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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Greetings and salutations and all that stuff. Boxing has nothing to do with Lois, and Lois has nothing to do with boxing. However, those are the two topics that stand first in my head at the moment. I know I don’t post a lot (especially compared to the Korean “adventure”) but as I’ve mentioned before, I think it was misery that caused all that writing. I am not miserable but there is a limited amount of activity in my life. I have not discovered any of Changsha (if there is any to discover). I’ve been out drinking twice and I think that’s it since Shujie says I have a 2-drink limit, which is crap, but I don’t care to fight. We were going to go to a Mexican restaurant last weekend but we phoned first and guess what? It’s closed. That really wasn’t a surprise to me since I don’t think they have a Western (or Mexican) population to support it. That’s too bad. Shujie did make fajitas at home and while not great (cheap chicken), it was a valiant and appreciated effort.

I go to work and I basically work 3 days a week from 9 to 11:30 and 2 days a week from 9 to 10:40. The hours are nothing and the work is nothing but the pay is great (for China). I think I started with 6 students in my class but now I think I have 5. It is a rare day that I see all 5 in the class on the same day. I’ve stopped lecturing and mostly am there to assist them as they write their thesis for the course. I don’t mind the one on one work as I feel that I’m accomplishing something (and my #1 student confirmed that for me), and we do spend time in just idle chit-chat since I tell them things of interest they know nothing about, and they tell me things that I know nothing about. I can speak freely (and so can they). Do you know the idiom, “don’t shut the barn door after the horses have bolted” or something like that? In China they say, “the rice is cooked”. I like that. It means the same but it’s interesting to know how they phrase things.

I nap in the afternoon for a bit. I don’t sleep well at night (no idea why), so my afternoon sleep is good and needed. I think I get episodes of CHF (congestive heart failure) fairly regularly. I think that because my legs swell so I am retaining water. When that happens I increase my dosage of Furosemide (a water pill) and it clears up. When I was in the hospital for CHF they told me to rest and increased my Furosemide dosage so I just do the same. It is what it is so I don’t worry about it, I just deal with it.

I still have to walk up 4 flights of stairs every morning for class and it’s a killer. I can do 3 now before having a break (which is a huge change from ½ a flight that I started from). I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do 4 in one shot but I don’t worry about it. My shortness of breath comes and goes but the huge difference between before my operation and now is I know where my body is and what is “abnormal” in my condition. Before I just knew there was something wrong. If you know there is a problem, you can adjust your thinking and your expectations. I’ve found that adjusting my expectations has been a huge help to my mental health and I know longer beat myself up with what I can’t do. So I can’t walk 18 holes of golf, so what? I don’t golf anyway so no loss there.

There is a donut store here called “Daylight Donuts”. It’s a chain in the U.S. that is not huge like “Dunkin Donuts” but their product is far superior. The one Shujie found here makes a good donut (and good coffee too). Shujie likes to visit the Walmart here and the donut shop is right beside it. If you want 6 donuts, they give you a box. If you want less than 6, they put them in a bag. Have you ever bought donuts that they put wax paper around and then throw in a bag on a hot day? All the icing comes off. They’re crap! So I asked Shujie to get them in a box (I think I wanted two). They argued with her. “You want 2 donuts, then you get a bag”. These Chinese people can be pretty weird. Shujie told me they went back and forth arguing until finally they gave her a box and told her, “Fine! Whenever you come in you’ll get a box”, which really means F.U. So now she always gets a box. It’s a stupid fight but China is full of stupid (to a Western person) fights. Damn good donuts though. A Chinese-Canadian owns this franchise. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Daylight Donuts in Canada. And that’s my boxing story.

I just found out today that Lois Lilienstein died last week. For those of us a certain age (which means we had small children in the 80’s), Lois was the Lois in the musical group “Sharon, Lois, and Bram”, which had a TV show called “The Elephant Show”. As a parent I would watch it too at times because it didn’t talk down to kids. Sharon, Lois, and Bram were a musical group and they created “The Elephant Show” which my kids loved and I enjoyed. We went to see them in concert and I was deeply saddened to learn of her passing because of the joy she brought to my kids. For all of us who know and appreciate “Skinamarinky” here is a video of the song:

I think classes are over in just over a month and I don’t know what the plan is. I have 3 weeks and 3 days of holidays so I might go to Toronto (about $2,000 for the flight) and then teach for this group I work for. I don’t know if they have a plan in place yet but as long as I’m paid, who cares. I think I’m supposed to be teaching English to high school graduates this summer and then in the fall it’s back to the University graduates again and thesis writing. My contract goes until the end of December and Shujie and I, in our idiocy, are thinking of opening our own school in Baoding. I refuse to teach young kids (I like them but don’t want them as students). Shujie only wants to have high school students or older but that means working evenings (which I hate). My idea is to try and sell ourselves (or me) to businesses to teach in-house English classes. That would mean daytime work and no kids. Apparently there are very few English schools in Baoding (and it’s a growing city) so she’s going to do some investigating. She has done some and she says she was told by the head of the business license office in Baoding (an old school-mate of hers) that there are only 4 English schools in the city. I guess since I’ll be over 60 and very difficult to hire, I need to have my own school. It would be Shujie’s and I wouldn’t even be an employee or just an “off the books” employee. Que Sera Sera.

