Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 20

Here's the thing: I am not afraid to start over.  It would be consistent with my characer if I were, but I'm not.  We are basically back to square one, wiht ver little relevant job experience.  We are both planning to go through training programs, programs.  I'm going into an undergraduate-level program, which puts me about fifteen years behind schedule.  But I'm not afraid.  We don't have a car or an apartment or any furniture to speak of, and we are desperately in need of new clothes.  But I'm not afraid.  We/I have started over before and we'll do it again, and it will take a lot of hard work and parts of it may suck, but in the end it will all come together.  And this time it will stick.

That's the thing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 22

An amazing thing occurred two days ago, but I did not celebrate it with a blog post as I had planned.  I am just trying to make it through these last few days of class, and it's taken up most of my energy.  Two days ago was August 24 and also 24 days until we depart China.  Since 24 is my lucky number, it was an auspicious day.  (We’ve talked before about my number superstition, and even though I say 24 is my lucky number because Nickelodeon was channel 24 when I was a kid, the real reason is that it is so eminently divisible.  2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, it’s a very accommodating number.  24 in a math problem is an act of mercy from deity of math textbooks.) Today is 22 which is also lucky because it is doubles, and if we were playing Monopoly I could roll again or get out of jail.

And, hmmm.  Get out of jail.  That sounds good right about now.  Let’s get real, people.

I’ve tried to be pretty upbeat on this blog.  Another reason I haven’t posted much in the last couple days is that I’ve been practicing the Thumper Method of blogging, “If you can’t say something nice then just go hang out on Pinterest instead.”  The truth is, though, I have as many bad things to say about China as I do good things.  I’m burnt out, kids.  Maybe that’s a well kept secret or maybe you’re all thinking “thank goodness she finally said it” but it’s the truth.  Our primary motivation for coming back to the US is that we are both burnt out on this country.

The reasons are many and various, some trivial, some humorous (like today when I described a spider as “what has eight legs and is terrifying?”) and some reasons that are, well, terrifying.  I have been pondering them all heavily within my soul, but today I feel like letting a few out.  If you’re Chinese or a big fan of China you may be bummed out by what I have to say, but this is how I feel and I don’t apologize for it.

First of all, today I got on the bus and was treated to a shouting—no, screaming—no, shrieking match between two woman accompanied by two children and a man with his son.  The two women got on the bus and told the man and his son that they should give up their seats because their children were younger than his.  
Why they picked on him I don’t know.  He was sitting in priority seating, and it is both a rule and good manners on Chinese buses to give up your seats for parents accompanied by young children.  The man was accompanied by a boy about twelve, the woman with children perhaps seven years old.  

I don’t know why no one else offered to give up their seats, or why they fixated on this man and his son, but what really scalded my bacon was that once the moms started shouting, the kids joined in.  Kids.  Elementary-age kids shouting at a man on the bus.  I heard one of the kids say, “She’s sick, you have to give up your seat.”  Disgusting.  I wish I could be a fly on the wall when those two kids go back to school next week and the moms learn that they are bullying other children.

Then of course there’s this mess with the Islands.  The Islands go by various names, and are claimed by Mainland China (the PRC) Taiwan (the RC) and Japan.  It’s a hot issue now.  Islands have changed hands in treaties in the past, but it’s not exactly clear if the Islands have been included with other islands that have changed hands.  There are various documents and maps and records throughout history indicating that these islands belong to one country or the other.  The Islands (which go by several names, which is why I am simply calling them the Islands) were administered by the US up until a treaty gave their administration over to Japan.  Though China has sporadically claimed the Islands as theirs, things didn’t start getting really noisy until the 70’s, when some treaty or other said that the country that owns the Islands owns all the oil reserves beneath them.  Cha-CHING!

Anyway, all of that is actually fine with me.  Lands have been disputed throughout time, and often it ain’t pretty.  What is making me itchy, though, is how the Chinese are going about it.  A little while ago a boatload of Chinese (mostly from Hong Kong, says Peter) set out for the Islands intending to plant a flag on the largest of the Islands.  You know, because that will solve everything.  Boy, that will really show those Japanese!  

That move in itself was not really very inspired, and what followed was predictable: the flag-bearers were arrested.  Japan administers the Islands, and they’ve been more vigilant since the whole dispute heated up.  My students are flabbergasted.  They were arrested!  They weren’t given any water!  They were treated like prisoners!

