Tuesday, March 31, 2009

guess you get used to somebody

it's weird being in your early 20s. you get so used to being in school and always having another grade ahead of you and the same routine year after year without a whole lot of decisions to make, and then all of the sudden you've graduated from college and your whole life is up to you. what job will you do? where will you live? what will you do with your free time? what are you looking forward to?

[these pictures are from my 'i love this' design folder]
i'm relatively happy with the decisions i've made so far. there's just always the nagging feeling that you could be doing more or helping people or doing something that's making more of a difference. teaching kids is really rewarding though. as much as we complain about not being 'real teachers', i think the work i'm doing here is worthwhile. if nothing else, my kids say 'please' and 'thank you' without thinking about it.
this afternoon i woke up at one o'clockkk! i remember turning off my alarm at 9:30 and then i just went back to sleep and it was dreary and cold out, and i knew when i looked at the clock it could be any time between 10 and 2, but what a waste of a morning! the day felt so short since i had to leave for class at 4. on the other hand, i got up at 7 for a year for my job in the real world and i enjoy having the option of sleeping in until 1 if my body wants to. especially on those days when your bed is sooo comfy and warm.

looking forward to.. BLT's tomorrow. seeing my favorite class on thursday afternoon. not teaching on saturday! tomb sweeping holiday.

Monday, March 30, 2009

bits and pieces

i'm ready for warm weather to come back. when i went home for christmas, i left most of my cold weather clothes there because i didn't think i'd need them too much longer.. but here we are in almost april and it's 17 degrees out. i have 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 hoodies and my favorite sweater.

well i wasn't too excited about backwards week initially, but it was a lot of fun tonight. in my first class, the kids are like 12 and 13 so they're old enough that i can let them be the teacher. it was pretty funny to see what they thought made them into a teacher. they borrowed my, 'who can read this sentence? (no one raises hand) YOU!' and whacking people on the head with the book.

and jasmine and i got a chance to annoy them with their own antics, like talking while they're trying to talk, not paying attention, giving obviously wrong answers, and reading super loud while we're reading as a class. i think i saw some lightbulbs turning on above heads.

i bought some tops from a girl who has a little table set up by guei shan school and when i got them home, they fit funny. i think i learned my lesson with buying cheapy taiwanese clothes. they aren't well made and i'd rather save my pennies to buy a bunch of cuuuute things that will be on sale at j crew by the time i get home.

i'm kind of in a ruffle phase, can you tell?

so many songs and stories

videos from yesterday's fun-stravaganza

you can see how jerry brings out the crazy in us all by contrasting it with the calm of alex.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

if you give a mouse a cookie

can you believe jaime and joyce made cookies for the first time today? apparently ovens aren't very popular in taiwan. i think in her apartment you could choose between a dishwasher and an oven and bobo chose a dishwasher.
she said that's why bakeries are so popular and why they always buy cakes for peoples birthday. so i invited the girls over and we whipped up some of alex's mom's pumpkin-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies.
the first attempt at cracking an egg resulted in half of it in the bowl and half on the table, but the second try was the charm. and i tried to teach them to level off the measuring cups with a knife, but that wasn't catching on. luckily, these cookies are really forgiving. i just adjusted the amount of pumpkin and flour until the batter looked right.

yuuum they were good! i even managed to save a few for alex this time.jon played with us for a while. he picked all 3 of us up at one time. i love jaime's face in that picture.
and we found some time for twister while we waited for the cookies to bake. joyce is a pro even though her legs barely reach from the red dot to the green one.

you can find the recipe here.

we found a wood, we unfound a wood

the classrooms at school are divided into two sections and they compete against each other a lot. when one team loses, the other team has some kind of punishment.
this can include..
-ask a QA (they memorize all of these prescribed questions & answers)
-cha cha cha which involved sticking your hands over your head and shaking your booty. they roll the dice and that's how many times they have to do it
-several variations on cha cha cha include 'kiss', 'monkey', or 'sexy cha cha cha'
-model show.. which is usually them walking like normal down the center aisle and then striking some kind of lame pose at the end

-pegouman pegou means 'hips' in chinese.. so they have to spell a word using their butts. it is so cute.

