Getting Your Freak On: 4 Tips for Embracing Your Inner Weirdo

April 16, 2011

A couple weeks ago, I started running again – like on purpose. There weren’t even any wild dogs chasing me or anything (which is pretty much the only reason why I did any kind of running last year).

Luckily, the campus where I’m currently living is surrounded by some lovely places to run – sprawling parks full of pretty pagodas and blossoming cherry trees. The weather lately has been gorgeous – spring-like and sunny (with only a hint of smog!).

Both of these factors have made my new regimen almost, dare I say, enjoyable. (Of course, my legs don’t think so. My legs think this new running thing is stupid. They don’t care about cherry blossoms and sunshine. They would like to spend more time with my couch. My legs also think that they look funny in spandex running pants – which they kind of have a point about, to be honest.)

Another enjoyable factor of my new fitness routine is that it gives me a chance to  hang out with the locals. Of course, when I say “hang out with the locals,” I don’t mean I’m actually engaging in conversations or, you know, doing what the locals do. No, by “hang out with the locals,” I mean “run by local people and watch their reaction.” (Isn’t that how you define “hanging out”?)

The reactions that I usually get from the local people whom I pass on my running route tend to fall into the following three categories:

a.     Totally unperturbed: These people don’t stare or point. They simply walk by me like seeing a white girl huffing and puffing in spandex pants in the park is no big deal. And, maybe, to them it is not a big deal. But it is kind of a big deal to me, so a little bit of fanfare would be nice, okay? I mean, do they even know what time I had to wake up to go running? It was, like, 6:00 AM – in the morning! Did you even know the world was alive at that hour? I certainly didn’t.

b.     Totally supportive: These people wave and smile. Sometimes they even shout out a friendly nihao. Should they be a gang of construction workers driving by, they may whistle, slow down their vehicle and yell enthusiastically in my direction. I’m not exactly sure what they’re saying, but I’m certain it’s something like, “You go, girl! We appreciate strong, powerful women such as yourself. May your running path be smooth, and your iPod battery be constantly charged.” (Or they could just be saying stuff about my ass… either way, I feel their overall intent is one of encouragement.)

c.      Totally freaked out: These people stop and stare. They look as baffled by the sight of me running as my legs feel by the act of me running. Should I try to smile at these people to prove to them that I am, in fact, human and not, say, a sign of the pending apocalypse, they will only look more confused. Should they be riding bicycles or motor vehicles of some sort, they may accidentally swerve and almost run me over.

The last reaction is definitely the most frequent. Admittedly, I am something of a spectacle. In the last few weeks that I’ve been running, I’ve only seen a handful of other joggers. There are plenty of people walking or riding bicycles, but running doesn’t seem that popular in my neck of the woods. Plus, there aren’t a whole bunch of foreigners where I live, either. And, well, there is the issue of my spandex pants.

This reaction should really bother me.

After all, who likes to feel like a freak?

Well, funny you should ask.

Because… I do.

Yep, that’s right.

My name is Sally.

I am a freak.

And I like it.

Of course, I haven’t always felt this way.

Like most people, I spent most of my younger years doing everything I could to blend in. I tried to wear the right clothes – even if those clothes were never meant for a girl of my, ahem, stature. (Let’s just say stirrup pants were never a good look for me… or, arguably, anyone… but especially me.) I joined sports teams despite having no hand-eye coordination. When my friends talked about grown-up, adult things like dating or alcohol or MTV, I had to pretend to know what they were talking about. If I had to answer a question in front of class or talk to boys, I would blush so violently that most people thought I had some kind of skin condition.

So what’s the difference between then and now? Why am I fine with standing out when back then I only wanted to blend in? How have I become comfortable in my own skin? (Skin which, I’m proud to say, has been almost blush-free for twenty years! Nowadays, I only blush if I happen to be drinking red wine… or, ahem, talking to boys. Okay, so maybe I’m not completely cured.)

Well, funny you should ask.

I got advice, people.

That’s right. Follow these tips and you, too, can embrace your inner weirdo. Are you ready to get freaky? (Don’t answer that.)

Tip 1: Be born that way
This will probably require a time machine.

