Day 60 - Boys Day

Thursday, April 7th, 2016
Smog Level: 3/3 Mountains

I’ve been thinking about ways I can improve the blog while still having a life. Both "what more would people want,"* and finding time to do so. I’m thinking of introducing some side pages that cover cultural things that come across the radar. I know some people enjoy reading the daily ups and downs of living in another country, but others prefer the cultural or historical side of things. I don’t want the research that goes along with the historical - aside from uninformed conversations with average people. Some form of the "unreliable narrator" that's informed by the locals I know. I’ll focus on what I directly observe and flesh it out as I go. Like a living document that will grow as I see more on the topic. Once I have something preliminary up I’ll link it.

I hop off the bus to see a woman carrying a guitar and the garb that makes me think it’s Aurora. Finger’s crossed, I grab her shoulders to surprise her. Thank god, it’s her. I’ve done that to strangers before, but luckily it has never worked out too awkwardly. Why is she carrying a guitar? Because she lent me hers yesterday, of course! She asks me to carry the guitar to the office because she’s stopping for breakfast. Sure! I say I’ll see her later, but realize I have 10 extra minutes because I’m early today. Free breakfast? Why not!

They have several types of bread - some steamed, some fried - oily eggs with green peppers, cookies, and rice porridge. Some eggs and bread later, I'm on to my previously scheduled class.

One of My 90's Cool Dudes
Today is “Boys Day” which is only on this campus because it’s a boarding school. They let the boys wear whatever they want, which turns out to be suits and 90’s cool dude duds. Generally, one or the other. I had to help a couple of them with some general rules, like which way suspenders were suppose to go, and that vests go under the blazer. 

“I don’t like boys day!” the girls say, to which some boys respond that they don’t like girls day. This was after they went for their morning exercise. Apparently on boys day they play sports. Given the gender dynamics here, I wonder what they do for girls day. Is it still sports, or is it something a little more gender biased?

The next break for this same class, they have to spend it downstairs for some reason. They get back and are all complaining. “I want to die!” some of them melodramatically whine. Continually spitting in the trash, they're not allowed to drink water, either. It has to do with their teeth.

Ah. Fluoride. Hah.

I tell them that if they think they want to die now, they have no idea how bad it’ll be if their teeth rot out. I’ve seen quite a few rotten teeth since coming here, actually. Despite their whining, the lesson must continue - and it’s a quiz! First we were going to do composition - reading them a sentence that they have to break down (who, doing, what), but they wanted a game. Once they learned it was a test, they wanted to do composition. Suckers!

The Caf Serving Tables
On break, I had asked my CoTeacher how she felt about the food at lunch today. She sheepishly admitted that she was on a diet. She really doesn’t need it, but personal and third-person perspectives almost always differ. Apparently, her diet for the week is basically not eating breakfast or lunch, with only a small dinner. I talk about my experience with fasting. It’s clear she’s not wanting to deal with the kids today. Remember: willpower is glucose in the brain.

Another of My Dapper Gents
At lunch, we talk about boys day. Dopple says that they give out little bottles of stain remover on girls day, and doesn’t clarify if they have sports or something else on girls day. Wendy doesn’t seem to know either. We both excuse ourselves shortly after Dopple sat down, Wendy because she has a grad school-related entrance test to study for, and I have mandarin lesson. He seems to feel slighted, like I’m avoiding him. Oh well.

In my lesson, we talk about different sizes of clothing, and how to bargain with people. Also, positioning - beside, above, below, etc. I know some of that and learned the rest yesterday. At least this time, I know enough to actually engage in class instead of furiously scribbling things to be studied later. There was still a lot of that.

After class, I nap, and write to catch up on the daily load of editing/writing, while working to get ahead on the aforementioned cultural living document. I’m sure I’ll put my foot in my mouth more than a few times, but that may just add to the entertainment value.

Practicing for Something
Dan meets me at my apartment after work. We wander around the high-ceilinged halls of the mall for dinner. He had been held up at work til 9 or so, meaning that the mall was mostly closed. The main elevators were shut down. Oh no! We're trapped! The only option was to throw a chair out the nearest window and dive to freedom. It's a blessing that I learned how to fall properly in Judo. Dan wasn't so fortunate.

I was talking to him about the cultural log. He gave me some ideas that I hadn’t thought of. I commented about how it’s such a big undertaking the more I look at it and pay attention to things, to which he replied: "visit somewhere for a day and you can write a novel; stay for a month and you can write a short story; stay for a year and you can write a single sentence." The way he interpreted it was that it becomes so much that you can’t even think about broaching it. My take is that everything becomes mundane and ordinary; you’ve lost your fresh eyes and outsider perspective. Best to get started now.

I pointed out the parking job on the street, with some cars parked in actual spots, with cars parked directly behind them. He pointed out the thick layer of dust on the cars, "When do you think they were moved last?" he queried. "An hour ago," I joked. It's true, though, that dust builds up a lot faster here thanks to all the pollution in the air.

We found a place that was open somewhere on the opposite side of our apartment complex. “This is where the neighborhood hangs out,” he jested in reference to there being a dozen number of people here this late on a weekday. Watching my coworkers interact in Mandarin with Chinese people can be entertaining because they try to do what they can and usually make it into a joke. In this instance, Dan was trying to get their wifi, which they didn’t have. An off-duty waitress chuckled across the aisle.

After this very late dinner, it was time to pass out.

*I mean, it's just such an amazingly flawless one-man show already! Would you like me to juggle? How about becoming my own one-man band that plays a theme song?! But really, I would like to know what people would like to see.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
Left (of something)
Zǒu biàn
[zo be-ann]
Right (of something)
Yòu biàn
[yo be-ann]

Editing Music
Like a Hobo
Charlie Winston

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