So after quite the scare, Leah is on her way to Taiwan. Ahh bureaucracy...its like being forced to listen to a drunk girl sing Mylie Cyrus songs at karaoke night while watching The View on mute and having your toenails ripped out with pliers. Except, I imagine Barbara Walters is polite when she robs people of 140 dollars.
Things here are coming along swimmingly. I found a church I am going to try out tomorrow morning (church in the morning? Weirdos.). Hopefully I can find it without getting lost. Streets are slowly starting to make sense. Does anyone know any good Lutheran jokes?
I taught my first English class Friday night. I am quite sure they are terrified of me; and I went out of my way to try to be really outgoing and fun. There are 9 kids in my class, and they barely said a word. One of the boys started talking to his friend while they were supposed to be doing a writing exercise; all I did was look at him and raise an eyebrow, and he didn't say ANYTHING the rest of the class. Anytime his friend would say something, he would just shush him and continue working. What a difference from teaching in DC.
In other news, this place is full of South Africans. And by "this place" I mean the two bars I have frequented the most, which both happen to be cricket/futbol bars. I actually had a conversation in which a South African tried to convince me that cricket's beauty is in it's simplicity, and baseball is too complicated to understand. Has anyone ever seen a cricket game? No. The answer is No. Because its weird. And it can take 5 DAYS to play a game. As residents of two former British colonies, we agreed to disagree, and make fun of the German guy for liking soccer. Later that night, the owner of the bar came up to me and pointed to the computer, asking me to pick a song. This may have been because I was way too into "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. So I found some old Metallica and played "Master of Puppetts". He got a big smile on his face; "Good?" I asked, "Is very good!" he replied and gave me a cheers. And we are now bonded together for life by 80's metal.
I used to listen to this tape on my walkman while cutting the grass with a push mower in 8th grade.
I am going to try to borrow a camera, or else I'll just have to wait until Leah gets here. I am not sure why I forgot to bring it with me. Probably because of the soul-crushing stress. I am hoping Leah has now escaped the worst of it and can take a few days to relax before getting here and jumping into the fire. She starts her full time job (Hooray! Full Time Job!) 3 days after getting here. So be sure to pray for her and buy her a drink or two. Or bring her sushi. Or all of the above.
Well, probably another night at the batting cages, trying desperately to hit 80mph pitches ( I am so rusty). But its a good work out. Its been hard to find a consistent work out routine here; found a little park to run in today, but our apartment is in a really dense area, and the air quality is awful.
I am off to watch more Scrubs (5 seasons down since I left) and maybe nap. My sleep cycle still is a wonky.
Stray dogs almost always cross the street at crosswalks Bad teeth are considered sexy on a girl There is a pastry shop here named "Donuts". It does not sell donuts. Sandwiches are often odd mixes of egg or tuna salad plus ham or turkey. They are pretty good. August 24 th commenced Ghost Month. People put out food and drink as an offering to the ghosts, who have been released from hell for the month. Apparently, ghosts really like Pringles and Supua (Gatorade...kinda).
At the moment I am in my big, empty, apartment, alone, listening to Sufjan Stevens and laying on my sheetless bed with only a travel pillow to keep me company. As much as the people here have been super amazing, I find coming home to my own place for the 2nd night a bit lonely. Its at times like this that I really understand what it means to be bonded to someone; I miss my wife tremondously right now. Please pray for her as she is working so very hard to sell our belongings and finish paper work, as well as work extra hours on top of her normal job.
In less self loathing news, things have really started to pick up. I moved into our new place on Saturday, bought a scooter, and have now begun to get the hang of driving in crazy Taiwan traffic; although by all accounts I am still very much a beginner. Driving is a lot of fun, though.
I will post pics of our place soon. Its pretty sweet. And Odd.
Good day today: had some wood fired Taiwanese pizza, and it was delicious. Went out to a pretty decent music festival, had some cheap beer, heard some local jazz/funk/hiphop/aborginal dance music. Went to the Night Market. Good stuff. Lots of cheap food, trinkets, games, carnival kind of stuff, and loads of tiny little turtles for sale. I need them. All of them. Leah will be sure to like the plethera of bracelets and necklaces for 100NT ($3). I can only describe this jewelery as very 'Leah-esque".
I am still in search of an English speaking church here. I would appreciate your prayers. The Lord has never ceased to provide for us, and I know He will not abandon us here. That said, I have to find a place where I can understand His word, lol. I may have some leads, so hopefully they turn out.
