Sunday, April 29, 2012

So, I broke my camera last week...

So, I broke my camera last week, therefore I will have a word album in which I will describe things I have done and people I've met.  This is just a slim number of my new friends.  But, no worries, I tend to write about my friends a lot.  So, you will probably get your just desserts.

Vibrant shock of platinum hair, round beautiful face, and a wit that would shame Beatrice, herself. A name which suggests both bold curiosity and complex emotion. Daphne. Head thrown back in mirth at something or other that tickled her fancy.

Peter. Fancy cap, always a blazer and one of those tee shirts that suggest subtle, high brow nuance. So much like me.  Stubborn. Strong willed. Yet, compassionate. Equally as Guilted, Irish Catholic never really leaves you. He gesticulates broadly to prove one point or another. You listen because it's hilarious, and usually you have no choice.

Then, Jenna, who brings me most to home. She reminds me of my best friend in elementary school. She starts off shy, and a bit reserved. Expertly soaking in the big personalities with with which she surrounds herself. But everything she says and does has meaning and a point. Every moment spent with her proves an amazing revelation. Curled into herself, she waits for someone to help her become open.

Wednesday night. 11:00 pm.  Early for the midnight showing. Meet a fidgety Peter in the subway. Like a golden retriever, happy with what's now, but so excited for what's next. There's time to spare. We climb his building and find the secret door that leads to a wonderland. Up on the helicopter pad, the fog is so dense. Buildings 50 meters dissolve without clarity, and the fog cloaks us with invisibility. Three minutes we stare in wonder. Then, the WBC building comes into focus, as if we were the lens of a camera. This is no fog. We live, breathe, become a cloud. It spritzes our face with the purest droplets. Untouched by the troublesome atmosphere.

Saturday. Afternoon. A lazy walk meandering from street to street. Enjoying the company of a new friend. I suppose all friends here are new. But, newest. She's new. Just came yesterday. Her life stories entertain. We revel in past mistakes and fortunes of childhood antics. Bleaching freckles, icing sled runs. We reach the beach. Dip our toes in. The surprising chill contrasts the heat. We watch the kite boarders in awe of their skill. And wonder, how the hell they rise after they fall.

Saturday. Night. V-day comes late in Busan. The Vagina Monologues still resonate after countless times of seeing them. A new piece this year. A duet of women. One wears red leggings and a black dress. The other a traditional han bok. The red screams across the black.  They harmonize the horrors of Korean Comfort Women. Korean language washes over English translation. Eyes shine with sadness. Arms quake for retribution. Or even recognition. Their voices entwine. They speak with equal desperation. Equal contempt. Equal hope. They speak as one.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

So, Imma be famous

So, today after a rough and tired first class, my second class walked in like zombies.  I was in no place to excite them, as I had to leave my emotional journey through Children of Eden at the door when I walked into school.

Almost all of them were late. I walked out into the hall, to hurry them up.  And, I saw another foreigner.  This is very weird.  I am the only native English teacher in a 3 mile radius. I was startled, nonetheless.  I thought it was the previous Native English Teacher, coming back from Thailand to collect the things he left in the classroom and his/my apartment.  I got a little antsy, but it was time for class to start.

They were SO. TIRED. But, I did my best.  I asked them, "How're you?  Howzit goin?"  To which they responded in their clinical way, "I'm fine.  Thank you, and you?"  I have tried for the past month for them to say ANYTHING but that.  "I'm alright." "My head hurts." "I want to punch my brother in the jugular." etc.  But, they have stuck to "I'm fine thank you."

We started our dialogue lesson, and they were having none of it.  So, I had them stand, stretch, chat amongst themselves.  Then, back to work.    After dialogue, we played a really big matching game I made for them to review the past two lessons of terms.  Right after we started, a man came into our room and said, "We're here!"

James and I both looked at each other. This is what I thought: Exsqueeze me?  Here for what? This is what I said, "Excellent! Uh, who are you?"  While James talked to this man in Korean, I looked outside of the door, and there was this Foreign guy in a fanny pack a woven blanket jacket.  He said, "Hi, my name is Chad." Of course it is.  Are your best friends named Brad, and Thad? "Oh, hi, Kathryn. What is going on?"

"Oh, we're here to do a radio show," Chad responded.
"Really, well alright."

So, Chad in all of his exuberance entered the classroom to huge applause and cheers.  When he asked if they knew who he was, ALL of my students responded, "No." He explained that he works for the English radio company and they were broadcasting my classroom for a segment.

The first thing Chad did was ask how my students were.  "I'm fine. Thank you, and you?"
Chad said that that was ridiculous, and that he needed to speak to the English teacher.  He came over to me, and he said, "How can you teach them that?"

I responded, "Hey, man, I just got here 6 weeks ago.  That was long implanted in them before I came.  I tell them to answer anything but that."

Then, Captain Chad did this whole bit of teaching them "Howzit goin?" "So far, so good."  Then he spent the rest of the class playing games and talking really fast, even for a native English speaker.  He also spoke pretty good Korean, so I am not worried about my students' understanding.

Captain Chad and his crew played association games, taught my students to rap, an asked them their dreams.  It was a really very interesting this to watch.  My students were trying to figure out if they liked this super loud and really energetic guy or if they were really uncomfortable.  Frankly, I think the jury is still out.

Anyway, the thing you need to take from this is Imma be famous and on International Radio. Kapow!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So, the world will be my new pants

I had a thought tonight. Those jerks just come whenever they feel like it regardless of if I need to sleep or do anything else.

I was reading poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge. She talked about her son's use of metaphor when repotting a plant. He said, "the world will be its new pants," which is a phrase with such childlike accuracy.

Sometimes I think adults mess up language too much. We follow rules and organization, but when it comes to things that matter, like expressing the world around us, I find that a child's innocent bewilderment of the world's vastness is the best approach.

Anyway, I digress.

So, for the next 330 some odd days, I am like the plant. I left my cozy home in my home pot surrounded by friends and family who love me, and I transplanted myself into this new, big, scary place. The world is now my pants.  I need to be comfortable in them whether I am running around creating general havoc, climbing mountains, or curling up to take a Skype nap with my beloved.

I need to seek adventure in my new pants. They need to get dirty. The knees should begin to fray. They should be so threadbare that the vibrant memories patching them together keep my pants whole.

Every mountain I climb, every wave that I surf, every accidental octopus I eat becomes a part of my pants.  I sew each patch neatly into the folds.

I scrawl my friends' names upon my pants with sharpies that smell of shared experience and joy.

On that note, I took my pants hiking on Saturday. I loved being able to see city, mountain and ocean in one view. It is a constant reminder that there will always be something bigger than me. And, as much as I may be a know-it-all, I know so little. I pale in comparison of the trickling stream, barren mountain scape, and abyssal oceans. There are some fantastic things here, and I cannot wait for me and my pants to visit them.