If We Were Having Coffee: The International Travel Edition

This is not the way I intended to restart my posts, but it’s another chapter.

I left Taiwan several hours ago. I spend a few hours in Shanghai before my 12-hour flight to Los Angeles. In two hours, I will board the plane to Detroit. More soon.

But I’m enjoying my coffee as I type this message to you. More to follow when I get settled.  :-)

If We Were Having Coffee: Mother’s Day Edition

library coffee shop 004If we were having coffee, I would say that it’s nice to have a chance to chat with you again. I’ve been out of communication for a while. The reasons aren’t all that important. A lot has been happening in the past several weeks. While things will be sporadic for a while, I’ll be filling you in on the changes and surprises that have been coming our way. In the meantime, I’m just glad to have this chance to reconnect over a cup of coffee. I’ve missed blogging and connecting with the bloggers I communicate with, but the great thing about this medium is that it’s always here when you have the chance to come back.

tomothersdayI’d also like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all women who care for the people and the world around them. As Taiwan is 12 hours ahead of the east coast of the US, I don’t usually hear from my children until the later part of Mother’s Day here. But this year, Tom surprised me and changed his current Facebook profile to this picture from his wedding almost seven years ago. I am so surprised and delighted by his thoughtful gesture.

And I would invite you once again to check out my daughter-in-law’s blog. Megan is Tom’s wife, and she has been doing her food-based blog for over five years. Even though I’m partial, I really enjoy her restaurant and product reviews, her recipes, and tales of some of her other adventures. I’ve mentioned Megan’s blog before, but I’m especially excited about the post below.

http://meggoesnomnom.com/2015/03/14/a-big-announcement-what-ive-been-nomming-lately/

Actually, I just read about it again, because I was so excited the first time I read it a couple months ago, that I didn’t read it very carefully. If you check out her post, you’ll understand why.

Megan and Tom are expecting their first child!

babynomnomIn that post, Megan writes, “Currently I am 16 weeks along, and in two weeks we will find out if we are having a boy or girl – though we are both convinced that it is a boy!”

As it turns out, they are correct. Logan’s new cousin will be a little boy!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MEGAN!
Wishing you all the best as you and Tom await your precious son in late August.
<3
SEVEN days to 60!

57 days to 60: Week 2 at the Coffee Shop

heinz_57_sauceI probably should have resisted, but with today being 57 days to 60, I just couldn’t bring myself to ignore the obvious. Anyone who knows me isn’t really surprised anyway.

The poll results are in. This was the picture that readers could vote about:

casting spells

The results:

Three choices were given about what I’m doing in this photo from my last day of teaching the Japanese students.

21 people voted as follows:

  • Teaching a class   – 48%  (10 votes)

NOTE:  OK, you are right. But did you have fun being right?  :-)

 

  • Casting a spell – 38% (8 votes)

NOTE:  I have to admit, it was the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture. My favorite comment was from Emmely, who had this to say: 

Definitely casting a spell! You’re bewitching those students to love writing as much as you do.

  • Getting over caffeine overdose – 14% (3 votes)

NOTE:  I admit to setting the three of you up. When it comes to me and coffee, there is no such thing as too much.  ;-)

 

57 days to 60!

 

58 days to 60: If We Were Having Coffee with the Japanese Students

58If we were having coffee, I would tell you:

Today marks 58 days to 60. And since the Japanese students left last week, I thought I’d feature them in this week’s IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE.

There is so much I could say about my time with the students from Japan. Teaching them was a special treat, and while I enjoy this program every time I do it, this year’s group especially touched my heart. I’d tell you that even though, I’m grateful to be able to catch up on rest and simple tasks like thinking, I really miss them already.

I’d tell you that in addition to the 14 hours of instruction that each of the two groups of Japanese students received from me, I had designed an extra activity for them before they even arrived in Taiwan. The idea was that I would take each group of ten students to the Tuesday night writing group at the coffee shop that hosts us. Ten students each night with a few of our regulars, and it would make for a nice group.

The plan:  Week 1 – Group B; Week 2 – Group B; Week 3 (just the regulars again)

The reality:  Week 1

Week 1-1Yeah, you might say my estimate was a bit conservative. What happened is that some of the students in Group B wanted to have their friends from Group A with them. I knew we could pull it off just barely, but then their English speaking TA’s ALL decided to come along. As you can see, the results were rather overwhelming for the space.

week 1-3I’d tell you that we survived it, and much fun was had by all. It took a long time to get drinks ordered and even more to take dumpling and noodle orders for the place two doors down that would deliver the food to us in the meeting room.

