Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hey!

Hello? Anyone still here? Deep apologies for the lack of posts. My biggest excuse is a big one: the country I live in blocks my website (all Google products including Blogger), and the workaround I have been using to still access it (along with facebook, gmail, and instagram) has been less than reliable this year, so I haven't been able to access it at all in 2016! The only posts I've done were from Dubai, where the internet is far more open and uncensored.

However! Thanks to a photographer friend in Los Angeles who was here visiting recently, I found a new blogging platform which isn't blocked and can be accessed pretty easily. It's a platform that has sprung up since we left America 5+ years ago, so I'd never heard of it. It's not free, but I think it'll be worth it.

After going through a pretty rough season where I didn't write at all but instead poured my heart out in painting, I'm happy to say I'm back to making art with the written word again. I've focused so much on fiction for all my writing, but in the past year I've seen that the actual stories that come from my colorful life are what I want to write about. So that's what I'm doing lately, laying down moments of happiness, pain, and wonder from a lifetime of wandering. We'll see what happens with it.

Starting next month I'll start transitioning over to the other blogging platform and hopefully get back to bringing new content to My Wandering Life. We're still in Shanghai, by the way. But we did move house, away from our flat on the 38th floor overlooking the Huangpu River, and into a much lower flat right at the tree tops where my view is a sea of green. Oh, and a little project my husband is working on opened two months ago. Shanghai Disneyland is the most beautiful and amazing place, and I've been seven times and every time I go there is more to see. I'll share more with you soon. It's super photogenic! We're here for the long haul though. About to jump on a plane and head to the beach on an island in the South China Sea where the boys will engage in water sports and I will sit under a canopy and doze with a good book. Life is good.

More soon, I hope! You can find me on Instagram for more in my day to day life. It's supposed to be a photography site, but I don't know how to not write when presented the option! I'm Roseknows.





Monday, February 15, 2016

MIKA in Shanghai!

I can't remember when I first discovered singer/songwriter MIKA. I just know his music makes me happy. His Popular Song with Ariana Grande, which borrows the hook from the song Popular in the Broadway musical Wicked, is very addicting. I have the video on my phone, and when I need a quick pick me up, I watch it and laugh at the tale of revenge (and want Ariana's dress at the end).



But the song of his which has particularly resonated for me while we've lived here in Shanghai is Celebrate. In the past (rough) year, I've scribbled "It will be OK" all over the place, including on the front of my journal (which I would never rip up the way MIKA rips up his in the music video below), a line from this song.



I love his videos. They are all so creative and energetic, and everything I've read and heard says that his live performances are the same. But we live in Shanghai, China, where many BIG commercial groups come through, but not so many smaller international groups. At least not smaller international groups I've heard of or want to see. Regardless, MIKA has been on my live performance wish list for quite some time, definitely since before we lived in Asia this last time around.

At some point late last year I got an email saying MIKA was playing in Shenzhen, which is in southern China. We did fly down to Hong Kong to see Star Wars, but that was something the whole family wanted to do, and it was our Christmas gift to each other this year. I sighed and thought, "so close." And then yesterday this image came through my spammy email:



Did I buy tickets for Shanghai less than two minutes after seeing it? Why yes I did. And I'm so excited. I've been playing his new album, No Place in Heaven, all morning. Good stuff. There's some really great things about being an expat, living abroad. But sometimes we don't get access to things we would if we were living back in Los Angeles, where we were spoiled for entertainment choices every single night of the week. We only get 20-something foreign films in movie theaters a year here (which is why Star Wars didn't come to China until January 2016, China had already hit it's quota for foreign films in 2015). So when we do get any musical act, musical, theatrical or dance production come through which looks even remotely interesting, we go see it. If enough shows sell out, more artists and performing groups may feel encouraged to come to Shanghai. Win-win for all of us. 

If you're in Shanghai and want to see MIKA, tickets are available for Thursday February 25 (Friday is sold out! Hooray!) by clicking on this link. Hope to see you there! 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Friendly Face

We've just returned from a holiday in the United Arab Emirates, visiting one of my best friends from Macau who now lives in Dubai, and a friend I went to high school with who I haven't seen in 23 years since our high school graduation day who now lives in Abu Dhabi. It's Chinese New Year here in China, and my sons, who go to a local Chinese school, have over five weeks off of school. So we looked for a place which was warm and where we have friends we could crash with (we're about to pay for the second term of the school year, so we needed to economize).

