Tuesday, March 29, 2005

too adorable

Just a quick note while I'm on my lunch break....

I teach kindergarten twice a week, and the kids are as cute as can be. They always babble away to me in Chinese, and I never understand a word. I just smile and nod (occasionally say "bu dong" - don't understand - when it appears they're waiting for a response). Well today we were sitting in a circle playing a very energetic adaptation of duck duck goose and one little boy leans over to me with this huge grin on his face and says "wo xihuan ni". I understand that! It means "I like you" Oh my god, sooooo cute. So I told him I liked him too, then he gave me this fast little kiss on my arm and started giggling. I can't handle how cute that is!!!! It's moments like that that make me so happy to be here.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Pooh's new friend

I might have too much time on my hands....

It's Amanda-the Pooh! I'm such a dork, I know.

Friday, March 25, 2005

my mechanical nemesis

Goddamn claw machine!

  I went grocery shopping today. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a necessity, I have to buy food. It's not my fault the claw game is in the same building. Practically blocking my way! Okay, I have to go a little out of my way, but not much. It's just one level down...I can almost hear the little carnival music playing. So I take a stroll by, just to look of course. And there's this Winnie the Pooh, just sitting on top, looking through his glass prison at me, pleading with his beady, black, plastic eyes for me to rescue him. And he's a Chinese Pooh! Wearing some cute little outfit and reading a cloth book with Chinese characters on it. How adorable! I should really get him. I mean, it's something cultural, right? Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long, I tried 5 times and still came away empty-handed. I grabbed him every single time, but he never made it to the drop! STUPID PIECE OF JUNK MACHINE CHEATING ME OUT OF MY TOY!!!!!

  It's not over between me and Mr. Claw (ooh, like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, I like that...or maybe Mr. Pinchy, as an homage to Homer Simson's lobster?) I'm on a mission now!

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Yay, a new day without the nasty reprecussions of too much alcohol!

I was totally ripped off yesterday. Robbed! Okay, not robbed in the literal sense... See, I have this fixation with playing those claw machines. You know, where you try to grab a stuffed animal? They're not as difficult here, or as expensive. At home I swear the animals are very carefully arranged so that not a one can be cleanly lifted out. Not so here, they're all just sitting there, ripe for the picking! I won the cutest little Winnie-the Pooh wearing a Roo costume, and I am obsessed with getting more. Anyway, I was passing by the claw machine with a few coins burning a hole in my pocket so naturally I stopped. I lined the claw up perfectly, it clasped the Pooh firmly and slid over to the drop chute....then it dropped it prematurely! My Pooh hit the plastic siding and bounced back into the heap! NOOOOOOO!!!!! I totally earned that Pooh and I was cheated! I cursed the stupid machine but slinked off quietly when I noticed the stares being cast my way.

He's so cute!


Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Groan.....self-inflicted crappiness today. I think hangovers should go away after a certain age, don't you? They're for teenagers! I've done my time, now I want a free ride. This sucks. I only went to bed a few hours ago, but I can't sleep any longer. Oh, what I wouldn't give for Peabody's poutine.

Okay, I'm really trying to put some words down here, but it is such an effort. You know when you're so hungover that the slightest movement is as straining as swimming through tar... with a lead weight attached to you ankles... while wearing a straight jacket? I would like to change the colour of the text, give this entry some zip! But that means I'd have to use the mouse... and my fingers are way over here on the keyboard. So far.......

Okay, I can't do it. Must try to sleep again. I shall return.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Damn free stuff!

  I have a problem. I can't resist the lure of a free gift with purchase. It really doesn't matter what they're giving away, because it's FREE! I love free! Gimme gimme gimme! Thus I end up with a whole pile of crap that I don't need and will probably never use. But it's free crap, which makes it irresistable. I bought a stupidly overpriced box of tea (usually a box of tea costs about 7RMB - $1, this one cost 20RMB) because it came with a free teaspoon. A very nice teaspoon though. You didn't see it, it called out to me! It's my favourite of all my teaspoons. Another time the tea came with a free hot water bottle. Can you believe it? Who doesn't want a hot water bottle??

