Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How many storms does it take to ruin a vacation?

The answer is "Somewhere between two and four."

I've been obsessing over the weather ever since Ketsana plowed through The Philippines and threatened my vacation. Apparently there are three more storms on its coat tails.

From left to right you will see the path Tropical Storm Ketsana took before it became a typhoon and slammed into Vietnam. Next is Typhoon Parma which is already forecast to hit a Category 3 and effect both the northern portion of The Philippines (i.e. Manila again) and possibly southern Taiwan as well.

Then there is Tropical Depression Eighteen. I have no idea what to think about that one.

Last but not least is Tropical Storm Melor which is forecast to become a Category 1 typhoon as we are all switching our calendars to October. Melor is also forecast to head toward Taiwan.

Of course, we all know how fickle these storms can be (in other words, how rarely meteorologists get it right this far out). We have days before we can be sure what will happen.

It looks as though two of them are headed for Taiwan. The Central Weather Bureau here is going nuts. They're watching and waiting on the edge of their seats. I think they're probably nervous that they'll mess up like they did with Morakot and people are going to get angry again.

Then again, Morakot was also a much slower storm than what Parma is forecast to be. It was barely a Category 1 storm when it made landfall.

My hope is that these things don't mess with Taiwan too much until after Meghan gets here. I don't want her to get stranded in Hong Kong or something like that. At least if she gets here we can hole up in the apartment together and weather the storm drinking wine, watching movies and talking about boys.

Then hopefully it will all have passed by the time we're ready to head out to The Philippines.

Darn storms going and messing up all my plans. Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll just all dissipate into thin air.

Why did you hit me?

So the stress related to my trip to The Philippines is taken care of. Meghan's cousin said we're still good to go and it's safe to come to Manila. He will be picking us up from the airport on Tuesday!

One week!

Any suggestions for what to do in Manila? I spent a lot of time researching Bohol and beaches and such but I didn't think about Manila.

Back to Taiwan and my current life though.

One of my kids hit me today. It's kind of my fault and kind of his. We play a lot before class and during break. We always Paper Scissor Stone and the winner usually acts like we're hitting each other (though we never actually do).

At the end of class we were all up dancing and singing but he kept putting his jacket over his head. I pulled it off and took it from him and he just kind of smacked me in the top of my chest.

This is the same child who tried to kiss me before class.

I don't think he meant to hit me as hard as he did and he probably meant it to be more playful than it came off, but I still had to put my foot down. Putting my foot down means getting Angela to translate and tell him he can't do that because he's still too young to understand me in English.

I told my kids in my second class that I wouldn't be there next week and they thought they were getting a new teacher. You should have seen their faces. They were devastated.

It's good to know they like me that much.

I cleared it up pretty quickly too.

I had an awesome Tuesday. I love that this week is going so well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ni xi bu xihuan wode shin fa shin?

So I got my hair cut yesterday.

I've been itching to get it done for awhile but I was terrified to. I've heard horror stories from other foreigners about massive amounts of layering, helmet head and ultimately, "They don't know how to handle white people hair."

I showed the girl a couple of pictures and another stylist translated for me as I told her what I did and didn't like about the cuts. I like the way it turned out.

It was a pretty good Monday though. I really love my very first class of the week. It's huge btu they're so smart and active.

I know, I sound like a broken record.

But they even told me that they really like my haircut (and taught me how to say haircut in Chinese).

Otherwise, I am just counting this week down until I can go to the airport to pick up my Meghan! I'm so excited she's coming.

The only bad thing is Tropical Storm (now Typhoon) Ketsana just blew through The Philippines and flooded 80 percent of Manila. Even areas that never flood flooded. This could make our two days in Manila a little difficult.

We're waiting on news from her cousin to see if Manila is still an option. Otherwise we might just go straight to Bohol. For that matter though, I'm waiting to hear back from the hotel to find out if Bohol was affected by the storm.

If so, vacation Philippines may take a last minute change to turn into vacation Thailand (which would still be awesome) and my roommate Tess will be there. (Though Ketsana is also forecast to bring a ton of rain to Thailand as well...)

So much to worry about! This is what I get for traveling during monsoon season.

It's OK though, I get to see my sweet babies tonight! I'm pretty sure Tuesdays are my favorite days of all because I love both of my classes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How many times can I go to Danshui in one month?

