Will & Tracy

This is our blog

Monday, February 26, 2007


What do you get when you cross a Type A personality and throw her into a life of leisure? You think it could be a disaster, a time bomb waiting to explode (and still a current possibility), but yet, she is a survivor….and bringing home a lil’ bit o’ bacon herself…

So what have I been doing that I have been neglecting my blog and more importantly my peeps. Well, I’m trying to find work – and not at the lucky lounge as a cocktail waitress – I tried that – I cost too much here. I tried to be a salesgirl at one of the Fakie Markets – but again, they said I needed to sell a few of Coco Chanel glasses, not keep taking them.

So February was my biggest month to date. Wait for it – I made over $1000USD! (I thought I was going to make $1000US for the whole year). I know, I know, normally not something to write home about, but this is blog worthy well at least for me. So you all know about my tutoring and my monthly teaching gig, but now, I am starting my own “educational” website to help couples in Shanghai access information on where to find products and services for baby. I also put information and handouts that I use in class there so they can go back and refer to them if they need to. In the end, I hope the educational information will lead to some “unofficial” (please don’t tell the Chinese authorities) business coming my way in the form of patient advocacy services. My FABULOUS friend Robert designed the webpage and is teaching me how to post content (that should be interesting) and I even made my own business cards that look pretty good too! Okay, so the website is not quite ready yet, but I’ll share it anyway – any mistakes are probably mine trying to fiddle with it….I guess I better get crackin’ because I have it on my business cards ready to hand out in class on Saturday…

www.tlcbirthresources.com (get it?? …like how cool is it that my initials are TLC!!) (included is a picture of me with my first happy customer - Charles Oak Emmons, but they call him Oak...

So, while I’m still holding my breath (and hopping on one leg) hoping that Worldlink will finally get their act together and hire me, I figure I can try to snag a few customers by word of mouth and see what happens. Otherwise it is back to the cocktail waitress thing. Heaven help Shanghai if that happens.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Next stop.... Mercury Vogue Diner

As we were walking around town yesterday, we found our "shot of the day" - so if anyone wants to venture back here for a little lunch or dinner when they are in town, just let us know.... I think the chef's specials include: theTuna lead plate special and Lead Shark Fin soup...

And although we didn't get this on film, we did witness it in person and were quite impressed with the Chinese dexterity here in China - try to smoke a cigarette and pick your nose at the same time - with the same hand! (Hint - just need to grow your pinky fingernail out just a bit).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinese New Year Food Symbolism

Here is a cool list of foods that have some symbolism for the new year. Today is New Year's Eve in Chinese (the Lunar New Year's Eve). Tomorrow starts the year of the Golden Pig and so today we have to clean up the house a bit, because we are not allowed to clean the house the first five days of the New Year otherwise you risk sweeping all of your good fortune out the door (no risk of that happening with our Ayi out for the week!!) he he.

So today big shout out to my Dad - Happy Birthday - have a safe drive back from Florida - and BOK CHOY to all of you too! (private family food joke - and trust me, not worth asking about)

So, Xin Nian Kuai Le - translated to Happy New Year!
(Shin Ne-ann Kwye Luh)
  • Bamboo shoots - wealth
  • Black moss seaweed - wealth
  • Dried Bean Curd - happiness (note: fresh tofu is not served because the color white symbolizes death and misfortune in Chinese culture).
  • Chicken - happiness and marriage (especially when served with "dragon foods," such as lobster. Family reunion (if served whole)
  • Eggs - fertility
  • Egg Rolls - wealth
  • Fish served whole - prosperity
  • Chinese garlic chives - everlasting, a long life
  • Lychee nuts - close family ties
  • Noodles - A long life
  • Oranges - wealth
  • Peanuts - a long life
  • Pomelo - abundance, prosperity, having children
  • Seeds - lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc. - having a large number of children
  • Tangerines – luck

VD ....a success story

Get your minds out of the gutter people - they are called STDs now anyway.....And I was talking about Valentine's Day - which was a success by the way - no barf bags needed....

And no, Marina, no hangover after Wednesday's Valentine's Day. Despite being warned about the difficulties of obtaining a taxi and my husband getting home a tad bit, ehm, LATE - I forgave him when he handed me 3 red roses. He went too far and told me the full bouquet was too expensive, but I'm still not clear on why he decided on 3. Will's brain is a mystery not worth solving at the time of publication. So we hopped in a cab and made it to the restaurant on time and were greeted with a glass of bubbly and shown to our table. It was a set menu, but at least it had one seafood option and one meat option - perfect for us and ended up all being delicious! We had chocolate souffle for dessert that was divine and I was given an extra red rose by the waitstaff (all included in the dinner package of course!). My date was cute and a good conversationalist and *bonus*...he even paid. :) I knew I married a good one.