It was lovely and wonderful and exactly what we needed as a family (my husband only got to join us for a few days) and I'll write more about it later. But something funny happened, which happens pretty much everywhere we go in the world: a total stranger approached me for help in a place I knew next to nothing about. It's happened to me on my first day in London (with a Chinese man who was lost on the Underground), during a holiday in Tokyo, and immediately after our arrival in Macau, plus plenty of other times on vacations throughout the world.

It happened twice during this trip to Dubai. Once, when the boys and I were were wandering along the coast of the Persian Gulf (which in the UAE is called the Arabian Gulf, I was corrected multiple times), enjoying the warm air and listening to the turquoise waves crash on the incredibly soft sand (see photo at top of post). "Excuse me, We're trying to find the Metro?" It took me a moment to realize the young couple were actually addressing me. Having just taken the Metro, and done the same walk that they were going to need to do (25-30 minute duration), I asked their final destination, looked up the proximity to a Metro station at the other end, saw how close it was to where we were, and quickly judged the price of the Metro vs. the cost of a taxi, and recommended that they just take a taxi to save time, spending about the same money. I'd passed a taxi stand so I sent them there, and I went back to enjoying the sun and surf.

The second time was at about 1:30 a.m. at the Dubai International Airport, while I was gazing off at nothing, waiting in a long line at Starbucks before our connecting flight to Moscow. A woman walked directly up to me, thrust her phone at me, and said, "I can't connect to the wifi, can you get it to work?" She didn't have an iPhone (which is really the only smartphone I have any experience with), but I took the phone and spent several minutes trying to help her figure out the slightly complicated way the airport has to get you on their free wifi, and then back into the messaging app she was trying to use to send a friend at her destination a text about her delayed flight. Off she went, a quick "thanks" over her shoulder. There was a man in a suit with an American accent in front of me, and he turned to ask if that was my mom. "Nope, never met her before." He looked slightly taken aback. "Why did she ask you for help?" "Beats me. She really should have asked my 15 year old son over there. He's the expert with all things wifi." He grinned widely, and said, "It's your friendly face."

I don't think I'm particularly friendly... I'm an introvert and don't go making conversation with random strangers if I can help it (that would be my Dad). But I do have insatiable curiosity about everything in the world around me. I'm highly observant with a great sense of direction, and I ask a thousand questions. The best thing that ever happened to me was when I got an iPhone (my first ever smartphone) and had Google at my fingertips to answer any question in seconds. My brain exploded with happiness at all the new information which was mine instantly! My kids say I know everything. That isn't true at all. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much I don't know. But I do know how to find answers, and if someone asks me a question I don't know the answer to, I tend to drop everything until I can find the answer or can point them to another person who can answer it. I'm not really sure why people confidently approach me for directions and help, especially when I'm lost in revelry over the beauty of the shoreline, or completely zoned out waiting for caffeine in an airport terminal after midnight. But it never, ever annoys me. So maybe even if I don't feel that I'm particularly friendly, the guy in line was right... my face must say otherwise.

Now if you walk up to me and ask me something about Shanghai, where I have lived for four years, you'll get the full guided tour with fun facts and even commentary on where the best western toilets are while we're out and about. Go ahead... come visit and test me on this!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Countdown

There are three big events on the horizon! Star Wars, my birthday, and Christmas! 


Star Wars episode VII won't actually release in China until the end of January 2016. There is no way we would be able to go six weeks without having the film spoiled for us. So our big family Christmas gift this year is to pluck the boys from school (the don't get a break for Christmas) and fly down to Hong Kong where we have tickets to see it the day it opens there, December 17. Fun fact, it doesn't open in America until December 18. And fun-er fact, we're a day ahead of America here, so it's actually like we get to see it two days before America. Do I sound a little braggy? Yeah. But let me. Most every film that comes to China arrives 4-24 weeks later than the rest of the world, if at all. So please indulge me my excitement of being able to see our most highly anticipated film since Les Miserables early. And actually, we did the same thing when Les Mis came out, we flew down to see it in Hong Kong for Christmas of 2012. It didn't arrive in Shanghai until July of 2013! 

It's not all about Star Wars though, tonight in our creative group, The Playground, we made Advent calendars to countdown to Christmas.


So excited that it's finally December again!


