dal niente

Month: April, 2008

Ca change les idees

It’s 10am on my day off.

The last month has been a bit of a rollercoaster but it’s the first day in a while that I’m feeling good about myself.

Yesterday, went to the Korean lesson again and stuff was actually sticking.  I did some of my coworkers a favor, I let them use my computing rig while I was at my lesson, and when I came back I found that all my dishes had been done. 

I fucking hate dishes.

And so my day starts with and apartment, not smelling like roses, but not smelling like dishes.

(Baby steps.)

I’ve got a day off because it’s labor day in Korea.  Later tonight, I’m having dinner with 의림 (Emily) in 강남, which is good because it’s been a while since I’ve set foot in Seoul.  Later tonight, I’m going to taekwondo.  I’m working tomrrow, but after that I’ve got a three day weekend which I’m using with Z to throw ourselves on a remote Korean island with nothing but about a hundred bucks, a backpack, a Korean phrasebook and a GPS.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this week.  No expectations– just nothing but possibilities.

Can’t do anything with a full cup right?

Eh bien, c’est bon de changer les idees de temps en temps.

Happy thursday folks!

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Claymore

There is a scene in Claymore (the anime) where Claire has her sword held up in front of her in a ready position.  And then, her ennemy attacks her and hits her sword so hard that she cuts herself with her own sword, because her own claymore bites into her flesh.

It reminds me a lot of sparring back in the day– a good coach will tell you “keep your hands up and protect your face” but on the other hand, the physical location of your guard doesn’t matter if there is no mental commitment to the act.  A boxer who has his hands around his face can still have his guard pierced because a punch might go right through–

— because a lot of it is bluffing and efficiency. 

Everyone knows how to guard, but in reality, there is a difference between ‘keeping your guard up’ and ‘being on guard’.  It’s a mental thing.

You can’t be on guard all the time– I’m talking about the muscle tension necessary to either absorb a hit with your hands, or the mental preparedness to lash out and parry an attack.  You need to conserve CPU and muscle power, so, while you appear to be guarding, in reality, you’re just doing the motions and using bursts of energy when you need to.  You need to be efficient.


But I think efficiency is one of the real enemies of best intentions.  Life isn’t like math– there’s always efficiency lost whenever you’re trying to do anything in reality because uncertainty causes losses.  In fighting, uncertainty causes antagonistic muscle tension.  In mental terms, uncertainty causes hesitation– you spend time calculating exit routes and that takes up CPU power that might otherwise be used wholeheartedly towards finding solutions.

It’s natural, of course– we have these moments of doubt because that’s what’s been successful for generation after generation of ancestor, staring down the maw of a potential danger– it’s not cowardice, it’s prudence sometimes.


I’ve realized that when my mood gets worse, my apartment gets messier.  I find it hard to focus so I just get lazy about the little humanities in life.  Clothes begin to pile on the floor rather than in the drawers, dishes stack up in a real lackluster sorta way.

I’m going to make an effort to clean this shit up tonight.


If you’ve ever been in a fight with more than one person, you might notice that commitment is a big issue.  How successful you are in the outcome of a fight depends on how much you want it.  If you’re on the street, and you hesitate about hurting someone, then you’re going to get hurt because you don’t have the resolve to put someone down.  Conversely, even if you’re outnumbered, making an example of the ringleader is the best way of dissolving a group of big talkers who don’t really have any want of a fight.

That’s what the talk is– it’s a type of guard.  A type of guard that is only made solid with commitement and intent.  If you hit someone who is talking big, they will only get up if they’ve made a commitment to fighting you.  Otherwise, without that commitment, they will just stay down and turtle up.


Teaching is much the same way.  Teaching has a lot to do with bluffing– a child doesn’t know that you don’t know all the answers, or at the very least, he or she thinks you have many more answers than you in reality do.

A situation like that which occured with Peter, we got into that spat because that was the teacher training– that’s what the books said I should have done.  I did it by the books and the counselors backed me up, no questions asked.

But that isn’t my way.

But the problem is, I don’t have a way for situations like that.

What do you do if one of your smartest and most trusted students starts flirting with the Dark Side?

And so that’s where all these anologies of guarding come in.  A teacher’s job for most of the time is to bluff total confidence in himself, whether it’s done in a good cop or bad cop sort of way.  The teacher’s job is to inspire and to guide, and to make the student know that somebody’s listening. To give a perfect environment, like a holodeck, where they can imagine whatever they want.

But that’s a bluff– the teacher isn’t a machine, he’s still human.  He can’t calculate all those odds in realtime sometimes.  And when he’s tired, he slips up.

Why I regret what happened with Peter is because I’ve never involved the counter before, but that was the only recourse left.  I don’t want my kids to stand behind me so I can lead them– I want them to stand beside me and we’ll do it together.  But Peter… god damn it Peter, why’d you have to turn on the other end and start brandashing at us?


I repeat that the problem with doing martial arts as a ‘hobby’ is that  you learn about what human limitations are, as well as human weaknesses.  Physiologically and mentally.  But the majority of the early years of training really are about how to crush someone– destruction, as it were.  I think that’s natural.  It’s only later when you realize how everyone is equally fragile, mentally and physically, that you wonder if there could be something more than just inflicting.  Maybe you could have “a sword that gives life”, as Musahi put it.

And I think this is what I’m getting at– anyboyd can use a sword to kill someone.  But only some people can use a sword to protect, or to give mercy, or to give life.

Intention is everything.

And this is why I am so at odds with myself– because when I gave Peter his punishment, I wasn’t thinking about how in the end he would straigten up and learn something about respect.  It was pure egotism– I didn’t punish him for him, or for his class (even if it is true)– I punished him because it made MY job easier.

Intention is everything.  At that moment, I knew– I couldn’t put it in words, but I knew that something in me had snapped and that I’d crossed a line.  I’d crossed a line that teachers back when I was young had crossed– where the teacher thought the teacher was more important than the student.  And I felt sick in my stomach with disgust at myself.

I was getting better at teaching so I started loosening up my guard and then one kid found that it was a fake guard.  I was imprudent.  I got cocky.  That’s why I didn’t spot this problem before it got out of control.


If you haven’t ever seen it, I suggest you watch the anime, Claymore.  I really appreciate the themes of it.


Despite all these negative thoughts, let me end on a happy note– I feel better now.


I just got out of the shower.  While I was in there, I remembered the dream I had last night.  I was in my  high school.  I was a student.  For some reason, all my classmates were Korean kids.  It was Mr. Sim’s room– he was my old History teacher in high school, and one of my friends.  One of my high school principals showed up suddenly and announced that Mr. Sim’s was dead. 

