Friday, September 20, 2013

Both Moms to China

Another calm before the storm.

I stand here on the brink of madness.  Silent.  Alone.

In only a few short hours Christine Marie Williamson and Barbara Jeanne Carnini (seriously, that is her name Jeanne Carnini- I wouldn't make that up....even though once at Fred Meyer I asked for her to be paged and they didn't believe me...) will arrive at Beijing International Airport for what can only be called "The Craziest Two Weeks of Calee's Life".

Let me tell you a funny story first.  Once on my birthday my mom and I were in the car after school....can't remember where we were going.  Anyway, she had to stop at Fred Meyer.  I turned 10 that day.

I may not have to tell you this- but I will.  10 year old boys hate going to the store.  Really hate going with their mom cause their mom is FOR SURE going to see someone she knows there....and a quick trip just turned into 2 hours of them talking....all cutting in to your play time.

Being the calculated little snot that I was, I opted to stay in the car (pissed that I was there at all on my birthday) I figured it would add a sense of urgency to the pit stop.  It worked, pretty well really, and she was on her way through the parking lot before I knew it.

And then it happened.

Forgetting that I, in my tissy fit, locked the car doors to make things difficult for no real reason, sat there and watched my mom approach.  At this same point in time someone on the roof of the store, someone I never actually saw, scared up a flock of seagulls.  It was a large flock and they seemed to spring up as if they were very frightened.  I would put the number of seagulls around was a significant group of birds- though I do understand how a 10 year old kid could remember that number being much higher than it was.

Every single one of those birds went to the bathroom over the parking lot.  Every one of them.  Now I don't know if birds go #1 or #2 or what....kinds seems like a mix- 1.5.  Anyway, it was like Pearl Harbor, but worse.  I saw my mom running for the car, then sprinting.  She went to open the door but like I said- I locked it.  She tried frantically to open it- screaming some profanity through the glass of the door.  I tried in vein to unlock it....but the classic simultaneous attempt to open and unlock proved the winner.  White was splattering everywhere....then darkness.

I think at that point I blacked out.  I knew well what was coming next and from a psychological standpoint,  I believe my body and mind went completely limp involuntarily so as to lessen the blow.  Similar to how one is supposed to react when attacked by a grizzly bear.....just play your shit dead and hope for the least amount of damage.

To my surprise I awoke not to a bright white light...nor in a bed at Merl West Medical Center.  Rather, I came to and we were on our way home.  I quickly flipped down the sun visor to see if it was one or two black eyes.....but both were fine.  I remember thinking "I must have covered my face up before I blacked out" but there was not a mark to be found.

Well, I guess the lesson here is- when you do something awesome at someone else's expense, black out if you think they're going to freak.

All that said, what goes around comes around.

At the end of these next 2 weeks I may be walking toward that bright white light.....but that's not to say I don't deserve it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


pudong |poo-dong|adjectiveoffensive (of a person) unable to speak, most typically because of congenital deafness: he was born deaf, pudong, and blind.• (of animals) unable to speak as a natural state and thus regarded as helpless or deserving pity.• predic. ] temporarily unable or unwilling to speak: she stood pudong while he poured out a stream ofabuse.• attrib. ] resulting in or expressed by speechlessness: they stared in pudong amazement.informal stupid: a pudong question.• (of a computer terminal) able only to transmit data to or receive data from a computer; having no independent processing capability. Often contrasted with intelligent.
There are two types of people in this city- east siders and west siders.  It happens a lot in many cities, Shanghai being no exception.
Xi (pronounced she)- WestDong- East
Puxi is the area of Shanghai west of the Huangpu River, Pudong is the east side.  
The Huangpu River bisects the city, just like the Willamette does back home.  The Yangtze flows north of Shanghai, and the Huangpu dumps into the Yangtze right at the edge of town....again just like in Oregon.  What is the only difference?  The Yangtze flows west to east-  opposite being true for the big Columbia.
What does all this mean?  Well it means that A) this place is ass backward and B) even though its backward, I'm still a west-sider.  Take it or leave it.  And again, the west side is the place to be...Portland or otherwise.
You can hear it in the name.  Puxi is elegant, fresh, euro meets a car with a clutch, open minded, and better.  Pudong sounds, well, pudong.  It's seriously pronounced poo-dong....who made that name up!?  
Now I know there are some east-siders that are going to read this blog and I don't want to hate.  But at the same time it's not my fault you ain't cool.  So I'll focus less on the east/west battle of Portland and focus on the task at hand- degrading the entire east side of Shanghai.
As it turns out 5,044,430 people live in Pudong.  5 Millions Pudongers!  That is more people than there are in Oregon....and check it- 10 years ago there was no Pudong.  Nothing.  It was farm land where they grew food that made westerners sick.  Seriously- in 10 years over 5 million people have moved to this waste of an area.
You may be wondering at this point "Calee, why are you so cool"?  Well, it's a complicated combination of things- none of which I'd expect you to understand.
And then our stupid wireless router wont send signal to the bedroom in our apartment.  I think it wouldn't reach in part because all the walls in this place are concrete.  That was a problem until I googled solutions for a wifi booster and found this beer can set up:

