Archive for December, 2008

I’m really good at rolling over and over until I sausage the whole blanket around me, MUAHAHAHAHA


Only one more class between me and Franklin and vacation-y time. AHHHHHHHH really excited. And screw archaic social customs here and my own personal anti-PDA rants….the airport is going to be scandalized by my enthusiasm.

Cartoon courtesy of Natalie Dee.

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Ok last post for the day I swear.

Back from a prix fixe dinner, stuffed beyond belief and I sadly didn’t even finish my steak. I had been doing so well recently finishing meals — I think my stomach has finally grown to asian standards.

Anyways. Amusement. I can’t wait for new Flight of the Conchords.

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I like that the show’s host thinks this is some wild and crazy performance.

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A little experiment.

In the spirit of trying everything once…

I went on a coffee date with a total stranger. I know that it takes guts to walk up to someone you don’t know and just say hey *see jenn’s awkward attempt at making friends in the park*. I know it takes even more guts to walk up and say hey to a foreigner…compounded by the fact that my stature and brash manner apparently scares asian guys.

So I was stopped in the MRT, groggily on my way to work…”hey, would you like to get coffee sometime?” Me being the smooth person I am said, “what? right now? what?” So I pawn my phone number off on him thinking…neh,  won’t answer. Then of course I’m not paying attention and answer later in the day. Shit.

So, you know what, who cares, it’ll be a little experiment. A study of the awkward asian boy and struggling second languages. I’ll write a whole thesis even, why not. One hour of my life, getting coffee instead of on the internet is not too much of a loss.

Surprisingly, not as painful as I had predicted. Still not a rapturous hour. I’d give it a double meh- on the try meter, and a meh- on the fun meter. Ok that was interesting, now I’m done. Moving on.

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Flipping channels and coming upon US College basketball on tv is weird enough, but then to watch it and realize a whole 10 minutes later that the commentary is in Chinese, makes it mega weird.

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Merry Belated Christmas.

With all the effort of school Christmas, and my own attempt of eeking some Christmas cheer out of the holiday season, I have not really been focused on my online self.

That said. Backing up a bit.

As usual I was informed of my school holiday activities merely one week before said event. Knowing that they have a tendency to do this, I asked about it three weeks ago, and received the answer “oh, we’re not doing much, maybe some songs and coloring activities, but nothing big, no parents”. Then last week, “Oh hey Jennifer, can you have your students learn 2 christmas carols, and one chant to sing to a Santa who is coming on Thursday.”…..Ummm, jesus, ok, I’ll try, but if they’re not stellar Santa won’t mind, its just Santa right? Then 3 days before Christmas, “Oh hey, a lot of the parent’s RSVP’d apparently they’re ALL coming, and tuiton for next semester goes out next week so we really need to impress them, oh and can you have them prepare “wishes and notes to santa” in addition to 2 songs and a chant?”.

Maaaaaaah! So after repeatedly psychologically abusing my students that Santa would be “so sad” if they didn’t have their carols perfect. We practiced and practiced. I felt guilty pulling the Santa card but jesus, one week to prepare and we only have class for 2 hours a day.  Also Taiwanese kindergartners have no idea what to write in a letter to Santa, I put up example sentences but also gave them the freedom to ask anything. It was highly amusing.

I was sad about having to work Christmas day, and extra tired because I had been to a Christmas Eve party at Duke the night before (in which there was a secret santa exchange and they all fought over the carton of Lucky Strikes (I thought of Brian and his love of unfiltered lung cancer, and nothing like his second hand smoke at 9am on a Sunday morning, blech)) But there I was at school bright and early.


I taught the baby pre-K, where we attempted to make Santa beards (major fail – glue faces and crushed styrofoam everywhere) and then got ready for Kindergarten. They came in already packed with candy, we practiced one last time and magically, amazingly, miraculously. THEY WERE AMAZING. Adorable with their hand gestures and dancing and pure excitedness for Santa. We were singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Jingle Bell Rock, and a chant about 5 little bells. We made Marshmellow Snowmen as an activity while their parents arrived, and I had to beg them to hold off on gobbling them before I could take pictures. Which were cute.

dsc03342 dsc03346dsc03347 dsc03349dsc03352

Then Santa arrived, and they were happy and totally scared of him. They sang their songs and read their letters, “Santa how you make many toys, one day?”, “Santa do you like bananas?” “Santa, do you have a lot of toys?”. They all took pictures, where they are sitting very far away from him, looking a little overwhelmed, and then they got bags of candy, which they stuffed their faced with for the rest of the day. It was funny, I almost felt like they were my children meeting Santa, even though I’m only their teacher, I was so proud. I took pictures with a lot of my students and their familys, particularly Justin’s mom who is always trying to get pictures of me. Apparently she has told her friends that Justin has a pretty teacher and now her friends want their kids to maybe come here. Bizarre, but it makes Ivy happy. Hehe.

