Tuesday, June 30, 2009

open up your eyes

happy anniversary, gram and spanky! i think we're up to 64 years now? is that right? you two are the best.

you know how some of those fake drinks like Sobe have a 'dragon fruit' flavor? until i got to taiwan, i had no idea there was a thing called a dragon fruit. i think the name is perfect, given what it looks like:
i was trying to ask mrs. chan and mr. kuo how i know if it's good by looking at it since the one i bought the other day was all shriveled. i guess the answer was obvious. it shouldn't be shriveled. it should be shiny and firm, but not hard.
the inside feels like a kiwi and tastes unlike anything else i've had. kiwi consistency but less flavorful. it's kind of tangy and not overly sweet. the seeds are bigger and they pop between your teeth the same way weevils pop when you squish them.
allen and i had japanese for lunch today. there was a baby who would stare at him until he looked at it, and then it would turn and look at me. as soon as allen looked away, it would stare at him again. i was giggling so much that i felt like the entire restaurant was looking at me.
i think it might have also been the bright yellow dress. this is a big generalization but it seems like black, purple and neon are the big colors in asia. you never ever see a taiwanese person wearing yellow, orange or red. i live in brights so i always feel like i stick out a lot.
i found pink croc-esque flats at the little japanese store in carrefour for 99NT ($3US) that i couldn't live without. they are sooo comfy. jimmie and i were matching today.

p.s. taiwan and megan vs will and america on gchat
1:00 AM
William: i got a jooobbb interview
15 an hooourr
thank jeeessuuus
me: yahooooo
i make 20 tax freeeee
1:02 AM William: SO JEALOUS
and you enjoy life.
me: i work four hours a dayyyy
William: i read files filled with human misery.
gonna vooooommmimte
me: and i save $1000 a monthhhh
William: the E is for emphasis
oh MAN
you have a sweet deal
1:03 AM i am in the hoollle
me: i know dude
it is awesome.
William: you need to keep that
there are no jobs here
not like that
you come back home
youll be making 15 at an entry level place
with taxes
and rent
and the american way.

Monday, June 29, 2009

drew talks to me

well, we've reached that part of summer where you can't sit in the living room without there being a pool of sweat under you when you get out of the silly black pleather chairs we have. being at a stoplight on the scooter is like sitting in hell. you're breathing in exhaust. it is so hot. the only solution is frequent lemon ice drinks and cups and cups of green tea.

today phil had a sip of my green tea from coco and he said 'that doesn't taste like any green tea i've had' and i said exactly. tea at tea stands is the beeeeest. it tastes fresh and full of oxygen and flowery. the bottle of 'pomelo green tea' i found at subber today (that was labeled like it's sold in the US) was disgusting. it makes me seriously consider opening a tea shop in austin so i can guarantee fresh tea in my american life.
wunderground has a satellite view and i wondered if i could find my house. i found the palmer events center down by town lake and had to cheat and use the street map view because i was lost somewhere in harris ridge.

it's funny how you can tell maj is a landscaper when you look at the street from a bird's eye view.
one story today. this sweet boy neil, who was added to my 10-yr-olds class about 2 months ago, has been really shy the whole time. his mom told my coteacher that she didn't really even want a kid and that he would be spending a lot of time at school. she has a permafrown.

in the last 2 weeks he's kind of found his place in our class and he's actually been talking to me without me initiating conversation. today we high-fived when he finished reading this section and he backed away and said 'ouchhh' but he was kind of smiling so i assumed he was just playing a game, pretending like i hurt him, so i whacked his hand with my book and he yelped. turns out that his pinkie finger really was hurt! whoops! i offered to kiss it, but we just don't do that here.

after class, i asked him if he had really hurt his finger (in chinese because he doesn't know some of those english words). he said yes, playing dodgeball (duo bi qui - which i understood because i learned all the sports last week!)

and today at bobo's after chinese, i met one of jaime's friends, also named megan, who's half taiwanese, half american. she lives in houson during the school year and her family spends the summer in taiwan. she's probably 11 years old and she speaks english like any normal american kid and speaks chinese like any normal taiwanese kid. so jealous!