It’s supposed to be 30C tomorrow followed by 32C the day after. The weather here is insane and if you look at the forecast at midnight, it may be quite different from when you look at 8AM. I’m not ready to sweat but I can wear shorts to work if I want. I’m kind of bored but I’m not sure what I want to do. Money is not good at the moment due to the extended period of time when I didn’t work due to my useless heart surgery. We have expenses like Qi Ji’s wedding (Shujie’s son). If I want to go to Toronto, it’s big bucks plus all the medicine I have to buy. Believe it or not, I’m not complaining. It’s just what it is. You can get an excellent hamburger here in town so it’s not all bad.

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What a great teacher I am. I don’t yell and I don’t get upset. However, I do tell them some hard truths at times and this past week was one of them. I have a student I consider to be a liar, lazy, and not worth any human effort. He doesn’t do assignments and he doesn’t try to help himself or even ask for help. I told him, and I quote, “I will fail you and I will laugh about it”. Will that get through? I doubt it; he’s been hiding from me since.

As I’ve mentioned, I have 6 students of which 4 are fine in that they are decent people who make an effort. Their English could be better but then again, I could speak more than 5 words of Chinese. One of the two remaining students is working out of the office where the head guy is helping him. The other one is working out of somewhere, maybe, I doubt it. I told Philip (the boss) that I wouldn’t fail anyone if he doesn’t want me to. He won’t come out and say, “please, don’t fail anyone”, but I know that’s what he wants. I’ll give those space-wasters a minimum score.

I gave the class a 1-week extension on their Thesis Proposal’s. Part of me didn’t want to do it, but I faced reality. They are terrible at time management, but I can see they are trying. I have 2 students who never studied English for their Undergraduate degrees. I figured that this is like a “training school” so it doesn’t really matter what grade I give them (as long as they pass). It’s best if I use the time to best prepare them for the year ahead.

I was thinking I’d like to go out for a drink with them. I’m not sure that would be kosher. They are all 22 or older but something tells me I shouldn’t. We like each other so I think it would be fun. I’m comfortable with them (I swear all the time in class). I’m thinking about it and I’ll think about it some more.

Shujie has been gone almost 2 weeks now. She’s back in Baoding hiring an interior decorator for the apartment she says is hers but it’s really her son’s and it’s where he will be living with his future bride. I hear they hired someone and they’re doing the plans now. Pretty much everything will go (Shujie has family who will take things) and Qi Ji (her son) wants a nice place for his mother (and me) to stay at when we are in Baoding. Not me! Unless I’m shown that his pig-like ways are gone (and I like the kid), there is no way I will ever spend another night there.

I miss my wife, but I do appreciate the quiet. I can cough without her bringing me some pill or other or acting like I’m dying. It’s a relief. I can manage and if I need to go out and get something I have our good friend Ouyang to drive me. It’s quite funny as she blabbers at me in Chinese and I reply in English. Sometimes we talk with our phones as there is a messaging app, “WeChat”, that has a translate function in it. She’s a sweetie. She took me with her son to Pizza Hut last Saturday. I cannot say strongly enough how lucky we were to end up in an apartment she owns. She is gold!

Other than that, life goes on with me doing nothing. I come home and have a small lunch. If I have a paper to review, I do it. I read a little. I have a nap. I probably should go out (it was 32C today), but it kills me to walk. It takes me 10 minutes to walk home from the bus stop after school and my classroom is on the 4th floor. Am I out of shape, or is it my heart? I really don’t know. It’s probably a combination of both. I’ve always hated walking but the pain has never been this bad. My legs hurt and I’m short of breath. It’s no fun. I did get a laugh today as I was chatting with one of my students. He knows it’s hard for me to get up the stairs and he sometimes sees me resting on the 3rd floor. I told him some girls are really nice because they stop and ask me if I’m okay. He wants me to introduce him (I don’t even know these ladies) but he figures my poor health is a “chick magnet”.

I think I’ll have to get out and do things when Shujie returns. Number one on my list is to visit the Mexican restaurant. Fajitas por favor. I’m sure there are other things to do. I could have another good hamburger (I found a place) but the fajitas top the list.

I’m watching “Downton Abbey” now. I’m streaming it on Amazon and I love it. I’m only 4 episodes in but I’m hooked. I guess this is what I missed by never watching “Upstairs, Downstairs”.

I want a new iPad. Mine works fine but I want one with 4G capability. I never cared before but now I can see a use for it. They’re not cheap so I think it will have to go on the back burner for longer than I want. I have to pay the dowry (man pays here) and contribute to the wedding, fly home to visit, and buy a year’s worth of drugs. Those seven months not working hurts. I don’t mind helping out with Qi Ji’s wedding, but I do mind. It’s the kind part of me versus the selfish part of me. I think the kind will win out. Damn it!

So that’s it. Not much doing here but I am happier than in Toronto. Doing nothing here is more enjoyable than doing nothing there. I enjoy chattering with the kids and I enjoy the company of our friend Ouyang. I wouldn’t mind a decent steak but that will have to wait. Elyse, get ready!

Until we meet again.