Pulling My Sh*t Together

I was feeling a little down yesterday. It was a boring day. There are a lot of boring days out here in the sticks, which I’m normally okay with. I can usually entertain myself doing various things — reading, walking, working out, studying Mandarin, cooking, cleaning, surfing (the web — not the Yellow Sea).

Chatting with my main man would make anyone's day better.

Chatting with my main man would make anyone’s day better.

Yesterday was different because I was missing home for the first time. I don’t really get homesick. I just never have. Besides, it’s hard to get homesick with all the communication options out there. I can video chat with my family and friends over Google, I can text, I can email, I can Facebook, I can Google+, I can be happily surprised by comments on this blog from former co-workers…lots of options that leave me never truly missing the important people in my life.

But the people part of home wasn’t what I was missing. It was the convenience part. I miss jumping into my car to do whatever it is I want to do. We can’t do that here because we aren’t allowed to drive. Why? It’s simple: it’s too dangerous and therefore too much of a liability for the company that sent us here. There are no rules when it comes to driving and there are lots of people who are new to driving here, which creates disastrous driving conditions. I may have previously stated this, but I’ve stopped looking out through the front window when we are being driven anywhere — whether it’s in a taxi, a bus, or a private car. It’s too damn nerve-racking — especially for this backseat driver.

It’s the little things that can become major annoyances here, but I’m trying to keep all these things in check. Yeah, it sucks not having a car. It sucks to have to take a short bus to the grocery store, finish your shopping in 45 minutes, and then wait in a cold store for another hour fifteen until the bus comes back. Then you get on the bus and — shocker shocker — the driver hasn’t turned on the heat for the drive back home. But it doesn’t suck to not have to stop for gas and fill up on a rainy, dreary day or have to look interested and pretend that I care as my husband “shows” me how to change the car’s oil (isn’t that what Jiffy Lube is for?). It especially doesn’t suck when I think about all the bills associated with my old car that I no longer have (insurance, gas…you know them all).

Then there are other annoyances, which are clearly first world problems, like the lack of canned whole peeled tomatoes. For most people, that’s not a problem. But for me, it’s huge considering I make a ton of vegetable based soups, which I would love to have at this very moment in this very cold climate. Last night after being disappointed again at our local grocery store, I decided I just have to suck it up. There are a ton of awesomely weird-looking vegetables and fruits here that I’ve been neglecting and that needs to and will change. I’ve been thankful for the little things like finding red lentils and couscous in Qingdao (to which a whole Saturday must be sacrificed to travel there and back on a coach bus that also lacks heat).

Bread Maker: The best and most surprising purchase I've made.

Bread Maker: The best and most surprising purchase I’ve made.

I even splurged on a bread maker. I never thought I’d be making my own bread, but one of the first things I learned upon arrival was that the bread is subpar, and that’s putting it kindly. It has a sweet taste and is more cakey than bready. Its delicate structure makes it too weak to withstand a big slather of peanut butter, which means it’s not up to my standards, and so something had to be done about it.

That’s the good part. For all the hassles that have been encountered in our first six weeks in China, life is not too bad. In fact, it’s about to get pretty darn good when our air shipment arrives tomorrow (knock on wood) and I get reacquainted with my kitchen gear (hello immersion blender and soup pot), yoga mat, and running shoes. Until then, I’ll console myself with some delicious homemade bread.

My First Bread: Something to be proud of.

My First Bread: Something to be proud of.

This entry was published on January 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm. It’s filed under Homesickness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

15 thoughts on “Pulling My Sh*t Together

  1. I understand you perfectly well. And it is very dangerous for the mind to sink in every-day problems and disappointments. You come to a critical line – whether you sink into those overwhelming things, or you rise above and look at those obstacles as something you have been blessed for (just a funny thing – when we could not find any good bread in those days in Shanghai – we stopped eating it at all – our weight and overall health improved dramatically. Now we eat lots of bread hear in Italy – and you saw us, not talking about our blood pressure). Kids, work, teaching, studying – you name it – will make all those blue days go away …….