it was interesting because she was wearing crocs and so was jaime. it got me thinking how we've become so global with the internet that kids everywhere are playing with the same toys, wearing the same things, collecting webkins. though megan has 26 and jaime has 2. that seems to be a major difference. taiwan hasn't been swooped up in the ridiculous excessiveness.. it's nice.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

i am thailand

this is one of jimmie's pictures from last night of tess, steph and carly. cute!
well today we woke up laaate, late. i went to the fruit market in search of mango and tea. i asked a random woman with fire engine red lipstick if she knew where i could buy cong dra bing. she told me to walk around the corner.. i did.. no one was there. so she went with me, and the stand was running late or something. i think she counts as a fruit stand friend though.
then this afternoon jimmie, allen and i headed to songshan to find cute dresses at wu fen pu. you can't appreciate the full ugliness of that dress in the picture. the top was gold and sparkely.
we walked and walked and walked through lanes of clothes. it had rained this morning so everything felt sticky and gross. but jimmie and i both found a couple of dresses we couldn't live without.we ate at the top of taipei main station and met some guys from holland who are traveling. they've been all over the place and they're going to be in thailand in july so i gave them emil and my contact info. they want to do a dive course. they haven't even looked into teaching english. they thought you needed to be able to speak the native language.
we played the closed-eyes maze game on the train home. allen won both times. ..i found these little patterned business cards at carrefour. they have the most random things on them but they're all really cute.

best picture in a long time:
allen and my new dress. i need to lengthen the straps a little but it's totally taiwan fab. and it was six dollars.

i was chatting with josh's girlfriend, elva, tonight and she told me that when she first met me, my chinese wasn't very good, but now it's better than josh's! she's learning a liiiiiittle english and right now all she can say is hello, goodbye, 'how much for one night?' [which josh shouldn't have taught her], and apple.
she had fake nails that were about an inch long, half blue sparkles, half natural, with painted on flowers anddd jewels. she said they cost $40US or so and they'll last for a month.

just live your life

long long lonngggg day yesterday. mrs. chan has found her voice now that mr. kuo is sick. she was chatting up a storm. not that she doesn't usually talk, but she doesn't usually sit and talk to me. she's usually cooking or just talking to him. anyway it was nice.

at one point, they were discussing how my stomach is fatter than it was when i got here. i triedd to make the case that it was just how i was sitting, but they weren't having that. then we got into this whole thing about how she thinks she's so skinny and then they asked for my measurements and then she went in the house and came back with measuring tape. i couldn't stop laughing when they were making the hourglass shape with their hands in reference to myy body because i'm pretty much as straight up and down as they come.
in the afternoon, jimmie, ray, allen and i went to see transformers 2. i didn't realize it was opening weekend, so we waited in line for an hour or something just to get tickets. by the end of it, we had spent something like 6 hours at the mall.
i never saw the first one, so it was kind of lost on me, but it was cool to watch the machines transform. there's a scene where all of the kitchen appliances turn into little robots.
then in the evening a whole bunch of us went to a club in jeng li.. i know that's not how you spell it but i can't think of the right way.. anyway it was interesting. the effect of taiwanese people speaking english to me and then me saying one line in chinese to them and seeing the look on their face just never gets old.

when we were at the movies, this 5 or 6 year old kid said mom, americans! and i said that guy is from canada and his mind was completely blown.
the club was fun but i have a quiet voice and i don't like dancing so being in really loud places like that where everyone you know is dancing isn't my favorite thing. but we had a good time. i'm headed toward shower #2 to try to wash some more smoke out of my hair.


just letting you know i'm here. blog tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

heal the world

only a few things today.
flannery sent jimmie and me letters! look how cute.
i cut open a dragon fruit i bought the other day.. the outside looked a little rough but i thought it might still be OK.
it tasted kind of funny, though i've never had the purple dragon fruit (sometimes they're white with black seeds), so i'm not sure what it was supposed to taste like. i decided to just try again another day.
it pouuuuured in my first class and there was a giant, beautiful rainbow oustside. i was thinking about how unfortunate it was that i wouldn't be able to document it, but then i get home and i have pictures of the rainbow from allen in my inbox. so sweet. we went to latini's for lunch today and he kept singing a 'megan melts my heart' song and then he would pretend to throw up because he knows i don't like overly lovey dovey things like that. it's been an interesting progression.