I should add here that China still has a continent-sized chip on it’s shoulder when it comes to Japan.  The feud is age-old, but when you (well, I) press most Chinese people into saying why, they say either than Japan waited too long to apologize for the rape of Nanjing, or that Japan has not yet sufficiently apologized.

I would pay a large amount of the money I don’t have for a chance to interview these Chinese flag-bearers.  Did you think the Japanese wouldn’t notice you?  Did you think they’d say, “Oh, it IS your Island, let’s just pack up our stuff and move on?” Did you think they’d invite you in for sushi?  How did you think your little flag trick was going to help the situation?

What amuses me most is that, although Taiwan claims the Islands—and, to be clear, Taiwan claims the Islands belong to Taiwan and not to the PRC, because Taiwan is not a part of the PRC—no one is saying anything about that here.  I think most Chinese don’t know about it, but those that do daren’t speak up against it.  Protesting Taiwan’s claim to the Islands would be acknowledging that Taiwan claims to be not-China.  I guess for now the PRC only wants to argue over the one set of Islands.

I could go into more detail about the dispute itself, the history, or the things I’ve heard the Chinese say about it, but it all boils down to childishness.  It’s no difference than those women making a scene on the bus, and what is worse is that this mindset is being passed on to younger generations.

Furthermore, though the Chinese are adamant about their rights to the Islands and their love for their country, a poll on the popular social networking site Weibo asked this question, “If your child were born on the Islands and could choose a nationality, which nationality would you choose for your child: the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Japan?”  Though they protest their rights adamantly, the majority of respondents to the poll chose a nationality other than the PRC.  (Read the article here

What does that mean?  The Chinese don’t like their country, but don’t like other people to make it look bad.  That’s actually not that unreasonable.  However, it’s all being dealt with so foolishly, and I am ready to be done with it.  Americans are certainly foolish in copious amounts.  However, if I am going to be surrounded by shenanigans, I would rather be surrounded by the shenanigans of my own country, rather than a country that allots me no credibility whatsoever (more on that later).

Anyway, later perhaps I will write more about why I will be glad to see China shrinking into the distance out the window of a good ol’ Boeing 7somethingorother.  That’s how I feel today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 26

Me: Look!  Photos from the new Mars rover!
Peter: Oh.  I thought those were pictures from Xinjiang.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 27

One thing I've learned about myself during this process of posting every day once in awhile until we move back to the US is that I have some previously-unrecognized superstitions about numbers.  I have always liked number combinations like 6742, but it goes deeper than that.  Apparently I mistrust prim numbers---which I am pretty sure is thanks to long division---so I didn't post on day 29.  I didn't post on day 28 because I was afraid it would all be jokes about rehab.  But I feel good about today because 27 is not just divisible but is the cube of three, which is a good number even though it's also a prime.  It's not three's fault he's too small to divide by anything but one.

Another thing I've learned about myself is that Suvessful Christense has decided to come back to haunt me.

I was introduced to Sucessful Christense by a well meaning high school gu8idance counselor who just didn't get it.  I was afraid one day I'd find out that I only thought she didn't get it because I was seventeen, but I'm not seventeen anymore and now I'm sure of it: she didn't get it.  I took a couple AP and IB classes because seriously, why not?  College credit?  Why yes, thank you.

So Sucessful Christense enrolled in PCC about fifteen years ago, and ever after she was thrust before me in guidance meetings.  Why not take more IB classes?  I could handle it.  My grades were fine.  It would give me a leg up in college and help me become Sucessful.  I steadfastly refused.  I didn't want to be one of those kids.  I wanted to be in the band and have a job and drive around in my car and I did not want to be like the girl I knew who did her homework while her family was decorating the Christmas tree.  I wanted to LIVE, dammit, and Sucessful would just have to sort itself out later, since I didn't know how to do that anyway.

And I have LIVED.  I've been to eight countries on four continents and had twelve jobs that were all awesome in their own ways.  I speak three languages with varying degrees of sucess.  I have eaten iguana and cow brain and I have become a Real Man not once but twice by climbing the Great Wall; I have been on TV and danced the tango with a genuine Italian and I have been a camp counselor; I have fixed grammatical mistakes and been in the OR during surgery.  But all Sucessful Christense has to say is, "It's fifteen years later and you're still doing undergraduate work at a community college?"

