Monday, November 26, 2012

...And we call him Bo

Meet Bo:

He's our foster dog.

Last Friday, I walked into school and there he was hanging out on the second floor corridor.

It was 7:40 a.m. and with hundreds of students flocking around him, he was a little terrified.

I squatted down to pet him, wondering how on earth he came to be in the second floor corridor, when he just flopped on the floor, rolled on his back and waited to be scratched on the tummy.

That pretty much sealed the deal.

A kid from the school's humane society club took Mr. Bo home over the weekend and to a vet. Except for a dislocated paw, he's fine.

Now he's with us, laying on the floor after a dinner of chunky Pedigree, and he seems pretty content to simply be somewhere warm and safe and dry.

I know we cannot keep him.

We are real vagabonds. We have been for a while.

The Humane Society is actively looking for a home for Bo and we have someone who will take him if he's still with us by the time Chinese New Year holiday rolls around.

But this whole time all I can think about is how easy it is to do the right thing.

This guy is so special.

He's sweet and has huge personality.

And now, he has a home.

It is no hair off our back to give him a safe place to be where he will be loved.

For Bo, this simple gesture is the difference between life and death.

Doesn't he, and all the street animals, deserve a good life?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friends and feasting

Part of living overseas, or travelling for an extended period of time, is missing holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.

Sean and I are no stranger to this.

We once spent Christmas in Venice while it flooded. We once spent New Years Eve on a bus in Malaysia.

This year, though, a little bit of home came to us.

First, my mom.

Second, some ingredients for my favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

And last, my homeroom threw a Thanksgiving party that included turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

So while yes, I did have to work both Thursday and Friday, we still had our own funky Thanksgiving. On Thursday night, 10 of us got together at our place and enjoyed a little taste of America.

Here is my friend Jamie's blog with some photos of our Thanksgiving soiree:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Showers and flowers

My mother is a trooper.

Not only did she sleep in the spider room (on the floor, I should mention) for two weeks, but she also bravely hopped on the back of Sean's scooter and allowed us to whisk her all over town.

It's not as care free as one might think.

Driving in Asia is much like playing one of those car racing games at an arcade.

On top of that, she even let us scoot her down to the weekend flower market in weekend traffic in the pouring rain.

Here are some snapshots of our journey.

(Please enjoy the hot yellow ponchos. We sure do.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Getting lost then found

My mom flew in for a two week visit.

The first place we took my mother was Gu Qi Feng.

I won't lie: I have no clue what this place is supposed to be.

Museum? Maybe...

Statue graveyard? More likely.

So, anyway, we put my mother on the back of Sean's scooter and putted off.

But here's the thing: we didn't quite know where we were going.

A long story short is that I got separated from Sean and mom and ended up sitting outside of this really old temple in the Hsinchu hillside on my scooter until Sean finally picked up his phone.

It's strange but at that moment I knew I finally made it: accepting that Hsinchu was my home.

Was I lost? Yes.

Was I worried? Not at all.

I had a vague working map of Hsinchu in my brain and a cell with a bunch of friends' numbers. I was confident on the scooter, had a wallet full of NT, and simply wanted to find Sean and my mom so we could see this strange place we had read about.

It was a nice realization though.

Before, I would have been petrified about being lost, by myself, and on a scooter in the hillside.

Anyway, here is a bit of what we found once we met up:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fleeting Moments

Expat: a person living in a different country and culture

Mom and dad and brother.

Roma and Buggy.

Port Townsend.

Pizza and cheese and ranch dressing.

Book stores and the Uptown Theater.

Sweaters and hats and scarves.

Ferries and mountains and the Puget Sound.

Friends and phone calls.

Cars and stars and deserted roads.

Songs and radios.

Windstorms and heavy rain and occasional snow storms.

Feeling at home.

These are all things Sean and I gave up, and it was absolutely terrifying.

The days leading up to our departure I was a mess; actually, I was completely incredulous.

Why are we moving to Taiwan?

How did this happen?

Why am I leaving my family and friends and cats?

What if...

What if...

What if...

But then, we were here: Taiwan.

This place with all of its scooters and chaos and markets and Chinese and... friends.

In all these small ways, Taiwan started to feel... a little more like home.

These fleeting, tiny moments pass and build and then all of the sudden those things you left behind weigh on you a little less...

Fleeting moments like...

Rain against the window pane, pit patter on the roof

Towering trees, cloudy skies, and pebble paths
Cars and junk food and friends sharing a laugh

Out of breath climb, climb, climbing trails

His handsome, friendly face... always


Seeing the indescribable 

Befriending a Peter Pan

Living and celebrating together

Meeting genuinely good people who bring you Starbucks

Being way immature, like normal

Finding home in small moments

Having a living, breathing home
Cuddling with a Wawa

I would love to be snuggled up with my two cats in my papasan chair with a good book seeing the wind blow and rain fall and smelling a pizza baking in the oven and having plans to see my family soon but...

... but sometimes you can't have everything.

In these fleeting moments, small ways and passing days, Taiwan is feeling home-like.

It's becoming familiar.

Every once in a while I can pick out snippets of conversations.

I recognize streets and store owners.

Sometimes you just have to let go of the familiar to see what's out there waiting for you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Building empires, debunkig stereotypes, and playing with words

First quarter is officially over.

And man has it just flown by.

Mostly because in the past 11 weeks, I have not had one single behavior problem in class or a rude parent breathing fire down my back or admins spreading the message loud and clear that you're on your own.

I walk into a classroom full of happy, respectful kids. I hear from grateful parents. I see smiling admins who call me "Miss Jackie."

What a contrast.

This weekend, due to that weird time between two quarters, I'm buried under a mound of grading: travel brochures, social commentaries, reading responses, etc.

But here's the thing: I kinda like it.

Shhhh.... don't tell.

You see, my kids work waaaaay harder than I do so I don't mind spending my free time really looking at what they've done, admiring it and critiquing it and acknowledged their efforts.

So far, in the past 11 weeks, we've:
  • Looked at words like they're artwork, crafting sentences and scenes that smack readers in the face or pull on their heart strings and make them feel something, anything... because, really, isn't that the whole point of writing
  • Crafted personal narratives of these small, powerful moments with evocative imagery and themes and learned there is reward in taking risks
  • Confronted racism and sexism and ageism and wealth inequality by reading Of Mice and Men and then wrote our own social commentaries about things that irk us or inspire us
  • Read creepy Roald Dahl stories in the dark about crazy old ladies who kill people and stuff them and studied mood and setting and clues and red herrings and then slept with the light on for a week and then strove to write something that would affect our audience in such a powerful way too
  • Beat the odds and survived in the Alaskan bush with Gary Paulsen and learned about conflict and motivation and then analyzed our own personal conflicts and motivations and learned some pretty important things about ourselves while at it
  • Argued loudly and heatedly and passionately about artificial intelligence after reading Flowers for Algernon and learned to look at both sides of the story before jumping on the bandwagon
  • Studied Middle Eastern culture and debunked stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and this little-understood corner of the world
  • Built empires after studying maps and religion and government and terrain and learned to anticipate problems and solve them before they even turn into a problem

I can't wait to see what we can accomplish in the next three quarters!

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