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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My Baseball Bucket List(In No Particular Order)

bya Gabrielle at 7:40 PM

Today, I taught my business English students about baseball, which is no easy feat when you only have an hour and a half to cover everything from 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey to the Atlanta Braves stumbling out of the gates like fools in 2012. I covered as much as I could, but I clearly could see they were a little confused when I asked if they had any questions when I was finished.

To me, baseball makes perfect sense, but I’m a second generation (Atlanta Braves) baseball fan, and the knowledge and know-how comes rather natural to me. Teaching a sport to a nation versed mainly in basketball(thank you, Yao Ming) and soccer(football – thank you FIFA) is kinda like teaching a young child how to tie his shoe. You understand the motions and the outcome and why it happened the way it did, but the description of how it all happens turns the pretty bow into a jumbled disaster of ugly knots . . . if you are even that lucky.

Hopefully, I taught them more than I confused them, but god only knows. Their brains are probably knotted spaghetti strings.

Next week, I am going to teach them “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, which is always fun. Maybe I will record them and post it for you guys to enjoy! Also, I downloaded the “Who’s on First” skit by Abbott and Costello. I hope that they will understand the humor. I’ve printed out the script to help them understand what is being said because let’s be honest, it can be confusing, especially to ESL learners. And finally, I have nine clips of “Field of Dreams” for them to watch. I love that movie!!

If they can describe in a nutshell what baseball is and tell me sorta how it is played by the end of next Wednesday, I’ll be a happy teacher.

I start off each class with what I call “Gabe’s Random Thoughts of the Day”. These thoughts are truly random and can be spurred by the weather, a song, an expression, a sport, a random news article or even by one of the random thoughts I just wrote on the white board. I usually have no idea what my random thought of the day will be until I start writing it. Some of my thoughts are pretty awesome, and I really should have taken a picture of some of them, but oh well. I think my random thoughts engage the students and make them think and ask questions because usually my random thoughts are about stuff they have never heard of before.

Today’s random thought was titled, “My Baseball Bucket List” and this is how it went.

1. Attend a World Series game, more specifically an Atlanta Braves vs ??? World Series game, preferably with my father.
2. Own the Atlanta Braves(Highly unlikely, but hey, I can dream, right?)
3. Get remarried to Phil on home plate at Turner Field(Again with the dreaming)
4. Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at a MLB game(Not as part of the crowd, but the person leading it)
5. Have a son who grows up to be the best baseball player EVER(first I need to have children)
6. Convince Phil to allow me to name a daughter Atlanta(Probably no amount of begging will make this happen)
7. Watch all 162 games(plus post season games) in person(I’ll need to win or inherit a lot of money first)
8. Own season tickets to the Atlanta Braves(probably the most likely of all to actually happen)
9. Catch a foul ball or home run(the batting practice homer that hit me in the head does not count)

I am sure there are more, but that is all I can think of right now.

Do you have a baseball bucket list?

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A Gift for Phil

bya Gabrielle at 10:00 PM

Not long after we arrived and started teaching English in Fuyang, we got to experience the holiday known as Teacher’s Day.  This is a day when students thank their teachers for all of their hard work and sometimes present them with little gifts.  I knew of the holiday before coming to China, but I didn’t expect the students to give either Phil or I anything, for like I said, we had just started teaching.  I didn’t think it was possible for them to like us enough to by anything for us, given the amount of time they had known us.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I came home from work and found a carved watermelon wishing Phil a Happy Teacher’s Day sitting on the kitchen table.  I’m sure I imagined several gifts that the students might give us, but I don’t think that a carved watermelon was one of them.  I was quite impressed.  The student put a lot of work into it.

During our six months there, Phil got all sorts of gifts from his students – ranging from greeting cards to Final Fantasy posters to Hello Kitty stuffed toys.  Phil’s students were loads nicer than mine ever were.

And just in case you don’t know what a carved watermelon looks like – here you go!

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The Web of Lies WECL Weaves

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

I remember faintly, while standing in the cold, dark corridor of Beijing WECL, Mandy, one of Yuli Guo’s(Richard Guo) lackeys, telling us how WECL had forged one of our coworker’s resume.  She said that it didn’t look very professional.   I thought at the time that maybe they had just added teaching experience or something like that and that it was rather hilarious that our school was lying to the Chinese government.  It made me wonder what they had done to my resume.

Well, a few days ago, I got a message from a guy who had contacted me about teaching at WECL.  He thought he would share some amusing information with me.

“Hey, I thought you would find this amusing.  I actually turned down the WECL job the other day but someone at the Qingdao office keeps bugging me for visa stuff.  Well they decided to “embellish” my resume and added an entire job as a behavorial therapist in Glendale, California back in 2007 while I was in college in Washington, DC.  I can’t believe they would just flat out lie to the Chinese government!  Talk about such a sketchy job!”

And now I know what probably ended up on my coworker’s resume.  Very interesting.

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Why I’ll Never Win American Idol – Take Me Out to the Ball Game

bya Gabrielle at 12:23 PM

I was invited to my school to judge an English competition on my birthday. At the end several students and teachers sang songs. They asked me to sing, too. I don’t know any songs by heart, especially with out the music, so I sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Laugh if you will, I was just having some fun.

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Phil’s Journal

bya Gabrielle at 7:00 AM

Several weeks ago, Phil was cleaning up what used to be his room at his parent’s house, when he came across a stack of journals he had written in elementary school. I think they were from the 4th grade, but I can’t remember off hand, and Phil isn’t sitting here to tell me. All of them were addressed to his teacher, who he called Mama T. I asked him why he called her that instead of Mrs. So-and So, and he said that it was what she told everyone to call her. There must have been 30 or more journals that he’d written, but I’ve only scanned the one below for your reading pleasure. Maybe if you leave lots of awesome comments, I’ll be able to convince Phil to let me scan the rest.

If you read all of the journals back to back, they tell the story of Phil and an eraser called Evil E. They do all sorts of things together. They travel through space and time, all the while causing lots and lots of trouble. Most of the entries have little drawings of Evil E. doing something bad, whether it is holding a gun to someones head or beating someone up. I thought they were pretty funny.

If you want a glimpse into Phil’s young mind, just take a look below, but be very, very afraid. Heh.

Phil would have been called in by the authorities, had he drawn this in school today.

Ah, the world has gone mad – mad I say!

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Mad World by Gary Jules

I don’t know whether Phil was trying to say Damn School or Dumb School.

I think Damn School is funnier, so I’ll stick with that. :)

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Reaping the Benefits of Being a Teacher

bya Gabrielle at 11:57 AM

It has been a long time since I have been a teacher in YongXing Middle School in Fuyang, but every once in a while, I will get an email from one of my students. The one below is from Tiffany, a student I’ve mentioned before – here. Anyway, it made me smile, and I thought I would sure it with you all.

Dear Gabe ,

Do you remenber me? I’m your student in YongXing Middle School.I’m now a senior school student .do you know FUYANG MIDDLE SCHOOL?I’m now in this school .It’s been a long time.Now our foreign teacher is a black from the US.I think your class is better than hers.Her accent always remind me of you.I miss you…..

Where are you now?I’m looking forward to hear from you.^^

yours Tiffany

I’ve asked for the new teacher’s email. I would love to chat with her and find out what has been happening in the school since I left and how she has dealt with the students. I heard that the teachers that came right after us didn’t stay very long. I don’t know the reason, but I’m sure it had something to do with the students and their rotten behavior or something that the Director of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Zhou, did to make them mad has hell. Either one is very probable. I know that both of them happened to me.

Well, I’ll be putting up the picture of my office soon, as well

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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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