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Archive for October, 2009

Invisible Fingers

Sitting in the front window of Dose. on Murphy Road. A little baby is slowing screetching a chair across the floor, the Decemberists gently serenade everyone with an accordion on the muzak, and the whir of the espresso machine makes it an comfy enclosure.

Watching the leaves from some unseen tree behind the building shoot and whirl over the edge of the roof, its like the sky is raining confetti of some sort. I can’t help but just sit and stare out at the clouds flying by on their way to somewhere important as the leaves dive and then suddenly float upwards again on invisible fingers. It all makes me think of the part from American Beauty with the floating plastic bag…or the video of a paper airplane soaring over New York from the window of a high rise.

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Halloween

Halloween is tomorrow/today. So here comes the inevitable questions: What is everyone going to be? This is one of my favorite holidays due to the creative element. I love making my costumes. That said, I usually don’t put alot of time into them but still I never buy a whole pre-made one. Those always look like crap.

I’m being a pig for halloween. Yep. Nothing witty, fancy, scary, just…a pig. Why? Why in the world a pig? Well I found a cute pig hat at Michael’s and I couldn’t resist.

For my friends in Asia they are especially perplexed, amused…calling someone a pig is a particularly popular insult with kids and I guess adults. Teacher Pig or Steven Pig were particularly funny jokes…I guess different strokes for different folks.

So work tonight in hopes of getting off early enough to go to a show at the 5 spot. Also tomorrow hopefully getting off not too late to go to the East Nashville Yazoo Pub Crawl…no reservations so far, so maybe really early I hope.

My new daily schedule is working out decently well. Wake at 9, go get coffee at 10 and have some internet time till 11:30. Run errands, etc. Lunch at 1:30, get ready for work at 2:30

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Internet fasting

A friend of mine recently has been pushing people to internet fast: unplug, step away. (actually knowing him and his omni-web-presence this seems preposterous)

More and more people are choosing to type away at their phone rather than look at the people sitting in front of them. I find myself having richer conversations on skype, face-to-face than I ever could with im’s. There is something lost in the travel across the wires, and we all need to slow down and figure out what. In the past few weeks, I found myself with more free time than I knew what to do with, so…I went and did things: museums, parks, reading, cooking. But, there was still a large majority of each day left over after this. I filled it with internet. Hours of unsatisfying consumption of trivial knowledge, gossip, game playing, and facebook stalkery.

I find more of this facing me in the future as I take a job that is largely filled with empty tasks (yet paying ones which is the final point). How to make it all worth more?

Anyways, the whole point of this was a post today I read on a litblog I like: Elegant Variation. To dig deeper and quote the article that inspired them as well, David Ulin of the LA Times writes:

“We live in time; we understand ourselves in relation to it, but in our culture, time collapses into an ever-present now. How do we pause when we must know everything instantly? How do we ruminate when we are constantly expected to respond? How do we immerse in something (an idea, an emotion, a decision) when we are no longer willing to give ourselves the space to reflect?”

Read these links. They’re interesting, provoking, and well written.

books

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Leaf time

Had a job interview this morning, drove halfway to Nashville realize I forgot my phone, hurried back…this is the second time I’ve been half way to an interview and had to scramble. You’d think I could keep it together more.

Grabbed some lunch at Tina’s parents place. Free chinese food woot.

Picked up freelancing check double woot.

Then changed into comfy clothes, grabbed the camera and went and stuck my nose into every color-changing tree in Centennial.

Centennial Park: home of giant Parthenon, endless school field trips where we had to fill out the same worksheets over and over: Medusa is on Athena’s shield, She was made by Alan Lequire, The building was originally built for the Centennial Exposition..blahblahblah. After the 4th worksheet of this stuff elementary school through highschool you start to actually become an unsolicited zombie-tourguide. Anyways, regardless of this, Centennial Park is..well, is a great park. I’m not sure if you can use the adjective “Awesome” in conjunction with park.

It was the center of all hi-jinks in middle/highschool and many a first date (4 separate 1st dates involved the park..why? whyy?) The park is nice, lots of areas, lots of things to wander around in/look at.

So I did that today.

