Quality of Life

Right now:  sitting in Caffè Fiore at the top of Queen Anne.  I walked here, and it felt good and the neighborhood is awesome. I ordered an americano and a mini veggie quiche and paid with my phone, and tipped with cash. The americano was kick ass.  The quiche was delicious. Locals and tourists are rolling in with bed head. They are paying Stan Getz over the speakers. I have nothing to grade. The sun just broke through the clouds. Nobody is talking too loud.

A few years ago my friend Barcelona E was here to visit.  I had taken her to Columbia City Bakery, which was my neighborhood bakery at the time. Barcelona E was in the middle of picking up her croissant when she asked me the question, “JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Back when I was in Michigan I used to my mouth about how Seattle was a better place, something which I still believe. I was fully aware that people found it obnoxious, but I just had a hard time believing that anyone would choose to live in other places. Honestly, I tried to be kind about it.

Anyway, Barcelona E was here, in Seattle with me, in my neighborhood bakery, about to take a bite of her croissant, asking me the question that probably had occured to her twenty years prior, before my diabetes diagnosis, before I spoke Mandarin, before her daughters were born, before she spoke German.

“JP, what is so special about Seattle?”

Before I could answer, she took a bite of her croissant, and put it back down on her plate, looking at it, and saying casually, “Oh, quality of life.  I understand now. ”

I didn’t have to explain anything to her with words. Not that I could, I was laughing pretty hard. Sometimes being friends with people from Spain is like living in a movie script.

Later on, Barcelona E scolded me for allowing her to put sugar in her coffee, she told me if she had known the coffee would be high quality, she wouldn’t have put sugar in it, and it was my fault. You gotta give people a heads up.

Anyway, back in the present:

  •  A dude just walked in and started talking scones with the barista, in a way that you know the man is obsessed with scone theory. People in this town go on obsessive inward journeys to make a perfect product. It seems unhealthy when you meet them, but then you taste their beer/coffee/bagel/liquor/croissant.
  • A dude sitting across from me is talking about his trip to China. He’s saying he can no longer 請 his family members (he can’t treat them to a meal) because they could all pay with their phones (they scan a QR code) where as he carried cash, like a chump. He’s also telling tales about how there are (rideshare?) bikes in China you lock with your phone, so you don’t need to chain them up to a post anymore, there are just bikes everywhere. I cannot imagine overhearing a conversation about the technological advances in Chinese society at the cafés I go to in California.

I don’t really live here anymore, and at the moment there’s not really a job for me here.  But it’s nice to be from here, and nice to be back.

A post shared by Jp Villanueva (@jpv206) on Jun 11, 2017 at 8:28am PDT

 

Asian Squat Bombs

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A while ago my sister and I decided to start taking #AsianSquatBombs because it cracks us up.  Here are 24 photos, mostly of me. Some are of my sister and parents, and two are with my coworker MY.

Accent marks in Spanish

Sí lleva tilde.pngI feel like I have some students and friends whose policy is to ignore the accent marks in Spanish.  If I tell them, “copy this word:  más” they will write the letters “m.a.s.” When I ask them why they didn’t copy the á with a tilde over it, they will either burst into tears or immediately attack me with a punch to the neck.

Look, I don’t care about proper Spanish.  It is my job to teach it to students, but in life my friends write me however they want, I don’t go after them, they’re my friends.  I do, however tell my students they should learn how to write them, because a) it’s not hard and b) there are people who will write them off as pochos. I, as their teacher, wish them success and wish that other people didn’t write them off as pochos.

I tried to be gentle about it, but I had to start bringing the hammer down when they were writing like “mi familia es muy orgullosa de ser de Mexico” (sic).  Folks, you’re not really representing pride in Mexico if you’re writing me-HEE-co in Spanish.  In Spanish you have to write “México.”  A huevo.

I know that this is an issue with heritage Spanish speakers, the accent mark looks arbitrary to them, and they go into shame spirals when someone exposes them. I’m not trying to put them there.  So I tried to develop helpful graphics.  Here’s the latest.

OG tildes

Organizador gráfico: tildes

I’m not sure if they’ll find this helpful or if it will stress them out.

The following are two examples of flow charts that I made.  When I showed my latino friends, they told me, no, these two are way too stressful.

