Sunday, April 27, 2008

widening perspectives

On Thursday night I visited, along with my freind Colleen, a friend of ours, another foreign teacher who out of the blue found out she has a brain tumour last Sunday. It was an incredibly inspiring experience, because her attitude was so positive and graceful , and her smile was so bright and she also was so open. Her vibe was so uplifting. Another freind kept asking about her condition, and she didnt want to go into it, but finally she said that the surgery is incredibly dangerous, the tumor has spread into the inside of her brain, and she also can no longer drain spinal fluid from her brain. So the situation doesnt look good, but she said finally, she is able to focus and appreciate the present moment. She said she is the kind of person who is always worrying about hte future, or about the past and never ever feel in touch with the present moment. She said this situation allowed her to appreciate this feeling that she never could, and it seemed like it gave her such a wider perspective of life, I was really moved and touched by this experience. The following night I had a profound discussion with my freind Oliver about death. He says that he thinks it is a positive thing becuase it allows one to move onto a bigger thing than all the petty worries and entanglements that burden our daily existence and produce so much suffering. Death allows us to move onto a bigger thing becuase we are part of something here, something that must be cosmic since we are of the same basic substance as the milky way and beyond. He said that the positive thing about death provides release from our tiny perspective, almost like the parable of Plato's cave. I have spent the weekend digesting these thoughts, and I really wanted to write them down. I hope I didnt freak out anybody with such morbid ramblings, but I really wanted to share them with my fellow terrestrial cosmic life travelers.
Anyway yesterday I had to sub a class in the afternoon, then I went to my french freind Olivers for some wonderful conversation, and barbecue on his rooftop becuase it was such beautiful weather, sunny and in the 80s, a real rarity on this subtropical island. Then we went to a progressive house dance party at a japanese club that my coworker's freind DJ'ed so had guest passes and got in free. There wasnt many people there becuase the music was a little too sophisticated for most Taipei clubgoers, who usually groove to Hip Hop, but there were some alternative people like me. I even saw one taiwanese guy in a tye dye which was refreshing. Today I went to a skatepark near my girlfreinds house, I picked up a board becuase there are a bunch of skateparks around here which set me craving to carve concrete. I met some Taiwanese skaters whjo are always really cool and freindly. Then I met with my girlfreind and we discussed Chinese poetry because I picked up a book of 100 T'ang dynasty poems, which are so beautiful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

thoughts on eating organic and teaching english

So every morning I eat at this organic market. I get this multi-vegetable green juice which is the lifeblood of my day, I have been taking it every morning for about six months now. I was very sick with lymes when I first started drinking it, and I think it along with daily yoga practice helped my system recover (and continues to recover) from the trauma that the lymes did to my system. I live in a kind of nicer suburb (although still heavily urban) area northeast of Taipei, and its full of well to do families and Taiwanese are really into food and health so the organic thing has really caught on here. However, unlike in the states, only 30 and 40 yr old woman really eat organic, and all the people who work there are of that demographic, and so they are thrilled to have me come in every morning for breakfast and are so eager to say hi to me and teach me some Chinese. Its a really wonderful vibration, and I think my continued and consistent presence makes them so happy. They always say to me, "You are part of our family" and it makes me feel so good because my family is on the other side of the Earth. I think one needs to build a loving community in order to feel like one has a place and a home, and its such a gratifying feeling.
Teaching English is going really great, and I really am getting adjusted into the teacher role, although it is probbaly one of the biggest challenges insofar of my life. Its also difficult adjusting to the day-to-day realities of working in a full time job in that sort of 9-5 setting although everyone nows I'm kind of pretty wierd and alternative. There is a wonderful ambience among me and my coworkers, and my foreign teacher colleague, Paul, from England is a great guy who has the same sense of humor and taste in movies and television, so we have lots of laughs and running jokes which makes working so much better. And all the Chinese teachers are so sweet and down to earth, I think they enjoy my presence as muhc as I do theirs. Teaching English is basically creating games and activities, and some free discussion with the kids, and a whole lot of "whiteboard discipline". "whiteboard discipline" is basically dividing the class into two teams, and giving them points if they participate or win in the competitive activities, like spelling games and basketball incorperating vocubalary excercises. Whichever team has the most points at the end of class gets a prize of some gummy bears or maybe fake money. The best thing about teaching, in my opinion, is when you come up with a really fun and creative activity thats also really funny, and the kids love it, and you love it. Its such a group mind thing, and its so cool because the kids get so into it, they put all of their heart and soul into it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

why i laugh alot and love everybody

blogs are great because they are a place where its perfectly ok, and even expected to be self-indulgent, which is what I am good at
anyway I thought Id try my hand at it and include some of the music ive been grooving to over the past few -

