Working for a living – sort of

I’m dedicating this post to my favorite sister Pam. After reading my blog her only comment was that there was a lot of knitting talk. A lot. So here you go Pam, here’s a little glimpse behind the knitting curtain.

I’ve been doing some work for Minneapolis Public Schools. It varies from updating and managing a website for an Arabic and Chinese language project, to warehouse work, to today’s task, taping some classroom sessions. Yes I’m sitting in class while the camera is running and writing to you.

Most of it has been interesting. Even the book packing job. I’ve been surprised and impressed by how far language learning techniques have come since I was taking French class in the 70’s.

One of the best things I came across was this series of easy Chinese readers. Best because I was impressed with the story topics. So far beyond “Il y a place libre ici?” and “Vamos a la playa,” these materials will keep a kid excited about learning a second language. Hooray for making learning fun!

Take this story for example. I took a photo of the front and back covers because I knew you wouldn’t believe me if I just told you. Behold what is being read in Minneapolis high school Chinese classes:

book cover
If this doesn’t keep kids reading, nothing will.

  Yep, that’s right. A story about conjoined twins. In Chinese, no less. Hell, I wanted to learn Chinese just to find out WTF was up with this book. Lucky for me the synopsis on the back cover was also in English:

I'm posting this full size so you can read the blurb. You're welcome.

 Really the synopsis doesn’t do the story justice. From what I could glean from the little bit of English used in footnotes to entice you to keep trying to get through this unholy tale, the parents were freaked out when the boys were born. I think the parents were considering giving them up for adoption, but someone convinced them that Siamese Twins were great! At the very least Mom and Dad got around the one child restriction imposed by the Chinese government AND they were boys! Bonus! So they took them home. Personally I don’t think the parents were completely sold on the idea – they didn’t even bother to give them actual names – they just called them Left and Right. Nonetheless, on with the story.

As you can imagine, all sorts of conjoined twin hijinks immediately ensued – dealing with bedtime arrangements, making special clothing for them to wear – you know, the usual, but every challenge was met with sunshine and good humor.

After establishing that their life was good and they were happy, something happened to bring everyone down. I’m not sure what it was because I don’t understand Chinese, but the boys met “An American Talent Scout” (I gleaned that tidbit from the list of characters at the front of the book), who for whatever reason was allowed to take the boys to America to meet some conjoined twin girls about their age who were somehow connected with the entertainment business. My husband thinks they were either specialty hookers or part of a circus sideshow. Or maybe both.

Anyway, somehow going to America with some sort of conjoined twins procurer solved their dilemna. I don’t think they returned home, so one can only assume Mom and Dad sold them into conjoined twins slavery, but apparently that was ok because Left and Right were all smiles at the end.

Who thought that packing school books could feed my hunger for the absurd? It just goes to show you that you can find ridiculousness anywhere as long as you keep a sharp eye out. Now that I think of it, I should have made a note of who ordered that story. That is the kind of person I want to hang out with.

OK, on with the knitting. I’m still working on that wretched baby blanket. I got an announcement from the mom – they had a little girl. How nice for them. They’re still getting a blue and green blanket. If they have gender-itis, they’ll just have to get over it. With only 38 more rows to go, every stitch is getting to be agony. I think I’ll have to do a number of hats to wash the hate out of my brain.

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm  Comments (3)