I’d also tell you that I knew with that many people (we had a total of over 30), we couldn’t actually do any writing activities. So I announced that the English TA’s could have dinner with us, but then they would have to leave except for the TA’s who were already assisting me. I told the departing students they could join the group in three weeks when the Japanese students were back home, but that the time was for them right now.

Whew! After dinner, eight people left. It may not seem like much, but it opened up just enough space at the tables that we could have some actual writing activities. By the end of the evening, we had agreed that now that we had the bugs out, maybe we’d do it again for week 2 with both groups. No point bringing Group A alone, when Group B didn’t want to come without their friends. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to week 2. Stay tuned.  :-)

58 days to 60!

 

 

59 days to 60! (Taiwan: the Beginning)

forum.ladypopular.com

forum.ladypopular.com

How cool is this? It’s 59 days till 60, which also means that I have 59 days to be 59!

In addition, there is another countdown going on: the one that ends my time here in Taiwan. We haven’t selected our exact departure date yet, but it is somewhere just over 100 days.

I realized that in the last 400+ days, I’ve picked up followers who probably never knew the story of how I came to be in Taiwan, and how–at this point in time, I will have spent ten percent of my life here by the time I leave in July. So I am posting the story one more time about how it came about before heading into the things I plan to do before leaving Taiwan. So if you don’t know how I got here, check it out!  My Journey to Taiwan.

Feel free to post questions if you want more information.

Stay tuned tomorrow, when I update you on the poll results.  :-)  What? You haven’t seen the amazing photo? You haven’t voted?  Check it out here.

59 days to 60!

 

 

60 days to 60! (And a Poll!)

Photo credit: balloonpower.com.au/

Photo credit: balloonpower.com.au/

Today is important for several reasons. First, after 540 days of counting, I am now 60 days away from my 60th birthday. I am making plans for a rather unusual celebration that coincides with a chance to say good-bye to friends, colleagues, and students. You will learn more about the plans as they progress, but I will tell you this: I’m working on a bilingual invitation.  :-)

I’m not going to be fanatical about this (famous last words), but my goal is to post something every day for these last 60 days, leading up to the big festivities. I will revisit some types of posts that I’ve done before, as well as a few unusual things. And there are a few fun announcements I plan to make.

My first post is going to be related to the second reason this is a special day. After three weeks of classes and other activities, the students from Tottori University in Japan boarded their plane back home. Even though the teaching load during those three weeks is rather exhausting, I miss them already. But having them on top of my regular teaching load is the reason I’ve been gone for a while.

One of the interesting things that happens during those three weeks, is that our classes are photographed more than a first grandchild. It would be no exaggeration to say that in the last three weeks, there are at least 100 new photographs of me. Sometimes, they’re posed with various combinations of students for various group photos, but there are many candid shots taken of me in various stages of “teaching.” As often happens with candid photos, some are decent, but many of them are kind of duds–as you will see over the next few days.

So in honor of the completion of the Japanese program, today’s post is going to be one of the photos that was taken last week. This was one of those candid shots taken of me teaching. Now I KNOW that everything thinks that learning about compare and contrast essays is one of the most exciting topics known to humanity, but I was rather impressed with this photo sent directly to me by my TA, with a comment on how dramatic I look. My response to her is what I am now going to turn into a poll for all of my readers. I’ve never done a poll before, but I thought it would be a good thing to start off these 60 days.

Here’s how it works. I’ll post the picture. Underneath is the poll where you get to guess what I’m doing in that picture. You have three options, but feel free to add others in the comments below. Your rationale for your choice is also welcome.

casting spells

Thanks for playing along.  Answer revealed tomorrow!

 

60 days to 60!

 

Friend or Foe: Reacquainting with the Beast

socs-badgeThis week is the one-year anniversary of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I’ve loved this weekly prompt, even though I haven’t participated every week. Sometimes, when nothing else can motivate me, I look forward to this prompt to break the logjam of ideas.

This week Linda writes:

As a special feature for February’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, The Bee and I have decided to collaborate! As you may know, on her site – Just Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called “Love Is In Da Blog.” The week 4 prompt is Love in friendship.

Then she adds: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: acquaint and/or friend.

