Day 66 - Teacher Friend / Star Killer

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016
Smog Level: 0/3 Mountains

Now that I’ve used the fitbit to time my walk to and from the gym enough times, I know it takes about 12 minutes, 1km to walk each way. Now I can plan better around that.

I arrive at lunch at a more reasonable time, not cutting it to the last minute. There, I find Pool, Jen, and Wendy. They’re talking about how the guy’s fashion had to be stepped up since a guy last year began really kicking it up a notch by wearing daily suits. One of them said that they had recently complimented one of the more fashionable teachers, who flatly replied “I know.” Hah.
I wish they looked better when I took a picture of the whole tree
Nice up close, though
Racial Preferences

Jen and Wendy talk about how our school is different because they will actually hire black people. They tell me that sometimes when they put “Native Speakers Only,” referring to English, what they mean is “white.” Which is strange, when you consider that they can actually put “white’s only” if they wanted. No laws against it here. If they’re going to be like that, might as well not waste anybody’s time being a jerk. They talked about race, and how the students would make comments when they had first started, but eventually it’s been more normalized. 

Jen had complimented a student for being cute, which another student said “but he’s not cute.” Why? “Because he’s black,” the student replied without irony to their black teacher. The student told her that Jen was brown and that the other (Chinese) student was black, despite being a lighter color than Jen. The CoTeacher even said that she wished she wasn’t as dark, openly, in front of the students. Bad form, CoTeacher. Bad form. Recall that one of Shimou’s friends is nicknamed xiǎohēi, which means “little black.” It’s not quite a race thing so much as a ‘pale is beautiful’ thing. I.. think.

Batman vs Superman

In the lounge, Jack and I discussed Batman vs Superman. Ok, It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of DC. All their heroes are the same physical build and structure, they’re all demigods who are completely devoid of the struggle of average people (aka unrelatable), which makes it difficult to maintain interest. 

All this combined to DC's suffering, back in the day. Their sales were decreasing and Marvel kept gaining ground. What did they do? They decided to change things up - they decided to kill Superman. 

"Get to class, you damn kids!
Now, The Death of Superman was one of their most successful campaigns and brought them up to about their strongest heyday. Problem: They didn't actually want to get rid of him, and bringing superman back ended up damaging their sales past pre-death depths. Last I heard, they never recovered. SPOILERS In the movie, they decide to take that same plot line and run with it. Why? Beats me. They also are clearly trying to set up the Justice League for half of the 2.5 hours instead of focusing on just putting out a good movie. 

Bottom line: It was alright, but felt like a corporate money grab. I think it’s only a matter of time before DC gets absorbed by the Disney blob and joins Marvel. That would probably be a good for them.

Teacher Friend / Star Killer

Carol, one of the new Chinese teachers, is shadowing my class, with Aurora on the other. Got two Chinese women in each class watching me do my thing, ooh lala. I’m beginning to realize that the kids may see me as too much of a friend, and not enough of an authority figure. 

Time to start dishing out some punishment. And with that begins the reign of the Star Killer.

I have no idea if this is in the west, but it's adorable
Mandarin:  High vs Tall; Borrow vs Lend

We learn the word “high." In Mandarin, there are some confusing terms. “Lend” and “borrow" are the same word / intonation, jiè, and entirely dictated by ordering of words. Likewise, “high” is the same as "tall." They tell me that I am very high. Hah, no, I most definitely am not. That sure would make for an interesting class, though. I have to draw a mountain with a tiny man on top, a tiny man at the bottom, and a man as tall as the mountain. There: high, low, tall.

Indians: Where are they from?

The rest of the lesson has to do with American Thanksgiving. I don’t even bother defining Pilgrim. They don’t need to know it. Also, “Indian” was a word, which only one kid, thankfully, knew it to be Native American. “Person from India.” Let’s nip this idiocy in the bud. How such an ignorant label has survived so long is beyond me. Basic sum for those who aren’t aware: They wanted to sail to India, landed in North America and called the locals “Indians” thinking they were in India. “It’s like the British sailing to China, meaning to hit North America, and calling everyone in China ‘Americans’ for a couple hundred years.” I explain to Aurora.

Chinese Friends

I catch dinner with Aurora, Helena, and Jen. I explain the phrase “talk your ear off” to Helena, and she explains that they have a similar phrase in Chinese. Fun Fact: When Chinese people want to be friends with you, and quickly, they may ask you a series of personal questions that make you wonder what they want. “What’s your birthday?” is an example. Why… do you want to know…? Helena doesn’t like this because she feels that if you exchange birthday information, you are now obligated to exchange gifts when they roll around. How does she get around it? By telling them she doesn’t remember hers. 

Truthfully, she tells me that she’s only celebrated it 3 times in her 23 years: twice when she was very young, and once with her current, American boyfriend. What she remembers of her younger one: her grandmother would give her noodles (representing 1) and two hardboiled eggs (representing 0’s). Apparently 100 is supposed to be lucky. Sure, why not.

Tutor Exchange

The Desk of a Chinese Teacher
After dinner, I teach Aurora more basics of guitar and tell her she really needs to practice more if she wants to get better. She said she’s only been playing a couple songs a week and frustrated with her lack of progress. Remember: we all suck when we start, and pushing through that initial frustration is how we get better. Easy wins are essential, but I am going to have to think for what songs might be easy wins for her.

In exchange for the guitar lesson, she teaches me how to play Chinese chess. It’s very similar to Western chess, but a few extra restrictions that I wouldn’t have imagined. One piece, the cannon, can only attack another piece if there’s a piece between them. Adds an entirely new dynamic to the game. I can’t wait to play more. I beat her my first game, but that may be because she underestimated me. The second game was cut short by the lounge closing.

"A Touch of the Dizzies*"

In my apartment, I feel dizzy. Like having the spins, but I don’t feel like I’m going to puke. I drink water, make sure the gas is off, and open my window just in case. Can’t figure it out. I go to bed and cross my fingers that I’m not having an aneurysm.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
[shway goo-oh]
[shoo  ts-eye]

Editing Music
Hunger of the Pine

*5 points to whoever gets the reference

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