The second graders, didn’t get such an elaborate celebration. More like one hour of Christmas carol karaoke and candy eating, followed by an ornament that I had written a nice message on. My second graders thought they were too cool to karaoke by themselves, except Eva who sang and sang in her nasally loud voice. The Twelve Days of Christmas was sung FOUR times. I thought I was going to lose my mind (thats 48 partridge in a pear trees).  Everyone danced and was wild, and it wouldn’t be a Second Grade class if there wasn’t some of Teacher Jennifer yelling and threatening to absolutely no avail. Anyways. There are pictures of this class and our karaoke time and some of the first grade dancing on Flickr. As well as my second grade making fossils two weeks ago (which was really fun). And my Kindergarten at Halloween.

Last week I told my Kindergarten students more about Christmas, generally and specifically.

Jennifer’s Concise Version of Christmas:
Santa Claus lives at the North Pole with his elves and flying reindeer. Every year children from all over the world write him letters telling him what toys they want for Christmas. Santa reads the letters and then he makes a list of the good kids and the bad ones and the bad ones get rocks (coal) and the good ones the toys that his elves make. Then on Christmas eve, he and his 8 (9 with Rudolph) reindeer fly in his sleigh to all the houses. When he lands on the roof, he comes down the chimney and leaves the toys while they are sleeping. Sometimes the kids leave milk and cookies, which he eats as a snack (they’re his favorites).

I felt kind of odd telling this story and being so kid-inclusive. Does Santa visit these kids? In talking like this is the truth, do they feel slighted that he doesn’t visit Taiwan? How many of these kids don’t believe in it, how many do? Do I sound like a crazy person? All of a sudden all my childhood beliefs that I took for granted sound kind of wacky and very very culturally American. On Christmas day, when I came in, Justin told me excitedly that Santa had come to his house and brought him a scooter (and he showed me a picture he had drawn of it, complete with streamers). Cindy told me Santa had brought her a stuffed lamb doll, and Justin said that his Chinese school friend had gotten nine presents (he was amazed at the amount, which made me feel a bit ashamed thinking back to all my Christmases). But a lot of kids I don’t think Santa visited, or did but not any more than some candy in a “sock” as they called it…“stocking” being a word they just never got the hang of.  They didn’t really seem disappointed, but I definitely didn’t pry.  No one asked Santa when he visited why he didn’t come to Taiwan more, he apparently just visits the city sporadically choosing houses here and there I guess. And he definitely doesn’t come down chimneys here, since I haven’t seen a single fireplace in the entire city.


(Justin, ruining my Christmas shot with a -lunch in mouth monster face.

Either way. Merry Christmas at IV Academy!

When I got home, I was exhausted. I fell asleep, then awoke in a grouchy mood. I made some hot cocoa, trying to salvage the day, and watched a teeny bit of a Christmas Story. We played a bit of mahjong but then Tina and Jud went to the movies. I skyped home and saw Kathryn and Logan in their jammas opening presents, and the cats playing in all the paper. I wound up going to Raohe with Brian and Tyler and Kevin, where we wandered about. I got some candied strawberries and a donut. But it was just business as usual. We walked down by the river and got cold, sitting and watching the water. We went to a teahouse and played cards. It could have really been any night. Maybe I depend more on my Christmas traditions being a part of the feeling than I realized.

Merry Christmas to everyone at home. I love all you guys more than ever.
Today? Business as usual. A long day, tired after getting in late two nights in a row. Lint-rolled my bed…I think finally I am winning the battle against the purple blanket lint. Swept, tidied, washed dishes, cooked dinner for Jud and myself. Lime chicken to the rescue. Most meat served here is either beef or pork, sometimes I really really  crave some chicken and not the scary black-chicken I had to smile and eat at Tina’s aunt and uncle’s (shudders). I took Jud along with me on one of my random Saturday excursions (the ones where I wander around by myself, while Tina’s at work). We went to Sun Yat Sen, which was a lot closer than I realized. It was really gorgeous. Gardens and mini-lakes, and quiet cool mangrove areas, little kids with kites and old men and old women sitting about gossiping. It was lovely.


I’m telling Sun Yat Sen what I want for Christmas, I had to glare at this little girl blowing bubbles, and sitting on his lap to make her get off so I could have my turn. Big kids need photos too!dsc03492

Peace shadows from Jud and Idsc03488

The ubitquitous drink machine. Wooded, walking trails, then BAM drink machine. Gotta keep hydrated man. dsc03460

No toast and cracker!….I think they mean, don’t feed the ducks and koi bread. dsc03442Some old ladies gossiping. dsc03436And an old man just people watching.

dsc03385 Interior, where the giant Sun Yat Sen statue is sitting complete with official guards. How come Chiang Kai Shek doesn’t get gards for his giant sitting statue, hrumph. dsc03408

There was a parade or something near by, I have no idea what was going on…but does anyone want to buy a kite, or random inflatable toy?dsc03357dsc03468dsc03446dsc03395dsc03428

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Pandas are coming to Taiwan, we can go see them at the zoo in a month. And while this is a goodwill gesture, I really don’t see much goodwill directed in China’s direction from most of Taiwan (leave us alone, c’mon you have a giant nation as it is), with the exception of the generally disliked President Ma. However I’ll visit the pandas, and hope that this happens so I can die laughing. (Andrew you may commence snickering, now that you’ve shown the video to the whole family).

Happy Christmas eve. Whose going to read me the old 1960’s fuzzy copy of the Night Before Christmas?

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