Thursday, April 30, 2009

come on baby, play me somethin'

my mom bought gram a millllion bulbs for her 80th birthday this year. they planted them in october and now they're up! they're so pretty. they live in new hampshire and they've had a long, snowy winter. what a nice change.

mr. kuo told mr. wang that i have a taiwanese boyfriend and mr. kuo said mr. wang criedd and cried. i feel like i haven't seen him in a looong time. and there was a mild uproar that i was wearing a skirt and drinking a passionfruit smoothie since i'm sick and i'm only supposed to be drinking hot liquids and wearing layers.

there are some taiwanese superstitions i just can't follow. bundling up in layers and layers to sweat out an illness is one. not drinking cold drinks when you're sick, even if it's hot out, is another.
in one of my classes tonight there's this kid, ben, who is super eager and he's constantly shouting out answers super loudly before anyone else has a chance to answer. i'm happy that he's so excited to participate, but it can be a touch annoying.
tonight though, we were reading one on one and he lifted up the sleeve of his shirt really quickly and flashed his inner arm at me and said 'see!' and then put his arm back down. after a little gentle prodding, he let me look again and it was a big scar probably 6 inches long with stitch marks all along the edges.
i said it was no problem, a lot of people have scars, and showed him the scar on my neck and the one right under my lip from when i was little. i think we had a little moment. those are the times when being a teacher is really good.
happy 23rd birthday to jerry!
this is alex and jerry doing the fisherman/fish dance move at beth and rob's party.

twbf says..

Helo Megan :

There are many stars in the sky …it’s beautiful …you can to raise your head …you can watch moon and stars..

Have a dream night !!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

you would be in bloom

these are some leftover pictures from park day yesterday.
on monday, my 9-10 year old class had the QA 'what do you like to collect?' with the new vocab 'stamps, marbles, stickers and coins'. i got around to one kid, scott, who's cute and likes to joke around with me and he had written 'a pretty Megan'. i gave him a sticker, but i had to tell him that you can't collect megan's.
it has been so crazy windy the last few days. it's so scary to be driving along and then it feels like someone just pushed the wheels of your scooter out from under you. all of the sudden you'll be 2 feet to the left or right and you can't do anything about it. i just stay a little further away from the side of the road and try to be extra aware of who's behind me and how fast they're coming up on me.
(the next 2 pictures are from the little park next to our house).
twbf sent me a whole list of places we can check out today and their corresponding websites!
tonight i had a demo with my kindy girls. the parents were concerned that i talk too fast and that their kids don't want to listen to the CD that goes along with their book. we told them to let their kids watch any kind of english shows or cartoons they're interested in.

i finally know enough chinese that those meetings are starting to make more sense to me. it's pretty weird to be in a conference when everyone's talking about you and your class but you don't understand what's being said and no one's translating.
katie turned 24 (or 25?) today and we all sang happy birthday and someone bought her a taiwan-fab cake.
it had..
a layer of jello-y custard
a thick layer of [some kind of] purple bean
some jelly covered fruit
and tons of cake art on top
and it came in a super patterny box.

i'm doing research for my outside class tomorrow who chose to learn about sports, comics and the environment and i found..
at sad.
all the more reason not to buy plastic things and buy things likeee..
these organic bags bec sent me the link to yesterday. they're on saleee. $34.99 for all 5.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

i don't know if you can swim

i woke up at a startling 7:30 this morning and couldn't fall asleep again, so i rolled out of bed, grabbed a blanket and headed to the park. there's nothing like being up when everyone [you know] is sleeping.
still loving the book tess lent me.
if you don't know what flag that is, please stop coming to this website. :)
i texted dena to let her know i was there in case she wanted to stop by. she's the only other person i could think of who might be up that early. any time dena and my camera are in the same place, a photo shoot breaks out.
click on the photo above and check out that woman's sun gear. it's completely normal for women over 50 to be decked out in this outfit all summer long. long pants and puffy sleeves to cover your arms with a bandana covering your neck/face and a giant traditional hat.
i needed sunscreen today, it was so sunny out.

taiwanese boyfriend and i went to lunch at latini's today. jon and josh walked in while we were sitting there and i was just hoping they wouldn't sit within earshot. it's embarrassing to fumble through getting to know you conversations with your friends listening.
anyway he gave me a link to some of his photos online so now i have pictures to show you!
cute, no?
i'm hoping we'll eventually get past the language barrier/getting to know you questions and get a feel for each other's personalities. today we brainstormed about a million places he wants to take me before i leave taiwan.

p.s. looook how awesome the ACL lineup is this year! i just bought my 3 day pass.