Well suck it, Sucessful Christense.  Maybe I don't own a house or a car or have a kid or, in 27 days, a job (someone save me), but I have a bilingual dog that sometimes does what I tell him and is spunky enough to poop for spite.  I have a husband who is kinda eccentric but is nice enough to not only go out looking for Chinese soup for me at 4am but to not even get that mad at me when he found out that I had been talking in my sleep.  I have parents who are willing to let me and Mr. Spite Pooper and Mr. Eccentric and me move in with them and kink their freewheeling retired lifestyle.  And yeah, I haven't written that novel yet, but I've got a bunch of book related pins on Pinterest and a blog that gets as many as nineteen views per day and a bunch of weird ideas and a healthy dollop of guilt, so that's a good start.

Anyway, whatever.  What's Sucessful Christense got?  A desk and a secondhand Asian car and a boyfriend she met on the internet and a tempurpedic bed and a Coke Zero addiction (because I see that happening no matter what, yes?) and a boyfriend she met on the internet.  She's skinnier, but she's hungry, and she is always griping to herself about That Other Christense that could have gone and did lots of stuff.

The other day a student told me she thought China was weak because the government took a placating stance when a handfull of Hong Kongese were taken prisoner by the Japanese.  I told her how the US got those hikers out of North Korea and she asked me why the US didn't do something more.  Well, there's a whole lot of worms in those cans, but I told her it all came down to the fact that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it.  So yeah, Sucessful Christense, I could have studied and then worked myself to death, but that doesn't mean I should have.  And anyway, there would always be something that I didn't do, and overall I'd take my Didn't Do over her Didn't Do any day.  I'm Lucy, dammit, and I pay my taxes and I have never taken anything I didn't have a right to, and therefore I exercise my right to live up to exactly as much of my potential as I want to.  I'm having more fun than she is anyway, and that's something I had right even when I was seventeen.  BOO YAH.

That's the thing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 31

On this date a month from now we will be on our way to the US!  Nuts!

I had my last class with Hardtoteach, and my last big class at my main job.  Also weird.  This weekend I have two classes with Probablygonna Dropmyclass, but other than that I can chill.

Max retrieved something today!  Peter was all like, "Why are you making such a big deal about this?"  We have thrown toys around for him, but haven't ever actually tried to train him to retrieve.  I was throwing a squeaky toy around the house and he went to get it (which is usual) but this time he brought it back to me and even gave it to me!  He usually tries to play tug-of-war when I try to take a toy from him.  I was so excited.  He did it again several more times, so it wasn't just a fluke.  He's a real Golden Retriever!  Now all we need is to teach him to retrieve gold!

The last Blue Rocketship crashed on Monday.  I haven't had a minute to blog since then, but I was getting in the elevator early in the morning for class.  The floor above me too FOREVER with the elevator, but when it arrived it was empty and the rocket was on the floor.  Of course.  No one will see it there.  It has since been removed.  But that was a long time that thing stayed in the light fixture.  People are so weird.

Peter is all excited.  Every day he has a new plan about coming to the US, but his thing now is selling insurance.  Does anyone know how to do that?  I am trying to sign up for my PCC classes, which are, of course, all wait-listed.  I may take some Spanish to brush up, though.  I miss it.

I'm gonna go sleep now.  That's the thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 34

We got paid, so we're running all around paying stuff off.  It's nice, but once it's all done we will have little left.  But paying stuff off is a good thing, right?

I finished my four-day marathon of early classes and long days.  Four days may not sound like a lot, but mornings are hard for me and my friend RA.  That's my excuse, anyway.  Plus, these are LONG days.  Once we take in the time to go home on the sardine can---er, bus, it's almost twelve hours.  Yesterday I had four big classes which means eight hours on my feet AND no time for lunch.  I ain't doing that again!  My ankles look like sausages.

