13 January 2004

greetings from the grave

somewhere between the western and chinese new years, i heard a voice that reminded me of my journal's neglect. that voice sounded a lot like sandy malter's, and to ignore a suggestion from a wise source would be paramount to abject folly.

it's too late for christmas and too early for the chinese new year, so please consider this (my devoted two readers) a post-holiday card without the pomp or postage.

as mentioned in the last entry from another time and place, i returned from a wonderful romp across china with my mother and her linfield students. i spent one more month at bai da wei school in changchun before heading in a southerly direction to dalian, china. why would one meander from one northern chinese city to another? one might well ask. the answer is a teaching position in dalian, the coastal town that boasts both the occasional beach and a glorious coffee shop. the workload at sea rich sino-british college was far more involved than my previous esl (e.nglish as a s.econd l.anguage) foray with bai da wei. although this cut into swimming and exploring time, it also provided an excuse to spend an inordinate amount of time with my fellow co-workers. michelle murray, another bai da wei teaching veteran, was one such colleague who made a similar relocation from changchun to dalian, via america. we became roommates as well as reunited colleagues in one of the most enviable apartments ever. i did not deserve such palatial quarters, and i know that i will never enjoy such domestic luxuriance again. this knowledge only leads me to cherish the time spent all the more, as well as the time spent learning how to cook chinese food with yang shifu.
i found the college students at sea rich to be taller than the 4-year-old tots in changchun. there are, of course, upsides to the additional height and worldly experience of one's students. together my post-adolescent students and i suffered through bibliographies and academic writing,yes, but we also enjoyed discussing "the truman show" and "the shawshank redemption." the chaucers of china, my first esl drama class, was a group formed by six talented students. talented and tall.
the jewel of dalian, of course, is not from dalian but from tianjin. she is the alpha and omega of chinese instruction, and many sea rich foreign-language teachers became foreign-language students after that annoying sea rich bell rang at the end of the day. where are you, dear rebecca, because my tones have gone to hell in a handbasket!

and then it was time to spend time with dad in thailand. an outsider might think that i hated my father, given what i put that unquellable spirit through. i strapped a heavy tank on his back and encouraged him to dive into shark-infested waters. i practically walked his feet off by showing him the backpacker's thailand (the only way to travel). i made him do hard time on a hard seat from nakhon sii thammarat to bangkok. and through all that he still found a way to say "i love you." what a guy.

the holidays were spent in portland and new york, and i am afraid that i would bore everyone with my potentially lengthy account tagged onto an already scandalously-long entry. let's just say they will be visits eagerly redone.

and now i'm in thailand, one hour from bangkok by bus and 2 minutes from an elephant training ground and a crocodile farm. if i don't get squashed or devoured, i will recount life here and try to do it justice.

hope all is well with you in whatever climate you find yourselves in!