dal niente

Month: July, 2008

Vous utilisez actuellement 631 Mo (9 %) de votre espace de 6970 Mo.

Translation for those who don’t understand french:  You are using 9% of your Gmail space.

Thing is, when I started out in Korea, I was using about 2%.  I’ve somehow used up another 7% in the last 10 or so months– and I never even send any pictures or music files to anyone.  It’s all just work correspondence.

THAT is how much stuff I write, apparently.

So, how much of your email account do you actually use?  Where does all the space go?

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In Theory

A student came to me with one of the first questions in months to really put me on guard.

There are strange instances when things like this happen.  It happens at times when someone purposely poses a threat to you.  But the worst times, really, are when you don’t know what’s going on.


How I react to someone’s emotions depends in large part on my ability to read them.  Reading someone has a lot to do with developing a profile of that person.  I figure out not just the obvious stuff, like what kinds of clothes they wear or how they like their hair.  You have to figure out what they think.  Like a game, like a book, like a movie, there is a thesis behind every person.

I think I’m going to start using that term.  I used to call it simply substance— but now, I think a distinction needs to be made.

Substance is what makes a person, in terms of their abilities. It is the accumulation of their history, in some sense.  The easiest elements of substance include their physical resume.  This includes their ability to control their body, to resist pain, or to endure strain.  A bit harder to define, but still equally important in the scope of substance, are mental and spiritual aspects.  That means things like mental toughness, the ability to stay calm and analytical, or the unwillingness to give up.  Substance is everything that makes someone solid.  Like any form of excellence, it is not simply ‘had’ and generally has to be practiced constantly to give it weight.

If you are trying to hurt someone, conversely, the easiest way to do so is to target a weakness of substance.

A thesis, on the other hand, is where the future of someone is.  It has to do with their idea.  It has to do with what they think about the world, and what the underlying principles that they are going into the world not with, but to test.  Does that make sense?

Substance is what you have.  A thesis is what you are trying to find out.

The two are situational.  This is in part by virtue of the fact that we’re so variable, and we never really know exactly what our limits are until we’re put into  a scenario.  A person who has plenty of substance in an artistic situation might have none whatsoever in a carpentry situation, for example.  You need to see someone in action for a while before you get an idea of just how much substance they have– but if you keep an eye out for it, you can develop the ability to recognize to a certain extent who are the real deals and who are the fakers.

And a thesis is something entirely different.


The student asked me today, “Teacher, do you think this class is good or bad?”

A couple of things you should know about this scenario.

First of all, the student is a first year middleschooler among people a year or two younger than her.  What she’s doing in a class of elementary kids, I don’t know.  But, she’s more mature than they are.  I haven’t been able to guage her English ability entirely yet, because of my second point–

–she’s only been in my class for two days.  We just switched students to start the new semester, so I’ve only now begun teaching her.

The third point is that for a student of her age to seriously ask for me to speak with her, and for her to ask me a question like that, it’s completely unheard of.  Her tone was measured– it wasn’t asked as a joke.  It was asked seriously.

At first I was taken aback.  I couldn’t figure out her thesis at first, and I laughed at the question, thinking that I had misread her body language and she was actually asking, like most students do, a silly question to try and trap me just so that she could slip in a quick insult.  That’s usually how it goes and that’d be normal, and I was ready to just roll with those punches as I always do and kept my ears and eyes open to make a snappy comeback.  This was all at the end of class, so we had plenty of time.

But she repeated her question, and so this time, looking at her, I realized she really wanted an answer.  I sat down in a chair next to her.

“I don’t know.  It can be good, it can be bad.  What do you think?” I asked.  There are some questions where there is no right answer.

“I think this is bad,” she said.


If you’ve ever watched an anime, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that it was one of those moments where, in my head, I imagined myself with my eyes darkened out like in those asides where a character is like “WTF?? I failed??”


 
She went on to list why she didn’t like my class, based on her two days there.

And I’ll admit; I was taking it kinda personally.  Not that I shouldn’t have– that was the point.  That was her thesis.  All her smarts, all her ability, she was using it to this end.

And that’s what a theis is.  It isn’t just a guess– in part, it’s also a reflection of who you are and what you previously understand of the world.  Someone doesn’t just make a guess and then ask you if it’s right or wrong– a thesis is based on some beleif of the way that the world runs, and so even the idea that is being tested is already loaded with a lot of values.

