Day 42 - The 4 Faces of 'Being'

Sunday, March 20th, 2016
Smog Level: 0.5/3 Mountains (Note: Taken at time of Waking)

Today I didn’t waste any time. Got ready and started working immediately. Only one step toward doing work and then the rest was on autopilot, no resistance. So long as there are few distractions, or you get better at bringing yourself back on task, you can really plow through it. Edited Shimou’s resume, wrote and edited a few things, and chatted on Facebook. Finally caught up on some side projects I had agreed to do.

Gussied up, gobbled down, and headed out. Gotta tutor for a student, Maggie, who seems to like me, but blames me when her parents get down on her. She really likes to talk, hates writing, and doesn’t want to do vocab. In fact, she often flat-out doesn’t bring her vocab, but told her parents I’m bad at teaching it. In other words: her parents quizzed her and wondered why her vocabulary hasn’t been steadily increasing, so she said it was me. Great.

Faint moon in the top right third!
Thanks to that little play, she will now have to write out several lines each class, and use new vocabulary in sentences on a page so that her parents can see for a fact that shits getting done. That’s what you get for lying, I guess. But hey, maybe I do suck at teaching vocab.. it’s always a possibility.

Class drags for the first half, then feels almost instantaneously over. Shimou and I go to the hutong that I like to much and she tutors me in Mandarin. Ah, the teacher has beome the student!

It’s common for there not to be washrooms in cafes or restaurants here. Example: this one. Out the cafe door I go and walk a block down the street til I find the recognizable sign. It’s a beautiful day out, though the air quality is not so good. Masks be damned! I’m enjoying it!

We leave during the sunset. Trees are starting to bloom. It’s a beautiful scene. We wander over to the main area of the hutong in search of stinky tofu (She’s obsessed), and end up in a Western-style burger joint. Though it’s not some “joint,” it’s actually quite nice looking, and damn expensive - ¥151  ($30 CAD / $23 USD) for a burger and a bowl of pasta.

Wrapped Matcha Brownie
We wander through the hutong looking for that there tofu of stink. From one end to the other, we find none. It’s a slow procession through this densely packed laneway. Tourists and locals alike, enjoying the good weather on a Sunday night. I’m beat.

Shimou and I say goodbye in the train station, and go our separate ways. The goodbye felt like we wouldn’t be seeing each other for a long time, though it will only be until next Friday. She’s not liking the 2 day restriction on our visits after my roommate asked that she not be in the apartment 4 nights of the week. I can get that. It will also allow us to both have our own lives.

Back at home, I finish Tomorrowland (George Clooney; 2015), and move onto Daredevil. Season two is out MoFos and I really want to watch it! If you've been here since the start, you’ll remember me watching season 1 in the Perth hostel (way back here, almost exactly a year ago!). Damn straight, though I don’t know how I’ll find time for shows.

After 2 action packed episodes, I can’t fall asleep. Go figure, right? Bounce around in bed and think about mandarin a bit. 

Quaint Little Café
Learning new words can be like learning a new spell. It feels like that especially now that each one has 4 potential uses depending on how you say it. Take “shi,” for example, which was broken down for me today:
  1. Shī - noun poem
  2. Shí - noun Ten
  3. Shǐ - noun Shit
  4. Shì - verb To Be

Every now and again you’ll have a breakthrough where you feel you learned something very useful. For French, this came when I learned the words vouloir (to want) and pouvoir (to be able to), and the main ways you can change a sentence to make it a question. It felt like you were unlocking something instead of just gaining another trinket, flimsy word. Like.. kettle, or albatross, or finger. How often are they useful? Situationally, and rarely. Of them, probably finger, then kettle, then albatross.

I also learned that cheese and knowledge are the same words (different characters), which resulted in me asking purposefully stupid questions about how they keep it straight at an intellectual wine and cheese party. What if it’s a cheese connoisseur convention? “My cheese knowledge is second to none.” 

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
cheese - zhī shì [jur-shur]
knowledge - zhī shì [jur-shur]

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