Sadly, should you live in China, you are out of luck. China recently banned time travel. Yep, that’s right. First, it was Twitter,  Facebook and Youtube. Now, it’s time travel. China bans all the fun stuff! What next, China? Cookies? Puppies? Unicorns? (Just you try, China. Unicorns won’t let a little thing like a ban get in their way! Heck, they’ve been extinct for years ever since that little Noah’s Ark mix-up, and that hasn’t stopped them!)

You see, the best way to come to terms with your Inner Weirdo early is to simply be born weird. But, seeing as you’ve probably already been born, you’ll have to go back in time to mess things up — maybe give yourself a tail or an extra ear.

Lucky for me, I was a freak from the get-go! You see, I was born a triplet. Do you know what the statistical odds are of that kind of thing? Do you? Because I don’t. But I’m willing to guess it’s crazy unlikely. (And, yes, “crazy unlikely” is a term used by statisticians everywhere.)

After thirty-five years of explaining to people that you were born a triplet, you get used to people staring at you like you’re a freak of nature. Because, well, you are a freak of nature.

Tip 2: Teach
I’ve taught hundreds of students over the last twelve years.

I’ve had many great students – well-mannered, bright, intelligent, inquisitive, respectful and hard-working students.

Yet, honestly, it’s the freaks that I remember the most.

In a good way, of course.

There was the girl who wore Little House on the Prairie dresses to class while all the other girls showed up in mini-skirts. There was the guy who arrived to class one morning with a blue Mohawk and a tattoo of an eyeball on his leg. And, possibly my favorite was the one who performed a puppet show when he was supposed to be giving an argumentative speech.

These students were maybe not the most popular or even the best students in the class, but they were, definitely, the most memorable ones. They’re also the ones who tend to speak up in class more. They create the most interesting papers and most creative presentations. (I mean, puppets, people! Presentation gold, that is!). They make you laugh, and they make your day enjoyable.

But, most of all, they make you proud to be a fellow freak.

Tip 3: Give that whole fish-out-of-water thing (you know the one where you feel like one of those weird-looking fishes with the tentacle-eyeballs) a few more years.
When I first moved to Asia twelve years ago, I lived in a tiny fishing village in Northern Japan that didn’t have many foreigners. I was stared at all the time. I stopped traffic. Once, I made a child cry.

After a couple months, the novelty of being the town weirdo quickly wore off, and I spent a lot of time feeling hostile and angry. I also spent a lot of time locked in my house watching reruns of Full House. (Hey, don’t judge. It was the only English language television program I had at the time. And, you have to admit, John Stamos is always going to be sexy no matter what context he’s in.)

Now, after more than five years of living in Asia, the staring doesn’t bother me as much. It’s a part of my Asian life – like the language barrier and lack of a decent selection of cheese.

Tip 4: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em
You know when you were growing up and your mom told you not to stare because it was rude? Remember all those other things your mom told you were rude like snapping your gum and hoarding all the cake and hitting boys? Remember how you still used to do those things even after your mother told you not to? Remember why? Because it was fun, right?

Well, the same goes for staring. Staring is totally fun! You should really try it sometime! (But not if you’re back in the States or somewhere where staring might get you knived. Trust me on this.)

After all, haven’t there been times in your life when you’ve wanted to stare — like really, really wanted to — but you’ve thought, “No, I shouldn’t do that. Staring is rude.”? Well, not in Asia, my friend! Go ahead, stare away! (Just make sure you’re not riding any motor vehicles when you decide to do it.)

Nowadays, I stare all the time. If I see another foreigner that I don’t know in my neighborhood, I stare. If I see someone eating something I’ve never eaten before, I stare. If I see someone wearing a sparkly fashion get-up that appears to be made out of tinfoil and rubber bands, I stare. If I see a block of cheese in the dairy case at my local grocery store, I stare. (And hope that it’s not a mirage).

This morning, when I went running, I happened upon a group of teenagers dressed up as anime characters. A crowd had formed around them to gape at their hot pink wigs, Nutcracker-like jackets and French maid dresses.

I stopped for a minute to stare slack-jawed with the rest of the crowd.

I was baffled.

I was confused.

And, frankly, I was a bit miffed. After all, didn’t these kids know that I was the main attraction at this park?