the entire town of guei shan went outside to look at the rainbow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

typhoon nangka

though it looks like it's headed our way, it's really just headed for southern china. we're getting lots of thunder right now though.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

splishy splashy

after not drinking for a looong time, 2 glasses of wine has a greater effect on me than i remember. is it affect or effect in that sentence? i think effect.

anyway.. the highlights:
lunch at tina coffee
ice cream with keith
watermelon at the kuo's
mr. kuo has a ganmao, cold, so he can't talk
2 classes
one with an overachieving coteacher
one with an underperforming coteacher
dinner with keith
jerry's friend phil got here
learning new things about new-ish guy, dane, who i don't know anything about
making up the rules of pretend-marriage with alex guppy
going to go read blogs and go to sleep.

p.s. internship emailed me to say they'll let us know the week of july 6th now. that takes a liiiittle relaxation out of thailand vacation :P hopefully that will mean the 6th or 7th.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

here is what i know now, goes like this

living with 20 people is an exercise in patience and understanding. nothing divides people like cleanliness habits. my own reaction to the filthy kitchen has been to just stop using it. i haven't cooked anything since december. at the most, i'll cut up some fruit or veggies.

if i don't get the internship, i'm moving into an apartment with tess and katie! it makes me excited about staying here, if that's what ends up happening.
love this note.
well wednesdays are wonderful again now that i've resumed chinese class with linda. i hate the class i teach, but now i can look forward to chinese for an hour after class. it's at the coffee shop, with mellow music and coffee (the golden retreiver) asleep at our feet. i can't say enough good things about linda. she doesn't let you move on until you fully understand. she makes you practice a lot. she talks really fast and corrects your tones.

now i'm very clear on when/how to use 'dao' 'le' 'cong' and 'hai mei'
wo cong mei guo zuo fei ji dao taipei qu. i came from america and went to taipei by plane
wo cong jia li lai. i came from the house
wo hai mei chi fan. i haven't eaten yet
wo jin tian mei chi fan. i didn't eat today
jerry lai le. jerry is coming
jerry yi jing lai le. jerry already came
wo zhen zai lai le. i'm coming now
wo zuo huo che qu. i'll go by train
wo zuotian zai tu shu guan kan le shu le. yesterday i read books at the library
ni dao na li qu? where do you want to go?
wo yao qu taipei 101 ke shi wo hai mei qu. i want to go to taipei 101 but i haven't yet

AAAND, the ever confusing 'how you got there'
kai che - drive a car
zuo qi che - ride in a car
zuo huo che - take a train
zuo fei ji - take a plane
zuo chuan - take a boat
zuo ji che - ride on a scooter but not drive
qi ji che - drive a scooter
qi moto che - drive a motorcycle
qi che - car (noun)

if i leave before you, darlin'

these are bobo's pictures of the water gun extravaganza.
well i had my interview tonight. they asked questions that i wasn't really prepared for.
who inspired you to go into public service?
if someone was writing a memoir about your life right now, what would your legacy be?
(is it just me or does joyce look noticeably taller?)
if you were running for office, what would your campaign slogan be?
[note the onlookers.]
i feel like i answered as well as i could given the 2 seconds i had to think about my answers. fingers still crossed. she said something about another department making the final decision, so i think how i look on paper is the most important part. they'll let me know the first week in july.
tonight we went bowling for steve's birthday. there must have been 20 or so people there. i finally met mike's much-talked-about girlfriend. she seems nice. she looks eerily like him. mike was wearing socks that she knitted for him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

cook like your grandmother?

click to enlarge that picture and see if the description of the blog + picture/recipe makes you say 'PSH' or not.

do you think we're fallin' in love?

i just booked my vacation to thailand! yay! july 8-19th. should be good. keith is going to fly there with me so i'm not afraid. we know a million people who are hanging out in koh tao right now. i'm going to get open water dive certified, drink cocktails on the beach, hang out in my own bungalow, buy thai fisherman pants for jeff and matt.that water doesn't look too shabby, does it? emil, on the left, is going to teach me. look at leila's braids! they've both been there for a couple months or so now. this is what they've been up to..
emil doesn't even drink.

i still have a return flight to the US on july 8th. i guess i need to do something about that. my interview is tomorrow night and i'm hoping i'll have a good idea of whether or not i'm getting the internship since i have to guess at when i should change my flight to. august or december?!

think of me on tuesday morning from 9-1!