  Often the free things are so strange and irrelevant. A free pencil case with a pack of coke (I don't use a pencil case, but maybe it'll come in handy for something someday), a can of chicken granules with a bottle of soy sauce, a gaint inflatable baseball bat when you buy 4 Snickers, and my favourite: an ashtray with your yoghurt. Who cares if you don't smoke, it's free!!!

  At the moment I am saddled with a ridiculous surplus of tea due to these seductive offers. I recently acquired another 100 bags because it came with a free...get ready for this... a free JENGA! How cool! I love games, and this was no ordinary Jenga, it had pictures on the sides of the blocks and a die that you had to roll to tell you what block to push out. Sure, I never really played Jenga before, but I'm sure to now that I have my cool, FREE Jenga. At the moment it's just sitting there, but soon. Soon. Yep, any day now... I'll play it. I have to.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

My kingdom for a block of cheese!

I love Chinese food, I really do, but after a while (and 6 1/2 months definitely qualifies as "a while") it all kind of seems the same. Fried somethingorother with rice. Yummy fried somethingorother, but still. Sometimes I really crave Western food. There are a few places I can satisfy this hunger, but I'm limited. There are a couple a small cafes that serve burgers, pizza, and pasta; McDonald's if I'm desperate; and Pizza Hut if I'm feeling extravagant (it's really expensive compared to everywhere else, although still just normal Cdn prices).

But that's about the scope of the variety here. Not much. I spoke to my family today and found myself unreasonably jealous over their dinner at Taco Time. Mmmmmmmm, just saying or writing it makes my stomach rumble with longing. Tacos. Burritos. NACHOS!!! What I wouldn't do for a plate of gooey, cheesy nachos. But it's impossible. Nary a nacho chip in the city! I heard a rumour that you could buy nacho chips in Shanghai, for the steep price of about $7 a bag. Of course the cost of getting there and back would also greatly increase the cost. Besides, even with the chips, there is still no sour cream. Nope, no sour cream anywhere in all of China. Oh the humanity! Even cheese is a rarity, and an overpriced one at that. Think about it... how many Chinese dishes can you think of that are covered in melted cheese? Crazy cheeseless Chinese!

You'd think it'd be easy enough to cook some good old-fashioned westerm meals at home right? Maybe a simple spaghetti bolognaise. How difficult could that be? Ever tried making a pasta sauce without such staples as basil or oregano? Yeah, it's pretty much just mashed up tomatoes. And Chinese 5 spice just doesn't help.

However, to make up for the lack of certain familiar foods, there is an abundance of red bean products. If you like red beans, then China is the place for you! Plenty of red bean filled pastries, buns and bread, red bean drinks and shakes, even red bean ice cream. And if you're in need of a quick bean fix, just pop into McD's for their piping hot red bean pie! Who wants apple when you could have bean!

Anyhoo, I'm off to scrounge up some lunch. Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Out of the mouths of babes...

I tutor a 7 year old girl 3 times a week, 2 hours each session. She's very clever and her english is great, but, being a typical 7 year old, has the attention span of a....well, of a 7 year old. She crawls around the floor, asks random questions about anything but what we're studying, takes her shoes on and off, on and off, and chews on whatever happens to be nearby. The last habit being particularly distracting. Needless to say we tend to stray off topic quite often.

One thing I love about children is how frank they are about everything. Sure, it leaves me a bit lost for words when I get asked why my nose is so big, but overall it's a quality I enjoy. Today she sat on the floor and asked me to join her. When I said 'no, it's dirty', she replied in a slightly amused voice 'Just to sit on. Not to eat off!'

But the conversation that was the inspiration for this blog was something else entirely. Now I know why - according to a very convinced 7 year old - people smoke! She had seen one of the other teachers having a cigarette around the corner, and asked me why she smoked. I gave a non-commital 'dunno. i guess she likes it'. But apparently this little girl already had all the answers. 'She's like a boy. Boys smoke.' In China, there are loads of men that smoke, but very few women. 'Some girls smoke' I told her. 'Yes. Angry girls smoke.' Haha!

She also said that sometimes men and women smoke when they're out of work. They really want to play, she explained, but because they're grown up they can't. So they smoke instead. She was just so matter-of-fact about the whole thing, these were facts. So, unless you're a man or you're unemployed, you must be a smoker because you hate the world!

I wonder what insights she has in store for me next class....

Thursday, March 17, 2005

the pubic lounge....

Must start taking pictures of some of the signs here! Now, I know that there are bound to be mistakes when using a language that is not your mother tongue, but it never ceases to  amuse me! Especially when these mistakes are boldly displayed in a major public arena. I mean, you think that at a city's main train station, someone would realise how very necessary that "L" is in Public Lounge! While waiting for my train to Beijing, I noticed a large sign pointing the way to the "Boiler Boom". It's an important boom, the boiler boom.

One of my favourite Chinglish signs was in the bathroom on the train (a squattie, of course):

When train is stabling, please not to flush the closet pot.

Haha! And I haven't even begun to get into the translations on menus... that'll be a story for another time.

And you are...?

I'm copying other people's cool idea for a guestbook. I never claimed to have any original ideas.

My big non-event

  Living in China I've come to take pleasure in some very simple things. Ordering food or taking a taxi using my oh-so-limited Chinese skills, finding the short line at the grocery store, bargaining and actually getting a fair price, understanding...well, pretty much anything. These are all very exciting occasions. I even get a bit of a glow when I cross the death trap streets with the ease and confidence of the locals. Yep, just waltz across one lane at a time, unphased and unflinching with the blare of horns whizzing by, inches from being splattered all over the road. Nooooooo problem! Just like playing Frogger.

  Well today was true cause for celebration. I bought a new shirt! Yippee yahoo! It's the first new thing I've bought (not including my winter coat, and that was a necessity so it doesn't count). My elation was only somewhat dampened by the fact that I couldn't do it alone. You see, the shirt fit perfectly, and if it were to shrink even the slightest amount, it might be too small. So I needed to know if it would shrink in the wash. I had gone shopping on my own when I originally found the shirt, and I tried my best to communicate my concern. I thought I was a very convincing washing machine! But alas, I was met only with blank (albeit slightly amused) stares. So I returned with a Chinese friend who did the talking for me, while I stood grinning idiotically in the background. But who cares! I have my new shirt!! Bedtime for me now, that's enough adventures for one day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I'm famous!

  So I was browsing through other people's spaces yesterday, when suddenly I saw it. My name in lights! Okay, so it wasn't in lights, it was just a link on the side, and technically it wasn't my name either, just the "whoopdeedoo" title of my webpage....but still it was refering to me! Lil ole not-humble-for-long me! Listed under 'other sites i like'. Wahoo! I'm an internet superstar (not of the porn variety). My first favourable review. My first review at all, for that matter. I was so giddy. Of course, I will not take my newfound fame lightly. I realise that now that I am a role model, I have a reputation to uphold. In fact, the pressure is quite great. I mean, now I have to make sure my site is in top form at all times! I must be constantly witty and entertaining! It's impossible! Oh god, I don't know if I can take it up here at the top.....

Monday, March 14, 2005

and also...

I knew there would be another name or two:

  • Lutar (sounds like he's from the middle ages)

And I think I have found the name that takes the prize - one of our teachers taught this girl at a different school last term........

  • Anonymous (just pure brilliance!)


Saturday, March 12, 2005

that's a name?

One of my favourite things about teaching in China is some of the strange english names the Chinese give themselves or others. Some of the kids name themselves, either just by putting sounds together they like, or pretending that an english word can also double as a person's name. Sometimes the children are too young to name themselves so someone older will name them. Mistakes in spelling or pronunciation have left some great names as a result. Here is a list of some of my favourites:

  • Plitty (3 year old named by a chinese teacher; I think maybe they were going for "pretty" but couldn't say it properly)
  • Hork (another 3 year old with no say over his name... no justification for this one...poor kid)
  • Leetha (they must have meant Lisa, surely!)
  • Beer (his father changed it from Peter to Beer....whether or not on purpose, I don't know)
  • Maryar (again...I offer no explanation for this one)
  • Helly (I really thought he was trying to say Harry...but he spelled it out for me!)
  • Robin Hood, Harry Potter and James Bond (all named themselves and go by both first and last names, although James Bond signs all his homework 007)
  • Joinny (just liked the sound of it)
  • Rebort (a dyslexic Robert maybe?)
  • Robot, Hamburger, Pencil, GreenAroma and probably others I'm forgetting (English word = english name theory)

The funniest thing is how these names don't even phase me anymore. Sure, upon first hearing them, I think to myelf, your name is what?? Joinny isn't a name! You can't call yoursef Hamburger! Hork? HORK?? but soon it doesn't seem strange anymore. Besides, it's much better than repeating the names that are so popular like they often do. I hate having a class with Lily 1 and Lily 2, Jack 1 and Jack 2.... And the absolute best is when I get to name a student. I wish I could rename whole classfulls! I could have my Buffy characters class, my soap opera names class, my famous scientists, my famous ficticious characters, my musicians, my cartoons, my class named after my own friends! Oh, the possibilties....!

this is too fun!

I love this msn space thing! Sure, it's interfering with my life, causing me to lose touch with reality and spend more time with the computer than people....but who cares! People shmeople! Anyway, the disasterous consequences of my addiction are already beginning to manifest. Today there were financial repercussions! I decided I would just quickly check my space before going to work...of course I lost track of time and then was running late so I had to take a taxi to work. I'm out 8 whole RMB because of this! That's like...$1.20 canadian!! Where will it end???

So today was a long day. Teach teach teach. But all my classes went well so that's good. I'm so glad I know how to do that really loud whistle, I always use it to settle down my rowdy classes! Although my students like me, sometimes I really think they think I'm crazy. I guess I can be a bit scary when I get pissed off. A good rule being don't piss me off! And I didn't make anybody cry today, so that's also a plus!

Well, that's it for now...stay tuned and add your own comments!

Friday, March 11, 2005

i'm addicted

This is going to be my undoing! I have this constant need to keep checking in on my space, see how many people have looked at it and who has left comments! I'm just off to work now...long day ahead of me. Sigh. Not in a teaching mood today. Especially not for the rowdy younger kids. Oy. Anyway....off I go. No doubt I'll be checking back in later today. I can't stop myself!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

a little poll....

Which layout does everyone prefer? The one I originally had with the pictures in the middle (and therefore larger) or this one where they're on the side? This way pretty much forces you to look at the full-size photos with captions...and you can see the whole blog entry as opposed to just the title. Hmm...such big, life-altering decisions! Feedback please...

Yay for Carolyn and Mack!!!

Thanks Care and Mack for adding a comment! Everyone else....shame shame! I wil try to add interesting stories and anecdotes - when I have them. Yesterday was the epitome of uneventful days. It was a day off and I was verrrrrrrrrry lazy. Didn't leave the house, just watched 24 on DVD. 8 hours worth of it. Yep, a full shift of tv watching. Yeesh. I hope everyone keeps checking back now and again! I promise the next entry will have more exciting updates than just my marathon tv watching sessions.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005


Okay, now that my page is complete with pictures, I'm ready for you to check it out. Please add your own comments! Hope you like....

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