Monday, May 31, 2010

Your Skort Is My Business

Attention all skort and diaper-pant wearers:

Quit wearing skorts and diaper pants. Just because they are available in stores, that does not mean they aren't hideous. Make no mistake - they are hideous.

Just to be clear:

The skort is a loose pair of shorts that disguises itself as a skirt. Think DJ Tanner on her first day of junior high, after Aunt Becky teaches her how to not dress like a whore. The diaper pant fits snugly from knee to ankle but is inexplicably full and drapey from waist to crotch, begetting a mental image of a large pig in high heels, although in actuality the look is more reminiscent of MC Hammer. In a giant diaper.

Has everyone suddenly forgotten that we make fun of these people? Or have I just gotten so old that it doesn't matter who I make fun of anymore? Perhaps the trend-setting cohort is too young to remember the Mistakes of Fashion Past; their cheeks do not redden at the thought of jeans worn backwards a la Chris Cross, and have therefore doomed history to repeat itself. Perhaps we need some kind of memorial sight, lest we forget the likes of shoulder pads, poofy bangs, and body suits.

Skort and diaper pant aficionados, your choices affect me. They create a roller coaster ride of a shopping trip when every "hm, that's a cute skirt" turns in to "blap! another stupid fucking skort!" as soon as you pull it off the rack. This scenario is why I can't just say, "whatever floats your boat", and write the issue off as a matter of personal taste. YOUR skort is MY business. Stop supporting the manufacturers and they will stop appearing on the racks. Have some consideration for people with taste who just want to go shopping without being ambushed by surreptitiously shrouded ghastliness. 

Thank you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Whoa Nellie!

(Disclaimer: This image is a digital simulation only. Hammy would never, and has never, worn a toupee. Shame on you.)

Teacher Clive was sort of the celebrity teacher at my old job. Adored by every child, his good-natured grin and backwards baseball cap were greeted each afternoon with squeals of glee. The MC at every big school event, he had a knack for charming young teaching assistants and pulling coins out of kids' ears.

Obviously, I avoided him like the plague. I used to try to slink past him in the hallway without getting roped in to whatever Uncle Funny joke he happened to be stirring up with a student, with only the rarest of successes. Just as I'd be rounding out the corner in to my classroom, on the verge of exhaling with relief, I'd be stopped in my tracks - "Hey, Teacher Risa! Have you seen little Timmy's nose anywhere?" For some reason, "Teacher Risa doesn't get paid to look for noses" never seemed like an appropriate response. Nor did, "I'll get you a nose if you get me a coffee." Fortunately, Teacher Clive's act never really got tarnished by my poor Vanna White - he had enough positive energy to make you vomit.

What I'm trying to say here, is that I'm not exactly what you would call a Joiner.

So it was with slight trepidation that I agreed to attend Family Day 2010, an event organized by Justin's company this past weekend, in effort to support his right to be the Joiner that I myself am not. Justin seemed to have only the vaguest notion of what Family Day would involve, and, being male, seemed to have asked zero questions before signing us up. All he could say was that we were going somewhere near Suzhou (a small-ish city near Shanghai), that we'd have to meet the buses at 8:30 am on Saturday (I KNOW), and that we had to wear these stupid matching Family Day t-shirts, lest we forget how happy we were to be conformist company drones with nothing better to do on a Saturday morning. (I had to cancel Hangover Day for this, 'yall.) He said there would be Activities.

I, for one, was full of questions. How long will the bus ride be? What will they feed us? Do you think there will be coffee there? Is everyone else really going to wear the stupid t-shirt? Will people bring their children? (As a fake-professional, I charge a fee for the presence of children.)

Activities? What kind of Activities? Will there be any team sports? Because I don't do team sports. At least not the sports that involve hitting something with something else, like baseball or tennis or squash. (Soccer is okay, because then you can just sort of stay out of the way.) What about a potato sack race? Red Rover? Bobbing for apples? (I didn't really want to have to get my hair wet.)

While the scenarios I proposed may sound ridiculous, the scenario we pulled up to after 3 hours on the bus was even more ridiculous: The Cowboy Country Club Holiday Village. Yes folks, ten bus loads of human adults (only a few kids, and presumably they didn't have a choice) agreed of their own volition to wake up at dawn on a Saturday, and spend six hours round-trip on a bus in stupid matching t-shirts, all for a day at a cowboy theme park. A very Chinese cowboy theme park.

First up on our day at the "ranch" was lunch - a few hundred of us were herded in to two dining rooms and seated at large round tables where we shared a hearty cowboy feast. Apparently, no cowboy shindig in the wild wild west was complete without mapo tofu on a lazy susan.

Next, the Activities: luckily nothing that involved choosing teams, hand-eye coordination, or donning a bathing cap (which I refuse to do under any circumstances). Rock climbing, tandem bicycles, go carts, and horseback riding were on offer, as were rides on some very dishevelled looking camels. I felt sort of awkwardly embarrassed for the camels - they looked like their toupees were sliding off, reminding me of my pathetic pet hamster when he started to go bald (not that Hammy, a classy chap, would ever wear a piece).

