Day 72 - Communism!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
Smog Level: 1/3 Mountains

A good night's rest and yet I’m still kind of tired. Another night of early rest and maybe it’ll fix it, though I’m pretty sure the studies on sleep debt contradict the whole "sleep debt" thing. I forget how it works.

On my way to class, I pass some students lined up for other classes. They act as most people do here and say “Tall! So Tall! My God, Tall!” It’s English this time, though they're still tearing out their hair and slamming their fists on the floor. As I enter my classroom, I hear one of them say “Maybe he is Yao Ming!” Yeah, maybe. Why else would I be teaching at this school?*
Well, this popped up quickly
Star System in Review

First class is super slow, and like pulling teeth to get them moving. The second class had earned enough ‘hearts’ to earn a game day. They get hearts for every 5 stars they have, which my CoTeacher takes care of. These hearts then go into a jar which has to fill up to the line, earning them their next reward. I think the levels are: prize, game, party.

Reward: Game

They didn’t have class yesterday, so I have a lot to cover. No-nonsense. I destroy through the warm up, rip through the spelling and definitions, and ravage that spelling test. Boom, the kids get split into teams and “play ball,” where they answer a question, then get a turn at throwing something at the makeshift scoreboard drawn on the board. They also get to pick the team names, so it was “Champions” vs… “Happy Pig.” I had a good laugh at the second name, which one of the troublemakers surprisingly chose.**

Purple Flower Tree
They do the strangest things during breaks… The girls from my class and their “sister class”*** are in the halls doing splits together to see who is the most flexible. The rest of the girls swarm me and do the assisted-jumping thing by holding onto my arm. They also get me to put my hand up to see if they can reach it. This break reminds me of why I need boundaries because the kids were literally climbing on me and, on occasion, have slapped my butt. Funny, but no.^

Stage 5 Clinger

They have jiǎozi for lunch, which is the first time I have seen it. The term “clingy” came up. It’s niánrén, which means “a clingy person” but translated literally means “sticky person.” Hah, it works. A lot of the translations are quite literal and logical once you think about it. 

Mild-Mannered by Day, Demigod in the Gym by Afternoon

At the gym, I deadlift an unimpressive weight that people in the west would ignore. The guys stop and stare at me like I’m a demigod.^ It’s strange because a few of them were way more jacked than me, but I guess deadlifting isn’t a big thing. Or maybe it’s because I’m a wàiguó rén (foreigner). I am choosing to take their (sometimes unabashed) stares as compliments of my glory. Bask in it, fellas.


Not uncommon to see this sort of repair thing going on
On my walk back, I hear a motor running and a crowd around the exit of a pathway I’m walking. There’s a man holding a baby on one side, two guards next to a man in a suit on the other. All of them are watching a fifth man trimming the hedges with a gas-powered trimmer. I had a quiet laugh to myself at how stereotypical this appears of communist/bureaucratic values.

In my apartment, we have a repairman come because a couple problems keep lingering. Luckily, they’ll all be fixed at once! First, our kitchen light doesn’t work. It’s just the vent over the stove and nothin' else. Second, we suddenly don’t have cold water in the bathroom or washing machine. Finally, the drain in the sink is super backed up, and seems to be draining through the drain and down the tiled wall.

The repairman speaks no English and I try to explain what’s going on. The phrase “tīng bù dǒng” is a lifesaver sometimes. It means “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I call Ms.Handler, who tells me that we are missing some parts and it will have to be fixed later.

Damn it.

*Yao surpasses race, obviously.
**The Champions lived up to their name, by the way.
***They’re actually a class of 40, but they’re split up for english class. I have 20, and Wendy has the “sister class.”
^The sound for a slap here is "Piao!" [pee-ow], which I know intimately. Piao! Piao!
^^Greek mythology puts demigods on the mind.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
[ting / tee-ung]


So, given that, think about tīng bù dǒng. Literally: Hear not understand. Meaning: I don't understand what I hear.

Editing Music
Gusty Garden Galaxy
Music By Pedro

 Bonus: This is what I'm talking about with the "metal clinking" that I'll hear from my apartment. This is the knife sharpening guy, advertising his wares:

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