I have some ideas for a blog post, some thoughts I’d like to write about the process of hiring a new foreign teacher, that I’d like to put down into words in here. But I only have 2 minutes until it’s time for lunch so this blog post will have to wait. If there’s one thing I’m religious about, it’s lunchtime on weekdays here at school. That low rumbling sound you hear rolling across the room, rattling the windows, is the growling, gnashing sound of my stomach eating itself.
A While Later
Lunch was pretty good. It consisted of duck served in a dark, sweet sauce, shrimp with diced carrots in a mild sauce, fried cabbage, and a delicious soy pork dish that I liked. The lady serving up the food didn’t give me any rice. She never gives me rice. Her prior interactions with me and the Chinese teachers who have occassionally accompanied me have made it crystal clear that I don’t like rice, so it would be wasteful for her to put it on my tray. It feels good to be recognized and remembered by the sweet older lady who serves up the dishes in the cafeteria. She even remembers I like the duck, “Yahdzeh” she reminds me. Rarely does she offer me the fish. I hardly ever ask for it (because of the small bones).
Today, I sat at a small, otherwise empty table with four chairs. I generally prefer to eat lunch alone with my earphones deeply implanted so as to absorb a podcast or some music while blocking out the buzzing chatter of Chinese teachers conversing unintelligibly. Lunch is a brief escape. I eat quickly and return to my dorm room for about an hour to either read some tech news or play some video games on my PS4. Today I played MLB The Show 18, very relaxing.
It appears I’ve run out of space to write about my experience hiring foreign teachers here in Shanghai. That will have to wait until another day.
This alternate universe known as Shanghai has an energy to it, a vibe that imbues the flow of humans rushing through the streets with an unnatural momentum as though nothing common can stop it, not even an oncoming train. So the government has implemented these rolling gates. Otherwise, you better believe trains all across the country would be forced to stop to wait on the majority of drivers and motorcyclists who clearly believe traffic laws are entirely optional.
Though it was never in my life plan, Shanghai became my home away from home last July. Actually, I should say that I moved here in July of 2017, but it became my home at some point during the fall semester at my new school, probably when I realized the administrators, teachers, and students were quickly becoming my new extended family, and I was feeling safe both on campus and off. Exploring Shanghai on foot, one city block at a time became my hobby and pastime. No longer is walking the desperate, momentary escape it had been for me in Changsha. The day I walked all the way to the Bund and became engulfed in the flood of wide-eyed tourists on East Nanjing Road still echoes in my mind, a fantastic triumph of spirit and fortitude which I’ve subsequently repeated several times. Now, I know this is where I belong (for the time being).
This is yet another pathetic post to acknowledge that I haven’t been writing enough lately. But that is about to change…later today…or tomorrow.
As a teacher, you’re not supposed to have favorite students, or at least you’re not supposed to acknowledge that you do. I’m quite good at following this rule. That is until I heard the news this week that one of my favorite students, a tall, skinny, socially awkward boy who goes by “Mike” wouldn’t be returning to our school this semester.
I don’t mind stating that I find intelligent, self-aware students far more interesting than those uncurious students who struggle to speak their minds, or perhaps don’t even know their own minds. Mike is one of those kids. He was always asking my favorite question, “Why?”
Mike’s most endearing quality was his physique. He was tall, 6’4″, and built like a corn stalk. To call him thin would be a gross misuse of the word. But despite looking as though a stiff breeze could uproot and bounce him down the sidewalk, Mike often made the attempt to play basketball. He was actually beginning to make significant progress at overcoming his extreme awkwardness. So it’s super unfortunate that he’s not returning to our school this semester. He’ll definitely be missed by all of his teachers.
Seriously though, I really wanted to write a post about how I’ve come to not care about all the heinous shit happening in the world, how I’ve learned to ignore America’s Troll-in-Chief, and how I’ve become apathetically numb to the ever-increasing entropy all around us, but it’s impossible. It’s impossible because, despite all my efforts (and lack of effort), I still read the dog-damned news every morning.
