I Don’t Know, Peanut Butter with your Spaghetti?

Well, this past Saturday is one that I surely won’t forget anytime soon.

Initially, it wasn’t much different than previous Saturdays, I woke up and got on the computer. Not a great habit, I know, but I try not to go on quite so much…I try…anyhow, the previous night I had suggested I cook us all dinner–me, Sabrina, housecleaner , and Baba.

Sorry to interupt, but Midori is singing loudly what sounds like nonsense. Got Moritz to videotape, hopefully I can put a link in my next post. Wow, she’s into this…singing “FUN-KEY” and doing disco hands. This is hilarious, especially now that Midori has explained they’re singing about blood types A,B, and O. You guys will love this video…. will put up soon, I promise.

Anyways, I had a quest to make spaghetti for my family so at noon I was off, traveling alone for my first time in China. Midori is being really distracting by singing so cutely and off tune. Sorry I’ll try to stay on topic. First I went to Walmart and got peanut butter, jelly, pocky, skittles, and pre-packaged gifts from God named Danco Waffles. Then I went to the bank to once again attempt to exchange money…and was happily surprised. There was a woman who spoke English working there, and they all knew what traveler’s checks were. I was given a form to fill out, and everyone was eager to help me. I thought I had filled it all out, and handed it to the woman. She checked it over and was nodding when she realized that I hadn’t put my address. I didn’t know my address. – Side note: Midori is now watching one of the videos Moritz just took of her and is singing along to herself – Sabrina was in school so I called my dad, asking him what our address was, to which I got my official least favorite phrase of all time: “I don’t know”. I gave the phone to the bank employee to talk to him, and then I got the phone back. He told me that he would take me another time….I’ll relay to you our conversation:

Baba: “Next time … I will take you … bank … exchange money!”
Me: “But I’m at the bank right now! I just need our address! What is our address!”
Baba: “Do you need money?”
Me: “yes! I have been here a month and haven’t exchanged any money!”
Baba: “come home and I will give you money”
Me: (improvising) “I don’t have enough money for a taxi. I don’t have money. I cannot go home”
Baba: “come home and I will give you money, next time I will take you to the bank”
Me: “I need money!”
Baba: “Come home and I will give you money”
etc

So I give the phone back to the woman, hoping she can talk sense into him, but to no avail–they hang up, and I have to pack up all my stuff and leave. Once out of the building, I immediately begin crying because I’m a very emotional person. So there I am, Asian-squatting outside of the bank with a bunch of groceries but nothing that I can produce a meal from, sticking out like a sore thumb because of my ethnicity and the fact that I’m crying. Just to disprove that cliche myspace icon, when you’re walking in the rain, people CAN tell you’re crying. Just to clear up any confusion.

So I walk for a while and grab a taxi that’s driven by the first female taxi driver I’ve seen since I’ve been here. I go to a supermarket that Sang Min told me has spaghetti, which turns out to be on walking street. I give money to a poor homeless man who’s only protection from the rain is a garbage bag, and also to a man with no hands. Here, homeless are completely ignored and seem to get no help at all whatsoever from the public. I could write a whole post about how horrible it is…but perhaps another time.

I buy spaghetti and sauce, and realize I’m running out of money. I’m right near a Benefit San Fransisco Brow Bar but I don’t have enough time or money to get my eyebrows done, much to my dissapointment…so I get lucky and steal someone’s taxi, which I wouldn’t have done under normal circumstances but I really needed to get home. My day wasn’t really going well. Oh, I forgot to mention–I got friggin clipped/hit by a motorbike outside of Walmart. Great, huh? I was accidentally on the motorbike part of the sidewalk (which is really small) and was running to the walking part when some guy hit me…I didn’t fall over or anything and he didn’t stop, but I can’t say I enjoyed the experience, and it certainly shook me up.