She believed that from what she’d seen, a classroom shouldn’t have people with cellphone cameras, kids shouldn’t be allowed to talk in Korean at all, and that I should have no tolerance whatsoever for bad language.

I could have gotten into an argument with her about it, and told her about all the ways that it could work.  I mean, it has in the past.

But the same method has also failed in the past.  I have lost some students to my method, and ‘needs of the many surpass the needs of the one’ doesn’t really cut it enough for me to really argue from that angle.

So what did I do? I gave her some half ass response to her concerns, because I couldn’t think of any better way.  I think I ended it pretty maturely by saying, nocommitally, “we’ll see.”


It is the first time in a long time in a while though that someone’s thesis simply judged me to be inadaquate.  It was a sobering experience and though I’m not likely to change my teaching method completely just for one girl’s aprooval, I do think that since the challenge has been put on the table professional duty requires that I proove my own thesis to her.

In the meantime… you ever get that feeling where you look back and just hate the fact that someone stumped you?  I wish I could go back and give some sort of cool response to her question.  Something… perfect.  But well, chances are from my noncommitalness and lack of confidence in my responses, she wasn’t that impressed and probably thinks less of me.  Ah well.  We’ll have to work on that.

Sorry

Operation: Swordfish has come to bite me in the ass, and I’m not pleased about it.  It’s my day off (Thursday) and I’ve been asked to deal with a deadline that should have been met a long time ago.  Why’s that?  Because certain people in my group didn’t do their work properly, and as the team leader, I have to clean up after them.

This really has nothing to do with Operation: Swordfish, but it does set the stage for what I’m going to address… this idea of being sorry.

If you really consider what sorry means, it’s a feeling.  When you tell someone you’re sorry, it means you feel bad.

In some cases, telling someone you feel bad is enough.

That’d be in a world that runs on a clock powered by feelings though.  The business world, the professional world, has to do in large part with mastering the uesless emotions.  In some fields, emotions are important– empathy, love, sympathy, all that– it’s part of doing a passionate job.  However, certain things like feeling sorry, that really doesn’t fit in between professionals.

I’ve probably written about this before– but I’m so fed up of people telling me they’re sorry.  I don’t care if people feel bad for letting me down– I just want the results.  When I need them, they don’t need to beat around the bust.  They don’t need to give me half truths or maybe’s– I frankly find it a waste of my time.  Tell me what slack I need to pick up, give me some hints of how it might be easier for me.  I probably don’t need the sorry bits.  Their suffering doesn’t help my situation and while I might enjoy laughing at people at times, when their ass is tied to mine and they’re on the line, I don’t want any crap like that on my plate.


Operation Swordfish was supposed to be finished fully one week ago.  People made me promises to have it done by monday, then by tuesday, and you know what?  As I write this, it’s thursday, 11:52pm.  By the time I finish this, it will be fully a week later, and Swordfish will not be completely complete.

What irks me is that I didn’t know it was complete– but I guess I should know better than to take people on their words, huh?


I just finished taekwondo.  I got one message from Corey before the class started:

“are you going to taekwondo?>  i might stay home and get rest.”

and a follow up message:

“I don’t think I can handle taekwondo… is trevor going?”

What is this, an ice-cream social? It’s fucking taekwondo!  Who cares who’s going?  Do those facts change anything?

Now, if this were anything else, I might think okay, maybe there’s a reason for these question.  But this being who it is, it’s really just him making small talk.  I’m not interested.   I don’t really care what people do before taekwondo– in the context of taekwondo, they’re my training partners.  I haven’t missed a class since I started, and it’s  been 9 months straight through everything from Intensive, to reports cards, to essays, and those again, and through sickness and hell yes, even through relationships.  On monday when I went to taekwondo, it felt like I had lung cancer and i still went.  I could come up with a list longer than your letter to santa.

I’m not saying that I expect everyone to drop everything and plan their lives around it.

But what I am saying is that when it comes to telling me that you’re not going to go, you don’t need to try to impress me with how busy you were the night before or how many bottles you knocked back– I’ve been there, I’ve done that.  You can’t impress me.  So don’t waste my batteries, and just say you’re not going to show up, instead of giving me more reasons to think you’re full of shit.

Trevor didn’t make it either.  At least he just told me he was drunk.  That’s it.  No sorry.  Thank you, sir.  I appreciate it.


