Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 6

Day 6 Out - Sunday

Nearing a week from when I took my leave from the old company.

Today is my second day teaching at the IELTS center. I’m finding that it is very difficult to feel like i’ve done a good job teaching when I’m not fully certain what is supposed to come out of the class. What do you really want to get out of the class when it is called “overseas intensive... speaking” their English is already fairly good... so honestly the class lacks a lot of structure. I cover grammar issues as they come up, and build vocabulary and point everything towards being able to fill the speaking section of the IELTS test. Basically trying to raise the number of “conversationalists.” I guess I am cynical because I wouldn’t really want to study a language this way myself. I suppose if you are in a country where you can’t have a conversation with someone in the language you are learning on a daily basis... it would be worth paying for... but it just feels kind of ‘forced’ or manufactured to me.

One thing I was thinking about yesterday is that teaching English is one of those businesses that fictitious. The product is in your head. You can convince yourself that you either have or have not received the product. Not to mention, there is a definite amount of inherent irreverence that comes with “buying” a society’s means of expression. Thats like trying to buy an artist’s talent or a singer’s voice (ursula did it!).

And then there is the whole issue of... measuring the delivery of that product. How do you as the “customer” evaluate delivery. Most people have no formal language training, and no REAL way to measure their success aside from a general feeling, and half of that feeling is most often whether or not they “like” their school. What kind of criteria is that?

Thats why I like grammar... and also why a lot of foreigners have such a hard time with Chinese... because the grammar is very difficult to evaluate or focus on directly(especially without a massive vocabulary).


Ha... Ha... Ha

After my last class, I decided that I wanted to go shopping. The mall complex I wanted to visit is pretty close to where I work, so why not. I have stacks of cash and a need for some super-fly winter clothes, in addition to the pent up urge to... i dunno - exert myself in some way shape or form and violence is kind of out of the question.

I stashed my computer and books in the lockable cabinet in the office and biked to the mall. Heading down to the bottom floor, I revisited the shop where I got my awesome jacket about a month ago having decided that their style was along the lines of super-flyness I was looking for. Browsing all over the place, the store girl who attached herself to me and I started pulling things left and right. The store is so super fly that most of the sizes are designed to look skinny on asian boys... so I was about 2 sizes too big for a number of things. I was particularly interested in sweaters, dress shirts, pants... ok everything.... Though, the pants I pulled were supposed to fit a slim Chinese (thats slim from the Chinese point of view...), not to mention I have generous buttocks, the likes of which I have not seen on Chinese in my weight class.

I found some straight up Cinderella grade boots - that is... they fit perfectly on the first time... not that they are made of glass and or are going to land me a man (ahem...). Im not sure if they’re Italian or French... Dior? Im not particularly loyal either way... I was just glad to find real leather in a classy shape with well placed buckles.

Bought the boots, a re-invented 70’s grade plaid sweater vest, a pretty awesome suit jacket and a chalk stripe sweater with a low neckline.

WOw.... this is a really revealing blog. I dont think i’ve ever written down just how much I enjoy fashion. Totally blossomed into it too. I was the kid who wore a speedo the entire summer, obsessed over overalls and had at least 3 colours of corduroys until about 16. (Their a wonderful choice for pants dangit!)

Finally deciding that I had milked the store for everything I wanted, having turned down two shirts that I wasn't completely in love with, I got up to the counter and we totaled up my conquest. ¥953 Flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip ¥1000 hard earned and gladly spent.

NEXT STORE! (What?! I wasnt DONE yet!)

Total off chance... I went into a jeans shop and ended up with a whole lot more ^_^. See... totally glad I dont have a wife and children to feed :D. At first the shop girl swooped in and started doing her thing, but when the guy started noticing that we had similar tastes... he stepped in and took over. Not gonna lie - totally glad he did, because I ended up with just the kind of super-fly togs I was looking for. Baring a whole lot of extra explanation... I got: a really cool non-standardly pocketed grey-blue collared button down, a pair of moderately dark wash jeans with some seriously technicolored “crude” stitching and a heavy zippered sweater with predominately blue-black mixed body with black cuffs and “belt-line” I had to convince myself to be a little more rational, so I waited on the thermal (puffy) vest and scarf... only to come back after dinner to claim the vest.