All in all it was a 9.8 out of 10 - the 0.2 was taken off for technical merit or lack there of (on the part of the restaurant). In China, you can smoke til your heart's content - or stops - one of the two. There are no such things as "smoking sections" and we were stuck 2 tables from the lone smoker in the room. It was a good thing he came at the end of our meal because it was only a slight inconvenience and we were able to leave shortly there after. I don't think you all want any more details except that we finally did get our some enchanted evening this time around...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shot through the heart and you're to blame....

Gotta love Bon Jovi.... second only to Axel Rose.... and I digress - although it is a bit early to do that - I haven't even started my story...

Well I hope tonight is not a replay of our “1st Anniversary” dinner spent lovingly on the bathroom floor with ginger ale and melba toast and Will paying reverence to the porcelain god. I told Will this morning – don’t try any new weird restaurants today. The reservations are set, it includes a 4 course meal, champagne, free rose, ambiance…. I am glad I asked around so I knew to get reservations, who knew that Valentine’s Day is a fairly popular holiday in China – even though Chinese New Year is right around the corner.

So Will is a wonderful person in so many ways, but not too good with the surprises – it probably doesn’t help that I bug him enough about hints until I figure it out, right? Today, I was being good…keepin’ it on the low-down. Unfortunately (fortunately? :) ), I have become the gatekeeper of the cash – hey I give him his allowance for daily food intake – and if he asks for more, I *usually* give it to him without interrogation or truth serum. Today he tried to play coy and ask for his allowance (since he spent it all on going out to lunch with coworkers, etc. yesterday). I play along and give him double what I normally give him for lunch. He asks if he can have a little more, so I slid another bill across the table – knowing it is probably not quite enough for him to have lunch and buy me flowers. I AM SO EVIL! He chuckles and rolls his eyes probably wondering 1.why am I making this so difficult and 2. why he married me. In the end, I give him a wad of cash and a kiss on the check and told him he better be on his way home by 5:30p or else! J Happy Valentine’s Day Schmoopy. Love you.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Origin of the Chinese New Year Celebration

Legend has it that there was a beast called Nian (which means "year" in Chinese) that would come to China the night before the new year began (according to the Chinese Calendar) and prey upon the people. One of the legends has it that Nian had a very big mouth and that he would swallow a great many people with every bite.

One day an old man came to the rescue of the people, he said to Nian, "I hear that you are a very capable beast, but do you think that you could swallow the other beasts of prey instead of people, who are not worthy opponents?" So Nian started to swallow he other beast which were harassing the people anyway. After that the man disappeared riding Nian, it turns out that the man was really an immortal god.

The old man told the people to put up red decorations on their windows and doors at each year's end to scare away Nian in case he came back. Nian lived in fear of the color red. The people celebrate the New Year by putting up red paper and lighting firecrackers to scare away Nian. They say the words "Guo Nian" which mean both, "Survive the Nian" and "Celebrate the year." The word "guo" in Chinese means both observe, and pass-over.

Another interesting thing about Chinese New Year is that very few people know when this holiday is celebrated without looking at a traditional Chinese calendar because it never falls on the same day. The ancient Chinese used a lunar calendar. (Today we use solar calendars.) On a lunar calendar, the New Year begins the first night of the new moon after the sun enters Aquarius. This date is anywhere between January 20 and February 19 (on a solar calendar). Chinese years are grouped in sets of 12 with each year being represented by an animal (zodiac sign). It is said that a person displays the characteristics of the animal of the year in which they were born.

Along with the 12-animal cycle is a cycle composed of the "Five Elements," (i.e., metal, wood, fire, water and earth). The elements act as modifiers on the 12 animal symbols. This year (2006), for example, is the Year of the Fire Dog. The next lunar year, which will begin on Feb. 18 of 2007, will be the Year of the Fire Pig. Fire is red or yellow, and this is associated with gold. Accordingly, the Year of the Fire Pig becomes the Year of the Golden Pig. This occurs only once every 60 years. And to top it off, 2007 is no ordinary Year of the Golden Pig. When further calculations are made using the principles of Ying and Yang, the year is a special kind of Golden Pig year that occurs only once every 600 years! (other pig years: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995)

Those born in pig years tend to have excellent manners, make and keep friends, work very hard, and appreciate luxury. They are very loving and make loyal partners. Since Will was born in 1971, I can say with all honesty and love that my husband is truly a pig!





Half Year in Review...

