Gratitude I am thankful for the cold weather we had this week. It means I can be thankful for the fact that I have enough clothes to wear in the cold, as well as be thankful for the fact that the cold weather makes it seem like I am not wearing too many clothes. Also, I can be thankful that I found a store in Wuxi that sells shoes my size (I am a size 47 in China and a size 12 back in Canada – my feet are not so much big as long. Keep reading this blog and those of you, who live in Wuxi and have my shoe problem, will find out where this store is.)
Acknowledgment I am older than my shoe size in China. For about six years, I have tried to act older than my Canadian shoe size.
Request I don't know who to ask, but I want to know what it is I want. My mind and instincts do battle on this.
The Week Basically
Nothing very distinguishing about this week. Everything seemed so far away from me and I felt like I went through the motions. For blogging it was annoying. Think! Think! Think of something to say!
I was wrestling with whether to buy an ebook reader or a Ipad Mini.
Don Colacho's Aphorisms
Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling: What is it like to be the Empress Dowager? Pretty boring to someone living a hundred years later. Her Majesty has a lot of power to weld and time on her hands. She is slave to custom and to her whims.
Quotes that AKIC likes
Don Colacho (of course): The colony which gains its independence passes from acknowledged imitation to artificial originality. I don't know if Colacho was thinking about Canada when he made this quote – he was South American – but what he said about colonies becoming independent does seems universal. In the case of Canada, I have seen government policies meant to create Canadian originality because they want to imitate the originality of the Americans.
Don Colacho: The punishment of the man who searches for himself is that he finds himself. I don't know if I actually set out to do this when I left Brandon, Manitoba in 1987 (I can't remember the exact year.). The journey took me from to Winnipeg and then British Columbia and then China. I was probably looking to get away from myself and found myself following me like a shadow – a haunting specter of mediocrity.
PJ O'Rourke: Western Europe has done such a good job redistributing its assets that the European Union now has a Spanish economy, a Swedish foreign policy, an Italian army, and Irish gigolos. Hilarious and true. I suppose a guy named O'Rourke can get away with the bit about Irish gigolos.
Don Colacho: The prejudice of not having prejudices is the most common one of all. And the people who do have this prejudice, have this creepy, affect-less manner of speaking. Examples: Obama supporters and RINOs.
Don Colacho: As poor and needy as it may be, every life has moments worthy of eternity. I say that being a father has these little moments – the sacrifices are worth it for five seconds of Tony being happy to see me and wanting to be close to me.
Monday (the 31st)
No work today.
A day of lasts. Let me think of some: Today saw me do the following things for the last time in 2012: kiss Tony, kiss Jenny, get mad at Tony, see a foreigner (that was a surprise!), eat breakfast, eat lunch, eat dinner, comfort Tony, have Tony get mad at me when I eat one of his potato chips, use the bathroom, take a shower, go to the Hui Shan Tesco, and make an entry in my WCE Blog, and watch the Gangnam Style Video.
Try as Jenny might to clean, the apartment is so full dust. Case in point: the wainscoting is so dusty that attempting to wipe the dust accumulating on the top results in a dirty smudge.
A policeman is supposed to visit us today. He has to see Tony & I because we are foreigners.
Sunny and temperature is around zero degrees C. I try to keep myself warm in the house.
I published my blog entry.
1230 PM: Hot Dogs for lunch!
1400 PM waiting for the police.
A count-up: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10! HNY!
1500 PM: Policeman didn't come. So, the K family goes to Tesco.
I see a foreigner at Tesco. He saw me but we didn't talk. He went to the liquor section and spent some time contemplating what was on offer. He looked to have purchased a bottle of champagne. I wondered why.
Waiting for Jenny to finish her shopping, I had pain in my chest, pain in my right thigh, pain in the right part of my crotch, and pain in my ankle. I only felt relief when I walked back home. The pain of carrying two heavy bags of groceries back was such that I didn't notice the other pains.
Walking back home. Tony was crying because Mom told him that he had to eat dinner before he could play with the Ipad. He then told me that he wanted me to turn on the laptop so he could watch train videos.