Tildes por sílaba

Tildes por tipo de sílaba

Tildes por tipo

Tildes por tipo de palabra

This final one is organized by final letter, and my latino friends were less stressed out by this one.  So I added sight gags to it and passed it out to my students. I also passed out little game chips to them, and forced them physically move the chippy along the arrows, and when they did, they got to the right answer. However they hated it (and me) with a passion and as soon as I wasn’t looking went right back to brute force guessing.  Baby steps I guess.

Tildes por asesino jaja.png

Tildes por letra final

If anybody wants these on PDF please email me and I’ll be happy to share; or find the links on my Spanish resources page.  If you’re using my material, I’d love to hear how it went over with your students.

By the way, when I learned these, it was three rules organized as bullet points in a paragraph. At this point in my career, I don’t have rules memorized, and I don’t need graphics; I just hear where accent marks are supposed to be written, even if it’s a word I never heard before.  I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my students to hear where an accent mark goes. I suspect the answer will have something to do with them listening.

Locusts and Wild Honey

I have moved. To the desert.

Here’s the deal:  on July 1st, 2016, I quit my job at Age of Learning.  Since then, I’ve thrown a rooftop Fourth of July party, attended a teacher training workshop/surf vacation in San Diego, visited my parents in Las Vegas, found myself a place to live in Palm Desert, rented a truck and moved to the new apartment in Palm Desert…. Most of these things I did during the Great Sibling Sleepover; my sister tagged along with me for most of July and a couple of days in August. Having my sister with me was the best part! We spent a lot of time on the beach; siting on a sarong, watching the surfers.

Now I’m all moved in to my new apartment in Palm Desert. I’ve found a new Crossfit place to join, and I’ve found the Filipino grocery… which seems to be the grocery for the whole Asian communty.  I haven’t yet found a ukulele community, or a place to get my hair cut.

The nice lady at the Filipino market recommended a guy named Jesse, a Mexican, who cuts all their hair, “we all go to him.” She wrote down his number from memory on a slip of paper.  I might call him later, or I might just drive two hours back to LA so I can get my Koreatown haircut from the lady the calls me handsome and makes me look like I’m going to a gala.

I haven’t found a vegetarian Indian cafeteria in the desert like the one that was down the street from me in LA.  That was a big part of my nutrition program, that made eating a calorie deficit cheap, easy, and delicious.  Now I’m not sure what to do. I would eat locusts and honey out here in the desert… but actually both of those foods fall outside of my nutrition program.

*****

What I have found in the desert is a seafood restaurant which I refer to as Fisherman-thang since I can’t seem to remember the name of the place.  The first time my sister and I went there, we noticed that the staff was Mexican so we talked to them in Spanish. My sister ordered a campechana, and I ordered a big salad with grilled fish, grilled shrimp, and a handfull of crab on it.  It turns out my salad was super good and my sister’s campechana was super sugary and ketchupy.  I felt bad for her.

The next day our friend D drove out to visit, and we took her to Fisherman-thang for lunch, and this time D got the salmon salad, I got some mahi mahi tacos, and my sister got a bunch of fried things.  Their fried things are REALLY GOOD, they have it down.  The menu says that they beer-batter the fish but it’s tempura, I know.  Maybe they put beer in the tempura batter but it’s not that puffy ass beer batter that people think they like until they put it in their mouth and it tastes like puffy garbage.  Beer batter is the worst.  THE WORST.

We did some more casual hanging out in Palm Desert and then it was time to take my sister to the airport for her flight back to Seattle.  We dropped her off, there were hugs, and I was sad to see her go.  After that D and I went to the outlet mall, which is kind of spectacular.  I’m surprised to hear myself praising the outlet mall, but yah.

After the outlet mall it was time for dinner, and there was only one place that D and I wanted to go, and that was BACK TO FISHERMAN-THANG.  So to review, we ate there for dinner on one day, lunch the next day, and then dinner that same day.  YES it’s really good but don’t order anything Mexican from those guys, they’re cooking for gringos.

*****

I’ve had two days of new teacher orientation at my new place of work.  At the end of it our new teacher mentor told us to go out and do great work, “or however the kids are saying it these days.”  I immediately said, “slay,” and then regretted it, maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.  There was no time to explain the context and proper use of that word.  Then again maybe it will come out wrong and they’ll talk about it.

*****

People might not say “hella” here.  I mentioned to a younger woman working at Goodwill that smoking was “hella expensive” and she asked “did you say that smoking was hell of expensive?”  Maybe it’s a different population than I would expect.