The Baseball Blunder

bya Gabrielle at 3:18 PM

I love spring. I love it because the weather gets warmer, all the flowers start to bloom, I get to throw my coat in the closet, and I am actually motivated to go outside to get my fifteen minutes of vitamin D. But those aren’t the only reasons why I love spring. I love it because all of those reasons I just mentioned mark the start of the most awesome season of all – the baseball season.

To put how awesome it is to me into perspective, maybe I should say it this way: Opening Day is my Christmas.

Well, not all Christmases are created equal. Sometimes you get the win you’ve been dreaming of, maybe, if your lucky, even a few spectacular plays, a homer that blasts out of that park, and a nail-biting, thriller of a finish. And then there is the Christmas that makes you ask, “Is Santa on strike?”

The first four games of the 2012 baseball season were very much the latter. The Atlanta Braves, I guess, thought that their complete craptacular collapse last season wasn’t so complete after all because they posted four more rather disappointing loses before finally notching a win. Now, I wasn’t too let down because I am well aware there are 162 games and that anything can happen between April and October, but as we learned last season, one win can make all the difference and each loss can potentially be the nail in the season’s coffin. Thankfully, the Braves have made some what of a comeback and are now a .500 team and only 2.5 games back.

During their win drought, I aired my displeasure to the retired group of students I teach over in Xujiahui. I wrote up the following on the board at the beginning of my class, so they could read and think about it, and prepare themselves to discuss it.

“The Atlanta Braves are off to a miserable start. They are 1-4. Zi Wei(that’s my Chinese name) is very sad because of this.”

Last semester, I talked to them about baseball and the Atlanta Braves, so I expected them to understand, but I suppose my expectations were a few rungs too high.

As the students came in, they sat down and read the message on the board. They read it again. They spoke to each other in Chinese and all of their faces were distorted in confusion. I couldn’t understand what the problem was.

When the clock struck 9:15, I read the sentence out loud. I asked them if they knew who the Atlanta Braves were. They all shook their heads and said no. I told them they did know because we had talked about it before. I asked if they could remember my favorite sport. They shook their heads again and said no. I wrote baseball up on the board one letter at a time until they knew what I was writing. I think I got to the E before someone recognized it.

“Oh, baseball,” one of the students said.

Several of the students on the front row started laughing. I asked what was so funny.

One of the students spoke for them all. “We thought that you were sad because of something we did. We love you. We don’t want to make you sad.”

This of course made me laugh right along with them.

“No, no, I said. I’m not sad because something you did. I am sad because the Atlanta Braves have only won one of five games.”

“We understand now.”

And then we all laughed together.

This moment sorta made me forget how sad I was that the Braves were stinking up the place.

Here’s to hoping that I won’t need this type of special moment to help me forget any more parts of the season. Go Braves!!

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Avenue Q: What do you do with a B.A. in English – It sucks to be me

bya Gabrielle at 11:12 PM

I thought of a hundred different ways to make an eloquent and interesting post about what I could actually do with a B.A. in English, but I’m pretty sure the following video sums it up rather well.

The only thing I really have to say is this: My adviser failed me.

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Categories: English,Humor,song
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Part Time Job and Help Eradicating the Native Ninjas

bya Gabrielle at 9:31 AM

I decided to check the in-box of my old Yahoo Mail account the other day.  I check it every now and again to see if anyone may have sent an email there instead of to my new Gmail account.  Apparently, it had been a long while since I last checked it because I had 1126 messages waiting for me when I signed in.  Of the 1126 messages that I sifted through, 1125 of them were spam.  The one email that wasn’t spam had been sent accidentally by Phil many months ago.   Of the remaining 1125 messages that had infiltrated by in-box, one in particular caught my eye.  The title of the message is what made me click on it.  I just couldn’t turn down a part time job in helping eradicate the Native Ninjas.  :)

Here is the first part of the message.  The rest of it was your normal boring spam message and I won’t bore you with it.  I wish all of my spam emails were as amusing as this one!


Forgive me for intruding on your personal space and microwaving your hamster, especially as we have never met before. Please be aware that I do not want to offer this position to the native ninja’s that are running amok in your country.

The image below wasn’t included in the email, of course, but I wanted to post it anyway. I found it by randomly searching for ninja images.  It made me laugh.

