Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

the first of two monumental visits

first wife is here on her clandestine visit, so posts will be probably be fewer and further between until wednesday when she returns to the angelic place from whence she came.

thus far it has been a fantastic visit, not only because she is here, but because she is totally fascinated by, and adoring of, my normal life-you know, the crazy haircut girls who love me, my access to the nightmarket (where we both bought truly phenomenal pairs of glasses on the super cheap. in fact, i uttered this sentence, which i frankly sort of hoped i would never be able to utter, but which was amusing nonetheless--"i'm so glad i didn't have to choose between the anna sui and the dolce and gabbana, because i really wanted them both!") my phenomenal coworkers, my imperialist country club, the babies at the orphanage, etc. which makes it very easy on me. she comes along with me as i live and we eat and are merry. i learnt this travel tactic from beth daniel when i visited her in morocco. i find that immersing yourself in someone's daily life not only inadvertently introduces you to tourist sights you would normally want to see and a much deeper and more vivid understanding of the culture of the country, but also allows you to have this fantastic glimpse and bond into a formative time of their life. of course, this is only exciting if you actually love the person you are visiting and are interested in people rather than saying that you've been to such and such a place and seen such and such impressive things.

in any case, huzzah for taiwanese health care. yitaitai has been sick with a cough, a nasty hacking cough that has possibly turned into an infection. on her first day here, uninsured, we got her an appointment and a truckload of meds for about 20 US dollars. on her first day she also accompanied me to a speech contest. these are the types of things that are essential for people to see. only people like julia, who know what a complete disaster of a person i have been in the past, can appreciate the irony, and yet sweetness and redemption, of me being considered an expert, a respected adult who dispenses wise advice and gives encouragement and passes judgment toward anyone. judgment in terms of lingual ability. not, you know, JUDGMENT!!
the speech contest was wondrous because they were given prepared topics, one of which was "my ideal husband" and one girl said that she needed an optimistic and humorous boy so he could be her "pistachio nut" and help drive the clouds of depression away. we think she came up with that herself and is referring to the two halves of a pistachio shell. i hope taiwanese boys are able to change to accomodate the modern dreams these girls have. most of them wanted someone kind and responsible who would share the housework and childraising duties because they would both be working...and if he looked like the korean star Rain, so much the better! one girl said she could have a guy with eyes bigger than hers...fashinating. another topic was "my ambition" and it was also sort of uplifting though because it turns out that most of them had ambitions to delve into very diverse and interesting occupations: reporter, music teacher, diplomat, etc. i told them i was excited about the future of taiwan after listening to their speeches and how they not only have big dreams but know they deserve to be treated well. yes, i have the capacity for great cheesiness.

anyway, today we went to visit the orphanage for like 2 hours and i got to introduce jules to my favorite babies. Gu En, in particular, and then yu hong, the little red jade emperor king who is already slated to be a total hottie when he grows up and who used to be afraid of me, but now regards me as a great pal, because i fly him around like an airplane, of course. i told julia that if yuhong and wu youyou, a new and particularly perfect looking little 2 month old, ever got together they would produce stunningly perfect babies. and suddenly we glimpsed how ancient matchmaking worked. hilarious. there's a really touching board at the entrance to the orphanage that shows some of the orphans who have grown up. major potential for choking up. orphans at graduation, orphans who had cleft palates, now looking adorable in their 4th grade pics, orphans who are married and now have kids of their own. Gu En cries a lot and a few of the nurses commented that she would have to stop that when she went to her new home. but i said that westerners like women with loud voices and opinions. and so we all agreed that it was fortunate that Gu En is being sent to Australia.

eating has gone over well, as it so often does in taiwan, and she has yet to try din tai feng. once tasted, i am wondering how many times she will force us to go back there, to the mothership: the purveyors of the best xiaolongbao in history! other delicacies that have been wholeheartedly embraced are: riceporridge, porkplumscallion wrapped in fried thick onion tortilla, korean hot pot, night market veggie and meat fried baozi, lionshead noodles at brother noodles with their testy soup nazi-esque boss, and mango shaved ice. and yitaitai is very excited about the pub trivia for charity which is being held tomorrow at the brass monkey. i shall try to keep you updated on the results :)

she paves the way for Ma Hartle, whose visit is in T minus 7 days.