The class was me.  Gwanjangnim and I were alone, and he worked on me for an hour and a half straight.  I’m tired.  And you know what? Now I’m going to pick up and clean up Swordfish, not because I want to– but because I’m the only one who can at this point, no joke.  That at once makes me a tough motherfucker and the world’s biggest sucker I suppose.

I’m glad that I’ve got only about two months left before I’m done with this contract.  It’s not the teaching that hurts, really– it’s the people I work with, I always say.

Accountable

What I don’t appreciate from students is when they just put anything on paper and expect to be rewarded on effort.  I suppose the thing is that their definition of effort and my definition of effort are different– for them, words in English is an effort.  For me, the bar is a little bit higher.  It’s words, in sentences, in paragraphs.

There will always be the student who tries to call me on the “do your best!” mantra by giving me a total piece of shit and expecting me to give them a decent mark out of pity.  I say this because I’ve seen students write excellent essays at times– but other times, you know that because of the way they pay attention during the essay workshops or when you’re teaching the grammar of the simple past and past progressive, they just aren’t catching enough of it to really tell you that story they’re supposed to tell you about.

And so when the essay comes in, it’s garbage– it’s just word after word with no structure, no intent.  It’s only goal is wordcount, and sometimes, not even.

One of the new teachers here has decided that he will never give a failing grade to a student on a test or essay.  I find it kind of … well, full of shit of him.  Especially since in the two months that he’s been here, he’s apparently figured out enough of Korean culture to understand that their system of education is totally inferior to our own back in North America.

His reasoning is that a failing grade means that the already-overworked Korean student will have to work hard to redo a test or an essay, or that the student might get a beating from his parents for a low grade.

Now, I didn’t grow up with corporal punishment– I think my parents put a good idea in there to just stop doing that with their generation, even though they were subject to it in their own youths.  Would I endorse it?  I don’t know.  Let me point out that while corporal punishment hurts, there are plenty of forms of psychological punishment which can be just as effective– a child’s mental defenses are no stronger than their body when they’re young, and it may be a tangent but I do not believe that the elimination of corporal punishment in any way guarantees a trauma free childhood.

My main issue is that there needs to be accountability, and as teachers, especially foreign ones, it’s not our place it’s nor our place to make our descisions based on what we think their culture should be like.  Accountability means that if a kid does poorly, he needs to understand this– the consequences are up to the society. The teacher’s job is simply to set the expectations and to dish out the consequences and rewards.  If there are secondary consequences– such as remedial studies, or even a beating– that’s really not the teacher’s business.

Now, I know that there are a lot of people out there who have actually been beaten by their parents who will disagree with me.  They’ll say things like “under no circumstances should a child ever be hit.”  I think that’s kind of naive.  When I was younger, I got into a few scraps for less than honorable reasons– not with my parents, but with people who either I didn’t like or who didn’t like me.  And every time it happened, I got hurt– and I learned my lessons quickly.

Mind you, that’s besides the point. Let just say for a moment though that as foreign teachers, we did have liscence to try and change their culture.  Even so, fluffing someone’s grades aren’t the way to do it.  The way to do it is to confront the parents about their ‘evil ways’ and tell them, stop beating your stupid kids, and teach them.  For god’s sakes, they’re not punching bags, but if you treat them like that, it’s no wonder that they give you the answers of a punching bag.  This idea that you can just wreck ’em all with hopes of stumbling upong a magic bag who can do long division is really just not going to work out well no matter how well it works out.

I say that directness is important.  So if a teacher has issues with the parent’s parenting methods, then the teacher should confront the parent.  We talk about making changes to the culture all the time, but if a teacher does so through a modified grade, this is just using the student as an ineffectual tool because the student becomes not a reason to prevent beatings, but as a lack of reason for beatings.  There’s a very big difference there.

Nextly, you simply don’t get any quality work or improvement from students if their marks don’t reflect their abilities.  This is why we have tests– to test the kids.  Despite the business nature of the academy structure, it doesn’t change the fact that we are trying to be an educational institution and that there should be a code of excellency that teachers need to enforce.

If, after months of grammar and essay writing, a student continues to forget to capitalize the first word of every sentence and end all his statements with a period, I will fail the grammar portion of his essay score.  I’m not going to fuck around and say for the upteenth time “Hey Johnny, do your best to remember next time, okay?”

