Saturday, March 29, 2008

Man time

Sometimes Steve and I go shopping together. Sometimes we go out to eat together. Sometimes we stay up late and talk about girls. We have matching man-bags, t-shirts, and bath soap. We plan on buying matching shoes and matching pants. You could say we have a close relationship. And that we've possibly been influenced towards a more feminine nature from the lengthy and very close living arrangements we have with eleven females. But you might also be a guy reading this and see something else. You might see our "manship" as more survival mode than unfortunate evolution. Which is the perspective Steve and I like to take. Have you ever felt like an only child adopted into a family of eleven girls? Have you ever felt like you were a girl? If you haven't, you've had nightmares about it...if you're a guy, that is. And upon waking, you've sought out your guy friends, not girl friends, to ease the horrific memories of the night before through root-beer, pizza, and a bad-movie-night (bad acting, I mean. Not know, stuff). And it's not that you hate girls that you need man time. It's that you're glad you're a guy and not a girl, and the more crowded you are with girls the more you need to remind yourself you're not one. Girls are fantastic. But both genders agree there's a definite need to celebrate gender differences. And that's what Steve and I are doing when we spend time together away from the girly types. This however, does not explain the feminine nature of our manly celebrations. For that I ask, have you ever been to Taiwan? Is there really anything that manly to do in a land where grown men wear pink and giggle like girls when they say "hello" to a passer-by American? Don't get me wrong--I like Taiwanese dudes. They have their gender going for them. But I'm having trouble remaining a manly man in this culture. So we're girly men. But given our living situation, I'm glad we're still at least that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I was offered a fellowship at Ohio State University. I got excited. I started playing with a miniature basketball and bothering people all over the house. Mary was none too impressed by the offer or the bothering, but staged congratulatory remarks for purposes of conformity. I saw through the drama and bothered her more. She began hating. . . and eventually confiscated my basketball. Then we got along, but only because I began staging the norm, and I'll continue until I find where she done hid that basketball. Then I'll make her hate me again.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

tiny hands

Since I already have a blog reserved for poetry, I can't very well post any here. So I'll just invite you to click here and read the poetry that would be under these pictures.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dear Katie, you didn't miss much.

I found myself in an Asian candy store of culture last night. The teachers at Berhan went to a "Feel yourself Chinese!" spectacle put on by a traveling Chinese performing arts group. The Berhan teachers minus Katie, that is. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Katie and her ticket never met, and she was forced to sit at home and crochet Easter baskets for the upcoming school Easter celebrations. After reading this though, I hope she feels her unfortunate circumstance were not so unfortunate.

It's not that I don't like culture or music or dancing or flowers, but something about all the soft colors and fuzzy borders, the "Nessun Dorma" -like ending to every song, and an emcee who jokes between each number, doesn't thrill my overplayed senses. A man can only take so much frosting before needing a water closet. Give me more grits. Some cornmeal and chili. Even cow tongue or chicken feet. Something hard before the fluff. There's a reason we attribute the craving for sugar to a "sweet tooth," not "sweet teeth." Teeth have always had a hankering for meat. But there was that odd ball tooth who demanded chocolate. And we like that sweet tooth, but he'd never amount to anything without iron-fisted friends. Chocolate might be all that's worth living for, but if everyone's a chocolate bar, who's to do the living? You'll rot your teeth on sweets if not for the grit inside you asking for substance. You'll fight to down those vegetables just so desert will taste better. Last night I ate too much frosting and too little veggies.

To the performers credit, they had talent and skill. I was impressed at several points: the back flip those guys did in that one dance, and the really really loud high note that tenor held for 2 minutes. Both moments saw my eyebrows raise an inch. Whitney and Sara, who sat near me in the audience, will argue against my right to criticize on the basis I nodded off during several of the first half moon-dance numbers, but I was awake for several more and I have a hard time believing the frosting that I missed tasted any different. The multi-media power-point rainbow frame behind the glittering dancers, backed by mystical lullaby sounding orchestration, and the tireless smoke machine off-stage, made for a magical evening difficult to forget . . . or dislodge in the water closet I ran to once we got home.

Credit should also be awarded the power point screen in the back that displayed the Chinese characters for "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance," often enough to let me memorize the strokes, and to Mr. and Mrs. emcee, who mustered a two-person skit between each number, despite the inaudible laughter in return, yet very audible chatter among audience members.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

locked in song

You want to see what we teach. No, that's not a question, so stop swooping up at the end of the sentence. You do want to see. You've been wondering the what and how ever since I told you I was teaching English in Taiwan. The following ends your wanting--yours and my students'. Neither could want to see anything more after seeing this, in or out of class. You'll be sorry you wondered. Just try to go home and forget about it. That's what my students do. But they can't. They can't shake the darn tune from their spongy brains. And neither can we. Who wants language skills bad enough to mimic this? Everyone. Even the teachers. We already speak English, but can't stop the songs built to teach it. They beat the insides of our skulls. A Saturday bike ride out in the country, finally away from the screaming children, away from the dry-erase board dust, away from the larger than microscopic spittle in which a kindergarten teacher showers everyday, and we still find it necessary to pull off the bike trail and disengage the kindergarten songs pounding at the walls of our brains. And yet, it's hopeless. Our efforts to molt the songs we wrap so tightly around us, like snake skin two sizes too small, serves only to constrict us further. Singing never solves the problem of singing. You'll only get better at it. If you want to kill the thing, leave the dead skin on. Suffocate the unwanted. But for kindergarten teachers, what's the point? You have to sing and dance the same gig everyday for the next 5 out of every 7, so why choke to death in the monster's grip Saturday and Sunday? Shake hands with the beast. And sing like an idiot whenever it comes knocking.

digression of a proposal