Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The dress that made me swear

There are some outfits that give you courage when you wear them. But there are others that actually require you to have the courage to wear them.

And in my case, it requires more of a semi-consciousness when I'm getting dressed + being in a hurry. This morning, I frantically stuck my arm between closing elevator doors in my office building because I had overslept again (granted, I was at the office till 11 pm the night before). When the doors slid open and I caught the reflection of myself in the elevator mirror, my first thought was

"What the h*ll?"

Ok. It was that bad. At least bad enough that I actually swore in my head.

Imagine me in a bold green flowy dress with a navy blue, silver stripped sweater on top, allowing the ruffly bits of the aforementioned dress to generously spill over the V neck. Pair that with navy blue textured tights and grey ankle boots that had swinging side chains.

I did get compliments from the office though. But then I guess this was considered to be just another one of my crazy outfits. One coworker asked me if Westerners purposely clashed colors/ textures/ patterns all the time. Another patted the ruffles underneath my sweater and said that they made me look more "well-endowed." Umm. Awkward saving grace?

But it turned out that I needed the boldness today because the day was absolutely nuts. Drama. Confrontations. Show downs. Firings.

p. s. I apologize for funky grammar tonight. When I'm tired, my English comes out funny. And I'm tired right now. More OT. Yay.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Different Christmas

Christmas was definitely different this year. There were no songs, no lights, no snow, no (good) hot chocolate, no finals to cram and die for, no cuddling, no flying back home, and no freezing nights in our Arlington home (we were too cheap to turn on the heat for the 3 floors).

But I made do. I sorted through share allotment legal docs while listening to as many cheesy Christmas songs from China Google music player as possible. I made a repentant attempt to buy the whole fam as many presents as possible the day before Christmas. And I stepped up the Santa Surprise Initiatives (code name SSI), leaving pranks and genuine goodies under the tree.

But the human urge to confess was very strong. Even though I threatened my little brother Cody with tickle torture if he told, I couldn't keep it in so I blogged about my Santa gifts, thinking that everybody was already in bed.

When I walked up the stairs to bed after wrapping all the presents, Casey looked at me and said, "So, coal huh?" He smirked. He had read my blog post in the five minutes that it took me to turn off my computer and the lights.

Also, on Christmas morning, my dad had apparently figured out how to get on my blog so he and my mom caught up on several months of my posts. Of course, that way, they also knew that Santa was really me . . .  so they didn't even bother to open the Krispy Kreme box when they unwrapped it, thinking it was going to be filled with really light rocks. (Ha! They were really doughnuts).

But Christmas also had meaning this year because I had opportunities to share what I believed. Last week, I arranged a mini Christmas party for my China Construction Bank English students, complete with (bitter) hot chocolate, white elephant gift exchange, cakes, and a mini presentation on the American Christmas traditions. When I asked if they knew about the origins of Christmas, somebody yelled out "Jesus Christ's birthday." I talked briefly about Christ's divinity, his humble origins, and the reason why he had to come down to earth -- all within the context of general Christian beliefs. Even though I repeatedly said "They believe . . ., " it was really what I believed and what I knew to be true. And it felt so good to be able to finally share my testimony in an acceptable environment and adhere to the "no proselyting to Chinese Nationals" directives from the government and our Church leaders. Who knew that cultural classes can be a pretext for bite size missionary discussions?

 They wanted me to wear the reindeer headband during my Christmas lesson.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Many Christmases ago, Casey grabbed his hard-earned car washing/ soccer coaching money and went to Kennedy Town. Alone. Even though us older girls were constantly having these unintelligible conversations with dramatic "Guess what happened?" "Oh my goodness," and "Uh huh," which left him completely confused, he decided that he wanted to surprise his older sisters with something extra special under the tree.

That year, like most years, we woke up early and dashed to the tree to divvy up the presents. Chelsea and I both opened Casey's present at the same time. He stopped his unwrapping and just watched us with the biggest grin on his face.

Wow. It was a fur ball masquerading as a lady's purse. It looked alive. And it seemed like something that a storekeeper could convince a little boy to hand over quite a bit of money for.

We did our sisterly duty and got ourselves super excited. We posed with the creatures slung across our chests. We gushed about them to Casey and messed up his hair affectionately.

Then we ran to our rooms and laughed about it. Casey was the cutest. But these little purses needed to be hid. Fast. So we buried them underneath our old stockings and pajama dresses and forgot all about them.

Another year went by. Christmas rolled around again.

Chelsea and I found ourselves opening another big surprise from Casey.

This time, it was a fur ball hat.

You know, to go with our favorite purses.


It's officially Christmas over here! I just got done wrapping the presents for the kids. They're all in bed already. I'm also temping as Santa this year. Let's just say that I'm delivering the goodies and the coal. Got to teach kids about taking consequences right?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Story That Didn't Make It Here

I was going to tell you a story of a battle with my mom where I had fought hard, ultimately won, and constantly regretted.