“History as we know it has ceased!” she declared.  “That is, unless we can survive this coming apocalypse!”

But of course, the Korean kids didn’t understand what she was saying.

“You,” she said to me, “I have a favor to ask you.”

And apparently some new technology had been developed to see further into space than ever before.  And what did we find, but a pair of corscrewing meteorites heading straight for Earth.  They were lightyears away, but somehow, they would destroy earth within fifty years without question.  They would spear right through the heart of Eathr’s core and destroy all life.

“Now is the time to unite,” she told me.  “I can’t talk to these kids, maybe you can.”

And it struck me as ludicrous at the time because she was a teacher, and yet so was I, we were both speaking the same kind of English.  And yet when I spoke to the Korean kids, they responded.

When they spoke Korean to me, I understood them.  It’s as if I had the fish of Babel in my ears.

And you know what I taught them about?  About fear.  Things that are there and aren’t really there.  I told them about how someone swimming in the ocean doesn’t care about the sharks he doesn’t know about.  And there’s always something in the water– but if we never bothered because we understood, then nobody ever would have learned to swim.

“Tell them about the meteors!” the principal hissed when the first break came up.  “We’ve only got 50 years!  We need their help!  The UN Law says that they’re drafted~!”

And then, just like in animes, I ‘falred’ my ‘aura’ and she backed off.

“Listen kids,” I said.  “I will always reward you for courage.  If there is nothing else you learn here, remember that you can’t do it without courage.  And if you do, it’s meaningless.”

“Teacher, but what if you’re afraid?”

I specifically remember them asking me if *I* was afraid.

“If I’m afraid,” I said, “I do my best.  That’s all I can.  And then I say I’m sorry later when I’ve survived, because maybe I did stupid things when I was scared.”


He probably doesn’t think a thing about it– I’m just another teacher like any other at this point.  But I have Peter’s class again today.  It’d be one thing to just accept this– but that wouldn’t be my style would it?  Funny how sometimes when my life is going well, my dreams are nightmares that leave me awakening with doubts.  Yet when I’m feeling down, sometimes my subconscous wakes me up with hopeful notes.

Sigh– it’s uphill, but I know what I have to do.
  I need to focus, and as someone said, “set their hearts on fire.”

Teaching turns out to be not about understanding, or making people understand.  Nah, it turns out that teaching is just caring about the future.  The rest, really, just happens as a byproduct of giving a damn, and giving a good damn.

Retry

Yesterday, I had a level test in taekwondo.  My test consisted of 4 sections.  I failed one of the poomsae parts of one of those four sections.

I was no less than annoyed because I thought I did everything perfectly.  And then it turns out that I learned two techniques wrong.  My stance had my feet pointing 45 degrees the wrong way in one, and my hands, chambered by my hips, were supposed to be downturned instead of upturned.  But I was never corrected in the past.

And so throughout my recital, I did every move with spirit.  I mean, by the end of each poomsae that I had to complete, I had to keep my breath in check– every punch, every kick, every knee or elbow, I did it as if I was really trying to hit through an imaginary target.  I threw my force and spirit behind each hit–

and was given a failing rating.  Because there were two moves out of the 32 where I made mistakes that I didn’t even know were mistakes.

I’m not blaming the school for not correcting me before the test day.  But I am frustrated that I did everything that I thought was right– and it wasn’t enough.


Yesterday, while teaching, I made an example of one of my students.  I have very mixed feelings about what happened.

His name’s Peter.  He’s a smart kid, and participates in class in a lot of positive ways– but sometimes, he just starts being a real little prick and rubs me the wrong way on purpose.  He’ll talk back to me in Korean– and though I can read the intent of his words through his body language and his tone, I can’t understand what he’s saying and so I can’t do much except take it.

When he goes on, I tell him to switch to English.  When he switches to English, he’ll just ask impossible questions, like the neverending “Why?” or “So?” whenever I tell the class anything.

The thing about yesterday is that it was the first day with a lot more new students.  First impressions are very important– they set the pace for how your class is going to see you for the next few months.  How they will act in class.

And on the first day, what’s Peter doing, except trying to cause shit?

I had him thrown out of my class because he was just being that– a prick.  On any other day I might’ve accepted this– but it escalated, and there was nothing that could have changed about this situation– I’d like to think that image is nothing, but when it comes to managing a class there really does need to be a certain level of image to be maintained.  And so I had him take his test out in the hall.  I couldn’t have him disrespecting me in front of the other students, and especially not the new ones.

I figured, really, that he’d back down and just shut up.  But he didn’t.  I’ll admit, the kid has guts– I admire that.  But it wasn’t the time, and he left me no choice.  I made an example of him.  He had to go out.  A counsellor picked him off and lectured him for a bit.  Threatened him a bit.  I’m not sure what happens at the counter.

This is the same kid who I was so proud of because he figured out to use markers to write all over my forearms when I was strangling him.

And don’t get me wrong– he’s still a good kid.  But I think that he needs to understand that ability or intelligence isn’t everything– there is a heirarchy, believe it or not.  And it needs to be enforced.  There needs to be respect.  I’ve done what I need to do as a teacher, and far more, for kids like him– so listen you, you little punk, show some respect or face the consequences.

It kills me a bit everytime a kid has to be punished because I was that kid ten years ago, acting up.  But on the other hand, well…

the bottom line is that he was being a little asshole.  Why do I regret having him punished?

Maybe because I’m an idealist.  Maybe I’m naive. 

I fucking hate it when you try everything to avoid those kinds of bad endings, but then they just push for it.

And so what are my results?

I’ve got a class full of kids who are under my control now, but I have one student who likely no longer trusts me.  Was it worth the trade?

I wouldn’t be able to tell you yes.


Lately, in the past two weeks, I’ve been feeling a lot like damaged goods.

Ironically, work is what makes me happiest– despite all these nigging details, I like the connection that I have with my students, and it turns out that it’s the time after work that I dread sometimes.  I’m never lonely in class.  There’s always someone who wants to talk, and someone who wants to listen.

Outisde of class I work towards my goals but sometimes, it’s feels like you’re hacking away at a wall of ice with a screwdriver.  You’re making progress, but you’re all sore, you’re hot and cold at once, and you’re constantly thinking there must be an easier way.  That idea makes you put less weight in each strike, because you try to make up for commitement with repetition.


Am I really burning out?

I feel, in a sense, like a kite with no string.


There will be several days off this month. I hope to reconnect with myself in that time.

A Walk In the Park

When a group of 8 people planning on going to a sauna dissolved into about three people, we changed the plan and I reluctantly went to see Forbidden Kingdom.  I wasn’t expecting much, but I loved this movie.

