Superhuman

bionic [bī än′ik]
adjective

1. Of or relating to bionics.
2. Having anatomical structures or physiological processes that are replaced or enhanced by electronic or mechanical components.
3. Having extraordinary strength, powers, or capabilities; superhuman.

First of all. And I repeat: superhuman.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can officially celebrate the exactly 2 month anniversary of turning this pull up fall:

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Into my new superhuman arm!

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Yes, today is 2 months post foreign country surgery. And while it’s all cool be bionic and I’ve gotten over my relatively suicidal looking scar, it’s even cooler to realize how much different today would be had I opted for the 8 wk, we’ll hope it heals correctly, cast method originally suggested.

Little tidbit: Never be afraid to your own health care. Ask questions. Get 2nd opinions. Do your own research.

Surgical care in Singapore was a great choice. And it was a brilliant solution and collaboration of science and nature.

And I now confirm that choice as the right one in a few ways:
1. I was immobile (catered to by a wonderful woman – MH!) for only a few days; even traveling to Taiwan for work 6 days after surgery.
2. I was given nothing but an oversized bandaid and some antibiotics/painkillers to wait for the stitches to heal. Amazing.
3. No cast = No shrink wrapped arm to shower. FTW!
4. I got to work with a surgeon, physio, acupuncturist, chiropractor, and masseuse to collectively heal. And no one gawked at my using the others. As it should be.
5. I have 57% of my flexibility back. And graduated to 1 PT session/wk.

And most awesome is that I’m already back to 6 mi runs, 40# power cleans, double-unders, and even ring pulls working my way back to full on pull-ups!!!

Piece of advice: when given 2 options… You will rarely regret the “take action” option.

I don’t for a second.

The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

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Planes, trains, and automobiles. But mostly trains.

Being American, I’m very familiar with the modern vehicle. Being a traveling rep, I’ve also become a self-proclaimed expert of air travel. And now, living in Asia, it’s time for the trifecta – trains! 

Most days, this is my commute to work…

52 floor elevator ride.
Catch the 7am sunrise over the MBS before heading underground to the MRT. 

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Buy latte.
Jump on the green line.
Wait to drink latte because there’s this…

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Alight at Boon Lay Station.  Finally drink latte.
Catch company bus last few km to work.

Takes about 45 minutes door to door. And most Singaporeans think I’m nuts for living so far from work!

But I don’t mind it at all.

I spend time skyping family, working on my part time gig, or catching up on podcasts and blog posts. 🙂  Plus it gives me a quick nap or few minutes to decompress before getting home. 

But 2 weeks ago I was in China and got to experience some way cooler trains than they have here in Singapore!!

The best part about train travel, is that I’ve yet to end up 10 kinds of lost since it’s relatively the same no matter where on the globe you are. 

Started my day on the bullet train for the 15 minute/50km trek between the city of Kunshan and the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. And even though I have no idea what most signage means, it’s still easy enough to match the time of departure to the gate I need to be at. 

20140704-230109-82869057.jpg   Upon arrival, I transfer to the Shanghai Subway – line 2 – inclusive of a rainy pitstop at the Jing An Temple. 



And finally the Maglev. This was the shortcut from the Longyang Rd subway stop to the airport. You basically trade 11 slow and steady subway stops for 0-301km/hr in under 2 minutes!

And unfortunately, after much googling, I’ve realized that I can’t post the videos of the Bullet train or Maglev (as I apparently am only using the cheapy-cheap blog option), so you’ll have to settle for this instead:

20140629-184603-67563226.jpg   Very awesome. 

The US really needs to figure out this public transportation thing. It’s pretty great when it works this flawlessly and inexpensively. Bravo, Asia!

The only way of catching a train I ever discovered is to miss the train before.  ~G.K. Chesterton

Chinese lessons

Hello. Thank you.
Hola. Gracias.
Bonjour. Merci.
Guten tag. Danke.
Selamat … Terima Kasih.
G’day. How ya goin’? Cheers mate.

