Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eek! A Mouse!

The mouse pictured above is not the mouse in question.

This morning at school, the other English teacher and I were gabbing away about my impending absence over the next week while my family is here visiting and our upcoming Halloween party, among other things. Suddenly, my Korean teacher, Christina, came flying into the room, lunging for the office phone like it was the last subway of the evening with the doors closing. She looked extremely upset. She'd just been in a meeting for Korean teachers so I thought perhaps some office crap happened. I asked her what was wrong. "There's a mouse in Bell class!" she chokes out. Then she pleas into the phone for the maintenance guy to hurry up and get the wretched thing out of there. A mouse in our school house? I'm grossed out yet feel sorry for the creature all at once.

A short time later, I pass by the Bell classroom on my way to the bathroom and I have to swallow my laughter as I hear the sounds of furniture being pushed about and Eun Ah, the Bell class Korean teacher, shrieking. And soon, the hullabaloo was over and on went the day.

Of course, my last day before having a few days off to spend with my family would feel like an eternity. Every Tuesday, we have a team meeting. This Tuesday was no exception. Aside from wanting to go home in general, I was now being forced to listen to minute details about the Sports Day event we'd be having on Friday. Yes, Friday, when I will be drinking beers with my dad and making fun of my brother. Friday, when my daughter further ensnares all of their hearts with her darling little smile. My boss, Lesley, is droning on and on about the activities for that day. I'm beyond relieved when I hear her say, "Halloween." Now that's something I need to pay attention to!

But I soon grow annoyed as Lesley frowns over our activity plan - which I must tell you, she's reviewed no less than 20 times in the last 2 days - and asks the other English teacher and me how everyone will know our party is over. She now wanted some sort of finale to it. And suddenly, I had it! I knew how we could let everyone know that the party was finished. I say brightly, "Well, do we still have that mouse from this morning? We could just turn it loose again and everyone will run off. I'm sure they'll get the hint that the party is over then." And with that, Christina, my normally very professional Korean teacher, completely burst into the loudest, most hysterical laughter I have ever heard from her. Sadly, my idea was rejected. In the end, we decided it best to end with having all the parents hand out candy to their kids. That sucks because Christina and I were totally all for the mouse!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

If The Shoe Fits...

Insert one of my mildly annoyed sighs here. Because when we went to go shopping in Taidong earlier this afternoon, this is what I'd found in Raelynn's closet when I went to pull out her white shoes:
First of all, I looooooooooooooove that MIL shoved a pair of dirty socks into one of the shoes. It must be too hard to take them off Raelynn's feet and put them into our laundry basket. Yes, this is MUCH easier. At least she used the rockin' socks from Phillip and Kimmy though. Secondly, one of these things is not like the others. One of these things does not belong. Take a closer look and you'll see that one of the shoes is missing a round, sparkly circle. When we first bought these shoes for Raelynn, I swear she yanked that circle off one of those shoes (I think this same one it is missing from now) every week. Fortunately, working in a kindergarten, we have tons of hot glue guns lying around, so I'd just bring the shoe to work and glue the bedazzled, circular adornment back into place.

Now, I'm not angry with MIL because Raelynn tore that thing off her shoe for the 100th time. I'm not even angry about the dirty socks being stuffed into them. What has me all pissy about this is that, for one, MIL did not even mention this to Jeremy or me. There was no: "Hey, while I took Raelynn to the park and to my dump of a house, she broke this piece off of her shoe" conversation. For another, we cannot even find this missing piece, which, as I just mentioned, I can fix with relative ease. I don't want to take my daughter out in shoes that look like this! They look ugly now! Bah!

Jeremy will be discussing this with his mother and hopefully, she'll have stashed this shoe decoration somewhere (perhaps in her hagtacular purse, next to the vegetables and whatever crap she totes around). But Fall is here and Winter is coming up soon, so in the meantime, while we were in Taidong, we went to the baby store there and bought Raelynn a new pair of sneakers and a pair of black boots. We also have those horrid red shoes MIL bought for her but I have tucked those in the back of the closet in her room. You know what? I better go dig those vomitous excuses for shoes out and stick them in MY closet where that old oaf knows better than to go digging through. I don't want my poor daughter being forced to wear those cloddish miniature octogenarian shoes. Barf!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

MIL The Martha

Apparently, MIL fancies herself a Martha Stewart of sorts. At least that is all I can possibly conclude after my discoveries today. Let's take a look at the lovely things MIL has done to our home while we've been toiling away the day...
 Yes, folks. THIS is what I come home to find in the baby's room. That little shelving unit plopped on top of that table. Let me first explain about this table. It was in our living room/dining area along the wall, out of the way. But over the Chinese holiday, it was bothering my husband because he felt it was taking up too much space. Not one to argue when it comes to decluttering, I didn't protest when he moved it. Until I saw he put it in Raelynn's room. He said he was only sticking it in there until his parents could come get it and bring it to their home (it was their table to begin with). It's been a week though and this damn table is still in Raelynn's room. And so, instead of moving the fucking thing OUT of the baby's room and OUT of our home, MIL has chosen to move it UNDERNEATH this stupid shelving unit. Because it's so safe to stack furniture on top of furniture in a baby's room of all fucking places. What a total moron!