I'm not party rockin, but this is the real deal.  Went from zero bars to hero bars instantly.
My friend Jen from the US seems to be in the know.  Every time I talk to her she knows of some cool new place (bar).  She moved here the same time as I don't know why she's so ahead of the game.  Anyway- we're hitting a brewery on Friday that I'm excited to see!  It's close to our house and beer.  Our house seems to be close to a lot of good places.  Check this one out- this dude Jay opened up a breakfast hole- skater style.  He has a tattoo of a pirate ship and a pelican with boxing gloves smoking a pipe- baller.  He left the restaurant after he got us coffee to go skate for a few on the street- then came and took our order later.  The only decorations in the place are a few skateboards hanging on the wall.

oops- don't know how that second one got in here.  Just never mind that one okay?
While we were in that restaurant we met a US dude who lived in Corvallis for a long time- turns out his stepdad taught high school in Lebanon!  Can you believe they have a high school in Lebanon!?
Since we live real close to the Avocado Lady, I decided to roll down with Little Flower so I could show her the scene and she can do our shopping.  All good except she drove.  And she drives this:

....and she don't slow her role for a white boy.  So I was scared.  But I made it.  The back seat is meant for a kid- I'd say max age 7.....but this is how Chinese people roll, and when in Rome....
In closing, to all you east-siders out there, remember this- the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart and hope is a walking dream....and above all else, believe you can and you're half way there.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Direction

A New Direction- that is the name of the boy band Kris Ross, Chris Jones, and Nick Kappas are starting.

Just kiddin.

It's what is going on right here, right now on this I'm sure you saw above.  We have a new name.  The Shanghai Triplicate.  Why the change?  Thanks for asking.

We are going print.  Print is the new online, and we are cutting edge folk.  Therefore, you'll be needing to call on the phone to order your subscription- which is going to cost you now.  It'll be worth it though.  In fact, our print version is going to be so cool- it'll melt your face off.

Episode 1- Print Version (please print)
by Calee Cariaga

World News

Today I had my first Chinese Language lesson here in China.  As you may remember from some of our old-style "online" posts, I've taken Chinese before....but that was when I was in the US.

Chinese Language lessons here in China:

  • Suck
  • Are difficult
  • Not fun
  • Make you feel dumb
It wasn't that bad really....only sounds bad in the print version.  If this was a donkey online posting it would have been bad.

Anyway- my teacher's name is Emily- translation Wang Xing.  But Wang is the last name- here you say the last name first- always.  Makes good sense.  Emily cool- but we met at the People's Square Starbucks.....Chinese translation- busiest place in the world; or loudest room ever; or in this case both.  Emily let me know that she "likes western culture", which I'm sure means we'll be meeting in these authentic western places going forward.  

I can't speak Chinese- but I'm really surprised at how well I can fake it.  Cab ride home- can  get us there.  Order at restaurant- no prob.  Ask for more, less, or whatever- I got it.  Tell someone what I need- easy as pie.

Throw that all straight out the window when you have someone who can speak, read, and write both English and Chinese.  They know you for the fake you are, and they make you pay for it.  So it's back to basics for me.  Noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, particle, something else....I don't even know it in my native tongue.