this week is backwards week so i wore my pajamas to class. it was really good until vivian dropped a dry erase marker from the whiteboard and the top flew off and black ink splattered all over my jammies.
none of my kids dressed up or anything so i had them all take off their shoes and switch and put on their jackets backwards or turn their shirts around. it was cute in my baby classes.

other than that.. mr. kuo was gone so it was just mrs. chan and i. she gave me another one of those sticky rice things on a banana leaf.. i don't think i mentioned that the other day actually. they gave me a traditional taiwanese food the other day that was sticky stuff that i later found out is made out of ground up grass of some kind, and then there's bamboo and meat filling.
today was the dessert version though. the sticky part on the outside was hot pink and it was filled with red bean and ginger or something. the sticky stuff had the consistency of like.. silly putty.

on the way home i went to a japanese place i had gone to with bobo a long time ago that i've been wanting to revisit. no one was there but the owners and their little boy.
we had a cute conversation. i'll put the chinese parts in italics
me: do you speak english?
kid: no
me: what's your name?
kid: my name is ben
then his mom and i spent 5 minutes figuring out what i wanted to order and i got to use my new vegetable words! ben sat down with me while i waited for my [delicious] soup.
ben: are you american?
me: yep. i'm from texas, you know?
ben: no, but dora is from america.
me: yeah that's right. does she speak english or chinese?
ben: she speaks a little english but mostly chinese because taiwanese kids wouldn't understand if she didn't. doraemon is from japan, do you like him?
me: i kind of like him. what language does he speak?
ben: chinese. i have lots of doraemon videos

and then my food came. i like ben. his dad kept telling him to leave me alone but he stopped once he saw that we had the kid/teacher connection going on.

Friday, March 27, 2009

there is an element of fun

eunice, ryan, vanessa, joseph and mandy at our demo a few weeks ago.

3 things i miss about texas
1. ballet class. mainly because i enjoy wearing a skirt over my leotard and prancing around the farmer's market next to the ballet studio before class on saturday like i'm a real ballerina and not an uncoordinated wannabe.
2. kerbey queso, central market dinner-for-two's, south congress cafe's queso flameado, shady grove's veggie chilli.
3. driving to the lake on saturday morning with the fam, with ripley standing on the armrest because she's so excited to be off the leash for the day. and the delicious italian food and freezer full of popsicles and the hammock and the sunday morning show.
me, ryan, eunice, joseph, jessica and elaine

3 things i love about taiwan
1. taiwanese people like the kuos who go above and beyond being hospitable to me when i don't do near enough to repay them.
2. cong you bing aka scallion pancakes with egg on one side. those things are ridiculously delicious and they keep me going for hours.
3. my kids

ryan's mom made me a cd of pictures and videos from our demo a few weeks ago. this video is one of their mini plays.

sister is the opposite of hallelujah

tonight in my second class we were reading a little story that went something like..
teacher: come in, children! shut the door please, billy.
everyone sit down please.
who can draw a picture?
danny: i can, miss beamer..

anyway i thought it would be interesting to act it out with my class, so i told them all to stand up and follow me. i was goinggg to take them out into the hallway so i could tell them to come in, but when i went to turn the doorknob, we were locked inside.

we happened to be in the only room in the school that has the misfortune of locking from the outside, and my troublemaker of a kid had locked it when he came in from blowing his nose in the hall. jerk! so my kids initially looked at me in horror as we all realized we were trapped, but once we sat down and continued to act out the lesson, they forgot all about it.

it wasn't until the bell rang for break time that they all got up, ran to the door and started pounding on it and screaming "HELP USSSS, HELP US!" my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.

