Thursday, October 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
And I missed out on this:
JW: vickyyyyy[9:09:23 AM]
JW: we're ALIVE[9:09:36 AM]
me: are you back from NK?[9:09:39 AM]
JW: yes[9:09:41 AM]
me: i'm so glad you're not dead![9:09:43 AM]
me: how was it?[9:09:43 AM]
JW: amazing[9:09:51 AM]
JW: so utterly strange and amazing[9:09:55 AM]
me: oh man, i'm so jealous[9:09:59 AM]
me: give me a highlight[9:10:06 AM]
JW: might be when we went to the kim-jong-il gift palace[9:11:14 AM]
JW: where they keep all the gifts given to the great leader in a ridiculous building of marble that reeks of fascism[9:11:35 AM]
JW: and madeline albright brought a basketball signed by michael jordan[9:11:52 AM]
JW: and we asked the guide what the significance of this ball was, to the korean people[9:12:16 AM]
JW: and our guide said "i think it is that this ball represents the world, and when our great leader plays with this ball, it is proving that he controls the world."
I've made a huge mistake.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
My sister gave me $50 to spend at www.donorschoose.org, a site where different teachers can ask for donations for any project they want, and donors choose what they want to finance.
I gave $25 to this project titled "No, Virginia, There Is No U.S.S.R" and am trying to decide where to spend the rest of my donation dollars. Audience suggestions are greatly appreciated, especially since I should be packing right now (while I know a few of you have quite a bit of desk time)--check out the site and tell me what strikes your fancy.
Thanks for your help! Hopefully I'll have a good selection from ya'll when I return from my travels through Southeast Asia.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Found them nestled between the sunscreen and the condoms while I was looking for bobby pins...
I do have some friends getting married soon.... do you think these would make a good shower gift?
2. Official 2009 World Games Multi-purpose Headscarf
The more I look at these, the more I think, "Surely ___ would love these panties and this headscarf!" I need more discipline...
4 days left in Kaohsiung...
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I've been a busy lady as of late, and one of the things I've done while not updating dailychao.blogspot.com is guestblogging about my trip to Sun Moon Lake for www.travelogged.com. Here's a teaser:
Through the pedagogy of rote memorization, the magnificence of Sun Moon Lake has been ingrained in the consciousness of Chinese-speaking people. My local friends tell me that here in Taiwan, all schoolchildren memorize “Moonlight Reflecting on the Lake,” a poem written by Yunlin County Magistrate Chien Ming Shan in 1875. None of my friends can recall the words anymore, but the message remains. “Sun Moon Lake is a beautiful place,” they say, “you cannot miss it.”
Click here to read the whole thing!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Each of the three candidates has taped colorful signs peppered with clipart images of ice cream cones and basketballs around the school explaining their intended policies. They are mostly in Chinese, which means the signs look like this to me:
1. Increase blah
2. Increase dfadsf
3. Increase the limit on library book borrowing to at least 5
4. Increase uoiuoi
5. Ice cream at least once a month with lunch.
One of the candidates--my best English student--wrote the phrase "Yes, I Can!" at the top of her poster. I admire the effort, though I think the populist message of Obama's slogan was lost on her.
Ironically, the school's mayoral election happens to fall on June 4, 2009--the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. It seems that, at least from the things I've read, the state has mostly erased the massacre from Chinese people's memory through either fear or ignorance. If you can get your hands on a copy of Jan Wong's Red China Blues, I'd highly recommend reading it--she was one of the first foreign students allowed to study in China after communism set in and later (after her commie days were over) covered the Tiananmen Massacre as a journalist for the Toronto Star.
There are also some good readings on the internet. I really liked this article from the Guardian and this one from The Nation.
Update: Weird censorship decisions are going down in China right now. Read James Fallows for more details.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I can't decide how I should feel about his death--on the one hand, Pastor L. was an important figure in my personal development. On the other hand, his death has no bearing on my day-to-day life. Perhaps this is one of those conflicts we grow to understand as we grow older. The absence of important people in our lives cannot stop life from continuing. It will go on, with or without you.