Here is another shot so you can see that it is now more difficult for Raelynn to reach her toys. Especially that treehouse thing on top, which she loves. Thanks MIL.

On to the kitchen, where MIL has decided to make the dish rack multi-functional. How? Why, by using it as a place to stick ginger root and green onions of course! Le duh! Martha Stewart would be so proud.

And finally, we have her favorite thing: unrefrigerated mystery foods sitting out for an undetermined amount of time. There is a shrimp dish on the bottom. Martha wouldn't approve of the ugly little heads still attached to them but oh well. She's cooked this with cucumber (why?!?) and egg. The other dish in the plastic container on top is pork ribs, which would be appetizing except for the thick layer of congealed fat and oil at the bottom. Like it's been sitting for a whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile. I asked MIL why she didn't put it in the refrigerator and she told me that she'd made it recently so not to worry and it was fine. I'm sorry but I have never seen fat and oil unite like that in a short amount of time. Her concept of time vastly differs from mine, evidently. Who's coming for dinner? Yeah, me neither. I'm off to make something that won't cause us all diarrhea now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Voyage With The Village Idiots

One thing I really like about China is that there are so many holidays, thus more days off from work. Typically, they do make them up during weekends (which to me, defeats the very purpose of not having work for a holiday) but I work at a Korean school. And they don't want to work on the weekends. So this week happens to be the Chinese national holiday, which is a great one, filled with eating lots of food, especially mooncakes, and drinking too.

But of course, there is a price to pay for this time off. That price is being forced to spend time with my husband's parents. We had to have a dinner with them, which wasn't too terrible, given the circumstances. MIL actually made good food and she cleaned up after herself. It was rather pleasant, actually. That was Sunday evening. On Monday, it is tradition to go on an outing with your family. I remember last year, we'd rode the bus for what felt like 1,000 years to go see the trolls at their house in Laoshan, which I refer to as 'hillbilly town.' It is so archaic, I can't believe something like this exists in modern society adjacent to a bustling place like Qingdao. But it's there. I guess that's where that mountain chicken lives, if it really exists that is. Though this house of theirs actually has a toilet that works. I was shocked!

Anyway, Jeremy assured me we'd just go to the beach and take some nice photos and then eat some fresh seafood. That actually sounded nice. But of course, it wasn't like that. Not at all.

Now that we have a car, it's convenient in many ways, but also, now we're obligated to drive them somewhere with us on this holiday. As my husband drives, his mother talks and talks and talks. Even my FIL looks annoyed that she just won't shut up. When she tells my husband to turn, he turns though, stupidly, he doesn't look and nearly runs us into a bus. I holler and remind him that maybe she knows WHERE the turns are but HE is the one who knows how to drive. Supposedly at least.

We drive and drive and drive and Raelynn falls asleep. I want to sleep too. I try to tune out MIL and her incessant yammering but it's really hard. Her voice and her accent make Chinese sound like an assault on your eardrums. It surely doesn't sound this way when my husband speaks it. After about an hour, she tells Jeremy to turn right into some rundown plaza. My husband explains that this is his mom's friend who makes tea. Oh. GOD. She is making us stop all over her old backwoods, inbred neighborhood to show the village people her grandchild.

The tea lady was really nice though and despite how annoyed I was with MIL, I tried to be friendly. She showed us around and my husband explained how tea is made. Have you ever wondered how they make tea? Yeah, me neither. But it was neat to feel the tea leaves before they're dried out. If we'd stayed any longer, I would have been bored into stone, but thankfully, we said goodbye and off we went. I tried to forgive MIL for being such an annoying, braggy cow, waking up the poor baby just so she could show her off. But then, no sooner than it seemed we were on our way again, she had us stop at another port in hell.

It was another friend's house, which was astonishing simply because I can't believe MIL has any friends. I mean, she has NO life! But MIL's actual friend there was really very nice. She made me instant coffee for absolutely no reason. I didn't ask for it, nor did I refuse the tea she'd offered me. It was a little odd. What was even more odd was the rest of this family though. If you're not already aware, the living situation my husband and I have is unusual in China. It's just us and our baby in our home. In some areas, things are changing so people are living the way we do, but it is much more common for you to live with your parents, even after marriage. So, this woman's 2 daughters lived with her. One was married with an anti-social husband who chain-smoked in an adjacent room during our brief visit, and a daughter who I mistook for a boy based on the way she was dressed and her haircut. The poor child seemed like she had absolutely no idea how to interact with people that weren't related to her. The other daughter was, quite honestly, bizarre. She was wearing a small house dress that seemed too small for her and under it, had a bra that seemed to be affecting her boobs much like Madonna's old cone boobs from way back when. I thought of my friend Aaron Gordon during this time and wished I could sneak a photo of her without appearing rude. The general vibe in this house was nice but socially inept. I was so happy when we left. We'd only been there 15 minutes but it was the longest 15 minutes ever.