So Saturday turned out to be a ridiculously long day.

I went to bed pretty early (relatively) Friday night but I just could not sleep. At one point around 3 a.m. I decided that I would just pull an all-nighter and I spent the next two hours talking to friends back home and looking up information on internships and TEFL.

Around 5 a.m. I decided that maybe a little bit of sleep is better than none at all so I went back at for another attempt.

It failed.

Finally 7:30 a.m. rolled around and I hadn't slept a week.

Long day indeed.

My first class I was a bit groggy and found it a bit difficult to form sentences. This is generally not a great performance for an English teacher. I perked up a bit in my second class. I like the kids in there. They're a bit more enthusiastic than my first class.

During my break I made an appointment to go get my haircut and then I hung out at home. I debated a nap and decided that if I didn't keep going full-steam ahead that I would probably lose all my momentum

It's a good thing I made that decision.

My Saturday afternoon classes are pretty rambunctious and I only barely got through them with enough energy. Luckily, they have pretty good English and they're a pretty entertaining bunch. This put me in a pretty good mood.

After the third class I decided I wasn't going to let myself go to sleep before 9 p.m. because I need to regulate my sleep pattern. So instead of going straight home and passing out after class I went to Carrefour for some dinner and then Starbucks for some passion fruit tea.

I studied Chinese for a whole hour and a half.

But it worked. When I got home I was exhausted (brain and body). I took a super hot shower and passed out in my wonderful air-conditioned bedroom. I woke up quite easily at 9:30 a.m. today. After stretching and taking my time to actually get out of bed I quickly got ready and the roommates and I headed over to the dorm.

I grabbed some good ol' dan bing for breakfast (dan bing is probably my favorite thing ever) and then we and a couple others from the dorm headed to Taipei.

A few weeks ago the plan was that we were going to rent bicycles and ride around the city taking pictures. About 15 people were interested.

Somehow the plan evolved into going somewhere random in the city and breaking up and taking pictures. My camera battery turned out to be dead. (How does one own two camera batteries and BOTH are dead?)

The concept is cool but I personally don't think it worked out as well as we had imagined. I think that might have been because we were all still a little tired and maybe we didn't pick the best location. Research would go a long way in this department, but then I suppose it would also defeat the purpose.

After failing to find anything particularly interesting at Tian Mu (I did talk to a tattoo artist in Chinese) we went over to the Shilin Night Market. It's huge but it was still pretty early so it wasn't very crowded. I found a few things that I liked but I'm such a wuss that I didn't buy any of the dresses.

I did, however, buy two scarves that claim to be 100 percent Pashmina. I sort of doubt this considering I only paid $100NT for it (ahem, $3USD for Pashmina!?!?). They're still quite pretty, though, whether they're Pashmina or not.

After traipsing around Shilin, Katie, Tess and Deena decided they were ready to head back to Taoyuan but Dawn and I weren't quite ready yet so we headed up to Danshui.

I know what you're thinking, how many times can I go to Danshui in one month?

But it is a really nice place and I like it. And we were already halfway there as far as where we were on the MRT line. It only made sense.

Besides, the best Mexican restaurant in all of Taipei is there. How can you NOT go to Danshui?

I promise I will branch out and go somewhere else.

Now, only six days until Meghan arrives in Taiwan. I can't WAIT to see my Meghan again! I also can't wait to be on vacation. Yay!

But, with Meghan here, and only having a few days in Taiwan, I have to take her around and show her as many places as I can. I'm planning a day at the hot springs (probably Beitou, but maybe Xiao Wulai) and a whole Taipei day where we do the usual touristy things (101, Wu Fen Pu, etc).

Then it's off to The Philippines for five whole days! I can't wait.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Does social medicine work?

So yesterday I went to the doctor for a regular check-up. This is my first experience with social health care. Maybe I'm just lucky (or maybe I'm super liberal, who knows), but I'm pleased.

There were moments where it seemed really impersonal and considering your health is anything but impersonal I can see how this would turn some people off. But everyone was really nice and helpful (which is nice because this paperwork I had to fill out was in Chinese). I was in and out in less than one hour and I didn't even make an appointment ahead of time.

