Archive for August, 2008

Vacation Trip

Jennifer is Sick

Hides inside

Drinks some wine

First day of school…

I thought I was done with this crap?

Maybe that doesn’t rhyme, but then again poetry was never my thing, my thing was Victorian Literature, and all things written  by dead old white men. As Pat knows about my diatribes against Prof. Jarman, poetry and I have been battling for a long long time. So sorry for that bit of poetic sludge. Its the cold medicine I promise.

In other news:

Greetings from the new apartment. It is pretty snazzy here and only 4 blocks from the old digs. (Yes I used the word digs, yes I may be living in 1962).

This weekend, after a tiring three days of teaching a class for the one other english teacher (Keith) who is on vacation, Tina and I were whisked away for an impromptu weekend vacation…and by whisked away I mean taken begrudingly at 7am to a mountain cabin with 30 other people that Aunt and Uncle work with.

It was nice though, there was a pool where I swam around in a t-shirt because my bikini is apparently to hot to handle here, but then was later goaded into wearing just the bikini and fulfilling my Americaness. Then there was barbeque chicken and corn and Taiwan Beer…and then there was a sore throat and a raging migrane and then fever and dizziness and laying in bed wishing to be anywhere but here. There was drinking of mystery medicine and more laying around and then finally some fitful sleeping since Asians don’t beleive in soft mattresses but prefer to sleep on just the box springs/floor/bamboo pad. The next day, mildly better. Sitting around, playing cards, watching tv, coming home. The vacation was in the mountains south of Taipei in Wulai. There were apparently hot springs but the only thing I saw was a rock pool full of bathtub temp. water. The cabins were lovely and huge and there was a waterfall right right behind our porch. It was very much like going to the Smoky Mountains when I was little and staying at Cobbly Knob.

The waterfall behind the cabin.

Me, retrieving a giiiiant snake skin from the wall behind the cabin to the screams of Lulu, Tina, and Aunt. They were grossed out, I was fascinated…really, its just skin. I would be more scared that I climbed over the railing onto a giant wall overlooking rushing water.

Said snake skin. Isn’t it cool.

So this boy, whom I refer to as “Puffy hair boy” proclaimed his love for me last week at the office, while everyone laughed at him. “You are very beautiful. I can be your friend?” Since then, I’ve stayed distanced a bit and everyone has tormented him unmercifully. For a photo op I hopped on his scooter, and he completely freaked out that I was so close, hence the bashful smile from Puffy-haired boy. I think I might have made his day

Sadly there are no wedding bells in the future, as puffy-haired boy is 15, and well….has puffy hair. An unfortunate fashion trend for teenagers, where they get their hair all crimped so it stands out like a big fluffy poof. I think that they think its bad ass….

On a final note. Or two final notes.

Cheers to the new apartment. I will post indepth pictures as soon as we have curtains, couch slip covers, prints on the walls, I own a bed, and we have a tv.

I give it a week before we can amass all of these things. Right now its nice, but a bit spartan.

Also. Tomorrow is the first official day of school. Though I’ve been teaching preschoolers for the past 3 days, tomorrow I have my own classes, a kindergarten one and a second grade one.

I am terrified. But only because I know two hours is alot longer than I think it is. And because the lesson plan book is full of stupid shit that no real 5 year old would sit through. Where are you Ms. Harper when I need you. It’ll be fine, I have enough inane songs and vague questions to last me to infinity.

Lesson plan books, fie. Vinyl retro couch,fie.

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Hong Kong

I just want to mention this. Tuesday Night: Steak Dinner – Sirloin, noodles, egg, soup, salad, garlic bread, tea – 7$

In other news.
I left the country and came back all in one day. And since I just arose from a mega-nap I am now ready to talk about it.

First: International flights. Who knew- one hour international flights serve whole meals. By they time they get done with the meal, you’re there bam. Breakfast was delish. However I was getting a headache from all the announcements: on Cathay Airlines they’re done in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. Three of everything ech. Coming to Taipei it was Malay, Mandarin, and English. It makes the announcements never end.

