Friday, December 31, 2010

Rent a Snow White

From Christmas in Shanghai

I finally did it. As an English teacher being white was a definite plus, but I've finally really capitalized on the color of my skin: A couple weeks ago, thanks to the invitation of a friend who works at a marketing and events company, I spent an afternoon in Pudong dressed up like Snow White for a Christmas party. In China' there's a strong association between Christmas and Snow White. My coworker told me it's because "You know, snow, Snow White, Christmas has snow" another friend said the reason the two are connected is that it's a well known foreign fairy tale and Christmas is a foreign holiday, so the two naturally got lumped together.

Whatever the reason, I made a thousand kuai in three hours standing around and smiling while parents dragged their wholly unwilling children to come pose with me. Poor things. I met someone from a modeling agency at the event and she said to send her a picture and they might have more jobs for me in the future. Woohoo.

It was an easy pay day, but not as easy as I thought it would be. It was surprisingly exhausting standing around and smiling, and also excruciatingly boring. The dress and the wig were scratchy and uncomfortable. Plus it was a bit awkward, the parents would come up and mingle (me thinking: "Am I supposed to stay in character?"), and say stuff like "Oh your Chinese is so good, you could teach English to kids." Me: "Ah, I used to teach English but I've changed jobs." Thankfully I didn't have to tell anyone I'm a journalist, because I mean, who would've believed it in that get up?

But if the opportunity comes up again, I'll probably take it. I used the spare change to take James and I out to a nice Italian restaurant along the river before I left and ate some of the best cheese, meat and pasta I've had in a very long time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snowy Shanghai

These were taken a couple weeks ago, it put us all in the Christmas spirit in the office.

View from my bedroom window
Lanehouses covered in snowi
Think she's cold?
Alley outside my office

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

At home

Playing with my dog. Driving my car. Drinking my beer. It is soooo so good to be back in Oregon. The air is fresh and clean, the beach and the trees are beautiful, now if only I could get a clear day to get out in the kayak on the lake.

I slept in my brother's room on Christmas Eve. I was still in the thick of my jet lag so I didn't do much sleeping, it was like laying in a bed in the dark at noon. That gave me loads of time to worry about how I'm eventually going to get back home: I'm afraid the longer I stay in Shanghai, the more opportunities will come up there. In contrast, the other day we drove down a lakeside subdivision where the development has stalled - a whole cul-de-sac of empty lots. It seemed like a pretty apt visualization of what seems to be going on here. My dad has cable news on half the day and a few days ago they were talking about the "money apocalypse." Oh Lord.

Just before I came home someone well-connected proposed I co-author a book with her. I don't want to get too excited, I'm not sure how serious she is, or what could come of it - but I do think it evidences that things are happening over there.

Well, now it's hailing. I guess that means I wont make it to the hot tub this morning. In the next couple days I'm going to post a few photo blogs to catch up on all the Christmas shenanigans I didn't have time to post about while I was in Shanghai.

Belated Merry Christmas everybody and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


In one week I will officially be on winter vacation! I've been looking forward to it for so long that I already had a moment of dread the other day thinking about the fact that on Jan. 9 it will end and I'll have to go back to Shanghai. I'm feeling nice and at home here these days, but I just know break is going to be so much fun that it'll be hard to go back.

It snowed all day yesterday. There's about an inch of dust everywhere. It'll probably burn off today. I'm going to take some pictures when my camera battery finishes charging.

For now, back to finishing my copy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

White Elephant in pictures

as promised...

Jess admires her special Shanghai granny pants

a game of pool

The roommates in awkward Christmas photo pose.

the more natural shot

Claire got a dolphin multi-purpose massage

Dirk, the token Dutchman in a gold coat.

She couldn't wait til everyone left to put them on

One for the mantle

watching, waiting

Dani with opera figurines, somehow she forgot to take them home...

The whole album is here, if you're inclined.

Monday, December 13, 2010

White Elephant, preparing to go home

Whew, what a week. I spent the whole weekend editing the Jan. cover story. Lots of work, lots of unpaid overtime that I'll probably always be too busy to make up for, but it's stuff I care about, and I hope/think this is going to be another good story.