When I arrived home at last, I didn’t know when to start cooking. Had no idea when Sabrina would get home from school…but apparently I guessed too early. By the time I was done cooking spaghetti (without any butter or olive oil, because I forgot to buy any) and had heated up the sauce with a wok (something I would not reccomend), no one was home to eat it except for the housecleaner. She suggested I eat some but I wanted to wait for everyone else (presumably meaning Sabrina and my dad). Inevitably, the spaghetti soon was stone cold…finally Sabrina came home and it became evident that my dad wasn’t going to. I attempted to reheat the spaghetti in the wok, but there was some previous meal burned onto the bottom and it coated the first plate of spaghetti I dumped in there…so I threw away the spaghetti, the housecleaner washed the wok, and then I began reheating everything together. It didn’t get that hot and tasted like crap. I told them it wasn’t going to taste good because I didn’t have the right ingredients…while we were eating I heard them talking (in Chinese of course) about how it tasted bad…then they got out the jar of chili peppers and put it on their spaghetti and said it tasted better. I was offered some, as well as the peanut butter I had bought before, to liven up my meal.

My attempt at making American food was a failure. Hopefully next time, I’ll be a decent cook. I have to be given credit, though, this was second time ever cooking spaghetti on my own, and I didn’t even have the correct utensils and was being barked orders at in Chinese the whole time by the housecleaner, who was attempting to help me cook spaghetti in the most Chinese ways possible.

The song Midori was listening to about blood (not her singing it) : http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTgxNDQzNzky.html
Another of Midori’s favorites, which includes saying “sky high” numerous times while they claim they’re..from? New York City: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTA3MDQ3MDI0.html

The Mid-Autumn Festival

Despite the fact that today is the first day of autumn, yesterday was the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival.

I know, I know, it makes absolutely no sense that it was yesterday. I mean, there probably was a full moon but it’s not like we could see it with all the smog. The Mid-Autumn Festival is just an excuse to eat mooncake and see family and not have school, it would seem, which is all right by me! Technically, I was supposed to go to school in the morning, but my sister didn’t have school and so I woke up at nine (which is when I should be at school) and I was supposed to get out at 11:20 for the holiday ANYWAYS…so I didn’t go.
Instead, I woke up, went on the computer for a little bit, ate a large breakfast of only carbs, attempted to install Chinese on my computer for an hour (unsuccessfully, I might add, the language bar says I’m typing in Chinese but it’s quite obvious I’m not) and then was told we were going out to lunch. So I redid my pigtails, noticed it was raining, and put on jeans, a long flannel shirt and (to my excitement) boots! It was the first occasion upon which I have been able to wear boots in Changsha, let alone a long-sleeve shirt. The other times that it rained it was still pretty warm, but it was very windy and cold (still is today) which was an appreciated change of pace.
And then we were off. Driving, driving, somewhere. No idea where. I’m still at the point with my family that I never have a clue where we’re going or what we’re doing…at least on this occasion I knew we were going to eat. Neither of my parents are home (it’s been a week and a half, well more like two weeks, of this now) and so my aunt and her daughter have been staying at our house. Sabrina is constantly doing my cousins hair. The two of them are either both playing games (on the iTouch or on Sabrina’s phone or computer) or Sabrina is doing my ‘little sister’s hair while my ‘little sister’ plays one of the mentioned games. It’s quite a system they’ve got.
Anyhow, we drive to the apartment where some family members live. We’ve been there before. We eat lunch there with some aunts, a grandma, and a little nine-year-old boy cousin that I think of in my head as “Grubby”, because, to be honest, he is. Honestly, I really don’t like him. He’s pudgy and is very piggy when it comes to food, eating with his hands and shoving food in his mouth. He’s also sort of a little brat because I think he’s the only boy on that side of the family, and the gender difference lets him get away with being a brat. He didn’t like what my grandma made for lunch, and so he sat next to me scowling and tapping his bowl with his chopsticks over and over again. I don’t know how long he actually did this but it seemed like a VERY long time to me. Finally he decided he was too hungry to be a pest so he began shoveling food in his mouth and then promptly got up and started annoying other family members. I don’t really know if they were annoyed, though, they acted sort of like “oh, well, you know how little boys are…” about it, which annoyed me even more than he did. I don’t know, maybe I just get a bad vibe from him. No way to be sure.