oh yeah, so in a sidenote: i heard so many bad things about the league of extraordinary gentlemen that i expected it to be one of the worst movies i ahve ever seen, but actually i liked it. i had a major love for captain nemo's sword of the sea boat. holy heaven. and his hot car.
anyway, happy sunday everyone.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

no pants

at home, blogger is in english. at work, blogger is in chinese. i'm feeling very spiffy right now for knowing the chinese for "edit."

anyway, in other work news, i am wearing no pants. on my way to work this morning, the weather was doing its best impression of a typhoon, only colder, and i got half soaked despite the valiant efforts of my cheap umbrella. so i took off my pants and have fashioned a shawl around my waist as s skirt. and that is how it now stands at 11:30 am. i don't believe that my pants are getting much drier, so i will probably be wearing wet pants to the NPA birthday party.

yes, for reasons unbeknownst and left unexplained to Julie, Inc. the NPA decided to throw a birthday party in April. to celebrate birthdays for everyone through the whole year. really, i have no idea why they chose today. but as they are the providers of security for this renegade island and its leaders, i guess they can do whatever the hell they want. if the general consensus is that april is the month to celebrate yearly birthdays, so be it. we are to have sesame chicken soup and oily rice and undoubtedly lots of singing and dancing and a tasteless cake. my wet pants shall fit right in.

i just read that ryan and paula are feuding about whetherthey are feuding on american idol. the horror. the horror. you know, i have just ben indoctrinated into the wild world of AI, don't fall apart now! then again, it might be because ryan can dish it out but can't take it--like so many men i have known and have been rumored to have been romantically linked to, though not for long. he totally dissed paula--whose coldhearted snake video covers many other sins-- but he cant take it when she says he kisses the mirror? oh i love fanning t flames of idle and totally pointless trash talk. well, loves, i have to go celebrate birthdays now. i better get dressed.

i'm so happy i'm feeling snappy

what exactly about my once-in-three-weeks attendance record indicates to my professor that i will turn in 3 chapters of extra homework tomorrow? when i came in today at the break and started surmising from the lack of backpacks and one lone teacup on the desk that neither of my two remaining classmates had shown up--a suspicion that was corroborated by the russian girls in the hallway--i almost made a run for it. screw the fact that i had just spent a hellish 45 minute cab ride getting there. but then i thought, hey, maybe my teacher can bring me up to speed on what the other two guys have been studying so i can fall in line tomorrow. unfortunately i actually have been studying and am up to speed. i think it would have been a lot more evident what i think of her teaching method if i had just refused to look at the book in the interim. so, instead of giving me a crash course in the last three weeks, she gave me a long, unnecessary and unsolicited lecture on how to stay healthy--b/c i lied and told her i had been violently sick for three weeks. so, in essence, yes, i totally deserved everything that came my way-- and what the chinese doctors would do to cure me of my sickliness (disfigure me on the hottest day of the year, was the gist) and where exactly--addresses, she took up my time with addresses, people-- i could find a good traditional chinese doctor and ask them when the three hottest days of the year are so they can suction the hell out of my back. and then, oh then, she proceeded to lecture me on staying active. look, bitchwhore, the last thing i need from your memorization-obsessed saggyassed self is your moron assumption that i don't work out. she didnt even ask me. just assumed. gave me a detailed lecture on the detailed mechanics of fastwalking--postures and times of day-- so i can swing my arms properly like a batcrazy, saggypant middleaged chinese woman. we could have been discussing politics--the actual topic of the lesson and instead she is giving me a lecture on health? because there are no other students in my class to stop it, and every chinese woman who sees my chubby ass assumes that i must not have the first sherlock clue to how to take care of myself. earth to fucking confucius, i have a 150 IQ. i am from california damnit. even our down's kids inherently come imbued with nutrition and exercise facts and eating disorders. we are the capital of diet-obsessed america, for fuck's sake.yeah, yeah i know, it's her frickin taiwanese way of caring and showing concern. maybe she should show more concern that no students want to take her oppressive, torturous, ineffective class. nick still cant put a damn spontaneous sentence together. i want to say something very american. i want to say that i am tired of accomodating chinese culture. of sweetly pretending that her advice is wanted or useful, of putting on a sweet polite face when i want to tell her off, acting like i havent heard everything she is saying like 500 times, of letting her waste an hour of both of our time. time better spent sitting around with our thumbs up our asses in silence, much less in a productive, pleasurable activity. i want to be able to speak to someone directly. look, i'm an adult, i have to work, and i'm busy and i have life and issues, and i've paid you to teach me chinese and however much i want to show up i will and you can grind the hell out of me about my vocab sentences, sit and scoff at my tones, etc. but if i hear one more lecture on drinking warm water and the order in which to ingest my food and hot and cold food and not sweating before entering air conditioning, i'm going to drop-kick someone to the great wall. how exactly is it that every lay chinese person is a fucking physiology expert? so then why do half the people i meet have the worst stank ass breath i've ever smelled? why does every middle aged woman who sees my chubby ass turn into an unsolicited richard simmons? whores--i exercise every day and i'm still fat. so shut the F Up! why cant someone be sensitive to my western culture for damn once and keep their trap shut about how fat my ass is? your culture allowed the cultural revolution! so don't think you're the cat's meow of cultures, racist assholes, you guys slaughtered the hell out of each other, out of your family members for whom you supposedly care so much that you abide by and propagate this nonsensical hierarchical, duplicitous culture. drinking warm water and eating specific fruit pairings the whole time. didnt think to use gunpowder for anything but fireworks and now you have a mediocrity complex because you couldnt fight off the brits? get the hell over it, and stop driving your kids to suicide by being disappointed with them, and what the fuck is the deal with the obsession with science and math? get over it, other things matter. stop killing your women and coming up with the latest and greatest unstoppable diseases. yeah, i'm going to listen to the people who have allowed their women to be nameless for centuries. ahem. anyway, at the end of her little health lecture she had the gall to tell me to bring in 3 chapters of homework tomorrow. homework on chapters we didnt even talk about b/c she was wrongly assuming i don't know how to walk properly. bwahahaahah. she is clearly a few steps short of an eightfold path. how do you say "shove chapter 9's homework up your ass" in chinese?