I just finished teaching the only Chinese introvert I've ever met.  Seriously.  Not just a guy who's shy or doesn't like people, like, the genuine article.  He's also a bona fide artist.  The real thing.  Not just a guy who plays music, but a genuine musician.  He's very interesting to talk to.  When I do my famous East Meets West lesson (if you want to see the source material google "Liu Yang East Meets West," it's amazing) he identifies with all the western version of every idea.  He also thinks that Major Seven is a good English name. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 38

Though I am counting down to the big day, September 17th, there are a lot of little countdowns going on as well.  Here are some of them:

August 10: Payday (finally!)
August 12: Next day off
August 16: Last big class, last day of class with a student who is particularly hard to teach
August 22: Last day with four classes
September 1: Last scheduled class
September 2: Take Max to live with MIL so we can clean up our apartment and try to get our deposit back
September 5: Peter’s last payday
September 6: Ship winter clothes and other stuff to the US
September 10: Last payday
September 12: Fly to Beijing
September 17: Well, you know

Also, this happened while I was teaching my students some cutesy euphemisms for peeing (someone’s got to do it!)

Me: Go number one, pass water, tinkle…
Student: What?!?
Me: What?
Student: Teacher, is that what that song means, “tinkle, tinkle little star”?!
Me: No.  That’s “twinkle” not “tinkle.”
Student: Are you sure?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Day 39

I have skipped a few days because I have been crazy busy with class.  These two weeks are going to be the busiest of the summer, and I'm not looking forward to that.

So far I've been lucky enough not to get a case of the Irrevocable Giggles in class---you know, where you just can't stop laighing?  I came really close yesterday, though.  When I teach students pronunciation I make up goofy little mnemonic devices for them, like these:

When you sweat you get wet.
what did you say Beyonce?
When you go abroad you feel odd.

Well yesterday I was teaching "puma" because most Chinese think it's pronounced pew-muh instead of poo-muh.  I've never had a phrase for it before, but yesterday one just sprang to my lips, "My puma needs to take a poo."  I admit that's no comeic gem, but I am on no sleep here, kids.  I almost lost it!  Of ourse the students had no idea what was wrong with me.

Also this happened a couple days ago:

Me: What do you know about Las Vegas?
Student: Bet.
Me: Good.  Where can you go to place a bet?
Students: Ummmm...
Me: It starts with a C.
Student: Church?

Including today I have three more grueling days of classes, then one day off (pause as chiors of angels sing from heaven) then another grueling day, then things lighten up.  The freaky thing is that a week from Thursday is my last big class. 

I find muyself once again leaving a good job to join the ranks of the unemployed voluntarily.  I must be nuts.

That's the thing.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Bonus: Elevator Abuse (yes, I am obsessed with elevators)

A guy walks into the lobby of my building, walks past four working elevators, and starts pressing the call button of the fifth elevator, which is obviously not in service.

Security Guard: What are you doing?  Don't do that.
Guy: Is this elevator broken?
SG: It's off today.
Guy: But I can't walk up fourteen flights of stairs! 
SG: You can use another elevator.
Guy: Where?
SG: There.  Or there, there, and there.
Guy: Oh.

You can't make this stuff up.

Day 44

Today is day 44, which is bad luck because 4 is the Chinese 13.  Accordingly, things were weird today.

The bus driver I had on the way to work was terrifying.  The entire ride to work was a symphony of car horns.  I got stuck at work with nothing to do for two hours because a class got canceled but no one bothered to tell me.  And my last class of the day was a new student who was remarkable taciturn, even for a Chinese student (they tend to be shy).  Plus, I am almost certain she was holding her hair back with a giant piece of black velcro.  I spent two hours wondering what would happen if I pulled it off.

In less unluck news, one of the Blue Rocketships has taken off.  There's even a few finger marks in the dust where someone reached up and pulled it out.  The other one is still flying, though.  I got a chance to check out elevator #3 and it was Rocketship-free and the interior was pristine.  Not surprising, because it's haunted.

Also last night I gave myself a haircut and it came out pretty well today.  I was pleasantly surprised because I was a bit cavalier about it.  I've pretty much given up on my hair.  My hair's been on strike for about six months now, so my main concern is to keep amy more of it from breaking off.  This climate is not follicle-friendly. 

I was on Pinterest about five minutes ago, and I saw some things that have disturbed and disordered my mind.  I would like to share someof my distress with you.

First of all, the best thing you can do for your health is to stop looking at photoshopped pictures of strangers and stop reading judgemental articles and quotes about eating habis.  True, I am neither a model nor a paragon of healthy eating, and have never once as an adult worn a size six---but, based on my experience and that of others I know, I believe that no one ever really got anywhere with improving their health without first learning to love themself as they are.  Perhaps that sounds counterintuitive, but I'm not talking about being satisified with your current state.  I don't mean to become complancent.  I'm saying that the attitude "I am awesome and through hard work I am making myself awesomer," gets you further than "I am wretched, and if I make myself suffer enough I may become a little less repugnant."   