I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On April 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm jill- Jack and JIll Travel said:

    I still can’t belive they banned ‘time travel’. And you’ve started running? Really? Why? Now you’re making the rest of us -cookie and couch lovers- feel really bad.
    jill- Jack and JIll Travel recently posted..Build A South America Itinerary

    • On April 17, 2011 at 1:49 am Sally said:

      I’ve actually just “restarted” running. I used to run a lot in Japan, I just got out of the habit when I was traveling. Why? Because it allows me to eat bacon and M&Ms for lunch without worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to fit into my pants. (Okay, so I know last week I was talking all about eating healthy. But now I’m an ATHLETE. I need my sustenance. And lettuce is not sustenance!)

  2. On April 16, 2011 at 6:41 pm Roy | cruisesurfingz said:

    Great tips! I consistently fail big in front of people. But that’s usually because I get too drunk and then imagine I know the tango.
    Roy | cruisesurfingz recently posted..The Kiva Pledge & CouchSurfing Lending Team

    • On April 17, 2011 at 1:48 am Sally said:

      As one does when one is drunk. I like to imagine I know every dance known to man when I’m drunk… including dances I’ve never even heard of.

  3. On April 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm Don said:

    Nija Sally, When is your next race? Glad you are on the road again.

    • On April 17, 2011 at 1:46 am Sally said:

      Coach Ninja Don,
      Already with the questions about the races? Can’t you let me just EASE back into this running thing?? Okay, so I have actually looked into races, but there isn’t a lot of information in English about this kind of thing in China (or at least I haven’t found it). I did find a race in Shanghai in October, so if I’m still around here by then I think I may be ready for it!

  4. On April 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm MaryAnne said:

    You do realize that this healthy-eating/running regimen thing you’re doing means we are no longer identical twins, right? I’ve been subsisting on coffee, crackers and cheese, and lethargy recently. You’re making me look even more, um, lethargic and cracker-eating. Dang it!

    Maybe I need to go back in time and change—-whoops! Can’t! Illegal!

    I hear you on the freak thing. You get used to it after a while and barely even notice it. Central Turkey did it for me. I has a foot taller than everyone out in the street, with very short, very bright magenta hair and light eyes. And I was pretty much the only female between the age of 18 and 60 out in the street unaccompanied by her husband. And I wasn’t wearing a head scarf. I usually led a parade of followers wherever I went. For two years. Whilst teaching full time in said city. Helps you get used to being a spectacle.
    MaryAnne recently posted..A Totally Impractical Expat Interview 8- Heather of 2Summers

    • On April 17, 2011 at 1:45 am Sally said:

      Well, you realize our being twins is probably also illegal — that whole one-child policy thing here… plus, the fact that we’re not actually twins in real-life only fake, fantasy, blog life. I’m sure there’s a law against that!

  5. On April 17, 2011 at 12:13 am Sasha said:

    Haha I had to chuckle when I read this post, I totally get this!!! I do get the weirdo label a lot!!!! Actually I think China just made it worse, I got the ‘China Weirdo Complex’ I’ve gotten so used to being the weirdo around here that when I go to places like Hong Kong or back home to Australia I turn into a drama queen and wonder why no one is staring and thinks I’m weird!!! 🙁 WEIRD AND PROUD OF IT!!!

    • On April 17, 2011 at 1:44 am Sally said:

      Ha ha! Hilarious! I totally did the same thing when I moved to Japan the second time. I was living in Kobe where there were lots of foreigners and hardly anyone stared at me. I was like, “What’s the deal? Aren’t I special enough? Stare at me people!”

  6. On April 17, 2011 at 12:41 am Laura said:

    Woohoo for running!! I’ve learned to embrace my inner freak as well. You’ve given some great tips here!
    Laura recently posted..Transportation Adventures to the Island of Sylt

  7. On April 17, 2011 at 1:00 am Torre (@fearfulgirl) said:

    I’m so very sorry that you’re living without decent cheese.

    Now — please tell me more about this triplet thing (freak).

  8. On April 17, 2011 at 7:37 am Lauren Fritsky said:

    Was it your aim to get that Lady Gaga song “Born This Way” stuck in my head with the title of your first section?

    • On April 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm Sally said:

      No, that wasn’t my intention, but I do feel that song melds nicely with the message of this post. I do believe I’ll be cranking that number up on my iPod the next time I go for a run!

