Monday, December 25, 2006


"Ms. Mitchell Ms. Mitchell!" six 12 year old girls run at me with piles of red lanterns in hand.

"Well hey! What's with the lamps?" I question them.

They look at eachother in puzzlement. "Shenme? Shenme?" they ask eachother. "What-is---with-the-lamps. Wo bu dong... Wo bu dong, Ms. Mitchell!"

I roll my eyes and chuckle at my mistake. These are primary ESL students after all; they have no clue what I'm saying.

"These things. They are called lanterns/lamps. Why are you holding them?"

"OH! I KNOW I UNDERSTAND!" and they tell me they are for the New Years concert on Saturday. This rings a bell.

"I am performing a song for the entire school for that concert," I blurt out. This is a first for me, it's just that I only then remembered it. Somewhere in the foggy depths of my memory I recalled agreeing to said performance. The girls clap and cheer in glee.

Lastnight I had a vivid dream. I was on an ancient pirate ship playing darts with my friends back home and my ex boyfriend. As the pirate ship moved from port to port everyone slowly deserted me until I was left quite alone. I think I may have walked the plank in the end, or that may just be dramatic embellishment.

I awoke from this meaningful dream with one of the sharpest headaches I've ever experienced. My vision was blurry and I was still dressed. What? I hate wearing regular clothes to bed. What went on lastnight? I vaguely remember coming home... Shenme?

Lastnight was Christmas dinner with colleagues and new friends at an enormous restaurant. It was hot pot and for those of you who don't know what that is, it's like fondu or raclette but with soup. Included in my personal witches brew were the following: fertilized duck eggs, baby silver eels, razor clams, regular clams, cow's throat, cows stomache and many more but my memory got foggy about halfway through and I'm not sure what else was consumed. I will attribute that fogginess to the beer that my male coworkers all but forced upon me. Why are they so bent upon me having a "good time"? It's not all that fun when you find yourself unable to even work your chopsticks by the end of the meal; I dropped at least half a dozen eggs under the table.

But that's the way these meals seem to go, and I am somewhat used to it at this point. Included in this celebratory meal was the headmaster of another school in Dongyang. He sat across the table from me and toasted me quite frequently. I knew he had something up his sleeve when he continually instisted I have yet another and another bottle of Bijio. About an hour into hotpot he cleared his throat and stood.

"I have something important to say," and I'm sure he slurred a bit because he was not going easy on the wine at all. "We are friends as well as co-workers," he began, and I couldn't help but question this so-called friendship considering I'd never even spoken to this man before lastnight.

"And that is why I am honoured to request that you begin teaching three classes at our school every Wednesday. Starting this Wednesday." AHA! I knew there was something suspicious about this dinner! Right when I saw several men dressed in black suits arrive, I knew it had more to do with business than pleasure. "They are trying to relax me with alcohol so I agree to this 'request' which has actually been forced upon me!" I thought. I regret not making a fuss about it now, but at the time I was wayyyy too happy to do anything but nod and smile.

"To the relationship between Chinese and Canadians! May it be long and happy!" Mr. Headmaster cried and raised his glass. "Bottoms up!" he insisted, which meant that I had to down yet another glass of cheap beer.

And then there was KTV (Kareoke television bar). Not my idea, honestly, although I love the place. If a rowdy group of slightly drunken Chinese people finish a meal, it seems the only choice they have is to visit the nearest KTV. Which we did. And I threw out my vocal chords belting out various songs by Westlife, Britney Spears, Celine Dion and some lame attempts at Chinese pop songs. Apparently this was when I agreed to perform a song for the New Years concert this Saturday, because I was "just so good!". Those people were taking advantage of me to the fullest when I was at my most vulnerable! I would have agreed to anything! For shame.

After this I guess I went home and slept in my clothes. I hate myself for wrinkling my good threads!

So I awoke at 6.30 and it was still dark.

And seeing as it was a chilly "London Fog" day and I was cold in my bare white room, I turned on my heater. And it didn't work. And then I tried my light and it didn't work. So I ran to to fridge and threw it open and the light didn't go on. NO! I've lived through enough electricity problems already; I really didn't need yet another blown fuse. But upon checking my neighbours' fuseboxes I discovered that our entire apartment was in the dark. I rushed to the school to find some answers and was informed that the whole block would be out of power until 2pm. Who schedules a power outage, honestly?!

I also discovered something kind of cool from my boss this morning. Her good friend owns a bar in Dongyang. This friend wants me to visit his bar once a week for a few hours and speak to the customers in English. Not only will I be educating his regulars, I will be attracting business to his bar (apparently). In return for this small favour, the owner of the bar will give me free drinks whenever I want. This sounds a bit like a sketchy deal and I'm not too hot on Chinese Alcohol, but at the very least it will be an opportunity to make more friends. Which I love.

I'm off to take advantage of all my wonderful Christmas gifts. Happy Boxing Day, y'all!


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