Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Every year, I provide a synopsis of the year that preceded the current one. I am nearly three-and-a-half months tardy in doing this for the year of 2009. Here goes an attempt at completing this during my all-nighter #238429847329483279328 in Rock 'N Roll McDonald's, accompanied by Sarah Brightman, different renditions of Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, my favorite YouTube videos, and the occasional good song from the overhead speakers.


Being seemingly the only Hagwon open up through the hour that marked the beginning of the New Year, the official countdown and the convivial exchange of greetings. Evan, Robert, and I met together to go to Hongdae and make a night of the rest of the arctic night which brought us into the New Year. After eventually connecting with other friends and their companies that they kept, all was well...until two days afterward, which consisted of a night of gyration, false-courting, and not least, imbibition--mainly in Hyehwa, but not without a brief appearance in Shitaewon. That night, post- {KFC, beer, heterosexual toe-dipping in the Red Sea of bi-curiosity via douchebaggery, the alluded to douchebag threatening violence against my female friend and his due propulsion from the bar, verbal and physical fights brewing which resulted in someone having been Zsa-Zsaed by me, and rather vituperative words for one among our group of friends}, there was multilateral tension which lasted for what seemed like quite a while.

January was also the month to absquatulate. Having been in Korea for 10 months meant that it was time to utilize the ten seven five paid days of which we teachers were actually able to take advantage on days of our choices. Iran having turned out to be a fail the first time around...was no closer to being a success the second time. Other names dropped included Pakistan (too cold in January), Taiwan (too proximal to Korea; there was a need for traveling a great distance away from Korea), Cuba (the travel alone would have taken two of the days), and a day or two prior to the date at which I was supposed to depart to Destination X: Egypt. After frequent visitation to the travel agent's office, meeting his world-renown sexy dancer of a brother, dining with him and his family in his home, and going out clubbing/wallflowering with him and his friends, Egypt was the agreed upon place to visit. This was decided on the same day that the ticket was purchased--the day before departure. My friend Evan was awesome enough to care for my bunny, since the veterinarian's office turned her away on the grounds of cheesy feces. I was escorted to the airport in one of the sweet fruits of his labor.

Let me state that there is a word that begins with a 'c' that I associate with some of the helminths(?) who give trip advice online. The trip to Egypt was neither the best nor worst journey on which I've embarked, but I do wish that the little cajoler Amro (unfortunately not Amro Diab) would have at least hit it before having been quit for his rather chicanerous ways. Despite the problems, I was seconds away from unleashing a dam of...a tear or four as the plane was about to take off in the Caironian skies; touching Seoul land was even more affecting and had me feel the vacuity.


The aforesaid vacuity was filled by a social spurt during this month. This month was marked by a birthday party in Wangsimni, a ski/snowboarding trip which put on display my lack of any coordinate precocity whatsoever, a no-cost Valentine's Day outing --being a single lady, I merely had to put my hands up in song (i.e. karaoke 노래방)--of sorts, a nocturnal retreat to the fish market, and a farewell party which coincided with mah barthday. Then again, so too was it marked by a highly vexing move across the street (for a fortnight at the longest!) into a claustrophobic-friendly, discommodious room devoid of internet access and full of hydraulic fail, and what others classified as a "panic attack", which peaked after having taught my last class--and left me rather debilitated, averse to aliment of any sort, that night and for a great part of my coming-of-age day that followed. Fortunately, this transpired in the presence of others (as opposed to happening in said discommodious temporary box in Seoul)...at the cost of there being too many of those others. Thank you nonetheless to those who helped me through the still unexplainable "panic attack".

Come to think of it, it must have come from the last-minute stress that came from not knowing how I'd economically ship the sixty billion or so boxes that I had...back to America (without squandering money at FedEx).


The first of this month would have been the more a propos time for a panic attack, for my box of a temporary living arrangement had still been laden with books, boxes (packed and unpacked), and plenteous tidbits which I knew would not be accompanying me back to my dreaded "home"land. Having been debilitated the day (Saturday) before, and having a 7:30-or-so departure time for a company-paid trans-Pacific flight the next morning, FedEx was the pis aller on a Sunday night (and day). Auf Wiedersehen @ $800, nfp--and that was after having left behind quite a few not-quite-cherishables-but-not-dispensables. A cherishable that did come with me was my bunny ویژه , and she made it safely back to the United States (being approximately three months old).