Hong Kong is gorgeous. Steep mountains and towering buildings that are all shiny and water with funny little boats. I definitely want to come back.

Also the ratio of 70% Chinese, 30% British didn’t hurt. I felt a lot more normal and there was no staring. Except my staring of course, since I was having reverse-culture shock of not being the only person who was tall with brown hair.

I left at 4:30 am for the airport. Flight at 7. Got there, took a train into the city and Hong Kong Island with some guys who were “going to spread the joy of Jesus Christ” in Nepal. I asked about the current political situation there and they got this blank look on their face. Stupid Americans.

Got to the visa office, took a cab from the airport and then the cab driver drove 4 blocks and pointed to the building. Damn, it looked a lot farther on the map.

Visa office: 40 people waiting only 20 chairs, crap crap crap. Take a number, chat with Asian-American guy about nightclubs in Taipei. Get to the window and get charged some exorbitant $1000 HK, processing fee in addition to the 400$ reg. And 200$ rush charge. Bureaucracy is bullshit. I’m told to come back at 4:30 to pick up my visa. It’s only 11. That’s a lot of time to kill.

I wander across the street into this giant city park. Granted the weather is still tropical, so I’m sweating to death. There is a Conservatory filled with plants, and in the Arid room I feel like I’ve been transported to Arizona, no more mystery jungle plants there are nice cacti and yuccas, the other rooms are filled with Orchids and vanilla plants and monstrous lily pads that look like giant plates. Near this is a giant Aviary filled with the most amazing birds; all sorts of colors and shapes with giant tails of sprouts of feathers from their foreheads. I really wish I had had my camera, but my bag was heavy enough as it was. I read on a park bench near a lake for a while then decided that I had dehydrated myself enough and headed back towards the buildings.

There is a mall connected to the governmental buildings with every shop you can imagine. Hong Kong is one of the fashion/shopping capitals of Asia, and this mall put Taipei’s Sogo to shame. I wandered around in the ac feeling very underdressed and unprofessional. Got juice and a “bacon and egg pie”. Despite England giving up its 150-year rule over Hong Kong about ten years ago everything is still heavily influenced by the British. They drive on the other side of the street, elevators are called lifts, the subways say “way out” for the exit, and the streets even have the “look right, look left” signs painted on the ground that I loved in London.

Still having 3 hours to kill after all of that, I went and saw a movie. There are only about 7 movies out in Asia right now and I am slowly making my way through all of them, however I refuse to see the shitty Eddie Murphy one, I don’t even remember what its called. My choice of the 6 this time was Wall-E, since I think I’m the last person in the world to see it. However I’m also on the look out for Indiana Jones from Bootleg dvd vendors since I didn’t see that in theaters either.

It was pretty good, it did the pollution viewpoint nicely through visuals and not heavy-handed lecturing or gloom and doom (though we should be glooming and dooming it up). That’s really all I have to say. Funny thing is, despite there being ridiculous numbers of people in Asia, and all the air-pollution from factories and cars, people, on a small scale, are very environmentally minded. The trash for the entire household for the whole week amounts to a small shopping bag’s worth. And almost all trash cans everywhere have recycling options. Lights and energy are always conserved and driving to the airport at 4 in the morning, every single skyscraper from the skyline had disappeared because no one leaves their lights on at night after closing, even Taipei 101 turns off after eleven pm.

Anyways. Visa done, off to the airport to kill even more time, all in all I got there at 9am was busy till 11am, and then killed time till 10pm at night. I painted my fingernails, looked around, got some kiwi juice, excitedly found a Ben and Jerrys (those Vermont boys are in Hong Kong crazy!) but then was sad when they did not have Cherry Garcia. Them and Haagen-Dazs both carry Asian flavors here (Mango, red bean, melon), which I know makes sense but dammit I want some Dulce de Leche or some Chunky Monkey, even Americone Dream.

Home at midnight, with a new visa sticker in my passport, and I’m legal for 60 more days, until I can once again brave the Foreign Ministry for my residence statue and ARC work permit…mmm paperwork. And on that note. Good night. Hopefully I’ll have delicious dreams of ice cream and sweet potato French fries.

