The Oceans Stayed the Same…

The heartache of that very first love, is slowly, fading away, but the memories of her, still stayed, but it’s, no longer, as bright as it were from before now, translated…

Luckily, I’d, kept track with the words, of my youthful, memories; but unfortunately, no matter how many words I’d, kept, I still couldn’t, keep that heart that wanted to leave.

The island is so small, so small, that we’re, cramped up, next to each other, that was, the roads I’d taken to get back into my own home, also, the very first chapter of my life.  Without the oceans, perhaps, we’d, missed ou圖/奚佩璐t, on those waters, that were, filled up, with all our emotions; without the island, the pains of our memories are destined, to stay adrift all over the places.

Back then we were young, felt, that staring into one another’s eyes, singing those love songs to each other, meant that we could go the distance; we’d always believed, that with the letters, the calls that frequented between us, that can, connect us tightly.  The roads at night on the island, the starry skies above the oceans, the fluidity of the years, and the girl’s heart that I can’t hold onto, that young man who’d felt heartbroken had, collected those footprints, hidden them deep, deep down beneath, those ocean waves.

illustration from…

Several years later, the wheels of fates started turning between my two legs, the roads I’d once trekked in my youth, I’d looked suddenly, and found a familiar shadow, that’s, made my heart skipped a beat, I just hate, that I couldn’t, take this robe the years had, put on me off, I couldn’t, stop myself from moving forward, the memories of our broken up love was, too heart aching, and now, it’d, felt really awful, how we’d not, even looked each other in the eyes as we passed each other by.

Many years later, I’d, stopped, wondering about the lost loves of my youth, and just, allowed the thoughts to, swim freely inside my mind, as I’d, passed that familiar alley again, there was, just that coldness from the oceans that crawled up the sides of my cheeks, because the girl I loved, had become another’s wife, a mother, and slowly, grown old and gray.

The island stayed the same, those old lovers are withering away, the bays, the sunset, that old love, became the ocean waves crashing into the land, hitting against those slowly fading to gray memories, the scars healed up.  If someone asked, the ocean still, looked the same.

But you no longer are, it’d been, too long, since that first love broke your heart, and, you’d come to realize, that she wasn’t meant to stay in your life, that she was, merely, a passerby in your life, and you, in hers too.


Traveling to Germany to Perform in a Choir Exhibition

The choir diaries, translated…

Due to chance, at the latter half of July, the choir I sung with had the opportunity to go to a local church in southern Germany to perform.

On the day of the concerts, there was a tourist outing, the lunches were provided by the home competitors, after we’d had our chow down they’d invited us along to shop around and to have some coffees with them, but we’d, turned them down.  Because by the time the luncheon was over, it was already two in the afternoon, and we’re onstage at seven in the evening, and we had yet to check out the auditorium where our performances will take place, that we may need to adjust our formations, the way we’d rehearsed, the gift exchange, supper, and changing into our performance attires………clearly, we’re, already, running out of time, we needed to take every second that we have to get ready.

As we’d gotten off the busses, the church bells from the distance sounded off the welcoming calls, we’d felt moved, like we were being, worshipped.

Just as we’d suspected, the adjustment of the formation, and giving the home teams their presents, it’d, taken a lot of our time, plus we had yet to calm ourselves of the excitement of the morning travels yet, we didn’t perform as well as we hoped during rehearsal, and we’d started, feeling the stresses, thankfully, the leader of the choir and our singing instructor turned down the local teams’ offers to hang out, otherwise, we would’ve, totally messed up big times at our formal performances.

The temperature was comparable to Taiwan’s, between 33 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius, but without the air-conditioning, it’d become, difficult for us to handle, so from the rehearsals that started after a little past two after the luncheon, to the end of our show, everybody was, sweating like crazy, but we’d all, pushed ourselves, to adapt, that made me so proud of us.