It’s the best movie I’ve seen in the past few months.

To be honest, I went into the movie thinking it would be another lame
Americanized plug for Jackie Chan or Jet Li, but it wasn’t– it was a
lot better than I thought it was going to be.

It felt like those great kung-fu movies of my youth. The kinds that
wasn’t totally serious, but had serious themes wrapped up in all those
wires and magical powers.  It doesn’t hurt that the loser boy learns
kung-fu in the end and wins the girl, does it?

I can’t exactly remember what those movies from my childhood were like,
but it actually felt like a cross between “Neverending Story” and any
number of my favorite Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies.  And although
there would be several other martial artists, dead and alive, who would
have a lot more influence on my would have a much greater influence on
my fighting philosophy,

I don’t really want to spoil anything, but I’ll just leave it at this– if you watch this movie, you will have fun.

I’d like to thank whoever made that movie for reminding me what it was
like to be a kid and to look at a movie and say “I wish I could be like
that.”


I left the group early yesterday night to clear my head.

I think I’m just kind of getting sick of a lack of real friends out here who will back you up.  Not that I don’t have friends– but how many friends out here are willing to really stick their neck out for me, or rather, capable of doing so?

It’s probably not a fair thing to expect.


After wasting time, driving around for a half hour, I went to do some groceries.  By that time it was about 11 or so.  After the groceries, I loaded up and decided to head out to Central Park.

At Central Park, noticed a few things.

First were a couple of 18 year old kids, smoking and swearing.  It was in Korean, of course.

It’s interesting being Chinese in Korea– a lot of people tell me I have Korean features, so, for the most part, I can sorta of walk right through the thickest crowds to the thinest pathways with only a single person, and not get a second glance.  In some ways, when I’m out here on my own without any of my non-asian friends, I’m like a ghost.  They don’t notice me, because they mistake me for one of their environment.

And though I don’t understand Korean enough to understand their conversation, body langauge is always something that I’ve tuned into.  It’s always been necessary to read faces. 

It’s not always easy to read a liar.  Because a liar is a liar out of habit– they’ve learned how to lie, and they’ve gotten good at it because they’ve gotten away, and the evolutionary process of skill acquisition means that subconsciously they’ve managed to eliminate their ticks.  So they can lie with straight faces.  They’re able to mobilize their soul in an instant to throw you off.  And yes,

I think lying is just like throwing an effective punch.  It needs to to be backed by soul and momentum.  It needs to be done with speed and commitment, with follow through, but also with recovery to make the next strike seem flawless.

But I digress.

There are times when you can judge by a person’s body language that they’re not lying, and then you can also judge by their body language what they’re feeling, what they’re expressing.

Judge judge judge— people make a big deal out of saying that “we shouldn’t judge” but I think that perhaps that’s the semantic difference between the word ‘judge’ and ‘evaluate’.  Maybe I should start saying “evaluate” instead?

Because judge makes it sounds like a ‘sentance’ necessarily follows.

In any case, I evaluated these two kids as punks.  Out in the middle of the night, kicking a soda machine to see if a free drink would come out.  Good haircuts, clean clothes, smoking the way that kids do when they don’t care about the smoke but when they want to look cool.


And that’s when I felt it.  That’s when “evaluation” turned to “judgement” and I really wanted to go in there, language barrier or no, grab them by the napes of their necks and smash their faces together.

“You want to start smoking?” I woulda yelled at them. I woulda scrunched out their cigarettes under my hiking boots.  “You want to hurt yourself?  Let me make it easier for you.”

And then I woulda beat the crap out of them.


When I was working at the hospital, I met a man who requested that I speak at his eulogy.  It was before he died.  He had his friends and family gathered and he wanted us all to try and remember, with him, who he was, because he was getting old and couldn’t quite remember for himself.  He joked that his hearing wasn’t that good either so if he waited until AFTER he was dead, he might not be able to hear the service so well, considering the added distance.

He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which means that his lungs, which were supposed to be as flexible as soft leather ballasts, became more like crinkled coke cans.

He was my friend.

When he died, he was cremated, and requested that his ashes be thrown off the Jaques Cartier Bridge. That bridge was the same place where his his wife’s ashes were throw from.  It was the bridge that linked his island to his wife’s.  He loved his city, and she loved hers, but they loved, more than ever through over a half century of marriage, their life together.

I miss him sometimes.  Sometimes, when my mind is idle, it brings up his picture from the archives whenever I’m on a bridge, like the ones in the park that go over a small artificial stream.


I’d like to think that with every person I know who dies, I learn something.  I do.  I learned something.  But their death seldom teaches me anything.  I get the point– there’s one lesson, and it’s something along the lines that “life is precious”.  You learn a lot of secondary lessons too like “be understanding to people who are losing a loved one.”  Or “remember that we all end up the same.”

Whever. I can make a list if you want!

But one thing is certain–

Death brings me so much rage.  This is the cost of being alive, I think– to survive others, and to feel genuine loss over something that unlike anything that comes off a shelf, cannot be replaced.


Some people tell me all the time that even relationships can be replaced.  In a certain manner, this is true– you meet someone, but perhaps the relationship doesn’t work, so you break up, and try to find someone better.  Someone more attuned to the idea of’soulmate’.  Whenever I hear “soulmate” i think “checkmate” as in, it’s over– you’ve finally won.  But until then, you go through those things, and really, everytime someone’s status in your life changes, it is like a death, an unavoidable catharsis.

And no, you may be able to replace the things that you had or the people that you knew, but you cannot do anything to alleviate the real fact that there was a loss.


I don’t like losing.  I think that’s why I try to set bigger goals so that little losses can just be written off as steps to that larger goal.  But the process is exhausting.

And the inability to cope with this madness sometimes builds up a lot of energy in me.  It disrupts the flow of whatever is what keeps me running smoothly.  It’s like the Dark Side.  I get it every now and then when my “calm” is just completely tense and I have to do everything to just not snap.

And then things will trigger within me these ideas.  Like picking fights with a pair of teenagers who, unless they have hidden weapons, don’t stand a chance against me.

Yes, I even considered scenarios if they had weapons.

In the end, I just walked on, and grit my teeth.


I don’t think smoking had anything to do with it.  I know plenty of people who smoked or who still smoke. 

And it’s not as if I haven’t done my fair share of stupid things, or that I continue to play everything smart now.  I think I was just looking for some sorta moral high horse to use as a justification to open up a can of whoopass.  I don’t know. 

I would never hit my children, if I had any… but somehow, being in Korea and seeing the violence on a daily basis is so tempting. 


