Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Love Yourself A Little

Hi!  Marjorie from Upwards Over the Mountain here, back from a much needed break.

I know I kind of just vanished for a minute there without explanation.  Trust me, I had a lot of things going on, not the least of which was that I was very sick.  When your body gives out the way mine did, that's a sign you need to scale back from life and re-evaluate where you're spending your energy.  I'm in the home stretch of my time abroad.  I have eight weeks before I get on a plane and leave this lush island behind.  Sometimes when we get close to the end of a journey we can doubt ourselves.  This past week I was suddenly unsure about so many things.  Do I really want to be a "big time" blogger with a horde of followers?  How is being a writer going to factor into a career?  What classes do I want to take next semester?  What path should I take after I graduate?

I don't have a concrete answer to any of these questions.  I've scratched my carefully thought through battle plans for the next few weeks.  I'm just going to focus on doing what I love for the rest of the time here.  And I love blogging.

No matter what phase of life you are in, I encourage you to love yourself a little.  You might be surprised at the results.

Here's an acapella cover of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands, Counting Crows.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dogs

Afternoon naptime

These are just two of the many stray dogs that hang around my campus.  They bark a lot at night and follow you if you're eating something, which is really annoying.  When they crowd around me, I stand very still and pretend that I'm Cesar Milan.  After a while, they understand that I'm not going to feed them and go bother someone else.  I met the person who feeds them a few months ago, a lady in her forties with a tanned, weathered face and a broad smile.

"They're not good dogs," she said, scowling at the strays who wagged their tails.  "They don't listen to me."

I know they look cute in the picture, but they're kind of a pain to deal with in real life.  Still, I included them in this blog series, because, like it or not, they are a part of my life here, and they do pretty much run the University. 

I think I'm all caught up now.  See you tomorrow!

C is for Colds and Chinese Medicine

Taiwanese cough medicine.  It looked and tasted like dirt--but it worked

I took a couple of days off blogging because I was on the tail end of a Taiwanese Cold: Deluxe Edition, featuring chills, fatigue, sore throat, and compromised breathing (I have a bit of asthma).  I had no voice for three days.  I'm much better now.

On the second day of the cold one of my intrepid Taiwanese classmates named Maggie accompanied me to a local clinic.  After the doctor listened to me breathe through a stethoscope, he explained that my asthma was aggravated by my cold.  Lots of people have been getting sick because it's been warm during the day and cold at night, and the humidity is as high as always.

I got a special nebulizer treatment while Maggie pounded my back.  Man, Taiwanese girls have so much strength in their hands it's not even funny.  The mucus in my lungs didn't stand a chance.

The kindly doctor came over to check on me.  "Is okay for you?"  He asked, in English.

I nodded.  The doctor told me I could come back to get the nebulizer treatment whenever I needed it; it was free.

I spent the next few days holed up in my room watching Disney movies, sleeping, drinking tea and taking meds.  I went to class but didn't talk much.  Today I sound just about normal.  I'm going to karaoke in a few minutes.  We'll see how that goes.

Whew!  Glad that bit's over with.  Now I can get back to my life.

B is for Butterflies and Brunches

Took this on a walk near my university.

Eggs Benedict at my favorite diner in Taipei

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for ARC

Image forthcoming.  Need to charge my camera battery.

Today I picked up my Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), the identification card that goes with my resident visa, from the immigration office.  This is a replacement ARC; I lost my original and had to reapply for it.  Ugh.

This visa thing has been a mess from November.  I originally got a three-months visitor visa that was extended to six months, with a February expiration date.  But when I applied for my Resident Visa, it turned out that the visa processing office in New York had given me the wrong visa type.  They had given me a visa for exchange students, but I'm not here on exchange; I'm here with a program.  My resident director threatened the people at the consulate in Taiwan to use her political connections because she was so exasperated with the entire procedure.  I asked her how screaming at a service person fit in to her Buddhist way of life.  She replied that the Buddha appears to people in the forms most needed to "wake people up", so if yelling was what it took, then so be it.  (She's kind of my hero.)

But then I lost my ARC a couple of weeks ago.  It didn't even came home with me.

I'm kind of an absentminded person, so things easily slip my mind.  I'm going to try to use this experience to be more careful with my stuff.  Because going back and forth to process these loose ends of my visa have been a huge hassle, and I'm glad it's all over.

Happy April Fool's!