Day 43 - Kid's Games

Monday, March 21st, 2016
Smog Level: 2/3 Mountains

Given that I have the luxury and I couldn’t shut down yesterday, I take the opportunity sleeping in. Feels good, and the sickness keeps fooling me with a disappearing act whenever I wake up. Hey! Not congested! I must be better! Proceed to coughing up a lung. The cough and Beijing environment are going to be fast friends.

At school, I eat with some non-carden colleagues, going to the lounge with them. In the lounge, I nearly finish a post when Dan shows up and we talk a little bit. I don't resent this, but I'm falling behind. Live life, or catch up on writing about life? 

Baíjiǔ, aka Chinese Liquor
(Coworker's bottle he got as a gift)
I inch closer to the finish line when he introduces me to Susan, a very friendly non-carden teacher. We talk about her hometown of Chicago, her mom’s bakery, and somewhat about business philosophy. She hit the nail on the head that people are looking to buy a feeling more than the product itself, especially when the market is already flooded.
The classes go well. I’m still trying to get the pacing down because there’s just not enough time to get them through everything. I give them a test on the two lessons last week. One was morbid, I think I mentioned, including “bleeding” “end” and mostly-useless words, like “Jack-O-Lantern.” The breakdown for that word is pretty difficult, so they were worried. I told them it would be on every test from now on. It promptly landed on the cutting room floor.

During the class breaks, I usually hang out with the kids. The hallways are a madhouse, while the classroom is mostly vacant because it remains an English-only zone. A new game we’re doing is they hold onto my arms and jumping. It’s progressed to this from them simply hanging off of my arms and trying to pull me. They weigh nothing, it’s hilarious. Sometimes they’ll just run up and hug me. So adorable, and it’s particularly unexpected from the ones who seem to hate English class.

The boys games seem to do with being samurais, standing along the walls, and running to the other side while "slashing" each other with their hands together. The rules seem to be like Calvinball - ever changing. The girls are a little more consistent: they either form a train/conga line, or this strange thing with their legs. They all face the same direction in a circle, then bend their inside leg and form a self-supporting star between their legs. Once their legs are all intertwined and holding together, then begin to hop forward in a circular direction. This game seems entirely pointless, and ripe for a broken leg. Yet, no one has been hurt and the game is never broken up.

Once the sessions are over, I run into Jen, who had mentioned setting up an after-school special! By that, I mean one of our CoTeachers will teach us mandarin, Switching back to student mode in these tiny grade 1 desks. Me, Jen, Dan, and Alex are in the class. Everyone but me has gone through some sort of basic classes before and know some Chinese characters. I learn a little bit about drawing them, but have no interest in picking up the characters right now. It’ll be a battle on two fronts and I’d rather just hit the more useful side first.*

It’s interesting hearing their pronunciation and vocabulary. It’s obviously better than mine in most ways, but my vocab seems to be.. not terrible. Not horrendous. Hope glimmers.

Dan and I walk to the bus with Alex, but take a different bus route. Joseph, Dan’s roommate, happens to be on the bus at the same time, and invites both of us to meet Tad for noodles at this muslim place across from the mall. Is it bad that I was surprised that they were Chinese at the shop? I’ve just never met a Chinese muslim person before. There aren’t as many foreigners here as you’d think, so I suppose it really should be expected.

Artwork at the Muslim Restaurant
They suggest a good bowl of spicy noodles with a fried egg on top, which had just the right amount of spice. Delicious! And only ¥23 ($4.60 CAD / $3.50 USD) for the entire meal. Joseph mentioned that he’ll teach me how to make naan and curry, saying they’re easy and only require minimal cookware. I’m down. Tad points out that it’s cheaper to eat out everyday than it is to actually buy groceries and cook at home. Joseph counters that he just loves learning to cook. Earlier today, I heard him mention that he wanted to go to Thailand and hang out on the beach, with his only goal was to take a cooking class. Maybe I’ll go somewhere with the express intent of learning a form of dance. That would be cool.

Part-way through dinner, I realize that I never finalized that post and it’s past the posting deadline. Damn it. This is the first slip up since I started the daily posts. A month of dealing with terrible internet, bad VPNs, and adjustment only to slip up from nothing. I throw it up as quickly as possible, and unwind by watching Daredevil.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
more - duō [doe-uh]
less - shǎo [sh-ow]

Editing Music
The Boxer
The Brewer Brothers
(Simon and Garfunkel Cover)

*In case I wasn't clear, speaking is more useful than reading. Sure, you wander around town like you are some illiterate buffoon, but at least you can ask people to read a sign for you. Then you get the fun/awkward situation of asking someone what something means and finding out it's related to pornography or something equally uncomfortable. Culture!


  1. Saw this on Ted and she breaks down characters quite well- starts with 8-- pretty easy. try it