Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm finally taking a day off. For the past three days I've kept up with my classes and tried to rest my voice by minimizing my speaking in the classroom, preparing handouts for my classes, and relying more on the blackboard.

This of course has required my students to be more attentive than usual. And it's actually worked like a charm! In my conversation classes I had my students reading out loud, as I often do, but now without saying a word, I'd stop them, indicate an error in pronunication on the blackboard and have them correct themselves. Thankfully I've already pretty much laid down much of the groundwork, in previous classes- pointing out and reminding them of common pronunciation errors, so when they saw the "writing on the wall" (aka the blackboard) they knew how to correct themselves. Now it's just a matter of getting them to break these bad pronunciation habits by being more mindful when reading or speaking and correcting themselves.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It is a strange thing- losing my voice and only being able to speak in a whisper. Strange that it's easier to be understood speaking in a whisper rather than straining my voice to speak normally, only to hear it breaking up into bits like a bad cell phone connection.

Funny thing that I've noticed is that when I whisper out of necessity to communicate with others, people have caught themselves involuntarily whispering back.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yes, I'm being forced to "slowdown" physically, but believe me it's not going to get to me, and it certainly won't really slow me down.

Trying to follow the doctor's orders

There is definitely a nasty bug going around. My Dad has had the fiercest, most relentless, nagging, lagging cold for weeks and finally it's gotten to me. At first there was the persistent dry throat for a few days and then it hit me like a ton of bricks last Thursday. That evening I felt feverish and achy all over. I promptly went to sleep for 9 hours and woke up feeling fine physically, except for my throat- which felt itchy, scratchy and slightly constricted. My tonsils are probably a bit swollen. Have been to see the doctor about this and have been popping pills for the past 4 days.

My Mom has caught the same thing. One of my friends had to cancel our get together this weekend because she has a cold. Her voice sounds horrible. And I have several friends who are getting over, or have just gotten over a cold.

Well yesterday I could barely speak! A few friends wanted to Skype me, so there I was listening to them, typing back responses via MSN! Oh the wonders of technology.

Went to see the doctor again this morning and I've been ordered not to talk. What am I going to do with my English conversation classes? I think I'm going to have to take a break for a few days and rest up. I have no choice in the matter.

Not quite 100% these days...

I hurt my ankle last December after a night of dancing. Oh yes, it hurt like h*@#$ the day after, so I just took it easy for a week or 2 afterwards and then it felt fine. I didn't realize how serious it was at the time.

It wasn't until just this past February that I hurt it again while in San Francisco out dancing again (!). Ah yes, there it was- *OUCH*! Oh yes I remember, I remember exactly how this happened last time. Only then did I wonder if there was something more seriously wrong.

By March it felt fine again and I wondered if I should have it checked out. I could rotate my ankle just fine. There was no persistent pain. But then, I did notice that if I pointed my toes and pushed my heel back- there it was *ouch* again.

I went to see a doctor here in Kaohsiung last week- just to have it checked out and it turns out I sprained a ligament in my ankle, so now I'm going through some physical therapy which includes water massage and a sort electical massage stimulation. I have been told to rest for 2 months or more! That means no running, jumping or exercise that puts pressure on my ankle. It's a little difficult to accept since I usually workout 3-5 times a week, but I'm managing.

I suppose that's what I get for not letting it heal properly the first time! I've talked to several doctors about this and all they can tell me is rest, rest, rest!

It seems like there's a perception that: once you've sprained your ankle or had a similar injury it will NEVER completely heal, and one will be prone to future injuries/reinjuries. So I had to ask. The doctor who did an ultrasound on my ankle said it WILL heal, but you must REST and let it heal completely. She erred on the ultra-conservative side saying I shouldn't do any exercise at all, not even walk or swim! When pressed she said that of the two, of course swimming would be better since it's non weight-bearing, but it still puts some strain on the ankle.

I am determined to let my ankle heal, no matter how hard it's going to be to follow the doctor's orders. I suspect this is why so may people who sprain their ankles or have knee injuries injure and reinjure themselves; they don't completely rest and heal; they continue or start back into their exercise regime too soon or intensely. Taking things in moderation is a must. Once you've healed, you've got to slowly build your strength and flexibility up again. Foot and leg injuries are among the most difficult to take complete rest for. You don't realize how much "abuse" your two legs and feet go through every day in bearing your entire body weight!

Now I've just got to figure out some alternative methods of exercise, massage or daily diet management to keep myself in reasonable shape.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Universe Is Conspiring To Find Me A Husband

I don't like blind dates or being "set up" by my friends... preferring to meet people "naturally" through social events or friends of friends. But recently it seems like there's been a rash of people wanting to introduce some fine eligible young man to me. And then there's the matter of my parents' anxiety over their thirty-something single daughter- their last hope of having any grandchildren. Well who knows if that is even in the cards for all of us? Oh but I digress. To allay this relentless worrying by my parents I finally gave in. So far it's been split with 1 out of 2 introductions being somewhat favorable.

