Monday, September 29, 2008

dance in the street 'til the sun comes up

me and mom, dec. 2007 on the quick road trip to santa fe

all good news
- no school today due to the typhoon, which left plenty of time for watching movies and hanging around. i made fannie farmer's baked macaroni and cheese and watched the da vinci code
- i was poking around the internet and found these glasses that are soso cute
- talked to gram/spanky, mom and keith today. i feel thoroughly connected to home today
- serena's back from vacation to the US for a week and she brought a big jar of tahini so now we can make hummus, which everyone has been craving for some reason. now we just need to find pita bread somewhere.
- mom's friend, who works at the Austin City Limits sound stage, got jeff (my middle brother who's interested in music) into the taping of the foo fighters today. he gets to spend all day in the sound booth and it should be really cool for him
- alex's mom is coming to visit in two weeks and she's bringing stuff so we can make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and i'm really excited
- the 10/10 holiday is also coming up and a bunch of us are taking a trip to a little island for 4 days
- once we get back from that, there will only be one month until thanksgiving
- after that, it's only 2 and a half weeks weeks until i go home for christmas!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

with a capital S

the newest girl, lesley, is apparently blessed with many talents, one of them being pizza making. so we all chipped in and made pizza tonight:

this is "hippie josh" (we have 2, short josh and hippie josh, though he's asked us to discontinue calling him that as he doesn't associate himself with hippies, skirt wearer though he is) cutting the pizza.


after we ate pizza, someone checked the website and found out school has been canceled tomorrow because of the typhoon, so the beer and board games came out. i let dena roam with my camera and this is what she came back with:
dawn from england. she says 'knackered' on a regular basis which causes all of us to launch into fits of english slang slandering.
hippie josh.
josh has this genetic disease where his legs permanently retain water, so he can push them and make shapes, like this 'smiley face'.
leila. she doesn't live here, but she hangs around a lot
lesley. she came a week early and stayed in a super fancy hotel to get acclimated, bought a scooter her 2nd day in the dorm, and we haven't seen much of her since because she's usually at the gym or taking a walk.noe, my texan compadre
steve, who's one of my favorites. he's down to earth, no nonsense, really nice. he just pitched the idea of 'mustache survivor', a contest they apparently had in china when he worked at an english school there. the guys compete to see who can go the longest without shaving their mustache. there are all kinds of ridiculous rules. i think the contest is on hold until after martyn goes to visit his girlfriend in november.
alex showing you the typhoon coming straight at us
me looking pale but otherwise normal.

we'll end with keith being sweet.

keith: hey baby
taiwan is full of crap
but its got you
me: lol!
keith: you make everything beautiful

(and i won scrabble last night and tonight!, and UT won the football game yesterday 52-10, which is the third game they've played this season that's ended in the exact same score [weird], and i went to chinese lessons with linda today and learned how to say 'no thank you, i don't drink beer very often'. we were almost in tears today because of the mistakes i was making. at one point, i wanted to say 'noodle' and ended up with 'ghost'. even she made a mistake though. she was listing drinks and accidentally included 'movies'.)

if you wanna sing out, sing out

saturday continues to be my least favorite class day. i have a scratchy throat so screaming at 6 year olds all morning wasn't a whooole lot of fun. some people really love the kindy classes because all you do is have fun and play games the whole time, but i'm just not suited for them. i like structure and having a book to work from so it's not up to me to act like a monkey the whole time to entertain them.

my coteachers are really sweet though. daisy offered to help me deal with my scooter. she drove me to a scooter shop between classes and had a man come look at it. he drove it around and it seems to be fine. a little banged up. i need to try to talk someone into driving it home for me next week. i don't want to get on it ever again.
and dora gave me a snickers bar :) i had gotten into the habit of eating a snickers between classes really quickly because i have a minute between classes and by the end of the first one, i need some serious energy to make it through another. so that was very thoughtful and sweet of her.

other than that, it's been a lazy day. we've been getting wind and rain from an approaching typhoon. i watched sleepless in seattle, which is perfect on any day but particularly a rainy day, and caught up on american politics. sarah palin's interview with katie couric was embarassing. i'm looking so forward to the VP debate.

chatted with gram and spanky who told me spanky is getting operated on later this week for a tumor on his kidney. it didn't sound like too big of a deal so i'm not borrowing any trouble. they get to go to legal seafood in MA, one of our favorite spots for clam chowder.

