Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Things I Can't Unsee

Less than 2 weeks before we move and things are getting INSANE around here. I just realized it's been about 10 days since my last post and I have inadvertently kept you all waiting about my reader poll. I just want to thank those of you that contacted me with your votes and other suggestions. You rock! I will debut the new blog with a new name once I'm back in America. For now, you'll just have to wait and see what I've decided as I'm busy packing and looking for jobs online but I had to take a break to tell you all about this.

Have you ever seen something and then promptly wished you could rip out your eyes, burn them and replace them with new eyes in hopes that the image you just saw will be washed from your memory? Or perhaps you go share it with someone because nothing helps more than spreading some grossness around, amirite? Of course I am! So enter, if you dare, into my Hall of Things You Can't Unsee!

Now, because we're leaving so soon, I'm stuck with my in-laws constantly in my face. I've never been so relieved to go to work each day so that I don't have to be trapped with them. But on weekends, which normally should be my quiet and peaceful time with Jeremy and the children, my chimp-like in-laws come trampling over at 8am to make us food I don't want to eat and let Raelynn act like a brat. I'm trying not to let it aggravate me too much since we'll be on our way to America hopefully before I completely lose my mind. Though sometimes, they make things even more difficult for me to refrain from flipping out.

Like when my FIL came over on Saturday and then proceeded to grab MY Miami Dolphins cup that I ALWAYS use off the table and drink MY green tea from it. Yes, really. I had to resist the urge to vomit. Has he done this before? Oh. My. God. Please tell me this is the first time he's drank from my drink. "Zhe shi wo de," I say, trying not to sound so shrill but I am straining so hard not to scream it truly hurts me. "Oh oh, wo zhe dao," he replies "I know" to my "that's mine." I hurry to the kitchen to make him his very own teapot full of tea and bring it to him, with a glass for him to use. While he's distracted with that, I go to disinfect my glass and make myself fresh, non-FIL-contaminated tea.

MIL of course is busy wrecking my kitchen which I gave up on about a month ago. I have no time to clean up after that woman anymore. She's taking over this dump and it's just easier to let Jeremy exhaust himself picking up after her. I wonder how he will react when he sees my parents' open-plan kitchen. Even simple things like a garbage disposal will likely entertain him. Me too, because over here, we've got sink traps. They're essentially metal cups with small holes in them to strain out the water. When you wash your dishes, any bits of food get collected into the sink traps. When they fill up, you just empty the traps into the garbage and all is well and good again. Of course, any sane person would use plastic dish washing gloves for this task. But MIL being MIL gives me such a treat as I walk into the kitchen. I watch in helpless horror as she sticks her BARE HANDS into the sink trap, digs out the clumps of food and tosses it into the garbage. Then, to make it even more disgusting, she rinses her hands ever-so-briefly with cold water and dries them on the dirty rag she uses to wipe down everything, and continues cooking. God. Help. Me.

I try to explain to Jeremy who is also disturbed by this but pats my leg reassuringly and reminds me that this is why he doesn't like to go out to Chinese restaurants because the old people that work there do stuff like this too. I'm not sure how this is supposed to make me feel any better.

After the meal, which I haven't eaten much of, I go put Seoul down for a nap. As I rock her to sleep in my lap, I stare off into the fish tank in front of me. I'm humming a Pink Floyd song and zoning out on the fish as they swim around, thinking about all the tasks before me: packing, finding work, where to live, enroll Raelynn in school, pediatrician, driver's license renewal...and as it all swirls around in my brain like a cyclone, Seoul drifts off to sleep. Ah, now that's a nice sight. A sleeping baby. I smile and then I make the mistake of looking up at the fish. And that's when I see one fish swim up to the butt of another one and eat poop right out of it. GOD NO.

So yeah. I told you so! But hey, I'll help you cleanse your eyes by leaving you with this very darling picture of our sweet Seoul, who will be turning one shortly after we arrive in the US. My how it's flown! Yay Seoul! We love you!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Goodbye, Car!

This weekend, Jeremy sold our car. I didn't expect to feel so sad about it. After all, I was the one who didn't even want him to drive here in the first place. We've been through a lot with that car. It's become like a member of our family. One that I will miss more than my husband's parents.

Jeremy went with a buyback program at a dealership. They offered him a fair amount for it and agreed to pick it up on Monday. That gave us an extra day with the car. So we decided to say goodbye to it.

I've had 3 cars in my life so far. The first one was my 1993 Saturn SC1 which I had for 8 years until a drunk driving loser smashed into it. Lucky to be alive, I then bought a 2001 Nissan Sentra. And my last car was my favorite...a 2006 Pontiac G6 V6. I loooooooooooooved that car.

