Posts Tagged ‘life’

Life news round-up

Last Friday I was walking home from the bus stop when I saw three boys practicing weapons in my neighborhood park.  When I asked what they were doing, the boy with the rattling spear said it was for a temple fair in Luzhou.  Tragically, as it was the end of the night, my brain and my Chinese were shot and I couldn’t really formulate any good questions before he lost patience or interest and turned away.  I do have some video of a temple’s fighting group somewhere; I’ll have to find it!

I’m going to Malaysia on Friday, basically right after I take the foreign service test (and bomb, presumably).  It’ll be a lovely distraction, since I also had a big ol’ final today for Chinese.

Speaking of Chinese, I have been having a grand time with my language exchange buddy, who I feel really gets the short end of the stick.  His English is already so good that he focuses more on me.  Last time, he brought a comic book version of The Art of War (which rocked!) and this collection of Chinese ghost stories which I have in mind as a gift for a certain middle school bff.

My other personal time one-on-one is a lawyer who just wants to discuss news, which is fine by me!  He’s quite articulate and challenging; I really only work hard to keep up, not to help his English.  Last Sunday we talked about Taiwan and China, and what he thinks could happen if China were provoked.  It was a little bit chilling.  We almost got into their one child policy, but I told him to hold off until our next meeting; I want to take info about the gender imbalances in India and China.  Contrast their policy differences that have done nothing to fix this problem and such.

The last piece of news relates to a wonderful hash I attended that same Sunday.  The weather has been rainy and gray this past week and half or so, but that day it was perfect for a mountain run.  The cloudy sky kept the temperature comfortably low but never let fall any significant rain, and the hares led us through some crazy trails including a piss-scented valley, an illegal canyon (man-made), and about 3 hours of 87° uphill slopes.  I exaggerate, but only a little.  For me, though, the best part was my Chinese fluency that day.  It recovered fully from the incident with the weapons boys and–my favorite part about the Taiwanese hashers–got few criticisms and even fewer compliments.  As it should be!

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The past few days have been hellish.  The temperature’s been above 30°C and the humidity has been ridiculous, so when the rain woke me up the other night, I was overjoyed.  In the morning, however, the weather hadn’t really changed, and even though I took my umbrella to school, I didn’t need it until later in the afternoon (at which point I had lost it in Da’an Park).

That rain was surprising yet nice, but the good stuff didn’t really start until sometime during my evening classes.  As I was leaving, Jenny told me in was raining and let me know about the “lovely umbrellas.”  In Chinese, things done for the benefit of other people are all called “love.”  Perhaps charity is the best translation?

On the way home, the rain was really heavy and there was lightning every three or four minutes!  When I got off the bus, I couldn’t help but grin at every flash… until I remembered I’d left laundry in my window box.  Luckily, most of the big items were actually quite dry, but my underwear hanger wasn’t under the awning and in my haste to pull it inside, I lost two pairs on the roof below!  I grabbed my hanger-stick and threaded it and my arm through the window grating, painstakingly twisting the underwear onto the reaching-stick (not actually designed for hooking onto things).  Truly a ridiculous situation.

Now I’m looking forward to falling asleep to the pounding of rain on my neighbors’ tin window cages.  It’s a wonderful sound!

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Feels like it’s been forever

I’d like to say I have a good excuse for being away so long, but I really don’t.  I’ve had visitors, true, but mostly what I’ve had is a overwhelming lack of interest.  My schedule has been expanded and changed a bit, and I now have a three-days-a-week class, which I originally thought would be great, but has turned out to be unforeseen amounts of work and parental bitching.

I did some enjoyable traveling, and I’ll put up those things as soon as I have the time and inclination.  I just wanted to give a quick explanation for the huge gap since my last post.

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My scooter

Do you know how hard it is to get this thing on its stand?

It’s red and it’s fast (probably) and it’s super super terrifying!  And cute.  Mostly cute, since it’s not the scooter itself that’s scary, but rather the other people on the road.  However, I took a ride to the bank last week and that was no problem, even the driving up on the curb to park bit.

And since I know my dad is curious, it’s a KYMCO 100cc Idol.

And Kelly, the picture’s for you!  You can see my helmet isn’t red, but it looks pretty badass and intense, right?!

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Today has been just so normal: I woke up and did a little yoga like I promised myself, got a breakfast hamburger, walked to the bank and had a nice little conversation, paid my security fee, had the rental agent in to take a look at the busted screens, and rearranged my one piece of furniture.

Now it’s noon and I’m taking a break to write and relax.

My bank is reasonably big, and so I have three branches in my city to choose from.  The one I was introduced to is a little far without a scooter, but the walk is a lot more interesting because it’s non-stop city streets.  However, on the bus the other day, I noticed another branch that was much easier to get to and probably a little closer, and since I needed to get some money and I didn’t want to pay ATM fees, I decided to check it out.

Now, there are definitely cars here (no grass shacks in Taipei, Irma!), but it’s not a car culture like Southern California, it’s a scooter or walking culture and because I don’t have a scooter, I’ve been doing a lot of walking.  Even though there’s a lot to look at, it can get boring because of the distances, so I listen to podcasts or music.  I recently discovered this series of documentaries from the BBC and the first one I listened to was pretty interesting, if a little heart-breaking.  Check ’em out if you’ve got any kind of commute.  I also listen to SModcast, but don’t check it out if you don’t like cursing and such (parents, grandparents… just don’t).

It took about an hour to take care of the bank business, and that included breakfast, walking, fumbling in English and Chinese, and walking back.  The fumbling was very fun, actually, because I got both good information out of the exchange (no fees for a low balance!), and also a little English-Chinese exchange going on with the nice cashier, whose friend was sitting to the side giggling all over the place.  The cashier complimented me on my Chinese as people here are wont to do if you can say more than 你好, but he was very polite and I think I truly am getting better, or at least more confident with my tones in a somewhat constrained set of conversational topics.

I took a slightly more scenic route past the empty fields and two of three schools in my immediate vicinity and had a pleasant walk home.  Lest “empty fields” give you too pastoral an idea of my city, let me say that they’re more like very large vacant lots that are pleasantly covered with green.  I think the city is turning them into parks, but they’ve got a long way to go.  Hopefully I’ll see some results before I move, but I imagine that depends on whether I stay in Taipei/Xinzhuang for the two years, or whether I go to Taichung or the east coast for my second year.

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