Shanghai, You Had Me at Ni Hao

I can’t hide it any longer.  I am a city girl and my new crush is Shanghai. Sure, there is ridiculous pollution that would probably give me black lung if I stayed another day and a half, a steady demolition of the old ways, and taxi drivers who love their horns (this morning, mine tested his and it worked for two minutes straight-true story)… but it is vibrant.  Many times people will ask me about a situation and all I can come back with is a feeling.  Like, well, I was really uncomfortable or yeah, that felt great but I can never really explain with details, only moments.  It’s the same with Shanghai.

I came to Shanghai to attend a technology conference and things started off bumpy.  I mean, the guy in the seat behind me on the plane kept pushing on my seat and was coughing and well, snorting the whole flight.  The film ‘Contagion’ came to mind several times.  But as soon as the taxi driver dropped me at my hotel, I knew it was time to explore.  That’s how I knew I was going to like it here; I wanted adventure.

So I got a map and a subway pass and headed out to get a haircut in the French district and felt very proud of myself indeed! When riding on any metro or subway, I always find myself listening to either Jay-Z or Kanye.  I think it’s an in your face, that’s right, I am here attitude.  Don’t ask me why; it just feels great.

As more of a guy’s gal then a girl’s gal, I have come to realize why – many women really like to discuss and talk things out; they process.  And the thing of it is, I am a problem solver.  I (quickly) take in all of the information and then start creating steps or a map in my mind to fix it, help, or solve.  As I move around in this big world, I realize that sometimes, women might not be ready to fix it right at that moment, they just want to talk about it.  For me, this is where the communication has broken down many times.  I sometimes don’t really want to hear about the same problem over and over again.  This sounds harsh, but for me it’s like, I got it; you are having a problem with this coworker, try this or that to make it better and let’s move on.  However, I value many of these women in my life, so I realized I needed to figure this out.  Now, I ask these women if they just want me to just listen or are they looking for some advice. I can do both, but I gotta know the expectation going in.  This has helped me exponentially and came into play last night.

At the conference, I met a lot of great people and the coworkers I came with left a day earlier than me.  So essentially, I invited myself to go with this girl Shauna and a bunch of her friends as they headed off into the night. A quick word about Shauna.  She is an ex-soccer player and runner, sidelined by a bad right knee – just like me, so we bonded immediately– we kept laughing about what we were going to tweet that night and it never got old- she’s fun. One of the girls in the group thought we had been friends for years.

The dinner was highly enjoyable and boy, those girls could chit-chat.  We ended up eating pasta and drinking beers and just had a grand time. When they started to talk about their frustrations at work, I had a pretty good idea how to solve some of them, but I just let it pass.  If they wanted advice, they would’ve asked for it.  Last night, they just wanted to process.  So I just enjoyed my beer and the company.  Afterwards, I schooled this East African in a game of foosball.  He was not expecting my skills. That was awesome.

For my (probably) ADHD mind, the city can be a stimulating place on many levels; it’s just exciting to be a part of it, to get caught up in the rhythm of a thriving metropolis.  If you ever have a chance, visit Shanghai.  It’s amazing.


  1. Susan Wachowiak

    Glad you had such a wonderful time!

  2. Jim Monahan

    Thanks for the sharing. It is really like sharing your experience. I really enjoy hearing about what is going on in your world, which is a cultural blast.
    Many Blessings!

  3. Claire, you seem to be having the experience of a lifetime. You’ll never regret taking this time in your life to explore, take risks and be open to whatever comes along. I am living through your experiences which continue to sound honest, forthright and true, whether good or bad. Thanks so much for sharing through your blog so the rest of us can catch a glimpse of the world out there….


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