But this 2008 Chevy Aveo was Jeremy's first car. His face says it all - all his hopes for the future and all his sorrow for saying goodbye. It is oddly difficult to bid adieu to cars, isn't it?

We decided to take our special red car (as Raelynn had nicknamed it) to Metro one last time. That way, we could also say goodbye to Metro. For better or worse, it's been the supermarket we've frequented the most during our time here.

We bought wine and cheese, green tea ice cream, cereal, bread, yogurt and a few other essentials that we'd need over the next 20 days. It was strangely uncrowded, which was a plus. But despite it being mid-June, the air conditioning was not on. Add that to the list of things I won't miss about living abroad in Asia. Sigh.

Raelynn got a sample of yogurt but accidentally dropped the small plastic spoon they gave her through the bottom of the cart. Sorry kid...maybe you can try to slurp it out somehow but we're not giving you a spoon that fell on the dirty floor. Yuck!

Jeremy poses for a photo to commemorate our last time in Metro because I didn't slap on any make-up and was not about to document that by taking a picture. At least this face is happier than the one he was making by the car. Maybe because he's happy it wasn't crowded and the lines were short. Or maybe he's thinking that he doesn't care it's our last time at Metro because I've told him so much about Publix.

In any event, goodbye Metro. We will miss you, but not as much as we'll miss our special red car. And to our special red car, thanks for making our days in Qingdao a lot more convenient. We hope your next owner comes to love you as much as we have and that if they have any children, they will not get as many crumbs in you as Raelynn did.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Husband's Twin

I can't believe I never posted about this!

We've had these foam blocks since Raelynn was a baby. Now Seoul enjoys playing with them. But all of us enjoy laughing at one of the pictures that happens to be on the block that has "D." I swear to you, the picture looks like Jeremy.

You be the judge! See for yourself!
We've always said it's "D" for "Dada" which is just perfect. You can see the duck on there too. "D" for "duck." So there. You see? It MUST be "D" for "Dada" then.

Jeremy doesn't completely agree with Raelynn and me, but he is a good sport about it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oh No You Don't!

My husband the comedian says this to me last night:
"I want my mom to immigrate to America in the future."

No. No. No.

He can't be serious. Can he?
Oh but yes. He is. Why in the world is saying stupid stuff like this? Men are such idiots.

In the morning, I'm still homicidal.
"You're still angry?" he asks. My Drew-Barrymore-Firestarter-stare must have given me away. He implores me to calm down. That it's something we can discuss again when we are settled in America.

Yes, time is on my side. And I'll buy as much of it as I can to keep those parents of his from coming over permanently.

I kept stewing in my rage so I decided to look online to see what I could find out. Had anyone else been in this situation before? And thankfully, I discovered that I can't be responsible for his moron parents. They're not MY immediate relatives. So I can't bring them over. Oh darn. Yes, that was a heavy layer of sarcasm coating that statement.

Even though I can't get them a permanent resident visa, there is one person who can. Their own son. Yes, my husband can do it. But not while he's a green card holder. He needs to become a full-fledged US citizen first. And that will be lots of paperwork, money and time. Plus, he'll have to prove he has enough money to support those two before they will grant his parents green cards.

I don't like my in-laws. You know this. I don't want anything bad to happen to them though, despite how much I despise them. I really don't. But just because I don't wish any ill will on them does not mean I want to dote on them. I did not work this hard to get out of here and get my husband and daughters into a better place just to have tthem tag along. Maybe that sounds selfish but I don't want to waste my earnings on 2 people who are old and aren't going to accomplish anything else in their lives. The money we make should be spent making our daughters' lives the best we can make them.

I'm fine with them visiting or us going to visit them. I'm fine with sending them money. Even though they have money. Fine. But I'm not in any way, shape or form down with this.

I know that getting all worked up about something that's not even happening yet isn't helpful either. I just had to vent though to get it out of my system. And now that I feel a bit better, I will be praying that this idiotic idea of my husband's never ever comes into fruition.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reader Poll! Please Vote!

Unless it's your first time visiting my blog, or you're as dense as my in-laws, we're moving to America in less than a month. Wow. It's occurred to me that once we get there, I won't be a broad abroad anymore. So what will I be?

Don't freak...I will still write updates about my in-laws and weird Chinese news on this blog. BUT! I will be starting a new blog chronicling our new lives back in the US. I'll write about things like what it's like to repatriate, and of course, I'll be documenting everything Jeremy finds weird or interesting too.

Which brings me to my current conundrum...what do I call this new sister blog?

I have 2 ideas:
1) The Repatriated Broad (and her husband abroad)
2) The Martian and the Alien

The 2nd title stems from my feeling like I might be out of place like a martian as I return home, and the alien is my now legal alien husband. The 1st title is much more self-explanatory.

