Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

central park in fall.

central park in fall

central park in fall

central park in fall

central park in fall

Central Park in Fall. Sounds romantic, doesn't it? Or perhaps I just have a romanticized idea of it. 

But still.

When I saw Erin's photos, I couldn't help but imagine walking down one of those colourful paths, arms linked with Tony, coffee in hand. Laughing and kicking at the fallen leaves. Yup, romanticized idea for sure. (If I'm being honest, I also imagined how scared I'd be there after dark. Home Alone, anyone?) 

But still. That skyline. Those leaves. The colours. Central Park in Fall. New York

Saturday, November 15, 2014

craziness is a virtue.

I just said to Tony, "I have a question for you. A real one. So please think about your answer. If you had to pick one of your favourite things about me—just one!—what would it be?"

He thought for a few seconds, looked at me, and said in all seriousness, "Your craziness." 

I laughed, probably glowed happiness, and asked for an example of said "craziness." 

He thought again, a shorter time, and replied, "Singing loudly on the escalator." 

Yah, I've done that. More than once. 

And I love that he loves that about me, my craziness.

(The photo is from when I met his family during Chinese New Year. He loves it; I love him.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

3 songs I've downloaded recently.

I discovered most of my favourite music artists through my favourite TV shows. Joshua Radin? Grey's Anatomy. Tegan & Sara? Grey's Anatomy. Ingrid Michaelson? Grey's Anatomy.

Okay. Those are the only examples I can come up with, and they are all from Grey's.

But the point is, I am not what one might consider "cool." And I discover a lot of new (to me) music through TV shows.

Here are 3 songs I've downloaded recently-ish:

"I Will Be There" - Odessa // via, you guessed it, Grey's Anatomy

If you ever need someone to cry to
If you ever need someone to hold you

I will be there
Standing by your side
I will be there
Standing by your side

"Dark and Stormy" - Hot Chip // via How To Get Away With Murder

We made our own love
Nobody helps us
We'll make our own luck
Outrun the sadness
We made our own love
Nobody helped us
We'll make our own luck
Outrun the sadness

"Don't Let Us Get Sick" - Jill Sobule // via Girls

Don’t let us get sick
Don’t let us get old
Don’t let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

What are you listening to lately?

P.S. A song for growing up and my favourite Songza station.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

we would never get anywhere.

I'm sorry that I live in China, where it's so easy to be taken advantage of. 

I'm sorry I live in a world where men are more powerful than women. 

I'm sorry I have a fiancé who, when I tell him I was scared and was chased and called for help, asks me, "Did you do something?"

They fucking told me I should be polite. 


Those words are what I wrote in my "Notes" application, at 11:44PM Friday night. 

I'm worried I don't have the words to adequately describe what happened or express my feelings and opinions, but I've decided that something is better than nothing. 


Long story short, I and two friends were trying to get a cab home after a regular night out—getting nails done, dinner, and drinks. I had already been yelled at by one cab driver, seemingly because he didn't want to take foreign passengers, wanting instead the Chinese woman and her friend, who got to the cab after me. 

Another cab driver. He has his doors locked, says he won't take us, but we know the rules; they can't refuse us. The passenger window is down, so I lean in, take a photo of his ID, wanting him to know that we know the rules, that he can't—shouldn't—take advantage of us. He unlocks the doors, lets us in, and I think it's worked. He has realized that we're not just naive tourists. 

He starts to drive but refuses to turn the meter on. Tells us we must pay him 50RMB. We argue, try to turn the meter on ourselves, unwilling to be taken advantage of. We just want to go home. 

He gets angry. Pulls over. Pushes my friend, who is sitting in the passenger seat. We're still arguing with him. Try to tell him we will give him extra money, just not the 50 he wants, if he will only turn the meter on. Then he punches my friend. That's when I say a phrase I just learned, a phrase Tony has told me I shouldn't say, but he taught me. I've heard people use it. The driver doesn't seem to care. He punches my friend again. My other friend says we should just get out, but we're angry. We keep arguing. The friend sitting beside me mentions that cab drivers sometimes carry knives. That makes me angry, and scared, but I'm not ready to give in yet. Neither is my friend in the passenger seat. She argues, he punches, I use another "bad word." This time, he looks at me. He's really angry. And he reaches for his door handle, is getting out of the car. That's when I run. I'm scared, so I run. Trip, lose a shoe, think, "I'm in China and people don't help people here! They keep to themselves. Oh God!" 

