From second grade until eighth grade I went to a private school in Andover, Massachusetts called The Pike School. It was awesome, and marked the last time that I thought:
1. School was worthwhile
2. School was fun
It's such an excellent school that when I have kids eventually I'd be inclined to move back around Boston so that my kids could go there.
Class sizes were very small - maybe 80 people in my entire grade. Everyone knew everyone, and everyone talked. Rumors spread quickly.
I was in sixth grade when my friend Nick, a Greek kid who introduced me to the joys of pouring gasoline on the sidewalk and lighting it on fire, told me the rumor.
"There's a Chinese kid coming here. He doesn't speak any English."
I was intrigued. I'd always wanted to be a ninja (seriously... I REALLY wanted to be a ninja), and I was pretty sure that ninjas spoke Chinese.
"Cool. I'm going to teach him English and get him to teach me Chinese."
A few months later, Charlie Wang arrived. He was 5'7", which was a good seven inches taller than I was, and a good three inches taller than anyone else in the class.
He was a giant.
We met, and became fast friends. He knew a little bit of English and picked it up very quickly.
He taught me all the swear words in Chinese.
Soon my curiousity spread. To properly direct the insults I needed to know more pronouns. He gradually taught me more.
"Which part of that means 'your' and which part means 'mother'?"
Soon I could form basic sentences. I hung out at his house all the time where all they spoke was Chinese, and kept picking up more. That summer he and his family invited me to go to Taiwan with them for two months.
I pleaded with my parents, but they weren't about to let a 12 year old who had never even been on a plane before go on a trip halfway around the world.
The next year the invitation was extended again, and my parents caved. It was an amazing trip that I still remember a lot of 14 years later. Our other best friend came as well.
We saw all of the historic places, went to the Science museum, and visited his family there. We spent many days at this awesome indoor pool where they served us watermelon juice. I still love watermelon juice to this day, and it always reminds me of being there.
We played pickup basketball at public courts there. Charlie was an incredible basketball player, which infuriated the others. They'd yell insults in English like "Banana to your brother!"
His family hired a tutor for us there, so my Chinese got even better. I don't really remember how good I got, but I remember it being pretty good.
The only bad part was that I was an insanely picky eater. I ate no meat and almost no vegetables. They'd have huge spreads of food every day that I would virtually ignore, hoping to go to McDonalds later.
"Wo yao er hao he chokoli nai xi."
I want a number two and a chocolate milkshake. That was the filet-o-fish meal, which I was obsessed with at the time.
After one month our mutual friend couldn't handle Taiwan anymore. He got homesick. We had a particular solemn occasion where he gave me a box of oatmeal cookies that he had brought but hadn't yet eaten.
"Take this. You're going to need them."
He was a very picky eater too.
The trip finally came to an end and I headed back alone. Charlie and his family were staying in Taiwan even longer. I distinctly remember being in a connecting airport, looking at myself in the reflection as I went up an escalator. I thought that I was very cool for flying without my parents.
I can still speak some Chinese, but I've forgotten almost all of the vocab now. Charlie is an economist in San Francisco now, and I get to see him once a year or so when we both happen to be in Andover.
I'm going back to Taiwan for the first time in a few months, and I'm really excited. I've been practicing my Chinese a little bit with a Taiwanese couple here who own a restaurant that we eat at every day, and I plan on unleashing it when we go to Taiwan.
I grew up as an expat in Taiwan -LOVED it. I was just there on vacation for the month of December. It has changed so much over the last 15 years but the people are still just as wonderful, the food just as yummy, and the night life and shopping..incredible! Have a wonderful time.
Taiwan rocks! I went to 5 grade at Taipei American School, and 7,8th grades at the Dominican School.
Lived in both Tien Mou and on Yan Min Shan near what used to be a Presbyterian Seminary.
Moving back to the USA after that was boring. I felt like I was in jail. And the weather was cold as hell compared to Taipei.
Nothing fancy today. There are a bunch of things I do that are fairly unique but probably wouldn't ever come up on this site. Maybe some of them will give you ideas, or maybe you'll just think I'm weird.
This is a post from a prior blog of mine. Still, I feel that posting it here might prover useful. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to how to clear our mind that we might see how nuanced and ever changing things are. The other day I was hanging out with some close friends. We decided that we would go to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in town, a personal favorite of mine. One of my friends was quite leery about the choice as he has not had very much foreign food that he has liked, especially Asian food. In fact we had gone places like this before where he had not liked his food and not only went hungry but then had to pay for another meal that he did like after we left. That being considered, this was a bit of a risky choice for him. Yet, despite the fact that he has had bad experiences before he liked what he ordered quite a bit. His expectations, pleasantly, were not satisfied.
This morning I decided that I would wake up and do Ashtanga Yoga to a lengthy YouTube video. I had done this practice before and had barely been able to do the poses, being out of breath and dripping with sweat the whole time. As a little background, Ashtanga Yoga is what so called Strength Yoga is based off of, and is an incredibly physically demanding style. It is one that I am interested in despite my lack of physical prowess though, so I thought I would try it again. Leery, I step onto the mat and a pleasantly surprised by my stamina and strength. I was expecting to barely get into it since I haven't done yoga in about a month, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It is quite easy to look at a situation that contains risk and shun it. This morning's practice could have been a harsh reminder of my limits. Based on my past practice and the fact that I haven't practiced yoga much lately it very well could have gone that way. My friend's meal could have been abrasive to his palate causing him to be out the price of two meals instead of one, as has happened before. Yet, we both walked away from these experiences satisfied.
Now, this is not necessarily what happens when you take a risk. In fact, you'll feel the sting of the times that your risks don't pay off far more than the benefits of when a risk pays out. Yet, by getting that stupid little voice out of my head that was saying "you aren't strong or flexible enough for the style," I had a good experience. I divorced myself from an expectation that in this case would have lead me to an incorrect conclusion.
My friend is a picky eater. He knows that he doesn't like certain foods and avoids them. Yet, he got that little voice that said "all new foods are bad" out of his head and as well had a good experience. His experience has taught him his preferences, but at the same time his experience does not bar him from trying new things. Instead, it tempers his encounters with new things, making the experience a better one.