Thursday, November 13, 2014


On Wednesday morning, I found this on my bike in my apartment building's hallway.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

October Stuff (and November Stuff, Too)

It all happened so fast.

First there was a Brazil-Argentina football game at the Bird's Nest, the Olympic stadium in north Beijing. Brazil won 2-0; I think we were pulling for Argentina. It was fun, and it was on a Saturday night, the 11th of October.

Then there was BICF youth camp, October 18 and 19, a Saturday-Sunday combo. It was a blur of setting up, laughing late into the night, hanging out with kids whom I'd never met before, jamming with some cool young musicians, listening to speakers, playing games, pretending to keep jamming even after the sound system had been put away and we had one more set to play, and not showering.
It was over in a the blink of an eye. But I actually spent a lot of time thinking about such things as: (1) how I relate to teenagers (2) would that could mean for my future (3) how I handle people I don't naturally like (4) ... (5) how awesome a tightly-knit small group, of youth or otherwise, is (6) how they could put the sound system away before our last set had been played.

The blur continued. On into my birthday. Which, again, was partly celebrated with a bunch of parents during parent-teacher conferences. But which was also spent (1) with my homeroom and their annual surprise birthday party right before parent-teacher conferences (2) with Ellen at Homeplate and then at my home, with some cookies and cheesecake.

Before the dust had settled, United Nations Day had arrived; the morning of October 24 was a huge celebration of culture and diversity, as homerooms at BWYA were decorated according to the traditions of different countries around the globe. DP1 attempted to display some African action, so obviously I wore the pajamas from Kenyan that my brother's girlfriend had given me last summer. Boom.

But no time to dwell on that, because that night the entire class of DP1 and a few teachers - including myself - were herded off to some retreat center for an extended essay retreat. More doesn't need to be said about that except (1) the bus ride going was 1.5 hours; the bus ride returning was 3.5 hours (2) we played a lot of team-building games (3) the students may have learned some things about the life-ending extended essay.

Then it was my birthday again, after the retreat; a large crowd of us consumed about a hundred chickens at Roy's Chicken and Beer World. At this second birthday meal I happily received gifts of (1) fleece (2) flannel (3) iced tea and cookies (4) an enormous Rice Krispie bar (5) "Tenth of December" by George Saunders (6) some hugs.

The weeks sped on. The culminating event of October - Halloween - was a bit of alright. Few students and even fewer teachers dressed up during school hours, but come nightfall, BWYA's Halloween party witnessed a few more costumed souls. At the party, noteworthy costumes included (1) Mr. Bean (2) Instagram (3) a Korean (4) about a thousand generic witches and masked figures whose true Halloween costume nomenclature and actual identity were indeterminable (5) me and some sheep.*

And then, the month expired.

And November arrived, and a lot of stuff happened then, too. Like a speech and debate tournament that was (1) extremely well-organized (2) all day (3) a place where seven BWYA students won medals (4) a good spot to see old coworkers and make new friends.

Why stop now? This past weekend was another enjoyable but taxing event, some IB teacher workshops at the same school that the forensics tournament had been.

And, somewhere in there, the Bowl-a-Thon III, a bowling-based charity fundraiser put on by Mr. Hopper of Mr. Hopper and Mr. Haggar Go to Datong. Good times! My favorite part was watching Ramon haul a large speaker on the 107 bus at 10:30 p.m.

And it will go on. Hopefully at a less-furious pace. But experience has shown that busy times will come and go in different seasons, and that most of the aforementioned items are actually awesome things anyway, so I should be doing them. Thus, regardless of whether more opportunities to stay busy present themselves or not, I am sure that life will continue to be brimming with stuff to do, and that it will be good.

*What follows is a list of things that people thought I was on Halloween, in this costume:

an ISIS member
a shepherd