2 of the first, and sometimes the only, words/phrases I try to learn when in a new country because the least I could do is greet and appreciate you in your own language!

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“Ni hao” and “xie xie” are how you spell them in Mandarin. But pronunciation is proving to be an entirely different and new hurdle. As I’ve yet to use them with a stranger without that few second delay until the realization of what I’m actually trying to say.

I have to think it’s our version of deciphering “15” vs “50” or “sank you!” in the right accent in ‘Merican. Or worse – someone using the wrong version of their/there/they’re… gasp! Right?

So on top my language lessons in China, I also get to learn new customs. Just basic nuances you never notice in daily life until they’re different. The biggest unexpected ones this week include:

1. They honk. A lot. Which is good, because 2 particularly vigilant cab driver horns saved us from clueless bus and truck drivers.

2. Bentley is to China like ambulance is to the US. You in a hurry and need a path through traffic? Get a driver that knows how to be a Bentley chaser!

3. ‘Quite’ is used QUITE a lot here. Actually in Asia in general.

(4 is unlucky. It’s our “unlucky” 13)

5. Asians don’t like to wait for the elevator to close and are just in an inexplicable hurry in general. And eye contact during a 33 floor ride is not standard.

6. Asians chew with their mouths open. A lot. Full on professional business dinner while I hold back childish jokes about see-food! 🙂 But to be fair, they think it’s really weird that I eat boiled eggs with my hands for breakfast. ‘Wow! So much protein!’

7. Just because someone nods and says yes, does not indicate that they agree nor understand you.

1 yes = I heard words
2 yups = I heard all of the words
3 uh-huhs = I understood the words
4 affirmatives= I agree with the words

Or at least that’s what I’ve deduced with some help from my brother.

And last but absolutely not least….

There is a ridiculously beautiful amount of old gorgeous temple meets brand new, biggest city in China, 24 million people culture.

And I did manage to find my way…

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In the rain…

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To the Jing’an Temple…

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With gorgeous Buddhas!! (ok, this might not actually be Buddha, I don’t know, but it was pretty!)

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Needless to say … I’ve got a lot of practice in my future. And many more visits to make. But did get the thumbs up today that Chinese lessons are slated to begin this year!!

讀萬卷書不如行萬裡路
Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù.

“Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles.”

– Chinese Proverb

What’s for dinner??

After 5 months in Singapore, I’ve gotten better at identifying chicken vs fish when it comes to the cafeteria at work. The food is always pretty good, I’m just glad I don’t have to be the silly foreign girl asking – what is that? – to everything. It’s progress and I’m pretty proud of that.

But to put it on a spectrum… Singapore is “Asia-lite” and China is full on “Asia”. Food is no exception.

My favorite meal over here is steamboat or hot pot. Pick your broth/soup and then boil your favorite spattering of meat and veggies in it til they’re done. Yummo!

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Hungry yet?

But not all meals are created equal. And it’s no surprise that I reverted back to my what is that? trick for lunch today.

Would you dig in?

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The long skinny plate on the left is pig ear
The boiling pot in back is bull frog
The plate to the right with the spattering of greenery with it is cow tendon
Surrounded by other assortments of leafy or otherwise greens and seshuan mushrooms….

I tried them all (I will never think of stretching my tendons after a run the same ever again) but mainly filled up on the shrimp, spicy veggies and these:

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It’s some dish they swore was really good pork. And it was served with this yummy sweet bread, so I stuffed my face with what I convinced myself were bacon sandwiches.

And they were great! I’d chance it again.

But the best part of meals in China is that you can always count on watermelon for dessert!

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And that there will be way too much food for the group to finish.

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Sad part is that no one takes a doggie bag for the mountain of left overs. Oh wait…. I guess I didn’t really want one either.

All the bacon sandwiches were gone.