i don't know if you can dance

you would think you were in two different countries with the weather differences between yesterday and today. yesterday was rainy, gray, dreary and gross. today was sunny, warm, breezy and beautiful. 4 of the girls from the dorm went out for lunch today which was nice and then dena and i did our lesson plans in the park in the sunshine.

i might be totally ridiculous but i think i have a teeny crush on my language exchange. we've been jokingly calling him taiwanese boyfriend at the dorm today. i was beginning to wonder if i wasn't dead inside, so it's been nice to have the hint of a sparkle, even if i wasn't looking for it.
we're going to have lunch tomorrow and maybe go on a field trip on sunday with bobo and friends if we can find a way to this park. we need a train or a bus or something because we both only have a scooter and it isn't scooterable.

i knowwww, i took the bait. but i've been driving myself insane overthinking my future and spending too much time alone lately, so it's nice to have something/someone else to think about for a bit. even it is just a new friend. i guess we'll see what happens. i'm out of here in july. what's the worst that could happen.

today is josh's birthday so we all went out to a korean bbq place where you grill stuff on charcoal grills at the table. it was really cool. i think i ate my weight in little strips of beef and lamb and kimchi hot pot. the servers were all crowded around the server station next to our table seeing if they could understand us, but i saw one say ting bu dong (hear but don't understand) to another, so i guess not. fun night though.

p.s. this reminded me of my favorite local businesses in taiwan/austin
check out their website at the 3/50 project

Sunday, April 26, 2009

if i sleep like a spoon, or any at all

remember the guy i met while i was waiting to see the doctor at the hospital a few weeks ago? we met for coffee today to speak english and chinese. he brought me bpmf (the taiwanese alphabet that kids learn to use chinese sounds) flashcards and a magazine so i can speak better chinese. that was very nice of him.
he made an interesting comment about how he thinks that we met on purpose because 'taiwan is a big country and there are many cities' and i didn't go to tainan or kaohsiung or taipei, i came to taoyuan. and there are so many hours in the day and i happened to go to the hospital at the same time that he was waiting in line and tapped on his shoulder to ask for help.
..actually, he had a word for it that he wrote down. help me out, chinese speakers.
so that was an interesting afternoon. we spent 3 and a half hours chatting and now we have an agreement that i'll go to a taiwanese baseball game (which i'm not really excited about) if he'll learn to swim (which he isn't really excited about). i'll keep you posted.
yumm these cookie/crackers are the best. theyre 16NT from 7-11 and taste like vanilla wafers without that odd texture on the outside.

tonight chris, danielle, dena and i watched a silly, silly movie called burn after reading. it wasn't really about anything. don't see it if you don't have to.

called gram and spanky and dad. found out that my mom is in NY. you never know where anyone is at my house anymore. jeff is swimming at the lake with the dog and his best friend. nice to catch up with everyone in their various locations.

and straight on 'til morning

i didn't take any pictures today so instead i'm going to show you one of the landscape plans my mom did. i suppose i've grown up with it, but i love her aesthetic. it's easy and tranquil. here's the album of pictures from this apartment complex (you have to have facebook).
today i only had one class and it was very nice to have a little break. i hung out with the kuo's for 2 hours or so and mr. kuo and i read the sequel to goodnight moon and a blues clues book that i checked out from the library for my kids. i had a hard time describing some words like clue, decide, else. and he kept reading 'jelly' as 'julie' which made us laugh.
steve, josh and i decided to go to the philippines over our 4 day dragon boat festival vacation in may. they're planning night life and i'm planning daytime activities. i only read a little bit today but it seems like there's more than enough to see and do.
it was a calm, rainy, kind of chilly day and it was so nice. i spent an hour at latini's with baked macaroni and a book and then headed to the coffee shop for a pot of tea (that was the prettiest shade of orangey pink when brewed). that tea website is addictive. i highly recommend the chamomile citrus.

my mom was on landscaper's challenge on HGTV a few years ago and she won so she got to do this yard. :)

this picture (from desire to inspire) has been on two of my favorite blogs this week and it's calling to me. it's heaven. maybe a fewwww more pillows.