Second Edition- Print Version (please print)
by Calee Cariaga

Food Review

This is what I had for lunch today.  Don't ask me what it is cause this bro couldn't tell ya.

It was from my new favorite place- Sproutworks.  Sproutworks is a very Portland-style healthy eatery.  Mine tasted like what I would guess rabbit food taste like.

Third Edition- Print Version (please print)
by Calee Cariaga


I bit hard running today.  Sarah and I got up early as part of our exercise program.  We ran for about 40 minutes by the time we had doubled back to the apartment.  I, flat yoked on some french-press-extra-caffinated coffee thought "I'll run some more".  Clippin, I rounded the corner of Wulumuqi Rd and Anfu Rd.  Unfortunately, that corner happens to have a public trash can on the sidewalk.  In China a public trash can means oozey slime coming out the bottom and onto the street.  I'd like to see you try to take a 90 on that stuff at Kenyan speed.  Needless to say, my feet shot out from under me and I did a motorcycle-style slide right into two people on bikes.  I knew it was bad when even the old Chinese guy hustled up to see if I was ok.  Little did he know I may as well have been the giver in the Mike Tyson Greatest Hits Volume 2 DVD.....I'm that tough and the asphalt paid the price.  I did, however, end up with this little guy:

Oh, and something similar to that on my shin, knee, hip, and noggin.  Like I said- motorcycle style.

In closing, I'd like to leave you with some quotes from a show that was never really my favorite....maybe not even top 8....but was roughly my #2-6 in terms of closing lines.

"I usually don’t like thinking about the future. I mean let’s face it, you can’t predict what’s going to happen. But sometimes, the thing you didn’t expect is what you really wanted after all. Maybe the best thing to do is stop trying to figure out where you’re going and just enjoy where you’re at.”

“Sometimes the answer you get is the one you least expect. but more often than not, the answers we’ve been looking for have been inside us all along. i guess the important thing is to never stop searching.“

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking chances, and how it’s really just about overcoming your fears. Because the truth is, everytime you take a big risk in your life, no matter how it ends up, you’re always glad you took it. ”

“I guess in the end, things seldom work out the way you expect. sometimes, fate is on your side. other times, well, you’ve kind of sealed your own fate. either way you have to trust that whatever’s supposed to happen, will happen. “

“I guess when you care about someone, you’ll do whatever you can to make ‘em happy.”

“The truth is, it is all your memories, the joyful ones and the heartbreaking ones that make up who you are as a person”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What's going on America?

Hello?  Is it me you're looking for?

I haven't heard much from anyone lately!?

Dade?  Eric?  Seth?  Hello?  Jen?  Torin?  Anyone home?

I got a quick "you moved!?" Email from Paige....responded, and nada?

Mia- Gino in High School now?

Chris/Mom- you guys coming here in two weeks still?

Kris- still riding dirty?

Seriously- all quiet on the home front...everyone must have their heads down grinding away!?  And I get it.

Yesterday I bought a motorcycle.  Today I sold it.  Don't ask.  Spent all day today ironing out all the issues with the new apartment.  90% done!  I think tomorrow "maintenance" will be here to fix one more thing then we are as good as new.

Sarah has a cold.  Bu hao.  Chinese cold is different than a US cold....there is a long lingering cough.  Guess it's maybe not that different...but seems worse.

I've started a project- making paper airplanes and throwing them off the balcony....see if they'll clear some serious distance.  Best one yet made it what I think was 1 mile....but it's really hard to tell.  Yeah- that's what I do with my time here.  Everyone always asks- now you know.

The weather has turned great here.  The humidity went wwwaaaayyyy down and the temp dropped a little too!  It's now tolerable to cruise the streets.  That allowed me to get out a little this afternoon on the old bike.  Took it down to the avocado lady- that is the name of this little grocery store not too far from our new place.  It's down and dirty- but all foreigners buy fruits and vegetables there with no issues....can't complain about that.

Recently, I've had a new appreciation for this place.  Could be weather related I don't know- but I've begun to recognize the locals around here as people not so different from you and me.  Sure you get spit on, coughed on, stared at....but that just is what it is- and beyond that- there are some decent folks here.  We have some very helpful folks around us that I think we're both thankful for.

