Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vision Boarding 2009

I am a visual person: I remember passages in books based on where they are on the actual page. I learn from watching and then doing. For as long as I can remember, I've created vision boards for each of my new novels and for my yearly goals. Each image and word on these boards symbolize what's important to me in my new work and my dreams.

I am so ready for 2008 to be over and done! My girlfriends, Dia Calhoun and Lorie Ann Grover, came over on Sunday to give me moral support as I created my vision board for 2009.

Can you guess whose is whose?

Ta da! Here we are after hours of cutting and collaging: Dia and her wings. Me and my security for the yPod Trio. Lorie Ann and her love.

May our visions for the new year all come true--every wish. Every hope. Every dream. I'd love to see your vision board!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Poetry Friday: Rumi

Another beautiful Rumi poem:

Observe the wonders as they occur around you.

Don't claim them. Feel the artistry

moving through, and be silent.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Girl Overboard: In Paperback!

Melissa Walker--new readergirlz diva, author of the fabulous Violet on the Runway series, and co-founder of my new obsession: iheartdaily.com--sent me a paparrazzi shot...of my novel, GIRL OVERBOARD. I didn't realize the book was out in paperback already, but here it is in Barnes & Noble!
Today I am grateful for readers who are still purchasing books to fuel their spirits! And I am grateful for girlfriends who are on the lookout for me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Humming with JOY!

To be honest, it's been a wee bit tense here in the Headley home. My hero of a brother-in-law to the rescue! He braved ice and snow with my sister to serve as my personal IT manager since my computer stopped talking to my printer. And my scanner was giving everything with a USB drive the cold shoulder. AND my doorbell was broken. YAY, Carl! YAY! My techie tools are on better terms again. And I can hear my visitors at the door again.

And then, during a much-needed break, three tiny, quiet visitors arrived, lured back by my daily defrosting of their sugar water. And suddenly, the world seemed a better place again. I mean, the snow outside makes everything fresh. The kids are buzzing around me. And so are the bitty birds. Seeing them makes me want to take out the picture book I had written five years ago about hummingbirds.

Today I am thankful for a techie guru genius of a brother-in-law, Carl! Go, CARL!!!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Art of Underwater Photography

My siblings are all superstars! Meet my brother, Will Chen, whose photographs are featured in a coffee table book, THE ART OF UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY. I'm not sure who was more scared of the up-close-and-personal shot of an open-mouthed SHARK: my mom ("Ack! How did Will take that picture?!") or me ("Ack! It's better not to know!").

Today I am grateful for all my siblings who remind me of what's important and what's beautiful.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Poetry Friday: Rumi

One of my favorite necklaces that I had to leave behind in China was etched with a poem by Rumi. So when I was browsing a bookstore, I happened on a journal filled with Rumi poetry. Here, then, in the next few weeks, you can find my favorite Rumi.

Keep knocking,

and the joy inside

will eventually


a window

and look out

to see who's there.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Homegrown House

My good friend, Janet Wong, has a new book coming out this summer, and on the Creating Connections blog, she asked, "How do you turn a house into a home?"

I loved that question since I've newly returned to my old house and needed to turn it into a new home. First off, my girlfriends came over to SWAK (sealed with a kiss)-paint the entry. Every brush stroke bristled with their love. And then the day after my sister finished her grad school finals, she came over...to paint, too. Despite test exhaustion, she powered on for two days straight, spending two nights over--driven by virtual direct infusions of caffeine and her mission to give me a fresh start.

It's amazing how color can completely alter the feeling of a space. And moving furniture. And changing up my enormous stacks of books, which, let's face it, are the ultimate accessories. Books warm up every room.

And finally...one of my friends in Shanghai, Stacey, gave me a tiny bottle of holy water from the fountain at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal. So today, we power cleaned our house. And then blessed our HOME. Every single room. The perimeter. The backyard. And the front.