So now I turn to you, my wonderful readers. Should I call it "The Repatriated Broad (and her husband abroad)" or "The Martian and the Alien"? Or, do you have a suggestion you think is even better?

Tell me please, in the comments below, on my A Broad Abroad Facebook page, or even hit me up on Twitter along with #NameMyBlog tacked on there. Thanks for your help!

Monday, June 1, 2015

All I Really Want - UPDATED!

Knowing that we'll be in the US soon makes enduring the food here easier. Even though Jeremy is an excellent chef, there are times when I have simply had my fill of Chinese food and need something that is comfort food by MY standards.

So now, I got to thinking about all the things I can't wait to sink my teeth into when we get there. Here's my ultimate wish list. I'd tell my Mom to take note but I can pretty much bet she's thought of everything on here. None of this will surprise her in the slightest. I can see her saying, "Well, DUH, Jennifer!" Thanks, Mom! I love you!

Jennifer's American Foodie Dreams:

Key lime pie. A whole one. Not so I can eat the whole thing but so my husband can see what he's been missing his whole life.
Conch fritters.
Stone crabs.
Crab cakes.
Chocolate chip pancakes from IHOP. With whipped cream and strawberry syrup on top. And a side of hashbrowns.
Mozzarella sticks.
A roast beef sandwich.
Corned beef on rye.
A reuben.
All kinds of deli meats piled high on rye. Or challah. Or both. With cheese. And good mustard. 
An everything bagel, toasted, with chive cream cheese, chopped onions, capers and smoked salmon.
Home fries.
Biscuits and gravy.
A cheese platter with all kinds of cheeses on it (especially brie and Gorgonzola).
Gorgonzola burgers.
Guacamole. Guacamole. GUACAMOLE!!!!
Nachos from Moe's with extra guacamole.
Burritos from Chipotle with, you guessed it, extra guacamole.
Carrot cake.
Tuna salad from Stuart Fine Foods (or whatever they call it now...oh's STILL there I hope, yes?).
An Italian Special sub from LaSpada's if we go down to Ft. Lauderdale. If not, Publix Boars Head version please.
Pizza from the little place down the street from my folks'.
A Mexican fiesta, or at the very least, a meal at the awesome Mexican place by my parents' house.
EVERYTHING my mom cooks, especially her Boursin chicken and prime rib roast. Oooh! And her chicken noodle soup. Oooh! Oooh! And her lasagna! And brisket! And meatloaf! *drool*
Barbecue. Burgers, steaks, chicken...the works. American-style.
Bloody Mary's.
Gin and tonics.
Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. Oatmeal pies. The zebra cakes. Oh God. One of everything, please.
Broccoli and cheese soup.
French onion soup.
Lobster bisque.
Publix subs. Especially the chicken tender sub.
Ben & Jerry's Phish Food. And Half Baked. And any of those new ones with the cores of awesomeness in them, especially if the core is caramel.
Arby's. Beef n' cheddar. Curly fries. Horsey sauce. Jamocha shake.
Hot off the line glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme.
Dunkin Donuts. Chocolate glazed and Boston cream.
Potato skins.
Buffalo wings. With bleu cheese dressing. And bacon cheese fries with a side of ranch.
Bar food...onion rings, jalapeno poppers and all that fried nonsense.
A Nathan's hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard.
Chili! With cheese on top!
Americanized Chinese food - shrimp with lobster sauce, egg foo young, mushu pork, garlic eggplant...what? I said I'm sick of Chinese food here in CHINA. Americanized Chinese food is totally different. I need it. Especially shrimp with lobster sauce.
Italian sausages.
Baked stuffed artichokes. Oh artichokes, how I love thee!
Philly cheese steak.
Gyro. With extra tzatziki sauce.
Miami Subs. It's still around, right?
Cheese ravioli. And tortellini. Lobster ones wouldn't suck either.
And speaking of lobster...
Oh yeah. Boiled. With a side of drawn butter.
Oysters on the half shell.
Fish without bones. I'm so sick of spitting bones out with every bite over here. Gah!
Shrimp cocktail. I miss cocktail sauce!!!! I'd lick it off my own arm if I had it right now.
Those soft sugar cookies with the frosting on them. From Publix.
Pizza rolls and bagel bites!
Boston Market! OMG! Creamed spinach. Mashed potatoes with gravy.
Homemade mac n' cheese. NO BOXES!
Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!
Buttery popcorn. Doritos. Cheetos.

