**Oooooops this was meant to be a post about 2015 for New Year’s and it just didn’t happen. Here it is, six months tardy. Better late than never?***

I broke my tailbone on University Hill in Boulder, Colorado in January.

I got shingles. Permanent scar like a dent on my forehead.

I went to Iceland for a wonderful honeymoon.

I saw lots of family and friends at our Stateside reception.

I moved continents twice.

I became a Senior Teacher in September.

I got tons of new freckles in Guilin.

I saved a man from drowning.

I ate bullfrog and liked it.

I had a suit made for my birthday.

I both froze my arse off and sweat it off in Shanghai.

I lost 25 pounds, possibly due to the sheer temperature changing pressures on my arse.

I became addicted to hot water.

I lived in London, Shanghai, and Louisville.

I signed a lease for our own apartment.

I started playing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

I learned some Mandarin.

I made two infinity scarves.

I achieved 100,000 views on this blog.

I survived Summer Course.

I started reviewing breweries. 

I paid off a fair bit of my student loans.

I climbed the First Flatiron.

I journeyed with my awesome husband.

I grew, changed, and transformed myself for yet another year!


Beer In Situ: Kaiba

The Pertinents

  • Kaiba Beer Pub
  • 479 Wuding Rd, Jing’an, Shanghai, China (closest station is Changping Road on Line 7). Two other locations available
  • Founded in 2008


    Outside on the corner of Wuding Rd and Shaanxi Rd

Their Self-Description

“We are motivated by the fact that 1.3 billion people have been missing access to a selection of great beers and more importantly, a focus on Belgian Beer, the best beers in the world.” –kaibabeerbar.com


Under the Bar

The Space

It’s big, brown, and warm inside with a long bar and shining, hanging glasses for all the different styles. This is a prerequisite for the Belgian bar, and one that is often overlooked in Shanghai’s haste to add as many highbrow beer bars as possible in a short time. The attention to detail is striking, with touches of the US craft beer scene in the chalkboards and little nudges in the direction of Brussells all about, like modeling dolls tucked into cabinets. The only nod to Chinese sensibilities is the plastic ‘money kitty’ facing the door.

The staff are knowledgeable and cheered when I did a happy dance for Libertine by Brewdog, an old favourite of mine from my days at Brewdog Camden.The only negative thing was an expat having a fight with his date, who starting swearing at her and calling her names in the bar around midnight the second time we visited. We called him out, and when she left we clapped.


Great Space!

The Beer

There are 20 taps running at any time, flowing with Belgian deliciousness. There are the typical ones like Chimay and Duvel, but also less typical beers to find in Shanghai. A few weeks ago they had a tap takeover from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas, and that was what I drank a lot of when we visited. Prices are reasonable, especially for those of us who tend to be afternoon (read: Happy Hour) drinkers.


Good serving size for strong ales

The Munchies

We samples some frites and calamari from the kitchen, and both were well-fried and salty. We’ve yet to try the lunch specials, but they looked tasty.



Russell’s One-Line Review

Later. He’s napping and reading and can’t think of one right now.


For later!

I miss the little things in china

Of course, I miss family and friends above all.

But in Shanghai, there are several things about life that I am starting to truly miss at eight months in. Daily grind in the ESL mines aside, there are little things that I am starting to remember wistfully that I never thought I would. Things that are totally taken for granted in my other international homes.

I miss drinking tap water.

I miss washing my clothes in hot water every once in a while.

I miss an oven. God, I miss an oven.

I miss peppermint mochas at Starbucks as a winter treat for a week completed. Must feel too cold for Chinese sensibilities, that cooling mint.

I miss my corner pub, the Leyton Technical.

I miss Waitrose. It seems an impossible place these days.

I miss my computer (RIP due to Shanghai humidity).

I miss not waking up and having a coughing fit every morning due to ‘China Lung.’

I miss radiator heating.

I miss fresh, cheap craft beer.