But instead, I'm going to squirrel that story away and stay up late this Christmas weekend so I can spend hours figuring out how to do justice to some hazy adolescent memory. And that will definitely be one for the private blog or future boyfriend.

One thing I will tell you is this: I think I found it tonight when I was gingerly dipping my toes (with Santa red polish) into the bath. For some reason, it finally hit me - why I had always tried to do everything Sisi-possible to try to make my parents proud (and still felt lacking) even when I had known all along that they were already proud of me simply because I was their daughter.

Too bad that there is already a Jung Chang, an Amy Tan, and now an Amy Chua*. I can definitely write volumes on Chinese American mother-daughter dynamics and spin stories so that readers will believe that I am simply 'principled' and not stubborn.

Well I guess that's what blogs are for.

* Chinese American authors who wrote about their relationships with their mothers and left children like me obsessed with how much my childhood resembled 20% of character X, 35% of Y, and 45% of Z.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Little LBD Magic

Fashion magazines swear by the rule that every girl needs a LBD (little black dress). I have one, but mine isn't black. The body of my dress is made of fuchsia thai silk and rimmed with a black trim. It's high collared, mid-sleeved, sewn onto me until it hits my waist and then spreads itself out into a flowing A-line. It makes me feel a little bit like Audrey Hepburn with a dash of Julie Andrews.

In the two years since I got it made, I've only worn it three times. I zipped it on the first time when I had to run a new members recognition ceremony as the president of the BYU Golden Key Honour Society. I was juggling econometrics, two jobs, and an upcoming thesis deadline that semester. So when I found out that my speech was erased from my computer in the TA office 20 minutes before the ceremony started, I just lost it. But crying took too much effort with that fitted bust. So I wiped my eyes and winged it. Later, a few people came up to me and told me that they got a little teary-eyed when I spoke. I thanked them and credited the dress.

The second time that dress made it out of my closet was the day after a very long night's fight with an ex- boyfriend. I saw him at church. He saw the dress. When I walked past him to leave the room, he pulled me in and told me that I looked nice.

We had a long talk that afternoon and got back together.

Last week, when I was exhausted, a little emotionally fried, and unreasonably nervous for the translation that I had to do for my boss at an HR conference, I pulled out that dress again. It worked. Things just went well. That day, the COO approached me and told me he thought it was time to discuss promotional opportunities. I felt like a million bucks. Well, okay, just a million yuan. But hey, at least the exchange rate from my side of the world was looking better every day.

And the HR conference I was so worried about? No problem. It was super chilled, with raunchy dances and an amateur magic show where I got to be the lovely assistant for a small moment. Oh and Chinese men with hairless legs who were dressed up in tutus for laughs. I'm telling you - it was all the dress.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Reality of Powerpuff

This week, I was told, twice actually, that I was "too nice."

I guess it's a compliment and a constructive criticism meshed into two little words.

They want me to change. But what is the alternative supposed to look like?

I guess the Powerpuff Girls got it wrong. People don't really like "sugar and spice and everything nice." Not really. But I'm not too hot about becoming Mojo Jojo either.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Breakfast Proposition

She accused him of loving himself, his novels, his casual female friends more than her. He slapped her because she was going to elope with another man. She broke down when he walked out and begged him to stay --

I rubbed my eyes and put To Have and Have Not face down. Staying a night in a sketchy motel across from the train station was probably not one of my best ideas. I think I woke up every fifteen minutes because of the rumbling in the pipes. And now I was hurrying back to Suzhou right before work. Hemingway was giving me the worst headaches.

"You don't like Hemingway?"

I looked at the guy sitting next to me. Standard height, baseball hat, probably a two-day scruff. An American. East coast?

"He's ok. It's just too early in the morning for infidelity."

"Well, how do your afternoons look like?"

I glanced quickly, using my BYU ring check skills. Yep. Married.

". . . I work."

Gosh. Men.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Boys can skip this post

One of my colleagues who was in charge of getting deals for our online purchasing program (think groupon style shopping cart with discounted necessities for frontline workers) pulled me aside today. She was sent some samples from potential product partners and wanted me to give her the reassurance to try them.

She whispered to me that she had found a magic product. It's a type of small cylinder that women could insert into themselves during that special time of the month. It would suck all the blood out and store it until the tube was extracted. She speculated that it also had bonus contraceptive functions because people wouldn't be able to do it with that thing still in there.

I had no idea what she was talking about until she told me that the product was called "Small Auntie" (playing off "Auntie Flo"?).


She was talking about tampons all along. And she wanted a demonstration of how it worked.

Somehow I just wasn't in the mood to give a 28 year old woman a sex talk. I did tell her that she should look up the facts on tampons again and stop waving the "Small Auntie" pamphlet around.

I can already see it. My legacy in China will be the introduction of tampons to frontline female workers. What a dream.