Normally I would guess that I got through in less time than most people because they tend to facilitate foreigners through things a little faster given the fact that only a few people are able to communicate with us effectively, but I don't think that was the case at all this time.

The doctor spoke perfect English and he was really nice and thorough. All in all, it wasn't a bad experience for my first time getting medical care outside the States.

Not much else to report though. Thursday and Friday's classes went on as usual and nothing out of the ordinary happened. Just lots of games and fun.

Now just to get my last four classes of the week over with tomorrow and it's on to my "weekend."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ni shi neiguoren ma?

So I have a new plan.

I'm not entirely sure if it will really work, but I've thought it through and I think I can do it.

Plan: Be mostly fluent in Chinese by June.

I will have been in Taiwan for one year by then... and I found a journalism internship in Hong Kong that I want.

There are complications with getting the internship but if worse comes to worse, I'll know Chinese.

I started class with another Chinese teacher last night. She drilled me big time on tones. But I was ultimately really happy because I could actually read the Chinese in the first chapter of my book. There were a few characters I didn't know, but ultimately, I'm feeling really confident.

In fact, we went to KTV last night for Natalie and Allen's (next) to last night in Taiwan. They're moving to Hong Kong on Friday. We played a few Chinese songs and I could read some of the characters (not nearly enough to participate though). I didn't even consider if I could understand it.

But believe me when I say that singing and speaking Chinese are totally different ballgames.

KTV in Taiwan is similar to going to one of the Karaoke houses at home. In Austin my friends and I started going to Karaoke (almost weekly) when I was a sophomore in college.

The places were always a little shady and run-down. You get your own (brightly multi-colored) room (and bring your own booze) and just put in whatever songs you want. The videos almost never have anything to do with the song that's playing and often times is entirely ironic.

Here, you walk into this super nice place. There are chandeliers, gold trim, sparkles on the table and leather couches.

It was really fun. I think I'll be setting up another KTV night sometime soon.

Sidenote: Most bizarre thing in the world in a country song in Chinese. Thank you Jay Chou.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What grade are you in?

OK I know it's been like 80 years since I last posted.

Thursday I only had one class and I ended up having to teach it by myself. Some other teacher was sick so they had my co-teacher teacher her class for her. This is both good and bad.

Good: Because I get an extra $100/hour and I can do things the way I want to.
Bad: The kids can get a little crazy without a Taiwanese teacher there to whip them into shape.

At first I was kind of excited. My favorite student of all is in that class so I though it would be fine. Well, Doris didn't show up. I'm not sure why. Then on top of that, I ended up having like five new students. Two of them were prissy little teenage girls. We all know this means hell.

I got through the class OK though. I didn't go crying for help and since that kept dawdling we didn't get to the very last section of the unit we were doing. I assigned it as homework because it was something they could easily do on their own (and because they made me mad when all they would do was speak Chinese).

Oddly enough, the best kid in class that day was Ian. He was in my News Camp over the summer and saw me go crazy that one day when the kids wouldn't participate.

Friday was awesome. It was my second time with that new red book class and those kids really are as smart as I thought they were. And they're goofy.

They're kind of hard to keep control of but it all seems to work out. Some how we managed to get through everything each class even though it's only 1.5 hours and 15 kids.

Friday night I found it basically impossible to sleep. I went to be at 11 p.m. knowing I had class at 8:45 a.m. (New rule: No going out on Friday night. Maybe dinner or a movie now and then but absolutely NO BARS.)

I didn't fall asleep until 6 a.m. Of course, my alarm clock going off at 7:30 a.m. came all too soon.

Luckily, I was giving exams in both of my morning classes. This meant I need absolutely no energy at all. I just drank my coffee, ate my scone and listened to the kids talk and read.

I considered taking a nap during my break but decided it would probably be more detrimental to my performance then it would be helpful. Instead I crammed some pizza down my throat and tried to keep myself awake.

My other new class is still a little bit of strange territory. Those kids are wild and they're all on different levels of English knowledge. I don't really understand the purpose of "Junior Elite" classes.

Some kids come from classes that are 40 lessons behind the book we're in so for them it's like an advanced English class. Other kids come from well into Wow book so they're like 80 lessons ahead of where we are. For them it's like a remedial course.