I have thought about this constantly since I moved to Taiwan. I have responsibilities and a life here, but it feels like it exists in isolation from my "real life" back in the states. In my head, everything will be right where I left it when I return in July, but in reality, I will not come home to the same place. A family friend got in a serious car accident and has been hospitalized for three weeks. The college friend who once told me "The only reason I would save the whales is so I can eat them" is now working for some green project in New Hampshire headed by Al Gore. One of my friends dissappeared from facebook (she's not the type to quit), and it was only after several failed searches that I realized she'd dropped her maiden name after getting married.
It's June 1, which means I only have a month left in this place. Everyone keeps talking about how they're ready to go home. Certainly I am ready to leave, but I'm also unsure about what going home really means in this case. It's been a year and a half since I've spent more than 3 days in Ohio, and I'm afraid that I may long for a familiarity that no longer exists.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The official dance troupe of the Dallas Cowboys (a US National Football League team) perform with local elderly at a downtown park in Shanghai in April. China's sports industry is getting more popular, more profitable, and more international.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I was feeling depressed about being jobless. Then my friend took me to
apply for one of the temporary jobs the government was providing for unemployed
"We have to knock on people's doors and ask them to let us into
their homes to get rid of sources of standing water and catch mosquitoes. Our
city will host the 2009 World Games in July, and we need to eradicate mosquitoes
to avoid outbreaks of Dengue fever.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Quick update--my computer has a virus, so I've been avoiding any activities that require login information for a quite some time. I'm slowly growing less vigilant about protecting my personal information, so eventually you will start seeing a steady stream of backlogged posts. There have been so many adventures and not enough sleep.
I've been saying partially in jest, partially in seriousness that I wanted to be the fastest woman in Taiwan. That goal will probably never come true (I am not a fast girl), but I did run the "Sporty Healthy Taipei" 9k last week in which I took 26th place overall and 3rd place in my age division (Women 20-29). Most importantly, I won a trophy, which has never happened and probably will never happen again. The photo above is from the awards ceremony, where apparently I was the only one who was a) happy and b) hot enough to wear shorts and a tank top in 95 degree weather.
A preview of good things to come:
The Kaohsiung Fulbrighters have formed a team to race in the Dragon Boat Festival races at the end of the month. They say that in crew, everyone must be the same strength and having one person who rows harder than everyone else will throw off the boat. If the same principles apply to dragon boat racing, then we are in serious trouble because our teammates range from Dan, the 6-foot-2 former college basketball player, to me and everything in between. To get to the final round, we will probably have to row 500 meters in less than 3.5 minutes. The other day at practice, it took our boat 7 minutes to not quite make the full 500 meters. I can't wait.
Monday, April 20, 2009
"Torture from Afar"
For as annoyed as foreigners may get with America and Americans, there
have been two saving graces in the world's opinions of our country. One has been
its permeability. Anywhere you go, someone has an uncle or cousin in America.
The other, less openly stated, has been a belief that at some point there
are rules in America. Long periods may pass when the rules are ignored. Big boys
may bend the rules in their favor. Some offenses are never made right. And so
on. But in the end, the American system is supposed to recognize injustice and
respond -- including with public accountability for even the mightiest figures.
It has this in common with the British and some other systems -- which is what
Gandhi relied on in knowing he could "shame" the Brits. For all the increases in
liberty within China over the last generation, this is a striking difference
with the world's currently-rising power. No one expects China's current
leadership to conduct a "truth commission" about the Cultural Revolution or
Tiananmen. But people finally expect America to apply its own rules, even
against its own people. Fulfilling that expectation is not sufficient for
restoring America's image international standing. But it is
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
On a cool spring eve, March 15th, 2009, a bat, crippled and wistful, clung to the Space Shuttle Discovery as it was thrust toward the great beyond. Goodbye and godspeed, my magnificent Spacebat.
