I had a young student who lived in the Taipei equivalent of a mansion. She didn’t like to be read to, but she loved being the teacher and leading me in activities that she would do in a normal school day.
This stick-figure collaboration came from an offshoot of “Writing Workshop” called, appropriately enough, “Making Books.”
The best part, I think, was when she actually sat still for the 2 minutes it took to read the book, and then we named all of the heads in the last picture. It included her teacher Mr. Couch, her mom, dad, baby brother and herself, as well as her grandmother and maybe her aunt.
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Posted in Taiwan, tagged Chinese, language, me, school, weird on Wednesday, 7 September 2011|
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To be honest, I’m not exactly sure why my teacher assigned this task, but I quite enjoyed the way it echoed a middle school writing assignment where I wrote as a pair of shoes. I think? Maybe it was high school. Who can remember these things?
This post is a little different from the facebook one in that I’m including my intended translation, same as last time, for my Chinese-challenged friends. I’ll also link up the Google machine translation because it’s frakking hilarious.
An Anthropomorphic Riddle
My friends and I stand waiting for people to come and choose us. We live in a huge hall, and sleep on hard beds. Who comes to see us? Researchers, students, scientists; all humanity can freely search within our bodies for data, information, and stories.
Once you’ve found me, how do you find the information you need? I can’t speak, so you must open me up and turn through my viscera. Don’t get goosebumps; this kind of action doesn’t disturb me! My only goal is to help you.
What am I?
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June gloom arrives early in Taipei, and is remarkably inconsistent. May is the drab month here, but we’ve had some remarkably bright (and hot) days– just never on the weekend! I lie; yesterday was quite nice, but I procrastinated going out to a nearby national park to go hiking and just enjoy nature because I thought it would be easier to do it today after dragon boat practice.
I woke up bright and (over an hour) early this morning to a power outage and the jackhammering of generators. Since I couldn’t go back to sleep, I decided to stay up to take a cold shower to mitigate the 5am humidity and pack my purse for the day (hiking and work out clothes in the bag, dress for city wandering on me, tape to protect my hands– forgotten, washcloth to dry off with after practice– forgotten). Somehow, I still wound up arriving at the MRT station a little to late to walk to practice, so I grabbed a cab and wasted 115元. On the bright side, I didn’t sidetrack through a construction zone or shimmy under a fence today, which is more than I can say about last Sunday.
Practice went well despite increasingly heavy rain from 9am on, and afterward, I walked barefoot through the pouring rain with some teammates to the closest MRT. It was excellent! After talking with Rebecca, I decided to kill some time at Taipei 101 where there’s an excellent bookstore with a wide selection of English books. I hadn’t been there before, but I got directions and set off. Unfortunately, I set off in the wrong direction and had to hop out and retrace my steps back along the blue line. It was a little irritating, but it cost me nothing but time.
Let me tell you: Page One is awesome. I spent over 1500元 and I only regret it a tiny bit. Their only flaw is that they don’t have enough cushy chairs. The food court at Taipei 101 is also awesome, and I had a lunch I couldn’t finish for about $3. The soup was an intriguing mix of guts and starchy vegetables topped with cilantro (I love how popular it is here!), and the rice with meat sauce and vegetables with meat sauce were delicious.
I met up with Rebecca and Steve and we went to Miramar to see Shrek 4. I wasn’t too keen on the choice, but it was the lesser of 8 or 9 evils, and turned out to have a few good laughs. It was also really nice to see my friends again, and it topped off a good day perfectly.
Parentheses overuse! I do apologize.
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On Thursday I got a supplementary paycheck because I work at two branches but rarely go to one of them. I was surprised to see my own Chinese name on the paystub, since my main paycheck had a different name, assigned by the main office and unchangeable according to the accountant at my branch. This confused me, because a few weeks ago I told her I had a Chinese name and wrote it down for her, which pleased her both because I could write it and because we shared a character (文–pretty common). I figured it would make its way onto my time cards and paystubs and eventually, my tax documents, but now I don’t know, since my primary check calls me 曾笛愷, but my secondary one calls me 汪莉文, which is the one I’m used to!
This left me perplexed and slightly philosophical. In one sense, I’m taking part in a long tradition of naming and re-naming that exists in Chinese culture. Before the cultural revolution, children (and from now on, assume I’m talking about boys and men, since the women largely stayed home and …did needlepoint?) had a pet name or milk name around the house, an official name that often followed rules or guidelines frequently still seen today, received or chose a school name, and then took another name at around 20. For an example of this tangle, check out Chiang Kai-shek, whose name in Taiwan, by the way, isn’t said anything like that.
In another sense, though, no one calls me by my Chinese name except my Hola discount card and my realtor, so…
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