GOBBLE GOBBLE ‘MURIKA!


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December 3rd 2011
Published: December 3rd 2011
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GOBBLE GOBBLE ‘MURIKA!



Late happy Thanksgiving(Gan’En Jie) everyone! Last time I celebrated a national holiday overseas (4th of July) I went all out by studying Chinese non-stop. We’ll have to see if I get Thanksgiving right or not. Reviewing last week, I battled sleep depression, educated the world on the best president in US history (Teddy Roosevelt – LuoSiFu), and started learning Korean! Alright, lets see how I followed it up.



Nov 23rd:

Yup, next to no sleep, which meant me being basically useless in Chinese, and lucky to be sitting upright in Chinese Philosophy, a class I’m not really getting anything out of anymore. I then went to the hospital and got my medical forms for my visa – and to no ones surprise, I didn’t have HIV (which I mention because me not having an HIV test before in my life is the whole freaking reason I couldn’t get a visa before) I then went back and died.



Nov 24th:

Was sick today, and was unable to attend class. As I’m writing this, I realize that there might be a correlation between me going to the hospital FULL of sick people, and me getting sick shortly after. Elementary my dear Jay. Point being is that I missed computational Linguistics, which is not really a class I can afford to miss, but it’s not like I really had a choice in the matter. Luckily for me, Silvia couldn’t meet (she’s been super busy) so I didn’t have to cancel on her, but we’d rescheduled for Saturday morning (foreshadowing!)



Nov 23rd:

Luckily for me, I had one of those 24-hour bugs, so after resting all day yesterday, I was more or less good to go for class. In Languages in Taiwan, there was a special guest speaker on Hakka, another dialect of Chinese. The talk was interesting, but the guy was talking as if he had to finish the lecture before the building burned down, so I had to literally give up on taking notes in class (luckily all the presentations are posted online later) Afterward we were treated to some Hakka food, which is very wheat and vegetable based, and apparently pickling is a big thing. Also, mochi is a thing (which if you haven’t had it, imagine if you took soft silly putty, made it out of rice, and was delicious), which made me super happy, because I love mochi (special thanks to cousin Carrie for introducing it to me in Hawaii).

While we were eating the food, we happened to have some free time and a chalkboard, so we drew a much more accurate map of the United States. If you have access to my Facebook, I highly suggest you go look at it, and if you don’t, here’s a summary:

Canada = “Here There be Barbarians, Eh?”

New England = Basically Canada

Alaska = Basically Canada or Russia

Maryland is now imaginary (as said by our resident Marylandian(?))

Key West = Jimmy Buffet Land

DC, VA, WV, NC, SC, GA, FL, TX, and CA are still the same

Deep south = rednecks (because we are politically correct here)

After miswriting the Chinese characters for Mexico, Mexico = Black Mexico

Las Vegas = XXX, $$$, club, spade, heart, diamond

Washington = awesomeness (I don’t know why)

Oregon = Low-Fat, Organic, Free Range, Gluten-Free, Soy Latte Coffee

½ of Nebraska = Relocated Indians until oil is found

The rest of the US = “Uncharted Territories, aka: Alabama”

I’m expecting a call from the atlas company any day now.



Nov 24th:

Thanksgiving!!!!!! Ok, so first things first, after class, I ran over to the Visa office (after getting lost, but that’s not important), they looked at my visa application, said all of my forms are in order, and sent me on my way, success! After literally 15 minutes in the Visa office, I did a dance and with extra time, headed over to JiaLaFu (anyone remember from Beijing? It’s the French Wal-Mart that invaded China and apparently Taiwan). I went with the goal to get some food for myself and some wine for Ben and I to bring over for a Turkey Day dinner party later that evening (more foreshadowing! My creative writing grows every day). So I walked into JiaLaFu, headed up the stairs, and low and behold, guess what was on sale? WINE! I was able to get wine for 200 Yuan per bottle (under 10 bucks). I realized that the quality of the wine could have been really bad, but at those prices, it was worth it, so I got two bottles of Cabernet and two bottles of rose wine (my favorite) for the party, and then decided to buy all of the Cabernet that was left for later consumption (a staggering three extra bottles). Spoiler alert: that was a good call. So after my happy romp through JiaLaFu, I went back to the room to drop off my extra goods and then head off to go meet everyone.

So we met up with Rebecca, Liz (for a bit) Maria, friend Nicole from Chinese Philosophy (who has been making sure I’ve been alive in class) and girl I vaguely knew before Lin at the ShuiYuan dorms. However, on the way over there, I got a call from the Visa office saying that they didn’t have the right letter from NTU, and was short on time for my current visa, so I’d have to extend my visitor’s visa and then apply for a resident’s visa. AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! Fine, whatever, I met up with everyone, drank one of the extra bottles of wine (split between six people) and then headed off to Rebecca’s friend’s place (Florence). Florence’s place was at DingXi station (relevant later). We went up to her apartment, which was a very nice set up, especially since her roommate works nights, so it’s almost as if she had her own apartment. We popped open the alcohol (cause we’re all under 30 and that’s how we roll) and started drinking and chilling. We also started up the hot plate to get hot pot going.