Today I am thankful for having a HOME filled with joy and many, many blessings and the promise of future happiness.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Food: The Sixth Love Language

With all due respect to Gary Chapman and his wonderfully insightful book, The Five Love Languages, BUT I think he missed out on an important way people share love. A universal one. Love isn't just shown through quality time, gifts or words of affirmation. Physical touch or acts of service.

It's also shown through food. Yes, food.

Food is the sixth love language. It sure is for the Chen family. Meet my mom, she who is literally trying to nourish me and the kiddos with every morsel known to humankind. But my friends are trying. Here is the latest offering: cream puffs by Peggy King Anderson. As she said, "They're stuffed with love."

That's why I ate two. As I stuffed them gleefully into my mouth, I kept telling myself, they're love-rich, not calorie-rich. Right.

And then here's my love offering to the hummingbirds who have rediscovered our yard since we returned from China. I was so worried about the tiny creatures with the weather dipping to freezing that I woke up early to thaw their nectar.

Today I am grateful for having enough to eat...and for having friends and family who have made it their mission to see the kids and me well-fed. With love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poetry Friday: I'm a Wild Child

Wild Child
S. Y. Headley
My anger's red,
bloody red.
I feel like I could
like a wild lion.
My crying is soft,
drips and drops,
mist over the blue sky.
I'm a wild child,
roaming free.
I'm a wild child
with nobody to tell me NO.
I'm a wild child
with ratty brown hair
like logs and bark.
With eyes hazel nutty
as a rabid squirrel.
With clothes like a field of
I'm a wild child,
whose anger is read as blood,
sadness white as the clouds
loathing as black as fire's coal.
I'm a wild child...
or am I just free?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feed Hope with Dia Calhoun

My dearest friends have been welcoming me home to Seattle in full force! Just yesterday, Dia Calhoun--she of the Mythopoeic Award for Fantasy Writing!--dropped by with a handpainted piece of work she had created just for me. I'm hanging it over my front door. Feed Hope. It is my mantra for this next year. FEED HOPE.

To feed hope to my kids and let them feel the wonder of our lives and our world and our family and our friends.

To feed hope to myself that there is a greater plan. I just have to open my eyes and my heart to see it.

(One really fun fact about Dia. She's not only an amazing, award-winning author and a co-founder of readergirlz, but she's a gifted letterer. She did the lettering for the Alaska Airlines logo! And now her art work (not just her books) graces my home. )
Today I am so thankful for each and every one of my multi-talented friends who are making my home a reflection of my heart.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Naked Spa

Okay. So it's been so heartening that people are reading North of Beautiful and chattering about geocaching, my favorite geeking out pastime. If the book gets people out and about, GPS in hand, I'm a happy camper. But why is no one talking about the Naked Spa featured in the book?

It's a real place, people! And it's Nirvana. If you follow all truly blissed out women in the Northwest, you will be led directly to the Olympus Spa--a Korean-style sanctuary where every bit of a woman's body gets scrubbed and exfoliated. And yes, you shed all clothes so that you can marinate in one of several saunas and hot tubs for an hour before the Scrubdown.

I first heard about the Naked Spa (I mean, Olympus Spa) two years ago when my good friend Lauren raved about it after going through a temporary rough patch in her life. And then out at an SCBWI dinner, Ginger Knowlton--the rocking agent who reps one of my favorite authors of all time: K.L. Going--went on and on about her transcendental experience at the same Naked Spa. Well. I had to see the place for myself.

My very dear Ozzie friend, Nicole, was game for a field expedition to the Naked Spa. Two words: life altering. It's not that the scrubbing feels good--it can actually be downright painful...and more than a little unsettling how much dead skin gets rubbed off. But it's uplifting in a way that a massage is not. You feel like you're leaving much more than your skin on the table, but all the daily worries that you wear. Literally.