As I walked along one of the less travelled roads in the park I found a man, probably my age, sitting along on a bench.  He was wearing casual clothes– jeans, shoes not unlike my own, and a dress shirt.  He was rubbing his face, and a moment later, he lay across the bench and looked like he intended to sleep.  He didn’t look poor. Like I say, he looked he could be me.

I wondered what his story was.  I wondered how was his day.  How was his week.  How was his life.

The sigh told me that we might have something in common, being perhaps some of the few people in the park who were alone and not just passing through.


I approached the area where the badminton courts and halfpipes were.  For a while, I ran from one end of the 10 foot half pipe to the other.  The thing was slick with condensation, so it was a challenge in that way.  I scrambled to the top, then would jump off, just like in that cola commercial back home, until on my last jump I totally wiped out and bashed my knee.

It was fun for a bit, and for a while, I just listened to the sounds of basketball nearby.


While walking through the park, I also saw a korean guy walking off the path while talking on his cellphone, while a girl, presumably his girlfriend, was walking after him, crying, demanding that he stop and pay attention to her.  This contined for a few minutes.

I won’t say I was being nosy, because curiosity wasn’t what kept me lurking around in the shadows watching how this would play out.  No, I think yesterday night, I just was looking for a fight.  I was looking for a reason to go toe to toe with some random schmoe and just work this energy out of my system, and for a moment, I didn’t really care even if I got beaten up.

I was just looking to reconnect with the reality of this place.

I sat down on a bench perhaps 20 yards away with them, closed my eyes, and just listened for trouble, like some sorta Batman.

From what I could tell, she slapped him a few times.  He never hit her back, but they argued and argued, and at times it was hard to hear over the sound of a odd car that would be passing by the edge of the park.  It went on for about 20 minutes, and for those 20 minutes, I just listened to the drama unfold from earshot distance, with no line of sight between us.

It was surreal.  It was like falling asleep with the teleivison on a K-drama on on the background.

Eventually, reason returned to me.  My “start some shit” meter went back down from the redline, and I picked up my helmet and strolled off.


Later, as I was driving off, I circled the park just one last time to get some fresh air. I noticed a girl walking on the sidewalk, with a guy slowly puttering by her side on his scooter. I think he was telling her to stop being stupid, and get back on.  I thought it was the same couple, but as I kept driving on, I found the original couple still near the bustop arguing where I had left them.


Somehow, leaving the group at about 10pm turned into about 1pm.


I don’t know what it is within me, just that it happenens every now and then, that I’m looking for trouble.  I mean, I want to get into a fight.  I always manage to wait it out, but I wonder if someday the urge will overcome me.

I’m afraid that when that happens, I’ll do something I’ll regret.

It’s one thing to spar.  On the streets, if someone is put into that situation, you’re really trying to hurt someone.  I could get hurt.  And not only that, but training teaches you a thing or two– everything you’re not supposed to do while sparring, how many of those rules will you actually follow once you’re in over your head on the street?

How many pounds of pressure does it take to crush a windpipe?  Tear out an eye?


I detest violence.  Yet I find that those kinds of energies are part of me.


Sometimes, I look at myself, and I realize that I am an asshole.  I really am!  Ha ha!

And for those of you wondering, I got my straight 10 hours of sleep just now.  So I’m not deprived right now, I’m completely sober.

Burnout

My rationing of my energy hasn’t been so smart this week.  It’s Thursday, and I feel burnt out.

It feels like too long since I’ve touched bases with anyone.

I think the pace of the workday is getting to me– every workday feels like a workweek.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily… it’s just that so much happens in one day that could turn a good day to bad or a bad day to good, but the scalar quantity of that migration is just so exhausting at times.  You ever get that feeling?  Where you can’t really complain, you can’t really say anything great, but you just feel tired and you just want to unwind?

Or maybe fall into a short coma, if only to get a few days of sick leave?

But alas, if I did that, I’d forfeit my no-sick-days bonus.

Ex-patriots, or not even

[11:41:06 AM] Jinryu a dit : huh

[11:41:07 AM] Jinryu a dit : the Habs won?

[11:41:14 AM] Zanshin a dit : Apparently.

[11:41:27 AM] Jinryu a dit : huh.

[11:41:27 AM] Zanshin a dit : Well, they’re the top seeded this year in the
Eastern Conference.

[11:41:33 AM] Zanshin a dit : So it wasn’t really a surprise.

[11:41:39 AM] Jinryu a dit : So like… is Montreal cool again?

[11:41:47 AM] Zanshin a dit : I’m actually surprised that Boston dragged it
out for so long.

[11:41:48 AM] Zanshin a dit : I guess so.

[11:41:54 AM] Jinryu a dit : Huzzah.

[11:41:58 AM] Zanshin a dit : Indeed.

[11:42:11 AM] Jinryu a dit : LET’S GO BURN SOME POLICE CARS!!

[11:42:22 AM] Zanshin a dit : Look at me. 
I browsed the Wikipedia for a few minutes and I’m talking like I know
what’s going on.

[11:42:23 AM] Zanshin a dit : Heh.

[11:42:36 AM] Zanshin a dit : I was just saying, I look forward to the
rioting if we win the Stanley Cup.

[11:42:43 AM] Zanshin a dit : We haven’t had a good riot in a few years.

[11:42:48 AM] Jinryu a dit : Lookis like we’ll have to wait another 4
years.

[11:42:58 AM] Jinryu a dit : Wait, how often do they have a Stanley Cup?

[11:43:03 AM] Zanshin a dit : Every year.

[11:43:06 AM] Jinryu a dit : Oh.

[11:44:07 AM] Jinryu a dit : I wonder how is it that I never noticed that.

[11:44:21 AM] Zanshin a dit : It’s not very important for us.

[11:44:37 AM] Jinryu a dit : Maybe we were too busy kicking ass and taking
names.  For lack of bubblegum to chew

[11:44:51 AM] Zanshin a dit : …right.

[11:45:04 AM] Zanshin a dit : Okay, I gotta go to school.

[11:45:08 AM] Jinryu a dit : Dude! “It’s time to kick ass and chew
bubblegum, and I’m all outta gum!”

[11:45:10 AM] Zanshin a dit : I have like ten essays to finish grading.

[11:45:16 AM] Jinryu a dit : Yes, you GO TO SCHOOL and LEARN your LINES

[11:45:17 AM] Zanshin a dit : Yes, I recognize the quote.

[11:45:24 AM] Zanshin a dit : I just don’t remember kicking much ass.

[11:45:33 AM] Zanshin a dit : Or, for that matter, chewing much gum.

[11:45:34 AM] Jinryu a dit : … ah. touche.

[11:45:47 AM] Jinryu a dit : Yeah I guess I don’t remember much asskicking
either.