查看來源圖片like this???  Photo from online…

At seven, the church bell sounded off loudly again, the performances started for real now, the first half was ours, of the six songs, there were four of which we’d sung as a whole choir, and two that were sung by the males and females in the various voice ranges, with an assortment of song choices, the quick-tempo “Taiwan, an Island of Treasures”, the softer, “The Mountain, in the Nothingness”, the strong and forceful, “Don’t Keep the Goldfish at the Bottom of Your Glass”, the ballad, “Memories”, the majestic “All the Flowers in Bloom”, there were, songs in Taiwanese AND Chinese, and we’d sung Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in German as the ending song.

As our performances were finished, everybody in the audience gave us a standing ovation, the applause sounded continually, even until we got off stage, and returned back to our seats, it’d made us all very excited, and moved.  What’s more encouraging was, the instructor told us, that this, was the best performance that the group’s given in all the years combined.  And, everything we’d weathered through, the hot weather, the sweating it out like crazy, it’d finally, paid off.

Later on, the German choirs performed the bottom half of the show, they’d sung mostly hymns, they were, younger than we were, and, kept their eyes on the sheet music as they performed, which was what we’d not done, this was, something we’re, most proud of.  In the end the two choirs performed “Looking Toward the World” together, with our conductor conducting, in the chorus, we sang the first and third, while the German performers did the second and the fourth, we’d sung in Chinese, they, in German, on our separate choruses, this was our instructor’s idea, it’d, made the song even more majestic, it’d made the German group who were against this awe over it, such a perfect ending for this show.

We’re not a topnotch choir, just ordinary people who loved singing, with the average age of over sixty-five, before we flew out, I’d once said to myself: we’re flying to a foreign country, although it’s a mid-sized town we’ll be performing in, so long as the auditorium is packed up, not an empty seat in the house, we’d, found success, and we had.

Later on, in the restaurants, plazas, train stations, by the lakes, under the ancient castles, came our “flash mob” performances too, and we’d gained the German’s applauses, and they had nothing but good things to say about our performances, we’re, so very happy!

As we returned, the German newspapers printed out our performances in the local church.  We’re from Taiwan, and the world finally saw us!

And your huge success is still due to those endless hours of rehearsals you’d had before you went to Germany to perform, and, because you and the members of your choir were fully prepared, that is why your performances gained all the attention, and it had, put Taiwan on the map, for Germany, at least!


圖/阮光民illustration by the writer, of the man he’d, interviewed, off of…

From all walks of life, translated…

He’d twisted open the bottle, and pointed to the opening told me, “This, is called the meathead, the standard thickness is 1.75 millimeters.”

“Cleaning the parts, welding the parts together……I’d, learned it all.  At age fifteen, I’d ridden my bicycle out to work, earned $80N.T. per day.  My older sister made fun of me, how long would it take you, to make as much as an operator does?  Two years ago, my wages are $3,000N.T. more than hers, I’d learned everything, that way, I can, do everything.  I’d became a business owner at twenty-six, but, id not sold off the parts, but instead, I’d repaired all the parts and maintained them for the other factories.”

I’d asked this 65-year-old middle aged man, who’d looked more like he was only fifty-five, if he was, left handed?  He’d told me he was dexterous, that it was a needed skill for operating the machinery, otherwise, when he wasn’t careful enough, he’d, get injured.”  He’d opened up his palm, pointed to the palm under his right thumb, “after you got your flesh shaved off, it doesn’t, grow back, can you tell?”, then, pointed to the severed off palm print to his left hand, “my severed palm print was made, by the stitches.”

I’d loved hearing tales of how the scars came about, even if they were, made up, they were still, fact-based.

I’d recalled that my eldest uncle had a wound that resembled a bullet hole, he’d told me it was from a gunshot wound when he went to war, back as a kid, I’d, believed him, but my mother told me, that it was from the intubation he had when he was younger.

And so, each and every one of our scars, made us into who we are today, like for the man who got his thumb shaved off, he’d worked with his hands, and, although he is considered a blue collar worker, he still felt proud of what he does for a living, and takes pride and joy in working in putting together the cars.

The Education from Back When, Thoughts from the Wilderness

An outing of this father and daughter before she goes off to college, what the man was reminded of, translated…

The first time I took the MRT to the Taoyuan Airport, I’d taken the purple route, the straight route, and on my return trip, I’d tried the blue route, that passed through all the stations.