“My favorite animal is steak.” ~Fran Lebowitz

Complimentary Cabbie

When you arrive at an airport, there will always be a string of gentlemen with varying degrees of professional signs for their passengers. Some get fancy with iPads. Others have a left over 8 1/2 x 11 that they scribbled on the back of. And most of them spell my name wrong.

I did not arrange for one of those guys this trip.

One seemingly helpful enough sign dude realizes I don’t have a ride yet and whisks me over to a desk with a bunch of hotel names above it. But not mine. Within 4 seconds flat, he’s asking if I’m paying cash or credit card and already has my driver and receipt ready to go.

Hmmm…

I’d like to think I’m a rather spontaneous person, but anyone that wants to trade cash for sticking me in a car in a new city where I don’t speak the language gets a second thought.

Side note: ‘Hold on!’ is not a widely recognized phrase while failing to connect to airport wifi to double check logistics.

Off to the information desk I go.

Then, of course, back to the same nameless hotel taxi desk. Where my new helper and my old helper argue and then giggle about something in Chinese. Probably that I was just there and didn’t want to go.

Stupid American girl.

Oh well. New guy charged 100Yuan less (~$16USD) and I’m now in a van on a highway. Presumably heading to my hotel; which I hear is very nice. From them. Damn – I paid too much, didn’t I?

Though good thing I over paid up front as my cabbie might be lost, even though I gave him my sweet coworker provided directions, Beijing Chinese is different from Shanghai Chinese, so you never know. Imagine Louisiana and New York trying to have a conversation. Kinda like that. So he’s on the phone now and keeps saying ‘hotel’ in the form of a question. Let’s hope whomever he’s talking to has a map.

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But he did just tell me ‘yoo ahh berry bu-tiff’ with his much in need of a dentist, teetering between creepy & genuine, old man smile… and then proceeded to hack a spit wad out the window.

So I’ve got that going for me.

Welcome to China!

“It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

48 days

Most of our civilian friends have never had to deal with a relationship gap that crosses state lines for more than a holiday weekend. (Side note: thank you for your service! You know who you are!!)

But with this new job, we made the intentional decision to spend this year focusing on our own jobs, saving as much cash as we can, and planning to see each other about every 4-8 weeks.

Ideal? Absolutely not. Doable? So far! Thanks to the wonderful iWorld of FaceTime. And the part where I’m lucky enough to be dating my best friend.

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I moved to Singapore Jan 26th.
Went back to the States for 2 weeks in March/April.
And he visited here for the first time last month; for the shortest, most gloriously packed week of vacation ever.
We’ve spent 47 whole days together of the 164 so far this year.

And that last trip — for reference — meant 65 hours of travel for only 7 measly jet-lagged yet wonderful days together.

Imagine working for a week and a half straight. But sitting. In coach. On a flying people tube. Being 6’4″.

This can mean only two things; Economy Plus is so worth it and he obviously loves me. 🙂 I win.

So this leg we have to endure just shy of 7 weeks; 48 days.
Roughly the time it takes to drive from New York to Los Angeles.
And back.
14 times.
In a row.
Without rest stops……….

Mom says you can do anything for [insert time period]…. and she’s right. But time passes so much faster when you ignore it and instead focus on the task at hand. [something about a watched pot and boiling… ??]

So we’ve learned to count events, not days. Maybe because it’s a shorter list, maybe because it’s more quantifiable, not sure. But it feels easier. And, frankly, keeps me occupied.

And we’re over half way there………..

So we don’t count the days. We count the things on the to do list. And I have a lot to do before he gets here…
a condo to get moved in to
a 4th (6th) of July party to plan
grocery trips to make
laps to swim
miles to bike & run
…and hit up Macau, Australia & China for work!

But with only three weeks to go, the tickets are booked!!! July 5th, our 6 year anniversary, will be here before we know it!

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I. Can‘t. Wait. Because some people are worth waiting for.

“How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel… extraordinary?” – Marley and Me