Xiao Lan for example- I swear she thinks she's my mom.  The other day I asked her to order the big jugs of drinking water, which she did, and then reminded me "please don't forget" that the water dude would be here at 7.  Then she text me a reminder.....then I forgot, she called the guy and somehow got him to come back once I raced home.  Pretty nice as I obviously made her look bad.

The people who helped us find our apartment have been on the hook 24/7....must have sent them 5 million emails...they answer every one.

I will say though, I'm pretty dumb around here.  Things can be so different- the day to day stuff, that you just don't know the basics sometimes....and all you can do is ask.

Well- you win more than you lose hopefully....and when you come across something that looks like a kangaroo, poke it with a stick and call me silly....and if you haven't seen the movie "Hit and Run"- well then get you down to the DVD store.

Go Pels!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sailors Take Warning!

The tropical storm that originated in the Philippines has made its way north the Shanghai.

Today at about noon the sky turned very dark and it began to rain like nothing I'd ever seen.

What happened next was unbelievable.  Hadn't I got video of it (or some sort of documentation.....don't know if it qualifies as a video really) I doubt anyone would ever believe me.

I went out on our balcony to check out the madness....and decided to take video to see if I could capture some of the cool thunder/lightening storm.  What happened next, or how long I was out- I can't say for sure....not very long though.  Another, even larger crack of thunder brought me to.  My ears are still ringing.....

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chae To Shanghai/ The Big Move

Has a ring to it.

Next in line to me in terms of making willy-nilly, last minute, borderline irresponsible, on the fly decisions is Chae....and I appreciate it.  Can't keep a dude on lock down- and the harder you try, the more elusive he'll be.

Of all the people who have, will, or are maybe gonna come here- I think Chae is the best fit and I'm excited for it!  The reasons for this are, but are not limited to:

  • She's Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Black hair
  • Incredibly short for her age
  • Same age as the majority of the population in SH
  • Travels well cause she doesn't need to brush her teeth consistently 
  • Laughs at my dumb jokes, loudly
Her travel will begin mid November and she'll be headed home on November 24th.  We have about 10 days to cram it all in!  

Luckily I saved the spreadsheet I made for Dade's visit...which should give me a good starting point to ensure that we cover all the Shanghai stops- and then some!

Looks like we'll be meeting in Beijing to do a quick run to the Great Wall....then it's the fast train to Shanghai....same thing I did with Dade and will be doing in two weeks with our moms.  By the time she gets here- I'll be a registered Beijing tour guide- and I'll be charging her a fee.

Next up- we're moving tomorrow!  Want to know what I've done to get ready for our big move?  Well I'll tell ya- nothing.  Packed, planned, cleaned, organized?  Nah.  BUT- the cool news is that we can have a BBQ in our new place....and I saw a place selling them the other day.  The real question is- can we buy propane somewhere here?

You know- since the olympics you are not allowed to buy gas for anything other than a car/scooter.  In other words- you can't fill up a gas can.  That little fact makes me nervous about trying to find a place to load up a propane tank.

Ok- one last thing.  I know I have just kinda been writing blogs about whatever little things have been going on around here and they suck.  So- I'm committing now to throwing down some seriously good blogs.  The "Old Calee" kind that cleverly make fun of the blog subjects and readers at the same time....with double, triple, or quadruple meanings....that rhyme....stay tuned, as soon as this move is done I'm going rouge-hardcore-with an eye patch.  Not a pirate eye patch either....I'm talking old Russian KGB agent who spent some time in a Ukrainian prison eye patch.

Humidity, Humility, and Humanity

It is terribly hot and humid here today.  Worse than usual....which is bad.

I went for a run this morning and my shorts were falling off cause they we so heavily soaked in sweat.  That is no joke- I had to run holding my pants up.

By mid-morning I had build up the courage to go back outside....after freezing myself out in the AC.

I made it exactly one block from the gate into our complex and had to turn around- go back to our apartment- and change my shirt.  One block.  Had to call David to come pick me up.

Spent the night before last, and all day yesterday throwing up.  Today I busted Little Flower's chops because I thinks she'd been cooking with the regular tap water- not the bottled water....which makes a dude from the US sick.

Not all blog posts can be good blog posts.