Well today it has been exactly 6 months since we landed in this new world and as my husband kissed me goodbye this morning, we thought, hmmm, it hasn’t been too bad. Despite Communist injustices, having North Korea as our closest ally, our CNN censored, and bouts of depression and diarrhea sprinkled here and there we have also had some highlights by having the opportunity to travel to Moganshan, Suzhou, Harbin and Malaysia. We had our friend Phil come to visit and are looking forward to more visits in the new year. There will be continued trips to the Pearl Market, Yu Garden and ongoing Tai Tai lunches. The fabric market and massages have gone by the wayside, but will be nice to revisit as friends and family come in to town.

In thinking back on the past 6 months, we don’t cringe or cross ourselves before getting into a taxi or flinch when a bus comes within inches of us while we walk across the street. In fact, we now shove our way on to the subway moments before the door closes during rush hour and push our way off. We don’t give a second glance to all the people walking around in their pajamas or baggy underwear and hey, split crotched pants may be something to look into when we have children. Okay so the spitting thing still gets to me a little, but at least I don’t gag anymore. We are looking at signs and understanding what they are telling us, we are bargaining in Chinese. We are learning how great public transportation is and to never forget to pack antiseptic wipes. This foreign city is becoming not so foreign and we can hardly believe how fast the time has gone by.

It is has been an amazing experience and we are looking forward to the new year – The Chinese New Year – The Year of the Golden Pig starting February 18, 2007. We have been blessed with our friends and family that have been so good about keeping in touch with us and we are so excited about the new friends that we have made here and how we have changed for the better. I hope that I will continue to find new and exciting adventures to share. In the meantime, I want to post a blog or two about the history and traditions of the Chinese New Year. Will and I are going to brave the craziness and stay in town for two weeks surrounding this festival so we can truly appreciate the most important Chinese celebration of the year. That and I hear there are pretty good shopping deals at all the stores and markets during this time of year too! :)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Almost Paradise....

Ah....the 90s and sunny 4 days in a row.... It was a nice relaxing mini-vacation. We are starting to learn that all the advice we were given on day one when we arrived in Shanghai is all true. The most important: get the hell out of Shanghai every 6-8 weeks for your own sanity! So thank you Dell for having an office in Penang, Malaysia and thank you Dell for having extra travel budget this past quarter so that Will could have the opportunity to meet the nice folks in Penang. He also got to tour the factory. Did you know that most if not all the laptops (desktops??) are made in this office. When you order a Dell computer (and why would you order anything else? :) ) the order is sent by 5pm US time to Malaysia. While you sleep, they put your computer together and by the next morning it is on a plane heading back to the U.S.!! So enough about work...well except I told Will if they ever offered him a job in Malaysia he wouldn't have to twist my arm too hard to go back.

We rented a mo-ped and took a spin around the island. We even stopped at the Penang Butterfly farm where we walked through this greenhouse type place with over 200 species of butterflies flying everywhere. It was amazing - thus the reason why we had so many cool pictures of the butterflies - they were hard to miss. Just for the record, Will did tried to get me to drive the mo-ped, and we do have some video footage of me going about 5 mph, but it might have to be destroyed. Regardless, with his driving skills (thank goodness he had some training in London on how to drive on the left side of the road) and my camera skills, we managed to make it back safely to our hotel without incident.

Shout out to Angela - the picture of me poolside - I'm toasting *you* baby, with a Singapore Sling in hand! :) I"ll try to get some video footage posted soon.

Malaysia Truly Asia....

No Dukakis Comments about Helmet Head

Welcome to the Information Age Grandma

Well, I know this is not about my travels in China, but I had to put it down in history - my Grandma got her first email address !! My aunt and uncle, and parents are all down in FL visiting for the month (nice that they are all retired - well, if you don't count my uncle and my dad's very important positions of "head cart boy" at their local golf course during the spring and summer). So they went to the local library - does anyone do that anymore - and set her up with an Yahoo! email account. I was sure to send her my email address so she had one waiting, but I should have updated my blog sooner so she could find this web page with all my fabby stories. Lets all hope that she takes her new found freedom with gusto! I sure hope it goes better than my parents attempts at having a cell phone. Yes yes, they have one - kind of - but only on road trips does it seem to be turned on and only because their anal daughter (you have a 50/50 chance of guessing who that might be) freaks out when she doesn't hear from them for a while. Didn't anyone else have that rule that you were supposed to tell your family when you were leaving and called when you arrived to let them know you got there safely???

Anyway .... Grandma I expect to hear from you soon. No excuses that your knee hurts or that you had to take Brandy for a walk. Love you!