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Those who know me, know I don’t “do” crying. I am not a fan of crying in public, other people crying, or me crying. Generally sniffling and sobbing makes me intensely uncomfortable.

Today 5 separate students of mine cried.

Fuck. The extent of my reaction is to hand them a tissue, beg them to stop, and then just inwardly cringe. I’m getting slowly better at dealing with this, I’ve progressed to awkward pats on the back and making silly faces but this does not always solve the crying. And its not as if its ever my fault. If anything I am too nice (which is very detrimental to classroom control and thus my own sanity) Why are these kids so damn sensitive?

Baby Pre-K 10:30: Wayne…his mother (my boss) is in a meeting with one my Kingergartner’s parents. I tell Wayne, firmly that he must sit down and quit jabbing the smartboard over and over slowly breaking it and ruining the programs for the other students. Instant screams….”Moooooommmmmmmmmmmmy”. Kid is 3 and really knows how to throw a tantrum. After 2 minutes of ear piercing shrieks, I cave and shove him out to his mom, who he definitely annoys the crap out of for her whole meeting.

Kindergarten 2:30: I ask for Home Connection books. Thomas starts bawwwwling (I’ve never seen him cry though he is a quiet, delicate boy). WTF. Its a book he often forgets, why the freak out? Note: trying to understand a child through giant gulps and sobs who already does not speak good chinese, is not easy. Though I find his lost home connection book (which he claims is the reason for being upset) I do think its because I told Ivy that Thomas is seriously behind, and it was his mother who she met with this morning. Whatever his mother said to him, to make him so scared and upset…not cool. The kids are overworked as it is.

Kindergarten 3:00 Michelle silently cries at her desk during story time because she doesn’t think she did well on the spelling test (which did have some very difficult words this week). She cries alot, over losing games, etc. She always wants to do the best. A tissue and a mini-pep talk is all she gets.

Second Grade 5:00 Teacher Sylvia comes in to my classroom and yells at Steven to put away his drink (I’d been over looking it because for once he wasn’t being a wild/insane child). She says drinking in class costs him 15 stickers. Steven has been moderately well behaved all week because he is saving up for an art-gum eraser I promised students if they have 30 stickers  they could trade stickers for one(he just got 30 yesterday). He starts crying. I have never seen Steven cry about anything even when Sylvia was ripping him a new one in the hallway. Dang. He must really want that eraser.

Second grade 6:00: Joe has been virtually silent all class. I assume he is sick, though is head isn’t hot. Maybe a headache. I look over and he has laid his head down completely. Eva says…”Why is Joe crying?” I turn around and recognize the look no teacher wants to see. The ‘I’m gonna puke face”. He makes it out of the room and basically decorates the entire 4th floor kitchen. Lovely.

Now? I am fucking tired. No more crying people….Theres no crying in baseball…why not all the time.

Time for taiwan sausage, rice, eggs, and some Lost. Its pouring rain and freezing out. Yesterday morning–sweltering. Go figure.

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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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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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