No comment on the rather rude graveyard-shift Korean workers at FedEx who, I believe, lost one of my boxes.

After (and much before, to be frank) the aerial view of snow-sheathed Chicagoland--and after the pre-landing airline weather report, I knew that nothing good would come out of setting foot on Chicago turf. Setting foot on Chicago turf verily did no good; it catalyzed a string of complications. The wad of uselessness that were the Korean bank checks left me to rely on the relatively scant amount of Korean won cash to fund my not inexpensive ride from the airport to the suburbs, after which I had a rather measly amount to use on the necessities at Target. Consequently, a rather domesticated life ensued, which in turn catalyzed my delve into Chinese grammar. I also was introduced to Plurk during this month.


Most of this month comprised my continuance of learning Chinese grammar and marathoning against time to catch up and move on with the ABC soaps--mind you, this was catching up on three months' worth of episodes for two shows. Parallel especially with my seemingly intense Chinese training and conditioning was my fluffing the social plexus I had already established on Plurk, more facilely done by the fact that I was one of the one Chinese-"comprehending" foreigners flapping my neophytic arms plurks around in a pool of and amongst (+ab- too)fab Taiwanese boys and men. Not very much else is recalled in regard to this month...other than soaring and dipping temperatures (but a steady dose of domestication).


With some of the Korean money having been remitted (much thanks to one of my true friends, Evan), May certainly was more positively charged. With the gradual incalescence came fiscally-derived enablement and an impetus to leap into the rather novel, including time investment in new shows such as The Tudors and Flight of the Conchords, and baking a chocolate cake for Mother's Day. Also featured in this month was the high school graduation of the youngest in this immediate family, and a visitation from--and outing with--one of my friends from Korea and his friend, which did not end on the best of notes...or on the most sober. What a slump for the beginning of a Chicago spring. At least my e-social standing on Plurk was on the rise?


2009 had a June? What a blackout. Based on my seemingly endless clicks on "Older Posts" on Facebook just now, June 2009 consisted mostly of playing Typing Maniac...on Facebook. Next. (Oh, I believe I started watching True Blood during this month, but that's nothing major, though not surprisingly memorable as my memory does tend to contain fragments of the most insignificant things ever.)


July was laden with setbacks. Ecstatic I was to introduce the family to the Mojito (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), which surely makes for a refreshing drink in the summer anytime. Unfortunately, everyone shared this oh-so-brilliant idea and had already stocked up accordingly on mint leaves. I had apparently missed out on the Mint Leave Consumption War, thus resorting to Smirnoff Ice and remnants of libations in the house. The Fourth of July was intempestively cool (a high of 72 degrees) and rainy. I didn't imbibe too much, because I still fared decently on my telephone interview the next morning (of course it had to be the next morning; the call was from Taiwan, so it was midnight there). A few days afterward, I was offered a position, which came attached with a five-day deadline to accept. Ready to spring the shit out of Chicago, I accepted on day two, and the all-too-familiar barrage of PDF files stormed my otherwise rather empty inbox.

Countering this recent PDF dump, I cannonballed the regional recruiter's and recruitment supervisor's inboxes with detailed emails packed with (necessary) questions and concerns. I was to arrive in Formosa (Taiwan) at the very beginning of August =D! Did this happen? No. D=

Remember my money basically being sequestered in Korea? Despite numerous attempts up to the last week prior to my departure date, this didn't change. Providentially, there was a friend still living in Korea, to whom I was able to resort to mailing my bank card. With a not-minuscule sum at risk via that plastic card in a FedEx envelope, waiting for its safe trans-Pacific transport seemed as if it had been one of the longest waits. Ever.

Just because the card arrived safely, that doesn't mean that the day--the departure day--was saved. Fortunately I was able to move my arrival date back by three weeks because of the need of an emergency training group (supposedly many from the previous training group were to be sent down the 'bad egg' chute). As such, July came to an end.


Vexatious times eventually took a turn for the amazing during this month. Succinctly put, I had quite the...first-hand experience with Citibank-more-like-Shittybank's logistics and outsourced staff. My money in Korea never was wired to my Shittybank account, which I totally should terminate. I still owe my friend Evan so much for enduring the setbacks Shittybank had only prolonged. Thanks to my mother, I purchased a plane ticket--with a mental promissory note to repay her.

