Sunday, October 28, 2012

These Being the Last Days in Dalian

During the summer, we received news that the school was going to close. Although it had had problems from before the time I came, the school always managed to keep going, but we suspected the worst. Hanna and I rented a new apartment, preparing to separate from the places the school had rented for all its teachers.

Then there were shitty weeks in which there were rumors that school would be bought and combined with some other school. Or, hell, it might be closed. Or now it might keep going but with only a few teachers. Now it was definitely going to be closed. Wait. Wait. Now it's. Etc.

In the end, somebody who hadn't worked in six years and who knew nothing about education, by her own admission, took the school over. People nobody'd ever seen before kept coming into the building, taking pictures, talking about big changes, and pointing into the Western teachers' office. "{These are the foreigners.}" There were long meetings in Chinese because the new owner couldn't speak English. She asked my advice. I told her to listen to the people who'd been there a long time. They knew what they were doing. She said, "No, I mean real advice." She and her cronies watched the halls, standing close to everybody, listening but saying nothing. They didn't ask about curriculum or watch classes. One principal, one of several over the weeks, didn't know that most of the Westerners could understand him when he talked about us but not to us.

Not liking what was going on at the school, Hanna and I left it. We had the idea for our own classes, but we never wanted to cause trouble for our old emplorer. We'd put years into the project, and I personally felt like I was losing a lot, my students, my friends, my time, so I didn't want to fight what was left of the place.

When Hanna and I came back from Shuangyashan, we started our own classes. We expected trouble one day, but it came during the second week. Besides students and their parents, we didn't tell anybody we were back, but of course everybody knew. We were threatened with being reported, with my deportation, so I went back to our old school. Most of our students had nothing to do with the old place anymore. They'd quit because of the hike in tuition last year or were otherwise unhappy. Our price was much lower because we weren't looking for a payday. But what could we do? The new owner said she couldn't compete and therefore had to report us. She said I was putting her in a delicate position. She made me an offer to return to the old place, and at first, I thought it was a good idea. I didn't feel scared, as a friend suggested, just fucking annoyed. The thought of teaching class in my living room and waiting for the day when an official would knock on my door and stop everything was taking up too much space in my head.

Everybody's always talking about what's best for the students, but if they could name one goddamn student, I'd eat my hat.

So when the new owner went on and on about what was best for the students, trying to make me feel guilty for leaving, it was easy to see she was full of shit. The meeting she, Hanna, and I had was long and mostly in Chinese. I don't know if you've ever been in a meeting where it's not in your native language but where they're discussing your life, but it's not the best feeling in the world. The only time the new owner would speak English was to say things that had the potential to cause a fight between Hanna and me. "You did a very bad thing, Hanna. Tim is American. You know how Americans are. They must follow rules. They're not like us." The worst was "Even though you're a couple, you're not the same." She meant that Hanna was of lower quality.

Just fuck it. Even if the new owner can't report me, even if nobody ever knocks on our door, I don't want to spend so much time thinking about it, which I already have. So. We're out. We're finishing classes here and moving to Shuangyashan.


Hanna, in Chinese: "{Who's your dad?}"

The dry daughter: "踢米," which means "kick rice" but which is pronounced something like /timmy/.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where's Mom?

The dry daughter, who doesn't speak any English, in Chinese: "{Where's Mom?}"

Me, in English: "She went to go pee."

Her: "狗屁?" which is pronounced like /go pee/ but which means "dog fart."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Which There Is a You People Want to Know the Blood Of

The woman in the bus station saw you and me talking and so thought you were of mixed blood. She grabbed your shoulder from behind, and the look on your face was, what the fuck? You weren't of mixed blood, your mom told her.

In the shopping center, two woman saw you and me talking. Hello, they said in English. In Chinese, they asked you whether you were Chinese. You said you weren't. They asked you whether you were a Chinese baby. You turned your head away, so I talked for you. Yes, she's Chinese. Was it so weird, your mom asked.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Dry Daughter Comes Home

Yesterday morning Hanna, the dry daughter, and I woke up on a bus with beds. Last night Hanna and I taught class in our living room with the dry daughter looking on and laughing.