okay, i'm done. i'm cool, i'm calm. i was actually far more vitriolic on the phone with lauren. after my tedious discussion with my professor i hauled ass and wasted money on a cab only to find that my psychiatrist with the rotting teeth who has TWO OFFICE HOURS PER WEEK had left early because he hadnt had many patients. i was so pissed. what is he going to do? go home and smoke some more to rot the rest of his teeth? he could have gone downstairs and done that. chinese work ethic my ass. i not only wasted money but now i have to waste money again to go see him next week. something that i must clearly skip class to do.

what's hilarious is that i actually had a fabulous start to the day. really, before 5:30pm i was having one of those days where even the street lights turn green when they see you coming. just an outfuckingstanding, stellar day.

Monday, April 24, 2006

natural foods

taiwan strikes again! it's like, as we are all preparing to leave, the island is kicking itself up a notch to give us a proper sendoff. i am now going to relate an actual experience from the life of jessamyn vogel. so, she went on a hike Sunday with Ada, one of our Bible study students, and her family. A government sponsored hike. everyone got tickets. there were like 50,000 people on the trail. at the peak there was an ensemble playing pachelbel's canon. and then, belly dancers came out and belly danced to pachelbels canon. and the mayor of taipei was there. and then they started a raffle. so, pachelbel is still going, with belly dancers, and then some man starts yelling winning raffle numbers on a P.A. system over the din, and Ada gets excited and yells out "I won a blender!!"
i told jessie that if she told me that was a dream, not only would i have believed her, but i would have thought "that was a really strange dream, jessie." but it wasn't a dream. it was just another day in the life of taiwan.

dude, my ipod is rocking an awesome shuffle, i just had both sleater kinney and Me first and the gimme gimmes and cibo matto and sixpence...and then i got one of my chinese lessons. nothing is perfect. anyway, i just got my dishes done.