So a week after returning to the states, my friend Nicole blocked out her entire day to take me to the Naked Spa to scrub the worst bits of my China experience off my body. I literally floated out of the spa; I felt 10 pounds lighter. As if I had shed dead weight I wasn't even aware I had been carrying.

Today I am thankful for places like the Olympus Spa that cater to a woman's spirit as much as her body. And I'm thankful for true friends who know how to care for a sad heart.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Poetry Friday: Green Mountain

I find so much solace in the outdoors, hiking in the green Cascade Mountains, breathing the clean air, dipping my toes in glacial water. So now...in honor of my stay in Shanghai and my return to the Emerald City (Seattle), here is my last ancient Chinese poem, appropriately named Green Mountain.

Green Mountain

Li Bai (702-762)

You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;

I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.

As the peach blossom flows downstream and is the unknown,

I have a world apart that is not among men.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

North of Beautiful: Starred Review, Publishers Weekly!!

Joy! My editor, Alvina Ling, and her assistant editor, Connie Hsu, have been taking such good care of me. Awaiting at my door when my kiddos and I arrived home was an enormous box of books for them and a fantastic, perfect CD for me (Pink, SO WHAT!).

And then this morning, Alvina sent me news that North of Beautiful just got a starred review in Publishers Weekly! Thanks to Lisa Yee who emailed me immediately after...which was perfect happenstance since I had just opened a packet from Scholastic and there was the galley of her forthcoming ABSOLUTELY MAYBE. I was already screaming with delight as it was.

(PICTURE A BRIGHT RED STAR HERE. hee) North of Beautiful Justina Chen Headley. Little, Brown, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-02505-8

Laced with metaphors about maps and treasure, Headley’s (Girl Overboard) finely crafted novel traces a teen’s uncharted quest to find beauty. Two things block Terra’s happiness: a port-wine stain on her face and her verbally abusive father, a failed cartographer who views her as ugly and belittles the collages she creates. A car accident brings her together with Jacob, an Asian-born adoptee with unconventional ideas. Besides introducing her to new pursuits like geocaching, a treasure-hunting game using GPS, Jacob ends up traveling with her when they have an opportunity to visit China together with their mothers. The trip, far-reaching on many different levels, gives Terra a chance to rethink the past and re-map her goals. Taking readers to America’s Northwest, then to China and back again, the author confidently addresses very large, slippery questions about the meaning of art, travel, love and of course beauty. All of her characters hold secrets; finding them out will be as rewarding as Terra’s discoveries of caches. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Home Again, Home Again!

Home again! Home again! Jiggity Jig!

And trust me, I've been doing a little jig since stepping off the airplane on Friday morning. There, meeting me at the airport, were a few of the readergirlz divas: Lorie Ann Grover, Holly Cupala, and Janet Lee Carey. I was so touched! And felt so loved!!! And my kiddos' best buddies met us at our house, carrying balloons and signs.

My Strata-sisters descended on Saturday to paint my house and unpack for me. They're part of my pro bono consulting group, StrataGem, which is on hiatus indefinitely. For about 7 years, we helped non-profit groups that helped women and children solve tough business problems...totally for free. And now these amazing, amazing women are helping me. They brought cake! They brought coffee! They brought love! This is probably the one and only time my closet will look like a boutique--my clothes are folded so meticulously.

As thrilled as I am to be home, I think so fondly of my friends back in Shanghai, like Richard and Stacey, and Meg and John. Here we are at my send-off at Sun with Aqua on the Bund...a fantastic restaurant...before we hit my first and only jazz club in Shanghai. The best sushi I have ever had. Check out the sharks swimming in the background. (And you must go to the Cotton Club if you visit Shanghai! Must! A total boozy, smoky scene with fantastic live music.)

In my packing haze, I misplaced my camera so I couldn't photograph the wonderosity that is my traditional Chinese chopping block. It's about 50 pounds--I'm not joking. A single slab of wood, a veritable tree trunk. John had remembered me talking on and on about them while we were in Dunhuang since I had just read Nicole Mones' fantastic THE LAST CHINESE CHEF. These chopping blocks are extremely difficult to source...but John found one for me! I can't wait until it arrives, making its way across the Pacific Ocean to me.