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Dreaming in Chinese

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

I don’t know if other people do it, but I sometimes dream in Chinese.

It started sometime after I arrived in China.  I thought it was pretty cool, even though I didn’t understand all that was being said.  When people would talk to me, I would respond to them like I would in real life – a few key phrases or words to try and explain what I needed or wanted them to know. My vocabulary has always been rather limited.

I always wondered why my mind didn’t pretend that I knew Chinese.  I guess it didn’t know how to fake the language.

Even after coming back to America, I still sometimes dream in Chinese.  It amazes me that in my sleep I can recall vocabulary words that I haven’t used in ages.  My most recent dream was rather entertaining, and I thought you would enjoy hearing about it – although I doubt you’ll find it as funny as I did.  I think it is hard to appreciate other people’s dreams because you lose so much in the explanation.  It’s like trying to turn a book into movie or vice versa.

In my dream, me, Phil, and Holy(our Chinese friend) were running away from some Chinese bad guys. We had been running for a long time, but the bad guys were still hot on our trail.  At some point we decide to hop on a train.  The train was headed to Hong Kong.  Well, once we boarded the train and left the station – my dream decided to go completely nuts.  The train, in its attempt to flee the bad guys, jumped the tracks and started traveling at very high speeds over mountains, valleys and streams.  It reminded me of a cartoon.  Somehow we managed to put some ground in between us and the bad guys and were able to rest for a while in our seats that I don’t remember paying for.

As the train started to pull into the Hong Kong station, we started gathering all of our stuff.  In real life, I probably would have been running from the bad guys with only the clothes on my back, but obviously, the same does not hold true for my dream life.  I had apparently crammed every single one of my possessions in numerous suitcases, pockets, and bags and had waited until the last moment to gather them back up.  This is not what I found funny though.  If anything, this part of my dream cause me panic and loads of stress.  What made me smile in my dream would have sent me into side splitting laughter in real life.

As the train pulled closer to a stop, I noticed that there were thousands and thousands of Chinese people waiting to board the train.  There were so many of them, that they had built stadium like seats in the station.  All of them were standing.  And of them were chanting.  Can you guess what they were chanting?  If you have ever been to China for any extended amount of time, you should probably be able to guess.

For some strange reason, every single last one of them was chanting “Jia you! Jia you! Jia you!”

For those of you who don’t know have any idea what “Jia you” means – there happens to be a YouTube video that will teach you all you need to know.  If my dream doesn’t make you giggle, the video should.

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I have no idea what happened once the train stopped because I woke up.  I can only imagine what would have happened had I stayed asleep and the dream continued.  All I know, is that it was the strangest dream I have had in Chinese yet.

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My 3rd Grade Journal

bya Gabrielle at 9:07 PM

When I was in 3rd grade, Mrs. Lane, my teacher, had me and the rest of the class keep a journal throughout the year.  Phil laughed his ass off when he read through it and thought that I should post a few of them on my blog.  I’ve gone through and taken pictures of the ones I thought were humorous.

How I ever became an English major is beyond me.  My spelling is absolutely atrocious, as you’ll see.  I’m still not that great of a speller today, but at least I don’t spell diary 4 different ways.  :)  Hey, at least I tried, right?

If you can figure out what I’m trying to say in them, well, you must be special.  Phil had to have me translate a lot of it for him.   Most of it is understandable, I think.   Anyway, I thought it might give you a laugh and make you smile.  I’ll post some more later.

And if you think these are funny, wait until I post the funny journal entry that Phil wrote when he was in elementary school.  I’ll try to get that one up, too.  Enjoy.

Apparently, this was my first day of school.  I don’t remember writing any of these at all.

Of course, this is coming from a kid who really wasn’t afraid of anything that had more than two legs.  My parents had to constantly tell me to be careful what I picked up.  I got bit more times than you can count.

Math was never my strong suit.  I cried over my multiplication tables.  Still do.

I spent many weekends at my grandparent’s house.  I don’t know why I wouldn’t have wanted to go.

I wonder if anyone has every died from laughing.  Sounds painful.

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Once Upon a Time in China Part 5: The Story of a Mouse

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

One day, while I was walking home from Yong Xing Middle School in Fuyang, China, a student(not mine, I don’t think) stroke up a broken English conversation with me. She asked me a few questions about America, how I liked China and if I spoke any Chinese. I had been practicing my Chinese for a while and was pretty sure that I could at least say that I was a teacher in Chinese.

