Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Newsletter Nuisance

I recently decided it was about time to put out a newsletter. This little idea turned out to be a lot more work than I had anticipated.

I actually like designing and writing so that part of the process wasn't too bad. I still haven't figured out what is the best software for newsletters. I found a Microsoft Word template I could tolerate and went with that. I had fun adding pictures and personalizing it and I decided on one page, in color front and back. I assumed it wouldn't be too expensive to get it printed since people print things in color all the time. I was wrong.

First I went to Kinkos where they were going to charge me $1 per page. Printing 100 newsletters would cost $100! That's outrageous, especially for someone who lives on support. I knew Office Max had a print service and I assumed it would be cheaper than Kinkos. I was wrong again. It was the same price. I decided it would be a better use of my money to buy a printer and print them myself. It would cost roughly the same amount and at least I would get a printer out of the deal. I talked with a salesperson who told me the pros and cons of all the models. I picked one out and with extra ink and paper, it came out to a little over $100.

I took it all home and got started printing. Unfortunately I did not think about ink usage when I designed my newsletter. The primary color on the newsletter is a yellowish cream. This meant that my yellow ink cartridge was out long before my newsletter had finished printing. Whoever wrote on the ink cartridge package that it would print 350 sheets was clearly a bold-faced liar. It was more like 30 sheets. I ended up going back to Office Max for more ink about halfway through the job.

I finally got the newsletters printed...well 67 of them. I couldn't even send them to everyone I had originally intended but the idea of spending more time and more money printing out 33 more did not sound appealing. After I printed them all, I showed them to my parents. My dad seemed genuinely impressed with them and I was feeling pretty good. That is, until my Mom burst my bubble by pointing out a misspelling. Now, I can be a spelling snob and am definitely a grammar snob. My mom, on the other hand, is a self-professed lousy speller and the fact that she was the one who pointed it out, really irked me. And she was right. Spellcheck had failed me! I couldn't bear to have my spelling error sent out for people to mock like Elaine's nip in her Christmas card photo on Seinfeld. I had to fix it and I sure as heck wasn't going to reprint those bad boys. So, I printed out 67 correctly spelled words in the same font and size as the misspelled one. Then I proceeded to use a glue stick to glue the replacement words atop the misspelled words. It doesn't look as polished as before but I prefer that to a misspelling.

I took me a couple hours to address and stuff envelopes but now the newsletters are in the mail. If you are one of the fortunate people to receive one of these, know that a lot of hard work and hard-earned cash went into their production. Don't use them to line the litter box or make paper airplanes with them. I hope you enjoy them and maybe for my next newsletter I will learn how to be more cost-effective and also not use as much yellow in the background.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This one's for you, Trina Warrenton

The title of this entry comes from the fact that every time Trina did something slightly embarrassing in China, she would say, "Now, don't put this in your blog." Well Trina, you've now officially made it into my blog.

Trina and Elizabeth's Massages

On my last day in China, Trina and I decided to get massages. We saw a place that looked pretty nice and only charged about $10 U.S. Trina and Merry went the day before to make appointments. Well, they thought they had made appointments but really couldn't be sure since the people working there spoke no English.

So, we showed up at the time of our appointment to find that the workers are all having lunch. So much for an appointment! They ushered us to some seats and had us take off our shoes and socks and put on some red plastic sandals. Then they served us some tea. All the while they are speaking to us in Chinese, while we just nodded and smiled.

Then they escorted us to a room with two beds. They were actually massage tables covered with gaudy gold bedding but the overall look of the room was not too bad. They gestured for us to put our purses away in some locking drawers that covered one entire wall of the room. Then they showed us a shower and a wooden box the size of a confessional booth. I had no idea what they wanted from me. I was just there for a massage. Trina has had more massages than me and said that they wanted us to shower and then go into the box, which was apparently a sauna. They gave me a shower cap and I went into the shower while Trina was taken to another room for her shower/sauna. I rinsed off in the shower, still not sure of what was expected of me. The gesturing of the workers made me assume that I was supposed to come out in only my towel and put my clothes in one of the locking bins on the wall. I refused to take off my underwear and then wrapped myself in the towel.

I am then ushered towards the sauna. It is really small and confined in there. They made me sit in the sweltering heat for at least 30 minutes, though it felt like longer. The workers kept gesturing for me to take off my towel, but that felt super awkward so it stayed tightly wrapped around me. They continued to refill my tea and gave me magazines to read. Unfortunately the magazines were all in Chinese, which I cannot read a single character of. I looked at the pictures and longed for a magazine I could understand. I am sure that would have made the time spent in the hot box seem shorter.

Finally, when I was close to screaming for them to let me out, I was released. When I came out I was given some underwear that seemed to be made out of the same material as those hats surgeons wear at the hospital. Awkward! At this same time, Trina was already laid out on the gold-covered massage table. Her masseuse was trying to tug her towel and underwear down as Trina fought her for decencies sake. Luckily I was too confused about the thin, paper underwear I'd been given, to see anything that was going on with Trina.

I went into the bathroom and took another mandatory rinse off. One good thing about my schphitz was that it had helped to clear my sinuses. I emerged from the bathroom in my towel and laid down on the massage table. I quickly realized what Trina was talking about as my new paper underwear was pulled half down by my masseuse. What kind of massage was this going to be? I tried to talk to Trina but these ladies had strong hands and it took all I had not to scream when she was kneading my back like a loaf of bread. She also massaged the exposed half of my butt, which was especially awkward since I am ticklish there. After the whole thing was over, I definitely felt as if I'd been put through a ringer.