More than that, I can't wait for my Shanghai friends to visit me in Seattle. Make your way across the Pacific to me, my pengyous. Missing you!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Geocaching for Teens & Libraries!

Calling all teachers and librarians! This just in from Little Willow and quoted from the YALSA website: GITA, the Geospatial Information & Technology Association has a program called Location in Education where educators can borrow 10-15 GPS units.

I am a geocaching geek...so much so that my next novel features geocaching! Seek out your inner geek and tell your fave teachers and librarians to snag these devices. So fun!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Poetry Friday: Buddhist Blessing

Traditional Buddhist Blessing and Healing Chant

Just as the soft rains fill the streams, pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,

so may the power of every moment of your goodness flow forth to awaken and heal all beings--

those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Goodbye, China!

Zai jian, China!
Today the kids and I leave for Seattle. Permanently and prematurely. This isn't the ending to the China experience that I had planned. Or wanted. Or dreamed of for myself and the kids when we set out on August 17th.
However hard this ending has been, here are all the things I am most proud of...
  1. Our attitude! I am so proud of my kids and myself for having such a positive attitude about moving to another country. Another country whose language we don't speak or understand. There were some rough patches--like people making fun of us or staring at the kids for being mixed race. Strange, unfamiliar things often appeared on our plates or unwanted at our table. But we made our way through it all...and mostly with big smiles.
  2. Our created communities! The kids made so many good friends in China...as did I. The people here--both locals and expats--have been nothing but wonderful and welcoming and so incredibly interesting. I am personally thankful for all the good people who have taken care of us--from Stacey and Richard (Seattle buds) to Emily Minor (wonderful blogger) to Yucca to my college BFF Shelli to my neighbors Barbara and Pam to Zhang Shifu and Sue Ayi. To new friends like Meg and John who remembered a story I was telling them weeks ago about a real Chinese cutting board...and then sourced one for me!!!! I am especially grateful to awesome kids with enormous heroic hearts who befriended my kiddos: Sophie, Martha, Olivia, Colleen, Matthew, Orion, and Mason.
  3. Our sense of adventure! We might not have known more than a handful of words to start, but the kids and I ventured all around Shanghai together--from ancient water towns to city parks to neighborhoods. We ordered local food at dives. We negotiated like pros at underground markets. We rode the subway. Heck, we rode camels on the sand dunes in the outermost reaches of China!
We leave China with our heads high. Our hearts full of love for all the good people who have surrounded us with care. And our minds ready for our next adventure.

Thanksgiving RAFTS in Shanghai

Moving once is hard enough. But moving twice internationally within three months? Let's talk worried mama bear syndrome here in Shanghai! I've been mulling over how to help my kiddos transition from Shanghai back to Seattle. A wonderful counselor shared with me the RAFT plan--saying goodbye in a healthy, healing way.

Reconciliation: reconcile with those who you've had a rift with during your stay. The kiddos and I have tried--each of us writing letters. Letters. And more letters.
Affirmation: affirm those who have helped you. We wrote even more letters to everyone who has shepherded us in Shanghai, protected us, mentored us, cared for us. I went to one of my favorite restaurants here in town, demanded to talk to the manager, and told him that I was sending my beloved driver to dinner there...and hoped they would provide the most excellent service in history for Zhang Shifu and his wife. They better. I want Zhang Shifu to feel affirmed with our love for him.
Farewell: say farewell to your favorite persons, places, and things. So we said goodbye to our favorite restaurants with great alacrity (can you say Shanghainese dumplings at Din Tai Fund?). And our favorite haunts and favorite people. We even snuck in an adventure today on Thanksgiving to have our portrait taken as we said goodbye to Shanghai lilongs (old neighborhoods) and shikumen houses.
Transition: prepare for the return knowing that while you have changed, home may not have. We have alerted all our friends of our impending return. And have had loooong talks about what we look forward to in Seattle...and what we don't (hmmm...gray gloomy overhead clouds?). That includes some traditional Thanksgiving food...