I'm really not sure how to go about that and it makes for a really awkward teaching schedule. If I spend too much time one thing to make sure the younger kids don't get left behind, then the older kids go nuts and start talking a lot.

I think I'll get into a routine soon enough.

Saturday night I came home, ate some fried rice and passed out. I woke up a few hours later only to find out that I had a really bad headache. This headache quickly became a migraine and I have been in bed sleeping off-and-on ever since. Well, until 3 p.m. Monday.

Yes, I slept the entire day Sunday. First of all, my head hurt. Second of all, I really just needed the rest.

My body hates me right now.

I felt a little out of it at first but I managed to get through my classes today. My first class is really good at getting me pumped up about teaching. It's nice that my first class of the week is like that.

They take up a lot of energy though.

Today I taught them the QA: What grade are you in? I'm in the _____ grade.

After teaching this QA I realize just how difficult English is, especially in the pronunciation department — hell I know several adults who don't even say the word pronunciation correctly.

First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth. Those are the grades I taught the kids today and every one of them is hard as hell to say. All of my kids are in third, fourth and fifth grades. Those are probably the most difficult to say.

I spent a good 4 minutes just trying to teach this one little girl how to third.

Me: Th - ir-d.
Jenny: F-ir-th.
Me: Th. Th. Th.
Jenny: Fth. Fth. Fth.
Me: Th-ir-d.
Jenny: Third.
Me: Yes! Yes, that's perfect.
Jenny: Fthird.
Me: *sigh*

You win some; You lose some. I'll keep trying though.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ni guixing?

I had an entire conversation in Chinese with a Taiwanese woman on Monday night.

I've been going to this same lady at the Night Market for dumplings a couple of times a week. I love dumplings and they're crazy cheap.

Last night I walked up and she handed me this random little fried dumpling (guo bian I think?) and told me to sit down while she was steaming the dumplings I ordered.

It took about ten seconds of eating for me to get up the nerve to try to talk to her. I asked her what the friend dumpling was called. Then I asked her what her name is: Mrs. Guo.

It was a fairly one-sided conversation limited by the six or seven things I can say about myself and the maybe eight verbs that I know in Chinese. But it was a conversation none the less.

It's amazing how much confidence you get just from one conversation.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What did I just put in my mouth?

I don't think I've had a more productive day since I've been here.

I stayed home Saturday night and put it to good use just chilling out and doing nothing that was in the least bit demanding. I watched Black Hawk Down and then proceeded to "watch" all the NCAA Football I could.

I watched most of the Florida game until the UT game started at 3:30 a.m. I am determined not to waver in my status as a dedicated Texas fan. So I went to bed wearing my burnt orange with my computer in bed next to me with the Internet radio stream of the game and the CBS GameTracker on.

I was in and out a little but I got through most of the game pretty easily.

I even woke up in and out for the USC vs. Ohio State game.

I love college football.

Despite the all-night football extravaganza (which will be pretty much every Saturday night/Sunday morning for the rest of the season) I got up at 10 this morning to go to Danshui.

I met a lovely couple from Georgia recently and they invited me to go on this day trip with them.

It was certainly the best idea ever. I forgot my camera so I have to wait until I can get Joslyn and David's pictures but for now I'll just tell you about our day.

Danshui used to be the primary fishing port in Taiwan (now Keelung is) and the place has a ton of history. It happens to be on the delta where one of the major rivers meets the ocean. It's also across the river from Bali another fishing town but I think that Bali is a little more modern.

First we walked around Danshui Old Street which is essentially a big board walk. There's a bunch of street food (and seafood, and street seafood for that matter) and tons of funny carnival games and arcades.

We walked all the way down Old Street up to Fort San Domingo which was built in the early 17th century when the Spanish came to Taiwan. Soon after the Dutch took over and rebuilt the fort and it has changed hands a couple of times since then. It was eventually used as the British consulate office.

Then we walked down some other insanely busy street until we got back to the riverfront where we took the ferry down river to the Danshui Fisherman's Wharf.

Now that fishing isn't the primary economy in Danshui the Wharf is essentially a big promenade/boardwalk.

We found "waffle trees" which are basically waffles in an elongated shape so you can put them on a stick. They were pretty good.