Friday, April 24, 2009

like sparkling wine

are you kidding me, j. crew? some of your new clothes literally look like they were made in taiwan.
these roses pop out from the dress. why is there a big seam in the middle?
most of their new stuff is really cute though.
here's my story of the day: trip to tung an street library
..megan walks up to desk where two librarians start saying 'oh nononono' before i even say anything
me: can you speak english?
them: no, nonono
me: ok, i would like a library umm, card. i'm an english teacher and i want to check out books to read to my kids
mean woman: fill out this form
me: can you please read this to me? i can understand chinese but i can't read it
mean woman: write your name here
..i write my name in english..
mean woman: oh nononono. chinese name
me: i don't have a chinese name. can i say my english name and you can write a chinese name? or can you just choose something?
mean woman grabs my ARC to see if there's a chinese name printed on it, and there isn't.
then some girl in high school walks up to me and asks if she can help. she starts asking the librarian what i needed, then she asks if i can speak chinese. the librarian says no
me: i can speak a little
her: do you understand what i'm saying?
me: yep
mean woman: she doesn't speak any chinese.
mean woman tells me to write down my address in chinese, i tell her i can't write it, can she please help me? it's written on my ARC, she takes snatches my ARC out of my hand and rolls her eyes as she writes it down

then there was some big controversy about which box to check. the choices i could read were elementary school student, middle school student, university student, and 2 others. they discussed which box to check for 5 minutes or so and decided on university student.

they tell me i have to wait until 1pm, i look at the clock and it's 12:57 so i say no problem, it's only 3 minutes from now.

but i did end up checking out 5 books! success!

other random bits from today..
my first class on friday thinks i'm dating alex because we always get coffee before class
my second class thinks i'm dating jon because we go to dinner together
i found a good china tour group website, so now i just have to decide how much i want to spend/what i want to see
i have an appointment next saturday at the sheraton taipei to get my hair highlighted!

helping steven

my favorite provencial blogger, corey, has a friend, beverly, who has a son, steven. steven has von hippel lindau disease and he wants to go to a conference about it. he's in the running with some other people who all made youtube videos, and if he gets the most clicks, he gets to go.
you can watch it above or click on this link and watch it at youtube.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

the world is on fire

even though my 2 hour jr high class feels like 6, i really enjoy them. today at the break, i sat down at a table with joyce and shelly and we discussed the concept of cram schools and decided that they are no fun. who decided that it would be cool for these kids to go to school from 8-4 and then go to special school for math, science, social studies, english, and an instrument from 4-9?
i have a million review days built into my schedule at that school, so i told them to write down something they wanted to learn about and that i'd teach that instead of reviewing country and city life next week. i beat those to death in their designated 2 hours, there's no need to review.

it was interesting to see what they wanted to learn about. 1/3 said movies, 1/3 said comics, and 1/3 said saving the environment.
i'm a bit homesick today. i miss people who know what project runway is. i miss sleeping in a bed i can spread out like a snow angel in. i miss seeing my family's faces.
this morning jeff actually said to me that now he thinks of me as being perched on top of the computer where the webcam eye is.
love the kuo's though. tonight i told mr. kuo i missed my family and he just looked at me and said 'we are your second family. we are your second family.' and i could have just cried. the kuo's and koala yummies make the world go round.
p.s. this is me and kristin and dawn [without creepy face masks] the other night at beth and rob's birthday party. kristin kind of reminds me of stacy schwab because she's so petite/has the same hair color. and dawn is my favorite englishwoman. i don't know who that creeper in the background is.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

everybody gather 'round

i was getting to the bottom of today's post on my faaaavorite blog, and what did i see but a picture of erin's tattered, falling apart baby blanket. it's funny because we had a fire drill at school yesterday and i was thinking how from the time i was really little, i've decided that if i had to save one thing from my burning-down house, it would definitely be my baby blanket. it's my most important possession. my grandma's friend norma gave it to me when i was born and it hasn't left my side since then. it used to have a silky ribbon edge, but that fell off long, long ago. it's been to every sleepover, occasionally gone to school in my backpack, been washed probably 50 times in 23 years and visited 7 countries.
so i was thrilled to see that erin had one too. she's so stylish and witty, but she's still in the blanket club. i think you'd be amazed by how many 20somethings (if not older) still have their comfort thing from when they were little. all of my friends always brought theirs to high school sleepovers. becca has flopsy, amber has bear, rachel has a blanket. even one of my ex boyfriends, who will remain unnamed, still had his special thing.
anyway aside from that, i got a million things accomplished today in spite of the drizzle that can't seem to move past taoyuan this month. went to chinese, the book store, the post office, picked up indian for lunch, did today and tomorrow's lesson plans.

mr. kuo and i had a little battle because i bought amanda the same chinese/english picture dictionary i use and they wanted to pay me back for it, but i wouldn't take their money. they must have shoved it in my purse about 15 times and it finally came down to..
me: you make me dinner every day and i never give you money
him: we're happy to do that
me: i'm happy to give amanda the book
after that, i won.

lost on planet china

tess lent me a couple of books and i'm reading one now called lost on planet china by j. maarten troost. i'm 2 chapters in and it is hilarious/so accurate. i'm just on my way to bed but i wanted to share a couple of quotes.

the two phrases he learned before getting on the flight to beijing were..
"Qingwen, wo bu hui dun zhege cesuo. Youmeiyou beide cesuo keyi yong?"
Excuse me, I am not proficient at squatting. Is there another toilet option?

