Getting Toned

So lately I’ve been going to the gym a lot — crazy, I know.

But that’s not what this post is about at all.

For the past several days, our office’s copy machine has been out of toner. It might not sound like a big deal, but as someone who makes about six trips to the copier a day, trust me, it is a huge deal.

So anyway, the new toner finally came in the mail today, and I was just thrilled. I ecstatically skipped to the back room, toner in hand, and began fumbling around trying to get it into the copier. Realizing I had never changed a copy machine toner, I decided I should endeavor to follow the directions printed on the toner compartment door.

These directions were in picture form, but nonetheless they were easy to follow:

1. Shake toner

2. Insert toner into copier

3. Proceed with copying

So, my heart fluttering with anticipation, I vigorously shook the toner cartridge.

Big. Mistake.

Toner flew everywhere — I looked like Wiley Coyote just after he falls into the old road runner TNT trap. I mean, I had toner on my hands, my neck, my face, and all over my crisp, white sweater. Not to mention all over the copy machine and break room. I guess most people don’t get as excited about new toner as I do, because the seal on the toner definitely couldn’t withstand my level of enthusiasm.

Obviously this recalls the Great Ranch Dressing Disaster of 1993, when I accidentally shook a bottle of ranch too vigorously, covered half my plate in dressing, and cried inconsolably.

However, in the years following the Great Ranch Dressing Disaster, I have come to realize that I do embarrassing and clumsy things too often to cry about them, and spent the entire day today laughing at myself.

What a great day! What a great toner cartridge. My life is awesome.

Catching up with iPhone pics

In September I attended my first wedding ever, and it was in Seaside, Oregon, where The Goonies was filmed. Sadly, I didn’t see any pirates, but as a consolation prize, I got to eat a restaurant called Pig N Pancake. It’s like they named it just for me!

We stayed right near the beach in a town of about 30, and we had a rollicking good time.

This is the beach from the last scene of The Goonies, but there wasn’t a ghost pirate ship in real life. There were some tide pools though.

My dad’s birthday was also in September, and unfortunately we had Walmart-quality candles, and some maimed ballerinas and camels for decoration. The candles were extinguished on the way from the kitchen to the dining room. It was pretty pathetic, but I don’t think anyone has laughed that hard through the Birthday Song in the history of birthdays.

Jeff and I have had many a Saturdate, though there aren’t any photos to prove it so you’ll have to trust me on this one. We got to see our all-time favorite singer, Ingrid Michaelson. It was amazing! She’s great in concert, and her music is beautiful to sing along to.

We also went to the Academy of Sciences, which has been on my list for a while. If you haven’t gone, GO! It was pricey, but we got to see a 3D movie about bugs, get whisked around the universe by Whoopi Goldberg’s voice in the planetarium, walk through a rain forest, get stung by electric eels, watch a shark feeding, stare at the depressed albino alligator and of course watch the pendulum knock over pins using the rotation of the earth. Ah, what a day.

We also got to see the King Tut exhibit at the De Young museum, but in all honesty it wasn’t that cool. They had a lot of jewelery and coffins and such, but we were both expecting and hoping to see some dead mummy. I mean, when you tour a tomb in China, you see a cadaver, so this was a bit underwhelming. Also, the costumes exhibit was closed… bah!

Let’s look at more random pictures!

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make it worth living, like when you get to pin down a dish for an extra good licking.

It was my brother Kieran’s 30th birthday in November, and we all wore party hats for our gourmet dinner — stuffed tomatoes with tofu or tuna, polenta, squash soup with garlic croutons, beet salad and cake. So delish!

My birthday also passed in November, making me a sage old 22. I got some great gifts, including two books on cupcakes. One for making cute decorative cupcakes, and a slightly stuffier Martha Stewart cupcake book. I have to admit that I don’t really enjoy sweets as much since living in China, so I mostly love making cupcakes for the artistry. It’s just as well, I’m already getting chunkier eating US food.

For my birthday, Jeff’s family took me to the CUTEST restaurant. It used to be a stage coach stop in the 1800s, so it looked like this tiny village of cabins in the mountains, and the interior had fireplaces and antiques. Plus the food was rib-sticking mountain food. I spent lots of time watching falling stars in the hot tub and sunsets on the beach, plus I got really good deals at the Nordstrom Rack. It was a great birthday weekend in Santa Barbara.

We had the opportunity to use the cupcake books at Thanksgiving. We actually invited ourselves to Devin and Kate’s house since our oven was full of turkey, and I didn’t want turkey cupcakes. It was lucky too, because we were ill-prepared to make things with marzipan and had to borrow lots of supplies from Kate.