That's the thing.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Day 45

Commands I planned to teach my dog:

Drop it
Go get it

Commands my dog actually knows, and what he thinks they mean:

Go: Get out of the way, mom's annoyed.
Sit: Maybe I'll get a treat.
Stay: Not going with you outside...again!
Off: But you can sit on the bed!
Stop it: Mom's mad.
Leave it: Chew it up before she gets it.
Move: Mom's annoyed.
Heel: ???
Kennel: Hide behind the couch.
No: Uh-oh.
Max: could mean food is forthcoming, she wants me to go home, or I am in big trouble, depending on tone
Whosa Maxie poo poo nuts?: She's happy.  Thank goodness!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Day 46 part deux

So Peter's job is safe (see previous post).  Apparently a teacher just told the students that that they weren't having any more classes with Peter without knowing if that was actually true.

I saw Amy again this afternoon and we had this conversation, while reviewing adjectives:

Me: Who is terrible?
Amy: My math teacher.
Me: Who is beautiful?
Amy: Michael Jackson.
Me: Who is unhappy?
Amy: Michael Jackson.  And my mother.
Me: Who is---
Amy: She’s a big, big pig!
Me: Who?
Amy: Lady Gaga!

Don't tell Peter.  Gaga is his newly-declared favorite singer.  Sigh.

And of course you're all dying to know about the Blue Rocket Debacle.  So I finally got a chance to ride in elevators 4 and 5 today.  That was up to my apartment after work and back down to go get a soda (more on soda in a minute).  There were no Rocketships in either elevator, though elevator 5 has something inside the light fixture, maybe wadded up newspaper or something like that.  Apparently I haven't been taking advantage of all the storage capacity of my light fixtures.  I am not super sure the wads in the elevator are new.  Apparently it requires someone to put a Blue Rocketship up there to get my attention.

Elevator 4 has nothing in it, but the light fixture is cracked. The fixtures in the Rocket elevators, 1 and 2, are also cracked, but again, I can't be sure if this predates the Rocketships or not.  After I got my soda I went back up in elevator 1 to see if it still had a rocket in it.  So there are Blue Rocketships in elevators 1 and 2, and none in 4 and 5.  I haven't had a chance to check elevator 3, the haunted one.

Also a weird thing happened when I was riding elevator 5.  I live on the fourth floor, and when I got in the elevator in the lobby I happened to get in with two girls who were also going to the fourth floor.  They had already pressed 4, so of course I didn't press anything.  After a moment of silence one of the girls asked me (in Chinese), "What floor are you going to?"  Perhaps I am overthinking things, but the web of assumptions behind that little sentence baffles me.  Let's take them one by one, unlike Noah's Ark.

1) She spoke to me in Chinese.  This shouldn't be surprising, but it is.  After long and careful consideration I have started teaching my students to address obviously-not-Chinese people in Chinese first.  After all, we are in China, so it's not unrealistic to assume a visitor might know a few words of the language.  That's not what happens in reality, though.  Many are the times I've entered a place of business only to hear a buzz of people asking, "Who speaks English?" "You go talk to her in English!" "My English isn't good enough, you do it!"  without even attempting Chinese.  They won't make eye contact with me until they sort it out, either.  Everyone's so terrified of making a mistake and looking bad in front of others.  Anyway, props to elevator girl for addressing me in her mother tongue.

2) The further assumptions are more confusing.  If a person gets into an elevator and doesn't push a button, the only three rational conclusions, in order of likelihood, are A) she's going to a floor whose button has already been pushed, B) she's forgotten to press a button, or C) she's never used an elevator before and doesn't understand how it works.  It amazes me that she blew right past A to either B or, heaven forefend, C.  

3) There are plenty of foreigners who live in this building, but I think this girl assumed I was staying in the hotel, on the top floors of the building.  I have less evidence for this than for the others, but I still think it's true.  I think she assumed I wasn't going to the fourth floor with her because she thought I must be staying in the hotel.  But, if so, why speak to me in Chinese?  A visitor is far less likely to speak Chinese than a resident (by far the most common reason for going to the non-hotel floors).  Maybe she didn't want to speak English so she took a shot in Chinese, because she felt like she simply had to do something to help the Foreigner in Distress.  

