl Scout cookies. That stint didn't last past Brownies, but I could push the cookies. Probably the reason I ended up with a Marketing degree.

5. I'll be living in Beijing in 2008 before and during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Should be interesting.

6. To Do Lists- I make extremely long to-do lists. I empty my brain of everything that needs to be done, even the really small things. And then I triumphantly cross them off. At the end of the list I write something that I've already finished and then cross it off immediately. It's a mind game for myself, I suppose.

7. Music trivia- My musical knowledge is pretty much non-existent. I don't know album titles, or band members, or the titles of songs. I don't know what a bridge is, or scales, or the opposite of alto. But if you're humming, I can probably sing the lyrics that match it. And therein, lies the mystery of it. I like to think of myself as some sort of musical elitist in that regard- I don't know the singer or the components- I'm just in it for the music. The reality is that I don't care and no matter how much my friends act disappointed... the song title/artist category of my brain was filled in my youth by Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Elton John, and U2.

8. When I was learning to read, I memorized the Dr. Seuss book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." Sometimes, at the strangest times, it pops into my head. The song "Get a Haircut and get a real job" by Blues Travelers (I think?), and "Jesus, lover of my soul" also fill my mind at weird times. As does Ephes. 3:14-21, I memorized it one spring break in a park in Mexicali, Mexico.

In the time it took me to write this blog, I've killed three mosquitoes whom most assuredly feasted on my skin last night. I've left and gone on a walk in the sweltering heat of Nanchang, and I've learned that Starbucks bought out Dietrich's coffee. My friends, we've lost another great coffee company.

June 6, 2007

love the questions themselves

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903, in "Letters to a Young Poet"