I made it to Taiwan! The immigration lines were rather full for six-o-clock in the morning. Fortunately I had arrived safely; both my luggages did as well (one was not found on the conveyor belt until 20 minutes later). The airport chauffeur hadn't left yet, and I had been the second of three people to meet him. After the third (Kelly) arrived, we were driven to the hotel, but there were six hours to be squandered between then and our check-in time. With mid-August Taipei City's weather giving the Sahara Desert a run for its calefactory and dessicating reputation, one of those six hours was spent walking halfway up 吉林路 (Ji-lin Road); the other five were spent in the coffee shop attached to the hotel, marveling at being in Taiwan and being hit with the reality of the toilet paper-phobic toilets (Becca had known that it was indeed no myth, though).

Day One certainly wasn't bad at all, though it was rather inconveniencing that absolutely nothing seemed to be open within a four-block radius from the hotel...at least, it seemed this way for a hungry fatass like me at two-o-clock in the morning, wholly unfamiliar with the surroundings. I at least had a double room and private internet access-awesome!

Day Two's post-breakfast good morning consisted of me finding out that I do have a roommate; he had just arrived before the initial meeting. What was disheartening about this was the fact that we'd have to share a bathroom, which went much less than ideally at times. He was, however, a nice but inopportunely garrulous guy (I mean, he was British). We weren't as polar of opposites as Ozzy Osbourne and, say, Elizabeth Dole, but we related only in the way that we were to-be employees of the company--and that we shared a hotel room (for which there was only one shared key).

There were nine days of training, and each day was great, even though I was placed in Taipei County, while some of those who didn't mind their locations were placed in Taipei City. (I received my money via Western Union, thanks to Evan, on Day Three or Four!) It really was the most commendable training experience I had had though--of the three I've had. There were twenty of us, one of whom Quislinged was awesomely resourceful enough to take flight to another opportunity in Taiwan; there were many South Africans, a couple of British, and an adequate number of cutes ("studs" might be a little hyperbolic). After those nine days of caffeine addiction, 7:00 a.m.-or-earlier wake-up times (which ended up being near the time at which I had to wake up each morning when actually teaching), comforting health checks, arousing our bellicose natures, team planning, elucubration, mass maturational regression by a decade (or sometimes two), collecting little candies, quizzes, and gormandizing @ box lunches...we met our regional directors and celebrated our survival through nine days of training (and our last night in the same area of Taiwan until the follow-up training) through the most popular (and apparently traditional) way possible: karaoke (a.k.a. KTV in Taiwan).

My. I've already gone into


August did not end up being very succinct, but September certainly will be. September 3rd was the date when we parted for our respective branches; many stayed in different areas of Taipei, while some went to 高雄 (there are 2.38 x 102342 different orthographic ways to romanize this name) in the south, and 淡水 in the north (more northerly than Taipei). I moved into an nicely-located central apartment that was a block down from the hotel in which my training group had stayed. My co-workers were all nice, but I was very much missing those with whom I had trained. I taught kindergarten kids in the mornings (I loved them so much), and junior-to-middle-school students in the evenings...with an honors class on Saturday mornings. The students were great, but I was slowly growing accustomed to the one-and-a-half-day weekends, the relative lack of other foreign teachers (my branch was a rather small branch; I didn't very much relate to the part-time foreign teachers at my branch), and the relatively little amount of time I had outside from work. Becca came once a week, and I was grateful for at least having the opportunity to see her those times. (We saw Up with her friend during this month!)

Oh yes, there was also a trip to Yilan at the end of this month. Supposedly there was an amazing beach in Yilan, but the plans apparently had been changed before we arrived. We didn't know about this 45+-minute taxi ride we would have to take to the new location (an 'industrial beach' saturated with hot locals, but still, 45+-minutes), but we ended up having fun at the beach--and a near-débâcle getting back to Taipei for work the next morning. Fortunately everything turned out favorably.


Problems within the company were ebulliating for most of those with whom I had trained. This month was apparently Exodus back to America Month, for many had endured more than their shares of disillusionment, which unfortunately tainted their impressions of the entire country. (Actually, Exodus Month leaked into the beginning of November.) Fortunately, Becca introduced me to Jenna and her friends, which galvanized my previously waning social life and expanded my shrinking set of friends in Taipei. Work-wise, I officially was pulled out of the closet in which I had been placed only by my Taiwanese co-workers, but that contributed only an infinitesimal amount--if even--to the already (relatively latent), escalating-in-Richter scale earthquake that had been causing the ever-growing schism between the 補習班 (bǔxíbān; "cram school"/after-school "school") coworkers and me--everything at the kindergarten branch was going as amazingly as it could.