-Donna the Buffalo (thanks to Jim)
-Burning Spear, Peter Metro, Black Uhuru, Israel Vibration, (thanks to my french buddy Oliver who is the authority on all things Reggae)
-Country Gentleman, Seldom Scene (thanks to Daniel)
-Good Ol' Grateful Dead (thanks be to God)

Friday, April 18, 2008

whats living in asia like?

superficially its like living in a developing world las vegas-lots of neon lights, commercialism, 24 hour convenience stores and scantily clad girls. But under the surface its so far from the west becuase the mindset and attitudes are so traditional, very heirarchical and Confucian, especially here in Taiwan which is an island of ethnically chinese with a strong Chinese heritage and a landscape influenced by the west and modern Japan. The Chinese are so busy, and there is no such thing as night time or bed time, people are up and working at all hours, stores are open all the time, and you can even hear kids playing at 1 or 2 oclock in the morning if its nice outside. Furthermore, asians are so commercially minded its crazy. There are vending stands, stores, shopping malls, everywhere; even high in the mountains there are coffee shops. Here in Taiwan there is the night market phenomenon, which is an ancient Chinese tradition dating back to the Sung dynasty. But the modern Taiwanese night market is like a boardwalk fair with lots of cheap clothes, fake designer jeans, and gobs of deep fried traditional Taiwanese cuisine, ranging from stinky tofu to raw blood cakes. Its also interesting becuase poeple are very traditional here, even the most seemingly western/cosmopolitian Taiwanese person will believe strictly in traditional Chinese medicine, adorned with really far out gems and buddha amulets and wife to be fruitful and multiply.Its also a heavily buddhist country, so there are buddhas and monks everywhere, and every kind of buddhism from tibetan to zen to chinese.
People here are so humble and freindly, women are so gracious and bow and say thank you a lot and giggle when you talk to them, men are always so solicitious and eager to assist you. However becuase of this different mindset communication between people is so much different, which is very difficult working with Taiwanese becuase you never know what you need to know or when you need to know, or your never informed about things when you need to which can be a major source of frustration, but you just have to learn to swallow your pride. It's mind boggling how the basic concepts of what to expect from others and reality can be so alien to your own, and its incredibly eye opening.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I still exist!

after recieving several admonitions from freinds and family alike I have returned in blog format. Thanks everyone for reading my blog, I really appreciate your support . my life in taipei is going really fast, so fast that i forgot who I am and operate under the illusion that I am a chinese man named "Bee" until I see my big sexy jewish nose. Of late I have been teaching full time, learning chinese during half time and serving my female mistress "yutsen" over time. Yutsen is an actress of the theater media and I learn a great deal about drama and theater from her, as well as some chinese and a lot about asian and taiwanese culture so Its a really rewarding relationship. I have also kept up my near daily meditation and yoga practice. For those who have not been informed, I will be in the US from July 14 to the end of August. Then I will return to Taiwan for another year of teaching english and learning chinese. I will enroll in a Chinese course, as well as teach english part time. I went to Thailand for a few weeks during winter vacation, but I do not have any pictures becuase I characteristically lost my camera. It was amazing, it was paradisical. I met amny people who had backpacked the world over for years and said that this was the place they kept coming back to. It was a beach on an island in the south, that you had to take a ferry to get to the island, and then a boat to get to the beach. The beach had a yoga resort, so it catered to the hippy bohemian backpacker yoga audience, it was kind of like a beach resort for hippies. I met many people who had a high-powered job in a western country, only to leave it to live in a hut on this beach. I stayed in a bungalow on a beach adjoining the main yoga resort beach that was liek a big cove with a priovate beach, and I would go to sleep with the sound of monkeys and waves crashing. And the whole thing, room and board, cost about 100 us dollars for a week. Not to mention fresh cooked Thai food, in my opinion the best food ever. After I got back from Thailand my parents came to visit me for two weeks, and I was the tour guide for taiwan,., It was amazing seeing them, my familyu and I have such a great time, even my 79 yr old grandmother came, I am so thankful to them for coming and feel so proud that they would come visit me. Pictures to come....