After spending all Saturday and Sunday on that, the roomies and I threw a white elephant Christmas party Sunday night. Chef Mike made delicious egg nog, cider and hot buttered rum. Jess bought wonderful chintzy decorations. And I got up at 5:30 am the following morning to 1. finish writing the intro for my cover story and 2. haul all the beer bottles to the trash before my Chinese tutor arrived.

But thankfully, my biggest chunk of copy is in and the end is in sight. I'll be home in a little more than a week! 

I was hired by a friend who works at an event company and next Saturday I'm going to dress up like Snow White for three hours for a 'tea event.' I'm not sure what that means, but I'm hoping it's not at Jiu Guang - the highly-frequented mall near my house with all the Christmas + Snow White and Seven Dwarves themed decorations, though that would make sense... I'd prefer somewhere more out of the way. However, I'm going to be paid RMB1,000 - about $150 - which is enough to take James out for a steak dinner before I abandon him for the holidays. So I'm excited. Poor guy. All our close friends are going home and his roommate is going to Hong Kong. I'm curious also about what connection people here seem to think Snow White has to Christmas...because she has snow in her name? I'm so excited about the $ now that I'm afraid I'll show up and the dress wont fit, or they'll decide I'm too ugly and turn me away (I am low on foundation...).

As I type, I'm uploading photos from our Christmas get together. It's probably going to take hours, but if I don't give up, there might be pictures here soonish.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why hello junior-high style insecurity

I'm doing a story about foreign models in Shanghai, so tonight I went out to babysit my photographer at a club (not my scene) where a bunch of models were hanging out (double not my scene). 

The girls I'm concentrating on are very sweet and down-to-earth, but when confronted with a table of a couple dozen really, really, really good looking people - holy god! 

I was also in the awkward position of wanting to stay out of the photographs so I didn't really want to talk to anybody for long. Result? Me looking forlorn at the bar nursing a glass of vodka and juice. Ew.

Home now, time for sleep, Chinese lessons begin in 7.5 hours, I have two interviews tomorrow and load of copy due in less than a week. No biggie...

Sigh, bring on Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why did I leave LA?

Had a lovely g-chat with one of my el-lay gurlfriends yesterday. Since I left town, she's given up lawyering and started redecorating celebrity homes. This week she's helping some TV star match his interiors to his vintage magic collection.

"They were like, 'burgundy and red velvet damasks,' and I was like, "The Prestige meets a brothel?"

Ah, that used to be home. Sort of.

A couple weeks ago - with the help of a couple beers and my whacky roommates - I decided my magazine should put on an erotic fiction contest. I went to work some days later and said something like, "We should have an erotic fiction contest!" and everyone else said "Yeah!"

So then last night the deputy editor and I went out for wine with some guys from a local indie publishing house who want to collaborate. We're there for about an hour, going over the details. At some point my co-worker and one of the literary guys gets up, so it's just me and literary guy no. 2 who asks, "So what's your day job?"


This one?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Some people just have to get beat

My assistant editor and I were on are way to an interview this afternoon. We'd just exited the subway turnstile when we turned around to see a middle-aged man start beating a young man with what appeared to be a pair of handcuffs. We did the Chinese thing - stopped in our tracks and gawked until the young man broke free and bolted down the escalator.

"What was that!?"

"I think maybe he is a thief, and I think the other guy beat him with handcuffs - so maybe he is an undercover cop."

"But if he's a cop why didn't he just arrest him?"

I'm imaging a swift take down, something martial artsy, the older man appeared to have just grabbed this young guy by his sleeve and was repeatedly hitting him with the handcuffs. Maybe I've watched too much TV, but it didn't seem like a very official arrest.

"I think here have some thieves. And people hate them very much, so when they are caught they surely must be beat."

Makes sense. Didn't seem like a show an American cop could have gotten away with (in public, I mean), that's the kind of thing you can get sued for. But a little ass whooping for a pickpocket? There's one authoritarian bit of government I can get behind.

My assistant then instructed me that if I see a Xinjiang woman carrying a baby, there's a 90% chance she's a thief, and that they use the baby as cover for their hands as they rifle through your junk.

Beat ... the bruins

I can't even get excited about it after our poor showing this season, nevertheless I'm headed for the bar Sunday morning, 11 am, to watch the cross-town rivalry.