Monday, February 09, 2009

I am Yang
Today is the first day of the spring term. Really, I was going a little stir crazy during the break. I had a month off, more or less.

During my time off, I started obsessing about moving into another place, preferably a high rise. I have been at my current apartment for two years now and there are a few things about it that have started to get under my skin, really nothing major; I just think that it is time for a new place. Really, I have loved, have really loved this apartment while I have lived here. However, I feel it is time for a change.

When I started my search, I decided I wanted to be closer to my school. However, the school is right next to People's Square which is a really crowded overpriced area. Imagine Times Square in NYC. After a less than fruitful search, I decided I did not have to live a walk away from school since I was not that fond of any of the areas within that walk away anyway.

Also around this same time, I happened upon a scooter for sale which I went and tested. After hopping on and speeding down the block, I decided that I had to have the scooter. Adding this to the equation, walking distance to school was no longer a priority. Nevertheless, I decided I would like to live somewhere that would be convenient and that would maybe even have some cool little alleyways to ride through when riding to school. My current place is somewhat convenient but I would like a place even more convenient.

Some of this search had to do with I had nothing else to do so I spent it snooping into other people's lives via apartments. I did find a place that I thought I wanted, most everything about it I really liked. It was a duplex in a high rise which actually really wowed me. This was actually the second duplex in a high rise that I happened upon. There was a small kitchen which was fine. However, the one detail that made me pause was the tiny bathroom with a shower. After living with a shower for two years, I have decided that I really want a bathtub again. There are so many times when I just want to soak. Finding a place with a bathtub became a priority though I still longingly thought about the duplex in that 'what if?' sort of way.
Nevertheless, I decided I wanted certain things in the apartment if I moved. I want to live on the high floor of a high rise. I would like for it to be new. I want a bathtub and I want it to be a true one bedroom.

After scouring all of the online adverts and poking my nose into many bleak coldwater flats, I realized that I would not find something better than I have now and I would probably not find anything that would fit my requirements so I then started looking, not to move but really, for just the heck of it.

At one point, I came across a place that did not list the exact location but looked really nice. The advert claimed the apartment to be in a luxury high rise. This intrigued me. I wrote for more pics and an address.

However, I was disappointed because the apartment was not in the place that it claimed to be or actually I read the advert wrong. It said 'near' not 'in'. I wanted to lodge a complaint but instead I decided to look at the apartment though it seemed even more inconvenient than the no-bathtub duplex.

I called the number and arranged a viewing. The guy, a banker, wants out of his lease. He is from Hong Kon and works in Hong Kong most of the time, has an apartment in Shanghai but it is a waste of money. After looking at the apartment and the bareness within, I quickly realized he was probably never there. He had lived in the apartment for 4 months yet the plastic wrap was still around the drawers in the freezer. The apartment though nice and new with two balconies was, at this point, just gathering dust.

After looking at it, I realized it has everything I require and it is nice and new to boot. The bathtub is nice. The bathroom is small but elegant.

Convenient? The apartment is much more convenient than I had originally imagined. In fact, it is across the street from the metro which if I take the metro on rainy days will shorten my commute by probably ten or fifteen minutes. I then walked from the apartment to school and I was pleasantly surprise. The walk, though long, is for the most part along Suzhou Creek which is a large waterway that cuts through Shanghai. Thus, the waterway walk zigged and zagged along the river which will be nice when I am walking but even better in that cinematic way when I am riding my scooter along the winding river road.

Now, that I am pretty sure I will be taking this deluxe apartment in the sky, I am antsy and excited.