On a happy note, my grandma made a delicious lamb…I don’t know what the marinade was but I loved it because it tasted like something I would’ve eaten on a rainyday like that in America. It was comfort food. I complimented it heavily, and was told she made it just for me(:

We said our goodbyes and we were off, driving to yet another undisclosed destination. We came to another apartment building, where apparently the Aunt that’s been with us lives. So we went into their tiny apartment and…nothing. I thought we were just dropping by, but we stayed there for..four hours? I think. Watching some Golden-Globe-like awards show that wasn’t very entertaining. There were very few preformances and when saying the nominations, there were no video clips. Speeches were extremely brief and applause limited. Of course, Sabrina grabbed the computer as soon as we got there, she and my little sister (whom I gave the English name Annie, at her request) took turns using…logging onto their QQ’s and IMing God knows who. Sabrina looking at more pictures of Justin Bieber.

After about three hours of being extremely bored and frustrated, I finally got to go on the computer for a half hour. Didn’t really do much but it was better than nothing. My phone wasn’t working, either, so I couldn’t have been texting any of my friends…my Aunt had tried to fix my phone but to no avail. I asked if I could exchange money and she said yes, so at four off we went.

Long story short, the bank said no. It’s a holiday. Don’t know if it would’ve worked on a normal day, either.

Then, we went to dinner, even though I wasn’t hungry at all from my huge and amazing lunch. We went to my grandpa’s younger sister’s house, picking up Grubby No. 2  on the way. Grubby No. 2 is my other nine-year-old-boy-cousin who’s not as bad as Grubby No. 1 but still bugs the crap out of me. Why, you ask? This is the cousin who must always be playing games on someone elses cell phone. Always. Always “Ni de shouji? Wo keyi…” blah blah blah (oops, forgot, translation: Your cell phone? Can I…”). And he also never sits in the car, he’s always standing really close to me and I don’t like it. Makes me uncomfortable. Anyways.

We ate dinner. It wasn’t great, not going to lie. I wasn’t hungry and the food didn’t make me want to eat any more. The kids were watching a somewhat-disturbing TV show featuring a pig in a superhero costume as the main character. That, I’m fine with. The fact that the “bad guy” is a very tall ‘pig’ (pig face, human body) wearing a Superman costume without the label, is a little weird to me. Also, the bad guy takes out this wand thing, waves it, and the scene cuts to actual Legos building into some giant monster, which then appears in animated form, and the show goes on with this creature now being used as a weapon. Freakiest part of the show was definately the pig-headed, human-bodied teacher, wearing stereotypical female-suit and ugly 60’s glasses, who had very large boobs. I think she was a blond, also. Not really something I ever wanted to see in my life, but what can you do?

Just when I thought the random, unexplained day was going to end, I was told we were going to see Inception. Now, at this point I could have fallen asleep right there. The thought of watching a movie as long as Inception…well, it was daunting. I thought it was going to be in Chinese, also (fortunately, it wasn’t).  On our walk there, we went through a side-street of the famous Walking Street (I believe I’ve blogged about that…? if not, there are flickr pictures). It was very cool, I liked it a lot. Some parts were quirky, as is to be expected with China. There was a Santa Claus hanging in a window, with the seasonally-challenged wish “Merry Christmas!”. In one of the malls of walking street, we were walking by one of many lingerie stores when out of the corner of my eye I saw Angelina Jolie’s face. I turned to actually look at the advertisement, and there she was…except I knew that the body attatched to her head wasn’t hers. No, her head had definately been photoshopped onto some poor girl’s body, along with a badly-done bellybutton peircing. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.

We had a lot of time before the movie, so everyone else had a second dinner of KFC, and I had ice cream (still wasn’t really hungry…). Then, we saw the movie, which was much better the second time. Finally we headed home. Got back at around 11:20, I stayed up until 12 writing a poem and Skyping with my mom…forgetting that I had school the next day. Sabrina and Annie didn’t, so they were fine with staying up late…

Sabrina told me, “if you want to go to school tommorow you can take a taxi”, which to me means “no need to go to school, since you don’t know how to get a taxi”. I was woken up at 8:44 by Vala, my teacher, calling me and telling me to come to school…(school starts at 9, I might add, and is a 20-minute drive minimum). I took a shower, got dressed as slowly as possible, ate two mooncakes for breakfast (healthy, right?) and then damn, I got my very first taxi. On my own.
Makes me proud.

