Posts Tagged ‘reading’

A culture of clothing.

So the past few weeks I’ve been scoffing at the fact that people keep complaining about how cold it is. The temperature outside rarely dips below 60, often resting at a cool 70 or 65.

However, after a couple days of misting rain, I’m starting to admit that 60 degrees combined with wet, perpetual wind….is really cold. Not like freeze your breath cold, but damp, clammy cold that reaches down your neck and makes your toes chilly.I am now officially beginning my hunt for a legitimate coat. Good thing everystore carries 100 different kinds since people dress like its 0 degrees and a blizzard. However finding one that doesn’t have bows, or glitter, or fur, or random poufs sewn on is becoming a challenge. I just want a wool coat people.

Me, in my pathetic streetvendor sweater, post-trashtruck run, post freezing mist. The curly hair has been running rampant recently. (For mawmaw who wants real pictures of me, yep still look the same)


In contrast to my skimpy single sweaters from streetvendors, my students come in with 6 layers on, shirt, turtle neck, sweater, then down vest. Then of course they’re hot and peel 3 layers off. Thomas, with his broken arm, makes it a giant event just to get his coat off, over the cast.

Then Ivy will see they’re down to just shirt/turtleneck/sweaters and yell at them, saying “its cold outside, why don’t you have your vest on”?


Also I have to complain a bit about clothing standards. I recognized immediately upon arriving in Taipei that apparently all my clothes show too much decolletage. Now you know, I’m not parading around with my chest on full display, but apparently the area below the collarbone is too “sexy” for everyday wear. Whatever, after buying a couple of nightmarket tanktops, and shirts cut crew neck, I’m mostly compliant for everyones expectations. However last week I decided to wear a sweater and a skirt with boots to work. I’ve worn skirts before, no problem…I always wear leggings because they do that here, and I recognize that I’m very tall so theres more leg to see than usual. Still the skirt is almost to my knees…remember the test in middle school…skirts must be beyond the fingertips…I pass, flying colors.

Since I was wearing the boots and knee socks, and long sleeve sweater I decided to skip the leggings. There was about 4 inches of knee cap showing. I arrive at school to choruses from my second graders of “teacher you sexy”.

Jesus…Ok, collarbones, and knee caps…too much for society here. Note to self.

The next day, Elisa comes to school wearing black tights and the worlds tiniest grey skirt. No comment, no looks. I’m seriously 2 inches from seeing her tight-clad butt. So bareskin no no, but as long as you pretend to cover it up…all systems go.

Grr. double standards.

In other news, heres a picture of my racist toothpaste. I’ve been meaning to post it for ages.


Nothing like a black guy with realllllly white teeth to sell toothpaste products. I mean, I want shiny teeth like him. Plus this brand comes in amusing flavors like mango, apple, green tea, etc. I went with the mint.

McSweeney’s <—–Also again, one of my favorite literary “magazines” is having a sale. A mga awesome sale. Too bad the international shipping defeats all sale prices. Nevertheless, I will hopefully be the new owner of two new editons in 4-6 weeks. One of which is an issue i drooled over at Borders before I left, but stupidly didn’t buy. The cover folds out into this fantastic square poster of ink artwork. Each issue is bound differently, with varying designs and artists, in addition to writers. I’m waiting for all my Miranda July, Eggers, Oates, Stephen Elliot goodness to arrive, so I can devour it.

I think I would very much be interested in going into bookbinding, or fine press books when I go back to the states. Kurt S. gave me the name of a press in New Jersey once, I should get in touch with, I need to look them up again. Its a bit of everything I love. Art plates, typesetting, unique books.

I want to say double thumbs up to the coffee and corn chips at Ikari Coffee, the corn chips send me straight back to Coco, and its way more yummy than Starbucks.


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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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