Saturday, February 27, 2010

Here I Am

It's 8 a.m. and I'm feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep. Air Canada lost one of my bags, the one with all my bras and my ankle boots. I can't remember what else is in that bag. But it was heavy.

I'm sitting in the hostel lobby with a cup of hot water, thinking I'd take half an hour to do my morning internet canoodling, but then I remembered I can't access most the places I like to canoodle - facebook (blocked), twitter (blocked), blogger (blocked). Back to blogging through email.

Today I'm going to buy a sim card and start looking for a home. 

I knew I would miss my family and it wasn't fun to say goodbye, but the first shock of homesickness really hit me somewhere over the Pacific midway through my flight. Cuz, ya know, ya can't turn back then: I really am seven hours away from starting over in a foreign country where I don't know anyone. This is by far the biggest thing I've done completely by myself: It's exciting, but it's also a little scary.

Then the old lady sitting next to me started chatting. We switched to Mandarin when she found out I could speak it. When I sneezed, she offered me her blanket so I could stay warmer. She told me to be careful in Shanghai (about a million times) and to only go out during the day, and to only go out with friends. She told me which cab company to take. She told me which areas of town are too expensive, she told me my Lonely Planet map was no good and I should buy a new one in the Subway. She asked me how much money I was making and whether or not I'd signed a contract yet.

I immediately felt better, because everything she was talking about was so familiar. I just love old Chinese ladies: Bundle up to stay healthy, how to get anything for cheaper, how to stay safe and all those money questions that seem intrusive to us Westerners - that's their game. And I know that. Talking to her made me remember I'm not walking into a completely new situation. There's lots I already know.

But plenty to learn too. I'll keep ya posted.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brown Belts

That's right friends: My brothers are that much closer to becoming grand masters of ass-kickery. Lord knows they can already whoop mine.

It's 9 p.m. now, and despite my best intentions, there's still packing to be done redone. So I'll leave you with some karate photos and get back to it. The next you hear from me, I'll be entrenched behind the Great Firewall. So it may take me awhile to figure out how to continue posting pictures here.

Show that little girl, Rick.

The littlest tester. Isn't she darling?
Now remember small one, the bigger they are...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beach Happenings

Recently, we took a little family trip to the beach. The beach is only 5 minutes from the house, but finding an occasion where all five of us are ready and willing to go can be difficult.

As soon as we were over the sand dune, the boys began passing, punting and forty-yard dashing.

I think my brothers see the beach as mere opportunity to gauge their athletic prowess.

All that raw, vast beauty? Mleeeeeh...

Me, I like to take pictures.
And sit on driftwood
Setting up the family photo
Family Photo
Aren't we pretty?

Full Album

Friday, February 19, 2010

Oregon Men

Keep in mind, it's winter here.
Ah, what a kid won't do for five bucks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Full Disclosure

Everything is happening fast. I haven't had time to blog, except to tell y'all I'm going to Shanghai for a blog/webby job. So if you aren't clued into La Familia Grapevine, here's the skinny:

Still here on the Oregon Coast, I was spending my days surfing for jobz, trying to write and being way too anxious about the great unknown.

I found a job posting for a web editor for a Shanghai magazine. Applying to job ads online feels like throwing darts into the dark - you don't really expect to hit anything, but going through the motions becomes habit.

This job seemed super-duper cool. Still I thought: There's no way. But after dinner one night, emboldened by the glass of wine in my hand, I sat down at my computer and fired off the resume, clips and a glib introductory email (you know me, I love to rock the glib).

One day later, I was talking to the Editor in Chief at 4 a.m. (my time). Turns out he liked this blog (ka-ching!).

Then came the waiting part (which really wasn't long). But while I waited I realized this job was like someone had cooked up my dream job: 1. It's in a big, happenin' Chinese city, 2. I'll be writing, 3. I'll be writing cool stuff on the Internets - a triune of wicked coolness! OMG!

And two days after that 4 a.m. phone call they offered it to me!

The magazine is That's Shanghai, an English language lifestyle/entertainment magazine. The website is Urbanatomy.

So there's your proof internet dreams do come true, despite what Tay Zonday says. Start a blog, move abroad, teach brats to speak English, come home, live in parents' garage, get offered your dream job in Shanghai.

Of course, I haven't even boarded the plane and have only an inkling of what it will be like. There's a small possibility it's all a sham to traffic girls into sexual slavery and my father will have to come save me à la Liam Neeson in Taken. But I've been to Shanghai and I've held this magazine in my hands - so we're probably safe.

I will continue to blog here. My spidey senses tell me most my creative juices will be drained at work. This will remain a venue for the latest 'n greatest in the life of Leslie (minus the crazy boss stories, because, ya know, this time around they read English).

Latest from the Little Guy

Go here to see his version of Take it to the Limit by The Eagles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You can't take it with you

Nine nights left. And I can feel it. Watching the sunlight on the lake in the morning. Walking on the beach. Driving through the four stoplights of Highway 101 that comprise the lovely little City of Florence. There's a lot to miss.

Today I picked up some Deschutes Brewery Cascade Ale and a six-pack of Blonde Bomb Shell (Cascade Lakes Brewing). Oregon beer, sigh. I miss you already.

I also got the cheese man at Market of Choice to make some suggestions (Me: "Next week I'm leaving indefinitely to a place without much cheese - HELP!"). He handed me a wedge of Humboldt County goat cheese. I'm not huge into goat cheese, but the cheese man's tone was so tender and loving when he spoke of it, I had to get it.

