>Giant Santa Hat


Originally uploaded by tl1138

Even the local mascot got in the spirit. Question: was this custom made or custom ordered? Perhaps I will steal it and keep it. I imagine it could fetch a hell of a price on ebay, especially for those full-headed fellows with money to blow.

>Maria the Enabler

>I had started smoking regularly and I mentioned to Maria that I wanted to quit.

Maria: Why?

I asked her off-hand what she thinks about guys who smoke. I already had a good idea. I just wanted her words on the subject.

Maria: I think it’s good. I see no problem with it.

Last weekend, we were supposed to visit a friend’s apartment and have wine. She asked if we should bring a gift. I mentioned cigarettes, but then wondered whether or not he smoked.

Maria: It doesn’t matter. If he does not smoke, you can still smoke them.

And for my birthday, she joined us at KTV. She brought along a present and I immediately unwrapped it.

An ashtray.

Well I have to use it, don’t I? Otherwise it’s rude.

>Student has advice for gay people

>I’m teaching the English majors on Monday afternoon and I ask them about gay marriage. There is a little silence, and then “Judy” raises her hand.

Judy: They have a problem. They should go see the doctor.

I sure hope none of her friends come out to her.

>Lights Out (2)

>Last week, they cut the power to check on something. I am not sure exactly, but for most of the day, the power was out.

Luckily (hmmm…) I was on the New Campus standing before the students and speaking while my Bit Torrent downloads and newly received Facebook messages hung in a dry limbo. I got back to working electricity, and more importantly, working heat, and most importantly, working internet.

Most foreign teachers didn’t know because the tiny sign posted at only one of the apartment complex’s gates was in Chinese characters, and since Chinese language education was not part of our orientation, none of us could read it.

I only knew because I was with my girlfriend and she translated for me.

Yesterday, I saw a different sign in the same place. Chinese characters. Times and dates in Arabic numerals. Today and tomorrow during certain times, it seemed the power would be out.

I got up this morning and urinated. I tried to flush the toilet. No go. Then I turned the knobs on the sink. No luck there either.

As it turned out, the water was out today, not the power.

Good thing the heat is not central. At least they can’t cut that.

>Tests (2)

>I’ll cut to the chase and say I failed the student who never talks.

I did get him to speak. I said “ni hao ma?”, and he got very nervous…and then replied with a mumbled “good”. That’s all. Nothing else beyond that.

What was I to do? Stamp him and let him continue? Even if I were willing to do that, I found out he is going to change his major to Management next semester.

So he has failed. Everyone else passed.

The building at the new campus has no heat. No central heating system. No heaters either. So, in my inadequate clothing, I froze, developed a sore throat, a headache, and an ear ache. Tremors also spotted me and set-up camp.

I put the students’ grades on the class roll. No English names. Just Chinese characters that I cannot read and numbers beside them, so I called them by number, two at a time, and spoke to them and graded them from there.

No one bothered to mention what I do with the test scores. I offered the first class’s to Dorothy, one of the Chinese teachers. I tried to offer the second one to Gloria, another Chinese teacher who appears to have a permanent rod jammed up her ass.

Her response?

“It’s none of my business.”

The wrong expression. And she said it with such annoyance, as if my important yet simple question is a heavy burden.

She is a patronizing bitch who makes backhanded compliments to every foreign teacher.

But anyways, on to something positive: the English majors asked if I am going to teach them next semester. I don’t know. Of course not. I doubt I’ll know until a few days in advance, if I’m lucky.

I wouldn’t mind teaching these English majors again. In a semester clouded by that “concentration camp” shit, these Monday afternoon students have been the lone bright spot.

That’s it for now. I will have a lengthy series of columns on the intensive course coming in January. I don’t know how many parts exactly (I project four to five), but they will appear here.