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pumpkin Everything Season


I love pumpkin everything. But the only pumpkin anything you can get in Shanghai would be pumpkin soup (which I love and the rest of the family doesn't care for). There was that one time I ordered pumpkin cheesecake, and got chunks of pumpkin pulp mixed into a savory cheese mixture (after one bite it was disposed of). I did find some decorative pumpkins in the store yesterday, and joked that this was our urban pumpkin patch. 


At least the pomelos (a citrus fruit common to south east Asia) were getting into the spirit of this time of year:


They look like little scarecrows! 

All of you Americans reading this, please go have a pumpkin spice doughnut from Krispy Kreme followed by a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks in my honor and remember how lucky you are to have never had the combo of cheddar and pumpkin pulp anywhere near your tastebuds! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Time Hop

There's this wonderful app called Timehop which shows you everything you've posted on any social media site on this day in the past. It's a little bittersweet and a whole lot of awesome.

Some days there's nothing to see... for whatever reason there was nothing at all worth posting about on a particular day. And other days it's filled with photos and status updates and links and all sorts of things that show a little slice of my public history. Here's today, screen grabs from my phone in the Timehop app:










Pretty cool, right? And funny that on this day in the last five years I was actually in five different countries... Five years ago-America, four years ago-Macau, three years ago-Shanghai (no photo, just a status update), two years ago-France, and one year ago-Hong Kong. The only insight I can give you about why this particular day has been filled with so many countries would be that the first week of October is "Golden Week" for China, a week of public holidays where everyone is off work and school and it doesn't count against your accrued vacation time. So many people spend this week traveling. Except us, this year. We're broke having just paid the boys' tuition. But a week of just hanging out at home is good too. 

What I really want to draw your attention to in this post is what happened two years ago today. The second photo above. Here's the full photo:


2013 was our Year of The Mouse, where we went to all the Disney theme parks, world wide, in one year. When Michael, Nathan, and I stepped into Disneyland Paris (seen above), the three of us could claim we'd been to all of the Parks. But Ben had to wait a few more months until we went to Japan and took him to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, as he'd not yet been born when we lived in Japan and so couldn't say he'd been there. 

But why I'm writing this post, and why I think this app is so bittersweet, is that this week, two years ago, was the last time that Nathan, my firstborn child, was shorter than me. We came back home to Shanghai from a week in Paris and London, and I noticed that when I stood eye to eye with Nathan, his eyes were actually looking down at me. We measured him, and sure enough, he was taller than me. 

I always believed it was Pixie Dust and Disney magic which kept you from growing up. But I guess it does nothing to keep you from growing taller. Now, Nathan is six feet tall, and even looks down at his Dad. He's the tallest member of the Chase side of the family, and on the Rose side only my "little" brother and two cousins are taller than him. Nathan turns 15 next month, and he's definitely not done growing yet. Ben is creeping up there, but to walk in Nathan's footsteps and overtake me by the time he turns 13, he'll have to grow three inches in the next nine months. He says he's up the task. Cheeky. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Back to School, Shanghai Style

Hey! It's been a minute. Sorry about that. I was sucking up every last second of summer. Yep, the big news around here is that school has resumed. I've never really written about our school choice here in Shanghai, but Hong Kong's daily newspaper, the South China Morning Post has. Literally. Look:


Yep, that's my family! I subscribe to SCMP's feed on Facebook, and I'll tell you it was ALL SORTS of weird to see our smiling faces show up when I was scrolling through before bed last night.

Would you like to read the article? Click here.

And just for fun, here's our first day of school photos. Or, more accurately, our day before the first day of school photos. We dropped the boys off at the dormitories the night before school started, so no lovely smiling faces in their smart uniforms to go in the scrapbook. Or, on the blog, because I'm not the scrapbooking type!

 

The boys walking on campus with their suitcases. The big red banner was only up for the first week of school. 


In lieu of an actual first day of school photo, this is a just-finished-moving-into-the-dorm photo (they were saying "hurry up and take the stupid photo, Mommmm!" I took a photo of them against this same wall at the beginning and end of last year as well, to mark their growth. Hopefully they don't paint away that line and I can capture them on the last day here too.



And then this is us and our sad faces, waiting for a taxi to take us home, after leaving the kids on campus. 

The good thing about the particular boarding school the kids attend is that it's just a bit over an hour away from our house, so they do come home on the weekends. Good practice for a few years from now when they're off to college (likely in a different country than wherever we're living).

I'll do a longer school-centric post soon. I started one some time ago and never got to it!