Now I realize most people reading this doesn’t know what hot pot is. The best way to think of it is kind of a mix between a melting pot and fondue (with oil). Normally you throw a bunch of stuff into a hot pot of oil (see where the name comes from?) let it all cook, and then pull out what you want to eat. However, this hot pot was in a white broth, which while new, didn’t diminish the awesomeness of hot pot. Furthermore, Florence bought a plethora of golden mushrooms, which is possibly one of my favorite things ever that isn’t a meat.

During all of this, more people started showing up, including a guy from Illinois and a girl from Russia that attends Taiwan Normal University (TNU – not to be confused with our superior NTU). The guy was kinda weird but nice enough and the Russian’s girl Chinese was phenomenal. Also, a smallish roasted chicken came out of nowhere, and I was told to carve it with a butcher’s knife. I hacked the legs off, and then the ladies insisted they wanted to do it, so I got to avoid that hassle of carve something too small to be carved. And then out of nowhere, Marlee showed up, so that made a good group of friends even better.

Near 10 pm I thought I was going to have to leave to Skype my parents, but Florence was nice enough to let me use her computer, so I went upstairs and started skyping my family with Nana and Grumpy (mother’s side grandparents). Just as I started, Ben, Marlee, and a very drunk Maria (who is Swedish) came upstairs looking for the balcony. Maria, then decided to be the life of the party, and while skyping my family: asked if I was watching porn, said various things about topics of sexual nature, barrage me with a life size SpongeBob Square Pants, and tell my dad that she doesn’t like the people from the town my dad’s Swedish exchange student was from. I was a mix between horrified and laughing, and my friends did very little to drag her away (thanks friends.) However, Maria eventually went away with Ben and Marlee and, I was able to successfully talk to my family.

I headed back downstairs to continue to be social and get some pumpkin pie and red bean pastries (cause red bean paste is amazing) and a little after midnight, we left and caught the subway back to the dorms.



Nov 25th:

So I was planning on meeting with my TA Taco to catch up on computational linguistics, but due to certain Visa issues I had to cancel that. To further add insult to injury, I had shown them the letter from the school they wanted, but they didn’t copy it or whatever, so it wasn’t on file. Freaking A. So after class, I went back to the Visa office to sort everything out. After waiting 20 seconds, I met with someone who immediately copied the letter, and let me pay a little extra to get the visa rushed, so I wouldn’t have any problems. This all took 5 minutes, and I was super happy to be done for real with my visa application, and to have someone help me in such a nice manner (contrary to the person on the phone from the night before).

In my super happy mood, I walked out of the visa office around 11 am, and walked by a small café and realized that they had turkey sandwiches. I calculated that on the east coast, it was 10 pm thanksgiving, and that as an American, I must go in, and get a turkey sandwich, and have turkey on turkey day. I went in, got a turkey bagel and a rose tea – because rose anything just makes it better, and despite the fact the turkey was flavorless and the bagel was garbage, my pride and happiness made that bagel sandwich taste like a million bucks (and I had rose tea, which I can’t mention enough).

I got back to campus, and got a text from Dambi saying that she was buzy and couldn’t meet for Korean, which was fine because I hadn’t had a good chance to review my Korean. Then I rested.



Nov 26th:

Ok, so I woke up and headed on over to meet Silvia and DingXi, which I totally knew where it was because I had been there Thursday, and then got to play it off all cool, like “oh yeah, I’ve been here, I have a friend who lives here.” Booyah. So Silvia took me to a famous restaurant that served salty DouJiang, which is a tofu bean soup (is better than it sounds. We sat there for a bit and talked about a few things, like how her TOEFL (English test) was ok, but not great, so she’d be doing a retake. We then heard a very loud man belting out a song from next door and started talking about songs, where I learned my go to Chinese song, TongHua, is a rather girly song – go figure. We also talked about parent expectations and how they are not so different from American expectations. All want to approve of the significant other in their child’s life, want their children to be successful, preferably the kind that puts money in your pocket. Afterwards we went down a street that was one of the Korean districts of TaiBei, which was interesting, but I still had problems reading signs.

Afterwards I went back to do some work. Around 10 Ben got a text from his friend Unique (ok, to explain that, he’s Taiwanese, but apparently someone important to him gave him that English name. It took me about two weeks before I stopped giggling when I heard his name – but his name aside; he’s a cool dude.) invited him to go to a gay club. Ben then invited me, and I decided what the hell, why not. So Ben and I got ready and headed off on the subway. We got off, and met up with Unique to go eat beef noodles at a restaurant that was famous for them. All possible jokes aside, the beef noodles were amazing, and I still have no idea how someone hasn’t come up with this idea before Taiwan did, but good on you Taiwan. Good on ya.