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Been a bit MIA.

A lot has been happening since Thursday.

Friday I went to work and watched Keith the other English teacher all morning. Apparently the class I watched is the pre-K that I will have as kindergartners in a week. I am prospectively teaching one kindergarten class and two 2nd grade classes. The kindergarten class is more fun but also mind-numbing it seems – this is M, what begins with M, can you say M….ad infinitum. 2nd grade its getting them to write sentences and learn more vocab which I don’t really know what to expect in that aspect, we’ll see. I have a giiiiant teachers guide and tons of books, workbooks, etc that we’re supposed to work from. So I think its just a matter of organizing it and presenting it. Let me channel Ms. Forehand and Ms. Harper, my own kindergarten and second grade teachers. Thinking back I learned to tie my shoes in Ms Forehands class, and about green eggs and ham and Christopher Columbus. In Ms. Harper’s class all I remember is that she had painted the entire room peach, which clashed with her red hair, and that she used to exclaim at Stephanie Jones when she was being bad (which was always) that “Stephanie, you’d drive a dead man to drink”.  Good or bad I don’t know about that.

In talking with Keith, I learned he’s from Saginaw, MI (wooo relatives). And that he’s been here 8 years. That, on top of the Australian yard-sale girls who have been here 4, the German guy who lives in the building who has been here 18, and Tina’s teacher who has been here 8, I have to wonder why does everyone stay so long? Do you really settle in like that? I can’t really picture more than a year here, but everyone seems to assume we’ll change our minds. It kind of freaks me out when people keep telling us how long they’ve been here.

Friday night Tina and Lulu went to go see The Coffin, a scary Thai movie. Since #1. I thought it’d be in Chinese and #2. I really can’t handle scary movies, what with the overactive imagination, instead me and Amber went to go see Mamma Mia. We were worried that Amber, who is 9, wouldn’t be able to sit through the whole thing, especially since it’s in English. However, she loved it. She kept exclaiming to me during the movie, “That’s so crazy”. The singing and dancing and the three daddies apparently really tickled her. I’m glad.

Also I’d heard that Pierce Brosnans singing was hoooorrible. But. I think it was more the faces he made while singing. He looked constipated or overly intense which made the sub-par singing ridiculously comical. After that, a night market for some browsing and a late dinner. As we arrived the stink of, well – stinky tofu was pretty horrific to me, and pretty much everywhere but I got used to it after a while. Stinky tofu is basically rotten tofu that people like to eat here, I don’t know why, and no I’m not planning on trying that. I did however eat this bread ball thing with veggies and soy sauce inside that was amaaaaazing, as well as applejuice – everything is blended right there in front of you, and icecream between two cake things.

Saturday we signed the contract on our apartment. Woohoo. Or rather, Tina and her Aunt and Uncle signed the contract since I’m not really a legit citizen. We actually took the first apartment we looked at since finding furnished, 2 bedroom apartments between Neihu, and Da-an, near the subway, with AC, a kitchen, a washer, AND under 20K was proving pretty difficult. This one is on Civic Blvd. Across from this neat old Railway Workshop place that I’m dying to get into an take pictures, I think its abandoned and from the 1960s. It’s only down the block from the Death Star Mall, (in reality the Living Mall) and maybe 5 blocks from Tina’s Aunt and Uncles, which is nice. Some distance but not too much. We only need to buy one more bed for my room, which is the smaller one, and a tv. Other than that, some intense cleaning, some curtains, maybe a lamp or two and voila. New home. We’re going to move in Wednesday after they install internet and fix a leaky hot water heater. For a better summation -see Tina’s blog.  Pictures will follow I promise.
After that, we went to stay for the evening with Tina’s mom’s side of the family. The family tree I’ve been mapping in my head is ridiculous with everyone having so many brothers and sisters etc but I guess you have to do the rounds of meet and greet. When we arrived, Tina headed straight for the bathroom, which left me with various relatives and a four year old that gave me one look, got giiiant eyes and hid behind his mom. Apparently I was the first white person he’d ever seen and this was a bit scary. After a lot of coaxing he eventually warmed up to me later and was adorable, we played with a bowling set and they tried to get him to speak English. Every single parent tries to get their kid to say hello in English to me, and 97% of the time they clam up, and won’t perform on the spot. I don’t blame them. Later, he was counting to 10 and chattering about how he loves Diego from Dora the Explorer. Spent the night, watched Superman, slept like crap. Had lunch, Wii tennis and bowling, afternoon nap, watched this one part of Van Helsing that I’ve seen 15 times but never seen any of the rest of the movie. Blahblah, daily things. Errands, old-house, cards, mushrooms and rice and turnip soup for lunch, shopping for the apartment, shower. The end.