At the wharf we staked out a spot on the pier and watched the sun go down. The Wharf is situated on the sea wall (which totally makes sense) so it was literally riverfront on one side, ocean on the other side and the big blue horizon. It's kind of awesome to watch the sun go down on the ocean. Danshui faces west so there was nothing in the way.

Then we ferried back to Old Street and ended up at the Night Market.

The Danshui Night Market is much larger than the Taoyuan Night Market. But a night market is a night market. It's all food and cheap clothes.

Speaking of food, we tried so much new street food today.

I've already mentioned the waffle tree. We also had "shrimp" eggrolls, quail eggs, this super tall ice cream cone and this big dumpling turnover thing. I'm not sure what it's called exactly but it has rice noodles, leeks and eggs in it. It was really good.

I think it's a little easier to get up the nerve to try the street food when you either have someone with you. Even if they've never had it before and can't assure of how awesome it will be, at least it's a shared experience. Though none of us got up the nerve to try the squid on a stick or the squid balls. Maybe some other day.

Danshui was 12 hours very well spent and I feel so much more enthusiastic again about being in Taiwan. I think all of you commenters were right. I just have to force myself to get out there and do things. I feel so much better now.

Hooray, Taiwan!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What to do?

I have been extremely out of it the past couple of days.

I've taken to staying up all night (not for lack of trying) and then sleeping all day. Even if I do wake up before noon I just stay in my room until hunger or work forces me out.

I don't know why.

I just have zero motivation right now and that sucks for so many reason, the most important being that I should be exploring this strange country I put myself in.

I think I just feel a little out of place and that makes me anxious.

Up until about two weeks before I moved to Taiwan I had two jobs and I was in my last semester of college. I'm sure you can imagine this kept me busy.

Now, I only have to do something for about four or five hours a day (except Saturdays). This — not moving — has been the difficult transition for me.

I almost feel useless.

I think I just need to grow some nerve and just go and do things. I'm still too shy to try to have a conversation with complete strangers, although I feel like that would be a huge help for me.


I think I might go hiking. I don't have class for another five hours.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Where can we swim?

Saturday night we went to Jhongli. It was pretty fun.

It's nice to explore the Taiwanese nightlife now and then. It's funny to me though because most well-recognized hip-hop is from the States. Also, given that trends start in one place and then work there way around, all the music they play at clubs is about four months old.

That's not to say I don't like it, but it's a switch. I'm used to going to a dance club and hearing a song for the first time.

We stayed out pretty late and I came home to find that my roommate and some friends built a couch fort in the living room. I couldn't help but laugh. I used to love making couch forts.

We hung out until extra early in the morning and I headed off to bed once I realized I needed to sleep before waking up at 7 a.m. to watch the Longhorn football game.

By watch I mean listen to it on the Internet radio and watch the play-by-play on the CSTV GameTracker. I drifted in and out, but I got to see most of the game.

After the game I came out of my room to find out that people were planning on going to the beach. I decided I wasn't going to let myself waste another Sunday because I partied to hard on Saturday night so I hurried to put on my swim suit, make myself look relatively decent and grab some dan bing for breakfast.

It was a two-hour drive to Baishawan which is on the northern coast. The drive was awesome.

Probably the thing I like the most about Taiwan (and I like this about Seattle as well) is that when you're driving along the coast, you can still see the mountains. Taiwan's geography is so peculiar because of the way the tectonic plates are converging and how "quickly" it's happening.

This results in mountains in the middle of the island and given the small size of the island you can see both at the same time. This makes for several scenic drives.

At the beach, we were slightly disappointed.

Foreigners always tell me that Taiwanese people can't swim. I never really thought anything of it, but I really think that there is easily a fear of water in this culture. They had an incredibly small area of the beach buoyed off. It's pretty normal to have a designated swimming area with lifeguards, but this was ridiculously small. You could walk all the way out to the farthest buoy and still only be waist deep in water.

There were easily 150 people playing in this shallow water and probably a good 30 lifeguards.

Every time we tried to go into the water somewhere outside the designated area the lifeguards would freak out and blow their whistles frantically at us.

We gave up for awhile letting our disappointment overtake us, but then we decided that maybe if we went further down the beach away from the lifeguards we could find a place where you actually have to swim.


There are two swimming areas at Baishawan. The first is the terrible shallow one with a thousand people. The second is far less crowded and has bigger waves. We played in the waves for awhile. It was glorious.