I recharge my digital camera. I still use it.
I recharge my Phillips Aquatouch Razor – it used to be my Dad's.
Tony says to me: “Gimme a kiss!”
I was watching Dora the Explorer, the Chinese version, with Tony. I was able to understand what Dora and the other characters were saying thanks to the subtitles – the Chinese subtitles. 对了！ 中文的 词！
1000 PM：十点钟：我的 老婆 看 电视的 晚会。I am typing on the laptop.
1155 PM: T&J are in the bathroom. They are going to miss the countdown.
Tuesday (the 1st)
1205 AM: We missed the countdown.
1100 AM: I was still in bed. A lazy way to start the year!
My first shower of the year sees me singing national anthems. I sang the American, a little bit of the Canadian, and what I believe to be the Australian.
1200 Noon: Tony takes the first photo of Andis in the new year.
The Australian national anthem, I believe but I can rely on HM to correct me, is Waltz Sing Matilda or Waltzing Matilda (WM). I remember hearing it played at the first Rugby World Cup Final, and thought it was awesome. It didn't seem like a National Anthem which was probably why I thought it was endearing.
I remember my Uncle Leo hated the song. And someone else did too – I guess WM is a take-it-or-leave-it song. Leo. A strange man. They said he did unspeakable things. I never suspected. I remember him at some family function obviously needing to be in charge of the VCR. They said he was a molester. At my grandmother's funeral, he read a poem about a white rose that brought tears to everyone's eyes. I remember seeing him before he died. He was helpless. He had lost his mental faculties. When we said good bye to him, he cried like a baby that knew it was going to die. I would rather have seem him healthy and strange. Some didn't cry for him however. In those moments I can be nothing but a softie. Later, a cousin of mine meets this fellow, I know, called Leo. “Leo! I had an uncle named Leo who....” That Leo high-tailed it... Funny, where the Australian national anthem can lead my stream-of-consciousness. Strange that I would put the edited version in my blog.
Resolution: to be a real instead of a pseudo son-of-a-bitch.
100 PM: Egg & Mushroom Soup: Wife will say it is good for my lungs, my bald spot, or my virility.
230 PM: Tony & Andis go to Hui Shan Century Times Plaza. At a tiny amusement park, Dad lets Tony go for a boat ride. These boats can only hold kiddies. Tony loses control of his boat and it goes into a never-ending spin which scares the hell out of Tony. The attendant has to use a long pole to pull Tony back to the water's edge. Tony quickly gets off the boat and has Dad take him in a indoor playground.
While Tony is at the playground, Dad reads Pascal on his Ipod Touch. Andis sees a little boy become very upset and take swings at his mother. The mother in a spasmodic fit of annoyance grabs the child and lays him on the ground to give him a spanking. Andis can sympathize with the mother. The mother quickly returns to reading her magazine. The child, still sobbing, climbs on his mother's back. The boy clings to his mother and continues sobbing – the mother stays engrossed in her magazine. All souls in the playground – no matter how ungainly they seem to Western eyes.
On the way to and from the Plaza, Tony & Dad walk through the local People's Square. Andis attempts to make Gangnam Style dance videos on the square's steps and pedestals. Tony, however, doesn't know how to take video.
550 PM: Tony wants chips and hands Dad a package of chips to open. Dad & Mom refuse him because it is almost supper time. Tony takes the chips from Dad. Dad takes them back and puts them in a spot that Tony can't get to. Tony looks at Dad sternly and smacks Dad with an open hand – not in the face. He then gives Dad the sternest look.
Supper: Chilli and Hot Dogs. Yes!!!
Who is the 2012 Wuxi Expat of the Year?
Wednesday (the 2nd)
I don't work today.
Sudden bursts of anger I report in this blog. The result? Some reader says I should take anger management courses. Maybe, I should report my sudden bursts of happiness. Will some reader say I should take happiness management courses. No such things happen. The latter kind of people get punished in another way – they are labeled as uncool.