"Zhege jende shi jirou ma?"
Are you sure this is chicken?

on riding in a taxi..
"There was an unforgiving frenzy to get ahead. We leapt forth, swerved, smited competitors for position, and in leaps and fits made our way into the city. The taxi driver drove without consulting his mirrors, and often, far too often, we'd swerve into another lane, sending cars screeching and swaying in every direction..."

my favorite part so far..
"But this was the mother of all Chinatowns, and these thousands of signs, all presumably offering information, directions, imploring you to buy this and do that, were utterly alien to me. I understood nothing, a sensation that disturbed my psyche. I felt profoundly out of my element."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

my fingers wrap around your words

there's a fruit market right down the street that i'm not sure why none of us go to. i asked chris, who was sitting in the living room when i got back from buying some fruit there, and he called it a 'wet market' which i had never heard before. i guess by wiki's definition (an open air market that sells fresh fruit & meat), it is. but they don't have cages of animals anywhere.

i've been twice so far though, and it's lovely. it's a bunch of vendors with tables set up beside each other with stacks and stacks of fruits, veggies and other produce. best of all, they have clean, fresh looking onions. you can easily spend 10 minutes in front of carrefour's onion bin looking for ones that aren't moldy or squishy. gross. and the people at the market were all too friendly. so that may become a regular thing.
on saturday i bought some hand moisturizer (an ingenious suggestion from an anonymous commenter. thank you.) for mrs. chan and some pumpkin seed brittle for mr. kuo as a tiny thank you for everything they do for me, and i gave it to them today. mrs. chan's reaction was awesome. she said 'for meee?!' and her face lit up and i think she may or may not have literally bounced up and down a little bit.

when i was waiting to sign for my money after class tonight, one of my students, amy, came up to me and said "megan very very very very likes cookies, candy and juice" as i was eating the most delicious chocolate-cream filled japanese koala cookies from 7-11.
she has me pegged.

..we're deciding between macau/hong kong, malaysia and japan for dragon boat festival vacation (i'm excited just to type that). any suggestions from people who have been?

Monday, April 20, 2009

if you love the ground beneath you

the dorm is falling apart because we all have this sore throat, cold, chills combo in varying stages. i finished the antibiotics i got from the hospital last saturday and i don't feel any better at all, so today i went to the doctor bobo goes to. the receptionist was very grouchy and spoke very fast chinese, but the doctor was ok.

his english was an interesting mix of doctor speak and then completely unintelligible mumbling that went back and forth in english and chinese.
megan: here's the medicine i got from min sheng hospital. i took all of the antibiotics but they didn't do anything
doctor: your ears are not infected. throat ... something something something .. bacterial ... something something in chinese .. viral .. something
me: oh, so maybe i just have to wait for it to clear up on its own?
him: something something ... medicine

anyway $140NT ($4 US) later, i have 4 new pills to take
so now i'm on.. augmentin which is just amoxycillin, ponstan which is an anti-inflammatory and two mystery drugs that are listed as "scanal" which i can't find online anywhere and "aluzaine" is yellow with *standard* on it (stars included) and apparently manufactured in taiwan. anyway whatever they are, they've been working like a charm and i'm pain free for the first time in a week!
also in the category of communication confusion.. i used to go to this little mom & pop tea shop in guei shan, but it's been closed for 2 weeks so chris and i suspect that it's gone. now i've been buying tea from the coffee shop for lack of a better option. i tried to explain it to the coffee shop ladies today in chinese.
me: my favorite tea shop disappeared
them: what disappeared?
me: a tea shop.. you know? coffee shop is 'cafe dian' but i mean 'cha dian'.. tea shop
them: we don't understand

so i get back to school and ask my coteacher, carol, how you say tea shop and if it isn't just 'coffee shop' with 'tea' instead of 'coffee'. she told me that what i was saying (cha dian) really meant 'a place where old men go to have sex with young girls'.
ooohmygod can you even imagine?! i wonder what the coffee shop women thought i was trying to say. who would have thought that 'tea shop' in chinese is really 'bubble tea black tea shop.'
so overall it was a confusing, multilingual day but everything turned out fine.

if you speak english and chinese you can appreciate they donate 100% of their proceeds to the jet li one foundation which is for disaster relief in china.
this shirt says mei you which means 'don't have' but it's pronounced 'mayo'. cleverrr.