..other than that.. i went to paspi (pasta+pizza) to pick up dinner to go tonight, and the owner and i finally took it to the next level. last time i was there, i asked what his name was and introduced myself. so tonight he asked if i wanted what i always get, and i said yes. i was happy enough with that, but then he went on to ask where i work, how long i've been in taiwan, and some questions about josh, steve and mike who live right down the street from him and frequent his shop. i tried to tell him that they lived right around the corner, but i don't really know how to say 'a little ways down the street' and i forgot 'apartment building'.

i'm always excited to have any kind of conversation with anyone in chinese. speaking of chinese, bobo came to the dorm tonight to say goodbye to chris who's going to visit canada tomorrow, and she taught katie and i a new song.
yi er san shi wu liu qi, wo de peng you zai na li
zai zhe li, zai zhe li, wo do peng you zai zhe li
one two three four five six seven, where is my friend?
they are here, they are here, my friend is here

..the cuteness of it is kind of lost in english. it rhymes in chinese

there's some random youtube kid proving my point.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

short story

since i already did two teeny posts this afternoon, i'll tell you my one, short story of the day.

i went to tapenyaki to pick up dinner this evening, and as i was getting on my scooter to leave, the shop owner of this tiny little stand i parked in front of came up to me and asked if i was american. i told him yes, de zou (texas). he looked at me for a second and then this giant smile spread across his face and i could see all of his teeth dripping with burgundy betel nut liquid and he went bowlegged, swooped his arm around his head pretending to rope a cow and started screaming 'COWBOY! COWBOY!'

rubie green fabric

..am i the only one who's tickled to see things that share her name?
Rubie Green sells organic bedding and has a pattern, white with black pineapples, called Megan.
the description says..
She believes in pairing stilettos with cowboy hats, wine with hot dogs, and acrylic nails with the engine of a '67 Mustang. Megan is unique and edgy while being feminine and playful; she'll wear her Prom Queen title but never her boyfriend's varsity jacket. Her will is strong and her wit sky-high; she is the girl who leads the pack, the girl who stands apart.
I love the description but i think i prefer the look of Patsy
p.s. a dirt collection after my own heart.


what do we think of today's header?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

o tannenbaum

6 things i haven't told you about taiwan yet.

'80s fashion is in full swing here. if you walk down any street in downtown taoyuan, at least 60% of the high schoolers [who aren't wearing uniforms] will be in something that's mainly black, with neon accents. girls wear jeans skirts with black opaque tights and converse. their hair is often in a high pony tail or crimped and frizzed out with lots of chunky plastic accessories.

the cities are all spread out and between them there are just tons of rice paddies and other agriculture or open green space. on a pretty big chunk of the drive to da chu, i drive past a facade of buildings one layer deep, but behind it is just farm land and rice paddies. there must be a jasmine field on one section because it smells soooo good for about 3 minutes.

not many people use nalgene-type bottles. they usually have metal thermoses that they can keep tea or water in.

people take dogs of every size with them on the scooter. i've seen dogs in front baskets, dogs in people's laps, dogs in backpacks, and bazillions of dogs riding by people's legs. golden retreivers, huskies, poodles, you name it.

there are no tampons for sale.

lots of times if 2 people are carrying one grocery bag, each person will hold one handle. no matter the height difference. it looks really uncomfortable.

Monday, March 23, 2009

just as they play our favorite song

it has been weird around here, weather-wise. sunday was warm, almost hot, and beautiful. sunny. then it rained at night. today was cloudy and a little chilly but not too bad and then tonight, right as my last class ended, it started pouring down rain.
i'm chatting with jeff on skype. he went to some party and met some girl who knows me somehow and we agreed that between the three of us, we know a whole lot of people from our high school. jeff is 3 years younger than me and matt is 2 years younger than him, so we have a 5 year span covered. my brothers are so cool. we have an interesting mix of different vs sameness.
i don't have anything to say tonight. i have a head ache because both of my classes were screaming at the top of their lungs the whole time. monday can be a little crazy.
dawn and i are going to the gym at 815 tomorrow for an early morning yoga class. there was a free weeklong pass floating around the dorm so i'm going to see what i think of the yoga classes and maaaaybe ballroom dance on wednesday. we'll see how tired my body is after yoga.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