Trina and I got dressed and sat down to another cup of tea. We paid our bill and left feeling like our muscles had turned to putty. It may have been a bit weird but $10 for an hour and a half massage really can't be beat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Day in the Life

Here’s an example of one of my days here in Asia. I met with my friend, Marcia who I met when I was here a year and a half ago. I met her in an English corner and we became fast friends. She was unemployed at the time so my friend, Sarah and I spent about five days in a row with her. She is a lot of fun and I think we would be friends in regular life. She is not a part of the C club and is in fact a part of another C club- the one Fidel is also a part of. Even though she knows why I am here, she likes to hang out with me and practice her English.

She’d been out of town so Sunday was my first chance to hang out with her. She met me at the metro station and introduced me to her co-worker, Andy. They took me to a restaurant for dumplings. The food was pretty good but Marcia kept trying to get me to eat more. Andy’s English was pretty good so it was easy to talk to him. After our meal, Marcia took me to this trendy little bookstore. It had a lot of fun things but much of it was American-comparable prices. I did find these little round buttons that look like eyes to put on my purse. It now looks like my purse is alive. Take that, pick-pocketers!

Then Marcia took me to her apartment. It was a pretty cute place and Marcia’s bed had a mosquito net canopy. I don’t know how necessary that is in the winter. When I arrived in the apartment she gave me some tiny slippers to wear. I hope she didn’t notice my heels hanging off the back. She served me the most random snack ever; tea, an apple, walnuts and a Dixie cup of the kind of wine that comes in a box. I was glad for the apple since they are really good here and it’s one of the few words I know in the language.

Then Marcia showed me pictures on her computer of her recent trip up north. It looked unbearably cold there but there was a palace made of ice, which was pretty cool. Then, she began showing me pictures of myself on her computer. Apparently she had gone on to my facebook and copied some of my pictures onto her computer. There were pictures of my Bangladesh team, me and my family, me in weddings, etc. I’m not going to lie; it was super weird! How often do you go to the house of someone you knew for a week over a year ago and find a shrine to yourself on their computer? I know I am pretty awesome but this was over the top. I really didn’t know what to say. Then she showed me pictures of my friend, Sarah who’d accompanied me on my last trip. She had also raided her facebook. She also had pictures she stole from other friends from English corner. This made it a little less weird…a little.

After we hung out, I went across town to a study. It was great because there were 14 locals there. The message was really good and only a few of them are in the club so I am thankful everyone heard the message. It was so much fun that many people stayed past 10pm. It didn’t hurt that Will and Amanda’s baby was there. Even though the local people refer to him a Bucket, instead of Beckett, they absolutely adore him. Everyone wants to hold him and look at him.

So this was my day. It was really fun and really random- just the way I like it.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Asia Update #1

I made it safely to my destination. It's crazy how many people I know are here at this time. It makes it a lot easier to be in a foreign country. I've only been here two full days so I haven't done a ton yet. On Sunday night, there was a B. Study held at our friends' place here. There were 13 locals, some who were in the club and some who were not. It was really neat to see something we'd just dreamed about when we came here a year and a half ago, actually happening. Yesterday was the scheduled day off for the week. So, even though I'd only been here one day, I already had the day off. We went to IKEA to get some furnishings for the new apartment our boys are moving into. Then we went to Starbucks. Such Americans! They have free wifi there so it is a hot spot for foreigners.

After Starbucks, my friend, Jasmine took me and Ben and Bryan to a park. It took several subway transfers to get there and then a crazy motorcycle ride. Sorry mom! The park was huge and you could rent bikes for less than $1 U.S. Jasmine and I rode commuter bikes while the boys rode these weird mountain bikes that looked like a cheap version of high tech. Poor Ben didn't realize his chain was completely rusted until it was too late to turn back. The park had a long series of paved paths perfect for bike riding. It was a lot of fun. There were some fairly steep hills where I wished I was on my road bike instead of a bike with no gears. We raced around the park yelling hello to all the people. I am sure they thought we were just a bunch of crazy Americans. Overall it was a lot of fun.

At night we were supposed to have a study at our house but only two people showed up. Apparently Monday nights are bad because it's the first day of the work week and many people work until 7pm. We had fun socializing with the two people who did come. We tried to explain the concept of Mexican food to them but it was quite difficult. Tonight we have an English class at a factory. I will be teaching this and I am excited. I've never been in a factory before.

The rest of my trip will be a combination of B studies and English teaching as well as hanging out with the people we meet. I am hoping to meet up with Marcia, a friend I met last time, when she returns from a trip. I will also be helping the family that lives here full-time with homeschooling. One of their children is in second grade and I am pretty familiar with that age from teaching third. I am also going to hang out some with my friend, Amanda who recently had a baby. She says she's missed hanging out with girlfriends. Anyway, it's going well so far and I can tell the time will pass by quickly. Continue to think about me. Thanks.

Friday, January 01, 2010

texting from hong kong

i am in hong kong right now typing this on my kindle. it's pretty cool except i cant figure out how to capitalize. i dont want to leave a long text message style post so i will just give a mini update the day in hong kong was fun and jet lag doesnt seem too bad.we are about to take the train to our final destination. yay
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