Scandalous Pajamas

Just to warn you, this post will probably be a little surly. Not in a great mood right now.

Hello, all. Sorry for the recent lack of posts, I’ve been sick (as of yesterday) and so I’ve been stuck in the apartment doing nothing at all whatsoever, which isn’t too interesting to blog about. Just thought I would give you all an update. It wasn’t as hot today as it’s been while I’ve been here, it was raining and I’d say in the 70’s, but not sure. I didn’t think it was cold persay, just a nice cool temperature. My mom and sister thought it was really cold, and didn’t want me going outside much because I’m sick, despite the fact that it was barely cold. Our apartment has been incredibly hot, and I’ve been forced to sweat more (because I’m sick so apparently that’s the best thing to do, even though I don’t have a fever to my knowledge). Apparently my boxers-and-tanktop pajamas are not acceptable (who cares? I’m sleeping!) so my mom bought me these….uhm…well I would never ever wear them if I had it my way. They’re very large and pink. And the pants have pockets. The shirt has long sleeves and the pants are really long…they’re sort of made of a sweatpant material. Anyhow, they’re definately winter pajamas and it was very very hard for me to wear them last night…I tried to sleep for an hour and a half in them and couldn’t because I was too hot. Finally, I just got up and apologized and told my mom I was too hot, putting back on my old pj’s (although I compromised a little by putting on a t-shirt instead of spagetti strap). I read for a little bit, and as I was about to go on the computer I was told I had to at least wear the pants, which I did. And was still really really hot.

I’m just very sick of being cooped up in this apartment. I’ve left it three times in the last two days….all three times today, once for lunch at KFC, and the other two for short walks after dinner. I went on the first walk by myself because Sabrina was saying “it’s too cold, ” blah blah and I just really wanted to get out, so I did (I told her though, obviously). I was barely gone, had just turned the corner of our building, when she called me and told me to come back cause she would come with me. I told her I would wait at the bottom of the elevator for her…and it felt like I waited a while, it probably wasn’t too long, but whatever, and she wasn’t coming so I just went back on up. After being told to change (I was wearing short shorts, and was told that “I would be cold”, even though I had just been outside) so I put on longer shorts. And we walked. And Sabrina complained that it was cold. Not my fault she wore pajamas.

On our walk, I thought I saw a dead cat in the middle of the road.
Thankfully, it was just a black plastic bag.

I can hear someone playing “My Heart Will Go On” on the clarinet somewhere from outside my window. Everything is peaceful now.

‘No One Wants to Be Defeated’

As you may or may not know, Karaoke is VERY popular in Asian countries. VERY popular. So popular, in fact, that in some (most?) cars, where a GPS system would be in American cars, there is a karaoke screen. And how does the karaoke come in?
The radio.

Awesome, right? I don’t know how the stations are organized (they seem to be pretty random English and Chinese music) but it’s pretty darn cool. Some of the words are incorrect, or spelled wrong (‘gose’ instead of ‘goes’), but overall I really like it. My host father apparently read the handbook and told me that I can call him Baba (father) and my mom Mama, so anyways, Baba likes Michael Jackson and sang along to Beat It, which was funny and cute. Mama was sang to the Chinese songs, and Sabrina made fun of her parents.

Speaking of incorrect English, I find it hilarious that many people in China wear shirts that have English words on them that don’t make sense. Just like, random words in some order. They’re aesthetically pleasing, I suppose, but I wonder if the people who wear them have any idea that they’re wearing nonsense.
I mean, some of the shirts just have very…’Asian English’, like Sabrina’s PJ shirt that says ‘warmer for you family’. Sure, there’s only one letter missing, but I believe they think that that is correct grammar. Which is fine. Just is funny to me.

Back to music, anyhow, Sabrina LOVES Justin Bieber. Like, has tons of pictures of him on her iTouch, he’s her background (both phone and computer), her QQ (Chinese instant messanger) icon, etc etc. It’s really cute(: I asked her if she had a boyfriend (you’re not allowed to date in school here) and she said ‘Justin Bieber’. Sounds good to me.