45 more minutes to kill before i can listen to the UT football game on yahoo sports radio. i hope i don't fall asleep. 2:30am is past my witching hour.

Friday, September 26, 2008

in a restless world

happy birthday becky! she's my best friend and she's 24 today, wooo. the picture is from last year in front of our apartment. chalk is so good.

the two of us have had a ridiculous amount of fun together in the last 9 or so years.

at the lake this summer
in london, 2006
pink party, new years 2003. all of our girlfriends used to get together on new years and wear pink and do girly things. if you were lucky enough to have a boyfriend that year, he could come pick you up and you could spend 15 minutes together at midnight before rejoining the party :P
twister at zilker. 2006ish

not a lot to report today. noe lent me his scooter for the weekend while he's outside of taipei. i drove it home in the rain tonight, got a little lost and then remembered i had been that way with keith before dozens of times and found my way home. it's weird how your memory is so different as a passenger and as a driver.

i've had a headache for the last 6 hours and screaming for 3 and a half probably didn't help. being a teacher is physically draining. standing for 2 hours and sitting down for 10 minutes really takes it out of you.

anyway back to greys anatomy. i'm downloading it, but it was taking sooo long so i found a website to watch it on as well. :) have a nice weekend, all.

like a wink and a smile

i've gotten used to posting pictures with my blogs now, but i don't have much to show you right now, so i took pictures of things that i look at every day that serve as inspiration and comfort when i need a reminder that i have a strong support network that's with me everywhere i go.

these are all of my book marks. a nine west receipt, a letter from marisa, a note from cody's mom stacy who let me hold her babies once a week, a latini's business card, a thing from the spa, and a note this japanese kid passed me on the bus asking if i would do a language exchange with him.

serena went back to the US for the week and she left steve her scooter, so he and i worked out a schedule when we could share it when it was convenient and it's been lovely. he let me drive it to my class at the junior high that i don't know how to take the bus to, and it was great. her scooter drives so nicely.
the class was alright but the classroom isn't air conditioned, we just keep all of the windows open, and it gets hot as hootie in there.

gram and spanky sent me this ceramic thingy. it used to be right by the doorway to my bedroom in my apartment, and now it's by the door in my room here.
keith gave me this before he left. it was made by native people where he lives in cape bretton, canada and it's called a medicine wheel. according to the card it came with, the 4 sections represent the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of a person and the whole thing is the circle of life.
it reminds me a lot of the necklace i wear every day.
the seasons. i was pretty bummed to have to replace the necklace i had worn every day since 7th grade (the top was wearing too thin to wear anymore) but i've really grown to like the new one. the symbolism is nice and mom went with me to pick it out from the place all of the silver jewelry i wear every day is from.

me and fajtown on the first day of kindergarten. it's on the line with all of my birthday cards sent from home, in front of a texas flag.

and thoooose are all of my comfort things.

i am so excited to download the new greys anatomy tomorrow morning! i'm going to 'time travel' as andy says and go to sleep so it will be morning faster.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

oh, when you're low

bobo made fun of my characters today. she said there must have been an earthquake when i was writing one of them. that was pretty funny. i'm a beginner!

i'm not sure what to do about the ladies at the hospital. it's weird to be in there when no one is really talking. they mostly speak chinese and then we translate words. it's hard because you can't play games with a bunch of adults. but we have fun anyway. who knows.