    • Thanks for the support, Anna. I know how much you can relate, which is helpful. On the bread–I never knew how much sugar and oil was involved, so we are going to have to start rationing ourselves after awhile. It’s a nice treat for now, though.

  2. Awww, Aunt Rach 😦 I know u will have it all figured out in no time! Four years will fly by and then you’ll be sad you’re leaving. Lol 🙂 I love the pic of your main man and yes, he is always here to put a smile on your face. Even when he is grumpy! Just a few hours til your shipment arrives and only 2 months til the wedding!!!! Anna is right…..kids make blue days go away so get on it!!! HAHAHAHAHA! LUV YA! (and Uncle Iggy!)

  3. Lol 😉

  4. andi reilly on said:

    just testing to see if this shows up .., don’t let it bring u down , its only castles burning – know will understand that

  5. Pookie, that bread looks delicious and I’m sure it smelled wonderful–nothing like that smell to wrap some comfort around you.

  6. There’s nothing like home made bread! Have you made any of your delicious granola yet?

  7. Rachel D. on said:

    I think sometimes when the “newness” of a situation wears off, reality can set in and one can feel a bit melancholy. I also think this is a necessary part of a continuum in which the other end feels less like you are on holiday, and more like your life (altered a bit, of course;). You undoubtedly will learn new ways of cooking, likely involving all of those funny little vegetables you see in town. When you leave in 4 years, you will probably find yourself longing for things you could get easily on one of your day trips to Qingdao.

  8. Nope, you should not be missing your car at all. I am totally addicted to mine, but lately, everything about it is making (or driving, har har) me crazy. We’ll start with how before I moved, the accelerator was shuddering, so I took it here and I took it there, I had it aligned, had the tires balanced and rotated, and finally the problem went away (or I got used to it, I don’t even know). Also lost $100 in the process. When I moved, I also rented a car trailer, which was an extra and annoying expense and was cause for way more stress than I needed to deal with (more on the disastrous move another time…). Oh, and back in October, I had my timing belt changed for a pretty penny.

    Now, it’s winter. After getting that work done on my car, I move to Pothole City. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cringed after driving over one of the many craters here, especially since I take Penn Avenue a lot. And I live on a hill in Bloomfield, so getting my car in and out of snowy parking spots on the side of the street has been a pain in the ass. The worst is all the rubber I’ve burnt from dislodging my car from its icy, traction-less prison whenever I park it each time. I often silently mourn over the amount of unknown damage I have done to my engine in the span of one month from this, too (and yet I still love winter). And then I sigh over the damage that I know might come; rust from the road salt that I won’t be washing off until it stays warm for more than a week. And while I don’t mind this so much, it does get old having to brush and scrape it off almost every day–sometimes a couple times.

    Let’s not forget the other fun things! I moved across state lines. A license to drive it here? Only $22. But it also required two separate trips to the DMV downtown because I did not have proper proof of residency the first time. I also had to switch my car insurance over to Pennsylvania, but luckily the person on the other end was pleasant. But don’t forget, I also had my car registered and retitled–a mere $97, and only because I’m a AAA member (another $30, normally)! I also had to go to AAA twice in one day because I am brain-dead and left my car title sitting on my kitchen counter when I left to go the first time. Luckily, they weren’t busy that afternoon. Now all I have to do is get my car inspected and well….yup, more money.

    Last week, my gas tank door would not open and I almost ran out of gas because of that. Instead, I spent 30 minutes the next morning screwing around with the cables and compartments in my trunk and almost broke the little door before figuring out how to manually open it.

    And one last note: People who drive generally suck. Driving in China is hell, but the US still hangs out on its outer rim when it comes to such a task. Driving home from work yesterday prompted at least 4 separate outbursts of road rage from yours truly.

    I don’t think I need to go further. You’re going to be just fine. 😉 And I will, as always, get over it.

    Glad to hear that it’s overall going quite well. Super glad, in fact!

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