So back in mid-January I was up in Taipei for a visit before flying off on my Mexico/Los Angeles/San Francisco vacation. And yes, I was there to see someone I'd been introduced to by a friend of the family. At that time I was staying with a relative in Taipei for a few days.

Apparently one day I entered the building (with a set of keys given to me by my relative) and on my way to the elevator some woman asked me where I was going. I paid no attention to her and just got in to the elevator. I truly have no recollection of this exchange, but at the time I probably thought it was none of her business where I was going and didn't want to get into it.

The woman watched the elevator to see what floor I went to. She was a resident of the building and unbeknownst to me, she later paid a visit to my relative's- after I'd left the country. She told my relative about our little exchange and then proceeded to ask whether I was single or not because I guess she liked the looks of me; she had a son who was also single and she wondered if I'd like to be introduced to him. She went on to say that he had been educated in the U.S. and worked at some hi-tech company. My relative, "J" told the woman that she didn't even know if I was available or not because I had been in town that week to visit someone who I'd been recently introduced to.

J was pretty anxious about the whole thing; she relayed the story to my Mom who relayed it to me and she even consulted with my Mom about how to handle the situation. She didn't want me to lose out on any other "opportunities" I suppose. I found the whole situation amusing and somewhat flattering. I wondered what kind of mother would go to such lengths to find her son a match- and this was just based on my looks! Just what did she know about me or have to go on ?! I politely told J not to make any further inquiries about her neighbor's son and to just not to do anything about it.

More recently, I was up in Taipei earlier this month to attend the FAPA 25th anniversary dinner banquet. I was seated at a table with my Mom, her friend and friend's friends. I was the only single person, not to mention the youngest one at the table. So it wasn't long before one of the older gentlemen smiled at me and said he could introduce me to someone.

And just last weekend at a luncheon for my cousin's grandmother, with my Mom, surrounded by my aunts, uncles and their friends, I once again found myself there the youngest and only single person. There was some discussion about how young people these days marry so late. One of my uncle's friends Mr. L said that he has more nephews than nieces and that a lot of them are still single. Well, I'm not sure how it all started, but I suppose some of the friends and relatives started saying things to encourage Mr. L, like "Here's your chance to make a match, for the next generation." So he started going on and on about one of his nephews. His nephew was born in Taiwan, had moved to the US at the age of 6, works for some hi-tech company in Silicon Valley, is an easygoing talkative guy, and just so happened to be in Taiwan (visiting his family in Kaohsiung) while on a business trip in the Asia region. I thought it was all pretty hilarious and simply a gesture of goodwill. I took Mr. L's offer with a grain of salt and just thought: it's the thought that counts.

Well, last night the nephew actually gave me a ring and yes, we're going to meet over dinner later tonight.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Let Kaohsiung lead the way

In Kaohsiung they've begun changing the sign of the Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center; it will be replaced with a sign reading "Kaohsiung Cultural Center." I hadn't even heard much about this decision until there were television reports of "blue" minded folks out there tonight, protesting the removal of "Chiang Kai-shek" from the sign.

What a contrast compared to all the brouhaha surrounding the debate over changing the name of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to the "Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall" and the proposed demolition of its surrounding walls. On March 2, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced that the walls of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall would be demolished. Soon after, there was a news leak that the Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) had presided over a closed Cabinet meeting (also held on March 2) to rename the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall the "Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall." Though the Cabinet had approved the name change and demolition of the walls, the Taipei City Government has now stepped in, using its authority as the memorial's managing body to invoke articles 12 and 17 of the Cultural Resources Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). This legislation allows the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs to declare the hall a temporary historical monument, allowing the debate to drag out for at least another year.

According to the Cultural Resources Preservation Act, a building must be at least 50 years old to be declared a historical monument. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is about 27 years old; it is the newest building on record to be evaluated for its cultural and historical significance.

Well if it were up to me, personally I'd prefer a mass removal of all and any relics related to the Chiang regime, no holds barred. But if they must remain I'm not necessarily in favor of simply changing the name, or beautifying the building. If the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is to remain for instance, how about posting some facts to enlighten the public on how Chiang Kai-shek governed the island and "safeguarded" the interests of its residents: by imposing martial law on Taiwan in 1949, ordering systematic elimination (murders) of intellectuals in the events associated with the 2-28 massacre, implementing policies to reeducate the people of Taiwan, and the list goes on... A sound understanding of historical events and context seems to be in order here.

To me, the renaming of buildings like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall seems like an exacerbation of the already pathological view that the Taiwanese have of their national identity.