Saw this little boy feeding the geese who were very loud today honking their way from the “duck island” (which is the island I used to imagine Huckleberry Finn lived on, when I read the books in 5th grade). Saw lots of runners, people on their lunch hour, and various homeless people taking in the sunshine. Found myself a rickety wooden swing, tried not to get my feet pinched off as I sat down, and then did some reading for a bit.

Anyways, heres the photo part, it speaks for itself.

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So there’s been some time and distance and while parts of the past year have faded other parts seem even more distinct. I miss some people even more, I miss others less. I find funny words still on the tip of my tongue even now…finding yourself about to exclaim wahh-seiii, is embarrassing, and someday I’m not going to catch myself in time. After endless Coco’s coffee, I’m starting to miss lighter, sweeter milk tea. I enjoy being with friends and being able to talk about a whole gamut of things. I enjoy being able to use the word gamut. I enjoy comfortably residing in the world of quirk, which is no longer a subset of weird, as it is in other places. I miss my students and their pride in their work. I do not miss attempting to be a child-psychologist of some sort, and the endless daily chatter as I frantically try to mark home-connection books. I miss the routine of busses and lunch choices, of long walks to grab greek food amidst the university students. I miss chopsticks but do not miss my hand cramping from trying to pick up difficult foods. I miss exotic fruit so, so much. Pineapple in a can just does not do it for me.  I enjoy meat prepared how I’m used to, yes hotdogs, yes ham, yes chicken fingers, yes turkey! I enjoy clothes that fit correctly. I do not enjoy their prices, after they’ve traveled across the ocean and been tagged in US currency. I miss the fact that everyone is so damn friendly and helpful. I do not miss being hounded by 82 sales ladies any time I wanted to browse anywhere, “you like? You liiiike?” I miss being somewhat unique, but I do not miss the unwanted stares when I just wanna run to 7-11 on a Saturday morning looking like crap.  I miss the convenience of taxi cabs, I do not miss waiting for the bus endlessly. I miss scooter rides, however I do not enjoy the permanent scar on my leg from scooter exhaust. It’s a mini-memory though. Just another scar for a ben shou ben jiao (笨手笨腳) kid. (who living up to her Chinese-middle-name, tripped over her shoe laces and messed up both knees last week, ripping her favorite shiny-asian leggings).

And with this long whine/triumph celebration of everything that was and is. I’m finished.

For now.

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So here, I’m beginning the summations, da, da, daaaaaaah:
Top Twelve Most Yummy Foods:
(I kept thinking of more and more as I wrote…oh god, now I’m hungry and theres no nightmarket! *cries*)

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  1. Taiwanese Sausage:
  2. Beef Noodle Soup: Niu Rou Mien
  3. Mango/Grass Jelly Ices : tsua bing
  4. Baoz: baoz
  5. Cold Sesame Noodles: Liang Mien
  6. Egg breakfast pancake: Dan bing
  7. Juice!: Guo zhi
  8. Soup Dumplings: xiao long bao
  9. Dragon Fruit: huo long guo
  10. Quail Eggs on a Stick
  11. Candied Tomatoes on a stick
  12. Pineapple cakes

Top Eleven Funny things said by Children:

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  1. “But teacher, Americans need two seats” –Athena’s opinon on US obesity
  2. “Obama!!!” –Jason, when he doesn’t know the answer, while Obama seems to be the answer to a lot of things in America, sadly he is not the answer to…What color is this?
  3. A lesson on cause and effect: “Teacher Jennifer is running” so class…what could “cause” teacher Jennifer to run, “why” is she running….Yes…Justin.. “Teacher Jennifer has go to bathroom really bad”
  4. Teaching 3 year olds the words like/don’t like…McQueen, “I like cars. I like robots. I don’t like teacher. I don’t like teacher!!!”
  5. Alternate Fairy tale ending assignment for 2nd grade: “Cinderella and the prince get married. They have a baby. Cinderella thinks she will be a good mommy. The baby cries all the time and taking care of it is very very difficult. The prince is very good with the baby and can do anything for it. Cinderella gets mad and throws the baby away. Then the prince is upset and they get a divorce. The End.”
  6. “Santa, do you like vegetables?” …Annie’s letter to Santa
  7. “I have two gods”…Tim, try this again, “I have two bogs”….you have two mud fields? Again please…“I have tow dogs”…*face palm.
  8. A card for me with a drawing of a cat. “Kittens! It is in the zoo!”
  9. Learning shapes, “Teacher, diamond on you face”…commenting about my nose ring. Glad they’re applying what they learn?
  10. “Teacher Jennifer?” “What Alex”…”feel my socks, they’re so soft…they make me jump really high” (this is the 6th time I’ve heard about the magic sock’s jumping powers but the first time I’ve been allowed to “feel” his now dirty white sock. “No thanks Alex, I believe you. I bet they’re really soft. Go take a nap”….”Noooooooo, feel them! Feel them! Look how high I can jump!”
  11. “Teacher, Michael Jackson is died, he is fly to the sky”…my students informing me of important pop-culture news I might not have been aware of. Then they proceeded to moon walk instead of getting out their nap mats.