[11:45:48 AM] Zanshin a dit : But I suppose that makes sense, if we were
out of gum.

[11:46:14 AM] Jinryu a dit : Maybe lacking ass kicking we correct essays.

[11:46:26 AM] Zanshin a dit : That is a horrific substitute.

[11:46:37 AM] Jinryu a dit : Makes us pretty baddassmotherfuckers don’t it

[11:46:44 AM] Zanshin a dit : …

[11:46:49 AM] Zanshin a dit : You know that hole?  The one you put pie into?

[11:47:00 AM] Jinryu a dit : Yes?

[11:47:01 AM] Zanshin a dit : I would politely request that you shut it.

[11:47:25 AM] Jinryu a dit : Ah the amusement that comes with report card
season sleep deprivation.

[11:47:34 AM] Zanshin a dit : Yes, quite.

[11:47:35 AM] Jinryu a dit : Alright, i’ve got to eat my turkey rice with
hashbrown breakfast

[11:47:42 AM] Zanshin a dit : Hash browns?!

[11:47:46 AM] Jinryu a dit : YES.

[11:47:48 AM] Zanshin a dit : Must you constantly rub your success in my
face?!

[11:47:53 AM] Zanshin a dit : GOD.

[11:48:01 AM] Jinryu a dit : They were delivered to my from Vallhalla.

[11:48:11 AM] Jinryu a dit : They are the scorched corpses of viking
conquests in eastern canada

[11:48:14 AM] Jinryu a dit : CANADIAN POTATOES

[11:48:18 AM] Zanshin a dit : By the silken hands of the Valkyries
themselves, no doubt.

[11:48:24 AM] Jinryu a dit : yes

[11:48:27 AM] Jinryu a dit : it was raining mana

[11:48:36 AM] Jinryu a dit : and the mana tasted of golden hash browns

[11:48:57 AM] Jinryu a dit : I’m eating not one, but TWO this morning.

[11:49:09 AM] Zanshin a dit : Must be a red letter day.

Paradise Kept


I taught a special class today.  Some of my students were 18 years old.
I took a great deal of pride in my work today, and to be honest, this
is one of the greatest days in my days as a teacher.  I wish I could’ve
shared it with more people than I could, which is perhaps why I had so
much pinned on tonight’s afterwork activities, which fell through.  But
in any case…

It was nice to be able to teach people who I could really consider my
equals.  I was teaching, and they were understanding.  And it became
not just about English– it became a lesson in how to ‘cheese the AI’. 
I was teaching them ways to beat the system– I mean, how to beat the
TESOL tests when sometimes, you didn’t know what the words meant or
when the phrasing just confused the fuck out of you.  I was teaching
them the way I saw the world as a game, and by the end of the 3 hours,
the students who I had never previously thought seemed to understand
something a bit better.

Today, I was a teacher.

From what I discussed with the other teachers, there are a number of
differences that became apparent between them and I.  And I’m not
picking straws… the counter teachers told me that out of 25 teachers,
I am one of of 3 teachers who actually thought that the new special
program was good.

In a really petty way, isn’t it an ego boost to know that you’ve
succeeded where others have failed?  I suppose that makes me a bad
person.



We do have good days, and we do have bad ones– and when you add that all up, depending on how different your good and bad were from the next person’s, that’s why you’re different people.

I think it goes without saying that sometimes, I can be a real son of a bitch with the things I say, and I can be a downer with the poison that comes out of my mouth when I get critical about things or people.  But in the end, I think it’s because I hold humanity to a high standard that this comes about.  I honestly think that we can do it. 

Don’t ask what it is.


There’s this dialectic between the idea of knowing nothing at all and being blissfully ignorant, or knowing something and then being forced to deal with the complications that ensue.  What’s the difference?  Well, take someone who believes in God ‘just like that’.  Maybe the person has a mental disability and is fixated on praising the Lord.  And then take someone who doesn’t.  Someone who maybe started off as a believer and then turned away from the Christian path, on a road of humanism, but still did his best to stay with the ideals.

Maybe at the end of their lifetimes, they both end up in heaven.

But then, how’s that fair, since one person just had the “right mind” within him by default? 

Do you get what I’m saying?  Just what is lucky? What is fortunate, and what is good?

Would you rather be a rich person, born with no financial concerns, EVAR, or would you rather be born poor to scrape yourself up the food chain?

Who’s to say that a rich person can’t be happy?   Who’s to say that a rich person can’t be good?  And who’s to say that a poor person will work hard?

What I’m saying is that people can sometimes get to the same results.  And sure, we can make a big deal about developing character through experience– but does that really matter?

I remember a passage from The Matrix, where the traitor says “to be honest, I like a good steak.”  He choses to betray Morpheus and company because he doesn’t really care about knowing ‘the truth,’ he has no problems whatsoever of giving up character in exchange for comfort.  And while most people do have some degree of character, the important thing is not to consider yourself in someone else’s shoes– the important thing is to consider someone else in his own shoes.

Does that make sense?  I mean, if your situation changed suddenly– if you died and were reincarnated, and had no prior knowledge of whatever hopes and dreams you now have of becoming a better person, would any of this matter?

Would you chose the bliss of ignorance?

I think that the bad rap that this path gets is mostly because most people, like me, have had to work to get to where we are– and as a result, we don’t like the idea of easy roads, because we don’t like to admit anything remotely related to a theme of futility.


When we correct essays at work, we have to write comments on the essays.  Because this is all done online, it’s pretty easy for a kid to just ignore the comments.  As a result, many teachers don’t really bother writing anything useful– they just cut and paste and recycle comments over and over.  The comments then lose all meaning, because they’re basically putting into words what could otherwise be read from the numerical scores– “Good job on the grammar.  Spelling needs work.  Structure is good.”

And what good is that?  What needs to go into comments are the specifics– like how to improve.  Even more important than that is to encourage the student to write more and to really enforce that idea that you’re proud of their efforts.

But commenting on essays has really taken a hit as of late, and teachers at my branch are putting in the minimum requirements for comments (about 250 characters).  The reason for this is that they just don’t expect their students to read them, so they say fuck it: why bother?

But I think that this is bad.  It really is.  When  teacher gives up on a student, what else is there?  How will the world ever keep on turning?

Even if a teacher is a human, that’s where the real professionalism should come in.  Professionalism shouldn’t come into teaching in the sense that we should treat children like numbers and deliver the education with robotic efficiency.  Professionalism means that we do our job.

That means that we can never accept a concept of futility when it comes to a student.  If even there is a 1% chance that student will read a comment, we cannot miss that opportunity– we must make sure that 100% of our comments are genuine and that all our bases are covered.  We can never give up.  And if we do, we must never show it, and we must be trying again by the time someone is looking.