Also – pictures, rather late of things that have been happening.

Uncle Ming’s birthday – 46.

Uncle and Aunt being silly. Post cake.

Delicious cake. Cherries and Chocolate

Mr. Traffic conductor guy. At rushhour he stands there in addition to the traffic lights because everyone inches into the intersection during reds, getting ready to cut people off. See the scooters right where the cars are turning, yeah. Lets not even talk about pedestrian crossing problems.

This is a typical number of scooters at the light during rushhour. Picture this on all four sides. Intense

Last but not least, Tina and her pudding. It has a layer of coffee flavoured stuff at the bottom, pretty tasty.

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Today I had my first….oh shit, I can’t read experience.

I mean I haven’t been able to read characters in the past either however I’ve always had Tina to offer suggestions of what’s on the menu, what that sign says etc, but the past 3 days I’ve been adventuring out by myself, since Tina has teacher training from 1:30 till 4:30 every day. My own errands have been at my school, which is in the opposite direction from her work. Not a big deal, I can handle the subway, I can read the street signs since they have pinyin as well. I have mastered clumsily ordering coffee at Starbucks and buying super-glue at the bookstore. But today…I had to ride the bus.

While I knew what bus to get on, and in what direction, and how to pay etc. I had not accounted for the digital sign that flashes the pinyin for the next stop to be out of order, or the fact that only half the bus stop signs have pinyin, or that the bus driver would mumble the stop in an incomprehensible manner to my ears. So I’m riding, I’m staring out the window…I know where we are, I know where we are, I know where we are….we turn….oh crap. Was that my street? Should I keep riding getting further away, or get off in case I’m not there yet? Crap, crap, I can’t read any of the stop names.

So I get off. Better in the middle of the city than in the middle of nowhere. Inspect the map at the bus stop…nope still can’t read, haven’t magically learned to do it under stress, apparently. Lots of characters, which mean nothing. The only ones I know being women, trash, up and down.

Left the pinyin map at home. Great.
Decide, this is the street I need, since its called Ren Ai Rd, I’ll walk this way and hope I come upon Ren Ai hospital since that’s where I’m headed to pick up my health form. Logical? Walking, walking, great neighborhood, trees, nice boutiques, its quiet, starting to get a blister, walking more, walking, painful walking, realizing I am probably walking the wrong way on this road and have been. Blister is screaming at me now. Stop in front of a giant bank, while my feet are telling me I’m stupid for wearing new shoes. My mango juice isn’t so cool and tasty now, more like melted and warm.

Cabs. My saviors. Get in cab, realize cab driver doesn’t know English and my attempt at saying Ren-Ai in Chinese is really not enough info, since this road is apparently really long. Crap. Cab driver calls person who does know English. Woooooooo. Information relayed. We go to the hospital, its not that that far away by car, and I was only 5 minutes from it when I started walking in the wrong direction. Damn. Cab ride total – 95NT – 3$ US well spent. After getting my paperwork, I walk to the next intersection – debating buses again, then I realize there is a metro stop one block up since I can see the Sogo Mall towering above everything.

Wait, you mean I could have taken the subway? It wasn’t really far away, as I had been led to believe.  Dammit.
Take subway, limp .7 miles home, rip of shoes.

