Tuesday the 1st of April 2014
I was introduced to a really tasty steak, egg and spaghetti dinner by one of the other teachers. We went to the night market (two minutes from where I live), it cost about £2.30 and was served on a plank of wood with a sizzling hot plate in the centre. There aren’t any rules here about storage when it comes to night markets, they just pull the steak right out of a bag of meat but it’s cooked well and in front of you so you know it’s less likely to make you ill than some restaurants.
I posted two tweets and status updates this morning, the first looked like this:
Where the Wild Things Are, Written by Maurice Sendak, Adapted by Tiffany Horan, Interpreted by CEI15! I’ve finally finished the play!
The second looked like this:
The children we teach today are the future of Taiwan’s tomorrow.
I started to write a play, I got mad; I deleted it and adapted Where the Wild Things Are instead. It was a good idea and my class absolutely adore it. We’re going to make crowns and claws. They’ve memorised Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen and I have a feeling that the play we put on in May is going to be pretty amazing. I’ve decided that although I have no information other that I’m supposed to put on a play; I might as well enjoy myself. I take everything I do so seriously and I let things upset me so easily. I’ve decided that from now on, I’m just going to do whatever I want to do, within reason. I work for a franchise school, so as well as the stuff we’re supposed to do, we also have blue folders and these blue folders consist of writing, reader theatre and science. Blue folders require more preparation than anyone is willing to admit.
The second status was about how much I genuinely care about teaching. Education is so much more than the subject you teach. I teach English but I could just as easily be teaching art theory to undergraduates at the moment. It doesn’t matter, it should be about instilling a desire to learn, intent to progress, an aim to discover.
The teachers who aspire to inspire, who feel influential and appreciated, are probably the best kind of teachers. I hated school and I was genuinely told (by my teachers) that I would never amount to anything. Well, here I am, eight years later (I left school at fifteen), in Taiwan, with two degrees, doing exactly what I wanted to do because at the time, I felt like doing it. It’s easier to change something when you’ve been directly affected by it, education, particularly university, made me realise how important it is to keep going, to keep fighting for the things you believe in and to keep struggling through everything that makes your life difficult because at some point, it will all be worth it. Life should be about the stories you’ll be able to tell, not the ones you wish you’d told.
I chose to move to Taiwan because I had to do something, I wasn’t getting anywhere sitting in my room in the UK, living comfortably but feeling depressed but that’s what happens to people. It’s just too easy. An opportunity arose and I took it. Last week I was discussing child labour with a private student and we began to talk about legal working ages across the globe. When I moved to the UK, I tried to get a paper round; I couldn’t so I started serving polystyrene cups of coffee, tea and soup at a gun club. I was thirteen.
At fourteen, I replaced an undergraduate in an engineering company during my two week work experience organised by the school because when I arrived the administrative team had confused me for someone older, they thought I was a temp sent from an external agency, I didn’t correct them, I just did the job and left after two weeks. I didn’t tell the school, I didn’t complete the journal we were supposed to write documenting our time as I didn’t have time. I wasn’t licking stamps and making tea, I was sitting in board rooms pretending to understand what was going on around me, making suggestions using jargon I’d heard around the office. It’s just too easy. “Didn’t you get the memo?” I’d say.
I enjoyed that job a lot, I used to meet my friend in the mornings and we’d get coffee, I don’t remember where she was working but it’s one of my favourite memories. I often wonder if any of my students (the ones who are about fourteen) do the same things I did at their age and then I remember that I’m in Taiwan and it’s probably not as easy to just walk into a company, sit at a desk and start working. I’m having a reflective (throwback) Tuesday. I say Tuesday, it’s now Wednesday, 00:18AM.
Tuesday the 25th of March 2014
It’s that time of year again, to apply or not apply. I have found my ideal research position; it really is perfect for me. It is in fact so perfect for me that when I read through the details, I began to cry. It’s an AHRC-funded Collaborative Partnership Award with the University of Exeter and Tate: A History of Performance and Performative Art at Tate which begins in autumn of this year. Now, my contract here in Taiwan ends in November and I’ve booked eleven days off prior to my contract ending; whether or not I can leave before then is unknown to me. I would be throwing away a huge amount of money (the 18% tax on my monthly salary) if I was to terminate my contract early but there’s a part of me that knows it would be worth it to be able to work for Tate again.