I think a lot of things in life comes from fighting the concept of futility.  I talk a lot about substance– real substance are those 1% of things, the truly ‘hard parts’ of a person’s character which are indominitble because they are the diamonds, the 1%, found through painstaking effort.  In chinese, we say “One Wolf is better than 100 Sheep”.

In the same way, I think it’s important to fight futility.  When you feel alone, against all odds, you need to beleive that you’ll find someone.  When you feel inadaqute, you have to belive against all odds that you have a place or that you can get better.

And every now and then, you win against something that would normally have been considered futile.  It’s a painstaking process like evolution to exhaustively try every possible way to survive this one trait, this one aspect of your character that everyone is saying should die.  But if you can get it through those gauntlets, it is with you, and it is untouchable.


I have this habit that some people know about, and other people don’t.  I guess that really says nothing at all.  But I watch chick flicks.  I watch a LOT of them.  Why?  I don’t know.  I think in some ways it’s a way for me to remind myself of ideals of happy endings and love.

It’s an idea world, I think, where from the begining of a movie to the end, you know that one girl and guy are probably going to get together.  It’s not always the case, especially with Korean romantic comedies, but the vast majority of romantic comedies, especially Korean ones, are really things that I enjoy.

How does real life compare?

I think it is similar, really.  I was recounting the story to 예니 yesterday of how, after I kissed Flynt for the first time all those years back, she punched me in the face and broke my nose.  I remember how BC crippled me when she slipped on the ice and side-kicked me in the ankle.  My life’s had no end of strange occurances that would make for great fiction, if only for the fact that it’s not fiction and that the people involved wouldn’t want to be presented in those ways.

I’ve used the word  “love” before but I really think that it needs to be restated that everytime you love someone, it’s real.  Everythime love dies, that’s also real.  But just because something dies doesn’t mean that in it’s own time, it wasn’t alive.

And I think that this is one of the important facts of life– people get so caught up with the fact that they’ve loved and lost that they decide that they might as well cut their losses and just say “why bother”.  Like with essay comments. Why bother?

But that’s precisely why nobody should ever give up on anything that they truly want to accomplish.  If it’s a noble goal, then go for it, and semper fortitunde!  If there is that 1% chance that what you’re doing will work, then fuck the odds– win with perseverence.  Exhaust Fate.


(from XKCD.com)

I have this thing about dreams.  I love my dreams.  And my brain really does play tricks on me.  It seems that while few things in the real world scare me, what really does are the things that my brain comes up with.

I think it’s the difference between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’.

‘What is’ doesn’t scare me.  But ‘what could be’, that’s the stuff of dreams– both in nightmares and in fantasies.  That’s where the crazy shit goes down, and trying to pull or push that border is what my waking life is all about.

I sometimes wake up from a dream completely terrified with such heavy emotional opression that I feel I should just lie in bed and cry.

And other days, I wake up from a dream which I can’t remember but I’m filled with such hope that I feel like I could kick down the door to my apartment and just run straight to work in one go, and change the world in one fell sweep.

But dreams if anything remind me that our greatest ally and our worst enemy remains myself.


In the end, I wonder sometimes if we want ignorance.  On one hand, we might want an easy way out.  And yet, sometimes, it’s the converse– trying to fight futility is like feigning ignorance against the odds.

There’s a certain amount of naivety that has to be forced upon oneself– you have to sing as if nobody’s listening, dance like nobody’s looking, and love as if you’ve never been hurt before.


Substance turns out to be that which you acheive in spite of what you mistakenly label as ‘futile’.


And of course, there are some days when such ideas are harder to beleive in than others.

I was stood up tonight.  Sure, it was raining, but sometimes I get the feeling that certain things were not meant to be.  Can I know for sure?

Some days, maybe I ‘do know’.  But really… who knows.


I biked home in the rain today.  Not on scooter.  On my bicycle.  It was raining, I had my pants rolled up to my knees.  I wore a hood over my cap and had no gloves, and the rear splash guard is still too short so I got a skunkstripe on my back with the dirty Korean roadwater.

It was nice.

To bike home on empty streets– it’s not just the way everthing looks.  But the silence of it all, aside from the rain– you own the roads at night, moreso when it’s quiet and nobody challenges you for the attention of the night.  And it’s not just what you see– it’s what you hear.  With the rain falling, you become aware of a picture painted only in sound, all around you, and you can ‘see’ things from angles around you that you could never see with your eyes.  The world comes alive and plays marco polo with you at once.

Do you ever wonder what is your connection with the world around you?

On some days, it’s easier than others to hear the world trying to connect to you.


Sometimes, when I sleep, my brain decides to plug my existence, my being, into scenarios that I wouldn’t dare think about in my waking life.  Past loves.  Past lives.  Or possibilities.  And when I wake up, it is always with a sense of longing or regret for an existence where things just magically worked out, or had no consequences.


I came home at 1am today ( just a little while ago) and edited a post which I was originally planning to publish this morning but I thought needed a better conclusion.  This is it.  It’s not any better than it would have been, though it ends with my day.

My final thoughts for today?

My life is bittersweet.


On sunday, I met up with her because I volunteered to pick her up from Beogye and take her to the restaurant where everyone was at.  But I was a bit late due to traffic– in my lateness, she wandered off a bit.  When I got the destination, I couldn’t find her, and by the time she found me, it was too late to get to dinner with the others– it was already almost 7, so they were all going to have been finishing, and their location was a 15 minute drive away.

We went to Anyang instead, to the fruit market, and like the Night Markets of Taiwan, we had the chance to have street food.  We sat down to some sundae and dokbokki, with a kimbap on the side.  We sat there at the stall, ate and talked.  Talked. And talked.  Afterwards we went for coffee at a cafe, and after that, we went to the waterway.

Somehow, 7pm had turned into 2am and my sunday had turned to monday.


Today, I had plans with her.  I was going to make oven baked spaghetti.  But she canceled, and I ended up spending the evening with one of my coworkers.  He and I went to a galbi place where we passed a couple of hours over meat and soju.

I came home to my apartment about a half an hour ago, the pack of mushrooms, the bell pepers and tomato sauce still in the fridge.

I consider calling her up on Skype… she doesn’t sleeep until 4 in the morning on most days.

But why?  She’s recently broken up, and is pretty disenfranchised with Canadian guys as a whole.  We have a great time together, but my vantage seems to look familiarly like the view from the ‘friends ladder’. 

And why aren’t I doing anything about it?

Maybe I am.

