Friday, December 31, 2004

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I'm feeling lazy, but I'd really like to write a "life in general" post for those back home to read. So I'm going to take the easy way out and write about the all the cellphone photos I've taken this month.

Back in the beginning of December—was it only four weeks ago?—I went with Ms Chen to her friend's Latin dance class; after that, I signed up, bought myself a pair of shoes, and now I've almost mastered the steps to the Cha-cha. That first night, we went out for smoothies afterwards at the Raffles City food court (another sign that Shanghai wants to be Hong Kong).

I've still been averaging one concert a weekend. Sometimes I meet up with Asa and Chris for sushi before the show if it's at the Ark, but more often we go out for dinner afterwards, usually a bunch of expats at some cheap little Chinese restaurant. Last weekend I went to a neat all-day festival at the Gua'er Music Factory, and we actually went out to dinner (Asa, Chris, Valentina, Max, me, and some Chinese kids) during the show, while some random metal band was playing.

I'm still going to Hailida Preschool to teach six classes every morning. It's about an hour commute each way, a very tiring trip. I've taken several pictures there. The Disney logo in Chinese is interesting because they've managed to hide the Disney "D" in the character whose pinyin is "di". There's quite a bit of student art up in the hallways; one that you might think is a spider, but of course this being Shanghai is actually a crab. I always though that when the students said yang wa wa for the word "doll", they were talking about some kind of goat doll; it turns out, yang is actually the character "ocean" and means that the doll is a Western doll. No wonder people on the Shanghai Expat forums have to ask where you can buy a Chinese doll. The school went way overboard putting up Christmas decorations. Every day as I leave the preschool I pass this parked motorcycle that has a fur pelt covering the seat, for comfort I assume. As some kind of morbid joke, the owner put a little tail coming out from under the back "trunk" box. After taking the bus and metro, walking back to the office I pass a house with this plaque mounted on it proclaiming it to be a "Model Mansion". That just sounds funny to me in several ways.

Speaking of work, sometimes it's actually fun. For example, the other day I hopped into a taxi to take me to school, and it had a television in the back of the passenger seat headrest. Also, a couple of weeks ago I went to Hangzhou to "MC" a few English game days; I was treated to dinner involving leg of lamb, and discovered pirated cookies at the supermarket.

But back to Hailida: the school put on a big program involving singing/dancing/acting performances by the students. I got a bunch of student pictures with my digital camera during rehearsals, which will be uploaded someday. A bunch of parents came to the final performance; it was fun to look for the parents of the rowdy kids and see what kind of human beings could give birth to these little monsters! After the show, the kids bundled up and walked home in a light snowfall. Actually, lots of them went to KFC for lunch first, because that's where I went for some quiet reading time before heading back to Melody, and instead ended up constructing mega-straws with a handful of my students. But speaking snow...

Christmas this year wasn't white, the snow came a few days afterwards! Still, I managed to get into the spirit and hang a few ornaments in my place. Thanks to the parents/grandparents for sending over some great gifts, they also gave the apartment a little more holiday cheer. As far as Christmas activities, I tried to get into the spirit by baking a little in my new oven, which required a trip to Ikea for supplies, like a rolling pin, mixing bowls and measuring cups. I left with a bunch of stuff, enough to get me on my way to a couple of batches of cookies, lemon and almond. People at work were reasonably impressed when I brought in a box to share, and I still have a bunch more to pass around. Great!

So then you might wonder what I actually did for Christmas Eve and Day. On Christmas Eve I went over to Chris and Asa's place for a little soirée that involved party games, a CD exchange, beer, blankets and lots of laughing. I like staying late at Chris and Asa's place because they have a comfortable futon that folds out into a bed, they leave the A/C heater turned on all night, and sometimes Chris fixes french toast for breakfast... and shares! Thanks, Chris. I didn't get any pictures of John's party on Christmas day, but his new apartment has a great view of the elevated highway, light rail line, and a small river, so of course I snapped it. John's party was cool too, involving Knight Rider, more party games, a little alcohol, pizza, and good company.

Finally, a few pics that don't I won't give more than a few words to: bus stop where I take the bus home from work, Zhongshan Park light rail exit stairs, a flower someone left on the first floor milkboxes, "be a cute Shanghainese", and I'm excited about a girl.

Thanks for reading. Good night.

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