A glance at the handy visitor's map told me that the Chinese proprietors must have gotten some real live cowboys to help them out with the English translations. Hence we were led to "The Lovely Animals Place" (a petulant looking peacock and some ostriches that I'm pretty sure got their "lovely" purple hue from a fungal infection), and "The Child Amuses the Area" (a playground with a big sign indicating that it was for children only - of course, there were adults climbing all over it. There was also a sign stating that drunk and handicapped people should not go on the playground. Which begs the question: if adults aren't allowed on the playground point finale, are there really enough drunk children around to warrant a sign? In any case, the sign tipped us off that there must be booze available on the premises somewhere...)

Did you know that cowboys like playing in teepees and Mongolian yurts? It's true. I learned it at the Cowboy Country Club, where you can see numerous authentic cowboy teepee and yurt replicas.

After moseying around the grounds a bit, we opted for the go-carts. Translation: plastic bucket seats precariously mounted on to lawnmower engines. I actually managed to take a wrong turn on the circular track, evidence of my hyper-acute sense of direction. In my defense, I was distracted by the dual challenge presented by my midget legs and cowgirl skirt, struggling to reach the pedals without displaying my cowgirl undies.
The noble steed

Justin's Big Boss in a Small Car, with a Medium Cowboy

Heavy machinery out of the way, we swaggered over to the Cowboy Town Karaoke Pub (cause you know how much cowboys like to sing karaoke) and drank just enough beer to sleep through the long bus ride home. Oddly enough, only us expats (four of us) found our way to the pub. I guess we Westerners were the only ones with a true understanding of the cowboy way.
Hoedown at the Cowboy KTV Pub (KTV is the Chinese cowboy term for karaoke)



I feel compelled to share that when I did the google image search for the hamster photo, I discovered a website for hamster lovers called "Hamsterific". I am just waiting for an appropriate opportunity to slip that one in to a conversation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Hello blogosphere!

I know, it's been a long time now, but I haven't forgotten you. Actually, my mind has just been a bit pre-occupied lately with various issues that are creating a blockage to my bloginess. I'm not going to get in to it all now, not because it's a secret, but just because it's boring. Not to worry though - like any sensible girl, I deal with stress and anxiety in the healthiest way I know how: by throwing irrational temper tantrums that are "officially" completely unrelated to the issue at hand.

Some of my highest points;

-Threw a fit at Justin and stormed out of the house, officially because I lost my 5$ sunglasses. (Found them two days later)
-Threw a fit at Justin, officially because a fax I sent didn't go through on the first try (Justin sent it for me later, attempting to put out fires I assume. He made tacos that day too.)
-Cried at the bank after my wallet was stolen and the teller said it would take three days to get a new bank card. (Got the card on the spot. And a cup of tea. But I can never go back to my neighbourhood branch again.)
-Told a man on the street to fuck off because he was ogling and saying "waiguoren waiguoren waiguoren" (foreigner foreigner foreigner). (On hindsight realized he was probably a crazy person, since he showed no reaction whatsoever to being stopped in his tracks and shouted at by a stranger.)

I'll leave it at that, but suffice it to say that these were only the tip of the iceberg.

In any case, all of this culminated with a trip to my happy place - Taipei - and I feel much better now. I know, Shanghai sounds so much cooler to all of you back in The Western World. It's true, Shanghai has charming architecture, an art scene, museums, and even trees.

But let me ask you this, Western World: did Architecture ever give you the keys to her apartment, buy you coffee, make you breakfast, and listen to all of your problems? Did Museums ever take you out dancing until sunrise on a whim? Did a Tree ever sell you 6$ dresses, 10$ shoes, and all the curly-hair products your heart desired? I'd like to leave Art out of the equation, since Art does give out free booze sometimes... but Art doesn't serve that free booze with Ethan's homemade lasagna and an extra large helping of Angela's wise words (so what if this sage advice is rooted in some cracked out theory about reptilian aliens and a planetary shift to another dimension?)

Yes, there is a bigger music scene here in Shanghai. But the audience needs to learn to have a little more fun. The city is prettier. But it would be prettier still if people didn't pee on it so often, or push you all over it, or drive on the sidewalk and then honk at pedestrians. And of course, we have the Expo now, which is all very exciting, and has given city officials a push to fix things up a bit. Oh, and by the way, by "fix things up" I mean build tall white walls to block the slummy areas from view, and shut down my friendly street meat vendors, and make throngs of people wait in line to get on the subway so that our purses can go through a security check.

Anyways. That's all about that. I have it from a reliable source that my negativity will only feed the aliens who thrive on human despair, thus preventing me from moving in to the next dimension with all the smiley happy people. (Just trust me on this one, okay?) So, from now on, positive vibrations only. Or bottling, at the very least.

On that note, I would like to introduce my upcoming series, entitled "Toilets Around The World." If I know my audience, and I think I do, toilet stories should be right up your alley. Plus the series format will allow me to write a whole slew of posts without ever having to come up with a new idea. Because I really have used a lot of toilets, all over the world. And excretion unites us all.

So get ready to get toilety blogosphere...

p.s. don't worry, it won't be gross. at least not that gross.