I feel sick even thinking about it, my head hurts and my entire being feels sad that I ever left. I don’t regret coming to Taiwan and I’m supposed to be moving to Poland once my contract has ended so this PhD would interfere with more than my current position. I have until the 16th of next month to apply… It’s one minute, make that two minutes past midnight on Wednesday now and although I should probably start to make my way to bed, I think I’m going to stay awake a little later tonight and distract myself with cartoons and hot chocolate. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep, not like this, not with so much going on in my mind at the moment.
It is now three minutes past midnight. The mosquitos are out in full force now; I need to buy a new repellent plug cartridge as the one in my bathroom is practically empty. Five minutes past, my head hurts so much and the skin on my face has been blistering for about three days. Six minutes past, I had to share a classroom with cockroaches (a regular occurrence), mosquitos and a dragon fly today… I have never been as frightened as I was by a dragon fly the size of my hand flying towards my head. It looked positively prehistoric, perhaps even futuristic (a camera wielding drone); it just didn’t seem of this time, it didn’t make sense. It scared me. Nine minutes past, my manager told me I should update my blog with a post which included the words “a dragon fly made me cry”, so there it is. Also, I should probably point out that it didn’t actually make me cry. Eleven minutes past, a student told me that my hair wasn’t cute. I felt concerned by our differing perceptions of cuteness. She didn’t care.
Tuesday the 25th of March 2014
I have three lessons today; it is currently 00:16AM. My first lesson is at 16:20PM, which is great as it means I can hopefully finish writing this post. I was recently hoping to familiarise myself with several emerging contemporary artists and curators here in Taiwan but there are more important matters at hand. ‘Taipei police used batons and water cannon to clear protestors from Taiwan’s parliament Monday morning. A group of several hundred demonstrators had been occupying cabinet offices Sunday night as part of a student-led movement against a trade pact with China. The mostly student protestors say the deal hands too much influence to China, is undemocratic, and will hurt the island. The government insists it is an economic imperative. By early Monday, people were being pulled from the premises. At least 58 were arrested and 137 were injured, reports the Associated Press.’ (Time, 2014) Several tweets, Facebook updates and videos I’ve watched regarding this have moved me to tears. Use the hashtag #SupportTaiwan in your Facebook updates and tweets to raise awareness of the situation. Taiwan is constantly wary of an invasion from mainland China.
It’s now just after 2:00AM, I need to get my eyes tested.
Monday the 24th of March 2014
I haven’t written anything substantial for a while.
It’s almost Tuesday.
Sunday the 23rd of March 2014
There are so many inconsistencies on this blog that bother me, my absolutely appalling use of images being a major cause for concern. I am constantly tempted to delete things here and there but I’ve promised myself that I won’t. I can’t give in to my obsessive compulsions when it comes to the digital self. I spent seven hours, possibly more in a Taiwanese hair salon today. My hair was completely destroyed when I walked in (I don’t know how to use a hair dryer, brush or products correctly)… and I came out looking like a Japanese high schooler. I had been considering a makeover for a while and finally managed to ask one of my Taiwanese friends to help me, I bought her dinner as the seven hours spent in there was completely unexpected. I asked her if it was normal for it to take such a long time and she told me that it usually takes five hours or so. In the UK most hair appointments last an hour or two hours depending on what you’re having done.
I have to admit though, the salon was absolutely amazing, they give you a snack box, juice made from flowers, you have your own television and remote control, they provide you with a bottle of massage oil after giving you a shoulder and neck massage, they also wash your hair about four times and each time you receive an intensive scalp treatment and head massage. It was a pretty incredible experience. I went to a place in Hemei Township or 和美鎮 (Héměi Zhèn) called A&D or 雅頓髮型和美店. I highly recommend it if you want a hairstyle overhaul.
Saturday the 22nd of March 2014
I ate a tin of tuna today, amongst other things. This was no ordinary tin of tuna though; this tin of tuna was from Poland. My boyfriend brought me so many nice things. He also brought them in the tiniest suitcase I’ve ever seen. I miss him. I need to finalise a post summarising his trip to Taiwan.