There have been a lot of times here where I have felt my feet are floating above the ground, or my brain is swirling around inside of my head. I owe very much already to the generosity and compassion of the people I have met here so far.
Well, the power is running out on the computer, and I am standing out on our weird porch/greenhouse thing stealing WiFi, so it's time for this boy to head to bed. Maybe I'm strong as stone, Even though the bird has flown (I heart you Allison Krause)
I signed the lease for the apartment today. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, lots of A/C. So, we will have PLENTY of room for visitors. Landlords seem like really sweet people. Its been quite the challenge to communicate everything that needs to go in signing a lease between two people who do not speak the same language, but we managed to get everything done.
Other awesome things:
Kid wearing a T-shirt with a giant orange basketball on it that said "Baseball!"
Mike's older Chinese friend wearing a G-Unit shirt.
My first few days here have been fast and furious, to say the least. The 25 hr flight consisted of several documentaries on the flora and fauna of Asia (production value via 1970), mystery meat dinners (I guessed chicken with a side of sashimi and potato salad), Harry Potter audio books, reading a good chunk of The Fellowship of the Ring, blinding stomach pains, and some nice drug induced sleep (with a little help from my friends). Aside from the knots in my stomach, I arrived feeling surprisingly well.
Here's the thing about Asia. There are Asians everywhere. Who knew? Also its hot. Real hot. Like Taiwan is a giant bathroom, and God is taking a hot shower all day. "But Steve," you say, "obviously its a tropical island and you should have expected it. Plus, it was pretty hot here in Amrrrica when you left." All I would have to say back to that is, shut your mouth. Its hotter and more humiditer-er than anything ever, shut your face.
A view from our soon-to-be apartment building
Back to Asians everywhere. Taiwan is the size of Maryland and Delaware combined (or for my Mid-Western friends, exactly half of Missouri). There 28 million people here. Did I mention that only about 20% of the island is inhabitable? There are Westerners here, but you wouldn't know it, cause when you walk around, there is much pointing and giggling and picture taking. And gift giving. They are cooking, eating, thinking about food, and you need to eat it, too. A lot of it. Seriously, here is a bowl full of it, take it with you. They have a fine niece for you to take home, who may or may not be 14 years old (Is it racist to not be able to tell ages of Asian girls well?). You have a beard; they need a picture holding a thumbs up next to it. Is that your motorcycle? Take a picture of me doing a B-Boy stance on it. In all seriousness, everyone here has been very generous and eager to help. And the food is awesome. Except those little cake things that taste like fish. That's just not right.
Friendly tip: When you come to a new country, and you have friend(s) waiting for you, those friends and all of their friends will buy you an extraordinary amount of alcohol. Which makes for a very, well, hazy/interesting/???? night. Jet lag + tons of free drinks= arguing the futbol style of Holland v Spain with a complete stranger, meeting an old one-legged South African former mercenary who immediately tells you a story about crapping his pants the night before, breaking up to 3 of your toe nails in painful fashion, going to 7-11 for Cheetos (there is no escape from American food), and somehow hanging on the back of a scooter long enough to plop down on your bed and sweat yourself to sleep (we have no a/c ).
I took a trip to the lower mountains on Sunday. Beautiful. Swam in some cold springs, well, waded in some cold springs, impressed the locals with my chest hair, and lost all feeling in my lower extremities from a very long ride on the back of a scooter. Taiwan is a beautiful place, and apparently I seen nothing yet.
All in all, its been a fantastic first 5 days. Tons of great food. Meeting new friends. I am forever in debt to Mike for helping us get everything set up. Which was A LOT. Hopefully I can do the same for someone else out there interested in an Asian adventure. Good night/Good Morning for now.
Things have taken quite a turn. First, we thought we were off to law school. Then we thought we'd just stay in DC; now we're headed to Taiwan!
Steve is going to grad school to study "International Affairs", I'll study Mandarin full time. He arrived in Taiwan this evening in DC time, but 6 in the morning Taiwan time. The time change is 12 hours.
I'm still in DC taking care of things till I leave September 1st. And boy did that cute hubbers of mine leave a loooong list! I'm slowly crossing it off little by little. Needless to say, the apt is a wreck. I like to call it "organizing". Can't get clean till ya get a little dirty, eh.
This picture was taken on his last day in DC. Dexter has been a bit clingy since Steven left. Let's hope it calms down. He's almost 50 pounds and really thinks he can sit in my lap. uh, no.