The K Family goes downtown.
Leaving the apartment, there was an interesting sight. Did the car back into the bike?
Tony went to painting class. Jenny & Andis went to Starbucks. Andis was reading Princess Der Ling.
Near Tony's painting class is the Sky Gym.
We walk to Buy Now Way Computer Market. I didn't see any e-book readers or an actual Ipad Mini. I saw a model of the latter. It was a little bigger than I hoped.
We then walk to the Xinhua Bookstore. Tony was going to buy a 25 rmb book. He looked at the book for twenty minutes and then took it back. He instead bought two books costing ten rmb each.
I then bought two pairs of shoes my size at a shoe store on Jiankang Road. Living in Wuxi & Have Big Feet? You Can Go There to Find Big Shoes!
Chilli for supper.
900 PM: Tony & Dad watch and dance to the Gangnam Style Video.
Thursday (the 3rd)
I work 1000-2100
I wear my new shoes to work. I hope they will still feel comfortable after I have worn them for the day.
I throw out two pairs of old shoes that I had hoarded in my office. One was the pair I wore at my wedding.
It is cold enough for me to need to wear my long johns and my toque and my scarf.
I had a one student class in the morning – my first class of 2013. The student couldn't recall clearly what he had done New Year's Eve which to him is just the night of December 31. He then revealed in one of his answers that he didn't know it was January. “I haven't had a beer since January.” he told me which was a strange thing to say on January 3.
I listened to episode #102 of the ReJoyce Podcast last night.
What the politicians did in regards to the “Fiscal Cliff” was every bit as pathetic as I thought it was going to be.
Looks like a pony. Built like a stallion.
Reading the book by Princess Der Ling prompts me to look on the internet for photos of the Empress Dowager. I find some.
Friday (the 4th)
I work 1100-2100.
Last night, I had to stand on the #635 bus which takes me home after teaching evening classes. The ride is forty minutes so by the time I got home I was exhausted.
I listened to episode #103 of the ReJoyce Podcast last night.
I feel like crap today. I will drag myself through the day. I feel like I need to take a nap.
Reading, I nodded off.
I have made an entry for WCE. Congrats HM! You deserve it!
1500 PM: I got a class. One student. A girl. Hopeless.
1600 PM: She has improved since the last class I had with her. Still...
A sentence she made: “I get a lot of Information from..” I was expecting her to say “Internet.” “..Romance books.” After a moment of flabbergast, I asked her what kind of information she got from Romance Books. She thought about this for a short time and answered “Love!”
1630 PM: I am wearing my toque. I wore it when I taught my two classes today. Also, I will go the next door (to the school) Dico's restaurant. Dico's is a KFC like restaurant chain from Taiwan. I don't want to talk about Taiwan! She said. Why? It is too complicated. Some say, she tells, that China would have been better off if the KMT had won. Did you know about the cultural revolution?
Saturday (the 5th)
I work 1000-1800.
Last night, I got a ride home from a student who lives in my area. I was home 45 minutes earlier.
I went to bed early. I have a bug of sorts. It is not enough to knock me out – only enough to make me feel drag-ass. (hyphen seemed necessary then.)
Morning routine: I read the articles whose links are emailed to me from Taki's magazine. This morning: a story of a newspaper seeking to out all the people who own guns in order to shame them.
There was a little snow on the ground.
On the bus, I listen to three podcasts. In the first one, a neurosurgeon after having a near-death experience says there is a heaven. The second was episode #105a of the ReJoyce Podcast series in which Delaney talked about the first five stories of Dubliners. The third was an episode form the Russian Rulers History podcast: the podcast's host is talking about the rule of Gorbachev. I remember, at the time Gorby was the leader, meeting some Latvians, from the USSR, who despised him. Too many Leftists in the West saw him as a person who meant well, even though he really wanted to keep the evil empire going.
Topic: Fantasy & Reality. Tell me about your fantasy day, I ask the student. She says nothing. So I have to walk her through. Do you get up early? No. Do you have lunch? No. What do you do in the afternoon? Play computer games. What do you do for dinner? Go to a nice restaurant. Which one? I don't know. What do you do the evening? Sleep.
