Friday, September 5, 2008

Fish and Other Friends

So we went to purchase Betty last Saturday (many apologies to my adoring public for not updating for a Whole Week), and got sent on a veritable treasure hunt for fish stores (apparently normal pet stores do not sell fish).  I'd been asking around a bit, and everyone told me something different.  I went to the first place I'd been told to go, and there were no fish there.  In fact, there was no store there.  The guy outside the address said that they'd recently moved, and waved his hand in a direction I might have called North if I'd been feeling charitable.  When he found out I wanted to buy a fish, however, he changed his mind entirely, told me the store I was looking for didn't even sell them, and said something about some other area of Taipei.  I gave up on that particular conversation and came home.

We next asked at a pet store.  They were very helpful and hence very helpfully told us that the nearest place to get fish was somewhere on the part of the MRT that was too far south to be on our map of Taipei.  We thanked them (effusively), they told us they were sorry not to have been more help (bù hǎo yìsi), and we went to another pet store.  They also were anxious to be of service, and informed us that we could most easily and conveniently purchase fish at a location that could not be reached by the MRT at all, but must be driven to in a car.  They were also bù hǎo yìsi, and we moved on.  I could tell you the entire story of how we eventually had to climb a mountain and consult a Zen Buddhist Master living in solitude upon a crag overlooking the sea, and how he told us that a fish could not be bought, only attained, and how we spent the next seven years studying a single fish scale in pursuit of enlightenment, and how at last with kind words to and from our Master we descended from the mount having learned the fishy secrets of Ichthus, and how the gods descended from the heavens to reward us for our patience, with Sūn Wùkōng at their head, and how the Monkey King bestowed upon us the Four Heavenly Fish to represent the four changing seasons and to remind us of our own mortality (sì, the word for 4, is reminiscent of sǐ, the word for death).... but that would be a lie.  We eventually asked someone who gave us the address for another pet store that didn't have fish, but did conclusively have the business card of a place that did, and wasn't at the ends of the earth.  

On Monday we found the place (the gentleman at the pet store drew us a map with all but a red X on it), and it was indeed full of aquariums with fish in them.  There were skates there.  For sale.  As pets.  I was tempted.  But we were on a mission to find Betty, and find her we did.  We also found YánHújiāofěn, and Làjiàng.  We brought them home in plastic bags full of water and dumped them in and exulted over them.  We both had to go off to work, though, so we fed them and left them to get used to each other and Leonard.

My Monday consisted of a pretty thorough lesson plan dictated to me by my AD.  I was not sad about that.  It was good to have a guide.  There were games to be played, and he explained them to me, and there were letters to teach (A B C D, also the lower case versions of those same four) and rules to explain.  I observed two more classes (one a CT's class) and came home briefly before Katy and I headed out to spend the evening with a couple of other Reach to Teach folk - Andrew and Daniel (and also Andrew, a Reach to Teach staffer, but I haven't a link for him).  We had an enjoyable evening of debate about whose apartment was better (ours wins), and Katy and I came home to find that Là had vanished.

A word about our fish tank.  It's glass.  It's covered.  There really aren't many places for a fish to disappear to.  I speculated that perhaps Là had gotten into the internal filter, which wasn't working anyway, so I unplugged it and let it sit.  In our close inspection of the tank to find our missing fish, however, we discovered a baby fish.  Oh, wait, it was 3!  No, 12...18...30?  We're really not sure how it happened.  Fish lay eggs, right?  Not live babies?  But we didn't see any eggs in the tank, and it was less than 12 hours since we brought home the new four.  

By Wednesday, it was clear that the baby fish were Yán's progeny.  Most of them are white (although there are two rather puzzling blackish ones), and they're big enough to escape the pull of the filter by this point.  On Thursday Là reappeared, looking fine, and slightly less tweaky than he had been before he went on his little vacation or whatever it was.  I blame Dr. Who.

My first class was on Wednesday.  I misled you all by saying it was a Y1.  It was, in fact, a K1 class.  They were a little older, much quieter than I expected, and they all already knew everything I was trying to teach them.  I therefore had to play more of the games than I expected (oh woe, oh woe) to fill the time, but my co-teacher (who is also the librarian for that school) needed a bunch of time that first class to explain a lot of the rules to them in Chinese.  There were 11 kids in the class, but I imagine that will change a little bit over the next week or two.  So far I can't imagine disliking any of them.  They're very responsive and cooperative.  They're willing to like being there.  They want to like me.  

I made notebooks for keeping track of my classes.  I have one notebook for my K1 class (I get to keep them all year, by which time they'll be K3, probably!), one for my M2 class, which is starting on Monday and is at School 8, and one for the classes I teach as a substitute.  I subbed for an A8 yesterday.  It was long, but enjoyable.  They were all similarly cooperative - told me what to do when I forgot something, enjoyed the games thoroughly, tried to outsmart me into not giving them homework, but gave up when I was firm for 30 seconds.  They got a little alarmed at one point when they misunderstood something I said and thought I could understand Chinese, but I reassured them that I could not.  I asked why they were so concerned about it, and one boy said, "Teacher, we are speaking secrets."  I looked at them guilelessly and asked, "What is secret, mìmì?"  They exploded into gasps and chatter.  The boy said, reprovingly, "Teacher, you know Chinese?"  "No," I said, "I don't understand it at all."  He (and the rest of the class) persisted, and he said, "What is school?"  I laughed, and said "I don't know!  I don't know Chinese!"  "But you said mìmì," he said.  "What is mìmì?" I asked.  "Teacher, you said it just now," said another girl.  "When?" I wanted to know.  I redirected us back to the lesson at hand ("should have vs. shouldn't have"), but at the end of the three hours when the boy who'd asked what school was was almost out the door, I looked at him and said "xuéxiào."  He gasped like I'd thrown water at him and eyed me up and down.  "Teacher," he said, downright disapprovingly, "you know Chinese!"  I laughed and told him to go home.  

Yesterday we got a PPPoE internet connection in our apartment, which makes things rather more convenient.  Tonight I think we're going to some gathering of people - A club, perhaps.  I shall try to blend in with either the other attendees or the wall, depending upon with which it seems I have more in common.  I am not historically fluent in Clubbing, even if it only involves a blunt object.  


Hobbes said...

For youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

TheRealVeon said...

I still think this is a horrible idea.

Anonymous said...

The hundreds of fish babies reminds me of a snail story....

mishymc said...

Actually, As I recall - I think guppies don't lay eggs. We had some as kids and I remember them haveing babies. Kevin might be ablet to confirm this.

Funny funny blog though really enjoyed it!

Aunty M

Katherine G said...

Baby fish! Well, I hope to see pictures :D