I miss fast and consistent Internet access.

I miss dry air that isn’t quite so damp in our house.

Of course, there are things I will miss about China when we go. Our clothes balcony that faces the sun, for instance. Readily available, cheap tea. My new proletarian revolution mug. Bushy, our houseplant. Fruit stores on every corner.



Oddly, Shanghai is the first place I’ve lived abroad that doesn’t feel like another home. Our apartment is very homelike, but that could be achieved anywhere. I’ve been here twice the length of time I lived in Ferrara, but it just doesn’t feel like a new international home. I am just not a Shanghai person, more than anything. The culture doesn’t suit, in as much as I am able to understand it through the opacity of the language barrier.

Or maybe London has occupied forever the place of The City in my heart.  The sprawl of Shanghai with its brand new apartment blocks and shopping malls is convenience personified, but I just find it soulless. I tried to remember the last time I walked on grass last night on the bus, and couldn’t. It may have been September, but I can’t be sure.

Shanghai is ‘home’ for now, and soon enough I will be able to get up in the morning without coughing, drink fresh water from the tap, and put something to roast in my oven. It’s all temporary.

Shots Around Shanghai: The Sixth (Christmas Edition)

It’s the sixth installment of Shots Around Shanghai. Lots of cool shots this week!

I’m Sick of Curated Online Personae

I’m from Louisville, Colorado. It’s not unique to L-Ville, but a great many people from my hometown are super into making their Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and general online persona look as perfect as can be.

Many people I know get professional photography done, in just gorgeous lighting, with all the derpy faces removed. For like, every single occasion imaginable. Anniversary? Better shell out a couple hundred dollars to get those portraits. Pregnancy? Time to pose pensively with a large belly.  Grocery shopping? Here I am with the canned beans, just chillin’. Wedding? Don’t even get me started.

At our wedding, the photographer didn’t believe me when I told him again before the ceremony, ‘Thanks, but we only want shots from the ceremony itself. We will not be available after the ceremony.’ He did a fantastic job and the photos he returned to us that very day were beautiful. But there was no posing after the ceremony. There wasn’t a professional photographer in the room while I got ready to be a bride. There were no professional photos of the rehearsal dinner, much less the reception.

I have an online persona. I generally curate it well. I post well-lit, well-exposed, heavily-processed shots of myself when I put them on the blog, and they inevitably end up on Facebook these days. But I think the desire to have a professional take one’s photos and post them on social media, as if they are just how you look all the time, is deeply flawed. It’s as if we are trying to project an image of our lives that is perfect; it is what we wish life were instead of what it is (BOOM subjunctive in English hahahaha). I find in my bare-bones psuedo-ethnographic analysis of the women of suburban Colorado that the pressure is huge to maintain a certain image not too dissimilar to that of our early-20s selves.

Many of the women I know have all but disappeared from social media as their bodies have changed in motherhood and aging, such that I don’t even know what they look like anymore. Women are constantly told that if we aren’t young, ‘unspoiled’ by pregnancy, and perfectly beautiful…well, we simply aren’t worth looking at at all.

I know that my great-grandchildren will probably be able to see a lot of unflattering photos of me online (assuming that it hasn’t become an existence like The Road by Cormac McCarthy). There are photos of me on the web being a dork, pulling stupid faces, and doing things like drinking in the Campo of Chile. I will have to be more open about these things than any previous generation. I think that’s a good thing. Why take the path of hiding everything I did that’s normal?

Recently, I decided to take a bunch of the most unflattering photos of myself from the last couple months and put them into this post specifically. In one place, I hope to dispel the notion that my life was perfectly lit and always well-posed. I hope to show that I didn’t always look nice, and that I sometimes had the misfortune to be caught mid-blink by the shutter. This blog is a self-portrait in progress, after all.

Thus explained, here I am. In all my glory. Laugh along, friends, and appreciate that life isn’t that perfect picture we all might wish to put on Facebook.