Spent the rest of the day trying to call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get my visa extended, get a busy voicemail – 8 times.

That said, we went to go look at an apartment. It looks pretty nice, if they come down on the price a teeny bit then we may just take it. It’ll be a relief to get to unpack my suitcase. We can also then go scavenge the tons of people selling their belongings at yard sale prices since they are trying to move back to the states and come back with all sorts of furniture treasures.

Also things that have happened:
Uncle’s birthday. Delicious chocolate and cherry cake. Red wine with ice. Why for the love of God ice in the red wine. Its reverse Europe, they put ice in everything, even beer. I kinda like the ice in beer but in wine. No. Plus I was served at the other uncle’s – karaoke-Uncle we’ll call him, “Taiwan wine”…which is like grape juice with a bit of a winey-tang. Pat- think of “The Show” wine we had last summer and you’ll get a good approximation. They all asked what I thought, so a thumbs-up meant, drinking 2 more bottles of it. At least it wasn’t very alcoholic.

Maggie, an aunt on the mom’s side, took us to see Millet exhibit at the Museum, however when we got there, there was a line down the block, literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people all waiting patiently for tickets to get in. HUNDREDS. On a Wednesday night. 3 weeks after the show opened. Amazing

Do they know something about Millet I don’t. They’re just paintings of peasants people. Needless to say we did not wait in the line, I can’t imagine what the inside of the museum looked like.

Instead, we went to a night market. Wandered around, did some shopping, ate some cold, sweet tofu soupy thing.

I have a theory that if I was ever to become toothless someday, I could easily live here without dentures. Noodles, tofu, steamed veggies, jelly things. No teeth required, slurp and munch to your hearts content!

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Things are slowly slowly falling into place.

Found a school that I love. I may have to commute more but I don’t mind. IV American Academy is small, friendly, nice, relaxed, has the right hours, the right pay, and focuses on reading and not drilling the poor kids. One of the teachers – Elisa is trying to learn French and gave me some books she had that were too hard – The Secret Garden and Heidi in French. Its fate, the two stories I was obsessed with as a kid, in this school, in French? Bizarre.  The kids were well behaved and smiley, they have holday parties, pen pals, field trips. It looks peachy. And judging by the other teacher I saw- guy with a ponytail- major no-no here, I can wear my “eccentric” vintage clothes as much as I want.  Muzha line, Technology Building Station across from Taiwan University. Mmmmhmmm.

I also went to a Hess interview, Hess is a giant school will tons of locations and things. Barely told me anything, and the interviewer’s English wasn’t so good. I’d ask a question and get a funny answer based on what she thought I asked…I remember those fumbling days from French convo tests, guessing the questions instead of understanding them. Anyways, no Hess, yes IV American.

Next on the list. Apartments. Flying to Macau on Monday to get a visitors visa, so that I can get a resident visa, so that I can get an ARC and live here foreverrrr. Mmm Beauracracy, gotta love it. Or in my case hate that all of this is so complicated

Walking around in dress clothes, in 100 degree weather, a mile to the metro, I was a sweaty mess and my feet were screaming. Went to the SOGO mall in Zongsheng Fuxiao to kill time for an hour between interviews. Wandered every floor. Wandered the designer clothes floor, fingering Anna Sui, and Stella McCartney like I actually had the 18,000NT for the dresses, I looked the part a bit in my sunglasses and business clothes. At the 10th floor I stumbled upon the Toy section. Helllz yeah is all I have to say. Barbie, Hello Kitty, Legos, everything. I was 5 seconds from buying a Tamagotchi. I may just go back and get one for fun. That and a coin purse shaped like a smiley piece of toast. Bizarre.

German coo-coo clock section. Really there is everything here.

One other thing. Merrell shoes. They were my advertising foe my last couple of weeks in Nashville, hearing their name on the radio, on the street, at Movies in the Park, and only a week later did I discover they sold outdoor clothes. I was so disappointed. And now, Merrell has followed me to Taipei. Ridiculous.

Dinner and nap time.

