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Will & Tracy

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Will in Moganshan

Originally uploaded by tracy_lebel.

Tracy In Moganshan

You can see from the following pictures - we had a beautiful view... but more importantly - take a look on my cute husband's face - "I'm chillin' away from Shanghai and its great - Tracy we need to do this more often." I of course agree. So next up is to the cold north of China in January - trip to Harbin - for the ice festival. Then possibly Malaysia for Chinese New Year in late February - but the possibilties are endless .... Don't you all want to come visit?

Originally uploaded by tracy_lebel.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

...And thanks for all the fish

Well today is Thanksgiving Day and what a rainy crappy day it is! I’m still recovering from this stupid sinus infection that is sending snot everywhere (hey, I'm in China now - and its not like I showed ya pictures - *gross*). Its cold outside and miserable – so why shouldn’t I stay inside today! Well because I’ve been inside for the last 3 days and I’m *dyin’* here! So I forced myself to get up and go to my Chinese lesson (after 2 days of antiobiotics, I should (and am) feel(ing) a little better).

So instead of me learning something new to say, the first hour of my lesson Apple and I talked about Thanksgiving and Halloween and Communism versus a Democracy. In the end, her take away lesson learned was what “Pig Out” means. As in… “Tracy and Will are starving themselves all day long because we are going to “pig out” tonight at the Marriot for our Thanksgiving Feast with 16 other expats.” Just great - what else could I teach her. Couldn't she at least have brought the themes together and say George Bush is a pig (I'm still waiting to be struck down by lightning). How’s that for international communication.

I was impressed that she was willing to talk about my censorship experience on CNN – with the whole Tibet issue. So I dug a little deeper – why doesn’t the Chinese government want you to know about Tibet?? (I play stupid like I”ve never seen a “Free Tibet” bumper sticker anywhere). She actually knows – Chinese think that they will have border problems and Tibet will have problems so why would they want to be independent? And one party in charge – it gets things done – like any easy decision to build a subway. So I ask – well what if you want that money to go toward better healthcare than the subway. She shrugs. At least something gets done (One point for Communism). I asked if she has ever voted. She said once while at the University, but it is basically a card with a bunch of names – no campaigning and no info about any candidates. For most people it is difficult to go somewhere to vote – ie they don’t publicize it (imagine that). Besides, two parties just didn’t work in China she says – see what happened between Mao and Chiang (as in Chiang Kai Shek). Interesting.

Next topic (thanks Apple for the segue) – Taiwan. Oh if you only knew the touchiness of these subjects in this town – but she didn’t flinch. She explained why the Shanghainese didn’t like the Taiwanese (they are supposedly stingy because the Taiwanese companies in Shanghai pay their employees less). Oh is that all? I thought maybe it was because they have their own little democracy down there that the Chinese government isn’t too happy about. Silly me.

In the end, my take away lessons included 1. learning my numbers up to a million, 2. how to say "Micheal’s dog is on his right side" (very helpful I might add) and 3. that both Communist and Democratic governments each have their own problems. Gosh, who knew Chinese would be this easy! NEXT!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Coincidence - I think not! ala 1984

I have always known that we are now living in a Communist country and that freedom of speech was sorely lacking here. They tell us the city is safe, only petty crime - we know better in a city of 22 million. However, in all honesty, we don't worry about it daily because capitalism seems like it is in full swing in Shanghai.

In the last week however, we have noticed a little more control from China over our internet and news. Last week our VOIP (Vonage) phone went out. We thought it was our hardware, but we also checked with another couple here and their phone is mysteriously out as well. Will did some research and well, the tech support people are working on it, whatever, "IT" is.

Then today as I"m laying on my sick bed with my second sinus infection in 6 weeks (thank you air pollution in Shanghai), I"m watching our only station - CNN - that broadcasts in China. The anchor went from one story - Bush in Asia - to just starting to talk about a story re: Tibet. The screen went blank for about 10 seconds then went on with the broadcast. The first time I thought hmmm, that's interesting, put my conspiracy theories aside and moved on and....took another nap. Randomly I turned the TV back on and it was cycling through the same stories. AGAIN, as soon as the anchor said Tibet, the screen went blank! This is on CNN!! Hello - I get CNN censored?? I can't even find the newstory on their online website. The only link talking somewhat poorly about China was the one I added above - that Wikipedia is blocked again in China. Good article and just plain disturbing. I'm so naive.

