Will & Tracy

This is our blog

Monday, May 28, 2007

Vignettes and other such nonsense…

16 hours and 5 minutes until Will gets home, okay so I'm counting. So what if the independent international working woman went out the window – I miss him – what is he thinking leaving me in a foreign country to fend for myself for 3 weeks. See I told you all out there I’m not as brave as you think I am.

After 9 months of making fun of the Chinese about how they come up with some of their quirky English names: Lucifer, Cocaine, Juicy, Tree, I find out from the nurses at work that if you say Tra – cy with the right accent, it is Shanghainese (Shanghai’s version of Mandarin) for IDIOT. Sigh – serves me right I suppose. So they blessed me with a new name today at work: Rui xi (Ray-she) which means lucky. I do have to admit work is getting a touch easier since they are finally starting to accept me – okay – so I did the bribery thing again and bought a few of them coconut frappachinos from Starbucks. After returning, I asked them – I thought the Chinese didn’t like ice and that I was told they think cold drinks are unhealthy. They in turn flex their muscles and tell me they are the new modern Chinese woman. I shrug, ponder and then decide to save the discussion on “Why anklet hose?” for another time….

And speaking of Lucifer – how strange is it that I now like going to this one particular Starbucks in hopes that he will be my barista? Maybe it is the irony? Seriously – he is a nice guy (famous last words!) – for example: the other day, I fell and dropped my coffee outside (yeah that was a classless moment I don’t wish to discuss). However, when I came back in to get another – Lucifer was there with a wet towel to wipe off my arm and he fixed me a Venti latte for free! Was it a sin to take it? I did decide to leave a big tip so I say no – rather a random act of kindness for the not so graceful foreigner. Deal with the Devil? Never. But I think it is time to ask this nice barista how he came about his name.

15 hours 35 minutes...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ah, absence makes the heart grow fonder...

So this is what my life has come to - Sunday evening – alone -watching 9-5 with Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Can you believe that I found THAT at the DVD store in Shanghai? Hey at least it is better than watching “The Devil Wears Prada” for the 4th time. Is it bad that I actually am tapping my foot to the intro song, and, uh, know some of the words? It’s Will’s fault – he left me - off galavanting all over Europe for 3 weeks in the name of Tech Tour! But to quote one of my favorite lines in the movie: At least Will’s not a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot.

This weekend he is in Helsinki – although he took a side trip to Stockholm to visit the “Ice Bar” – isn’t he cute in his poncho – I thought a little Princess Leia-esque. He tours Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark this week and then he gets to come home! Woo hoo, rack up those frequent flyer miles. Can’t wait to see the rest of his pictures. Last week he was in Romania and visited Dracula’s castle, Poland and his old Peace Corp stomping ground of Slovakia! He was able to go to the school he taught at and low and behold - the principal and many of the teachers were still there. He said it was a nice reunion although short.

I figure in exchange for me having to work full-time and having to stay in Shanghai all by myself (and whose fault is that?) that he had to bring back some good pictures to share with the promise to take me back some day. Of course he agreed!

...only 8 days, 12 hours to go until he's back, but who’s counting. Certainly not the independent international working girl that finally got business cards, got paid, and still had time to go get a pedicure all in the same week! Yeah, I can let the closest office thing slide for a few more weeks!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Introducing Chip and Block…

I know it is a scary thing as we grow older that every now and then something just slips out and you think – was that déjà vu? – no – what just came out sounded so strangely familiar, so close to home – Damnit, I sound like my parents! Really, truly, before I offend both my parents, it really is not such a bad thing – just another stage in the enlightenment process – maybe they did know a thing or two during my teenage years!

What is more interesting and worthy of further research is if you have a chance to witness this between your husband and father-in-law. There are too many examples to mention during my observation over the last 3 years, but one in particular that has been amusing for me to observe because I no longer question where Will gets this from - the need for instant gratification when it comes to something they want – mostly relating to electronic gadgets or more recently artwork. Unfortunately, when they really want something, I think they revert back to 5 year old boys and are quick to buy it - I won't go as far to say they whine (they *are* adults mind you), but I think they really loose out on the “art” of bargaining. Okay, lets be blunt – they suck at it. This is where Carol (Will’s Stepmom) and I come to the rescue. You have to give the guys a little sympathy because in the US they can get away with this because there is not that many opportunities to practice this skill unless you want to visit your favorite used car salesman on a regular basis. The only reason I got good at it was moving to the good ole PRC where it is a survival tool and just plain fun when you get the hang of it.

But instead – what is Carol and my reward? After bargaining down a piece of artwork to HALF the original cost and have them throw in free shipping (Carol was a quick study, but she is a natural in the art of Chinese bargaining), the saleslady turns to Ray and says. “Your wife is tough and hard bargainer – you must have difficult life.” Instead of defending his wonderful wife – he leans forward with a grin and replies to the saleswoman…"You have no idea.”