There's a man and a woman walking by. I run to them, grab the man, yelling "Help!" the whole time. They are the only ones who stop at first. The cab driver stops chasing me, but keeps yelling at us. Luckily the man I stopped speaks English, tells me the number to dial for the police. I'm hesitant, don't want to get in trouble. 

Passerby stop, a group of Chinese men. They seem to take the cab driver's side, listening to what he is yelling. They, too, yell at me in Chinese, and the man helping me translates: "They say you should be polite." 

My friend calls the police. The cab driver drives away. But I am still scared. We take a tuk tuk home. 


I want to clarify: Tony was asleep when I got home, so he wasn't fully aware of what was going on when I started telling him my story. But as soon as I told him I was chased, he did ask, "Did you do something?" That made me angry, sad. Hence the note I wrote. 

Later Tony tells me, "Well, I thought you might have said some bad words to that driver. To make him chase you." 

I get angry again. Because yah, I said "bad words" but how does that give the driver the right to chase me? People say bad words all the time. He was taking advantage of us first! I didn't say a "bad word" until he pushed and hit my friend. What would you do? 

In a way, I'm happy, comforted that Tony knows I probably "said bad words." I'm happy to know that he knows I'm not willing to just do nothing. I will stand up for myself. 

The next day, Tony and I had a long talk, about what happened, about how what he said is not okay, about how what the cab driver did is not okay. 


We also talked about what I should have done. What we should have done. We should have just got out of the cab, no arguing. We're foreigners in this city, still, after 2 years.

Other people expressed those sentiments to us, not just Tony. And I know they are right. We should be safe, walk away from conflict. We're not in Kansas Canada any more. 

But the thing is, what I tried to explain to Tony, we are targeted here, taken advantage of. People try, at least. And I can't just let it happen every time. 

I've heard people, other foreigners, other women foreigners, tell these kinds of stories before. And I've always thought, Wow. Thank God that hasn't happened to me

But after this, what happened Friday night, and while talking to Tony, I realized it has happened to me, just on a smaller scale. 


About 2 weeks after I moved to Beijing, I got a taxi home after a night of drinking. The cab driver was nice, trying to talk to me the whole way. When I payed him, he gave me the wrong change, shorting me by more than 50RMB. I think he thought because I had been drinking, because I was foreign, obviously new here, I wouldn't notice. I did notice though, and although I knew no Mandarin then, I let him know. I yelled and refused to get out of the cab until he gave me my money. Eventually he did. I've barely given it a thought since. 


Last summer, I flew back to Beijing by myself; I had to take a taxi home, instead of the bus usually provided by my employer. I joined the taxi line outside the airport and the driver I was matched up with refused to take me, pretending he didn't understand where I wanted to go. Finally, an airport attendant stepped in, telling the driver he had to take me. They yelled at each other. The driver gave in. He opened the trunk and left me to lift my own suitcases in. 

We started driving and he refused to turn on the meter. We were already on the highway, what were my options? I yelled. In my limited Mandarin told him I wasn't a tourist, I was a teacher, lived here for more than a year. Eventually he laughed and turned on the meter. 


There have been countless other times, too, that I have been taken advantage of. What am I supposed to do? I asked Tony. Ask all of you. I can't give in every time. We can't give in every time. I would never get anywhere. Literally and figuratively. We would never get anywhere.

Both of the situations described above aren't very different from what happened Friday night. Only the ending is different really. 

I know I'm a foreigner. I know I'm a woman. I know I'm in the weaker position, on both counts. But I won't, can't, give in every time. 

I told Tony, now the problem is, I have to figure out when I should walk away, and when I should "fight." 


There's so much more I want to say about this. So many more feelings. Every taxi I've gotten into since Friday, I've looked at the ID before getting in. 

The #yesallwomen hashtag already resonated with me, but I thought about it more Friday night. 

Everything going on in the news lately. 

Why are women victimized? Why are we taken advantage of? Why do people think it's okay? Why do we have to walk away? Why do I have to walk away? 

Why am I told to be polite? 

Why do I have to decide when I should stick up for myself and when to walk away? How will I know the difference? 


It is not automatically the woman's fault. Ever. Don't think that. If you do, you need to not only look at the actions of the other person, but at your own. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

APEC blue.

