Will & Tracy

This is our blog

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's cold!

Hey we are supposed to be latitude as New Orleans and as my weiner dogs are basking in the sun of central Florida with my folks, I'm learning that concrete is a poor insulator and in addition to our wall heaters in each room, we've enlisted the help of 2 additional space heaters... and who thought the marble floors looked great when we first looked at the apartment. My feet are FREEZING! Yes, Grandma, I'm wearing my slippers.

With this recent snowfall (the worst in 15-20 years in Shanghai, but in other parts of China the worst in 50 years), it has been pretty incredible to witness "when crazy drivers go completely insane." I thought I had a good laugh each Texas winter when we would get a dusting of snow and the national news would cover all the bubbas doing donuts on I-35 because they thought just because they had a truck with 4wd, they could still drive at the normal speed limit. My biggest take home lesson from my Michigan driving experience while in Texas is it is best to just stay off the road with these goof balls.

China - home of the bicycle and automobiles and trucks with no 4wd and sketchy maintenance history (what, your brakes are not supposed to squeal and grind?), are all still on the road together still trying to cut each other off and going at normal speeds in this stuff. Will was headed to Wuxi (about 2 hours outside of Shanghai) with his boss yesterday - their eureka momemt when they decided that "this may not be such a good idea" is when other drivers were passing them at all speeds and several loose tires did as well, that and their car started to fishtail.

And if I wanted to avoid putting my life into the hands of one of these insane cab drivers and instead walk - I quickly note that sidewalks in Shanghai are just as treacherous without ice and snow, so I decided not to venture out really at all yesterday. Instead I watched the huge snow flakes fall and the fashionistas of Shanghai try to walk around in heels. I could say - They'll learn, but we probably won't see this again for a while.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Home Ec

Yeah, I think I took this class in 8th grade. I made some kind of stuffed elephant pillow and conned our teacher that instead of making eggs and pancakes for our breakfast exam, we didn’t have time for that, so we needed to make toaster waffles. She agreed and I got an A.

Fast forward to year 2008 and yeah, I can still make waffles, but not sure I could sew an elephant pillow if I tried – pattern or no pattern. Dishes? That is what the dishwasher is for (or in China – our Ayi is for). However, as fate would have it our beloved Ayi is sick and she probably won't be back until AFTER Chinese New Year (ie – February 10th!) Wow – say what? I have to do my own dishes and fold my underwear again? Well, maybe it is time for me to become a domestic goddess after all.

Actually it is probably a good challenge for me. I am having more time lately and I like it. It is amazing what a crummy job can do to your attitude. I was not having any fun at all. Yes, I do miss the nurses, doctors and the patients (notice I didn’t say bosses) and maybe after 2 weeks of doing dishes I’ll think differently, but for now I’m going to enjoy it.

In fact, tomorrow, don’t hold your breath or anything – but I’m taking a cooking class with some friends. Indian food. Yeah, one of my friends is a fabby cook, so maybe I’ll have her take pictures of me trying not to cut my finger off when slicing eggplant. Maybe the blood and gore will improve my ratings.

Monday, January 14, 2008


It has been 2 weeks since I sent off the email to my bosses asking for a meeting and new contract. Last week I finally met with my immediate boss (a red-headed Irish woman) and we see eye to eye. I like her so much that I feel kinda bad doing this to her. She asked what was the biggest issue bothering me – I said two words : "our director." He is cheap and can not execute anything. Yeah, that was a little blunt, but I’m tired of wriggling around the issues. Funny that she tends to agree with me and that says our CEO is worse. Great – she is not doing a very good job convincing me to stay. She patiently took notes and we chatted about the state of affairs and she said she would get back to me asap.

As of this week we met again but only for he r to tell me that our director has not bothered to reply to her about discussing a new contract. Another sign. Hey, as I told her last week, if they want to continue to pay me my full salary for 10 hours/week, I’m totally cool with that.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to hook back up with my tai tai peeps and boy have I missed that. My most meaningful conversation was with my friend Amy as we pondered life and travel and our ongoing justification why we are not working. I mean we COULD work if we wanted to, thus only “semi-retired.” I think I'm justifying with the wrong person - what do you all think? So over our tea and scooby snacks we look forward to some day coming out of retirement, although we do admit that vision is still a little cloudy.

I figure the job thing won’t completely go away, in fact I told Will I’d be his new assistant. Every time I helped remember a name or found him a new contact it was going to be $6. I’ve made some good money so far. However, my website seems to be making it out to the masses and I have had several women contact me from other parts of China asking for advice. This past weekend I also met with a couple who paid me $60 dollars to talk about what they should expect with their labor and delivery experience in Shanghai –that and they bought me lunch. Can’t say that I mind doing that! I’ve also had to turn down several offers to be a doula again at $800USD a pop. That may have to change – I’m still waiting for my friend Patty to come back from the dark side of working full time and join me in this venture – but hey, I’m having too much fun chillin’ and reading some good books.

And lastly – Chinese lessons are back!!! No more underwear and strawberry jokes. My new tutor is coming over for lunch today. I warned her that I have my notes but remember nothing – so today is a review and to figure out that I’m going to have to start over! ☺

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Yuan Dan Kuai Le (Happy New Year!)

Ah... another new year and time to make some resolutions. I can’t say that 2007 was all bad despite the dismal year in review CNN provided us on New Year’s Eve and what, .... is CNN the latest network to sell out to edutainment? Anderson Cooper hosted CNN's countdown to 2008 from Times Square? Can't we just stick to Dick Clark's ole standby "New Years Rockin' Eve?" - although now we have to deal with Ryan Seacrest. Trust me, it is all better than the Chinese TV version.

ANYWAY ..... In the last year, I have had the opportunity to work in a foreign country and although it has not been always enjoyable, it definitely was entertaining. And after a year and a half of my darling husband saying I didn’t have to work, I have finally decided to take him up on most of that statement. Monday, I will be going in to meet with my new manager and tell her that I would like to focus on the prenatal class and nurse training only and work only 10-12 hours/week.

That doesn’t seem too difficult does it? Well at least I can type it out and I’ve repeated it to my husband and all of the parents to make it a little more real – but geesh, how can quitting 75% of your job be that difficult? I’m so friggin’ spoiled – I know this – but I didn’t want to look back in 50 years at my time in China and tell everyone all I did was work and that was about it. I actually would like to come back to Austin saying a few more things than – “please fold my underwear and can you by me some bananas and strawberries.” I want to go back to writing more blogs and taking more pictures and have we forgotten the Tai Tai lunches? I need to start meeting some more Tai Tais. And cooler yet, my husband gets to travel more and so who wants to get stuck in Shanghai when I could be going to Singapore, Japan and Korea – and maybe India. Oh yeah and there is still that baby thing. I know you ALL are thinking she just needs to be patient…oh yeah and relax. So yes, I’m taking your advice and working on my patience, tolerance and relaxation techniques. It shouldn’t be too long since thanks to our friends Jerry and Patty - we are stocked up on good luck phallic looking statues they have found on this side of the world. My favorite being the little man pictured above that is made of lava rock and is known as "Tolharubang" (a fertility god) in Korea.

And last but not least, I resolve to find my witty sense of humor again - man these blogs are boring!