Some of my friends were quick to point out some very wonderful items that I'd stupidly neglected to put on this list. It's not like I haven't thought of them or told Jeremy tales of them but rather, as I was writing this list, I just forgot to put it on there. My apologies Cuban cuisine, because you I do so deeply miss. Black beans and rice. Cuban sandwiches. Cafe con leche. Guava and cheese pastries. Fried plantains. EVERYTHING. OMG. No, I did not forget you in my heart. Just on my list. 

Unlike Hall and Oates, I could go for that. Totally. ALL of that. There's probably more stuff too that I'm forgetting. If you'd been away from your home country for a long time, what would you want to eat? Is there anything in the US that you think I've been missing? Tell me in the comments, either here, on my FB fan page or tweet at me.

Look out, America! Here we come!

Add This To My List

You know, it's not just my in-laws who annoy me here. Other expats can, well, kind of suck. Let's not forget this cow at church. There's plenty more where she came from too. Like this sellout. Urgh.

As we get closer to moving, I put up an ad on one of the email groups for Qingdao. I listed a bunch of crap we're getting rid of along with prices and my contact information. There was a frenzy for our coffee maker and grinder, which I wound up selling to a woman I've known here for a while. I don't see her often but she's genuinely lovely. She was also the 2nd person to email me about being interested in purchasing those items. The first person was only interested if the coffee maker brewed more than 6 cups (it didn't).

Beyond that though, I had some inquiries about some toys. One of my friends will buy some of our toys and my small dumbbells. Another asked for photos but discovered the toys were not suitable for her older boys.

That's all fine and good. But the kicker was one woman who messaged me that she was VERY interested in any children's books we had for sale. It was hard for me to round up all the children's books we won't be taking because Raelynn would come right along and steal them away. I finally managed to do it when the trolls had taken her to their home. After a dinner out on Friday night, Jeremy let Raelynn stay at their house of gross. Let's not get into that. It did wind up being useful for rounding up books and toys from her room unobstructed though.

Anyway, I take photos of some of the books and send them to her. She tells me which ones she wants and I tell her the prices. "Keep them coming!" she tells me. Because we live far, I offered my purchasers the chance to meet me downtown at the Crowne Plaza hotel at noon on Sunday, when church would be finished. My friend buying the coffee maker and grinder arranged to have another mutual friend come pick it up as she was unable to and a nice Russian lady asked if she could meet me there to buy some books from me. Another one asked us to leave a book with a friend of ours and get the money from her.

The lady who wanted the children's books also asked to meet up with us at the hotel.

Then last night, I got a text message from her. She asked if it was possible to meet us before church services because they usually eat and then nap around noon. She said she was available from 6am to 11am. I chuckled a bit. Who the fuck makes plans at 6am? I explained to her that we'd be meeting some other people there to give them the items they wanted to purchase. I told her that if she wanted to meet us before we went in, we could send her a text message when we were on our way. She said that she would do it this way then. And that was the end of that.

Or so I thought.

On Sunday morning, I got another message from her. She told me they decided to go to the beach that morning. Not just any beach but one that was especially far. Even from where we were headed. "Do you live near Shi Lao Ren?" she asks me. Um, no. That is even further from where we live, hence why I offered to meet at Crowne Plaza since that's close to where all the other foreigners live except me of course. Then she hits me with the. "I am going to really try. If not I will come to you this week for sure."

Try? TRY? Are you for real? I am not having my husband lug a big bag of books down to our car in the chance that you drag your butt off the beach to meet me like you ASKED to meet me. We're not a delivery service. You want the books? Come pick them up then. Let's see if you're serious about coming here "for sure."

I'm now severely enraged and so I send her a curt message. Some excerpts:
"Ok please let me know before noon if you can make it. I have 2 small children of my own and can't wait around forever."

After relaying this to Jeremy, I then send this:
"My husband doesn't want to lug the other children's books up and down our stairs if you might not come for them. You are obviously busy today so I will hold the books you requested for you and you can check out what's left later this week or on the weekend."

She wrote back later with an apology and asked if she could come during the week to get the books. Fine. She tells me she has an ayi during the week so it makes it easier for her. An ayi is a nanny, if you were wondering. Anyway, I tell her she'll have to come around 4:30pm. Now she says her husband will come. I should mention she's told me she has a Chinese husband too. Interesting. So will he come? I'm not holding my breath. But at least I don't have to stand around a hotel lobby, wondering if she'll show up while I hold a bag of books and two screaming children.

Why do people suck so much? You want this stuff? Come and get it!

Oh, and if you're wondering, no, we cannot leave the in-laws in charge of this stuff. They would totally mess it up. They'd probably sell the books we're taking with us because they're just that base.

Anyway, here's hoping we can clear out some of our stuff before we move and that the other people we'll deal with won't be so flaky.