Maybe this is what it means to keep paradise, to, despite circumstances, despite experience pointing out all the patterns, despite advice, maybe this is why I persist.  It is calculated naivety, a risk or gamble of that nothing which I have to lose.

It will hurt either way, so lets try for the chance at least, right?


And so on some night, sleep is the only way to deal with a day or days that are just too much.  Either too good, or too bad– I think somedays, you just feel that it’s been too long.

The only refuge from the real world is the dream world– create it from scratch, and just as your real day comes to an end, so too does a dream world have to die before you can come back to the real one. 

Bitersweetness left, right and center, isn’t it…?

Today…

… was a good day.  I have no complaints about Sunday.

Let’s leave it at that for now.

Goodnight everyone!

Reading


I watch Derrida with a bit of amusement. 
Well, it’s not what I’d call a crowd pleaser.  She rolls the joystick
around a few times, trying to get her avatar to throw a fireball. 
Fisher throws a few at her which she tries to parry to little success. 
This goes on for another twenty seconds… a bit of jumping, here and
there, a single kick, a punch, etc.  She’s hitting every button once
each, trying it ducking, standing, jumping.

Friday
nights at the Caves are not for noobs, and I feel the crowd go
restless.  Ultimates is mounted on a 70-inch screen, and screen time is
very important for these folk.  The night expires 99 seconds at a
time.  Fisher feels awkward– for one thing, he’s the kind of player
who only does what he needs to to beat his opponent.  He’s not one for
overkill.  Worse still, he’s got a bad streak of chivalry (or
chauvanism, if you want to take it like that) that makes it tough for
him to take girls seriously.  He’s hitting with short 3-hit combos–
jab, strong, fierce; light, medium, sweep.  Textbook.  Elementary stuff.

I sigh.  I turn away from the screen, wondering where Sab was.




I
find Sab at the bar.  If she had coattails, Cap would be hanging by
them.  Cap’s a great guy– over the years we’d crossed swords many
times on these machines.  But he always has, and perhaps always will
be, my Lancelot.

Sab notices me first, and
her expression changes a bit.  I think she forgets that she doesn’t owe
me anything anymore, but she remembers this in an instant and once
again the artificial joy is on.  Her nails tap the mug with the
lipstick on it.  “It feels like old times, doesn’t it?”

“Old
is right,” I say.  I take a deep breath.  The smoke again, it fills me
up in that comforting way. Fresh air could only make me feel empty
inside.  I don’t smoke– but right here, I feel that I want to go stand
next to a smoker.  It’s not just the smoke– it’s what it does.  It
calms you.  It slows you down.

When I was
getting through college, I’d study in bars instead of coffeeshops.  I’d
take an arcade over a library because even the noise was comforting,
and it would calm me.  And I think that’s the sorry irony of it here–
the calming effect is exactly why these gamers smoke.  That’s exactly
why they skip and fail classes.  Despite the excitement, the Caves are
where they can feel a true Calm.

“It’s been a long time since you two came by, I was just saying,” remarks Cap.

“Well, I’m working full time now,” shrugs Sab.  “And this guy, well.  I don’t know what he’s up to.  What are you up to?”

“I’m here and there,” I say.  “Just looking for something or someone to fill up the hole inside of my heart, as usual.”

“You sarcastic son of a bitch,” she sneers suddenly.  “As if you know anything about love.”

“Who said anything about love?  I’m talking about cancer.  There are spots all over my pump, probably from here,” I laugh.

The accented sounds of videogame violence drop like sandgrains in the awkward silence that ensues.


“Really, man?” says Cap, his eyes wide, his jaw a bit slack.  Sab is staring at me too.  I look at the with disbeleif.


“No, I’m joking.  Come on guys!  You never heard a joke?”

“Fuck
you and your jokes.  That’s not funny,” says Sab, and the way she
purses her lips on the “f” tells me that she’s seriously mad.  For a
moment, I think she’s going to throw her drink in my face as I see her
knuckles whiten when they clench around her mug.  But she relaxes.  Why
is she so moody all of a sudden?

And then I
smell it.  I hadn’t noticed it at first because it was just one of the
constant undertones of the room– but now that I was looking for it, I
could definately smell it on her breath.  It was faint, at least.  I
turn away from her and to him.  “Cap, c’mere a minute, I want to show
you something.”

He grins at me, turns to Sab
and salutes with a flourish.  She smiles and nods.  We exeunt a few
paces over bar left, and I lead him near the Ultimates machine.

“What did you give her?”  I snarl, without making eye contact.

“What do you mean?” he asks with a laugh.

“Fuck
you Cap.  It’s a rhetorical fucking question,” I wheel around and jab
an accusing finger in his face.  “I can smell it.  You know what I’m
talking about.”

“Fuck you right back,” he
swats my hand out of his face.  “She’s a grown woman now.  She makes
her own choices.  You ever noticed that, you?”

“You know she can’t control it,” I hiss.

“Maybe she doesn’t want to.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

I
think about all the times we’ve had conversations like this before. 
Cap and I never did see eye to eye on about ninety percent of things. 
The only thing that ever brought us together was the Game.  It was only
through respect for each other that our relationship ever started, and
it’s only through all that we even stayed associated.  We played these
games when we were away from the Games– these little duels with
pussyfooting parables and word petards.  I didn’t see what’s the point
sometimes, but we know that there is a pattern to these things that
must be done before anything else can get done.  Those were The Way,
and The Way had to be respected.

“Read the
play, Artie.  I’m maybe saying that if she didn’t want some, maybe she
wouldn’t have come to the Caves of all places.  Or do you really think
she’s here to play the Game?  That’s not her world.  That’s yours.  And
she’s not part of your world no more, so why do you think she’s here,
why don’t you figure that out.”

I have
nothing to say to that.  My mouth opens automatically to come up with a
retort, but that’s just reflex– the rhythm of our talk, the ups and
downs, it’s my turn, and I’m missing the beat.  I hiss and bare my
teeth in a muttered expeliative.

“You know
how she is, Cap.  We’ve got to be more responsible than this,” I say. I
start to turn around to head back to Sab alone at the bar, before she
gets any more reacquainted with her old friends.

“Responsability?”
Cap guffaws out loud.  He mutters some words to himself.  “My liege,”
he says with a bow.  “I’m sorry.  I thought that your shining example
as a vagabond meant that might was right just for number one.  You
think you can just walk back in here after a few months?  The Caves
dinna forget you, Artie.  You were part of us and you let us down. 
JSF– that’s on your head.  Don’t be a fucking hipocrite.”

I
stop in my tracks, but it isn’t because I care what Cap is saying–
it’s because the crowd at Ultimates has gotten wild.  There’s shouting
and cat calling.  Cap hears it too, and turns around, curious.

