This, two nights ago, from a porch in Kyung Lee Dan…
…more to come.
"No one says war is good. Passini is one of these people. He thinks war is bad too, but his thoughts are a little different than other people. Other people thinks war is bad, but defeat is worse. The narrator says that, but he is only the one that says it. It means that more people thinks like him. In fact, I think like the narrator too. But Passini is different than other people. He doesn’t think defeat is worse. He thinks war is all bad. Even defeat is one part of war. Winning is also a part of war. In that sense, someone should win, and someone should lose. And that is all war."
-Paul, grade 8
This is what South Korea looks like, more often than not…
That is the Eunhang Saeguri (Eunhang Intersection), taken yesterday from the window of my classroom at the Junggye branch of CDI.
Today is my day off once again, and once again I am going to spend much of it grading papers at Starbucks. My mom asked me during our weekly phone conversation on Sunday if I like grading papers, and I think I said something like: "The first few are interesting, but once I get to the twentieth or thirtieth it gets old." I have taken to bringing a book with me to read in-between blocks of grading, and I often find myself picking up a pen to correct errors in it before realizing that this is a book and therefore not in need of a grade. It scares me a bit, this behavior. The grading zone is hard to escape.
I am very broke, but I get paid next Wednesday. I have been broke for much of this month, and thus have been counting down the days & weeks until payday for a while. It’s quite frustrating, making lots of money while simultaneously worrying about money. Annoying, too, especially in Korea. It’s difficult enough living here at times, let alone living here on a small budget. One more week.
A week ends, a week begins. Time goes by.
“Oh, Jesus… not now.”
“You are like so totally deep, man.”
“Seriously, leave me alone.”
“What is the meaning of life, oh wise one?”
“I’m really not in the mood for this shit.”
“Well, now you know how we feel.”
“What? You don’t like my posts?”
“This one sucks.”
“Yes, but I’d say that’s more your fault than mine.”
“You weren’t really off to a good start.”
“I’d only written two sentences.”
“Two crappy sentences. What are you, introducing a soap opera?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Stupid-heads.”
“Did you call us stupid-heads?”
“Calling your readers stupid-heads, that’s brilliant.”
“Enough of this.”
“Oh, grow up.”
“I told you to leave me alone. You didn’t listen.”
“Ok, point taken. Continue with your post.”
“What? Go ahead. Write.”
“You won’t interrupt me?”
“No. Enthrall us with stories of South Korea.”
“. . .”
“Well? We’re all waiting.”
“I’ve got nothing to say.”
“Yeah, we know.”
“. . .”
“. . .”
I applied to film school today. After three months of being lazy, I finally busted my ass these last coupla weeks and finished the essay and the video samples. Just in time, too, as the application has to be in Paris by the first of April. I procrastinate, but I get done. Not always, but in this case. I paid the price for my procrastination, though, as I had to send it via super fast UPS which cost me seventy bucks. C’est la vie, n’est pas? Oui, je pense. Je pense.
Now I wait and I earn money.
After the sending of the film school application was complete, I promptly headed to Starbucks and spent the afternoon and early evening grading essays again. One of my students appears to have emailed me her essay in Greek, which makes absolutely no sense to me at all (in several ways). I spent a half-hour in class going over exactly how the students are to email their essays to me, but it never occurred to me to tell them to write in English.
Speaking of teaching, the director of CDI wants me to teach a class for the non-English speaking staff members, so I must be doing something right. I’m not sure if I’m going to do it or not, but the offer has provided a reassuring sense of job security for these last two months.
Ah, and I no longer think that I have the gout, although there is something strange going on with my big toe. It doesn’t hurt, but it is occasionally sore, it cracks quite a bit, and it is slightly swollen. Any podiatrists in the hizzy? If I were a rap star, I would say that at every concert.
I’ve got about ten more weeks left here in South Korea, perhaps eleven if I decide to take a week to travel around before I leave. Ten more weeks of teaching, at any rate, and that is the essential part. Once I’m done teaching I will be a tourist again, and I’m hoping this will bring with it the open eyes I had when I first arrived.
They’re coming back, the open eyes… gradually. I’ll be standing at a bus stop on my way to school, or staring back at an old Korean man on the subway, or standing in front of a classroom full of Korean teenagers, and the world will start to go in slow-motion as my mind realizes that this is a moment worth grasping at. So many moments here are worth grasping at, clinging to–perhaps too many–but it is only when time stops seeming endless that I’m able to recognize them. Only when I know I’ll be leaving do I open my eyes wide enough to see what I’ll be missing.
I have taken to writing poetry on the bus to work. Most of it is not very good, and some of it is just terrible. I wrote this one on Thursday:
“Teacher, what’s ‘rape’?”
“Teacher, what’s a ‘pimp’?”
These are fucked-up questions,
make my brain go limp.
“Rape is balloons!”
“A pimp is a kitty!”
I’d tell em the truth
but it’d make em feel shitty.
…more of a rap, really. Eminem, and all that.
The big toe on my right foot has been intermittently sore since I returned to Korea. I didn’t think much of it until I read that a sore big toe is a symptom of gout, at which point my neurosis took over. “Gout” is a terrible sounding disease, almost as bad as “scabies,” which is a combination of “scab” and “rabies.”
I worked all day today, I work all day tomorrow, and tonight I still have some papers to grade before I go to bed. Time does fly when one is busy, but the theory about distracting oneself with work is a crock. I think far too much these days.
Spring is here, though, so that’s a good thing. Warm, and all that.
Here is a post about nothing.
Here is a post about nothing. Here is a post of me sitting on the floor of my bedroom in Seoul, considering sleep or a movie, waiting for the laundry to finish. Here is a post of me feeling ok, and then not. Here is a post of me getting used to loneliness. Here is a post of me forgetting about the life I used to have, the life I would be living otherwise, the life that was. Here is a post of me eating saltines. Here is a post of me not knowing what I’m going to do next. Here is a post of me looking forward to leaving, but knowing that I’ll miss this. Here is a post of my heart beating slowly, quickly, slowly. Here is a post of me spending too much time on the internet. Here is a post of me missing everywhere I am not. Here is a post of my heart sinking with thought. Here is a post of me trying to smile.
Here is a post about nothing.