p.s. in class related news.. my babies were learning 'taiwan, japan, the USA, canada, england' and 'france' and every time they said taiwan, carol would have them chant 'taiwan! taiwan!' it was cute. and debby kept patting my tummy and screaming BABY. she's a rolly polly little girl and i was having all i could do not to pick on her. but i didn't.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

smooth jazz has no lyrics

squirt gun fight 2009 was soooo fun. allen and i went to carrefour and bought 6 big squirt guns. we came home and filled them up in the kitchen sink and then i passed them out to chris, danielle, tess and dane while we were all sitting around in the living room, half an hour before we were supposed to go to the park..
it started with one little squirt.. and then an all out war broke out. we just couldn't sit there with loaded water guns without shooting each other. thank goodness we have vinyl couches and tile floor. everything was soaking wet. it was sooo fun.
i'm going to steal jimmie's pictures because she has a waterproof camera.

around 6, we relocated to the big big park where we met bobo's family and jerry. we decided to use 'banana' as our code word and shoot jerry when he walked over.. he was about to go fill up his squirt gun and tess randomly said 'jerry.. do you have a banana in your back pack?' and then we attacked.
jaime and joyce came armed with these silly little bamboo 'squirt guns', if you can call them that. it was a piece of bamboo with a little hole in one end and a plunger. they had a range of about 3 feet. they also had water balloons that refused to pop and just got covered in grass and bounced away when thrown. i think eventually they comandeered some of our squirt guns.
joyce was adorable. she would come up to you and say 'i'm for your team!' if you pointed your gun at her, but she attacked indiscriminately. 6 yr olds.
i didn't see allen for most of it. jimmie said he was just running around in circles shooting from the outside.
the big park was pretty mobbed since it was 6pm on a sunday, and a crowd gathered around us to watch. some people were laughing and vicariously enjoying the whole thing, while some people were just staring blankly like they didn't know what to think. looking back on it later tonight, we decided that a group of 20somethings and some kids having a giant water fight in the middle of any public place would probably attract a lot of attention.
what a fun day! after about an hour, all of our guns broke. the pump thing would break or it would just spray mist even after you pumped it up. bobo brought a big bucket and it was dumped, gatorade cooler style, on me one time and on tess one time.

no typhoon. i'm hoping the rain will come in about an hour just when i'm ready to go to bed.

the hidden pine trails of the forest

well, potentially bad news for the water gun fight tomorrow evening: typhoon linfa is headed our way. wunderground is only giving us a 30% chance of rain though, so who knows. it would be nice to have a little break from this insane humidity.
i fell asleep after my alarm went off this morning and woke up at 8:08 to be out the door by 8:15. that's never a good feeling.

the rest of the day was a blur of trains and flashcards. i started off with a whole pile and now i know all but 5 of them! white water rafting, skiing,.. now i don't even remember the english for the ones i can't remember. tess has the cuuutest new haircut so today i went to the salon she found in taipei, mix and match. eddie, the hairdresser, is from hong kong and he trained in london so he speaks english/has experience cutting 'foreign hair'. apparently asian hair grows straight out from their head and ours grows down.
well eddie was awesome. i told him i wanted it to have more movement, and he just did his thing. he asked if i was learning chinese and i told him i'm learning the animals now.. so he quizzed me. he was trying to stump me and i knew sea cucumber, but i got stuck on 'moose' (si bu xiang.. which literally means 4 animals not the same.. it's not like a deer, a horse, a something or a something). it was stick-straight when i left, but as soon as i stepped outside into the 90% humidity, it sprang into curls. it's so much lighter now though. love summer hair.allen is conflicted about the internship thing. when he doesn't know what to say, he puffs his cheeks out. he wants me to meet his parents next week. ...
i told him i'm nervous because i don't know how far my chinese will take me. 'i like watermelon, i'm an english teacher, i've been here for a year. comforter. tennis. moose.'

josh's girlfriend, elva (who's taiwanese, if the name didn't give it away), came over tonight and she had a big bag of clothes for me to try! i always compliment her dresses and she says they're only 100NT, so she brought me some to try tonight. one shirt is purple and it has a giant white M on it for Megan! she is so sweet. i picked out a few things. one dress was soooo taiwanese, it was yellow and red hawaiian flowers with a thick band of black satin trim at the top and along the waist. passed on that one.

hey guess who's been here a year and 2 days?!