But our little pumpkin-topped cupcakes came out alright in the end.

A few days later we made some chocolate cupcakes with little penguins. In truth, I think that marzipan is gross to eat, so I just threw out my little penguin. I suppose he thought he’d found a sweet little iceberg on top of my cupcake, but soon he discovered how harsh the realities of global warming were — global warming in my tummy!

This weekend Devin, Kate and I went to Malibu Grand Prix for mini golf. It was a significant day for me, because the last time I was there, it was Devin’s birthday, and I was not only an unwelcome guest at his party, but also too young and short to play on any rides. I’m pretty sure I cried.

This time was much happier. I played quite badly at golf — 66 (plus I cheated on one hole, so I actually deserved a 67). We also played arcade games and pooled our tickets for some sweet prizes.

Earlier in the day, I’d noticed that Devin had some rather Edward Cullen-inspired marks on his neck. [See exhibit A below]

So we used our tickets from skeeball to buy Kate some defense equipment:

But we didn’t even come close to this guy and his kid, who won 2500 tickets from a luck shot in a game.

The funny thing was that they didn’t seem too pleased about the big win, while everyone else around them was super excited. The poor kid just looked anxious and distracted while the arcade machine spewed tickets out for ten minutes straight. Perhaps he was thinking about the ruined lives of lottery winners, or the fact that his portion of tickets wouldn’t actually buy him anything worthy of such an unlikely win.

The cab shyster

Today Jeff and I decided to go to the park after work, so I met him at his office and we took a cab uptown. It was a lovely, hot day, the first real day of spring, and a national holiday.

As we were riding, I noticed that the driver was taking a slightly inefficient route to get to the park, but it wasn’t an egregious case of fare inflation so I didn’t worry about it. I figured he’d possibly make a few extra kuai, but with the traffic slow on more traveled roads, it’d be more or less even.

At any rate, just as we were entering the on-ramp to the second ring road — it functions like a freeway within the city— he slammed on his breaks. We weren’t going too fast, but it caused the car behind to rear-end us. This is the first car accident I’ve been in in China, so I was mildly excited and a little worried it’d delay us.

He hopped out of his car, exchanged pleasantries with the other driver, who was a young army official driving a rather nice look sedan, 200 kuai exchanged hands and in less than a minute we were driving along as before.

The thing is, the taxi driver had no reason to stop, and our slow speed insured that little damage would be done. I’m pretty sure he did it on purpose. I wonder how often he gets in accidents…

New semester, same over-commitment addiction

Although I’m entering my last semester of college, it almost feels like I’m already out of school. I only need to complete two units in order to graduate from UC Davis, and my major and minor are complete.

Oddly enough, because of my high language ability, most of my classmates are in a similar situation. They are mostly graduating seniors, so this semester the bulk of their academic energy will be focused on completing their senior thesis papers. Accordingly, classes are lighter this semester, leaving me with an easily fillable “hole.” In case you don’t know me well, hole is written as “hole” because of my over-commitment addiction, since any normal person would probably be perfectly happy to settle for a lighter classload and more time to absorb material and relax.

Despite my promises to the contrary last semester, I’ve again taken on quite a load this semester.

I’m planning to take advanced writing, contemporary literature, investigation current topics, advanced Chinese reading and maybe a Chinese idiom class.

I’ll be studying for the HSK test, which will be vital to me in finding work. The HSK measures your Chinese language ability with multiple choice, essay, interview and listening comprehension. I’ve heard that Koreans start studying for it in elementary school. I’m. so. scared.

I’m currently reviewing a book for my old publishing house, Berrett-Koehler, which I LOVE and puts out really great books on business, current affairs and self-help topics. I can’t really tell you what the current book I’m reading for them is, but I think it would be very interesting to many of my readers. I previously worked a bit on B-K books The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, Crunch (my personal favorite), Prescription for Survival and Flight Plan.

I also just got a freelance job through one of my professors out of the blue. I’m correcting textbooks designed to teach Americans to speak Mandarin. So far it’s pretty interesting, and the company seems like a great work environment. Plus, I get to work from home, which is perfect with my schedule.

I will also be starting an internship soon at The Beijinger, which is a well-known expat magazine in Beijing. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and of course a lot of work I’m guessing.

And finally, I’m hoping to find time to do some volunteering at NGOs in Beijing.

Yup. I think I’m going to be really bored this semester.