I rode on the MRT with my last year high school daughter, imagined, that we are, on the way, to her getting a higher education, the rails in the air was a bit, unsteady, there wre those, who were awakened from their sleep because of it, and rode to the terminals, and stood up and flew off, like those birds, made of glass.

The stations and the trains are purplish blue, imitating the colors of the Nitalva, with the common name of Taiwanese whistling thrush, the calls were quite, distressing, like how the car slammed on the brakes in a sharp turn, like the policies of education right now.

A7 Kinesiology University, A8 Changgang Hospital………we’d, walked to the Chi-ching Lake, there was the god of the earth in a statue, smiling at me in the middle of the lake, with the smokes rising from the small temple’s chimney, the doves, the ducks, ran around, and flapped their wings, like how messy the situation is currently in Taiwan right now.

The sun spread out all across the lakeside pastures comfortably, there were, the picnickers there, some sitting, or, lying themselves down; this was the Memorial Day long weekend today, for the sake of remembering those, who’d, finally, lain themselves down.

walking along a passage like this one, maybe???  Photo from online…查看來源圖片with the flowers, already, fallen…

I rode along on the Airport MRT with my daughter, and packed my own handmade rice ball wrapped in salted seaweed, it wasn’t a springtime outing.  Anyway, the sun felt so well, like it was, only eighteen years of age.  We’d walked a long time, and, the roads, approached us, without any doubts on their minds.

This was in April, the Chinese fringe trees were in full-bloom, with the cherry blossoms, withering away, the new buds were coming out, there wasn’t, a fallen leaf that’s, complained.

The airport MRT route passed through the mountains, the Tung oil tree, the green filled up the air.

And so, this, is what this father observed from their surrounding area, as they test rode the airport MRT systems, and it is considered, a rite of passage for his daughter, because next year, she’ll be away from home, in college, and, on this day, the father felt a mixture of emotions, his daughter is growing up and leaving home, and, it was on the day, that those who’d, sacrificed their lives for others is to be commemorated each and every year.

The Golden-Winged Butterflies

Being mistaken for a group of female gangbangers on the way to rehearsing their act, and the hard work these women put in to their act, why it’s, important, to have a hobby after we retired from our jobs, translated…

I’d started taking the belly dancing lessons from community college for almost two years to date, this time, we’re to perform the pretty easy dance with the scarves, I thought that I should fly by the recitals, but on the first day of rehearsal, the instructor not only switched out the usual music, and demanded us to use the shiny golden plastic wings, instead of the scarves to dance with, it was, too difficult for me, to keep my balance, it’d made me feel like a toad, that suddenly, had wings on her back.  “Shit!  There’s only, three more classes until we’re about to head onstage!”, everybody in the class became, really tense over it.

In the calls of the head of the class, we’d, started rehearsing after the class sessions on our ow, met up at the local elementary school’s auditorium, but, the draft was, interruptive, and our golden wings that swayed, became golden cocoons immediately, we were, wrapped too tightly, couldn’t move an inch.  And, we’d all, worked hard, to raise up our golden wings, but, we’d become, covered up immediately, we’d lacked, that flair needed to perform the dances.  Plus, the beats to the Egyptian tune we were dancing to were difficult to count, our steps always never matched up to the tempos, we’d become, crazy people, just running around.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, we all felt, injured, traumatized, in this first sessions we’d gathered for the rehearsals on our own.

illustration from…圖/蛋妹

Some of us who had weaker fundamentals, started crying on LINE, but I’d never heard any of them quitting, instead, they’d become, more driven to perform better.  And, maybe, I was given the talents to learn how to dance, but that was, a given to me, and the “shortcomings” of others had, opened up my eyes.  One evening, the group of us were moving our place of practice.  The head of the class worried we might not find the place, and had ridden her scooter to lead us there, we’d, put up our golden wings inside the bags made by the head of the class, the seven of us ladies, set out, in the dark of nights, as riders carrying the swords.

Not long thereafter, I’d felt the weird gazes from all around.  I was thrilled, “We’re like, the female gangbangers, ready for a confrontation!”, but actually, I was more concerned with leaving my driver’s license at home.  “What if we get stopped by the police!!!”

