Monday, August 31, 2015

Oh Yeah BTW I Moved To China (The Last 2 Months)

I've been seriously slacking off, so to save time and space, I combined my last two months into one post.


Hey, Shut The Fuck Up!
I knew it was just a matter of time before I lost my cool here in China. There were many moments where I could see over the ledge, and I could taste the rage in my mouth. But during those moments at the bank, in the classroom, on the bus, on the subway, in a taxi, at a restaurant, at the market, I talked to myself and kept it together. 
“You’re really going to scream at a woman who looks like she was born in the early 19th century? All because she elbowed you in the ribs just to get a space on the train that’s already packed to capacity? Look at her, she’s so old she can barely deal with gravity. She looks like a lump of coal being pressed into a diamond. 
Yo, relax. This will pass!”
But when it comes to a movie theater, I don’t know what it is, I JUST CAN'T KEEP IT TOGETHER. Since my arrival over a year ago, I’ve been to the movies four times, and all four times people around me acted like it was their personal home theater. They were texting. They were taking videos of themselves in the theater watching the movie. They were watching videos on their phones. Really. They were having conversations amongst themselves. And EVERYIME SINGLE TIME some asshole within 4 or 5 seats of me would answer his phone and just talk.
“Wei? Nihao ma? Chifan ma?" 
Which translates to, “Hello, I’m an inconsiderate asshole who has no manners or self-awareness.”
Luckily my dates could sense I was angry and were able to calm me down without incident. But my breaking point came when I went to see Avengers, Age Of Ultron. 

Granted superhero movies don’t win Oscars, The Dark Knight being the exception, but Age Of Ultron was one of the biggest movies of 2015 and I was REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.

I don’t understand people who go to a public movie theater and act like they are at home. A family of maybe eight people is sitting in the balcony next to us, just chatting it up, texting, and just being all around assholes. So my friend asks them to please be quiet in Mandarin. For about 5 minutes it works. Then he asks again in Cantonese. They don't answer back, but laugh, I guess because they think it’s funny that this foreigner speaks Cantonese. They quiet down for a few minutes and then I can hear not one, but TWO PEOPLE TALKING ON THEIR PHONES!

Hulk wants you to Shut The Fuck Up when the movie is on!
At this point, I can't quite explain what happened inside my brain. Maybe I was inspired by one of the stars of this movie, but this rage, this anger filled me and it seemed like another person took over. I stood up and the words just came out:
“Hey, shut the fuck up! We’re watching a movie you goddamn monkeys!”
Except for the dialog and explosions coming from the screen, silence.

I know they didn’t understand English, but they knew I was out of my mind with rage, and for perhaps 30 minutes they did indeed shut the fuck up. 

But then during a critical part of the story, one of the children started crying. 

And he cried. 
And cried. 
And cried. 
And cried.
I guess they felt it was payback for me screaming at them because the little fucker carried on for at least 7 minutes before someone took him out in the hallway. I eventually got into the movie, but for me, the experience was ruined. I even left before the credits had played because I knew that if I saw these people in the hallway, harsh words would have been exchanged.

The rest of the month was relatively boring.


Take A Chill Pill Tiger Mom!

I was informed that each class has to perform a play or dance routine for the end of the year graduation ceremony. I was also informed that it is a BIG DEAL! All sorts of important people from the community even Government officials would be in attendance. Really? Government officials care about a graduation play at Kindergarten School? I don’t feel like inquiring further with my co-teacher as to the validity of her statement, I just smiled and asked what I needed to do. 

Our play, our being upper kindergarten, was an adaptation of The Little Mermaid. 
I thought the play would be fun and we would rehearse a few days a week, you know here and there. But it turns out this play was a big deal, or at least the teachers were told it was because they acted like these goddamn kids were auditioning for their lives! It was like Dance Moms only 10 times worse. We had to practice everyday for 2 hours for a play that lasted maybe 8 minutes. The Chinese teachers, yelled, berated, and sometimes aggressively manhandled the children during the rehearsal. Often times I could feel the rage from the movie theater creeping up. 
“Hey these kids are 5 years old, how about you chill out Tiger Mom? You’re taking all the fun out of this goddamn play! They aren’t going to remember any of this shit anyway. This will make no difference in their lives at all!”

