Sing Softly, Carry a Big Mike


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Asia » Taiwan » Taipei » Da'an
November 22nd 2011
Published: December 3rd 2011
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Hello everybody, so last time I posted on my weekly blogs, I educated my friend on higher comedy, I went to war with mosquitos, and my sleep schedule got all out of whack (spoiler alert, that didn’t change this week!). So while I’m high riding the sleepless-color dream coat, lets see what I remember.

Nov 14th:
Well I spent most of the night being awake studying for a Chinese midterm, and was pretty dog gone tired when taking it, but I think I did well. I finished faster than most (which is only good when I’m taking Chinese tests – oh look, I was taking a Chinese test!) and the oral was a freakin’ joke. We were given a small passage (maybe 10 lines?) and were told to read and summarize, and could refer to the passage anytime we wanted. Super easy. Only forgot one word, but I knew the meaning so I just used another when I got there. Anyway, after the test I was a little tired from the late night of studying and the previous week, so when I went to my Philosophy class, I was really out of it. During a break, my friend and I ran to 7-11 where she said I was twitching. And twitching I was. Whoops. But I made it to class, biked back to class (somehow), ate some Baozi I picked up, and went to sleep. I woke up around eight, got some food real quick, and then at 10 went to the bar with Liz for some drinks and to chill. Nothing really important happened, except I went back around two and didn’t sleep till four.

Nov 15th:
Oh god, I missed all my classes cause I was drinking all last night! Oh, wait; it’s a school holiday for NTU’s anniversary. So no, I didn’t miss class. And yet, I woke up at freaking eight o’clock and couldn’t go back to sleep. The one day I don’t have to wake up early, I do. I don’t know why my body is so mad at me; I might need to send it flowers and a generic sorry card. Anyway, I spent most of the day being too tired to function, and eventually took a nap before meeting Liz for a burger and then to do work. The burger joint we found is pretty good – it’s a biker bar feel and the burgers are decent, though the bacon they have is more fat than bacon (and it isn’t crispy so you’re chewing a lot of that fat). Also, I don’t know what it is there, but I can’t order a (meaning single) coke zero there. Almost every time I eat there, I order for Liz and I and order our two burgers and one coke zero. Every time they can’t do this, but in different ways. Sometimes they bring one normal coke, some times they bring 2 regular cokes, and this time they brought out one coke zero and one normal coke. I don’t know what to do at this point. I’ve even repeated what I said to Liz to make sure I’m saying it right (which I am, it’s freaking yi bei kele zero). Oh well. White people problems.
I then put together my Chinese presentation on US history 1898 to now, half of which was a man crush on Teddy Roosevelt (the manliest president we’ve ever had – and created my current political party: The bull-moose party). I also did a paper on the issues of using Chinese Characters for Taiwanese. Basically my point was that while Taiwanese (aka: Hakkien/Southern Min/Amoy) is a Chinese dialect, the Chinese characters were created for formal writings and Mandarin/northern dialects colloquial speech, not for other dialects, so characters don’t match up as well as they should. You’re welcome.

16th:
So I went to class and gave my presentation, which had a rough start, as being the first to talk at 8:20 in the morning is not the most optimal time for me to start thinking in Chinese grammar. But I finished strong – and educated my diverse class on the Awesomeness of Teddy Roosevelt. Also, I was happy that I translated my favorite quote from him correctly, despite my teacher’s initial confusion (“Speak softly, carry a big stick.”)
I then went to Languages in Taiwan where I turned in my paper, and we talked about code switching (going back and forth between two languages in a conversation) which was a lot more interesting than most stuff we have gone over. I then got back my quiz, and sadly didn’t do to well (60). However, this is fine for two reasons. First, they are taking the best out of two scores, so I have another chance. Second, remember I took this test after pulling that all-nighter, and when reading back over the test, I realized I misread 3/4ths of the questions I missed (which would have meant a 90). So the issue isn’t my knowledge, it was sleepiness, and I’ll make sure to sleep well for next week’s quiz.
So after that, I went back and grabbed some sleep. I woke up around 8 and was told that a lot of my friends were going out. I had missed a lot of these, and finally didn’t have anything due the next day so I put on my fancy new clothes (to be covered in a Taiwan review). We met up with a bunch of friends that I’m too lazy to list right now, and headed off to find some bar that they knew about. We got off at the metro and tried to find our way using someone’s iPhone (without the internet package). Along the way we ran into a random parade which I have no idea what the significance was, but it was interesting nonetheless. We got lost a bit, and then asked for directions. I looked at the iPhone and saw the place was listed as closed. When I asked about this, the guy was like “yeah, ignore that.” Apparently we shouldn’t have ignored that because we learned that the club was burned down by some Russians (who did nothing to get rid of any stereotypes). So we looked around for something else to do and ended up going to a ShiSha (Hookah) bar. And since some of you don’t know what Hookah is, Hookah is basically a bong for tobacco. No worries, I didn’t do any hits. But I did drink a bit, and got hungry, and had their pizza, which was meh, but I was too hungry to care. I also spent a good amount of time talking with Eva (girl I met at the airport).
Then most of us wanted to stay out, cause we’re in college and that’s how we roll. So we went to a club called Roxy 99, which I had heard about, but never got a chance to go to. It was pretty cool; a good brick basement feel to it, and it was rock night. I haven’t had a chance to jam out to rock with anyone since middle school, so it was a lot of fun, especially since I was with a bunch of Germans who were enthusiastic about rock music, and super especially since I had a bit of hair to head bang with (as opposed to my middle school buzz cut). And then there was an interesting scene at the bar. I went to go meet some friends at Roxy’s bar who had stopped dancing before I did. I walked up as some drunk guy was buying them drinks, who seemed kinda sketch. I walked up said hi to my friends, and then the guy pulled me over. After introducing himself, he said “Let me buy them drinks and then you can go F@%$ them.” I was rather shocked at the volume, energy, and drunkenness of this comment, so I stuck around for a bit till he left. But he didn’t cause any problems, so it was fine (but still weird). We then headed back, and Eva and I decided to chill and talk at 7-11 till five in the morning. After that, I got to bike back home while freaking tired (though I was sober at this point, no worries mother).