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Laazy Days

A relaxing weekend is just what I needed. Slept in Saturday, Air Conditioning was installed in  the apartment. A window unit, and the cool factor has increased exponentially. Instead of it being 90 degrees every night when we went to bed according to the thermometer/clock it is now a cool 80, woooo. You can see how my scale of hotness is kind of distorted here. My crankiness and generally sweatiness has improved greatly. Again, wooooooo.

Saturday we went to get tea/dessert with Tina’s aunts on her mothers side. We went to this Russian restaurant and had banana splits and fluffy dessert bread. For the millionth time I was surprised by a whole nother dish and had to smile and stuff it down despite being sickeningly full. I really should learn by now, you’d think.

Shopping for the nth time, but more like wandering. Went to the Sony store to look for a screen protector for my SLR, they had everything but that. So many design stores, with gorgeous, sleek, useless things. Hundreds of kinds of teapots and French presses. This mall is apparently the very chic one, with marble bathrooms and every designer you could ever think of, Dior, Chanel, Hermes, and countless smaller ones.

When we went to the less fancy mall next door for the “average person” I hadn’t really taken into account that it was Saturday afternoon. Picture what the malls in America look like when it’s the week before Christmas, everything is 80% off, and increase the population by 100%. This is a typical Saturday of mall shoppers. Hundreds and hundreds of people all “trying” to browse, try on, and wander around. It was almost panic inducing when I realized that if I lost site of Tina’s blue tanktop I was royally screwed if I wanted to find her ever again. But I didn’t. So its fine.

Today, more delicious sleep, finishing a book, watching the Little Mermaid, and a live news report of this massssssive Domino set-up that is the size of 8 or 9 tennis courts and has all sorts of pictures like Sailor Moon…and of course…Hello Kitty set up in Dominoes. A uncle and nephew came over with a new puppy. A tiny Labrador retriever, she seems a little freaked out but is gobbling milk and wandering around, so cute.

Craving spicy pickles today and some Mexican food. That is one thing I have not even seen attempted here. “Italian food”, “French food” “American food” but no Mexican. Sad.

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Pop stars and movies

Today: Two interviews and assorted other exploits.

Interview in Xindian – more like be 45 minutes late because the commute was 2 hours by bus then metro then bus again, only to have them show us the classroom and ask when we can start.

Shopping: get a pair of ridiculously giant sunglasses, despite the fact that NO ONE wears sunglasses for some bizarre reason even though its tropical here and way bright. Ive been wanting giant sunglasses for a while and have finally overcome all of the naysayers of them…to those people I now say nay to you, because now 35% of my face is protected from sunburn by plastic alone.

Interview in Yonghe: Same school chain, but this time we do a demo – mini lesson with elementary aged kids. 4 of them, 3 boys and a girl. One of the boys is a hyper little kid who keeps putting his feet on the table/standing in his chair etc. My reasoning skills, with wild children who only understand limited English, are tested. The supervisor doesn’t really give a yay or a nay when we’re done, we have no idea and have to wait till Monday.

Come back, hang out in the apartment while Tina goes on an interview alone, me and Amber have broken English conversations, she convinces me to eat some mystery fruit that has a brown shell you have to peel and gooey green/blue inside. I eat it—declare—hao bu tseuh –not yummy. Guess its not my style.

However I am scarfing mangoes at the moment. Mangos and cherries I can eat till I get a belly ache…none of this Marachino cherry crap, giant dark red cherries with huge pits that leave your mouth and fingers stained red…yummy.

Tonight, more hanging out with Tina’s older cousin, “Joyce” who is still in college, and Jim who is a cousin on the mom-side also in college. Jim has visited Nashville twice in the past and remembered me from 7th grade – crazy. Hanging out with people my own age is nice, and they all make an effort to speak English with me sometimes and it makes me want to understand the conversation even more, but everyone talks fast and Im going to need a lot a lot of vocab learning before I can get much. We got “Italian food”. I thought I ordered baked ziti, but instead cheesy baked rice with mushrooms, still really delicious. Then we went to the Death-Star Mall, also known as the “living mall”  and got tickets to see Made of Honor and wandered around. We wasted a ton of change on some claw machines trying to get these stuffed cartoon cat toys. The toys would be lifted and then drop/fall riiiiight before the box. We played arcade basketball. The movie was a chick flick and based in NY (as always), and it was really weird to sit and think….I stood on that exact bridge about a month ago or I was right there in the MET a month ago. It made me miss NY a bit.