The primary school kids had it just as bad.
Dance in circle damn you! Don't mess up or your future is ruined!

1,2,1,2,1,2...Don't fuck up!

But this is China. 
This is how things are done. 

It’s all for show. Put on a good show so the school doesn’t loose face. Children from an early age are taught to fall in line and obey. I wasn’t so much a teacher as I was foreign window dressing paid to make sure children were little repetition robots, able to bark out, “I’m fine thank you, how are you,“ on command.  And it’s a shame, because I had some really bright kids.

Rachael and her little mermaids :)
The night of the graduation the backstage area was nuts. It was huge, pulsating, sweaty, frantic, mass of glitter and sequins. I know that sounds a little a weird and perhaps inappropriate when describing a children graduation ceremony, but that’s really what it was like. Hundreds of children and dozens of teachers running back and forth down a narrow hallway, fighting for space, fighting for attention, fighting for the spot light, faking smiles and enthusiasm. Countless hours of practice and choreography and stress for an event that takes maybe 6 minutes to complete. It was fun, but Jesus Christ, I'm happy it's over! 

When I think about all the time we wasted on the stupid play, when we could have actually been, you know TEACHING, I get worked up! But it's done. Breath.

Flowers and stuff.
President of the school making his welcome speech.
Time to dance!
Yarrrrr, pirates!
This is the best shot I have of me as the prince. Artist, Teacher, and now Actor! What can't I do?

Highlights :)

I can't believe it’s almost over! Where did the last 18 months go?

Cleaning up the studio...
I like apples.

A small piece I made for a friend.
I’m happy I came here, but I’m also thankful that it’s over. I need a break from teaching. And a break from children. But I will miss these little rascals!

My Upper K, afternoon class:

I was trying to get them all to look at me, but the Chinese teacher in the background was distracting them.

Don't let the cuteness fool you, they will eat you alive! Just kidding. There were good days and bad days.
Eva upclose. She was a delight.
Aaron was one of the smartest, but also one of the most annoying. I'll miss the little shithead!
Vicky on the right is not sure what's going on.
Helen on the left, Linda on the right. Both sweethearts :)
Eva and Olivia, two of my favorites.
Olivia and her "Possessed by the Devil face."
Sunny with a facepalm.
Sam was a such a sweetheart.
Aaron in time out.
This is how you get them to sit still. Movies were last resorts, but they worked like magic!
Cindy was really into it.

My Middle K Morning Class:

Zoe and Isaac.
Mr. Cool, Isaac.
I'll miss you Hugo!
Cathy had some sort of performance that day, which is why she had make up on.
It's weird so see a child so young with make up on, but again, it's China. It's normal.
Anyhow, Cathy was sharp, far ahead of everyone else. I'll miss her enthusiasim.
Rose. Trouble maker, but funny.

Zoe was funny and sweet..
...but if you tried to touch her stuff, it was on!
Lyn came a long way. The first few month she wouldn't even talk and would cry if I even looked at her.
It took some time and patience, but she came around.
Albert :)

Ryan was special. I think he has developmental problems, perhaps even autistic. He should have special teachers and not be enrolled in normal classes. He was way behind the others. But then again, maybe he's just shy. Regardless, he was a sweet kid.

Scarlett demonstrating how tall she will be someday.
Lucy was a delight. Smart and funny.
Lyn :)
Scarlett's cute face ;)

After I took the picture, rose tied this string to a stick and used it like a whip on me.
She even made horse noises as she did it!

River Rafting!

So we had to take a different road to get to the tour bus! Massive rains often means massive road collapse.  
Another view.
Pre-rafting temple hike!

Water fight!

Luke is shy.

We look like idiots, but safety first!

I’m not sure how I to feel about leaving. I’m not even sure what to write. I suppose I should say something life affirming. Or say something about my journey or how this has changed me. I want to write something profound, something like a great novelist would write. Something Hemmingway-ish. Or Baldwin-esque. But I got nothing.