revelations whilst doing the dishes: natural foods, while healthy and all that whoop-de-shit, grow other natural things--scarily and rapidly. maybe if you do your dishes more often than me--like every two weeks or so...three?-- you don't know this, but i can honestly attest from the colorful molds of various, and frankly fascinating, textures growing on the dishes at the bottom of the pile that natural foods grow more crap than artificially processed foods that are engineered to survive nuclear blasts.
recently andrea and i have gotten a bit healthier--as a result of detox. (when andrea went to school bohemians were cool and she wanted to be one. whereas bohemians were never considered cool at any school attended by the Julie. they were, however, considered smelly patchouli-reeking potheads or damned hippies). i declared yesterday that if the rooftop was a country, the five grain mixture would be our staple food. anyway, we have been eating unprecedented amounts of fruits and vegetables and tofu and grains. the downside of this is that it does not mesh well with the default mode of my life which includes a measure of laziness and depression, rebellion, superceding love of reading, and fits of prayer and journaling when everything seems like it's falling apart. really, when you think about injustice and starvation and war and whatnot, dishes just seem so trivial. then again, doing my dishes made me think: what if my whole drive to help save the world through diplomacy and big ideas and be all liberal artsy fartsy is causing me to overlook one of my natural strengths, which is to create potentially lifesaving, disease-fighting compunds in my kitchen sink? what if i am the next Fleming but will never know because i'm going to grad school and trying to be a writer instead of just letting bits of leftover soy latte mingle with discarded apple cores slathered with peanut butter and waiting for glory to transpire in a few weeks' time? you can't pay for that kind of organic amalgamation. by the way, for the diligent among you. soy is one of the worst offenders. soy and tofu can grow startling, gooey, stubborn, lifelike compunds in a matter of a day or two. and it reeks to high heaven. very impressive, the aggressive rotting of soy products. fyi.

so the family hartle--excluding corinne, my partner in chemical addiction--had a collective heart attack when i proudly announced i had finally weaned myself off of sugar and am now using a sweet and low/sugar mix to sweeten my coffee. you would have thought i just announced that i've decided to take up a weekend meth habit. lauren is on this new health kick, as in natural and unprocessed kick. so she has been purging our house of hydrogenated oils and splenda and the like. i would heed the warnings of my parents more seriously if they didnt drink diet coke unabated. my mom said i could cut down on how much coffee i drink and use only raw sugar, thereby cutting calories by default. um, after 6 diligent weeks of lenten abstention? hellll no! bring on my saccharine demise! and i am sad to say that as my Christian faith grows, my will to rage against the dying of the light and preserve my earthly life, just sort of diminishes. i mean, i sort of know i should cherish my life and treat it well to do the Lord's will. but no one has effectively convinced Julie Inc of the dimished greatness of heaven.

speaking of heaven, have you ever been eating bacon and just spontaneously looked up to heaven and given thanks and said "my God, dear holy Lord, thank you so much for the new covenant!" like, seriously, i think pigs will eat bacon in heaven. i think in heaven pigs will not blame us because they will understand the appeal. they will know that their slaughter was the sad but inevitable side effect of sin, not God's original plan. but i mean, glorious pigs, to have given us ham and bacon?! they will be honored. and just think: if the bacon of earth is merely a shadow of the divine bacon to come?? it's almost worth thinking of taking a razor to your wrists. the power of bacon is especially evident when paired with undelicious things like green beans. green beans, normally a means to a nutritious end, become divine, addictive even, with the addition of bacon.

Brian Regan, by the way: hysterical comedian.

Had a speech contest today at the same school where the girls spoke about online dating. today they were doing impromptu speeches describing a picture in a which a kid is tied up and blindfolded in a room with light shining through a window and a squirrel gnawing through the ropes. some of them very morbidly made up a scenario in which the parents were bad people who had punished the kids by binding them and putting them in a closet because they didnt study hard enough (how taiwanese). but most of them said that the picture showed that you shouldnt flaunt your wealth or your kid might get kidnapped and there won't be a squirrel to come to the rescue. this is a direct result of some recent high-profile kidnappings in taiwan. i thought their morals of not flaunting wealth and not putting your kids in a closet as punishment were spot-on. and i would add: don't leave natural food remnants in your sink.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cha Cha Cha

Today was a completely manic day, I think the only unfilled moments were my 15 minute cab rides to dinner and from jenny's house. The kind of day for me that, no matter how productive or filled with mirth, inevitably ends in severe irritation.