I love the beach.

I got some color while we were out. Unfortunately, it was red and not tan. My shoulders got really badly burned on the drive up to Baishawan because I forgot to put on sunscreen before we left. Whoops.

Also, while the days are still annoyingly hot, the nights are starting to get much cooler. I actually get a little chilly on the scooter after class when it's dark. It's probably something like 75 degrees, but I'm just so used to the heat and humidity that I don't expect it.

I can't wait for fall.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Where did you go (my lovely)?

I really hope the title to this post makes you think of that mid-'90s No Mercy song because it is definitely stuck in my head even though I haven't heard it in a good three years.

I am alive. This week has just been a blur.

I really don't even remember Wednesday. I just remember getting really angry with my new co-teacher. This is only the second week I've had this class but the kids are terrible. They're in early yellow book meaning they've been learning English for about four or five years. But their English is so bad in both pronunciation and comprehension.

That and they're obstinate.

They speak Chinese the entire class and the co-teacher doesn't do anything about it. Now and then she'll say something (after I already have) but then she just laughs whenever they speak Chinese again. That's not exactly what I would call formidable.

My chances at getting a whole-English environment in that class are slim. I wouldn't mind it so much if it weren't literally constant. Even when they're writing definitions or highlighting words they're talking across the room in Chinese.

It's awkward because I have no idea what they're saying. It's unlikely they're saying anything bad about me (they don't have the guts, honestly) but you never know.

I gave a test in my Thursday Wow class. This is the first of what will be at least one test every week until my vacation.

Tests are easily the easiest day ever for a teacher. I actually suffered from a migraine the entire day and just slept until my class. I would have called in if it had been anything else, but tests are so low-key. It's you in your own little classroom with one kid at a time speaking as quietly as they possibly can because they don't want to be heard.

I also have a new favorite student in that class.

I know you shouldn't have favorites, but it's so hard not to. She's smart. If she doesn't know the word she's looking for she'll try to explain it in English. She will talk to me about just about anything.

It's really nice when you can just have a conversation with a kid because then you know that someday most of these kids really will be able to speak English. I may not be around for that day with some of them but it's still helpful.

Thursday night after class some people came over. I intended to just sit around in my room but I would have felt bad for neglecting company instead I came out and hung out with everyone. Somehow this turned into six of us going to the beach in the middle of the night.

We went to JuWei (I think that's what it's called...) and we climbed on top of this old war bunker. At least we're pretty sure that's what it was. Then we danced around in the ocean. Sometimes I forget how much I love the ocean.

Even in the middle of the night (under a full moon I might add) it was incredible. The waves were rolling and crashing, the sand felt amazing under my feet and there were a ton of these super smooth rocks that had been shaped by the water erosion.

Of course there were also some not so smooth rocks and most of us ended up with cuts all over the bottom of our feet. I'm still kind of hobbling around but there's nothing to be worried about.

Friday was relatively uneventful. I got to teach a little kids class and we just played tons and tons of games. It's sickening how much energy you need for those classes but they're so cute that it's easy to just want to play games with them.

Today is my Daddy's birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!

It's also the first Saturday in September. In the states today would be the first University of Texas football game of the season. I'm super pumped but I realized that because the game is a night game in the states, my football day isn't until bright and early Sunday morning.

Looks like I'll be waking up at 7 a.m. tomorrow so I can listen to UT beat La. - Monroe to a pulp.

Hook 'em Horns.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why couldn't I have been observed today?

My name is Jimmie and I am addicted to reading.

I woke up this morning and read the news for an hour not coming out of my room until I heard my roommates say something about how they didn't think I was home. At that point I decided it was probably time to show my face (not to mention eat "breakfast").

After I ate (an apple) I stuffed my nose back in the book I've been reading. I'm in the 400-pages now. It's so good.

I told myself I would only read until 3 p.m. Then I would do yoga, take a shower and do my lesson plans before going to class. Three o'clock rolled around and I wasn't ready to put the book aside so I told myself 30 more minutes. Then I opted for 30 more. It was like a snooze button for reading instead of sleeping.

Finally 4 p.m. struck and I realized if I didn't get ready and do my lesson plans quickly I was going to lose my attendance bonus for the month.

Going to work was totally work it though.