As we arrived to the location, the classmates who’d parked the rides started getting rowdy, the group of us, ordinary, fitting housewives, mothers, and young ladies were, excited for being mistaken as gangbangers…what’s happening here???

video found on Youtube…

What happened later you asked?  Naturally, our show was, a huge success, the golden wings turned and swirled, the Queen looked very beautiful, and everybody had nothing but good things to say; but I couldn’t help but wondered: could it be, that on that night we went elsewhere for practices, we were, mistaken for a group of female gangbangers, that it’d, sparked our inner potentials, that was why, we held ourselves up, walked very tall, as we’d gone onstage for the performances?

The very next day, the classmates left messages on LINE, “I got moved each and every time as I watched the recordings repeatedly”, “I’m glad I was onstage with my best friends, helping each other, supporting one another, it’s, so inspiring”, the results naturally, became this mark of life we’d come to share, so wonderful; but, the group of us can only chat using LINE, lying flat on our backs, because the backaches that didn’t show as we’d rehearsed for the performances suddenly hit us hard afterwards, but this was a price we can all live with, because it was, more than worth it!

It’s really amazing, to share a hobby with a group of people, and look at all the fun you and your fellow dancer had, and this is more than likely, to keep you motivated, to continue to take those dancing lessons…and it gives you something to do, now that you’re, retired too!

Giving Up the Opportunities of Receiving a Much Higher Pay, to Make Sure that the Students Don’t Get Bullied

The dedications she had, for becoming a teacher, to help students excel in what they do, from the Newspapers, translated…

The thirty-six year-old Shu-Ling Dong graduated out of the finance department, but she’d loved being with children, after she graduated, she’d immediately become a surrogate instructor, and she’d worked as a surrogate instructor for eleven years to date.  She’d not only has a good way of teaching the classes, she’d used her patience, her compassion, had once helped the problematic students back onto the right tracks of life, and managed to resolve the issues of bullying in her classroom.  But, being a surrogate teacher is still not a full-time teaching post, she’d had to deal with the parents’ questioning her abilities all the time, and she’d taught, and prepared for the teacher’s qualifications examinations, until this year, she’d passed the exams to become the instructor of the Taipei elementary school general studies systems, she said, she shall continue carrying her passion, to help “turn education around”.

董毓琳雖為大學財金系出身,但她因喜愛和孩子相處,轉考教師。圖/董毓琳提供the teacher, listening to the student’s discussion of a project, photo from…

Because Dong had excelled in the mathematics, she’d managed to get into the finance department of Danjian University, but as the rest of her classmates had, entered into the field of finances, started working as the bank tellers, and fought for their million-dollar wage dreams, she’d chosen, to find another path, took the courses in education, to prepare herself for becoming a school instructor.

“I’d studied in the finance industries, but that’s not where my area of interests lies”, Dong told, that in the finance industries, there were quotas the employees needed to match up to, and compared to being in sales, she’d enjoyed accompanying children more, before she graduated university, she’d already, set up the direction to her own life, took the education courses, gone to the internships too.  As she graduated back in 2007, she’d, worked to pass the certifications for teachers, and worked as a surrogate instructor in the schools too.

In order to become a forma instructor, Dong worked while she’d studied for the exams, but because she got married three years right after she’d graduated from university, she’d needed to head home to take care of her household, and still needed to prepare for the teacher’s qualifications exams, it’d been, difficult on her.

“But as I thought about the children, I’d felt, motivated to study for my qualifications exams!”, Dong recalled, that she’d once taught a male student who was bullied, he couldn’t express himself well, didn’t have the skills of interpersonal relationships, he’d often gotten into physical conflicts with his fellow classmates when they angered him, and the rest of the class were angry at him for acting out, and would throw things at him, in order to protect himself, he’d, fought using his words, and started arguing with his classmates often, causing there to be a ton of pressure that’s hovering the classrooms.  She’d observed and found that this boy showed symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome, and couldn’t interact with other students, and easily misinterprets other people too.