It started with lots of judgment: who would win the doris brougham scholarship prize? i had over 120 applications to sort through this week, and believe you me, after about 50 I start getting a little quirky, my eyes start twitching. it's in those moments where i choose winners like the girl who wrote, "my parents are divorced, and i've wanted to be a lawyer since i was little because my father really wants me to become a lawyer, but recently i think, if he thinks being a lawyer is so great why didnt he study harder and do it himself?" i rewarded her sassiness. i mean, she had other qualifying attributes like neediness and good scholarship, blah blah. but i pretty much chose her b/c no one else wrote anything so honest or rebellious. it stood out. so did the kid who wrote that his english had really improved because he joined a star trek usergroup online. in the end i couldnt give it to him b/c some girl with divorced parents and a brother with leukemia beat him out, but his two paragraph shout out to trekkies was extremely endearing. there was a girl whose name in chinese sounds like "raising chickens" and she said her name "has made her life fun and filled it with friends." make a mental note for my progeny. another girl wrote that she is an introvert around strangers, but once she makes you her good friend, she turns outtingly fun. intriguing...one girl talked about learning things from her abecedarian, and i was like "what the hell is that?" apparently it means "one who teaches the alphabet." talk about finding exactly the word you want--i think "teacher" would have sufficed. anyway, she didnt win anything. she could afford cram school so she was shafted.

so, tonight everyone was at a huge evangelistic rally put on by our company, but i couldnt go b/c i had a previous commitment with jenny from the NPA. so jenny and 3 of her best friends take me to this ubersecretive dim sum place with garish chandeliers and food that she tells me is cheap because the owners don't advertise. great! now, usually at dim sum when i am in control, i only get the least bizarre dishes. but they were treating, so i had to endure what can only be described as some extraordinarily weird shit, that i'm still not convinced was all legal. that's the danger of being asked out by taiwanese and chinese people. and i told you about how much food means to them, right? so they have to order only the "best", if by "best" we mean "freakiest", things from the menu. plates piled high with what appears to be slices of fat situated around a ground-up pile of brown things, many different shades of brown thing. an argument about one plate: are they squid eyes or squid mouths? "they are eyes, the dish is called dragon eyes." "but squid don't have eyes, it's just a name, these are deep fried squid mouths." "mouths, really? they look like eyes." "no, they're definitely deep fried mouths." (as i vomit quietly into my rice bowl)..."oh julie, you have to try this: it's vegetables with garlic" thank the lord...hey wait, what are those little white things? "oh, the best part! very small fishes." the small fish look like maggots. oh julie, here are some weird ass dumplings fried and topped with brown gelatinous gravy. oh julie, try these clear, slimy noodles with indecipherable ground up seafood and meat. and the words you never want to hear at a taiwanese restaurant "let's order some dessert." They were in a chipper mood so we horrifically got two--one for there and one to go. black sesame soup for there. the great thing about sesame soup, besides the fact that it tastes okay and isnt made of reconstituted fish parts, is that it turns your mouths totally black. so it's very fun to imagine you are in the middle of a japanese horror movie. it also makes toothpicks essential. the stuff we got "to go," i thought was purple rice, but actually was black gelatin in a grey sauce which i believe was an attempt at some form of plum.

