Archive for December, 2006



So, being someone who gets lost a lot.  I tend to ask for directions often, or just get more lost until something begins to get familiar, or give up at some point and try to backtrack until something looks familiar.

I seem to pass successfully (as theoretically I ought to) as a native person who knows what they’re doing here.  Was asked for directions last night when a red-helmeted, grey-masked scooter rider approached me as I waited to cross the street.  She had an address in Chinese written in her book, and I had to apologize in my rather bad zhongwen, “Dwebuchi, wo de zhongwen bu hao.” and successfully look clueless.

As I was walking across the park to school today, a woman asked me, gesturing with her arm “blah blah blah jeh uen zhan blah blah blah…” and looked puzzled.  So I apologized for my Chinese as usual, and gestured with my arms to indicate that “zhe ge rue and then there’s zhe ge rue shi jeh uen zhan ” and pointed through the library and to the roads beyond it.  The jeh uen zhan is the subway station, as far as I remember from working on being able to say that I live by it for the past three weeks.

It’s kind of funny.   In a lot of ways, I feel kind of lost here at times.  Not just in terms of geographic navigation, but also in terms of where I am in my life at the moment, I guess.  I tend to feel betwixt and between things, and never quite as if I’m actually here or there.

I did ask a foreign-looking fellow who was studying the subway map and muttering to himself the other night whether he was lost in English.  The subway is one thing I feel comfortable with.  Once you’ve figured it out in one city, it’s pretty easy to figure out in another, and Taipei, like Seoul, doesn’t even have any express lines to get confused with.

He complimented me on my English, which I find rather amusing (it is the only language I can claim any sort of fluency in), and explained that he was just practicing checking out characters, which is something I do too.

I’ve learned “Yong” for “forever” and “bei” for “North” and “nan” for “South”and “shwei” for school (well, I think re-learned, since Saturday Chinese school long long ago), and so forth this way.  The subway’s reinforced my spoken understanding of hospital as “ing ren” although I still don’t really have any sort of character recognition of it.

I’ve just spent the evening playing with my shu fa set– three rather wimpy brushes (very bad springiness factor), an ink stone (that smells the way I remember an ink stone should when my mother and I used to practice on the dining room table), and a little stone well, felt, etc.  Reviewed my bo, po, mo, fo, and remembered how difficult it is to figure out getting the right consistency of ink, etc.  Even though there is the aforementioned wimpy nature to my brushes, they can still (with some glares) manage to make lovely lines on a rather inconsistent basis.  As I seem to retain the memory of my mother’s kitchen table lessons of Chinese characters with the set that Bwe-E (my artist aunt) gave us, better than the pencilled practice I did as a child (well, granted that was much longer ago), I’m trying to practice writing with brushes.

I invested in a packet of soak-up sheets of paper, too.  They are grey-colored with an orange grid, and are simply used with a water-wet brush.  The strokes evaporate away in minutes, and then they can be used over again.  I wish there was an equivalent for pen.  My journal could be much more interesting, and leave no traces…

All this practice tonight is merely built-up guilt too, since I haven’t been particularly observant of my studying.  I’d like to blame teacher-parent conferences, but it’s not entirely their fault.  After all, I’ve seem to have committed to honing my knowledge of crappy cable TV.  I’ve just pasted bo po mo fo over the screen of the television.  Perhaps this will re-channel my efforts when temptation strikes?

Free Rice

December 2006
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