let it be

i know that some people feel like they need to do something with their sundays, but my perfect sunday involves food, plenty of lounging, and a plain white t shirt. i can't wear white on my teacher days because i inevitably get covered in dry erase marker, so i always wear white on sunday.
last night we had a beer pong tournament and the floor, though it had been mopped once (by a guy, does that even count?), was still really sticky and had been walked on so there were muddy footprints all over. it was hot and beautiful and windy outside, so i mopped the floor, opened all of the windows and turned on the overhead fans while no one was home but me.
i made indian pudding barefoot in the kitchen because my shoes were leaving dirty footprints everywhere. it was perfect. i think indian pudding is right up there next to chicken noodle soup for effort vs. payoff.
all you do is stir cornmeal into milk for 10 minutes, throw in a bunch of stuff, mix it and put it in the oven for 3 hours.
it cooked down a lot but i also forgot to take a picture until jerry, alex and i had all eaten a bowl of it already..
anyway aside from baking that, i made pork tenderloin, steamed green beans and sauteed mushrooms for dinner, also delicious. and i went over to bobo's for an hour or so and joyce and i made a card with little heartshaped glitter that i remember from when i was her age. the whole glue + glitter concept was all new to her. i think we spent twice as much time cleaning it up as we did making the card.
so overall it was a lovely sunday.
here's the recipe for indian pudding, from the fanny farmer cookbook.

4 cups milk
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/3 c. dark brown
1/3 c. white sugar
1/3 c. molasses
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp buter

preheat the oven to 275 F, 135 C. heat 2 1/2 cups of the milk until "very hot" on the stove, add cornmeal and stir for 10-15min. it gets lumpy easily. add everything else and mix until the butter has melted (the cookbook tells you to do it in a double boiler, but it was fine in a normal sauce pan). pour mixture into a buttered baking dish and pour the remaining cup and a half of milk over the top, set into a pan of hot water. bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. i peel off the layer of skin that forms on the top. it thickens as it cools (thick cream of wheat consistency) and it's delicious topped with vanilla ice cream.

happy birthday majjy

me: happy birthday majjayyy!
maj: happy birthday to meeee! yippee!!!

my parents birthdays are a week apart which makes for a good birthday extravaganza around my house. here's my mom in the pose she's in most often: talking on the cell phone.
hmm i have a few mom stories.
when we were little, she told us that we were so smart and capable and fun and that we should figure out what we like to do and find a way to make money doing it. i think those lessons have carried me through my life with confidence and a sense that things will work out.
actually my favorite mom story involves maj and me.
she had a tumor on her pituitary gland in her 20s so they told her she probably wouldn't be able to have kids. so a couple of months after my parents got married, they were on a wine tasting tour in napa valley and my mom got sick after she had a sip of wine at dinner, and she was in tears because she thought her body was rejecting it because she was an alcoholic. so my dad was all angry because they were on this wine tour and my mom wouldn't drink any wine. but my grandma said that all of her symptoms sounded like she might be pregnant.. and she was!
(who remembers the face transformer? you should be thankin' your lucky stars i chose anime mom and not monkey mom for this post.)
i think some of my favorite things about my mom are her use of the word 'minchy' which means crabby, more or less. and that we both see 11:11 (angel hour) on the clock all the time. and that she taught me that there are no accidents and instilled all sorts of good metaphysical beliefs in me as a little kid. and that we're really close and i know she loves me unconditionally.
when i was a freshman in high school, everyone else was really excited about homecoming and i found out about 'mum's' which are these giant white chrysanthemums with ribbons and all sorts of things hanging off of them and i was kind of sad that i wouldn't have one, but then on homecoming morning my mom surprised me with one she had made at a florist. it was giant and had my name on it and all of my activities and it was perfect.
and in elementary school she came to talk to my class about recycling and i was so proud that she was my mom. althoughhh, that same year, she forgot to pick me and our carpool buddy chadwick up from school and it was raining and we hid under the slide for a while and finally went in the school but i couldn't remember my phone number and it was horrific. but everyone makes mistakes.
so love you majtown. happy birthday! i hope someone makes you crepes. nutritious and delicious.

