Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Day Down

Put Lizzie on the schoolbus at 11:15. Not all that confidence building because we expected the bus to arrive at 11:00. And then it was pretty clear that the driver didn't really understand what I was asking, about where Lizzie should wait to be picked up after school, and what time that would happen, and so forth. Plus, the contract I signed said that I needed to pony up one month's fees (P1500.00) plus one month deposit, and all I had on me was one month's fee... And there was no way that I could run up 5 flights of stairs to the apartment to get the other month. I tried to ask the driver what I should do and he pantomimed putting the money into the envelope and passing it over to him, so that's what I did.

To add icing (a strange metaphor for this) to the first day cake, I've got the travel trots in earnest. Which means that every hour or so, I feel the CR (comfort room) calling my name. I've got my own roll of toilet paper, and a key to the faculty and staff only restroom, but the last time I was in there I took notice of the sign on the pot: Wiwi only.

And it's raining again. Hard.

Oh, and the network on campus seems to be out. In any case, I can't connect to it.

I think I'll just resign myself to using the internet at home.


Met my first class, Fiction Writing 2. We meet in a noisy 3rd floor classroom--I put us into a circle after the introductions and I think I'll have to make the circle a lot tighter if I'm going to be able to hear anything. All the windows have to be open (because of the heat) and the sound from outside--people chattering, rain, someone jackhammering in another building--rises up to confound me. The class meets from 1-2:30, but the students informed me that we have to allow a 15 minute grace period from the start of the class, what we'd call "passing time." So we really didn't get started until 1:15. I'll just factor in some social time at the start of every meeting--that's fun in Fiction Writing, anyway.

In about 15 minutes, I'll go meet my American Literature survey. I'm back in the office (didn't want to hang around the classroom building looking like a dweeb) with the airconditioning, the jackhammer and the humming aircon an interesting background music. I still can't connect to the internet. And what would I do on it in 10 minutes, even if I could?

Thinking about Lizzie, hoping she's having a good day.


My second class, American Literature Survey 2, was packed: 25 students staring forward. The classroom was just a smidgeon quieter than the fiction classroom (must be its placement--a little further away from the madding crowd), and I found myself trying to stir up the usual chatter. It's hard to do with a larger class, but at the end, after I'd asked them if they had any questions for me about the course assignments or design (and determined that their background in American literature is pretty sketchy at the moment), I said, "Well, since you don't have questions for me right now, I'm going to ask you all questions."

I asked them what they did for fun--and when they didn't answer right away, I started listing off options and they said yes or no: dancing, eating, video gaming, parties, drinking... Their first real answer was "chatting"--which sounds like fun. They claim that they don't drink until they pass out.

"No," said Isabelle, a poetry professor. "They can really hold their liquor here. So they won't be drinking until they pass out."

Ah. Clarification.


When Lizzie got off the bus, smiling, I felt all of my insides lift off. I swear, I floated a little off the ground.

I hope she shares some of her stories (so I can hear them too).


  1. Oh, hooray for the first day! Sounds like victory on for El Mac and a smiling Lizzie suggests triumph, too. Two stellar cultural ambassadors.

    I love the yes/no format for "fun" questions. Maybe you should ask a y/n to suss out the location of the non-wiwi station.

    Zi, looking forward to your rollicking report!

  2. Re: "Wiwi only." That is ridiculous and also unfortunate. But kind of hilarious. I remember in France, you could buy these little signs for your bathroom (well, the toilet room, not the shower/sink/bidet room) that said "Pipi Room" with something that translated loosely to something essentially meaning, "don't shit here." So maybe it's a foreign thing.

    Re: unfortunate digestive problem in general. My mom read your Twitter update on the matter and goes, "Oh... that's awkward." Then proceeded to tell me about her constipation. See? Soul sisters.

    Re: fifteen minute passing period. That's far less time than we spent off-topic in each session of CN. Also, I sincerely hope your workshop has a less bizarre combination of personalities than CN.

  3. I have NEVER experienced this #2 repression in any Spanish-speaking country--although the Phillipines was a Spanish colony, so I don't know what to say about that. Although I DO understand the logic of carrying your own toilet paper with you. That is foresight.