Bereft of his ability to fly and with nowhere to go, a courageous bat climbed aboard our Discovery with stars in his weak little eyes. The launch commenced, and Spacebat trembled as his frail mammalian body was gently pushed skyward. For the last time, he felt the primal joy of flight; for the first, the indescribable feeling of ascending toward his dream—a place far away from piercing screeches and crowded caves, stretching forever into fathomless blackness.
Whether he was consumed in the exhaust flames or frozen solid in the stratosphere is of no concern. We know that Spacebat died, but his dream will live on in all of us.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
11 years later, however, I find myself in the midst of another pop culture phenomenon: Cape No. 7, the total body experience. Cape No. 7 is a Taiwanese movie that combines the three things Taiwanese people love most: love stories, pop music, and discussions of national identity. The plot involves two story lines--one between a Japanese man and a Taiwanese woman at the end of the Japanese colonization period, and a present-day love story between a Taiwanese postman and a Japanese concert organizer. Both take place in Hengchun Township, a provincial, beachy area at the southermost part of the island.
The local response to this movie has been nothing short of fanaticism. I have co-workers who have seen it at least four times. Earlier this year, the local news reported that the Hengchun County Post Office received thousands of love letters from movie fans sent to the fabled address, Cape No. 7. Discussing the movie is the equivalent of talking about food or the weather. Everyone likes it, no one argues, we all save face and go home happy. Singing either of the hit songs from the movie (if you're a foreigner, that is) is a guaranteed, no-fail recipe for making Taiwanese friends, especially if you sing it at a KTV (that's Karaoke TV, pan- Asia's favorite weekend hangout.)
Hengchun Township has tried (successfully) to capitalize on Cape No. 7 Fantacism by putting together a Cape No. 7 Tour, where crazed Taiwanese people of all ages drive around Hengchun taking photos at all the sites where the movie was filmed. Hengchun looks exactly like any other provincial area of Taiwan, except with a nicer beach. Just like everywhere else that's not Taipei or Kaohsiung, there are weather-worn houses, stray dogs, lots of scooters and the faint-but-ubiquitous stench of fish. Yet, in spite of its ordinariness, people flocked to Hengchun to take photos of themselves at what appear to be the most mundane sites on the island including but not limited to 7/11, a random house where the main character lived or a shabby old alley. All the postmen trying to deliver mail got mobbed by tourists demanding to get a photo with themselves and a real Hengchun postman.
The following slideshow is from my fellow Fulbrighter Billy and I's trip to Hengchun with his host family and a few of my co-workers. Do you see the mobs of teenagers? Do you understand why they're so excited? Do you see why I'm confused?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Today, however, one of my little mutes decided to say "I like cake!" during class today, making my heart take a little leap. This was, of course, tempered by the fact that another child cried for the entire class period after being asked to say the same thing.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
You can't make this shit up. I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing.
You've read the book, attended the seminars and pondered the accumulation of surplus value – now see the musical.
Chinese producers are attempting to transform Das Kapital from a hefty treatise on political economy into a popular stage show, complete with catchy tunes and nifty footwork.
Whether Karl Marx would approve of his masterwork being served up as entertainment for China's new bourgeoisie is a matter of speculation. But the director He Nian – best known for his stage adaptation of a martial-arts spoof – has promised to unite elements from Broadway musicals and Las Vegas shows in a hip, interesting and educational play featuring a live band, singing and dancing.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I accompanied my 70-year-old host parents to a luncheon celebrating the 90th birthday of their priest hoping something absurd would happen, like the birthday celebration actually turning into a secret Jews for Jesus concert. Instead, I got nothing. No exorcisms, no conspiracy theories, not even weird outfits old people think they can get away with wearing but actually can't. NOTHING.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
It's also worth checking out Chinese coverage of the Dalai Lama's speech. Here's a teaser from Xinhua, China's main news agency:
Commentary: For whom is Tibet a "hell on earth"?
www.chinaview.cn 2009-03-10 22:28:56 Print
By Xinhua Writer Zhou Yan
LHASA, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Tuesday is a special date for Tibetans. For the 2.8 million residents in the southwest China autonomous region, it marks 50 years since feudal serfdom was abolished; but for the 14th Dalai Lama and his "government-in-exile," it marks five decades of futile attempts at independence.....
