Day 45 - On the Downswing

Wednesday, March 23rd
Smog Level: All 3 Mountains

While getting ready, my sister asks to call, which I didn’t really have time for because I slept in again. We ended up talking anyway. We caught up over things and I found out some rather infuriating/disappointing - and inaccurate - things were said about me back home. Things that no one needs to know, yet were said openly to family and friends in criticism of me. I also woke up to a message from a friend telling me my writing is boring. Good morning to you, too...
An intersection I decided against trying to cross.
After talking so long, I’m going to miss lunch. Time to it. Walking up the long driveway toward the school, I run into Mary and Stacy, who are leaving for lunch. I ask to tag along and away we go! We arrive at the same noodle place I had gone with Brad, not so long ago. Noodle soup it is! While waiting for our food, we see the guy working the dough possibly drop it on the ground. Hmmm.. I’m hungry enough to pretend I didn’t see that. Right now I’m getting more concerned about heavy metals in the water, and my old OCD tendencies start popping up.

Even if I control the water in my own apartment, can I drink soups from restaurants? Ordered food? The school? Focus. Control only what I can control and cut down on areas where tainted water might come from. I’d rather not end up with high levels of, say, lead, from this stint in China. As soon as I get paid, it’s time to buy a water filter. Brief searching seems like “Zero Water” is the best filter, with Brita surprisingly landing somewhere near the mid-bottom of the scale.

Classes are short today, as the spelling lessons are only 3 words long. Takes absolutely no time to define, and I get to play with it a bit. What can you ride? What’s a witch? We play hang man, which is the first game I’ve been able to play with my actual classes. “I like this game!” some of them shout. That they do.

Despite this reading order being more chaotic and excitable, they actually tend to be more productive when they get to choose who reads. I think I’ve hit the sweet spot at the reading table. Maybe. I'll experiment a bit more after testing this one out for a few weeks.

I’m hoping I can follow these classes to grade 3. Apparently they’ll allow that sometimes, so maybe I’ll put in a request to continue along with them. They’re so strange and funny.

Some Palacial Looking.. place. I don't know what it actually is,
but I pass it daily. This time I could stop for a good shot.
After school, I’m fiddling with my phone and see my bus coming in a series of busses. I tap my card, and wait on the bus. Somethings different about this bus, but not all busses are the same, right? My suspicion is confirmed when we turn down the wrong way, and the next stop is a good 2-3 blocks in the wrong direction. I’m used to walking, but I feel more drained than I should. Maybe I'm dehydrated. It's hard to gauge in Beijing, since it's always so damn dry.

When you ride the bus, those long stretches of road just fly by. Not so, when walking. You realize just how far each stop is from the others. On my way, I asked a cab to take me home, but he refused without reason. Not that I would’ve understood, anyway. Guess I’m forced to find the nearest bus stop and hope I can read it correctly. While waiting, one of my CoTeachers stepped off a bus and confirms that one of my busses will stop here. 

Back home, Ayi is cleaning. I still can’t understand her at all, but she tries anyway. I smile and shrug. She laughs a little, trying a couple times before giving up. Even if she says words I know, I can’t catch them because of her accent. I realized this when she asked me something about eating, chī, but the CH is more like a tz. One accent at a time.

A shopping center of sorts
I really don’t feel like going anywhere, but we run out of water and I’m supposed to meet up with an agent at the train station. She takes me for coffee, and her broken English is hard to understand. She tries to make up it by riddling me with full-speed Chinese. What I gathered: she wants me to go to her office 30 min away, present for free, and to continue teaching there for 3 weeks. N-no thanks. I’m no longer doing anything like this for free. I won’t be going to your office, I won’t be doing this bullshit song and dance performances, and I don’t like changing your offer once we meet in person*. It’s been a long day. I grit my teeth for the rest of the start-stop interview, walk her back to the train station, and grab a bubble tea for ¥8 on the way back. At the base of the building, I successfully order a water jug in mandarin. Minor victory.

I’m still not even done my own work yet today, which I really don’t want to do. I edit, study mandarin, work on my DnD character, and write a scathing e-mail to the aforementioned relative. I then take out a lot of the scathing bits, and let it fester until tomorrow, just in case.

I can’t put my finger on it, but today wasn’t a very good day.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
manager - jīnglǐ [jing-lee]
teacher - lǎoshī [la-ow shur]

Editing Music
Bitter Heart
Zen Avi

*She said it would be paid and that the students could come to me. This whole "bait and switch" tactic is used a lot in China, especially on foreigners. You pick up on it quickly and it gets extremely old. I can see it being even more tiresome when I can speak mandarin and they try shit.


  1. Awwww. Btw never drink tap water or cold water from restaurant - ask for hot water :D

  2. Yeah, sometimes I forget. Luckily, I haven't had any bouts with waterborne illness!