becca's birthday present finnnnally came today! she mailed the box i think august 15.

it looked like it's been through a lot over the last month in the mail.
she lived in uganda for 3 months this summer with her boyfriend, working at some kind of health clinic. the details are kind of fuzzy, but they had a good time and experienced some hard core african culture. it makes taiwan seem like the Hilton.
my favorite thing is this star that was apparently made by a guy who camped out on their front porch a lot. she said she bought one for herself too so we match :)

andd somehow she successfully sent dirt for my dirt collection. i started my dirt collection i think around 2000.. and now i have dirt from greece, turkey, paris, a bunch of places in the US including central park, a rock from brighton, UK, a rock from versailles and one from scotland, and then sand from spain and a bunch of beaches in the US.

my dirt collection shadow box. the sand one is way cuter but i guess i don't have a picture of it.

i went to chat with nicky at the spa for a bit today. i'm wondering where the best place to get my hair highlighted would be. i think i need to go to taipei. i'm too afraid to trust taoyuan. anyway we got to talking about food and she suggested i try out this place for lunch, so she wrote me directions on a card and wrote some chinese so i could walk up to someone and have them help.
i'm glad she did that because i couldn't find it with the directions, so i asked this woman and she actually left her little shop and walked me to the place. people in taiwan are so helpful, it's been amazing.
the actual food was disgusting. "meat floss", cabbage, and other unidentifiable dried meat products wrapped inside a crepe thing. those red things are pieces of dried fish, i believe. needless to say, i didn't eat it. i did take one bite. meat floss is not my thing.

words of the day:
tai tai (tie tie) - mrs.
tianqi (tee-en chee) - weather
xiaojie (sheeow jeeay) - miss
mei (may) - beautiful
leng (lung) - cold

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

capers

after the ant outbreak, i decided it wouldn't hurt to clean a bit around my room, so i actually took everything off my desk and sprayed 'orange magic' and got rid of the dust. it reminded me that i still have 3 books i haven't even touched.

i don't really have anything to report today. oh yes i do. leila was hanging around the dorm and she said she was going to go get a hair cut and i had been thinking about it all week so i decided to go with her. we went to this place, MOMA, where all of the teachers go.. probably because it's right down the street.
we walked in and they only had 1 guy who was free, so i waited while he cut leila's hair and we chatted. she also got a moisturizing treatment that involved lotion, a straightener, hair clips and saran wrap. she looked pretty taiwan fabulous.
i only got a trim so my hair doesn't look any different. my bangs are a little shorter. having my hair washed and styled was lovely though. they have revolutionary chairs that don't hurt your neck while you're getting your hair washed. your hair rests on a little tray thing. i wonder why we don't have those in the US.

mr. kuo was pretty endearing when i went to get dinner tonight in da chu before class. i literally always eat the same thing every time i go, and lately they've been offering me a little taste of something new each time, trying to find out what else i might like. so tonight he got out his trusty note pad and wrote down 'like' and i said 'shi huan?' and he said 'yes! what do you like? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.' and he tried to get me to write down stuff i liked. but i told him i just don't really care for taiwanese food. but i like vegetables. it was sweet of him though.

i got teppanyaki to go for dinner tonight
mushrooms, bean sprouts, steamed cabbage and rice. $3. delicious.

that picture is kind of dark huh. i'm still figuring out my camera. maybe this weekend i'll read the manual again or get martyn to show me some things. he's our resident camera guru.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

twirl you all around the floor

it's the first day of fall!
i've been waiting until today to wear my flannel jammies. the leaves aren't changing, but flannel feels like fall. i guess my bruise has been changing colors :P not the same.

i went to take a picture and i noticed a whole bunch of ants on/in my camera. rat bastards! as dad would say. i think i de-anted it, but i'm keeping an eye on it. now i feel kind of creepy crawly though.

jerry and i had chinese today. it's getting considerably harder. now we're learning to write characters. i need to make flash cards because i can't remember what they mean. it's interesting though.
when i was downtown today, i could recognize some characters on the street signs and tonight on the close captioning on tv i could recognize a few too. it makes it seem less like you're somewhere you don't belong and more like everything is in code and you keep getting more and more decoding tools every day.

we got a new girl today, lesley. she's from somewhere in the US. her mom is from texas. she seems pretty down to earth and nice.

we played scrabble tonight and i beat noe by 5 points with a 186. i love scrabble.