An added pressure was my having agreed to substitute teach a class at yet another branch for an entire month. Nine-to-nine 10:30 or even up to 11:30-days, yay awesome. D=== During the degradation of my already little life outside of work, my comforts lied within hopes for an eventful weekend (eventful= someone wanting to do something), food (Taiwan has great food, even though I nocturnally lived for Yoshinoya --and it for me, as I would be its only patron at midnight, one, or two in the morning), and Pine Vallley and Llanview via YouTube.

Also most definitely worth mentioning are my purchase of the Blackberry (with a trial contract that I canceled after a week) and the Halloween celebration. Halloween was on a Saturday, so it was celebrated on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 補習班; it was celebrated on Friday at kindergarten. The children's costumes at kindergarten were soso cuuuute! However, this holiday is very much child-oriented, for I had to purchase a random witch hat, a mask made for a masquerade, Halloween garland to snake around my frame, a pitchfork, and those string balloons for some sort of a devil's tail. Cheap fabulous monster? I don't know, but the kids' costumes looked amazing, and there was an eye shadow palette used for one of the students' costumes (a geisha) that I could find nowhere, despite the numerous cosmetic stores (they are numerous in Taiwan Asia) I ransacked in pursuit of it. The trick-or-treat event around the block was fun and entirely cute, and I was able to do it twice because of the class (last day!) for which I was a substitute. Good thing safety was a serious factor in this event, since children whose hats are blown off their heads--and toward traffic--tend to try and run toward the traffic to retrieve the hat, despite 238492749314731208 previous safety warnings and the teachers' human shield formed between the queue of students and the traffic. That was something for which we could anticipate and prepare, but the Halloween Grinchette totally surprise-attacked us. The children little saccharine fruits of the holiday festivities were being pilfered little by little by the Halloween Grinchette, a not-so-equilibrated geriatric who was nearly as short as the students. I would not have put it past the Taiwanese teacher to box the Grinchette's ears, but she didn't. The candy probably wasn't returned to the students, who wouldn't have taken them back anyway after having been in her "greasy paw", as many classic novels would oftimes put it.

That all transpired on Halloween Eve. Halloween Day, a Saturday, was also Gay Pride Day and the (second-to-)last day of my apartment contract, since I had opted not to renew the two-month contract whose length I deliberately set. Determined was I to go to the parade. The day started with me having assified myself by being in Halloween attire for my Halloween spiritless honor students. After that, I packed some more and was to meet my friend Ria near one of the areas by which the masses were going to pass. I did just that...after having canceled my contract and buying the $$$ 元元元 phone.

The rest of the day consisted of being acquainted with some of Ria's gay friends, passing the time with them in the designated finish line area for the parade (there was a purported output of 25,000 participants, maybe the totaled number of spectators and marchers), and meeting Jenna and her friends for dinner and imbibition in a familiar bar, where we of course had a great time.


November 1st was All Saints' Day, but Where-the-Shit-in-Taipei-am-I-to-Sojourn-Starting-Tomorrow Day for me. I was not to commit to staying for another several months in any place, because I was ready to leave my current employer but dithering with the dilemma of staying in Formosa or leaving and returning in the future. The next day, my boss had recommended a rental place to me, in which I was thankfully able to move that day: there were no windows, ventilation came through the opening in the small fan above the door, and there was only a pair of staircases flanked by an iron-gate security door. Never mind my having to transport my suitcases and bags of other accumulated goods up to the fourth floor by myself, because I appreciated that there was a vacancy period; it was also relatively (relatively) inexpensive to stay there.

Fortunately, I found a hostel in its nascency in Ximending, a rather popular area in Taipei City. What was amazing: I was the first and only guest during my sojourn there (up to the last day), which gave me unlimited access to the communal shower rooms; I had a choice amongst the three-to-six-bed rooms to share with only me; it was only 7000元 (about $200) for two weeks; it was very conveniently located in relation to my workplace; and it was always quiet (as was the apartment in which I had stayed). What was not-so-amazing: I was often too busy or exhausted to socialize with the owner for an extended amount of time; the rooms were not grand in size; the hot water was sporadic or there for literally a minute, which was sinking every benefit of the place.