It will be interesting to watch to see if this improves, etc in the next few years, but in the meantime we hope that we get our VOIP phone back from the abyss.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Living in a Material World and (my husband's) a Material Boy

(Note: not sure what up with the pictures - but I think you can still double click on them and they will come up in a different screen for you to view until we get this site fixed!!)

After recovering from the Yu Garden bargaining maddness we got up Saturday morning and headed to the fabric market so Phil could get a second fitting for his zuit suit and make arrangements for me to pick the stuff up the following week. In the process, Will decides he likes the material that Phil picked for his suit. SO Will decides to get measured for another suit, 2 more shirts and some corduroy pants (cool ones okay?). We made it out of there in about an hour - its a metrosexual miracle!

Time is growing short before Phil has to leave for the airport but plenty of time for our next stop to Dragonfly Spa. I chose my normal head/shoulders/foot massage for an hour. However, I let the boys splurge on a 4 handed one hour oil massage. I should have requested that they get 4 males to rub their hands all over them, but I was nice. They said it was great! We were all relaxed by that point and just wanted a "lite Tai Tai lunch." I played it safe and took them to Element Fresh - pretty much guaranteed not to get you sick - their kitchen is emaculate!

The final adventure was the Maglev Train back to the airport. Ah yes, the fastest train in the world and the first one was successfully built in Shanghai. This puppy goes 428km/hr (that is about 268mph). It just has a dull hum and boy is it cool. So if you have the chance when YOU ALL COME TO VISIT - we'll have to take it. It takes just under 8 minutes to go 30km (18.6 miles).

After we said our goodbyes, Will and I took the Maglev and then transferred to the metro back to our new home sweet home in Shanghai and fell into bed. It was a whirlwind visit, but very nice to see a familiar face. Thanks Phil - hopefully we'll get your clothes to you and Nick by Christmas time!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wind Beneath My Wings - phil part 2

Friday started by meeting Phil and co-worker Nick at their hotel. Patty offered to come along and let us all have Samuel and the minivan for the day. I know, she just really wanted to go shopping too (excuses that we make to go shopping), but it was a nice convenience to have for the day - hey I bought her lunch and dinner!!

Phil had an interesting story to tell us all about his night in Shanghai. Well, I guess it is his story to tell and I may have some young readers with virgin ears so I digress. Just know, Phil did not take her up on her offer. :) Nuf said.

So off we went to the Fabric Market where Phil and his friend Nick proceeded to go nuts with the fabric choices and "what do I get???" - dudes - if men weren't homosexual or metrosexual before they went in to the fabric market, they surely will be when they leave. Phil played it a little cooler than Nick did, but still!! I don't know what color to get, ooooo ahhhh that fabric feels good. Does my butt look okay in these pants? Its really the only time I get now to look and touch another guys butt legally. ;)

....2 hours later.... We are on our way to she she restaurant "M on the Bund." We get a table outside to enjoy the ambivance of the polluted air in Shanghai while sipping on the alcoholic drink of our choice. Soon I start staring at this Chinese woman with WAY TO MUCH MAKE-UP on her face. I'm thinkin' REAL ESTATE AGENT - whose ass is she kissing (well there goes the PG rating). Phil turns to me and says "Hey, isn't that Bette Midler" - uh, my gaze shifts.... Hair, slightly hunched shoulders and THE NOSE! - OH MY GAWD. I, of course, play it cool, but it was my first star sighting in Shanghai. NO I didn't take a picture - I didn't want to trip over a table like my brother in law did at our wedding last year when he was trying to catch a glimpse of Julia Roberts. Kip - I'm not going to let you forget it!

Next stop - Yu Garden for a little bargaining madness....
(also included - random pic from dinner at 1221)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Phil's visit Part 1 - Our first Visitor!

Yeah yeah stop your whining - I'm writing another blog, okay. I took a mental week off and its only been 5 days. :)

We had our first official visitor to Shanghai this past weekend. Our friend Phil! This is the man that let us crash at his place in Austin for almost a MONTH with the weiner dogs. This man put up with my shit and stress of relocating to a different country *and* my dogs. You all know my dogs - okay - well most of you do - they're spoiled! Lets put it this way, we owed Phil big time.

