Day 46 - Fighting Back

Thursday, March 24th, 2016
Smog Level: All 3 Mountains

Early morning, I realize that I have no food in the fridge except eggs. I opt to not eat over eating eggs. Had enough eggs. Fingers crossed I can grab a yogurt from the shop on the first floor. 

No such luck; it’s still closed. I remind myself that I used to fast for the discipline of it, and that I can pretend today is one of those days. Sometimes it’s easier to continue not eating than it is to eat something small. Also, taking ownership of something is easier to cope with than taking the victim mindset (i.e.“oh no, this is happening to me” vs "I'm choosing this").

Each class starts with a spelling quiz and dictation. The quiz is a little difficult, since 3 of the 5 words were first presented yesterday. Dictation, I’m starting to work student’s names into so that they can have more fun with it. Move on to the Oral Quiz: Geography. I don’t want them to fail horribly, so I tweak it to be even easier. At this point, we’ve gone over continents and countries a lot, same with the directions of the compass… but hardly any cities/capitals, nor oceans. Cut it down to what they’ve actually practiced:

  1. How many continents are there? 
  2. Name 3. 
  3. Name 3 countries. 
  4. Which is bigger: country or continent? 
  5. 2 Compass directions (Up is…? Left is…?)
I drive them hard most days and it’s not essential knowledge, especially at their age. If there is an area of study you don’t need to know to get ahead, I’d argue it’s geography. When is it ever entirely practical on a daily basis? Maybe some geology and natural geography, but human geography… only if you’re traveling, and even then you can learn it as you go.

Something like "Face to the World / Keep working hard /
Learn good things from others to improve your flaws / teachers should be role models"
Anyway, the test is much easier than they expected. Most had overstudied and learned a lot more than they needed! Everyone did well! The relief/confusion on their faces when I told them it was done, expecting much harder questions, was great. Comfort is nothing without pressure first. And hey, now they also know up, down, left, right!

Saved from the trash, Our
office mascot
I grab lunch with the new Chinese teacher, Aurora. When asked if she’s married to a Chinese man, “Of course!” she replies. "Why 'of course'?" to which she tells me that Chinese parents are more for Chinese men. Two reasons: financial stability, and, primarily, more likely to stay in the country. I ask if she’ll ever leave. "Maybe one day, but probably only for vacation." Cool.

I have Mandarin class again, just like Monday. Between now, 1pm, and class at 4:45, I've got lots of time to kill. In the teacher's lounge, I find Non-Carden AJ, who delivers on his promise of letting me try his Virtual Reality headset-phone equipment. I fly around in a gun-mounted jetpack. After some flying around, it gets too hot and motion sickness sets in. I thought I’d be immune, especially since I can read while in a car. Apparently not. Really not.

The nausea lingers while I speak with Non-Carden Jack about DnD, which he’s not super interested in. Switch to American Politics. He points out some things he thinks are unfair with the way the news is presenting the proceedings, and how they’ve all but concluded that Hillary and Trump will get the elections. “I can’t believe how dumb the average American is… dumb or ignorant” He says, shaking his head as he packs his things for class.

I finally find time to watch a video Steve suggested to me, saying I’m more like Nietzsche than the Stoics. I’m not sure what camp Nietzsche* is part of, but I'm inclined to believe him after watching this video: 

I’ve noticed that I’ve been sick, my body has hurt, I’ve felt like I’ve had miniscule amounts of time and I’m not sure where it keeps getting stolen from me. I feel that background anger like I’m out of control and I don’t know where shit is going. My mind keeps wandering to what’s going to happen after China. I’m afraid that this will just be another time tradeoff for cash instead of some more enduring investment. Maybe it will be, maybe it won’t. I don’t know. The only thing I keep using as an anchor is the phrase “Wherever you are, there you are.” The malaise is not situational, it’s me. I gotta kick that upward spiral into action.

Ye Olde Office. Mine is the back right, facing toward the Eagle
Start cooking, hitting the gym, and more structured in my work. Set work times where my attention is undivided, streamline my students so I’m not running everywhere for them, and get them to come to me. These are the goals for the next month. But, that’s still situational. Focusing more on enjoying what is, what I have, and where I am.. that’s the real goal. Pain, discomfort, or anything else is just part of the adventure, and, as pointed out by the above video, “Getting really valuable things hurts.

Looks just like ours!
On the other hand, creativity, ambition, motivation… all gain strength from dissatisfaction and misery. Is it an oxymoron to be comfortable, happy, yet driven? I think an element of fear or anxiety is required to truly push yourself… but maybe being happy and having a good routine and work ethic will get you there without needless torture. So far, that philosophy hasn’t worked very well for me, but it seems to be working out just fine for Steve. The ultimate question, which I’ve alluded to before, is whether relaxation will be forgotten in the struggle for fulfillment. These things recur a lot in my writing, you’ll have noticed if you’ve been along for the ride. Probably will continue to some degree. There may not be one answer.
Advertisement Stickers. Pretty much everywhere, even
on the wall beside my apartment door.

And despite this mild burnout, I feel like I’m not working hard enough. I need to cut the fat, be more efficient in getting down to it, stop meandering between tasks, and wasting time on transportation.

I managed to get nearly 4h of work in between lunch and the Mandarin lesson. Class began late (on campus, actually) because a student threw a fit and had to be dealt with. Apparently one of the normally well behaved kids snapped, having to be dragged down the hall yelling "Nǐ fēng le! Nǐ fēng le!" ("you're crazy!"x2 [nee fung]). Eventually we got on track right before me and Jen were about to walk.

Middle-aged women doing synchronized dancing in empty parking lots
at night, and sometimes at low points in the day. I thought it was for fun,
but they're actually doing it for exercise. Maybe both!
Today’s topics: restaurant phrases and words, weather, and time grammar. Some cultural things came up, like the order of food to be brought/eaten in a restaurant: first drink, then food, then rice. Why? Because the drink is.. drinks are awesome, I guess. Then food… which is to amplify the enjoyment of the drink! and then rice because, well, you want to be full at the end of the meal, so shovel in the carbs. When asked why the food isn’t meant to be enjoyed more, why the drink, the teacher said “because Chinese people really like drinks.” Fair enough. Not clear if she means alcohol or not.

After being on campus for 12 hours, I was beat. Homeward bound where I’m writing this right now after promising myself I could do nothing the rest of the night. Now to fulfill that promise.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Bill - Mǎidān [my dahn]
Receipt - fāpiào [fap-E-ow]

Editing Music
Forget What I Said
Noora Noor


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