Work-wise, I had decided to let myself be let go by my employer, rather than leave. I also agreed to work for them until the end of the month, so as to forgo the rather purse-lightening $600 contract termination fee. If only I could have continued teaching kindergarten whilst shedding the 補習班. I at least was fortunate enough to have worked with my kindergarten class on their upcoming Christmas play that I was not going to be able to see.

As Thanksgiving was coming up, I decided to return to America and return to Taiwan in the future. I said goodbye to my students, many of whom said that they would miss me. I nearly shed a tear with one of my 補習班 classes; I'm surprised that I didn't with my kindergarten class, especially after having been told "I love you", which was the cutest thing everrrrr.

After a Thanksgiving-like tree-decorating celebration and KTV with Jenna, Brendan, Joseph, Emily, Sasha, Lillian, Joseph's girlfriend, and the cat whose name I remember as much as Joseph's girlfriend's :/, a Thai dinner with Jenna, Brendan, and Emily, a gay bar run/visit to Jump, G-Star, and Café Dalida during my last weekend, a fail at finding another place to work and maintain my ARC status, a preparatory accumulation of cheap contact lenses, and a hectic day to the airport (FedEx Taiwan is awesome, by the way), I felt pangs of an immature farewell on my way to the airport in the taxi; they were especially coming from the sunny, 75-degree, latter-November weather. Why?

Well, it was 35-degrees at 11 p.m. in Chicago. Thankfully, my return from Taiwan wasn't as pecuniarily depressing as that from Korea. Salaries were distributed in cash (with reason), which were naturally exchangeable at the airport. However, the trillions of coins I had also carried with me were not exchangeable (thank you, God, for the coins only being a small portion of the money I had carried with me).

Thanksgiving also wasn't that great, and Black Friday found me inside--doing nothing. Wasting away into


December was a pretty vacuous month. I mostly e-mingled , but there was the Aqua Scare to my laptop, which a fellow online socializer so generously helped me fix. During this same weekend, I attended a band reunion party downtown, for which I had bought a new polka-dot top. It was great; my old band compeers were able to see how much I had changed for the good? bad? alcoholic? in the past several years. Staying downtown afterwardy , I apparently ventured in the characteristically wintry frigidity of the city to Subway before having ventured into the (wrong) 24-hour McDonald's with the attitudinal, stereotypical rotund black security guard. There should probably be a comma or two in there.

I returned the next day to my place of stay, to find that my laptop had indeed been saved by the isopropyl alcohol bath to which it had been subjected two days prior.

Christmas Eve was pleasantly busy. I was introduced introduced myself to the amazing store called Lush (with international stores, even in Kazakhstan!), an amazing handmade toiletries/cosmetics store whose aromatic dissipation could be nauseous at times and cathartic at other times. I bought some aromatic bath stones for my mother, and I bought gift cards for my brothers. Fortunately Christmas is not the time for mojitos, so I was finally able to purchase mint leaves (Dear Trader Joe's, you're awesome by the way), on which I ended up overstocking. White rum, however, was not as plenteous, to my distress. One bottle happened to suffice, and the price apparently hadn't been inflated. Loaded with shopping bags with gifts and supplies for my Mojito Christmas, and being overly unenthused to return back to my place of stay, I journeyed north. Several 7-11s and liquor stores (just to compare alcohol prices) later, I settled on El Souk, a Mediterranean restaurant, to quell my hunger pangs. Quell them its $11 shawarma meal did. The rest of the night was a wet, snowy/sleety night.

Christmas Day was less than ideal. My help in preparation, which was not considered help ended up being help after all. However, my introduction of mojitos (alcoholic and non-alcoholic, of course) to the family went rather splendidly, and they very much appreciated my cheesecake brownies. For the win.

After Christmas Day, I was able to spend time with my best friend from high school and his wife, for they were in town for the holidays. This definitely neutralized --even positivized--my December 26th, which was needed because of my having missed Lush's retail-shattering year-end sale downtown. ): The 26th was spent visiting an high school band friend at her house; the 27th consisted of some of us meeting at a bar, somewhat barhopping, and colliding with another band friend in the bar. Unfortunately those two days flew by, and the days after that--including New Year's Eve and New Year's Day--were as vacuous as those of the beginning of December. Festive they were not, and the new decade was brought in rather depressingly.

It apparently was a great indicator of how the rest of the year was to be, because it has thus far been as such.

It is April 22nd, and I'm just finishing this volume of procrastination.