6:45am: First alarm goes off.

I barely remember taking this picture.

8:00am: Get out of bed late.

My face is a little fluffy in the morning.

Shuffle to the bathroom.

The shower is great, save for the moments of boiling water followed by the ice water.

Shower, brush teeth, do bathroomy things.

20-25 minutes later: Return to room.

My room, which Cameron claims looks like a crazy person's room. I like it. And the A/C unit makes it heavenly.

Check phone for texts,

I Love the 90's! This thing cost me $30, give or take.

get dressed, put on makeup, dry hair. Pluck eyebrows.

Face has returned to normal proportions.

Realize I’m running late.

8:47am: Head downstairs,

Three Taiwanese women, Cameron the Canadian, and I the American live here. It's big, so it's comfortable.

put in earbuds, put on mask, put on helmet, walk out to the front porch,

My scooter, which Cameron is borrowing until he buys one. I know what you're thinking - from an Xterra to this. It's a dream come true! It tops out at 80kph.

open car gate, climb on scooter,

The scooter Chocolate and I share. It's a bit smaller and girlier than mine.

back out, close car gate.

Our front porch and door. I live on the second floor in the back. The house is four stories with a great balcony on the fourth floor.


Our house is immediately to the left, out of frame. At the end of this private little gated street is a big temple.

8:49am: Realize I’m still wearing my house shoes.

And to think I used to wear Crocs in public frequently.

8:57am: Check the pollution levels by scoping out how much of the mountains I can see at the long light at HsinAn Road and Highway 1.

8:58am: Pull into underground parking garage.

Cars on the right, scooters and motorcycles on the left. Pedestrians out of my way.
I hope there's good ventilation in here.

Walk to elevators. Go to the sixth floor.

9:02am: Clock in. Greet Vicky at the front desk, then Yvonne and Polly at our cubicles.

That large red spot on my forehead is from my scooter helmet. This will be a theme that runs throughout the day.

9:04am: Eat “danbean” for breakfast, an egg and bacon concoction. Drink milk tea. Fill water bottle.

A fairly nutritionally sound and fully delicious breakfast. Thanks to Polly, whose parents own the restaurant.

before 10am: Order lunch for DinBenDon!, the lunch delivery service.

All the menu items are in Chinese...
...Google Translate to the rescue. Korea Caichao surface sounds wonderful, but I order the beef fried rice.

until 12:00pm: Show the English language who’s boss. Repeatedly fight with Microsoft Word 2003 and Photoshop 6.0. Try to Google how to solve a problem, but get mocked by a screen that says that company policy forbids social networking sites at work.

Where the magic happens.

12:01pm: Pick up lunch in cafeteria. Realize I accidentally ordered noodles instead of rice.

Tastes good, especially the beef, but they give you enough noodles for four people. I never finish.
Kill Bill: Ladies who lunch edition

12:40pm: Take leftovers and trash to cafeteria.

Compost on the left, trash in the middle, recycling on the right.

12:41-1:00pm: Nap.

Naptime is serious business. They even turn some of the lights off.

1:01pm: Wake up with giant red spot on forehead.

Well, that's unfortunate.

Resume battles with English, Word and Photoshop. Get in a major disagreement with PowerPoint 2003.

2:10pm: Walk to the bank on the first floor and use the ATM to pay my registration fee (approximately $10) for a 10K I’m attempting next month. Then walk across the street to 7-Eleven to get a non-water drink.

There's a 7-Eleven tucked into that building. I go to it almost daily.

2:20pm: Return to the office.

Our office is on the sixth floor on the left side of the picture. On clear days we can see the mountains from our conference rooms.

Drink more milk tea. Drink more water.

I'm really kind of addicted to this stuff.

Get Yvonne and Polly’s feedback on my brochure.

Polly, Yvonne and me. We act like adolescents.

4:02pm: Clock out. Return to scooter parking garage.

The stairs to B1 where I've parked. B2 is for cars.

Put in earbuds, put on mask,

This keeps me sane while I scoot.

put on helmet. Zoom.

4:15pm: Go through school zone. No zone, really, because not one vehicle slows down. Stupid amounts of traffic, pedestrians and bicycle riders.

In the daytime, visor is down.

4:17pm: Check the time at an intersection clock. I’m on time.

Public clocks display the temperature and time, while a countdown timer lets you know how long until the light turns green. People start driving at 03.

4:25pm: Park in alley at a home that’s been converted to a private tutoring school.

I tutor on the second floor of the gray house.
The helmet strikes again.

4:27pm: Go inside. Put on red Mickey Mouse house shoes.

I have my own cubby for my house shoes. It's labeled Teacher Amanda.

Walk up one floor. Greet kids, corral today’s first class: Jessica, Ryan and Ting Ting.

4:29pm: Call to Ting Ting to hurry up.

4:30pm: Start class.

4:31pm: Tell Ryan to sit still.

4:40pm: Tell Ryan to put his chair back at the table and sit still.

4:44pm: Tell Ryan to put all four chair legs on the floor and sit still.

4:49pm: Threaten to tie Ryan to his chair with the stereo’s power cord if he doesn’t sit still.

4:56pm: Tell Ryan to get off the table. He knows he’s irritating me. Ting Ting and Jessica laugh. Ryan giggles nervously.

5:06pm: Laugh with the kids when Ryan trips and falls while jumping around.

Ryan is your typical 7-year-old boy, but he's a cool kid. We were all laughing about his fall.

5:07pm: Continue laughing. Ting Ting shares gummy candy. Goof off.

Ryan, me, Ting Ting, Jessica. They do learn. Sometimes.

5:15pm: First class over. Head to another classroom for second class.

5:20-6:05pm: Tutor Shayna and Ilitta.

I look crazed because I was trying to make them laugh. They kept making Chandler Bing faces when I took their pictures.

Try to teach them about the phases of the moon. Give up when they start dancing. Make them sit down and do book work.

6:06pm: Chat with Sunny. Laugh about the crazy kids.

6:10pm: Head back to the house. Make it through three green lights, then get stuck at busy intersection by the train station.

ZhongHua Road at the Hsinchu Train Station (on the left). Also known as a traffic beehive, because all the commotion makes very little sense, but it somehow works. And the scooters sound like really angry bees.
Visor up at night so I can see everything 100% clearly. Until something flies into my eyes, and then I'm screwed.

6:14pm: Take tiny underground scooter/bicycle tunnel to a back alley. Four-block shortcut cuts out 10 minutes of scooting time. Key to tiny tunnel: hold your breath and duck. There are 8 open sewer grates lining the ground, and it smells just how you’re imagining.

You mess up in this tunnel, you die. You probably kill several others in the process. It's thirty feet of doom, but it's over in five seconds. Fair trade.

6:20pm: Pull up to the house.

We're in the foothills, so the view at night is pretty, as you can clearly see in this picture.

6:22pm: Greet sweet-but-insane tiny dog who doesn’t stop moving. Ever.

I couldn't even get a good picture of her. Every time I moved, she scrambled around.
Forget letters, it's a Scarlet Blob. It's signifies someone who didn't buy the right size helmet.

6:30-bedtime: Catch up on emails. Check Facebook. Watch show online. Push tiny dog off my laptop. Push her off again. Push her off again. Push her off the bed. Change to go for a jog. Eat dumplings with roommate. Somehow lose track of time and go to bed at 2am. Never go for the jog.

(I jogged tonight.)