Friday, January 31, 2014

Guo Nian Hao! (Wishes For A Good Year)

The day after the big Chinese New Year celebration, you're supposed to go around to visit all your older relatives in town. I went once when I was pregnant with Raelynn. I've gotten out of this every year since because she was small. This year, Jeremy told me I could stay home again but I knew the old troll would want to take Raelynn and show her off without me. I wasn't letting that happen so, on very little sleep, thanks to fireworks at night and, even worse, early in the morning, we went off to pay respect to the elders.

Fortunately, in Jeremy's family, we only have to go to 2 houses. Unfortunately, MIL came with us instead of FIL. He had to stay at their house for other family members to pay respect to him. Lucky devil. We picked up MIL and ventured off to her oldest sister's house.

Raelynn was just fine until we entered their home. It looks like a decent place. 19th floor apartment. Fairly spacious. Yet, all you could smell upon entry was the bathroom. And the door to the bathroom was closed. It smelled like every public bathroom in China. If you've never had the displeasure of having to breathe while using a public Chinese facility, then you're in luck. But my fellow expats over here KNOW what I'm talking about. It was HORRIBLE! No wonder she didn't want to try to use the potty when we arrived. She screamed and freaked and wet herself in the process.

 Eventually, we were able to calm her down with some chocolates and a cup of water.

 This is MIL's oldest sister and her husband. You can also see some of their apartment behind them. It's not too dreadful, considering we know how MIL decorates her place. These folks are much cleaner than her. At least in their living quarters. They need to do something about that bathroom smell though. Yuck!

 They had this interesting lantern hung up. But the view was totally obscured by the smog. It was smoggy yesterday and then those buttfaces let off all those fireworks so I knew today would have the most disgusting air quality ever. Thanks, assholes.

 Raelynn is still not too happy to be here though I'm keeping her busy with a deck of cards. You can see some of the ugly pillows on the couch and the typical old Chinese person plastic covering on the table.

 Here Raelynn and I are forced to take a photo with these relatives. Oh joy.

But after this, we get to leave. And we head next to Jumu's house. Jumu is actually MIL's sister-in-law. I forget the brother's name, but in any event, they live in a very dirty and tiny apartment. It's a shame because they are really nice people.

First stop, the bathroom. Here's the sink...
It's just like how my in-laws' bathroom was before they fixed it up.

But it's MUCH smaller than their bathroom. 
I took this photo standing outside the door of it with my back to the wall in the hallway. I couldn't step back far enough. The toilet doesn't flush so you have to pour water down it after you go. OF COURSE!

 Raelynn was unhappy here too, until they gave her some candy.

 What's interesting about this home is the detail in on the ceiling. Why would they have such fancy details and such a crappy bathroom? It's so weird!

 Also, old people here love to do shit like this. Cover an A/C up with a giant ugly doily.

Check this out...remember those jars of baiju with the lizards inside of them? Well, MIL's big brother has a jar that I would have loved to try if I weren't pregnant. It's got ginseng and opium in there. Yes way. No wonder this guy is so mellow and cool.

Here's Jumu. She's trying to give Raelynn a red envelope filled with money. MIL doesn't want Jumu to give it to Raelynn though because they do not have much money. So, instead of quietly slipping it back into her sister-in-law's possession, what does MIL do?

She starts fighting her. Yes, really. 

Hooray for the holidays, eh?

 But all is soon well again. And then, we leave. And I'm happy because I am hungry. They served us some fruit and nuts for a snack but it's now lunch time. Raelynn is hungry and tired. We just want to go home.

Did we though? No, because stupid MIL argued with my husband that we should come there for lunch. Even though we have a buttload of leftovers at our house. Jeremy promises it will be a short, casual lunch and then we can go. GOD HELP ME.

 When we get there though, their house is full of relatives visiting FIL.

 They're everywhere! This house is very small. It is so crowded I want to run outside in the pollution to gasp for air.

 But as quickly as we arrive, these relatives all leave. And Raelynn gets her grandpa to spoil her with candy.

Meanwhile, MIL makes us this crap for lunch...
 Potatoes and Lord-knows-what kind of meat. It was so vile, I almost spit up on the table. I couldn't eat it.

Vegetable and egg barftastrophe. No thank you.

 Tofu with garlic, the only edible option.

 And some dweeb on TV during a rerun of that New Year special.

 As we started to eat, more cousins came to visit. This mother and daughter were really nice. The daughter also teaches kindergarten and she speaks English quite well.

Finally, we got to leave and Jeremy has promised that he will be making this hell up to me on Valentine's Day. Plan well, Honey. Plan well.

When we got home, we saw that someone had used the ashes from all the fireworks to write this lovely message.
My thoughts exactly.

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