Monday, September 22, 2008

and talked until closing time

today was just kind of mixed up in general.
this afternoon, i went to latini's to have a chinese lesson with danny's wife, linda, who's studying to become a certified chinese teacher. she wanted to practice on me, so i went in today and read for her and then she helped me with my tones. it was hilarious. i couldn't stop yawning even though i wasn't tired, and she was pretty strict with me when i wasn't making the right sound and it was just giving me the giggles.
at one point she stopped me and said 'megan, you're trying to say 'i am going to school' but right now you're saying 'i am going to dumpling'.'
so that was literally a comedy of errors. i was there for 2 hoursish and it was fun and very helpful.

this evening i made shortcake with fresh whipped cream and raspberries.
i was so excited that the shortcake baked so well in our finnicky oven:


but then i tasted a little bit of one, and it was inedibly salty. i accidentally used salt instead of sugar. WHOOPS. it was in a bag that looked like the sugar bag, in the place where we keep the sugar, and i didn't even think to check. so i chucked that batch of biscuits and started over.

the second batch was also beautiful, and tasted fine. so i piled one of them with whipped cream and raspberries:
but when i took a bite, i had to run to the sink and spit it out because it tasted horrible. i assumed the whipped cream must have gone bad. but THENNN i remembered that i had ALSO used salt to make the whipped cream! damnnnn!
i used the whole container in the first batch, so i ended up with edible biscuits and raspberries without whipped cream.

gram and spanky and i cracked up tonight when i told them the story on skype, because a few years ago gram and i accidentally made salty macaroons. they were the most disgusting cooking mistake i've ever made, until the whipped cream tonight. that was truly horrible beyond words.

to round out my random day, i went bowling with the guys tonight and bowled a 66 the first game, then a 50 something, then 105, then my last game i magically bowled a 137 and ended up in second place. if i had stuck around for a 5th game i would have gotten to be team captain.
weird day. my bruise has also turned new shades of yellow and purple, but i think we can go a day or two without a visual update.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

no good, very bad day

jerry

jerry looking profoundly confused. you have to click the picture to enlarge it to fully appreciate the eyebrow positioning.
ever since 7-11 shut down, this is where we go for all our last minute needs. an old woman works behind the counter so we affectionally call the store 'grandma's'
front of the spa
this is the owner of the spa, nicky
danny, the owner of latini's, in the kitchen
this is the view from where i sit in latini's. i didnt take a picture of the front of the store because some people were sitting in the front and they were acting kind of weird about me taking pictures. so, another day.
one day they wrote it in english for me. what a surprise to see 'cafe americano' up on the chalkboard.
the trash truck and everyone standing out with their trash bags waiting for it to come to them. i wish you could hear the annoying song it plays.
wait! you can. thank you, youtube.
taiwanese trash truck song
now play that video at least three times a day, every single day, and you practically live in taiwan

today was crummy.
-forgot my lesson plans for my 2 classes that require the most planning
-paid my coteacher what she told me her mom had been quoted to get the paint off her car. used all of the money i had saved to buy another scooter
-got overwhelmed at the prospect of somehow getting my potentially broken, in need of being checked out, scooter to a repair shop and then somehow communicating with a guy who definitely won't speak english, while not getting ripped off
-got overwhelmed realizing i couldn't call family or friends to help me and that it's more or less up to me to figure it out
-started a new class today that's literally a catch-all for the worst kids in every class who are seriously behind. i wondered where some kids in my other classes had disappeared to, and they're in this new class. none of them can make a sentence
-started crying on the bus after all of that and everyone was looking at me and everyone on the street was looking at me when i was waiting for the bus and i just wanted to be invisible, which is impossible for me in this city