*********************************

And now, I write:

I apologize to my male readers in advance, but when I personify something that gives me a lot of grief, I automatically make it male. So the character that I introduce in this post has had a male identity in my mind for the last 20 years. It might be time to revisit that decision, but not today.

Thirty years ago, after the birth of my third child, I realized something was wrong. I don’t know exactly when it happened that I had stopped caring about things, when I started simply going through the motions of getting through the day. But on that particular day, I looked out the window of the living room, and knew that things didn’t add up. If everyone had as lethargic as I did,  no one would be out moving around outside. Yet, when I looked out the window, people WERE moving around.

And at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with  depression. It’s possible that it was part of me before that, but we had not been formally introduced. Since that time, the depression has been a rather consistent companion. I used to believe that if I worked hard enough, I could get him to leave. I saw him as an intruder, a thief who robbed me of happiness and motivation. On quite a few occasions, I’ve convinced myself that I had successfully overcome it, and would congratulate myself on being back to “normal,” but after several times of crashing into the depths again, I knew I needed a different approach.

So after 12 years of battling him as an enemy to be defeated, I named him and accepted his commitment to our relationship. I decided to try to “make friends” with him, or at least negotiate some kind of truce so that we could co-exist. Since The Beast (as I not-so-affectionately name him) is convinced he wants to stay around, I/we established  a few ground rules for our relationship. I agreed to stop trying to evict him, and his bids for attention have become less intense–most of the time.

Interestingly, I can usually put on a good face no matter how I feel, especially if I have an obligation to meet. More often than not, people who see me (especially at work), have no idea that I’m battling The Beast. As a result, people (who do find out) are often surprised to learn I’m dealing with The Beast. For example, during my second year in Taiwan, I had a total knee replacement. When I was meeting with my orthopedic surgeon beforehand, we went over my medications, and he expressed something close to shock: “YOU are being treated for depression?” 

In my role as teacher and mentor, there are times when students are also surprised to find out that I understand depression so intimately. When students come to me with motivation problems or depressive symptoms, I am able to help them, often by simply sharing part of my own story.  They are so surprised to learn that it is something I deal with. In fact, sometimes I recognize symptoms in students before they realize that something isn’t quite right. When I’m able to ask them a few questions, and I see the recognition in their eyes, I don’t mind so much that I’ve spent the time with the Beast. Who would have thought that The Beast was serving me well in this unexpected way?

I don’t think I will ever refer to The Beast as a friend, but I no longer treat him as the enemy. I look for ways to keep most of his drama at bay, so I can still get the things done that need to be done. However, sometimes his cries for attention come at the most inopportune times. When that happens, I try to think of him as a part of me that is missing something that he needs, something that I’m forgetting to give myself. I don’t let him control my life, but I don’t try to pretend he doesn’t exist or ignore his pleas for help. I like to think that this attitude is what has made it easier to get along with The Beast. We’re both a little more understanding.

80 days until 60!

If you’d like to participate in this week’s challenge, here are the links.

http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/27/special-edition-friday-prompt-for-socs-february-2815/

https://justfoolingaroundwithbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/love-is-in-da-blog-february-ping-back-post-rulessuggestions-week-4/

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If We Were Having Coffee: Year of the Goat Edition

year-of-the-goat-with-icons_23-2147502885I missed the gathering last week, but I’m back today to share what’s been going on lately and all the things that are gearing up to keep me busy.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you:

That the celebration of Chinese New Year is winding down. Each day, a few more businesses are open again and the streets get a bit busier, and by Tuesday, life returns to normal for just about everyone. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying extra hours at the coffee shop. Tomorrow, Dave and I will go to Taipei to meet friends for lunch.

My new semester begins on Wednesday. Since Chinese New Year fell on almost the last possible day that it COULD fall, we are getting a later than usual going back to school. My new 18 week semester starts on Wednesday.

Two of the Tottori students from the 2013 visit.

Two of the Tottori students from the 2013 visit.

Weeks 2-4 of the semester will be especially exciting and busy. Twenty students from Tottori University in Japan will be visiting our campus for a three-week intensive English program. During that time, I will teach 14 hours of writing each to two groups of ten students from that University. This is in addition to my regular teaching. This is the third year Tottori University has brought students to Ming Chuan University for this program. It’s also the third year that I’ve taught the writing portion. I love the challenge of trying to change students’ attitudes about English writing in the tight time frame. 

admin-ajax.phpSpeaking of teaching, it’s a good thing that I like to use PPT (PowerPoint) presentations, because I was informed by the doctor last week that my shoulder is deteriorating, and that writing on the board is not something I should be doing for the next few weeks. So, we’re managing pain and resting it and using heat. So fun. I guess I’ll look for alternative ways I can torture teach students about writing.