Watching Asian Idol right now…or Super Idol or something. I’m starting to watch tv enough to know shows I like. Theres this one about a pesky mother-in-law that I like.  And today in the mall I stood transfixed for about 10 minutes watching a video of “Show” a Taiwanese pop-star/tv-star/his face is on EVERYTHING. He had this Michael Jackson coat on and giant gold pants and was singing a song from what I could guess about how he loved curvy girls. Bizarre and really really addictive. The tv show he’s on I’ve seen before too and he plays basketball where he and this other guy compete on the court for the skills and affection of this girl basketball manager….at least I think that’s what its about, I’m just trying to follow all of this without dialogue.

Tomorrow we can sleep in, nice. And maybe the beach next weekend if I don’t have to leave the country on a visa run. It’s the first weekend where we haven’t been really jet lagged.

I’ve been here only a week today. It seems sort of surreal. In some aspects I’m very adjusted and in other ways it still feels like a vacation and at some point I’ll get on a plane and go home. I guess this is because all my stuff is still in suitcases, which is becoming an issue as I can never find anything.

Oh oh another show I like is on now. 8 school girls in matching outfits give presents to a hot boy to convince him to pick them. A lot like the dating game but super teeny-bopper ish.

Midnight here, noon at home. The 11 hour time different is nice because its not hard to calculate but I’m always having to function at the edges of time I feel to get people waking up or going to sleep, rarely do the hours in the middle of the day haveanyone not sleeping at home, or vice versa.

So this seems to be a smattering of a lot of things, but that’s about it at the moment. A longer post to follow about the subway and how polite everyone is. Freaky. Rule following robots I think. But more later.

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The business.

Since today all we did was go to one interview for Tina and I sat in Starbucks and colored in my journal, we’re going to skip ahead to a more general topic. One, which is gross, yet, fascinating, and ever present.

Squatty-toilets. As I refer to them.

When I was in French squat toilets were a rare, but present occurrence, usually only way out in rural areas. Here, everywhere.

Tina’s aunt and uncle business,- squatty toilet, the subway- squatty toilet, mc donalds- squatty toilet, the mall – squatty toilet. You get the picture.

Now people in the US might think ewww. Why, why would you choose that over a sit down one. Apparently wikipedia has a lot of reasons why, check them out because some are really amusing, but the number one reason is its cleaner believe it or not. Apparently since you’re not technically touching anything there is nothing to get dirty. Personally, I just don’t want to have to crouch down that close to my business. And I have to convince myself to go, because it seems so wrong. Carol – I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t survive here given your “shy bladder” as you call it.
And I haven’t even crossed the bridge of what happens if I need to #2. No, no, never going to happen. Not  a possibility.

Now usually there is a selection of sit down and squatty in public bathrooms, because the handicapped stall has to be sit-down. When me and Tina wait in line for the bathroom I play the squatty-lottery,  every time hoping that the sit-down one will be free when I get there. Sometimes I lose – oh well.

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So yesterday was shopping day and we took the MRT (subway) to Ximen Ding (ps. The subways here are amazingly clean and airconditioned-heavenly). Ximen Ding is basically a shopping/hangout mecca for the teenagers of Taipei. Picture street upon street upon street of clothing stores and food places and shops all for trendy teenager stuff and then add thousands of teenagers all walking in groups and hanging out. Damn this would have been amazing in highschool.