  9. On April 17, 2011 at 11:29 am Linda said:

    Just found your blog after Journeywoman retweeted this. Love it and your attitude! Looking forward to going back and reading more. Oh, and know Buffalo slightly. My son went to uni in Fredonia. Small world – as we already know, of course!
    Linda recently posted..Opting for Some Color in my Life

    • On April 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm Sally said:

      Totally small world! I actually almost went to undergrad at Fredonia (but so did almost everyone in Buffalo… so I guess that’s not too strange!). Glad you’re enjoying my blog & thanks for the comment!

  10. On April 17, 2011 at 11:34 am Lois said:

    very entertaining post. I will make sure I embrace my inner weirdo from now on.. but I’m still not sure about the running and the spandex pants 😉

  11. On April 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm Odysseus said:

    Love, love, love this post! I laughed through the whole thing — because that’s what freaks like me do.
    Odysseus recently posted..Camping in the Thar Desert- Things That Go Grrr in the Night

  12. On April 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm Sue Reddel said:

    Hi Sally – just discovered your blog from a RT on twitter. Thanks for blowing my Sunday morning – now I have to go back and your other posts. Kudos to you for running – I’m going to continue to be a slug until the weather changes here in Chicago. Here’s to you remaining the main attraction in China.

    ps I’m going to try that staring thing.

    • On April 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm Sally said:

      Well, I’m not sure if I would recommend staring so much while in Chicago. Whenever I go back to the States, I forget I’m back in the States and that staring is a big no-no there and I do it… a lot. This is not good… especially if you’re on the subway and there’s tons of interesting people to stare at and they see you staring and then they kind of want to beat you up for it. Yep, not good.
      But, you’re welcome to come to Asia anytime and stare away!
      Glad you enjoyed my blog & I’m glad I could help ruin your Sunday! 🙂

  13. On April 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm Katja said:

    I need to get my freak awareness radar under control again. I never used to care at all what people thought of me – just as well, as I’m nigh on six foot with red hair and my job was getting up on stage and pretending to be various farm animals for the entertainment and edification of small children. Yeah, that’ll remove any self-consciousness, believe me. But then I changed career and became an English teacher. And now, when I’m being normal and not really standing out at all, suddenly I’m aware of every little thing that’s different. I was never an awkward teenager, but it looks like it’s catching up with me now, 20 years later, dammit! Maybe I should go back to dressing as a cow and singing songs in a Westcountry accent. I bet my kids would love it. My boss maybe not so much, but hey, you can’t have everything …
    Katja recently posted..Children of the corn

    • On April 17, 2011 at 10:28 pm Sally said:

      Wait. So you’re not supposed to dress up as a cow and sing songs while teaching English? Woah. I’ve been doing this teaching thing ALL wrong. Whoops! 🙂

  14. On April 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm Debbie Beardsley said:

    What a great way to start my Sunday – with a humorous look at being a freak! If by being a freak you mean being yourself, I am totally in. Sometimes I refer to it as being a dork!

    As an early morning runner (I’m out the door at 5:40 am!) I am with you. It is amazing what goes on in the world so early. People are actually up and around.
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..6 Walled Cities of Europe

  15. On April 17, 2011 at 10:09 pm MrsSpooky said:

    I’ve been reading your blog since I found it a couple of weeks ago. I love it a lot! I love your writing and I can see a kindred spirit. Keep it up!!

    I have to comment – when being stared at by people seeing a crazy white girl running while wearing spandex, I have to say my reaction would be to smile and wave.

    Just smile and wave. If you’re very lucky it will freak them out all the more.

    Speaking of falling – I’m the one who trips on the sidewalk in NYC and smashes my face into the concrete (in front of my boss’s boss, no less, just hours before a customer meeting). I’m also the one who falls off her high wedge shoes coming out of church – in front of everyone! Didn’t hit my face this time – glad too, ’cause I can’t really afford to replace my glasses again. All I could say was “I crave attention.”

    Yes, I’m proud of you for embracing your inner weirdo. That is the path to true happiness, and believe me, it DOES bring joy to others. Be the one who surprises people, find hilarity everywhere. So far, I have to say you’re doing a terrific job!