And people say that the Chinese eat weird stuff? Please. This marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole of American mystery somehow qualified as a VEGETABLE dish at our school potluck.

Today I am thankful for my sense of ADVENTURE. And for my peeps who share the same interest in life.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

North of Beautiful: First Reviews

On one of my cruddiest days ever last week, my editor, Alvina Ling, let me know that the publishing house had tweaked my book cover. I love what they did for the final final cover, placing the compass rose directly on top of Terra's cheek. It's absolutely perfect and symbolic of my girl's port wine stain.

And then as yet another present, Alvina sent me the first teen reviews for my book. Reading each review really felt like opening gift after gift. Here's one of my favorites:

"Saying that the book, North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, is not just another teen book would be a complete understatement. Her book is truly a piece of art and written beautifully. North of Beautiful is a wonderful book and I would highly recommend it to all teenagers. Throughout North of Beautiful, Justina Chen Headley brings up questions like, what is beauty and what makes something beautiful. Headley shows the reader with her book, that physical beauty is not all beauty; beauty is beyond the outward appearance. One message I got from the book was that no one is perfect and what makes one different also makes one beautiful. Although her book may be in the fiction section, North of Beautiful is very real and inspiring. I'd like to thank Justina Chen Headley for writing the book and I think her book will touch many hearts and make a difference in one's life or thinking."
-Cassie, 17
Today I am thankful for my teen readers like Cassie who remind me why I write in the first place and why I write specifically for teens. Thank you for entering my worlds and spending time with my words. And most of all, thank you for understanding what I was trying to express. What makes a person different also makes her truly beautiful. You got it absolutely right. A+

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shanghai: Photo Essay on Mops

As I was out and about photographing the city several weeks ago, one of my Shanghai turnSTYLE interviewees challenged me to begin a photo essay on mops in China.

Mops? I thought. You've got to be kidding.

But as I looked more closely at the fabric-strung mops, I realized there really was something to her idea. Suddenly, I saw the grand ubiquity of mops everywhere in Shanghai: propped against windows, doors, trees. On sidewalks. Inside homes. Alongside shopfronts. And I noticed the grace of their bedraggled Medusan hair. And I saw a story unfold...

Wallflowers pretending to take a much-needed respite...

And looking pensively out the window for her prince to come...

And finally draped over her beloved in a passionate embrace!

Today I am thankful for people who ask me to look closer at the world.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shanghai: More Chinglish Signs

One of the most amusing parts of living in China has got to be finding Chinglish signs. Here's one we spotted at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. Note: the Fried chicken flesh lump was remarkably tasty.

Today I am thankful for all things funny that make me giggle.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shanghai: Wild Animal Park

What is full of wild beasts and is wonderful in a terribly un-PC way? The Shanghai Wild Animal Park! Half of the park can be viewed only through tour buses which venture into corraled areas where cheetahs and tigers and bears roam relatively free. And then the other half of the park is like a zoo, animals in fairly naturalistic settings...including the adorable pandas!

Where else can you see a baby elephant sneaking in snacks while the zoo keeper is gazing off in the distance?

Where else can you see bears and monkeys riding bikes? (I have to say, the bear on a bike was disturbing and wrong in a way that a sea lion performing stunts does not bother me.)

But the best moment of all was convincing my spouse's driver to play hooky with me and the kiddos. We cajoled Zhang Shiful into the park with us. His joy at watching the animals was a highlight only seconded at his joy at spoiling my kids with lunch at the park.

Today I am thankful for all the people in China who have taken care of us, most especially Zhang Shifu who protected me and the kids every day that we have been here. He has looked out for us, thought about us, worried about us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shanghai: Face off!

