Monday, August 28, 2006

Happy Birthday Nella (Part II)

Again, it is a wonderful feeling to be appreciated. Today, James and I went into work and I was greeted between classes by one of my students, Patty, who gave me an incredibly appropriate birthday gift.

Between teaching sessions earlier this month, I was discussing Jacqueline du Près, a famous, deceased cellist with Patty (Patty being a cellist, herself). Patty then headed to Canada for a family vacation and purchased a collection of Jacqueline du Près CDs, along with a little 'Russ' teddy bear keychain and gave them to m
e for my birthday (see photo).

She also wrote me a letter (an impressive feat for an ESL student) and personally brought the gift into Columbia today, even though she was not scheduled for any sessions. From what I understand, Patty is a fairly strong cellist herself. I will have to go see her perform this year at her music school.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Nella

Today we went to a Japanese restaurant in celebration of my birthday. The food was delicious and incredibly healthy. Our meal consisted of hors d'oeuvres that looked like ice cream cones (seaweed rolled up like the cone and a mashed potato/fish filing), miso soup, a bowl of rice and ground salmon, sashimi, the proper term for what Westerners know as 'sushi', by the way. Sushi is actually those little rice roll things that are wrapped in seaweed and filled with rice, and pieces of fish, etc. We also had beef fondu, tofu and clams, Japanese tea, and fruit for desert, along with a glass of prune juice.

After dinner, we proceeded to explore one of the markets, where we finally encountered electronics street. We then caught the bus home and bought a Chinese-style black forest cake. As you will see in the pictures that we posted today to the blog, the cakes here are rather decorative. And, as with everything you buy here of course, the cake came complete with accessories: a question mark candle and candle holder, disposable plates, forks and a cake cutter/spatula.

We have been doing A LOT of overtime lately, since summer is Columbia's busy season, so it was a well-deserved outing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I'm a bad person

It's true.

I should be posting to the blog more often. I should be taking lots of pictures. I should be documenting and taking in all of what I'm doing here in Taiwan, and then communicating it with all of you back home.

But I'm not.

Instead, I'm working tons of overtime, and eating at 7-11 too much because by the time I'm off work, everything's closed. I'm sick because of the pollution, and I have to walk in it, sucking it all in, instead of buying a scooter like everyone else, and contributing to the pollution. But at least then I can wear a helmet and pollution mask.

I don't know. Sorry. I'll try and get on the pictures soon. We FINALLY bought a fridge. A wonderfully nice client from where I work drove us out to the 'used' section of town (because I can barely read a map), and spoke for us, and read, and bartered for us, and now we have a fridge.

I'm completely illiterate. I can't read or write. I can't speak the language. I can't take care of myself here. I can't buy food, let alone a fridge! I guess everyone should experience illiteracy at least once in their life, but I've got to get off my ass and figure this shit out now!

Truth is, Danielle and I have been working at our Chinese as well as our 10-hour workdays will allow. I'm beginning to understand the written aspects, and Danielle the oral aspects, of Chinese. We joke that together, we make one Taiwanese person....Truth also is that most expats here never bother to learn Chinese at all. One guy we bought a few household things off of has a Taiwanese girlfriend and has been here 5 years, but is unable to say "He's coming" in Chinese. That says so much about foreigners' own arrogance and insensitivity. Because Danielle and I can say "bichon lu cha" (passionfruit green tea) and "gee pai" (chicken chop, a type of 'boxed lunch'), we're considered "hardcore" at Ben's restaurant.

Actually, all of a sudden, Danielle can say and ask all sorts of things. It happened overnight. She can ask questions about when or where the bus is going, and how much something costs, and she usually understands the answer! I'm in awe. Just don't tell her!!

NEways, enjoy your many days, and pray for rain here. It keeps the pollution down and temperatures low.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's Nice to be Appreciated...

Here's a quick post of some pictures from Ling, one of our clients. She's a sweetheart with a great sense of humor, and she really reminds me of my mom....

The typhoon turned out to be a dud. Too bad. Maybe we'll get to see one, but Taichung is very safe because of the mountain range.

Also, something cool happened. Danielle was rewarded for all her hard work. She was ranked second at work, and we both got bonuses (red envelopes of money). Further, she received a free day off (after the busy season), gift certificates to the fancy department store SOGO (it's Japanese) and some passes to the movies. Gotta love private business.

Danielle, as wonderful as she is, promptly gave the passes to Ben. Remember him? He's the guy from the tea house that we eat at EVERY DAY. We called his place "Luke's" after Luke from Gilmore Girls. Now we know his name is Ben, so it's "Ben's" now! Anyways, his photo is below. He gives us free food and great service, so he's more than earned them (not to mention he's taught us pretty much all the Chinese we know so far).

Well, that's about it for now. We're just working and waiting to get paid so we can buy a fridge!!