Day 37 - Bluffing

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3 Mountains

It’s another day of school. Sometimes I feel like “what am I doing?” when I think about my life, my job, and my future. I’m not sure if it’s evident (probably is) but I constantly feel the pressure of the future weighing down on me. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to learn enough Mandarin to get to the point I’d like. I think that maybe by the end of this, I might end up leaving with nothing but the cash in exchange for time - something I’ve been doing for years and want to move away from. I think about the pollution, and how, fingers crossed, it will only have temporary health effects. In short: this morning wasn’t very nice.

A University.. Not sure WHich
The "sky" that looks like someone took an eraser to it. The world refuses to render today. Bus shuttles me there, bleary eyed, and it feels bleak until…

I go into the room with the silly, misbehaving, funny kids. Even when they’re being dumb and purposely acting out, I still like them. Almost all of them try so hard and are so happy to see me, even when I gave them hell earlier that day. Today is an example of that. They had been misbehaving and I had to make one of them stare at the wall. Cut reading short because they wouldn’t focus, and used the class time to let the coteacher discipline them while I marked tests. I figured they’d be mad. Most gave me a chilly goodbye. 

On my way to the cafeteria building, they called after me and did stupid things to get my attention like jumping around and doing silly poses. I came over and said hi before going for lunch. They’re completely different out of class/during breaks than they are during class. Night and day, sometimes.

Wandering Around Campus. Gnarly Trees!
After lunch, I fail to get into the teacher's lounge (hái méiyǒu kǎ (still don’t have card)), and bus home. Shimou had put ads online for me to tutor - totally pro bono, I might add! - and a guy (Day 27) had offered to let me tutor at his place two times a week for a small class of his friend’s kids. I totally won’t be paid, but he’ll pay tutors something like ¥500-¥600 for 1.5h sessions. Lucky ducks, them. Anyway, today is the day I had to wing that class for 45 minutes with their parents watching.

I saw it as a good chance to gauge the student's English skills. They’re all in Grade 4, and most had not had advanced English lessons, so I gathered. Thinking about that now, it’s surprising because they all could generally understand me. They knew a lot of animals, could name some tools, and could mostly write full sentences. Between the 6 of them, the best one could probably hold a conversation, while the least skilled could barely respond to me. One of the kids seemed super shocked when he saw me for the first time, going into standing convulsions, clutching his chest. I’m big, but I’m not that scary.

I.. wasn’t very confident in my ability to bluff that for 45 minutes under the sharp eyes of the host, his wife, and all the kids mothers… but apparently I passed the test. I think.

We hopped in the first cab we found and bussed to Lotus, the grocery store in the basement of the mall near my apartment. The school had told me that they’d reimburse up to ¥400 ($81 CAD/$61.50 USD) of kitchenware, so it’s time to shop! 

On the way to the Gym.
...A little boy was popping a squat just past that red sign.
Want to know what ¥400 will get you in China? Well, I’ll tell you:  

  • A big, multilayered pot (steaming layers)
  • a tea pot
  • spatula
  • a pack of stainless steel chopsticks (12)
  • a bowl
  • a good sauce pan

Total: ¥371. Pretty good, since we saw some pots/pans that were around 250-300 each.

We carted it all back, ate, washed the dishes, and I ran the stairs. I had already walked the 10k steps for today, but I said I’d do that daily, so I’ll keep doing it until my body seems like it’s going to break.

Shimou had informed the gym that we’d be signing up today, so.. I guess we have to go do that.. at 9pm. At least I’ll have a gym. They tell us that it's actually ¥100 more. I wait for him to sweeten the deal, which he does by throwing in a 13th month. $20 for an extra month? Worth it.

Back home, I pass out by 11.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
body - shēntǐ [shun-tee]
stomach - wèi [way]

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