Check out FACE for a fun place to hang out in Shanghai. With locations in Jakarta and Beijing, Shanghai's FACE bar is located in a mansion in the French Concession. Within are a few different restaurants and the all-important bar.
Today I'm thankful for great places to hang out with some of my favorite peeps in the world.

Shanghai: Bejeweled @ David Seno

Apparently, my girlfriends in Shanghai are out to remedy my anti-shopping mentality with a series of Interventions. Bright one morning, Yucca Rieschel--another super-connector on the Shanghai scene (on the right)--hijacked me. I mean, bundled me into a car and took me to one of her favorite jewelers: David Seno. Diana, one of the co-owners, met us in front of a seriously mega-locked door and ushered us into the quiet crypt of jewels.

Aladdin couldn't have seen more gems than I did at that showroom, tucked in the industrial Free Trade part of Pudong.
Here's Diana with her husband who hails from Toronto and is the third generation of jewelers in his family. With production costs mounting in Canada, they turned to China to manufacture jewelry about four years ago.

I'm sorry: looking at the jewelry was nice and all...but seeing the 100 or so jewelers making the baubles? Now, that was cool! I got to see the entire process...from the shaping of the rings and bracelets. To the polishing...

And even their lunch break! The food smelled yummy!

Diana insisted on having our rings cleaned. Yucca and I were giggling over her expression when she saw our beat-up, dull rings. Mine hadn't been cleaned in, oh gosh, at least five years. Possibly longer.
This wasn't just any old ring cleaning. When my ring was returned to me, I couldn't even recognize it--it looked brand new. Scratches from my daily rough wear had been polished away. The stones checked to make sure the ring was still sturdy. My ring sparkled. Gleamed like buffed up hope.

Today I am thankful for the unexpected silver lining even in dreaded experiences. Here I thought shopping for jewelry would be horrendous. Instead, I got a behind-the-scenes tour, a clean ring, and....yes, I found a new bauble that will be the perfect talisman for my next novel. How fantastically fantastic is that?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Great Wall

The Great Wall
Nalan Xingde (1655-1685)
Through how many panels of mountains and seas
Do the high parapets of the long wall
Wind and wind?
Our eyes follow, slope after slope
And we understand
How it ate up the dragon hearts of our grandfathers
And in the end they built it for whom?

Shanghai: M1nt

My new favorite hangout spot in all of Shanghai? M1nt.
After a few weeks of soft openings and parties--none of which I could attend--I finally made it here, thanks to my beautiful new friend Mae-Ling. How could you not love the long tank filled with baby black tip sharks, dangerous yet mesmerizing in their lethal beauty? Anyway, the restaurant/bar was the perfect spot to mark a new beginning.
Today I am thankful for GROOVY places that make celebrations delightful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shanghai: Chinese Hair Wash

My new friend and ultra connector of the Shanghai universe and co-partner of Diva Life Spa, Mae-Ling, told me: "Justina, there is NO way you can leave Shanghai without first having a Chinese hair wash."

A Chinese hair wash?

She nodded. Brought me to the her favorite hair washing salon in the French Concession where we were immediately shown to swivel chairs. I knew I was going to like this new experience when the hair wash started with a 20 minute shoulder and neck rub. Nice!

Afterward, my masseuse-slash-hairdresser approached with a bottle of liquid something-or-other that she squirted directly onto my dry hair...which somewhat alarmingly began to suds up in a way I've never experienced in the shower.

After much scalp massaging and scratching, a pompadeur of clouds appeared on top of my head. (Note to any reader who happens to be doing a book report on one of my novels: you do NOT have permission to include the pictures from this particular blog in said report. Do you hear me?)

So here we are, Mae-Ling and I post-sudsing and scrubbing. Is it not amazing that Mae-Ling still looks like a model with her hair all sudsy? I look like...a clown.