APEC vacation - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

APEC vacation - Having fun isn't hard when you have a library card

APEC vacation - Cows ice cream

APEC vacation - Cows ice cream

APEC vacation - Birthday 3.0

I won't even try and pretend like I know exactly what APEC is or what it means for the world. Should I be embarrassed about that? Maybe.

What I do know, is that a bunch of important people came to Beijing and a lot of government offices and operations were closed and there were fewer cars on the road and much less pollution.

And for the last week, the sky has been a beautiful blue colour, almost what you'd see back home, and I've heard many people call it "APEC Blue." I think, maybe at least for the rest of my time here in Beijing, when someone asks me what my favourite colour is, instead of saying yellow or turquoise, I will say, "APEC blue." It's beautiful.

And funny enough, for a woman with a blog and an Instagram account, I don't have a single photo of the APEC blue sky.


APEC blue. A respiratory infection that won't go away. Brunch at Moka Bros in the warm sunshine. Window shopping. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 3D, with a big bucket of caramel popcorn. Me singing, "Knock, knock, you're about to get shell shocked!" Tony asking, what's it again? And my answer: "Cowabunga!" Wearing my new favourite shirt. A waxing appointment, followed by hot pot. Cows ice cream, all the way from PEI to Beijing! Birthday Cake for him; Gooey Mooey for me. More window shopping. A one-hour full-body massage, followed by a one-hour foot massage (hooray for teacher discounts!). A one-hour foot massage for Tony at the same time, and he and the masseurs (is that what you call them?) talk the whole time. We find out one of them is also from Henan, and the other once had a foreign girlfriend, too. Surprisingly, I don't get annoyed when they talk for the whole two hours. Indian food and Italian food. Walking and breathing the fresh air. Laughing. Watching How To Get Away With Murder (HTGAWM) and The West Wing. A bath with a LUSH bath bomb. Reading Not That Kind of Girl. Putting our phones on airplane mode for almost two entire days. Staying off the internet for most of that time, with the exception of watching Netflix and calling my Nan. Drinking so much Cold 911 tea from David's Tea to try to help with this darn respiratory infection. Staying on the couch for the last two days of our "APEC vacation" because of this darn respiratory infection. Playing Mario Kart on the Wii and unlocking new cups and characters and vehicles. Celebrating Birthday 3.0. Toffee Nut lattes from Starbucks. Hooray! Holiday cups are here!


That is a quick summary of the last 4 days, in the style I used to use in my journal. I miss journaling sometimes. Been thinking about that a lot lately.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

a quarter of a century (& a new domain!).

So, uh, I kind of fell off the Week in the Life bandwagon. And I thought I was doing pretty good, too!

Just, well, despite the fact that it was my birthday on Saturday (I'm now a quarter of a century old!), I felt like there wasn't too much to take photos of. (Ridiculous.) 

There were the balloons, but there was also a French Vanilla latte delivered to me in bed. And a good talk with my mom, and a new Kobo Aura opened (thanks, Mom!), and a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast cooked for me. 

I bought a new domain (www.sunshineandwhimsy.net)!* And I got Photoshop! And I think I figured out how to make an action and resize photos for the blog. 

And I went out to dinner with people, and then we came home and played a game. But it didn't feel festive. Despite more balloons. It was partly my fault I'm sure—It's my party and I'll cry if I want to? (No, I didn't cry. Well, at least not until I was home in my own apartment.)—but I don't think it was entirely. 

birthday weekend

birthday weekend

birthday weekend

No matter. Sunday brought Birthday 2.0. That's where the above photos came from.

Aside from dancing in the living room and eating Thai food, my best friend FaceTimed me, and my other best friend gave me earrings from Kate Spade (Have I ever mentioned that it's been a dream of mine to own something from Kate Spade?) and I hung out with my other best friend, who was extra sweet to me. 

Also, that last best friend, the one that I'm engaged to, gave me the best t-shirt ever.

So, despite the fact that I didn't blow out candles on my 25th birthday, I'd say it was okay. You know, mǎmǎ hǔhǔ.

(Oh yah. And I was diagnosed with a respiratory infection two days later and spent all of Tuesday laying (lying?) on the couch. Happy birthday to me.)

*It was easier and more complicated than I thought. But if you were subscribed to or had ajigreer.blogspot.com bookmarked, it should redirect. Or you could just re-subscribe or re-bookmark. (Sorry I'm not more technical.)
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