Day 75 - Eating Sheep's Brain

Friday, April 22nd, 2016
Smog Level: 3/3 Mountains


It’s Friday, which means I only have each class for 40 minutes each. We have the second grade English test next week, so I have to make sure they’ve made it through the review today. I crack down, again. By the end of a 40 minute session, they only have 1 star left. They start with 10. 4 were blown up because they kept touching the cubbies of other students while waiting in line to leave. It’s also Friday, so they’re usually not the most focused. Sorry, kids.

Second class, wasn’t much better. By the time my CoTeacher arrived from bringing a student to the nurse, the class had already dropped 5 stars. I want to get to a point where they will listen without the Chinese teacher. Though, the CoTeacher will almost always be there.
Lunchtime Mandarin Trivia

While organizing my notes and speaking with Aurora, I learn a couple other mandarin tricks. To say the “3rd floor” you say “sān lóu” [sun low] which directly translates to “3 building.” Well, that’s easy. Another: A common grammatical mistake you’ll hear Chinese people make in English is saying “3 days after” to talk about the future, or “X days before.” That’s how they word it. “sān tiān qián/hòu” [sun te-an chi-an/hoe], meaning three days before/after.

Part of the School's Garden
I grab lunch with the Chinese colleagues of Aurora, who largely ignore me and speak Chinese the whole lunch. I can’t blame them, this is their break. I ask Aurora what protein she’s taking after working out (somehow it came up), and if it was soy. Soy products tend to supply more estrogen, a word she didn’t know. We look that up and testosterone. I forget what excessive estrogen in women can lead to, however.

First Graders and Affection

For the first graders, they’re crazy (as usual) while I teach them types of drinks. Fun Fact: Coca-Cola is Kěkǒukělè [ke-koh ke-le]. 

One of the girls in the second class is on an emotional rollercoaster. She brought her reading book to me and pointed out that it said “I love you” on it. I thank her. A few minutes later, she was crying at her desk. Not long after, I’m standing near her desk and she kisses my hand several times while another boy hugs my leg. It’s a madhouse.

Teams this time: Fairy Zombies (they probably meant fiery) vs Fiery Bombs.

Thought this was a cool shot
Puppies Getting Run Over

Walking out the long driveway of the school, the cars whiz by. It’s a narrow alleyway, and people are walking home. you’d think they’d slow down but… nope. I nearly saw a dog get hit.  Poor thing started running in the same direction as the car; the driver seemed to speed up. I managed to corral it away from the same vector as the car, narrowly saving the little stray. Geez, some people.

Tutor Lola, who is her usual bubbly self. She stacks a small table set on my head. Then.. nap. Naps are the band-aids that allow me to keep everything going.

Eating Lamb Brain

Why a nap? Because tonight is Ryan’s birthday and his girlfriend, Alex, organized us all to go to “the burrito spot” as they called it. It’s about a 20 minute walk from my house, not far really. Just down the some back roads to an area of town that I didn’t know existed so close to me. While Shimou and I walked down the road, we come across small shanty-like shops, crumbling buildings, piles of rubble, and a lot of foot traffic alongside makeshift shops.

Just to the left is a building where people are selling stuff
I get a message from Pool asking if I'm lost. I don’t think I am, but I might as well get directions from him just in case. "Keep going forward; Alex is coming to meet you." Wendy is with her, and we collide on a dark, sketchy road.

The restaurant is just as Alex described: Giant green sign, and golden walls. It’s packed with Chinese people, mostly men. We’re led to the private room. Inside is Dan, Stacy, Pool (and his wife), Alex, Agatha, Ms.Handler, The Director, Birthday Boy Ryan, Rocky, Brad, and the four of us who just entered. There are a handful of other people whom I’ve never met, all Chinese. 

We were spread between two large, round tables, complete with the usual lazy susans. Food is up for grabs, liquor is flowing, and we’re waiting on the secondary guest of honor: Bo Peep, aka the entire lamb, complete with her head.

Lazy Susan's Burden
We "talk shop," joke about random things, and bring up some of the fitness culture. Apparently a standard of beauty for Chinese women is to have “iPhone 6 legs.” What does that mean? It means you can hold an iPhone 6 (the big one) lengthwise across your knees. Press your knees together and see if your knee caps are wider than the phone. If so, then you’re too big. Another measure was using a standard paper (8.5”x11”) and hold it up to your stomach/ribs. If you’re wider than that, you’re too big. It seems to me that eating disorders are likely reaching epidemic levels here.

Ryan’s ‘Chinese wrestling’ coach is there. Agatha mentions how she doesn’t get on with him because he always opens conversations with condescending remarks. She says that instead of paying for dinner whenever they go out, he will bring alcohol and simply say “I brought drinks!” when it comes to paying the bill. Drinks, I presume, he amply consumes over the course of the meal.

Birthday boy is eating the face off the lamb. I find this... disturbing. But it gets worse: they bust open the skull and eat some of the brain. Oh geez, that was gross. But.. uh.. waste not want not? I try to offer money, but Ryan/Alex insist that it’s his birthday treat.

We leave after 2.5ish hours because we had purchased some o’ that blind massage. I request the best girl, and - without me saying a word - they tell Shimou that my Mandarin has improved. They’re right, but I don’t know why they’re saying it. I can catch the skeleton of what they’re saying, but not the organs nor meat: “should be blah blah,” “he said blah blah,” “Really? blah blah.”

Slept like a  baby after discovering that we seem to have run out of hot water. That’s a problem for Future Phil.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]

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