I
look at the screen, and see something interesting– that Fisher’s
pattern’s being broken.  Cap sees it too and despite our altercation,
he just stares.   Like all the veterans in the room, he watches,
mesmerized by the beauty of the math of it all.  Fisher’s character is
being man-handled–  but then, there’s a mistake.  The counter falls
short, and Fisher ends it.

The K swoops in
from the left of the screen and slams into the O coming from the
opposite end, and the crowd goes insane.  An ashtray stand gets knocked
over by accident and rings out loudly when it hits the sticky floors,
but most don’t even notice.

I see the heads
of the gamers turning as the challenger leaves and Fisher stays.  There
were perhaps 3 pixels of life left on Fisher, but he’d made it through
the battle.  And yet, nobody cared about Fisher– all there eyes were
on the slight figure, now embarassedly pushing her way through the
crowds.  Her Victorian styled clothing made her seem even more out of
place among the gawking punks and goths.

It’s Derrida.

 

“Did that chick almost beat Fisher?” whispers Cap.

 

I don’t respond.


She coughs as she takes a long drag.  I can tell from the
way she holds the deathstick that she’s never done this before.  But
she’s seen it often enough that she’s only missing the subtleties–
like how she should be holding it downwind instead of upwind from her
face.  As if on cue, she brushes embers out of her eyelashes and turns
her face to one side.


“I don’t understand what happened back there,” I say. 
This kind of industry has surprises, and some surprises are more
surprising than others, but some things don’t fit any which way into
the books.

“What do you mean?” asks Derrida.

“You almost beat Fisher!”

“So?”

“Fisher’s new pattern is tough.  Why you could….”

“Well, the stick wasn’t going well on the left.  If I could use stick left, then I would have won.”

I stop walking when I realize that her tone wasn’t joking.

“You’re kidding me, right?”

“Is that so surprising?” it’s her turn to laugh now.  “I mean, he is not bad– but he is
miniboss, that’s all.  He doesn’t evolve.  Every warrior knows that it
takes more than a new pattern to win.  Even the best pattern isn’t
enough for that.  You must know that, right?  You said yourself that
his new pattern was tough– but you did not say it was invincible.”

“Well, all I’m saying, you surviving looked more like luck to me.”

“It
was his luck that I couldn’t stick left,” she says.  Her gaze is
sweeping over me, and I have the annoying feeling that she’s trying to
read me.  I feel my blood get hotter, but I choke it down and force my
heart to beat how I want it.  I’m not going to get riled up by some
noob with luck– that’s all it was, right? Luck?



Maybe she guesses what I’m thinkin.  With a hint of wonder in her voice
as she stares forward, “your humility amuses me.  Are you better than
Fisher?”

“Listen, kid,” I say.  “I *made* Fisher.”

She looks at me sideways, turns.  “You made him?”

“I taught him the Ultimates engine.  I taught him the physics.  That’s how he made up that pattern.”

“Does that mean you’re better than him?”


“I told you.  Everything he learned, he learned from me.  He doesn’t compare.”


“Jesus taught a lot of people, but he died before all of
them,” she says.  “Is that who you are?  Dead saint?  That guy at the
Caves, Cap, he seemed to look at you like someone who used to be
someone.”

I smirked.  By now, I was engaging no pretense of trying to be politely sociable.  Fuck it.


“First of all, Derrida….”


“My friends call me Dere,” she smiles.


“Who says I’m your friend?” I blurt out.


“I do.  I can chose my friends, right?  That’s what my mom
always told me.  Maybe I’m not your friend, but you are mine,” she says
with a smile.  And this here, is precisely where it happens– when I
don’t know what is left of my understanding or right in my head. 
“Thank you, Arthur.  For taking me to your caves.  I really appreciate
it.”


And with that, she turns away and keeps on walking.


What was that?  That smile?  That attitude?  None of it made any sense.


“What’re you doing, Arthur?” she says, pausing a few steps away.  “Are you trying to understand my pattern?”

Conclusion Paragraph

It’s now Saturday morning, 10AM or so.  I was awoken pleasantly by the sunlight, although, since it’s my morning off and since I have been lacking sleep for most of the week, I would have liked to sleep in until noon or something at least.

The last weeks or so, I’ve had this problem keeping control of students– they’re just extra rowdy lately and I don’t know why.  I think I’m losing a bit of my edge as a teacher– there’s a few changes to the cirriculum which, strangely enough, make my job a bit easier.  The change is that they’ve reinstated communal homework checking for Basic and Junior level students (students previously had to check their own homework against answer keys on their own).  Most teachers love this idea because it’s an easy way to kill 20 or so minutes of your class time.  But I think having 20 minutes less of material to work with meant that I had to force myself to come up with something to do– whether it meant extra small talk or to play a game with the class.  But now that I get a bonus 20 minutes, that means that my 2 hours classes are just 10% easier, 10% less work, 10% less interactive.   It takes up time and on the flipside, but I guess the homework checks are beneficial to the kids so….

And this is the only real change that’s happened in the classroom.  As a result, I think class morale (due to the lack of playtime) has gone down a bit.  I have to put in a lot more effort to keep the students in check and in the last week or so, I’ve really had to raise my voice a lot more times than I’ve done in months.  Testimony to that is that now, my throat hurts and I have basically a sore throat.  It’s probably post-nasal drip or something, it feels pretty similar to what happened to me a few months ago.  My voice has about 60% less stopping power than what it normally does, which is troublesome.  I’ve got to teach two one hours classes later this afternoon, I hope it feels a bit better by then.

I was also unlucky on thursday.  I was parking in the garage, and then my scooter hit a patch of oil.    The back wheel fishtailed out from under me completely and the bike just flew out from under me.  It was low speed, so not too bad on that front.  But I did cut up my leg (something tore a chunk out of my calf muscle, because the bike fell on me) and my elbow.  I’m mostly grateful that I was wearing my helmet and riding gloves because I crushed my hand and I slammed my head into the floor.  The worst cut is on my elbow, and ironically so since it’s the first day I was too lazy to put on my elbow protectors.

I think that it would’ve been pretty easy for me to ‘dodge’ my way out of the accident– but frankly, I was trying to save the bike.  I mean, it’d be pretty easy for me to jump off the bike and roll away mostly unscratched, but the problem was that I was trying, even during the slip, to keep my bike upright because I didn’t want to damage the scooter. 

First thing I did when I came to my senses was check the scooter for damage.  Only when taking a shower later did I realize that I was bleeding through my shirt hahahaha

Well, the good news is, my scooter is fine.  The new tailbox I added protrudes a bit and it protected the side body of the scooter so there are no chips.