After our hair was hosed down, scalps massaged again, we ended back in our swivel chairs for a blowdry.

And finally, shiny hair and all, we were ready to hit the town at M1nt, a private club that just opened officially 3 days ago.
Today I am thankful for new Experiences, especially ones introduced by friends and that cost less than a Starbucks latte and make me feel like a billion bucks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Girlfriend Therapy

Egads! With just 11 days left in Shanghai to go, my BFF from college, Shelli, said to me, "Girlfriend, we have to take you shopping!" The last thing I wanted to do was shop, not when I have to pack. And let's not forget the manuscript I haven't picked up in the last three weeks. But Shel was not to be deterred. She pointed out: you have Christmas presents to buy. Yeah, yeah, I thought.
But then there's my mentor, Janet Wong, who kicked me in the pants with a well-worded email: We, the few remaining readers of your blog, are tired of your self-help induced, quasi-inspirational posts. Show us Shanghai. That's all we care about. (Okay, okay, that was my translation of her email.)
So to Taikang Lu we went. This is a rehabbed neighborhood turned enclave for boutiques, coffeeshops, restaurants and galleries. Wouldn't you know it? Who do we see on our first stop at Nest--a wonderful boutique? The amazing Francine Martin--professional shopper and purveyor of the finest goods and one of my first Shanghai turnSTYLE interviews! I was so thrilled to see Francine who was yet again absolutely exquisitely divinely decked out. She was In Action with a lucky client.
After another stop at June Woo--THE place to go for cashmere scarves--Shel and I dropped in on Ginger for some sustenance. The score? Shel checked off 3 people from her Christmas list. All my peeps are still present-less.

Today I am thankful for the sheer joy of SERENDIPITY. It completely floors me that out of all the millions and million and millions of people in Shanghai, I actually bumped into ONE person I know. I love that. It makes me feel as though I have established a community of my own in this big huge city, so far from home.

Tacos in Shanghai

The meal on this table? Took 3 days of scavanging to create and cook. My kiddos said, No more Chinese food, please. So I decided: TACOS! Easier said than done.
Taco shells, imported by yours truly from America on my October visit.
Meat and lettuce, found at my local wet market.
Cheese, purveyed at Carrefour.
Today I am thankful for Cuisines of all types. Who were those original chefs to create the various indigenous meals across countries and cultures? Isn't it amazing how many different things there are to EAT in this world?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shanghai: Metersbonwe Costume Museum

Since I haven't been able to write for the last several weeks, one of my writer-buddies, Dia Calhoun, suggested that I do whatever last research I can do for my next novel while I was still in Shanghai. Brilliant!

So I hauled myself over to People's Square in Shanghai where I had heard there was a marvelous Costume Museum on the 5th floor of Metersbonwe. Think of the clothing store as the Gap of China, the leading casual wear company with something like 5,000 stores.

Back in 2003, the CEO of Metersbonwe visited Cambridge with a professor from China. There, they took in a ton of museums...and saw Chinese antiquities on display...including old clothing. The professor apparently turned to the CEO and said something to the effect of: how sad that we have to go to a foreign country to see our own traditional clothing. And an idea was born: to create a world-class museum solely focused on China's traditional clothing through the ages and representative of the 56 minority groups within the country.

The museum is FREE and open to the public. The collection of clothes was absolutely breathtaking. Had I more time in Shanghai, I would call the curator and ask for a private tour. Apparently, the museum has amassed some 10,000 items. Only a small portion is on display. How cool would it be to see more of the collection--and get the inside scoop on each of the displayed items: where they were acquired, what each symbol meant...

I loved watching a woman embroider silk at the museum. And just as Dia promised, I got a ton of new ideas for my work-in-progress. More than that, I felt the first twinging to get back to writing.

Today I am thankful for the Curators of Culture who safeguard the best of humanity for all to share into the future. (And for friends who nudge me in the right direction.)