I Miss Frankie

September 26, 2009

By Elena Garcia

Frankie HAPPYThat’s right, I’m talking about my dog. Now that I have been back for nearly two weeks, the last residue of Frankie’s shed hair is wearing off of my clothes. His saliva stains have been washed off my designer jeans and his magnificent smell has been over powered by the smells of Chinese ways. And so now I miss him.

It’s rare that one sees a big (or medium) sized dog here in Shanghai. Most of the time dogs are held in the purses of It Chinese girls. (Any one who has encountered my Frankie knows well enough that the only bag he’s going to fit in is an oversized rolling luggage bag.) In Shanghai, dogs are sold as an accessory as opposed to a pet; a dog is the equivalent to an expensive designer bag or a pair of really high heels. And don’t get me wrong I love myself some puppy love but any trend that Paris Hilton starts is not one I will choose to participate in. Once in a while a big dog will be seen at the end of a leash on his way home from his long walk with the giant grin of exhaustion spread across his face, but those sightings are rare. I must say though if you are a man in China looking for the attention of some ladies, adopt a big dog and take him for walks! Girls go nuts for that (and by girls I mean me… although, I’m spoken for… so maybe not)! (Ohh and only adopt a dog if you’re ready for the responsibility one requires, dog’s need happy good homes!! Just saying.)

Everyday at about 5 pm tiny cinnamon colored Pomeranians fill the grassy lawns in our compound and yap away into the darkness. They’re cute and they remind me of some family pets but they aren’t Frankie! They don’t eat everything in sight and whine uncontrollably at the sight of food out of their reach. They just let their manes of golden fur billow in the wind and poop, everywhere. (Which BTW no one picks up here!! Not surprising seeing how it’s rare that they even pick up human poop when they decide to do it on the street.)

I know it’s best that Frankie stays in America while we complete our stay here. Frankie couldn’t survive in Shanghai. With all the nonsense thrown onto the muggy streets and Frankie’s uncontrollable appetite for street “food,” he would eat something to make him sick! It’s for his own protection that we left him behind. At least that is what I chant in the back of my head to defuse the guilt that I feel for leaving my little fatso!

We’ll be home soon big guy!!!

By Elena Garcia

And there you have it… my magnificent time in America is over!  I boarded my flight, adjusted my seat in the bed position and slept my 12-hour way home. America was great to me: the weather, the cheap mystic tan sessions, and my friends who cooked me delicious meals that I will never be able to replicate.

On my flight to America, the pod next to mine was empty, this time I sat next to a gentlemen who happened to own Legos… or some toy company that the young one’s are crazy about! As we introduced ourselves, I found myself absolutely jealous of him. (Not just because he is a billionaire or whatever.) He was visiting Shanghai and he, in a few weeks, would return to his home in America. I on the other hand, won’t be returning for 2 ½ months! Ten long gruesome weeks!

Nonetheless, I enjoyed what would probably be my last English conversation with someone who isn’t Garrett and chugged down my complimentary mimosa.

America: land of the by one get one free mystic tan session, home of the brave and bold fashion choices and most importantly the place where I could eat Taco Bell at most reasonable hours.

Returning to Shanghai hasn’t been easy and I feel as if it is getting harder. It’s like being a kid the night before a trip to Disneyland; you’re just too excited to sleep. Knowing that I ONLY have a short time ahead of me makes me think of all the planning that needs to occur in the time remaining.

Where will Garrett and I live?
Where will I work?
What will we eat? (There is nothing wrong with planning ahead!)

But for right now, thinking of the answers to those questions, wont do me a whole lotta good. So I am planning for the other things… like tomorrow’s outfit.

America 1, China 0

September 9, 2009

By Elena Garcia

Being in America and not being in China has allowed me proper time to reflect and take in the many expectations I had about finally coming home.

For example, prior to returning the fear that I would be over whelmed by the astronomical prices plagued my conversations with my friends. I mean the prices of things in America are a bit more expensive then the haggle-ings of Shanghai! Or so I thought…but there are many things that American shopping provides me that Shanghai can never!

1st you can find clothes that actually fits you at your variety boutiques and department stores!

2nd you can find cute things that aren’t bedazzled to death!