17th:
So funny thing about three hours of sleep, you’re tired. Basically I went to class and then died. Woke up at 8pm and then didn’t sleep for the rest of the night (couldn’t – not for a lack of trying).

18th:
Ok, so I got out of bed (at least I was resting) and went to Chinese after realizing my back break n my bike broke (the wire snapped), which was a bit of a struggle. But I made it, and then went back for a nap. And then I got to start Korean! If you remember from my “Review in Taiwan: Day in, Day out” blog (and if not, shame on you) I met a Korean girl named Dambi a few weeks ago. Actually, I never gave the story, so let me break it down real quick. So my friend Liz had just started her Job at a bar across the street from her dorm that we are frequents at (I’ll go more into this at a different time, but the guy who owns the place is amazing) and a guy who I had met the week before was back with his friend and Dambi. We ended up drinking together most of the night (which is kind of regrettable, as the guy is a jerk, and his friend was drunk out of his mind) however, Dambi was sweet and under the drunken urging of the jerk, we decided to start meeting for a language exchange. So fast-forward to now, and I got my first Korean lesson.
Dambi was shocked how fast I was picking everything up, but in all fairness all we went over was the alphabet and Korean Phonology. But according to her, when she teaches Korean to Taiwanese/Chinese speakers they struggle a lot initially. This was kinda shocking to me, as the whole reason I was able to do so well is because I’m use to picking out differences in Chinese consonants. But I’ll ride the success as far as I can. The alphabet itself was also rather interesting; it’s like a mix between Chinese characters and a roman alphabet. So every character is a syllable, similar to Chinese, however, unlike Chinese, each part of the Korean character is a specific sound. Then the syllables are combined to create words. Reading is also kind of trippy, because as with most languages (or modernized forms of them), your read left to right, top to bottom, but with Korean, you are also doing the same thing within the character. So you pronounce the character from the top left corner, then the top right, and then the bottom, so your eyes are doing a bunch of small zigzags when reading a line. It’s weird, but I think I’ll get use to it. Moral of the story, I’m learning Korean and I’m awesome.
So after that, I went back got some dinner and slept again. I was awoken by Ben informing me friends were coming over for wine and a movie. Also, he had gone to Ikea and gotten some sheets for himself (finally) and wine glass for himself and Maria (but not me of course – lame). So Maria came over and we chilled and talked, and when Rebecca finally made it over, we watched a Chinese film named Da Hong Deng Long Gao Gao Gua (Raise the Red Lantern), which was good for the parts where I was awake (despite the subtitles being off by a good two minutes from the script (I’ll need to find a new set), but I was still exhausted and slept for part of the movie (I’m turning into Dad, NOOOOOOO!) I woke up to Maria and Rebecca rightfully complaining about the mosquitos, which had started to make a comeback after a week of being ok. The movie ended then Maria and Rebecca went back home while Ben and I got to deal with the pests.

19th:
Well after a fairly bitten night, I went to the lobby to sleep on the couch there. I was woken up by my hall mate Ken, who told me how to cover the screen to the fan (which involves opening the window before, and then reach up and across to awkwardly pull the screen across. You think that it would have been pulled across before that, but I was too happy to finally fix our problem to care. I then happily slept for another four hours.
I woke up, took a shower, and biked over to a local coffee shop to meet up with Ben, Liz, and Rebecca because our friend Deborah Tang was in town! Deborah is a fellow UNC’er who is taking her year abroad in Hong Kong. However, her family lives in Taiwan, so she was back to visit them/us. So we sat, chilled, and did work for a few hours (and I was very oddly productive. Me + Deb = productivity? Maybe…) Liz then had to go work, so we all headed over there after we picked up some Taiwanese food (who’s name I don’t know, but it’s basically a steamed bun that is opened up and stuffed with pork, stewed greens, cilantro (random, I know) and peanut powder. It was delicious.
So after chilling for a bit, having Liz mix us some drinks, and eating some chicken butt, I went off to Karaoke with some friends, including Rebecca, Eva, and Marlee. Needless to say, I showed the group how it was done – (especially since I was one of two males there). It was also nice because we went to Japanese karaoke place, which means a lot more selection, but no free food. It did mean most of the group could choose English songs they liked, and also meant I had to fill some crucial roles (male part in Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” anyone? And who else is going to do Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”?) But I also got to sing some Chinese songs like “Tong Hua” (Fairytale). And then I was especially happy when we got to end on me doing “Loser” by Beck perfectly, which is pretty freaking hard (Jay, you should appreciate this).
Then I biked Marlee back to the dorm, which is really hard. A lot of Taiwanese (and myself included) have pegs on the back wheels of their bike so people can ride on the back, but it’s hard to ride when there’s another human’s weight that you don’t control how it shifts. But despite that and the fact that it was pouring rain, we made it back alive. Somehow.

20th:
I slept in hard core and then did work, the end.

And that was my week. Next week you get to hear if I have HIV or not (Spoiler alert: I don’t) so on that cliffhanger:
Can I sleep like a normal person? Please?!
Teddy Roosevelt – why doesn’t he have a holiday?
I’ve officially started doing something I was always afraid to do, starting to become trilingual (because it’s really hard). COME AT ME BRO!
--Robby

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