There is a certain amount of work that I expect myself to do– I will bend backwards for my kids to teach them something.  I put up with insults every day, I turn the other cheek and joke it off.  But there are lines, and they will not be crossed.  You can, for example, insult me in English– because then I have a fighting chance of joking about it.  But the moment you insult me in Korean, whether or not I understand it, that line has been crossed.

And when I put effort into getting you to cross your T’s and dot your i’s, you best well take the opportunity to learn how to do it.  I’m not here talking for my sake, but for yours– and if, by the time I get your paper, you fail to demonstrate that you showed any respect for my intentions by doing it right, well damn.  I’m going to fail you.  Be forced to rewrite it.  Get beaten.  I will help you if you want it– and I stress that no matter how bad your score is, I willl always bite it down and I will help you as if you were my own child.  But you have to make that choice.

One of the most important things that I look for in people of any age is respect.  That ties into a lot of things– and part of what’s necessary in the development of a sense of respect, be it for others or for oneself, is a sense of accountability.  There have to be standards, there have to be senses of accomplishment and senses of failure by which to gauge our actions.  I don’t just mean doing good or bad. I mean, letting people down, or letting ourselves down, when we signed up to do more.  One of the first steps of developing a sense of respect, and becoming respectable, is to understand that with actions and inactions there are consequences.  Make your choices– and it’s difficult to do so– but whatever they are, be prepared for what grows from it.

Morning After

So, I woke up this morning feeling like a half million dollars.  I won’t say a million dollars, because I am still a bit sick, but I’m feeling much better than I did on the weekend and definitely loads better than yesterday.  So the plan to just work the sludge out of my system seemed to be a success.

I’ve heard a lot of explanations as to why this should be done.  Some of these explanations are contradictory.

  • exercise speeds up your metabloism, so that’s why it works to kill your germs faster
  • your body is so tired that it cannot sustain the illness, so the illness just dies.
  • you sweat out the ‘poisons’ of the illness
  • your body metabolizes the illness along with other fuels

They’re not really great explanations, but I just know that when I’m a certain kind of sick, exercise does work.  If anyone knows the real reason why it works, I’m all ears.

I’ve still got a bit of a sore throat, but that’s partly a common evil of my profession.  At least my head is clear, my body feels nimble and my chest doesn’t hurt anymore.


As a result of my illness yesterday (previous to taekwondo) I was feeling pretty burnt out at work.  In three out of five of my classes, I’ve taught all of my materials for the semester– that left me with about two full classes for each of them to just ‘wing it’ with supplementary lessons that I pull out of my ass.  Being tired, and not having any guns to rely on, I was at a severe disadvantage– but, on the plus side, I think I managed to make the best of it.

Today is the last day I have with my Tuesday-Thursday cycle of students.  Tomorrow will be my last day with my Monday-Wednesday-Friday cycle.  After that, we start a new semester with a new group of students– and, it’s Intensives season again.  If any of you remember when I wrote about my first bout with Intensive back in winter, you’ll remember it was a very sorry time of year when all teachers involved become robots who thirst for life.  But, as they thirst for it, they do so only out of habit, and not for true wanting of it– because they are already dead, and nothing can change that fact.

I am not exaggerating.  When you are in the Intensive season, it’s basically the time of year when Korean students are on their winter or summer holidays.  In this case, it’s summer– so that means, they have no school, but spend their entire day going to cram schools like mine instead.  It really doesn’t end for them.  That means that during the summer vacation, we actually have more work to do than any other time of year, save perhaps the winter vacation.  We will be teaching for something like 9 hours a day, and that doesn’t even include the amount of time it takes us to do preparations.  It’s really quite brutal.


In any case, as this semester winds down, I’m kinda trying to figure out what to do.  Today is the last day for TTh classes, so I’m having pizza parties for them, most of which will probably come out of my own pocket… but I wonder if I should get them anything else?  On one hand, it kinda annoys me that the school itself doesn’t provide anything like a budget for students.  Ultimately, teachers are left with the bill if they want to be nice.  The school expects us to keep our retention rates by making your students love you as much as you can, but the fact is, when it comes to many kids, love costs money that we don’t have.

And I don’t think it’s fair that teachers should be expected to buy gifts for children.  And it’s not expected.  But it’s somewhat encouraged.


