Life is getting too normal. Sometimes I think, “What can I write about since today isn’t much different than yesterday”. The excitement seems to have gone but there are still some great and interesting moments. But I guess life is life wherever you are and you adjust and live it. I mean, I like doing this much more than computer crap. I like finding the gem of a conversation that can happen (but not often enough). I love eating shao cao (but not often enough). I guess my life has settled down.
I think I quit my computer job in Toronto since they were 6 weeks behind in payment. I’m sure I’d be paid eventually, but I wasn’t interested enough to wait on “eventually”. I left a substantial amount of money of the table but to be honest, I just don’t care enough. I could use the money but it’s not worth the annoyance. So that is that unless some money is forthcoming, which I highly doubt.
The weekend (oh, so long ago) was fairly boring. Shujie and I went out for dinner with Lisa and I found out Sunday afternoon it was a disaster. I didn’t know it was a disaster but Shujie said I was an entirely different person with only eyes for Lisa and only interested in talking to her. Now I think Shujie talked more than me (since Lisa was having a hard time deciding whether being at this college was worthwhile). A little girl came to our table to tell me her name and I told her mine and said “nice to meet you”. That exhausted her English so I didn’t pay much attention to her. If the kid wants to talk with whatever little English they have, I’m all ears. If they can’t talk I’m not interested in having them become performing seals saying what Shujie tells them to say. I’ve told her that. So my not paying attention to this 8 year old was a crime.
Now I didn’t know anything bad was going on until Sunday afternoon when I got a text message from Lisa asking if she could talk to me. I took it to mean “talk to Shujie and I” and I asked Shujie if she wanted to go. That’s when I heard all these things. I’m no angel but I found something disgusting in being jealous of a 20 year old girl and suspecting her of ulterior motives. The fight got ugly and Shujie said some very nasty things (such as I don’t care as much about my students as I do Lisa). That burned me since I work hard for my kids. I was having flashbacks to the dreaded Saeyoon and I just couldn’t believe this was the sweet woman I married. Shujie in Canada and Shujie in China are two different animals.
This lasted about a day and a half before she finally apologized sincerely enough for me to believe. It was just so stupid. Where she sees a scheming femme fatale, I see a confused 20-year-old child. Lisa and I spoke on Sunday (there is a coffee shop in the library which is quite nice) and it was very pleasant. She came up with a new plan of action and after learning that her mother was her best friend; I told her she should discuss it with her mother. I was happy with the outcome.
While walking around Sunday afternoon I saw about 7 of my students, which was amazing since before then the most I had ever seen at one time was one student. It’s nice to see people you know and say hello. Some gave me the fish eye since I’m with a strange girl, but whatever.
Yesterday in class there was a boy I thought looked familiar but I couldn’t place him. After a while it hit me, this was Danny. Danny is one of my better students and I enjoy talking with him. He had changed his hair. It was all styled and yucky (my viewpoint). At break, Danny and Sam (another good student) came out to talk to me. He asked me how I liked his hair and I said, “I’ll tell you the truth, it looks gay to me”. Not that there’ anything wrong with that. Naturally he didn’t know what gay is so I translated to Chinese for him (it’s good to know the important words). He was shocked, embarrassed, and thought it was funny. I really hope he took it as a joke (even if it does look gay). He’s a good kid and I wouldn’t want to hurt him. I just like kidding around.
I gave my classes a written assignment to write a short biography of themselves. Some of them are pathetic. I was born in xxxx in 19xx and I have 2 parents. The end. One boy sent me a Reese Witherspoon story. I was quite confused so I confronted him yesterday in private. Usually I don’t mind embarrassing them in front of the class when they do something dishonest and stupid but I think this kid has half a brain so I gave him a break.
I asked him if this was his homework. He said yes. I told him it was to be about him and not Reese Witherspoon. Then I said, “did you write this”? He said yes which was a lie. I whipped out a story I found on the Internet that he copied word for word. He lied to me. I told him that insulted me. But, I also told him we would forget about this, he’d do it properly and we wouldn’t talk about it again. Sometimes I can be nice. But I have to tell you. I’ve told them it’s too hard to cheat in English. If it’s written too well, you copied. Dumb, dumb, and dumb.
The homework is due this morning and I don’t think I even have 50% of the assignments in. So, today should be fun. I get to spend a class asking 40 students why they didn’t do their homework. They should just be honest and say either, “I’m lazy” or “I’m dumb and lazy”. And this gets them 1 zero. Three zeros and they’re bounced from the class.
I’m constantly trying to think up new ideas to talk about in class that will engage the students. It ends up being the Martin King Comedy Hour starring Martin King. But I’m running out of material. I thought yesterday I’d explain Halloween since they don’t have it here. They all knew it so that killed that idea. So I wrote down October 29 and said what day is this? None of them knew so I told them it was my mother’s birthday. I did my little cultural thing that people of 76 in China are considered old and feeble with the brains of infants, while in the west they are vital folks who do things for themselves. I told them she bowls weekly (that drew oohs and aahs), and that she plays Mah Jong every week and has been doing so for more than 50 years. That blew them away.
We also talked about kissing. Not boy/girl kissing but the kissing of parents. That happens with less than 50% of the students. I shared my viewpoint and I was hoping the numbers were higher.
I wrote “sex” on the board and asked if they knew what that was and they did. I stopped there although I was dying to discuss it. I don’t want to know which people have had sex but I do want to know the numbers. I guess there are some borders I can’t cross.
I’ve decided I need to hit a good bookstore in a big city and find a new English book. I’m looking for a book of essays with a point so we can read them and discuss. I think we’ll make a day run to Nanjing this weekend to seek one out. The textbook they’ve given me is such garbage and I keep looking though it but I’m not clever enough to mine anything out of it.
So I tutor at 10:45 this morning (just talking) and I have 2 classes this afternoon. I figure embarrassing those who didn’t do the homework will take half the class. It’s so nice of them to provide me with material.
Life has some normalcy in it. I showed “Key Largo” last night with Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. I loved it. I have no idea how many understood enough of it to enjoy it, but I was thrilled by it. The turnouts are decent and I get kids from other classes who are invited by their friends in my class, which is fine. As long as there is a chair for everyone, all is good.
It’s November. It’s 23 degrees today (Celsius). I wonder when it will get cool. Life goes on. It’s stable but I’m always looking for ways to enhance the experience.