Top Ten Cultural Items of Note:

  1. What you just said, probably does not mean what you think it does…let the blushing and strange looks commence. Ex: “Ni hao se”…You have good color, as in, nice tan!…what I did say…”You are very lusty”
  2. Apparently I’m an alien. “Your arms are so hairy. Are your eyelashes real?..When I say yes and procede to tug on them, the person always screams expecting them to come off like fake ones. “You have a perm right?” “Your eyes are so big” “Ai-yah teacher, you are so tall, like giant, can touch the sky”
  3. Don’t ask what you’re eating. Why is this chicken’s skin black? “Um…this tofu smells like dead bodies. Whats for dessert? Oh…its goo-balls and….corn.
  4. No matter how little Chinese you speak, your Chinese is always “hen hao” (soooo good). Ni hui shuo hen hao. Zende! You say one word…and let the impressing of cab drivers begin. Sad.
  5. The Singles Scene. Asian girls love western guys. Asian guys are scared of western girls. Literally run from me in fear on the dance floor….OLGA WANT DANCE!
  6. Western alcohol tolerance kicks eastern alcohol tolerance’s booty. Watch as the faces begin to glow. You should still brush up on your dice game and hand games though. They’re good, they’ve had practice, and will still get you.
  7. Skin is scandalous…only if you’re a weiguoren. Apparently my shoulders, my knee caps, and most definitely the area below my collar bone are way too much for the public to handle. Old men will leer, students will point, and shop vendors will stare…now if I could only make one of them crash their scooters. Thus the beginning of the endless array of leggings and cardigan wearing for Jennifer despite 100+ temperatures.
  8. Your otherness increases exponentially with your distance from Taipei. Whole school groups calling towards me in Kenting and wanting photos…not weird? “I feel like I’m part of your entourage” said Tina.
  9. KMT vs. DPP. Politics are verrrrrrry complicated.Debate at your own risk.
  10. BYOTP: Bring your own toilet paper. Yes there will be squatty toilets, no there will not be toilet paper. My dad has a song, “oh no, whatcha gonna do…whatcha gonna do when you have to poo…stand up, take it like a man, I guess you’re gonna hafta use your hand”

IMG_00952after, the #1 comment…oops. Also breaking #7 and #6

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Thought I’d add a chingrish “La” on to there. Thank you 2nd grade class.

After an afternoon with mawmaw, I’m stumbling over the I’m Lazy excuse to get back in gear and back in habit. Plus trying to fill a day with things to do when you actually have not much to do, is getting more and more difficult. Highlight of Thursday, driving to Green Hills to wander the Davis-Kidd torturing myself with all the books I want.

The solution about what to do with this blog came back to me while driving home yesterday. It’s fall, the leaves are changing and are gorgeous oranges and yellows, the hills seem on fire. The sky is so blue and the wind so crisp, a combination you’ll never find in Taipei. And so..

I decided I’d continue the travel blog just with something a bit more obvious to myself. Nashville. While in Taiwan I’d spend times at the bar trying to describe the music scene to Neal and how he’d love it. Or the countryside to Amo and how I lived in the suburbs like Bali but minus the ocean. I’d try to describe whole meals to Elisa when it was Thanksgiving or how far it took to drive to the beach to MienBao. I’d describe to my students sledding and crashing into trees and playing till your lips turn blue. So…for them, for myself I want to record more closely what it is that pulls me back in, despite swearing I need big cities, I need constant clamour, and action, and culture, and life. It might just be here as well.

DSC07301Bobbies…sweet potato french fries, big burgers, and coke floats

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