19 October 2007
Subject: Introducing the New Style

Gleetings and Salubriations!

A special treat this time around-- a collaborative effort from the collection of Mitch and Molly's Madventures in China. I thought it would be a fabulous idea to use gChat as a media to riff on each other and rap out our story in real time, not realizing how much work it would be to format the result into basic HTML and inset pictures (do not be alarmed, I still intend to learn some basic programming-fu). But it's finally complete, though absolutely inelegant in its slip-shod back-side-slapped fashion, and takes a few minutes to load. But TOTALLY worth the read-- to quote Mitch, this "is butter" and the start of a cutting-edge new mass audience-intended writing style phenomenon. I think the time stamps and the typos lend a real sense of authenticity to the piece, so they were consciously unedited. Without further ado, I hope you very much enjoy:
http://www.mollybee.org/china/wuyishan.html "So What Happened on Our Vacation to Wuyi Shan?"

In Other (id est, The Same) News:

I continue to pick up language on the street and on the sly from teachers when they think I'm teaching them English. I'm packing away all sorts of new constructions that I can say in a consistently understandable fashion. Though they are few, it's really nice to have a stash of faithful phrases I can depend on-- they rattle around satisfyingly like polyhedrons in my dice bag. Oh, you wanna play Chinese? Well I came _prepared_ this time, ready to roll!

Were my hateful primary school teacher to pen my Chinese Language Progress Report, it might read something like this: "Molly has continued to strengthen her budding command of Mandarin Chinese through self-study and natural conversations. She shows remarkable improvement in the areas of pronunciation and tone comprehension, though still has plenty of room for further improvement. She continues to learn written characters at an impressive rate-- perhaps too fast for her basic spoken vocabulary level. She should focus on speaking and listening skills, spending less time engrossed in her dictionary and more time in dialogues with native speakers. Although Molly is positive and enthusiastic about Chinese language acquisition, she occasionally exhibits undue impatience when native speakers are unable to comprehend her inaccurate tones or inappropriate word choice. She has at last overcome her foot-stamping and biting habits, though still whines childishly with little provocation. Overall, Molly is progressing at a highly satisfactory rate and we can expect her to experience several communication breakthroughs in the near future."

I got paid--finally-- so I went shopping! Bought all kinds of frivolities like water, ramen, and a bed sheet! I finally broke down and bought my first go set. If you find that hard to believe, I find it doubly so. I guess I've just always used the set my father gave me, the set I made, or other people's sets. But now I have a somewhat "mamahuhu" set in the office to entice Robert into some games. I hear they have go boards on the internets, but I haven't been able to claw my way over the edge of the digital table to see. But I have a lovely view of the Great Firewall of China. Not to delve into a nineteen-page soliloquy, but go is damn near the perfect game to have on the internets. Or anywhere, really. But particularly on a computer where you can practicably visualize a four-dimensional board twisting around a torus and such-like. Not that any sort of fly-wheel-gearchange-on-his-unicycle crackpot mathematician would bring that into reality and then spank me at it ;) Oh, and I am going to start a go club with the owner of my favourite local coffee shop.

I met a woman on the bus, we started talking, and ended up exchanging phone numbers with the promise of a hot date. As it turns out, she (Evelyn) is a Chinese teacher at XiaDa University, and wants to give me free Mandarin lessons in exchange for practice speaking English while we do Body Exercises. What are Body Exercises? As I patiently explained to Mitch, sometimes, when two women meet each other on a bus and exchange phone numbers... er, sometimes they agree to meet up for Body Exercises. During the course of which, Evelyn taught me various nose-keeping exercises, as well as ear-keeping, eye-brow keeping, knee-keeping, and general body-keeping movements. All this while I learned some basic prepositions. "And now we bend *on* one knee for the Preposition Position!"

I must mention popular clothing fashion here. Stripes are in, very in, and actually look good paired with stompy boots and an individual's elans. Couples often wear matching printed T-shirts, which is dorky-looking. And I am not sure why, but the muffin-like pleated skirts puffed out and tucked up with a high hem line really annoy me. Much of it revolts me, which is interesting to note because I have never been much interested in fashion. Dress-up, yes, though. Very yes. In fact, I want to make my own clothes. Hay Gayla I got all sorts of sparklies and shinies, ouh, and I'm going to be a fairie for Halloween! Inspired by the gorgeous parasols here, I am going to hook it up with silver-veined wings, wire up my hair, and floof up some layered skirts. But not muffin-top skirts, goodness, no! And I'm going to sew in all sorts of unusual pockets, like armpit pockets for cheese! (I'm haunted by German fairy tales from my youth where the heroes set out for adventures with cheese under one arm and bread under the other). Although, China doesn't have cheese. They are interested in other sorts of Western Cultures, though... like yogurt. And, unfortunately, really terrible pop music.

I passed on the gift of the song Michelle shared with me; I taught our students "Finlandia". The room swelled gorgeously with their voices, finding natural harmonies. And then segued into a lusty bawdy rendition of "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor?!" Mitch declared that we had Made History-- never before had that song been sung in a Chinese high school classroom, and certainly not with such growling and ARRing pirate panache. We're just doing our duty as proper teachers ;)

In Brief:

Feather-friend Connor would be proud-- I think I've identified my first bird here: the dusky warbler.

Why does xkcd.com always have direct bearing on my life?

The Hokey Pokey really /is/ what it's all about!

Hey Wiserd-- let it be known that the kiddies are learning to spell "colour" C-O-L-O-youu-R, mwahahaHA! (for no reason other than it is as such on their flash cards, I'm not purposely promulgating it, I promise).

I have all these ideas for art projects I'm not making: carving my own ink chop, cutting rubber stamps, balancing mobiles, painting pictographic triptychs. The good news is that these are not distracting me from writing. Distracted from distractions with a bona fide concentration-- that's rich.

I want to paint my room, but I take one look at my manky wallpaper and flump into bed exhausted by the thought of how much time it would take to peel off. This is probably for the best, as--left to my own devices-- I would paint with light, using reflective surfaces and glow-in-the dark compounds to describe dynamic swirls as likely as not to be radioactive.

I've noticed myself listening to people listening, which only serves to heighten my own perception-- spiraling ears.

My inner fruit bat has met with a fine challenge! Recently, just about every day, I eat a citrus fruit the size of my head called a pomelo. Just when I think I've finished one, two more will appear on my desk. But *bring it* because I've never met a fruit I couldn't vanquish!

Some of you work with ONGs in D.C. or some such, and fill your days with anticlimactic acronyms. Maybe you could secretly replace each word with an imaginary beast and then tend your mythical menagerie throughout the day.

And if you think these letters "wax Faulknerian" ;) you should take a listen to the things in my mind that I /don't/ share. So Lee, I am finally taking your advice and getting a digital audio recorder. World... watch out. This is your fifth-to-final warning.

Yours in consummate geekery,