4) Foreigner in Distress is perhaps the most irksome assumption.  A lot of Chinese people assume that I am in some kind of Distress when I am not.  Why?  Am I exhibiting distressed behavior?  Nope.  Just existing in public is enough to provoke many a Chinese person into assuming you are a Foreigner in Distress.  Read a bus sign?  Clearly you need help getting where you're going.  The thought that I might have given some thought before leaving the house to how I will get where I am going doesn't cross anyone's mind.  Hail a cab?  Certainly a Chinese person is better at raising their hand in the air than I am.  Stand in the street hailing a taxi?  Why, you could be killed!  Hurry up and get on the sidewalk!  Never mind that no one is ever successful at hailing a cab from the curb, and for that reason no one does.  Clearly my death by smashing is imminent.

Anyway, I'm getting snippy, and, as I said earlier, overthinking things.  Let's move on to my Find of the Day.  

I hope you won't think that because I wrote about Craigslist today and am about to write about online shopping now that that's all I am up to.  I'm not entirely consumed with pre-sepeding my paychecks from a job I don't have yet.  It's just that I'd like to get started on the whole project of setting us up in the US right now, and I can't.  Emailing resumes is depressing because no one answers them.  It's too early to pack and I've thrown out everything that we aren't going to use in the next 46 days and aren't taking with us.  So I good around online, and today I found a link for a thing that's very silly but we would totally use ALL THE TIME.

It's a Soda Stream machine that carbonates water at home.  It uses exvhangeable, refillable bottles of carbonation to carbonate regular tap water.  Then you add syrup or whatever flavor you want and Bazinga! soda for .25 cents a can.  Less, because you know I'm going to be buying freaking koolaid and Chrystal light to flavor it instead of their syrup.  Though I'll probably use that too.  Their syrups have no Corn Poison (HFCS) or aspartame, supposedly, but they do have a generic Coke Zero and Diet Dr. Pepper.  They're also supposed to be lower calories than regular soda.  I don't know if it tastes as good as regular soda, but also not drinking so much soda might not be the worst thing for us.

And oh yes, it's for us. I might not bother for just me, but my hubs will literally drink ANYTHING other than plan water, even---plah!---milk.  And he goes through it like a madman.  Part if it is that, when we're in the US, he's still a little freaked out by drinking tap water.  (So why do you think he'll drink carbonated tap water?)  I'm glad you asked.  The Brita pitcher is our friend.  BTW if you are ever in need of a Brita pitcher, do not buy retail!  Go to Goodwill.  They have tons of them, we got ours for $3.  Anyway, he's weirded out by plain water but genuinely hearts carbonated water.  He drinks it plain or puts juice in it, because most juices in the US are too sweet for him.

Anyway, does anyone have one of these?  Did you like it?  We will be doing some more reviewing, but it may be a completely awesome idea.

That's the thing.

Day 46

Last night I dreamed I was dressing up as Santa Claus to escape prison.

Amy (thriteen years old): What did you have for lunch teacher?
Me: KFC.
Amy: Oh no!  That stuff is dangerous.
Me: Yeah, it unhealthy, but there's only three restaurants near here.
Amy:   My mom won't let me eat there. They have chickens with ten wings.
Me (I know from experience that I can't talk her out of this): It's okay, I like to eat monsters.
Amy: You do?!!

Update:  Oh, I forgot to tell you, Peter got his job back.  He was supposed to take a two week sabbatical while the students went to another province to complete an engineering project.  That took longer than expected, and we had pretty much given up on the students coming back.  However, finally they are back and Peter is going back to teach them today for one month.  For those of you playing along at home, that's what precipitated the surprising automobile search.

Another Update:  I should never tell anyone anything.  As soon as, literally as soon as I started typing this, one of Peter's students called and said, "The teacher just told us that you won't have any more classes."  This is news to us!  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Day 47

It's 47 days until we blow this chicken hut.  47 is a prime number and prime numbers kind of weird me out.  Especially large prime numbers.  It seems arrogant of a number to be so large and yet refuse to be indivisible.  Uncharitable.