It’s Tuesday, August 28th, my first official day back at work for fall semester 2018 at the little international high school where I teach and supervise foreign teachers. Unfortunately the start of a new semester means my foreign teachers are already whining and complaining that they don’t want to teach some of their scheduled classes. One teacher doesn’t want to teach US History. He’d rather teach a subject we are no longer offering. Another teacher doesn’t want to teach so many English classes because she is a science teacher. No one wants to teach those classes, but we need some of our foreign teachers to teach English to the attached domestic school. There’s just no getting around it. Another Foreign teacher didn’t want to teach the English classes or electives, so he’s overloaded with science classes. Some people are just going to be unhappy, and that’s the way it goes, especially when two of those complainers are irresponsible people who frequently break the rules and don’t fulfill their duties as teachers, so I really don’t give a shit about their complaints, at least not on day one.
If we exist within a computer-simulated world, does our knowledge of this fact make our lives any more or less meaningless than if we were truly alive? I can’t imagine life being any less meaningful, but perhaps being part of a simulation might lend purpose to our otherwise purposeless lives through transference.
Personally, I doubt we are in a computer simulation. The people who believe we are just going through the motions in a facsimile of a world are probably grappling with their innate (and possibly unwanted) faith in a higher power which they refuse to call “god” but is certainly based in magical thinking and superstition, not empirical evidence. Instead of having delusions of God, they have delusions of simulation. They don’t want to admit to a belief in an all-powerful being so they gravitate toward this alternative, a simulated universe where we humans are not free in any real sense, where we, some higher power’s insignificant creation/program could be ended with the push of the power button, and therefore whatever we do in this simulation has no repercussions whatsoever.
If that’s not a belief in “god,” I don’t know what is. I only know I have no such belief.
I write for the wrong reasons. I write because I like the tactile feeling of keys depressing beneath my fingers as they dance across the keyboard writing contrarian nonsense. I write because my brain begins to overflow with rushing, buzzing thoughts that won’t go outside and play except through the timely thrust of lettered buttons pushing back against the tips of my digits. I write because no one wants to podcast with me, spar and commiserate with me over the myriad problems facing the United States and its dysfunctional form of democracy (plus I hate the sound of my own voice). I write because it functions as low-level creativity and seems to at least temporarily satiate my yearning to share a bit of my ghost with someone else, assuming, of course, I don’t simply delete what my keyboard cages.
“When you’re not blogging, where do you go and what do you do?” asked no one, ever. So I’ll tell you. I’m usually consuming media. That includes watching American TV shows, listening to podcasts, or even music on Spotify. I think I’ve already mentioned that I’m a very happy MLB @ Bat audio subscriber, so I try to listen to at least part of one baseball game every morning when I roll out of bed.
I suppose that doesn’t actually answer the first part of the imaginary question, but contrary to popular school myth, I do get out and about quite frequently. I often walk to nearby (within 2 miles) grocery stores at least 3 times per week. On weekends, when the weather is nice, I try to walk a little further, visiting a shopping mall I like or a sporting goods store to peruse their selection of sports socks (with wicking action) to combat my sweaty foot problem (TMI?).
Occasionally I’ll take the metro downtown, but due to the invariably large crowds found on the walking street, I tend to avoid that area for the most part. I’d rather focus on the overwhelming insignificance I feel while sauntering between skyscrapers or the cultural and linguistic isolation I choose whenever I walk among the ancient parks dwellers through surprisingly well-pathed botanical gardens.
It’s also quite unknown that I play various video games on my PS4. I have Monster Hunter World, MLB The Show 18, and GTA V to keep me busy when I’ve got nothing better to do or if I need to escape this world for a while.
I only have about 12 minutes before my work day is over, and I can leave the office here at school. So I thought I would take a few (five or less) minutes to write a quick micro-post about recent developments in my life. There have been few.
One purchase I made on Taobao this week has made me temporarily quite happy has been a new phone case. The first case I bought for my S9+ was just OK. Although it felt good in my hand, I found that it restricted the use of the health sensor on the back of my phone because it had a plastic bar located between the camera and the sensor. In order to measure my blood pressure or to take an accurate heart rate measurement, I needed to remove the case first. With this new Spigen case, such measurements are no trouble whatsoever. In fact, I like this case so much that I ordered another one of the same model only black and bronze instead of dark blue and silver. It’s nice to have options.