Posts Tagged ‘7/11

03
Nov
08

Back in my Swing State!

Now I’m back in the house I grew up in where the trees got all dolled up in gold to welcome me home.

It’s kind of weird being back in a place where I never quite fit.  Things feel smaller somehow (and I haven’t really grown in height probably since sixth grade… Um, yes, I’m that short.)

I ran into one of my middle school teachers when I went to volunteer to get out the vote and she didn’t recognize me (though to be fair, I wasn’t completely sure until I left the building either).  Note to all of my former students that may be reading this– if ever you recognize me and I don’t recognize you– do run back, introduce yourself, and submit yourself for hugs.

Things I miss about Taiwan already:

1.  FOOD.  My mother has been making me yummy food, and my cousins and auntie treated me to some very yummy food too in CA, but it isn’t quite the same.

2.  7/11.  I didn’t realize it, but being able to go anywhere and rely on a 7/11, FamilyMart, or (what’s the pink one’s name again?!  Ack, it’s only been a week and a half post-my whirlwind bye-bye tour and I’ve forgotten!) to be in the immediate vicinity was really convenient.  Gas stations just aren’t the same.

3.  The MRT.  Actually this is a Taipei one, and really if I were in NYC or Boston, I might not miss it as much as I do in the car culture of suburbia, where the closest thing we have to public transit is a bus that stops around four times a day around a mile away.

4.  Not wondering if people are looking at me funny just because I’m… well, rather atypical for the area.  I don’t know if that’s fair to say– considering that it is something I didn’t feel or was oblivious about before.  Arriving in our local airport with its three baggage claims (which is WAY nicer than the in-renovation scariness of LAX.  I know it was almost Halloween when I arrived, but the DANGER and CAUTION strips hanging off of the exposed ceiling were rather odd, and the customs agent didn’t even say “Welcome Home” which is a small thing, but I missed it.  LAX has to be the least foreigner friendly airport — all English signage– even Atlanta had digital signage in the terminal shuttle in Arabic, etc.   LAX was also not friendly or helpful when I got my tea through Agricultural Inspection.  I ended up falling into the conveyor belt with my luggage.   It didn’t give me a very good feeling about coming home.  P was my fun seat neighbor though, and he and his co-workers were really gallant and chivalrous in helping the people around them get their bags, so I knew that there are still friendly Americans.  Sorry, /end LAX rant.)*  Umm…  What was I talking about?  Oh, yes, I know there were heads swiveling when my mom and I reunited and I practiced my Chinese as we left the airport.   But I do (fairly or not) feel an impulse to shrink a bit the way I did when I was in middle school, and school was a dangerous territory considering how much I got picked on.

5.  And most of all– my students, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends, colleagues, and roommates in no particular order.  Hugs to all of you (and I just remembered, I forgot which relative I was supposed to call when I got in safely, sorry…).

* to be fair, the Taoyuan Airport is a bit grey and dry, and I had a nervous moment while they went searching for the “Cancelled” stamp to put on my visa before my 30 day re-entry bit was to begin.  They were pretty polite about it though.

And for my fellow Americans stateside– Tomorrow is Election Day!!!  If you haven’t already voted, GO VOTE!  If you have questions about your registration or what your polling place is or how to volunteer for Barack Obama and Joe Biden, click here…  and hopefully we’ll get to party Tuesday night!

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24
Mar
08

Yesterday…

My students ate so many M&Ms and Skittles that their teeth turned blue. I didn’t even open the bag of peanut M&Ms.

And after we read the The Outsiders a little before the part that makes me cry, but at the part which still drew me in enough to totally forget to mark which parts we would talk about in class and which parts would be served by a verbal summary, we played Taboo! with very generous squeals of the red spike-headed squeaker. Predictably, two kids flicked their socks off, one rolled on the floor laughing, and we had a jolly good time. Also, possibly predictably, my team won. ;D

On the way home, I stopped in my little corner 7/11, where I know all the staff and they all know me dashing in to grab a box of microwave dumplings at three in the afternoon for the day meal that isn’t really breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the way to class or sometimes the night meal on my way home after nine, or the daily bottle of orange juice or cranberry juice or in pre-diluted milk tea days, milk tea.

One of the cashiers was in her day clothes with her little daughter in tow, and two of the teens were manning the register in the requisite burgundy-tan shirts. I was walking back with my bottle of orange juice and noticed a white butterfly fluttering and flitting over the blue-silver tinsel garland hung from the ceiling to decorate Mother’s Day cake promotions. It was suspended in a blur of white wings looking for the heart of this long strange flower-wannabe. The tinsel threads swayed just a little as the white wings frantically beat the air around them. The little girl and I watched it weave around the shining strand and finally settle to take a deep breath on the ceiling, eyes still on the tantalizing tinsel.

It was a cabbage butterfly, I think. My cousin told me that it’s a plague for Taiwanese farmers, as it hasn’t much in the way of predators.  This one was happy drinking from daisies by the river in Gongguan.

Anyway, the tall cashier with a smooth white forehead and curly long hair got a wooden stepping stool to stand on, her hands cupped as they tried to encircle the butterfly without hurting it. She ended up chasing it with a large translucent plastic bag to the back of the store, then a plastic basket. In the meantime, I’d checked out my bottle of vitamin C and thought I should get back, but the drama forced me to stand outside the sliding doors in the darkening twilight and watch as she skipped and hopped trying to get it into the bag.

Finally she met with success and the daughter of the off-duty cashier got to look at the butterfly fluttering in the bag filled with air, a giant slightly opaque white bubble. The mother took her daughter by the hand, and they stepped past the singing sliding doors and crossed the street to let it go in the park.

I got back and found out that more of my long-term lottery tickets haven’t paid off, and I may be destitute as far as having a clue with my life next year goes. I’m homesick, but maybe I’m homesick for a place that only exists in my head. And maybe it’s a strand of blue-silver tinsel that will leave me thirsty, and I’m a butterfly that will end up lost again where it all began.




Free Rice

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