3rd you can find LEGIT things. Like a real Marc Jacobs bag at Neimans or Moschino Shoes at Saks.

4th I have found some amazing deals since arriving!! I’ve finally gotten to do the kind of shopping that I was so addicted too!

I’ve had a few shopping trips since arriving, an afternoon on Polk Street, a weekend in Hollywood, and of course, adventures downtown! My shopping escapades have all allowed me to visit my favorite shops here in America and boy oh boy has my credit card felt the backlash!

During one shopping trip to Barney’s it occurred to me that I would be thrilled to wear anything on the hanging racks. Barney’s is laid out in that perfect come hither way, it’s not too crowded, it’s not too cluttered, it’s just perfectly placed in a perfect paradise. The floors are hard and cold, giving the exposed chrome racks and clean white walls a very industrial feel. Cut up jeans, one shouldered tops, even a patterned mini dress all fill the displays and my dreams of a fashionable life. Barney’s is my fashion heaven and I will do whatever it takes to get into those pearly gates!

Everything about visiting the definitive department store made me realize what I loved about shopping. All the merchandise was so perfectly placed and displayed, calling to me in that way… that way that only a call from George Clooney could replicate. Every shirt, skirt, and snake skin boot were magical in that non-fake, amazingly fitted, authentically fashionable way!!! China doesn’t have that! Things are piled on barrels in the sticky warehouse malls and sales clerks constantly follow you around letting you know that the things you’re looking at won’t fit you! No one at Barney’s will slap a magnificent Robert Rodriguez blouse out of my hands because they think it wont fit. Damn it, they’ll let me try ANYTHING I want on, no matter what size it is AND they’ll offer you a cocktail!

Its moments like my Barney’s shopping trip, which have made it easy to get back into my old ways here in the US of A. Shopping, having brunch with friends, adventuring through downtown and fantastic dinners out on the town.

Now, America hasn’t been all perfect! During one of those fantastic dinners I had probably one of the most mortifying experiences of my life! Well, I’m sure I have some drunken college escapades that I wouldn’t be too proud of now. But it topped the cake on this trip.

I had gone to a San Francisco eatery to enjoy a birthday celebration; we shared cocktails, appetizers, amazing dinners and even better desserts. When the bill came everyone put down cash, or cards to have it split up. Not thinking twice I pulled out my barely used visa and threw it down for my portion of the bill. Moments later the waitress returned and notified me that my card was DECLINED. That’s right! Rejected, stand BEHIND the velvet rope and you suck, DECLINED.

I was so embarrassed and I didn’t understand why! I hadn’t used the card since I was in China; I had protected this card from my shopping conquests. Everyone assumed it was because I hadn’t used it since returning from China. The company probably thought that a 60-dollar charge in San Francisco after months of in activity was fraudulent. But that had NEVER happened to me before, not with this card! When I went to China, they never blocked the card! So after apologizing profusely and throwing down ALL the money I had and borrowing the remainder. I gathered my things and began trying to figure out what happened. Had I secretly been using my credit card? Had sleep shopped?

On my trip home, I quickly called my credit card company and found out something so horrifying that I nearly screamed! Someone had taken my credit card number and racked up SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS in ONLINE POKER costs, winnings, loses… The credit card company had frozen my account when they saw the charges weren’t my typical shoe purchases! I hadn’t noticed because I was in China when they sent the letter and they hadn’t been able to contact me. I never noticed on my statement because I make payments automatically and just missed it!

The kind man from the Visa office processed everything nonchalantly because as he said, “this was more common then one would think!” I wanted him to be angrier, to sympathize and empathize with my anger but just like a robotic system he cut me off with answers to my questions before I could even get them all out!

How could someone get my credit card number?
-They hacked, looked up, or just plain glanced at my exposed card!

When did it happen?
-42 days prior to my rejection!

Why ME?
-It happens to many, best thing is to make sure you use secure sites and check your monthly statements.

How can someone play that much online poker? (This on threw him off!)
-I don’t know ma’am.

All his answers came in monotone and completely unemotional.

How could someone play so much damn poker!! AND SUCK SO BAD!! Six grand! SIX freakin GRAND! Not even I spend that much on shoes (in one outing)! I wish I knew who this guy was, I would very much throw one of my shoes at him!!!!