Last night, excited about the new term and my new apartment where I will probably move in a week or two, I had trouble drifting off to sleep. I have this musty old copy of Monkey: Journey to the West that I have been casually reading at night which I tried to read but after a few pages I could not keep my mind on the exploits of the wicked and wonderful Monkey King (Great Sage, Equal to Heaven with his cloud hopping shoes) so I put the book down and tried to sleep.
Sleep did not come easy. Sleep was the last thing on my mind. My mind was racing, thinking about everything coming and going and developing at the moment.
Though I had been thinking exclusively about the new apartment, I started thinking about school. There is just so much potential with this school which I am now the project manager. An opportunity has been placed in my lap that I want to make into something really cool and at the same time – dare i say it - successful. For the most part, everyone is standing back and letting me do my thing which is the best way for me to work. I suppose I have never been the type who likes to be micro-managed. That is probably why I love this company for whom I have worked the last three years.
My boss Edgar is a dreamer at heart, a successful dreamer. Of course, not all of his plans, schemes and dreams work out but he tries; he seriously tries which I admire. He has never been a naysayer when it comes to me and what
I want to accomplish at this school and with the students.
With that being said, last semester when I was told I would have 2 additional classes this term, I really did not object. I knew that I would be given the freedom to do what I saw fit and beyond that an opportunity to make that opportunity into something cool and maybe even wonderful.
So, now, after talking to the students this morning, this semester we will embark on a dramatic path. Thespians of the world beware. There is a new sheriff of Shakespeare in town.
Of course, the sheriff has a lot of explaining to do. The assignment this morning was for the students to write what they would like to do in drama class. Keep in mind; I have access to a video camera and the school television studio. Maybe this time, The Magic Red Monkey Show will happen for sure.
Of course, they want a lot of footage of Paul dancing. Venice suggested that Kevin dress like a chicken – or maybe I suggested that. Elliot wanted to read more books and newspapers.
This is where the sheriff had to explain to Elliot that we were actually talking about drama. I then had to explain what drama is. Now Elliot, I love and I must add has made great progress but has a tendency to be unaware of what is happening around him. Sometimes, I have to stop and ask him if he is looking at the right passage when we are reading which never fails to make Danny giggle. So, today, I had to explain drama. With Elliot, the cognition is nearly cognitive.
"Oh, oh, I know," he told me
"Fantastic Elliot," I told him. "Actually, you have a great idea. We can make newspaper stories into dramas and videotape them."
With that he beamed, knowing that he had come up with such a great idea.
Leta suggested we go to the theater, another great idea.
"Yes, we can watch actors perform, notice what they do right?!"
So, I walked around and looked at the various suggestions that the students had written or were writing. Kevin and Danny wrote variations on Paul dancing. Paul could not defend himself because Sharon told me that he has redeye which I assume to be pinkeye but that I cannot be sure about that.
When I got back to the office, I talked to Sharon. At times, our relationship is a labored one but then at other times we are aligned in our way of thinking and teaching. Maybe, we are allingned today because this is the first day of the term, the spring term at that, and both of us are excited and want to start out positively but whatever the case; today, Sharon and I are doing well.
She asked me about the arts class that I am to teach.
"Do you need different classroom?" She asked. "Maybe it will be a little noisy."
"That would be great if I had access to a room to do drama."
"I will talk to the department leader. There is another room with piano and music equipment like piano. Maybe room if you want to teach music."
"That would be great."
"And there is a room for television."
"I could use that as well," I told her. "I had a hard time getting to sleep last night because I was so excited about the new term."
"You sure?" She asked. That is her response for about anything. At first, it seemed very confrontational but now I realize it is just her way.
At the end of last term, she asked me if I had an idea of what I wanted the students to study over the break. To me, studying during a break is a bunch of manure. I never studied over the breaks when I was a student. I would rather the students enjoy themselves. But then, maybe I am sensitive and I just don't want the students cursing me behind my back. Nevertheless, the students should enjoy their breaks not be piled up or down with homework.
To keep from arguing, I told her that they could buy Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. This introduction to the Shakespeare's stories is perfect for these students, to give them a simplistic overview of this work that will frequently be referenced in years to come when they are at university. She wanted to buy a copy of the book for Jane to reward Jane for her hard work during the term. Incidentally, this term Jane did not come back. She has transferred to a school set up by a Hong Kong company.
Nevertheless, at the end of last term - which in many ways is like a television season finale cliffhanger - when I told Sharon where to buy the book her auto reply was –
"You sure?"
Over and over - like a broken record or like the unbroken vinyl copy of Sgt Pepper's and Piper at the Gates of Dawn – I told her I was sure. This broken record discourse went on for twenty, maybe thirty minutes. Admittedly, I did want to strangle her.
"You sure?"
This semester, I decided, I want to start fresh. She is who she is and that is fine. Really, I do like her. She works hard. She cares about the students. She has a good sense of humor. She understands - or at least tolerates - my quirks. She makes the class schedule and she only gives me early classes if there is no one else to teach them and she must teach the public school students. She knows that I do not like to teach the earliest class of the day.

However, when it comes to our personalities or auras, we are truly yin and yang, me being yang or thinking at least that I am yang. Maybe she thinks that she is yang. I am yang dangit. I am yang! I AM YANG!
"Maybe you need to relax more," she told me in response to my sleeplessness.
"Well, when I was drifting off to sleep, last night, just as my eyes shut –
"You sure?"
"Yeah! Then I was wide awake. After the belated New Years Celebration next door at midnight, I could not get to sleep for hours after that!"
"Oh, I have big problem too!" She told me in response.
"What happened?"
"I program phone to wake me this morning."
"Phone rings. Outside dark. Maybe rain I think"
"There were clouds this morning," I interjected.
"I wake and I prepare myself for school. I go to car. I turn on car."
"I look at clock," she paused.  "5:45!"

"Oh no!"
"Phone I set wrong, hour early."
"Did you go back into your house and sleep."
"No, I thought maybe I have a rest in car."
"In your car?"
"But then I think 'I drive to school.' So I drive to school very slow."
"Very slow?"
"Yeah because the doors might not be open so I drive very slow."