Then again, when in the company of people you'd rather not be around, time seems like it goes on forever with no end in sight, doesn't it?

We finally hit the road and to my tremendous relief, arrive at the beach. Never mind that we could have gone to the beach near our house. No, we had to drive out to the sticks. And no sooner than we park the car, MIL has run to my side and snatched Raelynn from me. We stick her in the stroller and then MIL darts back into the car to fetch the most disgustingly ugly hat for a baby I have ever seen. I shoo her away with it and declare it should be burned. The material was like something for a bad prom dress on the 'burn this immediately' rack. So was the pattern. It was vomit-inducing.

Out on the beach, MIL runs off with my daughter all the way to the shore and I lost it. My husband was not very pleased by my behavior, but I was infuriated with his mother. How much nicer it would have been if she'd said to him, "Hey, you guys haven't taken her down to the shore yet, have you? Let's all go and enjoy this special moment together and take turns walking her along the wavelets." But of course she didn't. She hogged the moment all to herself and my husband was perplexed as to why I was so enraged. I would have been happy to share that moment too, but she's just such a clumsy fucking oaf with no concern for trying to make this family harmonious on her end. Sure, I can be a bitch sometimes, but I am always trying to work with her (to her face at least) and always trying to accept her culture. She doesn't give one fuck to learn not even one thing from my culture and THIS is why I get so pissy. At least my husband did intervene at one point and told her we wanted some photos and videos of Raelynn playing in the water. It never did occur to the cow that I would like photos of my time with Raelynn too and not to have all photos of that old witch and her trolltastic feet bouncing about the waves wirh my daughter.

Here are some photos from the beach:
Raelynn with the troll.
At least she's having fun!
Ah, finally got a chance to take some photos with my daughter on the shore.

After the beach, I knew that soon, we'd eat. And that was great because I was hungry. Oh but no! First, we had to drive all the way up the mountain, which I have to admit was really nice but I thought I was going to go crazy from hunger. FIL kept offering me these crappy things that look like dinner rolls (but taste like sawdust) and I politely refused them, though I was so hungry I did contemplate eating them. After another hour driving up and down this mountain, stopping once to take photos at the top, we went back down and found a restaurant. And that was the best part of the day. Raelynn slept through the whole thing and MIL kept wanting to hold her. Jeremy told her no and to drop it which made me even happier than fresh seafood and cold beer. When Raelynn did wake though, I let MIL hold her because I thought I'd be nice and let the old gal be the one to feed her the tofu and spinach soup I'd saved for her. She promptly went running, while Raelynn was still trying to figure out where the hell we were now, no less, to show off the baby to anyone and everyone in the restaurant. Here's a photo of that:
Yeah, people here just have nothing better to do than to take photos of random people's babies. The mountain people are even worse in that regard but they sure are very nice people at least. And yes, MIL is wearing a polo-style shirt that is pink with white and gray horizontal stripes WITH those heinous white pants with navy polka dots that she just loves to wear. I just don't get her. She has a pair of black pants. That would have at least looked better. There is no hope for her, fashion-wise.

After that, we leave and I'm so happy, because I'm thinking we're finally going home. But no. We're not. I suddenly see things that look a bit familiar in this dusty old hellhole and I realize we're going to their crappy mountain apartment. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

That was just before 4pm. I was subjected to insanely boring Chinese programming (just 3 channels) on the TV, which my husband and FIL had set to this awful war movie (I despise war movies in any language); MIL's cooking (she felt the need to make more food since Raelynn had slept through most of our time at the restaurant); and then, I was forced to wait another hour there (with that damn war movie on) while my in-laws fertilized the vegetables they are growing somewhere in some crap patch of dirt behind this crusty apartment building. They reeked of manure when they came back in and tried to blame the baby, which really cracked me up. They claimed they only watered the plants but MIL smelled like she fell into a vat of shit. They took showers but put on the same clothes! GOD! These people! We finally got back to our home at 7pm. I have never been happier to see our tiny little apartment on the decrepit side of town.

That was Monday. Today is Thursday. We've been having a splendid week just the 3 of us, enjoying our time off from work. Though perhaps my husband thought he'd be funny and suggested we have dinner with his parents tonight. I was so relieved when he told me they were back out in hillbilly town. Now I just pray that they stay there through the weekend so I don't have to see MIL until I head out to work on Monday. I think I deserve that much at the very least!

I'll end with photos from the top of the mountain:
Our little family!
Our little family plus my in-laws...oh joy!