    Lots of love,
    MrsSpooky recently posted..Coda

    • On April 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm Sally said:

      I do always smile at the starers (that is if I’m not too busy huffing & puffing to crack a grin), but I don’t wave. I figure I’ve scared them enough — I don’t want to add crazy hand gestures into the mix. Meanwhile, if the person is a supporter (read: Chinese construction worker who’s yelling at me from the back of a pickup truck) I will totally smile, wave & shout out a friendly “nihao.”
      Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  16. On April 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm Juno said:

    As a fellow nerd (even though you didn’t mention the word nerd in the post, I feel we are in the same loop), I throughly enjoyed the post. Well, to be fare I’m always the one a bit ‘off’. And i still am. -even in my own country- Of course I tried to blend in because thatd what world wanted. But it doesn’t work for me. I guess I’m not ‘one of a crowd’ type.
    Being a weirdo is fun, is making me smile ad even making me feel special a little. So what? Every girl needs some attention. am I right ladies?
    Juno recently posted..Runaway Subscription Saturday – 3rd Apr 2011

    • On April 18, 2011 at 2:04 pm Sally said:

      That’s exactly the way I felt when the Chinese construction drivers drove by and hooted things at me — it’s good to get a little love now and then… even if it’s just because you’re wearing spandex pants. 🙂

  17. On April 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm Liane said:

    Yeah I am not the typical 40-something mom and I get an array of reactions from the neighborhood moms…actually I think they are jealous they are not embracing their inner weird or authentic self! But as many of them reflect back on their life and feel their best days are over, I am lucky I am in the midst of my best years because now I get it and I get me.

    And I, too, rececently re-engaged with running. Not a big fan but it works. I can’t bring myself to do the spandex thing until my ass is a little tighter!
    Liane recently posted..The Journey Within

    • On April 18, 2011 at 2:02 pm Sally said:

      Pulling off the spandex pants thing is not so hard — you just need to wear a long t-shirt (preferably not skin-tight) to kind of balance out the bottom part and cover your bum. Plus, if you don’t care what people think of you, I say, go for it! Wear the spandex! Give them something to talk about!

  18. On April 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm Connie said:

    Sally, I love you! You’re hilarious and I’m happy that you’ve started running and feeling better about yourself, spandex pants aside. I’m currently thinking, albeit thinking very seriously, about joining a gym in Hong Kong. I hope to make it into the actual building within the next week. Wish me luck and thank you for giving me some inspiration to get my ass in gear!

    • On April 18, 2011 at 1:59 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, it’s been good to get back into running (even if my legs — particularly my knees — don’t agree!). I used to run a lot in Japan & ran a marathon before I left, but I didn’t do any running at all in the last year and I actually started to miss it.
      Good luck with the gym! I’ve been thinking of doing that too (Of course, I’ve been thinking about doing that for 2 months now… maybe, uhhh, next month?)

  19. On April 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm Ali said:

    One of the great things travel has taught me is to care less about what other people think of me. If I’m in a foreign country, that means I just accept the fact that I will stand out as different and look like a tourist, and that’s ok. At home, it means just being more confident about who I am and not worrying so much (or at least trying not to) about other people’s opinions of me.

    Shame about that time travel ban though.
    Ali recently posted..Friendship in the Time of Twitter

    • On April 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm Sally said:

      Definitely! I have definitely stopped thinking so much about what people think of me — especially since I just assume they think I’m weird so I might as well just be as weird as I can be!
      It really is too bad about the time travel thing as I would love to go back to my high school self and tell her to loosen up & not worry so much about keeping up appearances. (I’d also tell her to stop it with the stirrup pants already!)