Alice came to school with her hair wet so Angela blow-dried and combed it before the bell.

My kids were being so goofy and fun today. We joked and played and we were super loud, so of course I got out the camera.

Glenn was probably the goofiest of them all today. His English is awesome for a 6-year-old.

I like when it's like that with my classes but especially with this class because we're in the very front classroom in Dar-Nan and it has big windows. We're basically always being watched through the big windows whether its by the front desk, other kids or parents. That's also the class that I got observed in and didn't have to best comments in the world.

This is Jim. He can be a brat but he can also be a lot of fun. Today was a fun day.

Today I felt like it went off without a hitch. Why couldn't I have been observed today?

I taught them all the material in the suggested lesson plan plus had time to review other stuff. They're so smart that they even knew how to answer today's new QA (What's your favorite number?) before I told them how.

Me: Everyone, new question! What's... your... favorite... number?
(All the while miming my words.)
Kids: What's...your...favorite... number? My favorite number is one.

I was shocked and thoroughly impressed. It made me feel really good that they actually recognized the sentence pattern (from the previous questions: What's your favorite color and What's your favorite animal). Since they already knew what a number is it was easy for them.

I tried to get Tim to say his favorite number is 13 (superstitiously seen as a very unlucky number, especially in Asian culture) but he didn't fall for it.

Alvine was not excited about getting his picture taken at first. Then he gave me the cutest dog ears. :)

I'm getting to where I truly enjoy my Tuesday classes. The kids are so much fun and they're really smart.

I love that I can spend a lot of the class joking around and not using robot-speak. They're smart kids and they deserve to have a real conversation instead of being little drones.

Hopefully I will learn to like my Wednesday night class half as much. We will see.

After classes I headed over to the Night Market. I saw four other foreigners (one being one of my roommates) while I was at the Night Market. It occurred to me that we are pretty easy to spot in a crowd.

I wonder if Taiwanese people recognize as many people they know at the Night Market when they go or if it's just because we go all the time (I estimate that each night there are at least three foreigners there after work). There are always such large crowds that I'm amazed whenever I do see someone I know.

Don't I feel like a dinosaur?

I was right; yoga makes a world of difference.

Honestly, any sort of physical activity would have done it. I finally feel like I got up off my butt and did something good for myself. A quick 20-minute yoga workout is really all I needed, though tomorrow I think I'm going to add in a few extra poses to make it a good half-hour.

Today was pretty tame. I ate my omelet, did my yoga, and then I read forever before going to class. I've been reading a lot lately. I've decided that Catch-22 (and probably Joseph Heller's writing style in general) just isn't my kind of book and that's probably why I wasn't reading as much before.

But one of my roommates gave me this gigantic (700+ pages) book — The Persimmon Tree three or four days ago and I'm already more than 300 pages in. I forgot how much I love leisurely reading.

I used to love books and words so much that I wrote a book when I was 10. I have no idea what happened to it. Now I write blogs. I suppose that's probably similar to whatever type of novel I was capable of writing as a 10-year-old country girl.

It's funny though because here I am with a gigantic novel reading in between classes and my kids tell me that they read books on the Internet. Don't I feel like a dinosaur?

It's funny how quickly and easily a kid can make you feel old. Sometimes I think about it and I'm like wow, I'm only like seven or eight years old that some of these kids. And then they come up with something that I don't even know — usually about the Internet or some crazy stationary thing I didn't know exist (kids here are obsessed with stationary).

In my head: "The Internet came out when I was like 10-years-old. Why don't I know this?"

Actually, I found this hilarious card a few days ago that said something like "When I was your age, we had to dial to get the Internet."

Do you remember how painful that was? Just think of how impatient children are in general and then sit them in front of a computer with dial-up Internet access. I space out way more quickly now that I'm in my twenties. I guess it was all so novel then that I was fascinated enough to have patience.

Of course, I'm not entirely behind the times. I'm just broke. Probably the one gadget I want more than anything else in the world is a Kindle. I want that more than a 12-year-old wants an iPod Touch (or an iPhone depending on the kid).

I would have a Kindle right now if it weren't for the fact that I decided to move to Taiwan. My parents were going to get me one for my graduation present. That money, instead, became my "Taiwan start-up fund."

Oh well, I suppose it was probably worth it.