Of course we all get a good chuckle out of that because we know that Carol is a rock star and yes, can be tough as nails – but look what she has to work with. The man that if put on Survivor and asked what two things he would NEED to take with him to a desert island would reply: “Starbucks and a western toilet.”

I know I’m giving my father-in-law a lot of grief, but hey, he admitted he never reads my blog (sacrilege!), so I’m safe, right? Well, really, I know he knows or I hope he knows I love him dearly and am blessed that I have him as my father-in-law.

My chuckle of the day – and a sign I needed to finish writing this blog to warn Ray and others: As I go to pick up *my* Starbucks (and who's the one with the problem?), I hone in on the barista's name like I always do – my favorites in the past have always been Sassy, Barbie, Tree and Cocaine – but this time I did a double take and … wait for it… the barista's name is none other than – LUCIFER! Is God trying to tell me something about my Starbucks habit? Or maybe He is trying to enlighten me so that I may enlighten my father-in-law that Starbucks is a sin. I thought about crossing myself and genuflecting once outside the door as I tried to recall the last time I went to confession – what do you suppose the penance is for a small no fat latte – I promise, I didn’t even add sugar! You have been duly warned. Just trying to save the world, one double grande no foam latte at a time Ray.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Where's the straight part?

I think I'm starting to figure out how to post pictures to my .mac account. Click the link above and you should see more of our Beijing pictures.

Beijing pictures

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mergers and Acquisitions...

So is it me or do I just attract drama in my life? - or - Do I just turn everything into drama? I’m thinking the later…

So more to come (and pictures) from our time with Ray and Carol (“the inlaws!”) – but first more job news…. The intrigue …

When I returned from Beijing I was checking my email only to find out that World Link has been acquired by a Singapore based hospital system and my direct boss is resigning with no replacement in site. Wow! I haven’t seen her in 2 weeks and I come back to this (she has been out of the office – obviously getting a new job - and I was only gone for 4 days!!!) – I thought I was going to see her on Monday, then Tuesday, oh wait, I caught a glimpse for 20 minutes on Wednesday – now she is in more meetings today. She did tell me “not to worry” and that she will be here another 2 weeks or so to transition some more of the clinical stuff to me – more? She really hasn’t told me anything since starting –I still don’t have a password to log into their computer system yet!

So, I’m back in Alice’s office, sharing half a desk, wondering whether or not my closet office will ever be mine or if I get to stay put only to get kicked out at random by people wanting to interview potential employees in the lone "office". Still no business cards or phone extension, not really sure when I’ll see her to ask her my laundry list of questions on what do I need to do about this that and the other… but I’m really just trying to go with the flow – I know … an uncanny response from the world’s biggest worry wart. I’ve been told by friends to hang in there and I think that is just what I’m going to do for now... It doesn’t hurt that I don’t have the fear of being fired – I dare them!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good bye…

Sorry for the long blog entries lately – I guess I am more in the venting, cathartic writing stage than actual fun stories, but I hit another milestone while here recently – losing friends - and it has been tough.

Friendships while living abroad are an interesting sort. You meet such an international crowd and even the Texans we’ve met are people that we probably never would have met if we had lived in Texas our whole lives. Will warned me of the struggles and rewards of making friends abroad – to try to find them at first and then to watch them finish their assignment and move on.

Of course, I kinda believed my husband that all this occurs but I was a little spoiled that I had my former co-worker Patty move to Shanghai first so that by the time I arrived, she had lined up 4 20 or 30 somethings that became insta-friends known as the Tai Tai for Life club. I also found a few cool cats from the Dell Wives Club (a pleasant surprise since I figured the Dell Expat Wives would want nothing to do with the girl without a driver or the country club membership☺ ). They of course all joked with me that they were not going to call me for at least 6 months so that I could struggle like they had making friends when they first got to Shanghai – but I grew on them – either that or maybe it was the lunches I kept buying so they would keep calling. This friend making thing wasn’t so difficult at all. They like me, they really really like me!

I was content, no need for more friends – I mean – look at all the cool things we were doing – we got to have fun and dress up (above picture – Art Gala Fundraiser with Amy and Sarah), go to fashion shows (with my Dell Wives peeps), get pedicures and the lovely lunches – need I say more? That was until a few weeks ago when 3 of them decided to tell me that they were making plans to go back to the US or on to other assignments in the next few months. Huh, what? Say again? They TOLD me they were all staying for at least 2 years. This was not what *I* planned for – the nerve of these women.

In the last few weeks, I really do think I have gone through Kubler-Ross’ grief cycle – a little shock and awe, a big denial and depression stage…hmmm…testing stage? I think my first realistic solution was to not make any more friends, then I decided that wasn’t really realistic. I am not sure I have reached acceptance, and it sure does leave a pit in my stomach, but I wouldn’t trade these friendships for the world – well, okay, maybe a trip to Australia…. honey, can you look into that? ☺ JK – Miss you Mary and Maxine and I’m going to miss you to Sarah. No goodbyes, but see you in our travels.