why did we get dessert to go? because we are going to jennys house to sing karaoke, of course! first of all, jenny and this other guy, jackson, are dance partners in the ballroom dance club at work. so when they arent very emotionally singing with their eyes closed to taiwanese ballads and folk songs, they are doing various ballroom dances around the room--sometimes together and sometimes separately. we are to applaud for them at all times. tangent: the national police agency has lots of extracurricular clubs...like a ballroom dancing club. music club, english club, singing club, etc. WTF? and they have talent shows--in fact jenny and jackson will be singing taiwanese and chinese songs at the upcoming birthday talent show. would we like to hear them? heck yeah! it is apparently perfectly masculine to ballroom dance and sing ballads. do you think the CIA secretly does this? "in his off time 007 enjoys the cha cha and singing to mariah carey."
anyway, jenny and jackson are partners in cheesy crime. jenny is a major hip-swirling tart who has had unnecessary cosmetic surgery, and is inexplicably obsessed with becoming more beautiful when her kindness and ability to make phenomenal homemade chocolate are actually her best qualities. in the u.s. i would say that they were a shuffle-ball-change away from raucous affair. but they arent. because it's totally acceptable for people to openly be tango partners and not be involved. jennifer and grace seem to think there is nothing wrong with the cheesy J duo. and, in fact, they all sing emotional karaoke songs devoted to their absent spouses. (another tangent: over half of my students tell me that one way they relieve stress is by singing loudly.) and the reason jenny spent over 10,000 US dollars on a professional karaoke machine for her home is because her husband likes karaoke so much. awww. we applaud. jenny tells me i cant leave because her daughter wants to meet me so badly. her daughter comes home for 2 minutes, says hi and leaves. poor thing. i'm talking about me, here. jenny teaches me the basic cha cha and rhumba. jackson makes me tango. each time i try to get out of it. each time it is made clear that getting out of it is out of the question. they all look mystified, like, doesnt everyone dance and sing upon request? cha cha cha. indeed, they all seem to think it is normal, not, say, incredibly embarrassing or potentially awkward. they decide to make me sing chinese songs that i don't know. it is a well-established fact that i do not sing well in my own language. so imagine how fun it would be to hear me badly sing chinese songs i don't know. i belt out every three characters. they applaud. frickin sadists. jenny forces me to drink painfully strong brazilian coffee "sweetened" with wine. i chug it after i realize that i cant bear to sip it because it tastes like devil vomit. i chase it with a piece of pineapple--it was like a tequila shot, only incredibly unpleasurable. i chop up and pretend to eat some of my grey gelatin. some of the scary grey sauce gets on my lip. i have more pineapple. we sing a dramatic parting song that is about the four seasons and life changes. we wave goodbye to each other repeatedly in a circle. i am confused because as far as i know i will see them next wednesday in class. they ask me if i have any free weekends before i return to america. because they would like to do this every weekend. holy crap. apparently even when totally perplexed i am an instant party. lucky for me, part of my shtick is that chinese people generally have unsophisticated senses of humor, so physical humor and dragging out jokes that are stupid are the cat's meow--i.e. they comment on my deft chopstick ability, someone makes a joke that wherever you hold your chopsticks corresponds to the place in taiwan where your spouse will be from, so i hold my chopsticks at the very bottom and say that my husband will be my next door neighbor. i am the height of hilarity. jenny is beaming like i am a walking month of sundays. they give me cab money--for the way home and the way there. i try to refuse, they gang up on me and make me take it. i feel like an eccentric prostitute. people pay me to be white around chinese people. look how cute i am when i try to speak chinese! look at my face when i realize i've just had a bit of 1000 year old egg! i tell them i have a lot of plans. okay, they say, "every other weekend?" i smile and nod--i mean, they are my best customers, none of my other friends pay me to hang around them, after all. uh, "i really hope it works out," i openly lie. they don't relent. how about once a month until i leave? they really want to take me to all the good restaurants. maybe, i concede.
i am eliza doolittle. soon i will be able to sing proper taiwanese folk songs and will wear a qipao and actually be able to pronounce the 4th tone, and if it werent for my painfully white skin people would think i was from a village near zhongli because of my slight accent. i'm mogli from the jungle book. maybe they will set me up with one of their native sons if i play my cards right. someone dark enough to blot out signs of westernness like light eyes and blonde hair, but to still reap the benefits of my porcelain no-evidence-of-hard-labor skin.

do i sound bitter? actually i had a fine time, most of it was genuinely bizare and hilarious, which i very much apprecaite. it just went on way too long. my eye is twitching. i think it's weird that they paid for everything. i mean, i'm just too american, you know. egalitarianism is a cultural thing. i could be a total psycho for all they know. but i had the great fortune of being born in an english speaking country when english speaking countries are at their zenith. i havent done anything to earn it. cha cha cha

Thursday, April 20, 2006

the inspiration

I figured I should have at least one start off post, but i'm insanely busy and tired, so i decided to post an email after which friends suggested blogging for my future. like all the best posts, it involves crazy life in taiwan.