Did I mention that I suspected this doctor is likely younger than my oldest son? Not only that, he had the nerve to tell me This degeneration is due to aging! AGING! Who does he think he’s talking to? I finally asked him at our third encounter how old he was, what do you know — I was right on. He’s the same age as my second son. Geez!

I’m in the final stages of preparing my job application for a job in the US for the 2015-16 academic year. For now, think good thoughts and I’ll tell more when I have more information, and maybe an offer.  :-)

This is an interesting birthday time in our family. My two youngest children, were due two years and a day apart. So their birthday are one week and a day apart, and they were both late! So yesterday (Saturday) was my son, Tom’s birthday. Next Sunday (March 1) is Kate’s. She’s the one who usually tries to talk me into doing some kind of Kate-friendly post for her birthday. We’ll see what happens.  :-)

It’s been great having coffee with you and catching up. Wishing you a great week.

Thanks to Diana for hosting our gathering:  https://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/4149/

 85 days until 60!

It’s All Relative: SofCS

socs-badgeJust Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called Love Is In Da Blog is a month-long blog-hop from Just Fooling Around with Be. The week 3 prompt is Family Love. During February, Linda collaborates to make the Stream of Consciousness prompt cover both events. So here is the prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “relative/relativity”. It can pertain to a person, a thing, a theory, or a concept. Play with it and have fun!

Having spent the last 5 1/2 years in a foreign country, the idea  of family has become a blurry concept. Of course, I have my parents, my siblings, my children on the other side of the world. I miss them terribly, and although I’ve visited 4 of the summers during my teaching position in Taiwan, I am eager to return to them next summer. During the last four years, I’ve been blessed to have my husband here with me, but the first two years I lived and worked here, I was on my own.

taiwan-mapStill, I had a few people that I knew (including the one who invited me to consider teaching here), and from those early beginnings, I’ve grown another family here in Taiwan. We may not be officially related, but it hasn’t stopped the friendship and caring that are part of so many relationships I have here. I’m going to share a few of them, but the list is not exhaustive. But you’ll be finding out about some of these (and other) people and the ways they’ve touched my life, as I plan to focus on posting about these people and events as I wind down my time in Taiwan.

In all kinds of ways, big and small, there are people who’ve made me feel like I belong, even though I’m living in a foreign country, where I still can’t speak the language. People are very kind and giving. From the first day, I arrived here, Amy met me at the airport and helped me find a place to live.

Diane and her family were my anchor during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Several times, I was invited to their home over the two years we both lived in Taiwan. When my children were half a world away, I felt privileged that she was willing to let me be part of their family and spend time with their children.

Through Diane’s husband, Erik, I also met Mei-Hung, who has been our adventure lady, both before and after Dave arrived in Taiwan. I have written about some of our adventures, and there are more write-ups to come. She has been such a dear friend over the years here.

When I had my knee surgery in my second year, Jessica C. was the one who came early and stayed through the day with me. Steve and Patrick helped me change apartments just weeks after the surgery.

Mac, the taxi driver, took me under his wing and was as close as a phone-call away. He and his wife invited me to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Another time, they invited me to their home. After Dave moved here in my third year, he took us to a meal to welcome Dave to Taiwan. On another occasion, he took us to the ceramics museum in Yingee.

I found out that I have a twin brother I didn’t know about. Well, maybe Joe isn’t really my brother, but once we connected as colleagues, we discovered we thought so much alike on so many things that we tell people we are twins who were separated at birth. We are both from the US, but Taiwan is where we finally met.

Mina and I have been good friends even though we have a very small shared vocabulary. Between friends, Google translate, guesswork, and body language, we’ve done quite well over the last three years. I first met her at the coffee shop around the corner, and when she moved to work at another restaurant, I still visit her, even though it’s not nearly often enough.

I am surprised at the things that came out in this post. The people I’ve introduced here are only the beginning of the people who have become my family here in Taiwan. Future posts will mention others and provide some details of the activities and events that we shared. So if you’re part of my Taiwanese family, and you don’t see your name listed above, check back. There’s more to come.

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http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/20/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-february-2115/