Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Mountain Sheep and Sexist Cows

My school pays a bonus of about 75$ if I show up every working day of the month. But if you miss for any reason, you don't get it. So, once you've missed an afternoon, you might as well take another day. I'm taking tomorrow, July 31, because Friday, August 1, is the school's "summer vacation." One day. Of course, the Chinese mindset thinks of it as 3 days, but I'm not going to address that right now.

So, because I've got a 4-day weekend, I'm done bitching about my job for the moment.

I'm going to be a complete sexist cow for a minute.

Anytime I have done anything with a group of Chinese people, I'm always struck about how much they talkabout their plans. They plan things like group trips, graduation ceremonies, dinner outings, and so on. And how they always follow the group. My school was planning a graduation ceremony (kindergarten! Six years old!) for months. And of course, it made no difference to the kids.

When they eat in a group, they all wait around outside and talk about going in, and then go in and talk about the food, and then order together for everyone.

Or a story from my boyfriend Tim, who went on a trip with his staff to a mountain resort town. The Chinese staff had planned for everyone to go look at some sheep and take pictures of each other. The foreign (i.e. white) staff all wanted to sit at a restaurant and drink. The Chinese staff were totally confused and couldn't figure out how to accomodate this unplanned suggestion.

And then I realized, just today, that the real problem is something else: Men virtually never work in these schools in Taiwan. All of this cross-cultural nonsense had nothing to do with Chinese people. It's because they're all women.

There's my controversial remark for the week.

Monday, July 28, 2003

My kindergarten students graduated last weekend. But they're still at school this week. Two years ago, this was summer vacation week. This year it's "summer camp." I think all 4-year-olds deserve to have at least a week away from school. But no. Apparently weekends are enough for the unloved child whose parents would rather work 52 weeks a year than take some time with their sons or daughters before they're old enough to be resentful. And my school would rather encourage this neglect than lose a week's worth of tuition.

I was at school 13 days in a row, and so was all the other staff. You'd think the school could at least spring for dinner after the ceremony. But they asked the teachers and staff to help pay for the dinner. So I didn't go.

Anyway, the real reason I posted was because one of my students gave me this.

Oh yeah, and now I've seen 2 baby lizards in my bedroom. Mom's nowhere to be found.

Friday, July 25, 2003

An interesting side-effect to living in a warm tropical country is that you have strange wildlife. I've seen monkeys raiding my campsite and spiders as big as your hand. But that's in the mountains. In the city, it's the same as everywhere: the occasional rat, cockroaches, and birds.
But our apartment is currently host to a couple of small lizards. You can see them at night on the outside walls of buildings that are bathed in insect-attracting light. They sometimes make it indoors. They're about the size of a gigantic cockroach, so I'm always startled to see one, but I don't kill them, because I know they eat the other bugs in the apartment. Also, it seems wrong to kill a lizard with a shoe.
And apparently, one of them has brought its children indoors, because I saw a tiny one sliding along the bedroom wall last night. Like I said, I can put up with the lizards, but if it turns into an infestation, that will be a bit much.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

I'm sick again. This time, I think it was something that I ate. I was crippled with stomach pains yesterday, and there's not much you can do about it. The pharmacy wasn't any help. One thing that irritates me about this country is that you can't buy a big bottle of aspirin or Tylenol. you've got to get it from the pharmacy in packets of 10 pills, for about $2.75.

If you're sick, or you have some kind of pain, 10 Tylenol will not even last 2 days. The instructions are kind of mystic that way. "Take 1 or 2 tablets 3-4 times daily." So, I can take 3, or 8. The pharmacist always tries to give me instructions regarding how to take Tylenol. They always tell me to take only one. Come on. I'm American. I know how to self-medicate.

And to IA, they don't sell LSD at the pharmacy. However, they do apparently sell a pure form of some kind of crazy-ass mind altering substance known as DXM. Sounds like scary stuff. None for me, thanks.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

I think it's time to look for a new job.

The school I've been working at for 2 1/2 of the last 3 1/2 years is getting cheap. A couple of years ago, I had 2 weeks paid vacation: one week at Chinese new year, and another in the summer. They also used to have a 4 day weekend in the spring, and they gave us "red envelopes" with money in them on 2 or 3 holidays. This year, Chinese new year was 4 days, and I just found out that there is no summer vacation.

I realize that it's primarily a day-care service, serving 3-7 year-olds, but still, it's got to be harder for a 4 year old to have 51 weeks of school than it is for the teachers who have to work there. What I can't believe is that all the Chinese staff who work there just heard the management decision to cancel vacation, and then they just bent over and took it. I'm also not entirely sure how cancelling vacation saves the school money. At any rate, they'll soon be saving some money by not having to pay me.

The only consolation with a job like this is that they know that reliable foreigners are hard to come by, so if I need a day, or a week, or a month off, I just tell them and they agree. Of course, it's not paid, but there aren't many jobs where you could miss a month and still come back to your job. Or, like the other foreigner that works there, take a day or an afternoon off once every week or two and not get fired.

Anyway, tonight, I'm going to find my resume, and update it. Shit.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Another problem. Cosmetic.
I've got Taiwan Feet.
Living in a dirty, hot country, wearing sandals or barefoot all day, I seem to have ground the dirt in completely, and it won't wash off. Pumice stone does not do the trick. Maybe I can get something from the pharmacy...

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Recently, I had tonsilitis. I thought that was for kids, but I guess I was wrong. So I went to the doctor, and he gave me some pills. Six pills, three times a day, for three days. That's the way they do it here. Three days of medicine.

It didn't work. It still hurt to eat, so I was medicating myself with Panadol and lots of water. But on the weekend, I said, "fuck this." I went to a pharmacy, and told them I needed antibiotics. And they sold me some. One pill, three times a day. I felt better within hours.

Here, the pharmacy can sell you whatever they've got if they think you need it. Next week, I'm going to walk in to one all twitchy and hopped up on coffee, and see if they'll sell me some Valium.

I have nothing to say this week, apparently.