It's also day 4 of the Blue Rocketship Adventure.  4 is not a prime number but it is the Chinese equivalent of 13.  The pronunciation of four sounds like the word for death in Chinese, which unnerves Chinese people.  I advocate that simply renaming the number would get rid of a lot of problems, but so far no one agrees with me.

Actually I'm not really sure if the Blue Rocketship Adventure continues because I haven't been out today.  It was still going on in elevators one and two last night.  Last night when I got home from work I wanted to check and see if they had spread to the other three elevators, but, get this---all three elevators were shut down!  So, first the rocketships come, then the elevators shut down.  Things are starting to get freaky.

So I'm a bit scared to go out and find out if the rocketships are still there, but I'd bet a not insignificant amount of money that they are because of the interaction I had last night with the security guard.  I came home from work last night and saw that three of our five elevators were shut down.  I started walking down the hallway towards them before I realixed they were turned off, and as soon as I did the security guard was on his feet calling me back, gesturing with his hand the same way people do when they're telling a truck it can keep backing up because it's not anywhere near hitting the fence.  Apparently even approaching the sacred resting elevators is strictly off limits.

To be fair, I guess I know why he doesn't want people rummaging around down there.  In one of the buildings where I work there's an elevator for odd-numbered floors and an elevator for even-numbered floors.  Even though this is clearly posted on bright yellow signs outside the elevators, people get in the wrong elevator all the time.  When you aren, for example, in the Odd Elevator and you push a button for an even-numbered floor, nothing happens.  It doesn't light up.  People get confused, try to push it again.  Me personally, I'd do a maximum of three standard puses before I gave up.  But I've seen people push the button literally dozens of tines in increasing intensity, from tapping to pushing to punching to pounding.  I've been in elevators with broken buttons before and wondered how an elevator button gets broken, but the answer is the age-old answer that answers most questions: People are nuts.

So the security guard is truly and rightly concerned about people coming along and beating the beans out of the elevatory buttons which is actually pretty dern likely.  Seeing that the lighted panel of the elevator is dark is sufficient for me to get the message, but not, sad to say, for others.  A good Button Pounding is in order.

So I came back to the front and got in the first elevator when it arrived.  The Blue Rocketship was of course present, staring at me.  I almost let it go, but at the last minute I stopped the elevator door from closing and shouted, "Excuse me!" and pointed to the glowing bloe object hovering, like a UFO, in the light fixture.  "Oh," he says to me in Chinese, "Don't worry, that's not a problem."

So apparently his security guard duties include constant vigilance to safeguard the structural integrity of elevator buttons, but apparently spending 10 seconds removing a phallus from two elevators that service hundreds of young children is apparently outside the scope of his work.  The hotel portion of the building does sell rooms by the hour...no, I refuse to go there.  That way ends only in tears.

So, the unremovable Rockets are still there, and may or may not be causeing elevator malfunctions. In othere news, I have been spending a lot of time on Craigslist.  Since no one (so far) has responded to my resume and coverletter explaining that I will be available for work in October, and that I can only be interviewed over the phone or via Skype (I know, it's a shicker that employers aren't falling all over themselves.) I have migrated over to the for sale section.  I CANNOT WAIT to have an apartment in the US.  Our place here has served us well, but it's small and there's very little I can do to decorate it.  Decor items are absurdly, amazingly, ridiculously overpriced, and any that are not look like they came from the home of Hyacinth Bucket.  No good.  And I can't make stuff because there are no craft stores here! 

Anyway, there's some seriously good stuff on there.  In the past when we were looking for a couch CL was a wasteland of distirbingly stained and torn upholstery, but now that we have no buying power there's tons of great stuff.  I hope that trend continues until we actually get our own place.  And appliances!  I've wanted a Kitchenaid mixer for years, but I've never thought to look on CL.  It may be because it took me so long to get over my jealousy of my mom, who found one at a garage sale for $15.  Yes, not $150, there's no zero missing there.  FIFTEEN.  That woman is seriously lucky.  Never go with her to a party at which you're hoping to win the door prize, because she's gonna win it.  Sometimes I, the fruit of her womb, can wheedle it out of her.  But not with the stand mixer!  Oh well.  When we get back to the US I'll just spend a couple weeks living on rice and PB&J, and then buy one off of CL. 

Now if you're reading this, please don't go onto Craigslist and buy up ALL the awesome stuff.  Okay, you can now, but save some for me this fall.

That's the thing.