Occasionally, I’ll buy with my own cash some nice pens for my noteworthy students and I’ll put in a hand written note telling them to do their best in their futures– slap on a little “Good Luck” written in Korean, and for the mere cost of 3000 won (which is the cost of a good pen around here) you’ll have a student who feels that in all the world he or she’s been singled out as someone really special, and it’s a feeling that will last with them for days.  That is the price of encouragement.  I’ve given people student of the month pens (which are provided by the school, not me) in the past and they still brag about it a month later when the next student of the month is chosen.  How cheap it is to buy some encouragement!  How cheap the price of happiness!

I don’t mean that in a negative way– what I mean to say is that so little recognition is needed to make a kid feel happy.  It’s really so easy.

I just wish I had a budget for it.  Because, for every dollar that I spend, well, frankly, I have to work hard for that money and it’s damn expensive at times.  I’ve told you in the past the kind of academy I teach at.  I’ve been stabbed in the back twice by girl and her pen.  I’ve had to break up fistfights with hair pulling and teeth between kids, as recently as just last wednesday.  Last week, someone brought a bottle of hydrochloric acid to school and the week before that someone brought a molotov cocktail. 

We get paid to teach,  but I’m telling you– we’re not getting paid nearly enough.

And the interesting thing is that while you might like your favorite keeners who answer all the questions and have enough command over the language to actually have a conversation with you, the ones who need the rewards are the majority, not the minority– and the majority are the ones who are on the fence or simply over the fence, who don’t think they’re good at English or don’t think they’re good at anything.

The ones who work hard need encouragement, sure.  But the ones who don’t know how or don’t think they can are the ones who you need to set right.

And whatever currency you use, whether it’s money, prizes, or simply time and attention, there simply isn’t enough provided by the scenarios the school puts us in.

I’ve been learning to play Baduk (the Korean version of the Japanese game “Go”) and there’s one of my 11 year old students who goes to a Baduk academy– he totally rapes me at this game.  Yet it’s the only common ground we have, because by all other classifications, even though he treats the game with total respect and while we play he’s completely the gentleboy, by all other scenarios he’s been moulded into the smartass delinqent.  Why?  How did this happen?

There’s very little difference between children and adults, really.

Adults get into fights when it comes to relationships, or they get angry when it comes to friends.  Why?  It’s a question, in large part, of recognition, respect, and love.  Perhaps love above all.  If that is lacking, then there are no binds to our stacks.

Go For Broke!

I’ve got this second part of being sick, which is that when I’m sick with some sort of illness, I’ll commit myself to some sort of physical activty that will drain me within an inch of my life.

Today’s monday, so taekwondo fit the bill.

This doesn’t work when I’m suffering from exhaustion, mind you.  But it does sometimes work when I’m sick.

What happens is that when my whole system is slowing down, I just have to do something really tiresome– two things can occur.  Ether the physical exertion gets me so geared up that the illness just dies, like, it gets burned away among the gears; or, I get really, really sick.  More sick then when I started off.

I’m pretty exhausted right now and am just cooking myself some rice, fish and cream of mushroom (bachelor style) so we’ll see in the morning if my all or nothing gamble pays off or not.

Castle

I think whenever I’m bedridden, there’s a distinct routine– I kind of mope around, wear a lot of clothes and try to sweat it out,drinking so much fluid that I’m up and at the bathroom every half an hour.

I’ve gotten sick.  I can’t say that it comes as a surprise given how well I’ve been taking care of myself lately, but it always is unexpected because I think I overestimate myself and think that I’ll never get sick.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty awful– headache, congestion, weak– it feels like my muscles have all atrophied and the first  hint was that my ribcage really hurt. 

What bothers me about being human really is that our bodies need so much discipline.  I’m not the strongest person in the world, and I have no illusions to say that I train harder than anyone else, but I do have my limits– and I push them. I don’t remember the last time I’ve felt this awful.  By discipline, I
don’t even mean the willingness to train the body– I mean the
discipline to understand one’s current limits, and to not push them so
hard that the whole engine breaks down.


I think that’s one of those irreconciliable truths about my life.  About life in general.  Is that sometimes, you really can’t compare yourself to others.  I look at any sort of athlete who has ever made it big— they tell you to follow your dreams and be your best, but they left out one part– chances are you won’t be as good as them.  Getting to the top isn’t just a question of effort– it has to do with a certain amount of destiny. Not in the romantic sense.  I mean, logistically.  The way your body is shaped.  The way your brain works.  The way you’re raised.  Those who do surpass despite the odds, that’s really not just hard work– that’s a coincidence between hard work and potential.