Nevertheless it was amazing for me because our first stop after meeting up with Tina’s other aunt and her 9 year old cousin Amber (who is adorable) was…McDonalds!!! After days of mystery food and nothing tasting quite like what I was used to, I was a teeny bit tired of noodles, tofu, and “meat”….so I got a happy meal, complete with Kung-fu Panda toy. Hamburger- delicious, fries- delicious, even the ketchup- which in France/Europe was horrible, was delicious. I will never talk smack about McDonalds ever again. Later in the day I succumbed to Dunkin Donuts as well. Chocolate icing and sprinkles—a little chewy not quite the same, but still good. My stomach was so happy. In reference to the title of this post, I learned the word for delicious a few days ago but sometimes I get too excited and say it wrong, instead of hao si I say hao si…yeah it’s the same word but the tone is different…so instead of good taste, I say good snake. Sounds like some sort of band and it gets freaky looks from Tina when I go around proclaiming “Good snake!”

After this, was shopping. – got a birthday present for Frank that is perfect, Tina got some black Chucks for 25$, I got a new purse that is larger than my brown one, is white, and has a zipper, maybe it’ll be a successor to my yellow behemoth of a bag. We took pictures with Amber in this place that is entirely filled with photo booths, but these are really fancy ones, Amber was so so excited and I would have been too if I was 9. You can pick from hundreds of backgrounds, and then adjust the lighting and after you take them put words or pictures anywhere you want on the photo and make them sparkly. So we took some adorable ones and I got a tiny strip of them, I’ll try to take a picture of them later so that you can see.

Tired, me and Tina head back around 6 to the business. Tina’s aunt takes us to get cellphones and pizza. Since I’m not Taiwanese I can’t get a phone there but they give me one of their old ones to use and buy a prepay card for, and its still pretty cool. Yay.

Today: health check at the hospital. Didn’t take too long, but I had to go from person to person to person, eyes, height, weight, ears, blood, x-ray etc etc. However this form that I get lets me get my ling-term visa for work, because right now I’m only allowed to be here for 30 days.

Moved the Beitou interview to tomorrow, since I had to go to the hospital then I couldn’t get my resume to print then photos then…we were just stressed out and didn’t think we’d have time. Actually we do, but the Beitou interview is looking less appealing everyday since its at a far-out location, and not a lot of hours.

I bought stationary and cards for everyone. Prepare for insanely cute paper smilies and letters in the future. If you want a letter, give me an address, its that easy.

Potential Future topics:

Smog: I can’t remember what blue skies look like / Hey I can stare directly at the sun!
Scooters: Dang there are a lot / Hey a lady is driving one while holding a baby!
Boys: Why have you spent more time on your hair than I have?
Fashion: Fake glasses, no cleavage, baby-doll dresses
Food: yay or nay – a jelly and blood diet
Tanning: Vampire look is in.
Staring: Can I start charging money for looks?
Fruit: Amazing and everywhere, fresh, fresh, fresh!
Language: Wo bu zhidao.

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Yesterday was a lot of waiting, and then some relaxing yaaaay. We went to go get Tina’s id at the ..basically at the DMV. And in true universal government fashion it took forever. 2 hours, then lunch then 2 more hours….2 hours into it I discovered English National Geographics hurrrrrah. So I read three of them, and then I colored some in my journal.

I haven’t yet decided that when I get painfully bored, if coloring is rude or not – whipping out the crayons in the middle of a waiting room. But lets face it, after a certain point I’m not getting anything from anyone’s conversation, they know I can’t understand, and I can only sit and smile politely for so long while everyone else hangs out and I sit at the side…thus coloring time. We’ll see.

A bit of hanging out at the old house with Tina’s grandma, then we went back to the apartment. Where me and tina continued the job search. I’ve emailed about 5 people, and heard back from one. However its one that Tina heard back from as well, and she looks like an amazingly helpful person. We’ve having tests to see if only I hear back from jobs and not Tina, since you’re required always to send a picture and then they realize she’s asian. Whatever, we’ll see.

Today, I actually had a long long sleep where I didn’t wake up at 6am for the first time woooo. Now if only I didn’t get tired at 9pm every night. We’re supposed to go shopping today, for cellphones, and postcards at this promisedly amazing stationery store and then fun shopping….oh and job hunting. We’re calling Julie the cool lady….and I have 4 other phone numbers to call.

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