I cleared my throat and said, “Wo shi laoshi.” (I think that is how you spell everything.)

Well, as soon as I had finished, the girl crinkled her nose, looked at me, and said, “You are a mouse?” I busted out laughing. I apparently hadn’t been practicing hard enough. :)

“No,” I said, “a teacher.”

“Oh,” she said, “laoshi.” She said laoshi very clear and slow, as though emphasizing the correct way to pronounce it.

Before long, we reached the Hangzhou bus station, and we said our goodbyes. I was surprised to find out that she lived in Hangzhou, and that she took the bus to school everyday. Hangzhou is about an hour away from Fuyang. I guess Yong Xing Middle School is just a really good school. I can’t think of any other logical reason a middle school student would travel that far.

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Update: Unemployment

bya Gabrielle at 4:41 PM

As I see it, I am the closest to landing a job since I first started looking in September.  I had my second interview with University of South Carolina today, and I think it went about as well as it could have. It was a rather interesting interview.  I met the woman I had my initial interview with and she drove me to the office where I was to meet the person who would be conducting my second interview.   It was a first for me, having someone drive me to another location.    It wasn’t very far.  We just had to drive a few blocks down the street.  Basically, she wanted this second person to talk to me and the other remaining candidate before she made her final decision.  We talked for about 50 or so minutes about my strengths, weaknesses, why I wanted the job, a little about my past jobs, a little about my China experience and a few other odds and ends.  He had me sign a few documents.  You know, the one that says if you get hired and we find out you lied, we’ll fire you, and we are going to do a background check on you, if you are hiding anything, we’ll found out about it!  Heh, I’ve got nothing to hide. I have a blog for crying out loud.  :)

Yesterday, I went and had my interview at the Agape English Language Institute.  The guy is not even sure whether or not he will need someone, but if he does, he’ll find out in the beginning of March.  It would only be for 21 hours a week and he may be able to pay up to $15 an hour.  If you do the math, that would be $16,380 a year before taxes.  I just don’t know if this option is going to work out or not.  Plus, I don’t think there are any benefits.  If it was a full time position, it would be a completely different story.  Also, he asked me a question that I have never, ever been asked in an interview.  He asked me what my religion was.  I wanted to say, hey, that’s illegal, you can’t ask me that.  I really didn’t care though.  It didn’t offend me or anything.  I just thought it was a very awkward question.   I told him that I was raised Christian, and then he wanted to know what denomination I was.  I said that I was a Baptist and thought his religious questions were over, but no, he wanted to know if I had a church home in the area.  I was like, gees, do you want to know when I was baptized, too?  He was asking all of these questions because he wants all the students to be surrounded by people with good values and morals.  That’s understandable, but that question is still illegal!  Grr.

I haven’t heard back from any of the DSS locations or Blue Cross Blue Shields.  I guess I’ll hear from them one way or another soon.  I feel really good about the USC position though.  I haven’t felt this positive about a job yet, so maybe it’s a sign or something.  I’ll supposedly find out next week who they chose – me or the other girl.  I’m gonna attach my phone to my hip and jump each and every time that it rings.  If I get the job, I’ll start either February 1st or 15th.  Things are looking up, though, I guess.  Now, if only things will fall into place.

Well, sushi is calling, I better get going.  Thank you all for your words of encouragement and good wishes.  I appreciate it.  One of these days I’ll get a job, and I’ll be able to change the title of these posts to Update: Employed.  Heh.  That would be nice.

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Update: Unemployment

bya Gabrielle at 9:10 PM

Ok, lets see. What has happened since my last update?

Well, for one, I got a call from Blue Cross Blue Shields, and they wanted me to come in for a professional writing test. I applied for the position of Instructional Writer I some time ago, and I guess they just wanted to make sure I knew my stuff before they decided to even considered me for the position. Fair enough, I guess. The test wasn’t too bad. I had to write one business letter and a memo in a forty minute time frame. Since I have never really written a business letter or a memo in my entire life, I doubt I got points for structure. In the grammar and spelling department, I probably did pretty well. I may not be a perfect English major, but there are a few things I learned in college that refuse to leave me. If you have anything drilled into your brain for four years, it is hard to forget it.

