Monthly Archives: May 2015

This and That

Always been a big fan of the variety shows from the ’70s. Loved Sony and Cher and Tony Orlando and Dawn but my all time favorite was The Carol Burnett Show. Best team of 4 comedians ever put together to entertain us with quick, vignettes of comedy, never lasting more than a couple minutes.

Consider this Square Melons as just that – quick vignettes of observations I’ve been noting during our time here but not quite enough content to dedicate an entire blog.

Act 1. Warm Feet

The Look of Summer

The Look of Summer

As we move from Spring into early summer in Shanghai I cannot help but notice the return of the crew length, nylon sock for women. An interesting fashion statement that caught my eye from the very first time I saw it, mostly sported by the elderly women of China.

After doing a little investigating, turns out in Chinese medicine it is believed that keeping your feet warm, wards of illness. Even when the temperature hits 30 degrees celsius or 80 degrees fahrenheit, on go the nylon socks.



Act 2. The Beijing Bikini

As for the men of China, when it’s hot, apparently rolling up your shirt and exposing your stomach and “abs” keeps you cool, and helps to make you stand out among your friends when trying impress the ladies. Very sexy.

Act 3. Red Underwear

Airing them out

Airing them out

During the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year the sale of red underwear skyrockets. The belief is that the color red means good luck and wearing red underwear can make your day go all that much better.

It’s not just at Chinese New Year that red underthings are given as gifts, turns out women receive bras and matching underoos on their “12th” birthdays. 12, 24, 36, etc.

Curious how I received this informaton? While on our walks around the city, each block we pass, I notice at least one pair of red underwear (never thongs by the way) hanging out to dry. So, not shy, I asked a co-worker over brunch one Sunday, “hey, what’s up with all the red underwear?”

Act 4. Childbirth

So much to share here but let me see if I can keep it at a level that won’t lose the male readers.

Seems that the 30 days after childbirth is a critical time for women of China. For those that have the resources, they are put up at a medical facility/resort for a month recovery and help with the baby. For those that don’t, the family takes care with most times the mother-in-law taking the lead.

New mothers are not allowed to shower, go outside or drink cold water. There are a lot of rules. No exposure to cold air. No air conditioning as it is believed that your joints expand during pregnancy and they need the time to contract. If you are exposed to cold air, it will settle in your joints and cause arthritis as you age.

New mothers are not allowed to read or watch TV and have limited “screen” time as it is believed that you need this time for even your eyes to heal otherwise you may have vision problems later in life.

No chocolate or coffee. Oh, and no makeup during the pregnancy or for the 30 days after. Seems the chemicals can effect the baby.

Try not to judge people. The Chinese believe that “sitting the month” brings your yin and yang back into balance. Our youngest just turned 22 and I’m pretty sure my yin and yang are still out of balance.

Final Act. Potty Training

Oops. I split my pants

Oops. I split my pants

China is a diaper free zone. As soon as a child is old enough to hold his or her head up, they are ready to be potty trained. The children wear crotchless garments that make it easy for the Ayi (nanny), grandparents or parents to train the child to tinkle or go big potty (my words not the Chinese.)

A “shushing” noise is made, like the sound of running water while holding the baby over a toilet, or really, any open area. Once the child “goes” they are rewarded with praise, hugs and kisses.

This is all great. Really like the idea of not having to deal with disposable



diapers in a country of a billion+ people, but we’ve witnessed some questionable acts like a child going on the floor at the airport and the grandparents just walking away, leaving it for the cleaning people. Or a mother holding her baby over the trash can near where we were sitting while waiting for a train.

I’ve had some fun with this. I’ve tried making the “shushing” sound when there’s a long line at Starbucks to see if it would make half the people leave to use the restroom and shorten the line.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode of Square Melons and the vignettes of life in China.

Stay tuned for your local news.

Trailing Spouse

Working at NIKE can, at times, kick your ass. It’s competitive, stressful, and full of pressure. After all, the statement “There Is No Finish Line” has been our mantra forever. But so has “Just Do It.” So if you’re energized by delivering results when someone says you can’t, thriving on challenges as opportunities and winning, then NIKE is the perfect place to work.

NIKE is not for everyone but it works for me. It works for me because for the 28 years I’ve been an employee I’ve had a very supportive spouse. Greg has been by my side through all of it – together.

I tried to think of a sports term that might best describe the Greg and Rosemary partnership but that only led me down the path of a few infamous examples like the George Hincapie to Lance Armstrong, the Jeff Gilloly to Tanya Harding or most recently, the Patriots Equipment Manager to Tom Brady. That’s not us, although I think Greg would have liked to have gone “Gilloly” a couple of times on a few folks over the years.

The term I really don’t care for is the term used and given to spouses of expat employees traveling overseas. The term “trailing spouse” is terrible. No one likes to think of themselves as “trailing.”

No, for us, I had to look to the military for the right term. Wingman. Greg is my wingman.

A wingman as defined by the military is the role of protecting the lead pilot by watching out for his or her back. Critical to the mission, they are there to add an element of support. The presence of the wingman makes the mission both offensively and defensively more capable by increasing firepower. They provide situational awareness as well as increasing the ability to employ more dynamic tactics. Perfect.

During our time in China, Greg has been the perfect wingman. Accompany me on critical missions, adding support, providing the right level of advice and when needed, a voice of reason. All in an effort to employ more dynamic tactics to succeed.

You might not be aware of this, but I’m not the easiest person to live with. I know, shocking.

I was something when we lived and worked out of Portland, but you add the additional stress of a foreign country, big city living, my germ issues, loss of control, living in a small apartment. the fact that I make everything about me and well, this personality, well, it gets elevated. Greg, my wingman, has been solid through the entire venture. Steady and calm.

Pretending to sleep to avoid my complaining about the flight delay.

Pretending to sleep to avoid my complaining about another flight delay.

As our adventure in China comes to a close, (yes, it’s been 2 years) and we look to transition back to the U.S.of A. this summer, I give a shout out to my wingman and I ask each of you, when you see Greg, shake his hand, give him a pat on the back, maybe a hug depending on who you are, and for sure buy him a drink, because that guy has been the success behind me and this critical mission.

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