The fact is that we’re born with particular physiological limits.  And psychological ones.  And social ones.  And as much as it sounds nice and politically correct to say that one person can do this or that one person can do that if they really put their mind to it, the fact is that we can’t do everything we want, such is our lot.

Every now and then I get sick and it’s a wakeup call.  It’s the fact that we’re really, really fragile.  At the end of it, we die, and what’s left is to decide how we want to spend our time.  No purpose is given to us.  We must find reasons to persist.  11

The constant struggle really though hasn’t been about persisting– it’s been looking over my shoulder to see who’s around.

And what I mean by that is that I hate the fact that sometimes, I’m insecure about my own acheivements and feel it’s necessary to compare myself to others.  It happens naturally, I think– but for every time I look at myself and tell myself I’ve gone further than this or that person, there’s equally a number of people ahead of me with whom I may never catch up.

This all comes to me when I get sick, because getting sick for me is always so debilitating.  It’s a monkey wrench.  I pride myself on being able to put up with a lot of shit– and by that, I don’t mean bad things, but I mean experiences, both from the world outside that are out of my control and the things that are in my control.  I demand a lot from the world and I demand a lot from myself.  But every now and then, I get sick.

I am reminded that I’m mortal.

And with a sense of mortality sometimes I find myself just lying there, wondering what it’s all about.

Why am I doing this?  Why do I bother teaching?  What am I doing out here?  Why do I train, why do I write?

There’s no end to the number of questions I can come up with, and the worst part about it is that nobody’s going to hand me any answers.

I hate getting sick because talk is cheap.  And when I’m sick, this is all I can do.

Thesis

An article you can find at http://www.penny-arcade.com/2008/6/30/ which I really liked.

 


 

I have a habit which enrages Gabriel, though it may sometimes be of service to you, and so I retain it. It is my goal to play a game until I discover its thesis. I’m dishing up a sentence like that because he is gone, and thus unable to leer at me over his monitor for talkin’ fancy. Let me explain what I mean, because it’s not as smart as it sounds.

Essentially, I want to know a game’s intention. That intention is surprisingly close to the surface in games most people consider to be of high quality, and so I don’t need to play them very long to discern it. I will still finish games that I have come to understand, but a large part of my enjoyment is bound up in this interpretive process.

I’d played enough of Alone in the Dark last week to know their ambition was incredible, but that the execution of their vision was bottled up by imperfect technology. This happens a lot, and we must weep for each one as proponents of the form, but once an arc is established in a piece of retail entertainment software it’s usually not difficult to calculate its trajectory. Right? But I can’t be sure.

That is what makes my cohort angry: it’s not really that I have a high-minded justification for play, because I have a high minded justification for everything. No, it’s that I get trapped by bad games so long that I start to believe they’re actually good. He thinks I have some videogame variant on Stockholm Syndrome.

But a game like Alone in the Dark is precisely why I have this policy: so that I can tell you with full knowledge, yes, I know what you have read. You may even have read it here. You have heard about control oddities and weird glitches. It may be that you have come to believe you can skip the game without ill effects. And you’re wrong.

We must to endure this conversation over and over as adherents of the medium, this “innovations versus gimmicks” thing. The truth of this is very straightforward, actually. Innovations are just gimmicks you happen to like. And Alone in the Dark is almost nothing but innovations, from beginning to end, gameplay innovations, cinematic innovations, inventory innovations, you name it, and I mean innovations according to Noah Webster as opposed to GameFAQS. That they took an old workhorse like Alone in the Dark and set it to this task is a nice bit of nostalgia. That they turned Survival Horror on its head is something they won’t be given credit for until ten years from now, for its audacity and its vision, when all the cool kids retroactively decide that they really liked it.

Over Lunch

Jinryu:

Yeah, so you know that femminist stuff?  They’ve got some good ideas.

I just really don’t know why they keep publishing it as non-fiction.

I mean, I know, Harry Potter’s pretty popular but there’s plenty of space for more stuff on the fantasy shelves. ‘coz, you know, the only way only way women could be in charge is if they had magic wands.

 

Zanshin:

They’re called penises.