  20. On April 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm Michi said:

    LOVED this post! You had me rolling! Huge thumbs-up on getting back to running. I loathe it (can’t run for more than 3 minutes before I start to feel like crying…but I’m working on it…I need the stamina should anything ever chase me…) and people here in my small Spanish town stare at you as if you have three heads if you run…they automatically yell something like “guiri! guire!” or “dike! dike!”…horrible place to start now. I am still learning to deal with the staring! (I am one of only two women who goes to the local gym and lifts weights). P.S. I was totally a band-nerd-freak in high school and loved it. 🙂 Those were some of the best years of my adolescence!
    Michi recently posted..An Almerían Birthday

    • On April 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm Sally said:

      I was such a freak, I was a wannabe band nerd! I didn’t have any musical talent whatsoever but all my friends were in band, so I’d just hang out with them. Once I toyed with the idea of auditioning to play the triangle so I could go on trips with them but someone told me that would require rhythm (something I don’t really have much of). Alas…

      • On April 24, 2011 at 8:33 pm Michi said:

        Being an honorary band geek is always just as cool. 😉 Similar story: I really wanted to be Jewish and go on a birthright trip with my friends. But even though I had been an honorary member of the Jew Club for two years, I still couldn’t prove I was Jewish enough to go with them to Israel. Alas indeed…
        Michi recently posted..Semana Santa – it’s a holy moly kind of season

        • On April 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm Sally said:

          You have to PROVE your Jewish to go on that trip. Dangit. I guess I won’t be doing that either! First, no band camp… now no this. I just can’t win!

  21. On April 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm Stephanie said:

    I recently traveled through Central America, and I was determined to keep up my morning running routine. If I wanted to eat rice and beans cooked with lard, I HAD TO. I quickly discovered that running for pleasure and fitness is not common in this part of the world. But I decided I was okay with being the freak.

    Stare all you want. I’m doing what I want.
    Stephanie recently posted..5 Things I Love About Buenos Aires

    • On April 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha! Yes, I actually took up running when I lived in Brazil — also not a very common sport there since it’s so freaking hot out. I usually would go to the gym, but for a couple weeks I had to substitute teach in this tiny town that only had one road. Every morning. I would run down that road for a couple miles & then run back. People thought I was out of my freaking mind. They even told me that. Ahh, good times!

  22. On April 19, 2011 at 12:15 am Amanda said:

    Oh, let’s be honest — we’re all weirdos at heart!

    Great read, as usual, Sally. But it really is too bad about the time travel…
    Amanda recently posted..Hiking New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Track

  23. On April 19, 2011 at 4:11 am Nomadic Chick said:

    Right on freak sister. I can attest to this:

    1. I dress like a 25 year old.
    2. I listen to music by 20 year olds.
    3. Don’t want marriage, kids, or a job.
    4. I’m a vegetarian who eats fish.

    And stop. Stop making me laugh. I don’t need more laughter in m life.

    Good call on John Stamos.
    Nomadic Chick recently posted..The Perils of the Solo Female Traveler

  24. On April 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm Choi Kum Fook said:

    Hola!, Miss Sally, amusing, I didn’t know you were a great runner! Keeping on running, don’t miss it!! Gradually, you would find the both, mentally and physically healthy and pleasant. I have not seen you running at the farm before, even once. Hi Hi. Staring at the people is a bad habbit in Chinese culture. YOu may make some friends,whenever you meet a person with nodding and speech out NIHOU. Attempt the possible! Hearing from you nest post! o.k.

    • On April 21, 2011 at 7:10 am Sally said:

      Boy, Mr. Choi, your memory is so good! It’s true I never went running while on the farm. It’s too bad — I was too afraid of pythons and monkeys! Luckily, I don’t have to worry about those things here in China!

  25. On April 20, 2011 at 9:56 am Ceri said:

    Hahahaha, how dare they take away your weirdness. Pfft! Don’t they know who you are? 😛

    Oh, and stop reading the Daily Mail, girl! It’ll give you rabies.
    Ceri recently posted..Using Insanity to get back to Reality

  26. On April 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm Scott - Quirky Travel Guy said:

    Luckily I have nos. 1-3 down. I’ll have to work on the staring part. It might not go over so well in Chicago, but we’ll find out…
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum

  27. On April 24, 2011 at 2:13 am Theresa said:

    Reading this made me laugh, especially because it brought back my own memories of running in a foreign country. When I taught English in Greece, I used to go running every afternoon with two of my fellow female (and American) teachers. We received one of two reactions: people would actually stop and cheer for us or they would stop and ask if we were being chased and needed for them to call the cops. It really made running so much more fun than it is here at home.
    Theresa recently posted..So You Want to be a Freelance- Five Reasons to Make the Leap

    • On April 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm Sally said:

      I would have totally told them to call the cops. I have a feeling Grecian cops would be hot. Are they?