The French have been kicking around Shanghai for quite some time, so hopefully the cheese situation won't be as dismal as Taiwan.
For Christmas my uncle got me this cool booze sampler. The bottles are so cute, I wasn't in a hurry to drink them. Plus, I figured I'd save them for a special occasion among friends (it's not like my mom ever wants to bust out the jagermeister and goldschlager). But there's no way I'm hauling all those little bottles across the Pacific.
Better get crackin'!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good Old Days

Back in Alaska. Back when Ricky wore diapers and Billy had jammies with feet. I insisted my mom scan our single copy of this photo before I leave.

Hard to Say Goodbye

Awesome intl. job vs. being hassled by these two forever and ever - decisions, decisions.
And by "Hard to Say Goodbye" I mean say goodbye to American pie.
Just kidding, I mean my brothers.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Point of Big Sisters

Yesterday my brother called home from the phone in the junior high office in the middle of the day. My dad answered.

Billy asked me to pick him up after school. He didn't want to say why, but Dad prodded it out of him: He needed someone to take him to the store to buy a v-day present, and he was more comfortable if it were me.

Awww. When you leave your family and go overseas indefinitely, it's nice to know you still have a purpose in the house.

When we got to the store and perused cards, Billy held one up with a picture of two kids - a boy and a girl - knocking heads in a swimming pool.

"This is nice..." he told me, "Except-

He points to the boy.

"He's white..."

That cracked us both up and - since there weren't any cards depicting Asian boys with white girls - we opted for something different.

The outing also gave me some new insight into the male mind: I got him after basketball practice and it was a race against the clock - he had to go home, shower, and be at the V-day dance in an hour.

Of course, Fred Meyer flowers were all brown around the edges so we dashed off to Safeway.

"Billy! You can't leave this stuff until the last minute! Girls hate that!"

"I know, but then they'll think it's so cute that I went to all this work and hurried to get it..."

Riiiiiight. So that's how you people justify yourselves.

Other than that it was all a cold calculation of price - what's the most impressive thing we could get without dropping more than $10?

We wound up with a long-stem rose, candy hearts, a card and a little stuffed animal. I dropped him off at the dance, feeling all warm and fuzzy and sisterly.

Then, unbeknownst to me, he broke the stem off the rose chasing my car because I forgot to give him money to get in. Oopsies.

But I got an A+ on gift-giving help!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Got the Job!


Want to know what's cool about it? They're going to pay me to blog.

Want to know what else is cool?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Regret Dumplings

And you thought we were done with crazy Taiwan posts:

This one is vicarious though, pilfered from an email from James. He is back for his grandfather's funeral. Sounds like things are going well. The funeral is over, including the five hours' of chanting where monks read an entire book (no, really) to help usher Ye Ye into the afterlife.

Despite the somber occasion, James has mentioned once, twice, too many times all the things on his to-eat list. And I'm just the kind of person who resents people eating well without me.

So why lie: I felt a little better when he told me they went to Din Tai Fung, which is only the best dumpling restaurant in the world (not just my opinion, NYT said so too), and didn't get to eat any dumplings.

Muah ha ha - I'm terrible.

Turns out the "bao" in xiaolongbao (pork dumpling) combined with the "zhong" from zhong zi is a pun for regret. And so neither James nor any of his family (mom, grandma, uncle, etc.) can eat those two things for 100 days following Ye Ye's funeral. That's the traditional mourning period. They also can't wear red. I'm not sure why it wouldn't be okay to eat dumplings and zhong zi so long as you didn't eat them together...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Big News Mystery Blog

Hey Family (I've cut my posting down such that I think that's all that's left of my audience, eep!),

I might have super cool awesome news soon. About a job. That's all I'll say. I haven't heard yet, but cross your fingers, dust off the good vibes, go to church or contact your local shaman, whatever works - because I seriously want this job!

Let you know soonest.


Monday, February 8, 2010


Check out the underbite on this punk. I was like, "Charlie, give me your best Dirty Harry!" And he did.

I'm totally in love with this dog, despite the sneezing fits he gives me.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


They done good.

I'm proud of my fellow Trojan, Reggie Bush, and would like to remind everyone that I once stood in his presence at a house party. He had a gigantor CZ in his ear. I mean, it could've been a diamond, but probably not.

That is all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wine Country!

My old j-school buddy, Elizabeth, made it to town this past weekend. We spent a couple days hitting the typical coast tourist traps (Sea Lion Caves? Check. Sand Dunes? Scenic 101 Drive? Check, Check.). And then beat it up to Oregon wine country.
Rather than sign her talents away to a foundering newspaper/magazine (these days, they're all foundering), Elizabeth did what our profs commonly referred to as "joining the dark side." She found a job at a food & travel PR firm.

Elizabeth tossed around her business card and we got the tasting fees waived at every vineyard. Everywhere we went, people pushed pinots on us and told me I should detect blueberry, oak, vanilla and anise when I quaffed.

After visiting several wineries, I'm pretty sure there's a club somewhere for people who write tasting cards and every year there's a prize for convincing the most people they can taste "citrus fruits" and "soft earthy tones" in a glass of punched-up grape juice. Wine tastes like wine.

We stayed at the ritzy new Newberg hotel, The Allison, in a room with a fire place. For dinner I had a butternut squash ravioli appetizer and pork loin wrapped in pork belly on a bed of lentils for my entree, plus more wine. And thanks to Elizabeth (The Allison is her client), it was all free, free, free!
I quite enjoyed the truffles and turn-down service.