it's just one of those days when i've gotta say there is no way i am getting anything productive done, work-wise, in the next half hour. i just need to deal with it. and the way i will deal with it is by productively writing you guys. anyway, it all started when i was assigned my topic for the may issue and i asked if i could do something serious like eating disorders, insecurity, depression, etc in high schoolers. things are-- how do you say "totally repressed"--here so we get good responses from our largely high school aged audience if we ever do anything serious. my editor says "hey, how about an article on school uniforms instead." that's right. school uniforms. but since my work here gets butchered anyway i don't really give a fuck. it's very possible it's the grace of God sparing me from having a "fluff-piece on eating disorders" with my name attached, branding me as unemployable forever, and shaming my family's honorable criminal name. so i'm like, c'est la vie, school uniforms. and it's for 8th grade ESL students. so i submit it. and it comes back and they're like "it's too formal, we want a day in the life of a non-uniformed student." and i'm like "yeeeeeaaaahhhh, it's because i thought this topic was boring as shit that i couldnt get into it in the first place." so before i tromp down the street to get my afternoon coffee from the "Go In" coffee stand and then transport myself into lauren's shoes, i am thinking of you.

speaking of Go In, part of my daily lingo is "allright, i'm "going in" now" and it immediately gives me and my friends a little bit of mirth. the Go In is supposed to be fast, as in "Go IN and Go Out"quickly. It should really be named "Dawdle In" b/c in taiwan there is no sense of urgency whatsoever. so everyone takes their passive aggressive time. at subway it's the worst--they carefully place each piece of vegetable matter on the sandwich as if it were a feng shui experiment. i'm like 'you little fuckers, there are 500 people lined up here, grab the damn olives and shove 'em on there all messy like.' but the cookies are phenomenal. and where do i really have to go anyway? no need to be angry. i went to a pop concert of a quasi hip hop star here on saturday--jay chou. he's a bona fide star, but his style is quasi hip-hop, to clarify. he's adorable. totally my type--you know, moody, emaciated,disaffected looking. downturned mouth. anyway there were like 20,000 people there and we were standing midfield for like 3 hours. if i may share some highlights: 1. the wanna-be gangstas in front of us, who, after stumping along to the hiphop beat, broke out their lighters and sang every word of the 10-song long ballad interlude. chinese people,i'm sorry, dress em up in gangsta clothes, whatever, they are still suckers for cheesy ballads. really cheesy ballads. 2. the song in which jay dressed up in hip-hop/aboriginal garb(must be seen to be believed! hysterical, *velour*, dress-like green and yellow) and had representatives of every tribe in taiwan dancing behind him holding hands. 3. when he broke out and started playing an *aboriginal flute* at the end of the song, reminding me ever so slightly of John Corbett's hysterical turn as "lars", fiancee of kate beckinsale in Serendipity. 4. during the concert he had one song about saving children, a bunch of songs about his mom and grandma--lots of soft focus pictures of grandma who was in the audience, aboriginal and taiwanese songs, and a blind backup singer. I thought he was going to announce he was running for office.

anyway, the crowd was controlled and it was annoying to have to sit through the 4 contrived encores--the crowd wasnt even calling for an encore. they started to leave b/c they thought it was over. chinese people are fatalistic, all their hard work still ends up in oppressed mediocre lives manipulated by their parents, so why would they shout for him to come back--he wouldnt anyway. alas, he did come back and half the audience was at the exits. he didnt seem to notice--apparently he was forced to become a pop star by some record company who threatened not to buy any more of his songs if he didntperform. previously he was a geeky awkward composer who wanted to holeup in his room like one of those japanese people who doensnt see theoutside light for years at a time.anyway the best part was when we got to go backstage because ourfriends pretended to be reporters, one of them-jennifer--a black woman who has 100 miles of attitude--waved her cigarette in the air and said "yo, they're my friends" and the guards obeyed and let us in. they were totally afraid of her, which she totally used and i was glad forit. anyway then we had some fabulous 24 hour dim sum at the lucky hong kong restaurant. so there's my last satr day and the mind numbing work i'm doing right now here in shangri-hell .love you.