Sunday, July 10, 2005

My life as a movie, Japanese with Chinese subtitles

Ironically, now that I am barreling down the city, the city has seemed to slow down. Perhaps the theory of relativity is to blame. I no long feel like I am on some roller coaster ride going too fast for me to really think. I think often. The ride stops. For me, the ride seems to stop at nice cafés. I go to an inordinate number of nice cafes. These costs all cost far more than anything in Taiwan, but less than anything in the US.
Maybe I am going to these cafés to patch into my inner writer. They seem like the sort of place someone pretentious would go, and outside of pretentiousness and remedial spelling, what does a writer really need? Lets be honest though, pretentious I have already got. Besides, its hard to picture Poe drinking a frappe, let alone an Oreo frappe. Having even typed that I think I have to quit all of these ideas of writing.
Besides, I am not a tortured soul. I am usually happy, and I am not willing to be unhappy in order to make good writing. Maybe if I was a sadist this would all come easy. I would just move to Bangladesh, burn my passport, sell my things, burn the money, and you know, see how that goes. That seems like a novel idea, but I won't do it, even if I could keep the movie rights. I came to Tainan partially to leave my comfort level, but its not like I am walking barren streets here, stepping over dead bodies.
That said, the scooter is an adventure, every time. My scooter has given me a feeling of freedom, yet how much actual freedom I have patched into is debatable. It is not like I am going wherever I want whenever I want. Rather, I am just going to where is convenient. I was on the way to a movie across town when I decided to stop and write this. That was the most freedom I have felt on a scooter, where I felt like I should stop somewhere just because I wanted to, which I do when I am walking often.
This café is called “e-power,” but does not have wireless, in my world, that sort of thing ends in a gang war, that or the terrible music. One of Frank Sinatra’s darker moments, Strangers in the Night, was followed by a singer with half of his talent, twice his melodrama, and three times his “Do be dobe dos.”
Driving here for more than a few moments has made me as bad as the locals. That said, some of my western instincts still get me. Cars will dive in front of me when they see me break for just a moment, why did I break for just a moment? Because I was afraid they would dive in front of me.
My Word grammar check has a casual setting, I enjoy that. I like the idea of Word giving my document a “quick skim.”
I am only teaching an hour and a half a day. My contract guarantees 18 hours a week. Why do I stand for this? Well, it’s complicated. For one thing, my pay checks are for a month. As such, they can argue, perhaps justly, that my pay needs to only average 18 over a month long period. Because I worked so many hours last week and the week before, I will have averaged 18 by the end of the month. So basically my schedule is tons of hours, and then virtually none. In a way, that is not so bad.
I have avoided talking about this, because I know people from the school will read it, well, they might read it. As such, I am going to keep this pretty shallow of a discussion. However, this school breathes tension. The staff can't deal with the foreigners, and the foreigners can't deal with the staff. Both are nice, but no one does anything to lessen it.
My friend Stu seemed very "in the face" with the staff about some random things. I thought this was pretty unfair at first. Now I see exactly why he does it. They don't care if you have been compromising on previous things, they want to get students and do just enough to keep you there. The only way to really get something is to make it seem like this is the one strand that is keeping you here.
In this way, some teachers are in a constant state of half-way-out-the-door. One teacher threatens to leave weekly and has "quit" multiple times. It is a sad state of affairs, but I don’t know how it can be fixed. It has become the nature of the game, and it does not seem like it will change.
I am about to go see a Japanese movie with Chinese subtitles. I will not understand much, but what else is new?

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