Friday, September 30, 2005

New Computer!

Well, we now have a computer! We decided to check out the local computer stores before buying one online, and we got a pretty good deal on one here. The guy at the computer store spoke pretty good English, and he found us a computer that already had English software…no need to pay for illegal reinstallment here…and he added Nero and a few other programs…mostly ones that prevent problems with watching DVDs from different regions. AAAnnndd…I was even able to haggle him way down in price. Thanks to weeks at the open market…I have acquired excellent bargaining skills that now enable me to talk down any price. Okay, so not any price…but I am getting better, and I did get us a good deal. So we went ahead and bought it here instead of online. It has ended up costing us less because of shipping and taxes to send a computer here…and because it already has English software, we don’t have to worry about getting the software from home, or paying an exorbitant amount to have a pirated copy installed.
Right now Madison and I are watching Taiwanese television. Hmmm…not very impressive. We get four channels…and about every three weeks or so we get one or two American programs…but since we don’t speak or read Chinese…we never know when they are coming on. Right now we are watching the Taiwanese version of a soap opera. It is about some Samurai and other people living in feudal China. The acting is superb…and the story line is, well, interesting…and the dialogue is engaging. Right now we are watching some guys smoking opium and discussing something while walking through what looks like a market. Which brings us to an interesting side note…you can still use opium out in the open here….it is in the form of beetlenut…okay so I can’t spell it, but that is it phonetically. It is some kind of large seed wrapped in a leaf that is smeared in opium paste. It is disgusting…you can tell who uses it because their teeth rot and turn red…and they walk around spitting it onto the ground, similar to chewing tobacco, but grosser.

How Do You Maintain Your Beautiful Skin?

Another day in fabulous Taiwan, and yet another of those experiences you know you have to write down. Today I taught my first night class at an electronics engineering company. It was a day to discover the level of English that my class was at, as well as feeling out what they wanted out of the class. Sooo…as an introduction, I told them my name, and then I told them to ask questions about me that would help them get to know me better. An interesting endeavor. There are certain questions you expect if you were to do this in the United States…and since being here in Taiwan there are a few more that I’ve added to my list of expected questions. Now…however, I guess I wasn’t ready for the questions that my class threw at me last night. I’ll give you a little sample:

“How old are you?” I’m 25. “Oooohhh, so young!”
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Actually, I’m married. “OOOooohhh!!! So young!”
“How many babies you have?” That is a good question, in the United States we say, “How many children do you have?” I have one little girl, three years old. “Ooooh! Only one! Don’t you want any more children? (Now what to say to this, I haven’t quite decided.)
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Remember, I said I was married. “Yes, but do you have a boyfriend?” No. “Do you want one?” (This followed by the Taiwanese version of high fives and jovial laughing….can you guess what the statistic for men vs. women is in this class?) No, I’m quite sure that one man in my life is enough.
“Do you have a sister?” That is a good question. Yes, I have one sister, her name is Nanci.
“Is your sister here in Taiwan?” No, my sister lives in the United States, in Idaho. (This is followed by a brief and not entirely accurate geography lesson of the western United States.)
“Is your sister married?” Yes, actually…she is married. She has a little boy named Wyatt. (This is followed by five minutes of trying to get them to pronounce Wyatt correctly….a fruitless endeavor.)
“How much money do you make here in Taiwan?” (At this point I feel like perhaps I should discuss the issue of appropriate vs. inappropriate questions, but I guess I just assume that this one is less inappropriate than the last few, soo….) Well, in the U.S.A. teachers don’t get paid very well, so we are here in Taiwan to make money to pay for our University degrees. We send most of our money back home, so we don’t make a lot of money here.
“How do you maintain your beautiful skin?” (Hmm….this one made me laugh out loud…it is so hot that I’m always sweating, therefore I have blemishes all over my face, and to me it always seems to be red…but…don’t kick the gift horse in the mouth!) Well, my ancestors are from Scandinavia, so my skin is actually naturally this color…it doesn’t turn brown in the sun. The sun makes it burn…turn red, and then it turns white again. In the United States this is actually not desirable, most people want to have brown skin. But thank you for saying it is beautiful.
(At this point the questions are dying down….so I try to encourage those who haven’t spoken to ask something….assuming that the ones who don’t say much must be shy or afraid to speak to me.)
Do you have a question? You can ask anything that you want to know about me.
“What are you doing tonight?” (Alright, so the appropriate vs. inappropriate talk is overdue….also, someone please remind me that I should put a proviso on the “any question” thing) Actually, you’re going to have to call my husband on that one, I’m not sure what he has planned. Okay…I think that is enough about me…..