so it was just an 'i hate taiwan' kind of day. i feel bad complaining but i think it's just part of the reality of being so far from home in such a different place. there are going to be bad days.
tomorrow, i'm watching sleepless in seattle, baking biscuits to top with frozen raspberries and fresh whipped cream. it works every time when i need some cheering up

Friday, September 19, 2008

angel hour

so today, i'm waiting for the bus, and this man is kind of peeking at me every once in a while while we're sitting there. finally, he comes over to me and says hello and he starts telling me that he's a building architect and he lives nearby. then he starts saying how he wants me to help him find this guy at AIT's contact info. i'm pretty confused, but i'm trying to understand him. so then the bus comes, we get on, and we sit down next to each other.

over the course of the 20 minute bus ride, he explains that he studied at a technical institute for college and in the last 3 years, he's invented this thing he's calling the 'perpetual wheel' which is a wheel that doesn't require any energy to spin. so he thinks he could basically solve the whole energy crisis, but he doesn't have a computer/doesn't know how to use one, but he saw this ad in the paper for the American Institute of Technology, and he wants to write a letter to president of AIT, named Steven (he doesn't know his last name). he doesn't know any foreigners, so he figured that seeing me at the bus stop was a sign and he thinks i can help him.

so the man on the bus gave me his address (written in chinese), and now i'm supposed to find this guy Steven's contact info and mail it to the man so he can mail his idea to steven.
it's convoluted, but i'm going to help him.


day 2 of the wound. it pretty much feels like it looks.
tonight, ala dad, i told my class that i was swimming in the ocean this weekend and i thought i saw something moving, so i looked behind me and there was a shark. i started swimming faster and faster but i couldn't get away, and it bit my leg. the entire class was screaming and freaking out. it was hilarious.
then after class, as i was collecting my money, one of my little girls told the woman at the front desk about my shark attack and i showed the office ladies and they all looked at it in horror.
when we were little and my dad would get a cut on his head or some injury, he would tell us that "the doorbell rang, and there were threeeeee ninjas. i karate chopped the first one, i punched the second one, but the third one sliced my forehead before i could get to him." i've probably heard that, more or less word for word, at least 20 times in my life.

those are the highlights of my day. tomorrow i have 3 classes and i'm going to have someone else try to start my scooter and determine whether it's operator error or if the thing is legitimately broken. stay tuned.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

all shook up

today in pictures:

this is my outside class at the junior high. this is the side entrance
it looks more like a jail than a school to me.
my class. they're pretty good. today the topic was slang. how would you explain:
-hunk, babe, cool, wimp, loser, nerd, geek, half full, peabrain, loudmouth, sketchy, sweet
this is my wow class. they used to be my least favorite, but they're growing on me. the little kid in the front middle is 'tobby' pronounced toby
peter can do his rubix (rubicks?) cube in 4 minutes

so now, phase 2 of photos. the other day, i slipped and fell on the wet tile and now both of my knees are bruised
then tonight, i went to start my scooter and when i kick started it, it just flew forward. i ended up hitting my coteacher's mom's car. WHOOPS. at that point, i thought it was just me accidentally pulling the throttle. but then i tried it again and the same thing happened. this time though, i went down with it and i scraped the heck out of my leg and my foot :( i also got a hole in my dress and scraped up my new shoes.
my leg before i cleaned it out

after a shower and neosporin
:(

so i left my scooter at school and one of my coteachers gave me a ride home. this weekend i'm going to go with someone to see if the throttle is stuck or if i was just being stupid. either way, i think i'm done scootering for a little while. that didn't last long, huh?
that was my day.