Supposedly, I will hear from them in a week or so. That is when they will tell me whether or not I passed, passed with training, or out right failed. If I pass, I guess they’ll ask me in for an interview and then we will go from there. I think it would be funny if I ended up working for the same company as Phil. If they call me up and tell me I failed, I am going to cry myself into an eternal slumber. I mean, if I can’t pass a simple writing test . . . well, I’d rather not go there. Just keep your fingers crossed for me.

The day after my writing test, I had an interview with the Lexington DSS office. This one is much closer than the Eastover office – 28 miles closer – but the salary is much lower – $8,574 lower. I knew that before going, but I figured considering my current position, I should at least go and talk with them in order to keep my options open. It’s an entry level position, so at least there would be a ladder to climb. While I was there, I did take note of the bars at the reception desk and how every single one of the doors in the building were locked. All of the staff members have a key on this pull cord around their neck. One of the women I was sitting beside said, “I think someone went off.” I just nodded my head. Something must have happened. They should make a decision by the end of this week.

Last night, I got an email from a school called Agape English Language Institute. They are located right here in Columbia, and they teach English to foreign nationals. They are a pretty small school, but they finally may need a new teacher beginning in March. It sounds interesting. I’ve yet to actually sit down and talk to the guy who may or may not hire me, but at least now there is a possibility that I could end up teaching English again.

And lastly, I got a call just a few hours ago from the University of South Carolina. The woman wanted to let me know that I was in the top two for the position I had interviewed for before Thanksgiving. This is the Human Resources job if you are trying to keep up. She said she still had to contact my references and that another guy wanted to speak to me before she made her final decision. She said that she hopes to have the position filled by February first. Maybe she will make a decision sooner.

And that is pretty much it for now. All I got to say is that I never want to have to look for a job again. It is one big pain in the ass.

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That’s A Wrap

bya Gabrielle at 12:31 PM

The news that I have been holding off telling is that I am going home. I’m leaving China, and I am not coming back – at least not for a good long while. I am currently working on a post that goes into the details on why I made this choice, and I will be done with that soon. Like most of my experiences in China, the story that made me make this decision is slightly complicated, long, a bit difficult, and even at times humorous, but I’ll let you be the judge when you read it.

We will be leaving Xiamen at 7:15 AM on August 28th and flying to the city I love to loathe, Beijing, for our connector flight back to the States. My last impression of China will come in Beijing’s international airport as I wait eight and a half hours for my plane to show up and take me home. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing right now. A part of me is jumping for joy that I’m going; I’ve missed home, my family and my friends. The other part of me is in a quandary. I’ve had a difficult time seeing the good for all the bad lately. Not that I haven’t enjoyed my time, I have . . . It’s too complicated to explain right now. It will take time for me to shift through my emotions and figure out how I really feel about the whole ordeal. Perhaps you will understand better than I once you have read my side of the story. I’ll finish that soon – before I leave.

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中国或胸像! (China or Bust!)

bya Gabrielle at 8:02 PM

There has been a change of plans. Phil and I are no longer going to the coastal city of Taizhou to teach English. And I am sorta glad because there is a pretty nasty typhoon named Saomai inching its way toward Taizhou and some other coastal cities as I write this. At last check, under our standards, it was a catergory 5. Eeek! At least now we will be a little more inland and won’t be completely drowned when and if a Typhoon comes are way. We have been relocated to Fuyang, a suburb of Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang Province. Although, there is a river that runs right by Fuyang, and I imagine if it rains a whole lot – I may end up floating home. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Cause that would be bad. I guess the threat of Malaria is the same. Damn mosquitoes. They are every where! The school that we will be teaching at has an elementary, middle, and high school. We won’t find out what grade level we will be teaching until we get there. I am sorta hoping for the younger kids. Who knows though, they may be the worst of the bunch, but I guess one way or another, we will find out. The name of the school is Fuyang High School Zhejiang (浙江富阳中学), and if you want you can go to their website and try to figure out what all the Chinese characters mean, be my guest. You can also go to www.altavista.com and have it translated, but it doesn’t do that great of a job. I am not a 100% sure that it is right, but I think this may be our school’s website – www.fyms.net I guess I will find out for sure once we get there. Well, that is all I really know at the present. As I learn more things about where I am going – I will post the information. And once I get there – there will be pictures galore!!

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