Friday, March 20, 2009

can't believe i've never noticed my heart before

i discovered a new blog and thus new music. it's a young couple who just got married and the blog is mostly about their wedding, but i just love their style in general. their wedding was beautiful and easy and fresh.
anyway they talked a lot about their wedding music and MuteMath was one of the artists. i guess i had heard one of their songs but the name of the band didn't ring a bell. it's good though.
today i sang da xiang to..
the spa
7-11 lady
guei shan front desk
my kids
coffee shop in guei shan
construction workers

that's my learning style. barrage the taiwanese with my shaky new vocab words until they look at me with understanding in their eyes rather than confusion.
this is the rubble i walk by every day
i was trying to write lesson plans but it was so beautiful outside that i grabbed my camera and went outside. alex was waiting for the bus.
i'm still too afraid to take pictures of strangers so it's all stationery objects without people.

look at this GIANT HOOOLLEEEE. i walked by yesterday and it was like HOLY MOLY A GIANT HOOOLE. before yesterday it was just a concrete patio and now it's a giant trench.
i confiscated this from one of my kids yesterday. i find myself collecting all sorts of weird items.

here's jerry showing you the stuff i've confiscated that's now floating around in my purse.
this is jerry showing you how dissatisfied he is with being my hand model.
also note the UT shirt, straight from the maj.
time to think of fun games for my kindies tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

and the sun shines on the bay

i'm forcing myself to listen to journey's greatest hits because i've been overplaying all of my other songs lately. although i do like 'lights'. when the lights go down in the cityyy.

i checked the exchange rate this morning and it was 33NT to 1US so i literally got dressed and drove straight to the bank. we've been hovering around 35 for a while so i just wanted to deposit my money while it was relatively low. i changed $60,000NT into $1700something US. so i'm excited that it'll hit my bank account in the next few days. i'll finally have more than i came here with!
it was kind of rough buying 2 plane round trip tickets and my camera and my MRI from right before i left. i had a herniated disc in my back and my insurance didn't cover the MRI ($700). so there was 4.5k to make up from the beginning.
anyway i'm back to normal and i couldn't be happier.
on my way back from the bank i stopped to get a 'passionfruit cocktail' which is passionfruit seeds, syrup and coconut jelly and pearls. there's a lot of slimy stuff coming up your straw. i think i've come to terms with pearls though. i don't get them if i can help it, but i actually kind of enjoyed them this morning.

i asked the guy if they had passionfruit smoothies and he answered me with some long explanation which i think had something to do with how it's still winter so they don't have any smoothies.. and i was kind of annoyed that he came at me with so much chinese when i was clearly a beginner, but jerry pointed out that i should be flattered that he thought i could handle all of it after hearing me only say a few words.
mrs. chan gave me this passionfruit yesterday. that's a stupid picture but you get the idea.
i asked if she had any burnt rice in the bottom of the rice cooker today and she said no (it tastes exactly like toasted marshmallows), but she got some rice out and put it in the wok and burnt the edges for me. it was pretty yummy that way too.

we had the best time tonight. i sang 'da xiang' for them, but i don't know a lot of the words since i've just learned it secondhand from jerry, who also doesn't know the words. so they both sang it for me. i still don't have a firm grasp..
i think it's daaaaa xiang, daaaaa xiang, ni de bi zi zen me na me chang?
ma ma shuo bi zi chang cai shi piao liang

which is..
eeeeelephant, eeeeelephant.. how long is your nose/why is your nose so long?
mama says long noses are beautiful

i looove the tune of it. it's a lot more singsongy than that video. i literally sang it the entire drive home from da chu tonight and then continued to sing in the shower.
aunt margi sent me a bunch of pages from the travel section of her paper and some cool travel calendar pages. thanks, aunt margi! i added the pages to my collage strings and the article about indian food had me wondering if i could eat indian twice in a week. i think i might go tomorrow.

da xiang

all i want to be able to do is sing da xiang like this little girl.

for those of you who aren't on facebook

jeff found a box of pictures in the garage from the early '90s.
matt at lake powell in utah
who knows how they fit a playpen in the back of the boat, but it happened. one time matt was sleeping in it and he woke up when everyone was on the shore and jumped off the side of the boat. luckily there are lots of sand bars so he was standing on the bottom and someone just yanked him out.
i think this looks like it came straight from a girl scout cookie box. ..and it has me singing "from the redwood forrrreeeests.."

girlscouts take 2.
i don't know how many sets of matching jammies we had. lots.

jeff labeled this picture 'megan know it all'.