Well, so much for assumptions….here in Taiwan, all bets are off when it comes to what you can ask someone. The lesson went pretty well after that…I let them ask each other embarrassing questions so I could get to know them better. Well…that’s all for this week’s English lesson……

The top building is a Budhist Temple next to our apartment. The bottom picture is Madison and me at Lotus Lake.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Birthday...Taiwanese Style!

Okay, so I've decided that letting Brian handle the blog doesn't get too much done other than pictures. See what happens when you let an artist handle the blog?

So, as you all know....hehe....yesterday was my birthday. First of all, I spent the day at a job interview....Brian and I decided that I should ditch the original job, as they were ripping me off....and because it was my birthday...I got the new job! I actually only have to work for two hours on Wednesday and two hours on Thursday....and I'm getting paid much more for those four hours of work a week than I was for the twenty I would have been working at the other job. is in the evening, so Madison doesn't have to go to school now. She was actually kind of bummed out about it, but I feel like it is going to be better for everyone. The weird thing is, when I was deciding what to do about the other job...I was at my friend Tiffany's house, and I kept saying, "I think I should quit, but I'm just worried that I'd have to work just as many evenings to make the same amount of money...and where would I even start looking for a job?" Just then, the phone rang...and who was it, you say???? It was someone looking for an English teacher who wanted to be payed an exorbitant amount of money for very little work!! What luck! Actually, I know that luck has nothing to do with it....see, I figured out that Taiwan has better prayer reception in English....because everyone is always speaking Chinese, so when English pops really gets some attention! Joking aside, it was a really good way to tell Brian and I that we are taken care of here....and it helps us to know that we're doing the right things here.

Anyway....once I finally got back from that (four least an hour on the freeway in crappy traffic...later) Brian took me to TGIFriday's, where every good Taiwanese person comes to experience real Western culture and food (hey..they have ranch dressing, need I say more?). He had invited the Darrows....our American friends...and through the Taiwanese network more people found out about it and wanted to come....all Taiwanese people that I didn't know....but what is a birthday party without guests? So we all had some tasty American food...and then Brian said we needed to take a walk.

Now...let me ask you.....what birthday in Taiwan would be complete without a trip to the Holiday Star KTV? That's right folks! We went to sing some kareoke!!! It was funny, and actually pretty fun, too. You get your own room with two or three microphones, and there is a bathroom so you don't have to leave....convenient for corraling little girls who like to wander. Madison really had a great time, we gave her the microphone a couple of times and let her go wild with "Twinkle Twinkle." It was really cute. Also it was funny because we were there with our Taiwanese friends (new as of last night) and they would sing crazy songs in Chinese....usually love ballads with some awesome duets....funny.

At the KTV they brought me in a was delicious!! Chocolate with a layer of blueberry preserves and cream layers and filled with Macadamia nuts and all sorts of other yummy things. The top looked like it was chocolate was beautiful and yummy. We have some pictures...but I'll let the picture guru put those up later. Brian got it from this place that sells yummy me on this one...looks can be terribly deceiving here. Just when you think something looks absolutely taste it and it isn't!! Anyway, it was really fun. Kind of surreal to turn 25 in Taiwan...not something I ever saw coming in my other 24 years of life. And they sang Happy Birthday in English and Chinese...funny.

All in all a great Taiwanese birthday.