So after filling our bellies on Taiwanese cuisine, we headed to the club, paid the entrance fee, and then went it. Now before I got there, I figured I’d be maybe one of two straight guys there. But judging from everybody’s reaction, I might have been the first straight guy that year, let alone ever to be in that club. When we met up with Unique, he constantly was asking if I had ever been to a gay bar before and if I was ready, or if I knew what I was getting into. We saw Florence’s brother just before we entered and after wondering if I was gay, had the same reaction as Unique. And once I entered, they were constantly checking up on me, and seemed legitimately surprised I was ok with everything. I guess those reactions and fairly similar ones of the other people I met that night (which either was “Wait, why are you here then?” or jokingly “Your straight? Get outta here”) was kind of shocking to me. Maybe because Ben has been my roommate for over a year, and I have a fair amount of homosexual friends (plus another girl back at UNC who is straight but is one of the top leaders of the UNC GLBTQ – hi Swati!) I guess I didn’t really think anything of going to a gay club/bar. And grant it, it was my first time, but the way I saw it, if my gay friends go to straight clubs/bars all the time, why would it be weird for me to go to a gay club/bar? Well, as previously stated, it was apparently really weird – for them. But after everyone I met got over the initial “Wait, what?” moment (And a lot of times, I had to repeat myself that I was straight, and verbally confirm that I’m attracted to the female gender) everyone was very friendly and pleasant (save one case, but I’ll get to that in a second).

Ok, so after that long description, lets get to events. So we walked into the club, got beers (to be VERY IMPORTANT later) and went to the bottom floor first where there were a bunch of tables and a dance floor plus a stage where people were vogue-ing (which to put in basic terms, think very flamboyant dancing) dancing. The dancers were – well I’ll quote Ben on this one, “They need to save it for their bathroom mirrors.” Anyways, Unique apparently knows everyone (and so did Florence’s brother) so we walked around and talked to a bunch of different tables (and I got the typical “You’re straight?” affair.) We then went to the dance floor for a bit and Unique went off to meet up with some more friends. Ben and I were dancing near the edge of the floor, and the guy at the table next to us starting talking to us. Let's just say that he was very flamboyant. If you need any proof of this, he introduced himself as the “mother” of the table and then introduced all of his “daughters.” (This is where my internal “Oh Dear God, what the hell did we get ourselves into” alarm went off) After learning that I was straight, he started saying that he would be my girlfriend for the night (This is where I was thinking “O Christ.”) After a bit more bold … flirting (I don’t know what to call it) from him, he decided that his hand needed to feel me up down under. LUCKILY for me, I was holding my beer bottle at crotch level by chance, and he ended up grabbing that instead (In pure shock at this point.) Ben was not so lucky to have his beer bottle at crotch level. After that, we excused ourselves and got the hell off the dance floor.

We found Unique, and went up to the second floor, where there were Karaoke rooms that could be rented out, and because Unique knows freaking everyone, we got into one of the rooms for free. Furthermore, everyone there was as friendly as can be. That being said, some of the people there were a little too drunk and that drunken friendliness was just hysterical to me. Everyone has been at a party where a girl (or a guy, but I feel like it happens a lot more with the ladies) drank way too much and she transforms into this word slewing, stumbling mess of compliments and joy. One of the guys had entered this stage of drunkenness, and I have to use every once of will power to not laugh directly in his face (but I pulled it off). And it was really funny after he had complimented our Chinese and what not (“Nimen de zhongwen feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeichang hao” more or less equals “Your Chinese is soooooooooooooooooooo good.”) he realized I was straight, and we had this quick conversation (in English).

Him: “So do you have a girlfriend?”

Me: “Not right now.”

Him: “What? But you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute. Like omg, sooooooooo cute.” “Isn’t he sooooooooooooo cute?”

Me: “Haha, thanks, but isn’t Ben cute too?”

Him to Ben “Oh my gosh yes, your sooooooooooooo cute.”

Yes, I realize I’m an awful person. Anyway, the rest of the night was more or less Karaoke, dancing, and having to go though the “what, your straight?” routine. I do have to say, it felt kind of weird telling people I was straight, because people would always have a disappointed look on their face (though normally for ½ a second), which made me feel bad. But at the same time, like is tough, and there was a whole club of other people for them to go after. I guess I’m not use to breaking so many hearts at one time, but tiss the burden of a sexy man.

After everything, Ben and I took a taxi back home and crashed in our beds.



Nov 27th:

Long story short, I struggled with my Comp Ling homework because I missed class and couldn’t meet with Taco. The end.



So yeah, that was my crazy eventful week that was super heavy on the second end. Well, I’ll give you some thoughts to end on:

Having thanksgiving dinner without turkey or family was kind of weird, but Florence threw an awesome party, so I never once have felt home sick.

By redefining America, the song “Sweet Home Alabama” has a whole new context

If it’s one thing I learned at the gay bar, been hit on by a lot of people (initially) in a multitude of different ways (from “mother” to just simple conversation), is that I can look back and say I’m guilt free of obnoxiously hitting on anyone, or making anyone feel any awkward-er besides having to say “no thank you.”

--Robby

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