In a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of his exile, the Dalai Lama abruptly shook off his pacifist outlook and smiles to give some gibberish far below the intelligence of the "spiritual leader" himself, and poles apart from truth.
Monday, March 9, 2009
But I take back all the bile--thanks to Sexy Beijing for showing us all how sweet Valentine's Day is in China!
What if she had kept them? Would she keep them in the fridge? In the common room for everyone to enjoy? As a paperweight on her desk?
This episode puts a whole new spin on the "When in Taiwan, do as the Taiwanese do" philosophy.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
on the island. At least one of the schools that host Fulbright English Teaching Assistants has a "Creativity Center" (oh, the irony of building a center for creativity is not lost on me) where either a bunch of teachers plan events to encourage kids to be creative or kids go to be creative, though it's unclear which of these options is actually the purpose of the center. One of my co-workers is apparently working towards a masters degree in "Creativity Studies," but his failure to explain what that actually means makes me suspect that Creativity is some sort of meaningless buzzword in the Taiwanese education field, sort of like "green" or "all-natural" in the United States.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
The White Eyes played a show last night at a place called the Underworld near Taipei Normal University*. I won't pretend I know how to write about music or concerts, but the energy level at the show seemed comparable to the other two shows I've seen in recent memory (Dengue Fever in July and the What Cheer? Brigade sometime last spring). All 40 of us who crowded into the smoky lair of Underworld bobbed our heads at the very least, and most people danced. I felt like I was 16 again, lying to my parents about "sleepovers" so I could catch punk shows on campus or begging one of my acquaintances who house-sat for Karen O., the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to steal her underwear when no one was looking.
I'd been whining about not being able to see live music more since I arrived on this island, and I'm glad that a) I finally saw a show and b) it didn't suck. Hopefully more is yet to come!
*Note on culture: In spite of the East Asia's affinity for conformity, the term "Normal Universities" is not meant to distinguish Normal Universities from "weird" universities. "Normal University" is actually an old-fashioned term for teacher's college.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I know that giving thanks is usually an activity reserved for Thanksgiving, but it seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the little things that bring me joy out here.
1. The Internet: thank you for bringing me Skype, GChat, the online graduate school application and The New Yorker.
2. My roommates: Good company goes a long way, and luckily for me, good company is never far away.
3. Emails from Paul: "so i spent valentines day [at my sister's college] with my mom; it was nice to know you are never too gay to be oedipal."
4. Employment: the only thing worse than being employed is being unemployed. Truth.
5. Coworkers who send me photos like this:
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Having surpassed the two-year mark in singledom, the holiday no longer registers in my brain. When I remember to think about it, it's mostly with indifference--I like couples and have nothing against love or the expression of love. At the same time, it amuses me that greeting card companies have convinced people spend lots of time, energy and money on a holiday that commemorates the death of a martyr who was stoned, clubbed, then beheaded. All in the name of love! But I digress...
As it turns out, I should probably be more sensitive or aware of holidays that might mean something to someone, especially when a whole island of those someones have so much love to give that its expression overflows into three, non-consecutive days each year. I absentmindedly scheduled three interviews with local Brown applicants at the Starbucks around the corner from my apartment today. When I arrived, there was a line stretching out the door. Must be the Saturday afternoon crowd, I thought. After reaching the front of the line and ordering a drink, the barista asked if I wanted two. "Two?" I asked. "Why would I need two hot chocolates?"
"It's buy one, get one free!" she exclaimed. I briefly considered--after all, why get one when you can get two? Then I looked around. The closet-sized lobby was packed shoulder-to-shoulder with caffeine-deprived-but-giddy couples. I was the only one alone.
"Oh, it's Valentine's Day! I just need one, thanks," I replied. Her smile softened into a countenance of deep, profound pity. I almost changed my drink order just so her face would re-inflate to its former perkiness.
But, beLOVED reader, spreading misery makes no one happy, so I'll end this post with the wise words and clever crafts of Ms. Alexandra Kleeman: