Wenny was right–people here drive me crazy.  Case in point: I had an interview at a prep school yesterday.  The interviewer had asked me to prepare a 40-minute physics lesson, so that’s what I did.  Five minutes into the lesson, she interrupted me and started throwing unrelated textbooks at me, asking me to explain random questions, despite having no apparent math or science background herself on which to judge my answers.  This is pretty par for the course here.

I’m in the midst of interviewing because I got fired from the job I wanted to quit since day one, at Hegemonic Evil Sino-Systems (acronym mine, I’ll let the reader figure out what it really stands for).  It’s for the best, honestly.  This job was bad news from the beginning, and I’m not a person who can do a job I dislike.  Every day there ate into my soul a little bit, and had started to sour my affection for children, a truly terrible thing.  It finishes on Friday, which leaves me scrambling for two things I need to stay in Taiwan: legal status of being here, accompanied by sufficient money.  It seems there are many situations where one can achieve one or the other, but not necessarily both.  Tricky indeed.

When I say that I’m here to study Chinese, people often ask me where I’m studying.  When I say, “no where,” they express surprise.  Certainly, to focus on being a student would be ideal, but I don’t have that luxury right now.  Actually, I’d just be satisfied with a more stable life.  Then I will have the time and energy to study in the way I want, class or no class.  This island is my classroom; just allow me the freedom to study uninhibited.

The days march on, carrying their little moments with them–today I had lunch with a girl (well, actually, I ate while she talked, as she had already eaten) whom I had met at a communal hike the previous weekend and lives in the same neighborhood.  When we entered, the family and work staff were all eating, although they served me without hesitation.  Part way though my meal, the lights began turning off.  Eventually, a bent old man came over and said something I couldn’t catch in an impatient tone.  My friend assumed a pained look on her face, and, through utilizing my expert social-linguistic perceptive abilities, I could tell that thus began a heated argument.  The gist of it was that he and his workers were tired and I should get out.  Now.  Understandably, my friend expressed some amount of shock that quickly morphed into anger, in what was indisputably a “WTF” moment.  Granted, I’ve only met her once before this, but I was still surprised to see her so angry.  It was a sort of cute, although she sounded quite mean in Chinese.

The man said something like, “I’ve been up since 7 AM, I need to rest now–this isn’t a cafe–if you want to talk, go to a 7-11–it’s open 24 hours!” (it’s true–although most everything else closes around 9 PM).  Then she said something to him like, “we’ve been here less than 30 minutes, why are you being so rude?  It’s not my fault that you’ve been up since 7!” and did one of those exaggerated “pff!” motions, followed by him saying something like, “you always bring your foreign friends here, you think you’re so special because you speak English, but you’re not!”

After that we more or less stormed out, back into the little podunk street that is the main thorougthrough for where I live.  We walked around Xinglong park, where lots of old people can be found, “like all the parks in Asia,” she said.  I wrapped one of those funky vines emanating from one of the beautiful twisty trees around my neck in imitation of a scarf and she said, “You are unique.  I don’t know anyone like you–you should write for National Geographic.  You know a lot about plants.  Why don’t you apply for a grant or something?” (If only it was that easy).  “Now is your time to explore..this island has many opportunities, it’s a beautiful place..maybe Taipei is not the best place for you, Nick.”

I’ve often been waking up with thoughts of my mom these days.  When I try to look too deeply into it, and look at her face, and her bones, I feel a sense of panic.  All those pieces, ground up.  I went to the ocean, to a beach I’ve been to many years before, and I spread them on that beautiful summer day..

It’s the same with thinking about back home, my previous life, everything and everyone still there–it all feels so far away now, yet still deep inside of me.  I try my best to stay in the moment, and I know, if I dwell too much on that..I may not stay here.  The temptation of memory is great.  I  have serious doubts about how long I can stay in a place where the music scene pales so sorely compared to the shopping scene.

In this late night hour, I can breathe naturally, with clarity.  At other times, I walk too fast, am too tense, my brow is too furrowed.  I’m going to spend some time in the mountains soon.  Thinking of the heavenly scent of dayuling as I drift to sleep..

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