How I Spent July

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Well, hello, dear friends! I wrote a little note to you all yesterday to tell you that we've successfully made it to Suzhou, China. Today is our fourth full day in the city and we're finally feeling a little more adjusted to the time zone, have the essentials handled for our new apartment, and have been able to order and accurately pay for several meals. Big successes, all around!

Starting July 30, we moved out of our sweet apartment in Houston and drove our last few belongings that would be placed in storage (favorite dishes, good knives, artwork, etc) along with our four large suitcases for the flight to China in a trailer behind the Jeep. We took two days to get up to Ohio, stopping along the way to spend the night with a dear friend from grade school who is living in Missouri. A visit and the stopping point couldn't have been more refreshing.

We spent three weeks with family and friends in Ohio and used our time to the fullest! Half-way through, my sister was married in a stunning and perfectly simple ceremony along Lake Michigan, and I was so grateful to be able to take part in her bridal shower, last minute preparations, rehearsal dinner, meet and greet time with her husband's family, and a little bit of family vacation time in the rented house after they took off to honeymoon. (I'm pretty sure I owe you all a thorough post, the wedding was beyond perfect).

We spent a rainy Saturday hosting an open house get together and a really great group of friends and extended family made the effort to come spend the day with us to catch up and say farewell for a while. In the age of Facebook, it sure is easy to check in on people, but there's truly nothing like spending time together. Other highlights of our time in Ohio included nephew visits, godson and best friend playtime, acquainting my doggy to life at my parents (we hope to bring both the beagle and our cat over in a few months), visiting and re-getting-to-know-time with my brother, who is now a big bad 18 year old adult, and a haircut from my favorite long-time stylist (nothing drastic, just took 3 scraggly inches off the ends and shaped it up, but I received exactly ZERO good haircuts in 4 years in Houston, so this was a big highlight).

In my focus to spend time with family, I preeetty much spent all three weeks in 6 articles of clothing, not including dresses for special events. Here's a little rundown of how I looked for the entirety of July:

Hope you all have had a good month (I've sort of been reading along with my favorite blogs, but I've been pretty technologically disconnected for a while).

Catch up with you all soon!


Saturday, July 27, 2013


Go ahead and google that translation. And have a mini panic attack with me.

We arrived safely to Suzhou a few days ago and have managed to get a lot done! Our flight was incredibly easy (direct from Detroit to Shanghai), our baggage arrived safely and we didn't lose any pieces, we powered through the flight and didn't sleep so we would be sleepy in time for China's evening. We met our driver with relatively little problem and arrived in Suzhou by 6:00 in the evening to meet our representative from the University and be taken to our apartment (it's so dusty, but we're working our way through cleaning still). She helped us get SIM cards for phones, we found a small market to buy pillows and sheets, along with some fruit and a weird pastry for breakfast. The following day we walked way too far with 101 degree 9:00 am temps, saw the university library and Dushu Lake. We met up with another professor who lives in the next building over, who helped us get in touch with our landlord to figure out the internet situation in our apartment, and our VPN is working great to gain access to our US websites (Blogger included!). We also met up with the musicology professor, who called the university driver and took us to a big (like Walmart, but tripled) supermarket to buy household essentials. We did dinner and plenty of talking, the driver's English is limited, as is my Mandarin, so the musicologist did a great job of translating back and forth and we had a lot of fun. Yesterday, Rob completed the registration for working at the University and is signed up for a bank account for payroll. We have to wait until the middle of August for our first payroll cycle, though, which is a bummer. We got dropped off in the middle of a lovely older part of town, and were able to both successfully buy a map of the city as well as lunch for ourselves. Aaaand, we successfully hailed a cab, gave decent directions for our apartment (which he actually understood), and he enjoyed trying out his English on us.

We are in pretty good spirits, considering how biiiig this change is and how out-of-our-element we are. Only one meltdown for each of us so far. Doing our best to walk and explore is tough since it's so bleeping hot, but we'll find our way soon enough. We're getting along great with the other new professors, who have been truly wonderful and helpful these first few days. And, for now, we're taking great satisfaction in the little things we can control, like a nice shower, or mopping the floor.

We've taken exactly zero pictures. I'll jump on that soon!

Farewell Week and a Road Trip

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hey, friends! I'm writing a quick hello from the road. We are currently driving through Wagoner, Oklahoma and will be stopping to stay the night with a friend from high school who has wound up in Lebanon, Missouri, a perfect halfway point for the drive from Houston to Toledo, Ohio.

In the last few days, here's what's been going down.

Friend time. Lots of friend time. A BBQ on Tuesday with over 30 people we adore, a work friend cocktail night/ bromance Whiskey truck packing party on Thursay, PrideHouston festivities Saturday during the afternoon and sweated our butts off, Frame Dance show on Friday and Saturday and more friend time goodbye party after. I cried no less than a dozen times this week, and the gravity of our departure hasn't fully hit me yet, so I'm probably due to be a weepy mess halfway through the drive tomorrow. 

So far in the drive: Eddie barfed up breakfast, Critters have done extremely well in the backseat together, I guesstimated to the mile a distance to our turnpike turnoff (I love using an atlas vs. GPS), we ate our last Pattymelts, and sang our guts out to 90's playlists. But, ugh, the Jeep has a tiny engine and our puny trailer of stuff is heavy enough to make hilly areas into a 50 mph zone. The Google map directions claimed a 11.5 hour day and a 10 hour day. I think we're looking at 13.5 and 12 at minimum. That's a loooog time to be in the car driving a manual with no cruise control. 

Mmmmmm, goodbye for now, Houston. I know we're off to new adventures and change is always good, but H-town was a great way to spend our mid-20's. And thanks for a really wonderful collection of lifelong friends and tremendous neighbors and co-workers. 

Eddie. I died laughing when I saw I captured this gem. 
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