Same sort of thing - turned to the counter and totaled up my conquest. This time ¥778 or so (¥257 for the vest after the fact) - Flip flip flip flip flip flip flip flip (flip flip flip) got myself a VIP card and an invitation to go hang out with fashionable shop dude too. HAH! Just might take him up on it too ~ I need some randomly made friends.

Dinner was an interesting affair. I was on auto pilot to the Indian restaurant, but had a reflective moment that this was not a time for “routine” It was time for new! SO, I headed into the sushi restaurant. It was fashioned after the more metropolitan style sushi restaurants with the conveyer belts and colour coordinated plates. Fortunately there was a ‘by order’ menu available, because the premade stuff did not look particularly awsome. I ordered sushi for the first time in ten long and sad months. Honestly it by no means matches up the glory of Vancouver sushi... but it served me in my moment of need... and made me concrete my need to go to Japan some day to visit and then perhaps stick around for work and language number 4 ^_^.

Well... Im all shopped out and tired... and I have to teach two 3hour classes tomorrow... so Imma go to bed and dream of Mao’s red face flying away from me as I pose in my luscious vestments.

In all - over ¥2000 Pretty good for a Teenage girl with credit card moment I’d say. OH and cash that you’ve earned is by FAR more validating than plastic you haven’t.

This is a “next day description” as I am looking back on yesterday this morning. Taking a shopping spree was something I wanted to do, not just to be opulent ^_^, not to further perpetuate the “foreigner” image to Zhengzhou people, but because I think I just wanted to have something to show for all the work I’ve been doing. I have had this sort of growing fear that in a few years i’ll change careers and not have something to show for the “work” I did in China. The reason I came wasn’t for work - it was for language and culture, and im definitely growing in those ways. I without a doubt have something to show on those planes, however the ‘work’ side has been bothering me.

I have this gnawing feeling that most of what I do is performing rather than fully constructive teaching. I DO teach. I DO provide an environment to learn, and I have seen my students learning, but I still have this sort of impotency complex when it comes to “real” teachers. I keep thinking its going to play out like a movie and i’m going to have performed for a few years and then im going to meet a “real teacher” who is going to totally overshadow me.

I’m not as vain or competitive as I pretend to be :D, I dont mind being “second” in certain things as long as I am doing my best and growing in the way I am capable. On that level - comparison is not a truly fitting measure of success to me.

What I DO mind though is “faking it” for a few years and having palsied/ deficient skills in comparison to someone who has had real and cultivating experience.

I am not saying that my experience is not valuable. It has been. It has also been a lot of time trying to avoid the rocks though. There has been no feedback loop except people showering me with kisses ~ and you know what they say about people who multiply kisses...

So here I am being as completely honest as I can about the situation. I went shopping because I think it is fun, because it gives me an outlet for expression even when my words don’t work, it gives me something to show for all of the hours of performances i’ve put on, and it makes me feel like there is at least some sort of reason that I am working as much.

I have been so busy working for the past basically month and a half that I’ve only gotten through one chapter of my Chinese book. Theres only 2 left dangit! But being jostled around so much has made sitting down and focusing on written Chinese very difficult. I have however had ABUNDANT speaking practice these days. More and more I am having full conversations with people. I get a massage - bam conversation about something... possibly ending in me getting chastised for making so much money (How do “you (Chinese massage dude)” think it is a good Idea to ask me how much money I make and then chastise me for it because it is way above the average Chinese university graduate. To quote Rob Roy (loosely), “I don’t show you my mind to be flayed for it!”) The girls never chastise me... meh.

I go shopping - bam conversation. I go to work at the VIP center - SHAZAM conversations all day long. I go to my oklahoman friend’s house - bam conversation because their folks dont speak English. Its a circle of verbal practice all over the place. I could definitely go for some book study now though. I need more words, and picking up words in conversation through Chinese is a little more difficult than Spanish because they are short and sound the same as a gazillion other words.

Love you all, time to start my day.


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