It’s 1:04AM and I’m going to get my hair done tomorrow. I haven’t had my hair cut or styled for a very long time, I look like Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries, pre-makeover. No fashion sense, frizzy hair, giant eyebrows and glasses. I taught a lesson at the park on Thursday, the photographs made me feel absolutely horrified. Note to self, working full time as a teacher is no excuse.
Tuesday the 4th of March 2014
I’m trying to stream television programmes at the moment but the connection here is really slow. I’m sure everyone in my building works the same strange nocturnal shifts as I do and stays awake until the car park lights go out at around 3AM. I can only ever get a really good connection when I wake up early which usually involves going to bed early which is hard to achieve when you leave work in the middle of the night. My sleeping habits aren’t going to improve, I’ve been here for months now so I’ve decided that as long as I get more than five hours, I’ve had enough sleep. I’ve been trying to over sleep. I keep reading that it’s bad for you but what does anyone actually know about anything nowadays, people pump their faces full of poison to stay young; it’s the twenty first century equivalent of rubbing white lead and vinegar on your face to achieve that sought after Elizabethan ceruse chic look.
I’ve eaten a lot of bread today; I say bread, its cake. I’ve eaten a lot of cake today. I find it so interesting that bread is cake here and cake is essentially everywhere.
I finished work at 7PM this evening but I didn’t leave until, well, until really late. It’s 1AM now and as usual; I’m wearing four jumpers, a scarf, pyjama trousers and socks, wrapped in my duvet, staring at my computer screen. I’m going away for two days and by going away I mean, I’m going to be in my apartment for two days making sure it’s organised well enough for someone to stay with me.
My days off are Wednesday and Thursday this week (as well as Saturday and Sunday), so based on the fact that it’s already Tuesday here, I have tomorrow and the day after off, i.e. the day before my boyfriend arrives and the day he actually arrives (he’ll get here about 6PM, possibly later). I have the most hours because I get paid the least. I’m required to write a pile of hand over notes which I did but I’m missing eight lessons in the two days I’ve taken off, eight lessons and six different classes. I managed to plan my lessons for later on today (the today that begins once I’ve slept) and the five lessons I have on Friday but it’s a bit much. I have to admit, it’s all a bit much. However, it’s not all bad, the highlight of my day was definitely rapping to Eminem’s Lose Yourself after a rendition of Rebecca Black’s Friday with one of my fellow teachers in an empty school. That and the fact that my boyfriend called me, he’s bringing chickpeas and tahini so that I can make hummus or حُمُّص because I can’t find it anywhere here. Although, I need to buy salt and olive oil if I want to make it, I have lemons.
I feel like I should buy contact lenses, or new frames. I don’t have my prescription here in Taiwan though and it seems like a lot of effort to get my eyes tested. Perhaps I’ll do it before I leave. A TA at school wears contacts sometimes, they’re amazing. Taiwan sells the most beautiful contact lenses I’ve ever seen. I think I should exhibit my old glasses at some point. I wish my parents had kept the ones I wore when I was younger, I wish my favourite pair hadn’t been stolen off my face at university (well, a Less Than Jake concert) and I wish I hadn’t broken my second favourite pair before getting the train to the ‘Glam!’ private view in Liverpool.
I can hear squeaking, I thought it was birds chirping, it reminds me of parrots but now I’m not sure if it’s a sound made by birds or if it’s more likely to be a really big rat or perhaps several rats. I hear it all the time at night when it’s quiet. It’s coming from outside the apartment and it happens sporadically. I have seen what I thought was a cat in the street before only to realise that it was actually a rat. It’s really important to stay away from street animals here, they’re everywhere and they’re riddled with diseases yet no one seems to mind, dogs, rats, cats, monkeys (I’ve yet to see a monkey though). According to Wikipedia, “almost all human deaths caused by rabies occur in Asia and Africa.” Taiwan lost its rabies-free status in 2013… I’ve been feeling melancholy recently; it’s hard to find tampons in Taiwan. The time now is 02:36AM, no, make that 02:38AM. I should go to sleep.