Sit on the toilet for ten minutes. My favorite sensation these days is to sit in the bathroom at home, with my Ipod Touch in my hand and the heater blasting. Very comfortable and my worries go away. Of course, the toilet at work has a cold seat. Some people say they don't like to sit on toilets at work – they only like to do so at home.
Sunday (the 6th)
I work 1000-1800 today.
Last night, I watched some Gangnam Style Videos. Tony watched some with me and danced along. I like to do the dances when teaching.
I watched another video by PSY: Korea. The video, done as a cheer song for the 2012 Olympics, is just as affecting as the Gangnam Style Video. The song and PSY's dancing from that video is on my mind and won't escape.
Last night, Tony took over the laptop from me so he could watch videos on Youtube.
Last night, my stomach felt queasy. Not enough to keep me from work. Like some people!
On the way to work, I saw some locals throwing snowballs.
No breakfast at McDonald's on account of my stomach.
My assessment of the current U.S. political situation: Democrats are irredeemably stupid; the Republicans are hopeless cowards.
Brigitte Bardot is getting Russian citizenship? Why doesn't she become a Wuxi Expat?
I listened to a Charles Adler podcast – how Canadian the accents were! I noticed. I thought about how long it had been since I had heard so many. Was there a time when all the people around me talked that way?!? Over eight years ago now. It is starting to seem distant in the memory.
Difference between “when” and “while.” A student asked me about this yesterday. I told her that “while” is used with continuous forms, which was true, but not strictly. I should have told her that “while” was used with times that have a duration and that when was used with times that seem like “points.” Example: She phoned while I was at work. You are at work for a duration of time – how nice, it could be if it was for an instant or a point in time. Of course, I could also have said “She phoned while I was working.” And if you can't change the non-continuous form into a continuous form, you should be using “when”. Example: I had a cat when I was young. You can't say: I was having a cat while I was young. You also can't say: I had a cat while I was being young.
Damn! I realize that I forgot to bring the curry, my wife had packaged for me, to work! I wasn't going to eat at a restaurant anyway. I was going to munch the crackers, what the Chinese say are biscuits, that are on the shelf in my office. Orifice.
1230 PM: Two classes down. Three to go. The first two were alright. A good bunch of people. It all depends so much on the students. Silent & morose students make the class time drag on forever.
220 PM: Woo Hoo! Eleven! Have gone through three hundred of seven hundred Chinese flashcards. I have to make a list of suggested English Corner Topics.
230 PM: I am trying to enter my blog entry in Evernote. However, it is screwing up the spacing between my bullet points. So, I will use Evernote all of next week.
300 PM: English Corner. The topic: ambition. I emphasized to the students that ambition was not just wishing to get something but a desire to accomplish something.
615 PM: Supper at Grandmas: a good restaurant in Ba Bai Ban. I eat greedily despite my bad stomach. As I do so, I see this man wearing a jacket with a very wide fur collar. It freaks me out. Tony & I go to bathroom which is a bit of a distance from the restaurant. We do our business. I was my hands. Tony runs back to the table and ignores my demands that he washes his hands. I leave the bathroom and see I have no sight of him. I worry he has run somewhere other then to our table in the restaurant. When I arrive at the table, Tony is there but he is playfully trying to hide from me. The little bugger!
Tony goes to the restaurant lobby to watch the television. He tells me he is watching Pee Wee. He means Pee Wee Herman. He is in fact watching Mr. Bean. Thinking about it, I can see how Tony would confuse the two. They basically dress the same, have the same build, and the same head & face.
On the bus ride home, I talk to a young man who is studying English, but not at our school. I learn he works at the Hui Shan Tesco KFC as a delivery driver, and studies English on the weekend.
I may well buy an Ipad Mini this week.
I listen to episodes #107 and #108 of the ReJoyce Podcast. Delaney recently finished episode #134 so I could be caught up with him by the Spring Festival.