Phil came into town late Wednesday for business and so I got mad props for making him look good with his colleagues by sending them to a fancy chinese restuarant! 3 months here and I"m good! That's okay, Phil repayed me by letting me give him about 10,000 hugs this weekend. Will had already surpassed his 1 million hug limit and I needed a lot of hugs last week - hey I think I would have hugged Dr Nix if he was in town...well, let me think about that some more - it *is* 3am for me - yeah I don't know why I am up at this hour.

So by Friday, Phil was done with work duties and I got to be Julie McCoy, cruise director. I thought I would give him a little snippet of the Tai Tai lifestyle - you know - say it with me - sleep in late, a lite workout, then a lite tai tai lunch, shopping and a massage, dinner prepared by Ayi or dinner out. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Life happens...

I always hate to not try and have a fun and exciting story to share, but since this is my journal I wanted to make sure I remembered the past few days. For a week Will and I had some great news - a baby was coming - how nice to know that everything works like it is supposed to. Unfortunately, God said not this time around. I thought I would be able to do this on my own. Silly control freak that I am. We hadn't even told our parents yet. Only a few friends here had started to guess - you know when you are tired all the time and feel a little sick to your stomach - people figure it out real fast. I was worried about telling them, jinxing myself - all those superstitions run through your mind (my mind at least). I'm here to tell you that it is okay - these friends that knew - saved me and Will from having to go through this by ourselves.

Thank you to Marina for taking a call from me sobbing and telling me I needed to go to the hospital. Thank goodness that Patty was here to take me and hold my hand with Will. Thank you to Dell for being flexible with my husband on the day before a product shipment so he could be with me and for the beautiful flowers they sent. Thank you Moms and Dads for all responding to my email this morning with your sweet thoughts since I didn't want to wake you yesterday and I know you didn't want to wake me today.

I'm sad, but feeling much better today. I wished I was back at Brackenridge to see some familiar faces, but they took good care of me (I went to the same place that will hopefully be giving me a job soon). I definitely see a lot of areas they need to improve on - the technical stuff they have down - the touchy feely, educating the patient and - hello? - dishcarge instructions - ... were sorely lacking.

I figured I'll survive - on the way home I had to chuckle as I saw a biker ride by and cough one up and spit in my general direction - that was just for me. God knew I needed a smile and to tell me life goes on - even with the gross spitting thing in China.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Slacker Shanghai Tai Tai

Wow - its been 5 days and NO BLOG! What!?!? I can't even take 30 minutes to write a blog a day or every other day? Can I say that I've been busy? Well kind of. And I haven't even had a massage in 2 weeks! I had a couple funny pictures to share, but I have them on my phone and who knew I needed MORE software to download in order to download pictures off my cell phone. Technology is wonderful and a pain in the ass. So I'll have to share my picture later.

Since the days are getting cooler, I have started walking Will to work. :) We then go to Starbucks and get coffee and have a nice little morning chat in the fish bowl and make bets on how many people will do a double take. Not just one glance, but a full on rubber necking episode. We've stopped betting - its no fun anymore - it happens too often.

So on our most recent walk on Friday morning we saw an interesting scene. I think that way back in a previous blog I showed all of you the busy intersection that we live in front of... Although early, by 645am things are starting to get moving - but unfortunately, the traffic is still moving somewhat quickly, so you have to be extra careful, because 1. There are not enough pedestrians out to make the traffic stop for them and 2. There are not many cars, and so the few cars there are are clipping along at a nice pace. We are waiting to cross and take a look to our left. A man starts walking, not across the street, but DIAGONAL across the intersection. He's waving this poll in the air and then it dawns on me - it is red and white and this guy is BLIND! Will and I watch in awe as the man proceedst wave his blind poll above his head as he walks through the middle of the intersection while people, bikes, cars and cement trucks are bobbing and weaving to miss this guy. This man is clearly older and by some miracle still alive. I tried to get a picture with my camera, but it serves no purpose - a short video would have been better.

My only other news is that I went to observe what will hopefully be my new job soon. I sat in on a prenatal class with soon to be manager Alice To. She really wants/needs me to start, but HR seems to be taking their time getting the official job "created." I'm being patient - which is surprising for me - but I'll keep everyone posted.