Today I bought some fireworks at a stationery store. So, that was strange. One would think they would only have stationery, and maybe some pens and other things that one associates with stationery, but no… fireworks, and many of them. Roman candles, fountains, bottle rockets… many things that one must light and get away from.
While I was perusing the fireworks selection at the Korean stationery store, one of the employees walked shyly up to me and said "fireworks." I smiled and said "yeeeesssss," to which she giggled and walked away.
I might have bought the fireworks only because I was so surprised at their being sold in a stationery store. Perhaps I have fallen for some devious Korean marketing scheme: selling things in unexpected places so as to add a strange novelty to their purchase. They do sell cigarettes in most of the pharmacies here, although I haven’t fallen for that. If I, say, came across a live donkey for sale in a computer store — SOLD!
There is a talking donkey in one of the stories I am reading in one of my hagwon jobs ("Feast Island" — again, for those who are interested in that sort of thing). It strikes me as being very derivative of Shrek, although perhaps Shrek is derivative of it. Anyway, the children find the word "donkey" to be quite funny — they giggle every time someone says it, so I make them repeat it over and over and over.
It is very hard to shop for Christmas presents in a relatively strange and enigmatic Asian country. To find things that one can’t find in America (without a struggle — everything can be found everywhere now), but which are also unique enough to merit cherished possession. Is hard, I tells ya. So you know.
Three shopkeepers mistook me for a European, which when combined with the suit salesman who said "bonjour, monsieur," is shaping up to be something that I can consider an omen.
I took this on Thursday night as I walked from Noksopyeong Station to my apartment. I like it much.
I usually like working in different places all over Seoul — getting from job to job has allowed me to see much more of the city than I ever would were I working at one particular school — but when the air gets cold and slightly-snowy, as it did today, the transit loses its charm.
The first snow of the winter fell today. I noticed when I was teaching my Difficult Private this morning — she got up to make me some green tea, and in the space she vacated was a window that was full of swirling snow. I wanted to point it out to my student, but by the time she returned with my tea it had ended.
The first snow of the winter is a strange event, it carries a strange and abstract nostalgia with it. Yes, everything carries nostalgia to me, what differentiates the first snow of the winter is the strange-ness and abstract-ness. Nothing concrete, just a faint unlocatable pang.
Anyway, today was a long day. Rain/snow mixes can be very annoying. Stupid indecisive weather! Make up your mind, jackass! Will I need an umbrella? Should I wear a hat? Why, God? Why?
"Mmmm…" is a word that I taught one of my classes a coupla weeks ago. It was in a story we were reading about a pizza ("Where is Pizza?" for those of you who enjoy such things), and there was the word: "Mmmm…" The student who got stuck reading it pronounced it "EmEmEmEm" which was totally unexpected. I had to correct him, after which I wrote "Mmmm…" on the board and had everyone say it. After they learned it, it became their favorite word, which was funny at first but soon became a bit annoying and strangely unsettling. "Mmmm… teacher! Mmmm… teacher! Teacher! Teacher! Mmmm…"
Thanksgiving today, so I am thankful…
- for my strange and magical life.
- for this bottle of Majuang Red I just opened.
- for people, those I’ve known and will know — all of them.
- for my health, especially for my disappearing asthma and seafood allergies.
- for this roof above me and the food inside me.
- for having less debt than I did a year ago.
- for this spirituality I’ve found, but have yet to pinpoint.
- for her — this movement she started, and everything else.
- for being happier than I used to be.
- for future plans.
- to be going home in two weeks.
Happy Thanksgiving, all. I’ll see many of you soon, soon, soon.
Today we had "open classes" at my Wednesday hogwan, which meant that the parents were allowed to sit-in on their children’s classes. For me this meant that instead of just having to keep a room full of Korean kids reasonably engaged and learning, I also had to keep their parents impressed or reasonably satisfied or whatever. It was hard. The kids were remarkably well-behaved, which was nice, but they were also much more reluctant to take question-answering initiative, which often resulted in me having to (literally) spell out the answers for them. I feel that this made me look like a crappy teacher, but oh well… I will take my frustration out on the children next week when their parents aren’t around.
At the end of my last class, one of the parents clapped. I smiled and said "ohh, thank you," but ten minutes later I realized that he might have been clapping because my class was (finally) over. It was easily my best class of the day, though, so I’m going to stick with my initial reaction.
A picture of me with my favorite class, taken earlier today at my Monday hagwon…
…and a picture of me, taken earlier today by one of my students at my Monday hagwon…
…those kids exaust me, so that’s all for now.