      P.S. Note to self: get a job in Greece next time!

  28. On April 24, 2011 at 11:17 am Angela said:

    Forgodsake how come I just discovered your website? You’re hilarious and you live in China!
    I think all Westerners living in China feel a little like a freak, I’ve been living in Shanghai for almost nine months and the staring at me hasn’t decreased a bit.
    So glad I found your site, you’re heading to my RSS reader straight away 😉
    Angela recently posted..A Carnival of local markets around the world

    • On April 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm Sally said:

      Angela — I’m surprised you get that many stares in Shanghai… I would think people would be used to the freaks there! I guess not! Maybe we can meet up sometime when I’m in Shanghai — Wuxi isn’t so far away so I try to get there when I can!

      • On April 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm Angela said:

        I know, you would think that since Shanghai is so cosmopolitan they should be tired to stare, but no, they do stare! Truth is that Shanghai doesn’t have only foreigners from other countries, but also “foreigners” from other Chinese provinces, and these are usually the ones who stare 🙂
        By all means, we should meet up, let me know when you come to Shanghai, I’ll probably get to Wuxi too, I’m in exploring-mode 😉
        Angela recently posted..A Carnival of local markets around the world

        • On April 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm Sally said:

          Wuxi is home to China’s third largest lake! It’s totally must-see. (Except maybe not according to Lonely Planet… but what do they know?)

  29. On April 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm Jerry said:

    Hey Sally,

    I am SO relieved to know I am not the only person who has made a child cry. Walking into a shop in Chongqing, I approached a lady holding the cutest kid I had ever seen.

    I gave him my standard (tested with great success around the world) look of “hi, aren’t you the cutest kid in the world!”. He immediatly burst into tears, clutched the woman’s neck (she must still have tiny handprints in her neck), and turned away while doing the cartoon run. You know where the character’s legs run frantically, but they don’t actually go anywhere? Yes, that one.

    Love, love your stuff here.
    Jerry recently posted..The Spirit of Chinese Moonshine

  30. On April 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm Anthony said:

    It is so funny reading this post as I just started running again for the first time in 3 months. I was laughing as all the Mexican locals were giving me strange looks as I ran past them in a sweaty huff. EMBRACE THE FREAK!
    Anthony recently posted..Video Diaries- Tailors In India

    • On April 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm Sally said:

      That would make for a good t-shirt slogan: “Embrace the Freak.” (Although hopefully people wouldn’t take it seriously… especially while you’re being a sweaty huffy runner person).

  31. On April 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm Joe Le Merou said:

    Very funny post.
    I am always amazed at the way you can get looked at in Asia…
    It stills is a bit annoying for me.
    I see you are well beyond this point 😉
    Joe Le Merou recently posted..Photography of Bali from an Airplane

    • On May 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm Sally said:

      Annoyed? Heck, I’m so used to the attention that I’ve started to get annoyed when people don’t look at me! When I go back to the States or I’m in a city with lots of foreigners, I get peeved that people aren’t making such a big deal about me. What? Am I not special any more? 🙂

  32. On April 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm cathy brown said:

    i got ambitious and went running twice in rural argentina. every single car/gaucho on horse that passed me stopped to see what was wrong. to offer me a ride if i needed to get someplace in such a hurry. it was amusing the fist couple of times, then downright annoying, so it became a great excuse to not run. 🙂
    still trying to figure out how every girl in my city seems to be a size 0 with a voluptious ass if no one runs. anyone? anyone?

    • On May 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm Sally said:

      I used to get the same reaction (without the horses) when I lived in rural Brazil & would go running. And they were all size O’s with voluptuous asses, too. I’d say it was something in the water, but I drank that water, too and, alas, I never had the same results.

  33. On November 27, 2011 at 11:34 am Alex said:

    /s one of two foreigners living in my “little” town of 4 million people, I definitely get stared at. When I was going through the open air market, bargaining for a trash can and a whistle, I had a whole crowd of people following me to watch me try to bargain in Chinese.

    Have you been able to participate in any random photo shoots yet? The other foreign teacher and I went to the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, and soon became a tourist attraction. Everyone wanted their photo taken with us. Life in China can be so surreal!


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