 

The Dead in Deadlines

I’m a man machine

drinkin’ gasoline

superhuman being

shootin’ laser beams


I usually don’t like having too many messages in the main folder of my Gmail.  I like to archive old things.  The only things I keep in the main box are the things that are current work or emails that I want to remember to reply to when I get the chance.  Usually I try to keep that main box to a max of like five messages, and I never have to use those “stars” to denote special attention to high priority things.

Right now, I’ve got about 25 messages in my main box, half of which are starred.

 

That means that I’m a bit behind schedule in general.


So, on the plus side, as I mentioned, the Blue Dolphins Project was completed yesterday, only about 4 days after the original deadline.  Operation: Swordfish is wrapping up as of today (at least, everything that I needed to do is done, more or less), which is only 2 days behind schedule.  I’m about 5 days behind on my deadline for essay corrections.  Report cards are due next week.

Things are sort of coming together.


It’s been really difficult for me to write lately because the workload has been affecting my mood.  I feel really productive, and to me, that’s a great feeling, but at the same time, I don’t feel very aesthetic lately.  I mean, I haven’t been stopping to smell the roses very much.  Those two parts seem to be opposite edges on that battle axe.

 


M and R are gone back to Canada, and their presences will be much missed– not that they would ever impose, but having roomates really turned my world upside down in a good sort of way.  They ask the questions that I don’t like to hear and they force me to confront certain things about myself.  I’ve been complaining about my social life a lot lately, you know?  The other day at dinner I was sitting next to someone. 

“You shoulda talked to her,” M said.  “She was pretty good looking and she seemed pretty cool.”

“Really?  I didn’t notice.”

 

And I gave some excuse about how with only a few months left in my contract, I wasn’t really in the mood for a relationship, and that with my workload, it wasn’t a good idea.

And they called me on it– simply put, they told me that if that was going to be my attitude, I’d just never get anywhere.

 

They’re right.  I should quit my bitching about the difficulty of meeting people out here and I should just try harder.  Not just to notice, but to actually act.

(Maybe I should even have talked to that sleeping girl on the subway.)


I’m awake at 5am because, though I can consciously resist pain, I can’t do so unconsciously.

A mosquito bit me on the tight fleshy part of skin just above the fingernail of my pinky, and frankly it doesn’t hurt that badly but it’s soooo irritating that it’s keeping me awake.

Taekwondo today involved us doing one-knucle pushups and that frankly hurts, aside from being near impossible without a fully rested body.  But a mosquito bite here is so much worse.


There are 23 days before my vacation.


One of the students at school today brought hydrocloric acid to work today.  A bottle of it.  He bought it over the counter at a local pharmacy he claims.

I don’t leave my drinking water unattended in classroom anymore.  Call me paranoid, but someone did knife my scooter wheel.  It’s not my student but lets not take those kinds of unnecessary risks.


One of my coworkers, T,  he’s on his way out.  He’s got just a couple of weeks of work left before his contract is up.  He’s been teaching in this line of work for over 3 years and he’s just about had it with this way of life.   He’s got plenty of great experiences, but he’s also at a privledged position in the sense that he’s seen ciriculums built and destroyed over the years– right now, we’re in what what he and I like to call a sate of academic recession. It’s a time of year when our materials are just getting worse as head management is successively making a lot of bad teaching material choices, and it’s just been compounding over the past few months.

And it’s driving him insane.

I hold it analogous to the marathon runner who knows he’s completed 41 out of 42 of the kilometers in a race.  With one kilometer to go, it’s really nothing much to speak of in the grand scheme of everything else one’s accomplished– but the temptation is to try and rush it.

Yet if you do, your pace gets fucked up and you could just die a hundred yards in front of the finish line, as many runners yearly in fact do.

But what can you do?

You’re that close.

I think that watching T do this to himself is kind of a warning for me, because I’ve felt that I’m burning out every now and then.  M and R visiting managed to reset that feeling, but I think previous to their arrival, I was on the brink– I managed to flail just enough to regain my balance but we’re still on a pretty thin rope.

He’s a living warning.  He knows what’s happening to him and he’s fighting it day by day.

I know I”m not 3 years into my own teaching experience, but what I lack in experience I’m making up for in impatience to finish off my own two and a half months.


I ordered new mirrors for my scooter.  They arrived in the mail yesterday.  I’m happy about that at least!


Anyway.  Brain. Tired.

Going to watch some D. Gray Man to really plow my brain and then get back to sleep.  Thank God it’s friday!