Dong said, that this young man was listed as a “high-risk” student by the school, and, the school had counseled him multiple times, and it’d had, no effects, he’d made bad grades on his examinations often too, turned out, that he’d disliked learning, and hated being in the school too, that he wasn’t, mentally retarded.  Later on, through encouraging him, and patiently, guiding him, the young man’s grades improved, and, the atmosphere in the classrooms improved for the better too, and his families were able to note the change in him too.

On the day of graduation, the eighty-year-old grandmother of this student came with her cane, with the help of the nurse’s aide by her side, just to tell Dong, “Teacher, I must come by to thank you in person, for changing my grandson.”

Dong said, that greatest achievement of a school teacher is to help change the students for the better, to pull the students on the borderlines, who were acting out, back to the right side of things, and this needs patience and compassion, and there are, a lot of cases like this, which deepened her belief of she could make a change in the realms of education, that even if the examinations were difficult to pass, she’s not giving up.  And, with this drive, Dong took the exams for eleven years straight, and finally, she’d passed the general studies qualifications in the elementary schools of the city of Taipei, she said, that she shall, carry on with her passion, to help the children who are lost in their lives.

And so, you can see, it takes a ton of dedication, a ton of compassion, and truly showing a genuine concern and care for the students, to become, a good teacher like this woman had, and, she’d wanted to make a change in the lives of these children, and she had, and now, she’d become, a formal instructor, and will continue to help even more children excel in their studies.

The Meals My Grandfather Prepared for His Dogs

Interactions with his pets, how he’d shown love toward his pets, translated…

Ever since I could remember, there’d always been, dogs at home.  One, two, three, came and went, those living in the countryside all felt, that having a dog to guard the properties, it’d felt, more secure.

Funny thing was, my grandfather’s demands for his pets wasn’t that they knew how to guard his home, but instead, “are they with big appetites, are they, picky eaters”.  In that era, the dogs had whatever the families were having, and grandpa would go to the marketplaces, and buy the rooster heads that the vendors threw out, then, added in the soy sauce, to make a pot of food, mixed it into the rice, this was, considered a delicacy for the dogs to have based off of my grandfather’s interpretations.  My grandfather took a lot of mind, to prepare the meals for his dogs, he’d needed to, drizzle the sauce all over the bowl, so every single grain of rice has, the sauce on, he’d told us, that way, the dogs would eat the foods up completely, not just the meats, and leaving the rice behind.

because i don’t want to see it…查看來源圖片so I’d, turned over the bowl…photo from online

But, the dogs would getting tired of eating the same old flavors, and oftentimes, as grandpa made the foods for his dogs, and, served it to them, they’d, come closer, taken a sniff, then, started, pushing their noses away.  Fatso and Dragon were, the nose-pusher kings, whatever they’d not wanted to eat, they’d, started rubbing their noses on the pavements, Dragon had even rubbed his nose on the pavements until the skin on the tip of his nose ripped off, (as I grew up, I’d, interpreted his behaviors as he’s not having any appetite, he’d wanted to, bury the foods, so he can have it later, it’s just, that on the hard concrete, there’s no holes he can, dig up to hide the foods in).

And every time the dogs started pushing the foods away with their noses, grandpa started getting angered, and started cussing them out, “X your mother!  You shall have NOTHING to eat then! Starve to death, why don’t you!”, and as he’d cussed, he’d gone over, grabbed the bowls, then, added in a few more scoops of foods……back then, every couple of days, this was playing on, and, grandpa would always say that he wouldn’t feed them any food, but every single time, the dogs were, fattened up by him.

As I thought of how angered my grandfather got back then, like he was, scolding the sons who’d, amounted to nothing, it’s just, that the two dogs never knew why grandpa got so angry.  Later on, I’d found, that that, was the special way that my grandfather shared intimacies with his pets, filled with love.

And after he’d, mixed up the dog foods, and watched them devouring it up, as the steel bowls started, clinking, that was, the biggest achievement that my grandfather felt!

And so, this, is on how the elderly man didn’t want his pets to starve, it’s kinda like how I used to do it, when my pets started pushing the foods away, I’d always, added in the treats or pieces of chicken, to make sure they eat it up, and sometimes, the small one would start pushing his bowl in his cage, and, try to cover the bowl up with the newspaper, because he didn’t want to see it at all!