We have been making real strides to alter out attitude of weeks and months past. It occurred to me that getting all worked up wasn’t going to lend itself to much enjoyment or zen for the next nine months (duh), so I decided to shape up or ship out. But since I have no money to ship out, or real indication of where to ship out to next, shaping up seemed like the best option 😉 Plus, it’s never going to be easy living in another country. But it really is going to be up to us to make it as awesome as we envision it being. To that end, I have been focusing diligently on relaxing, not getting worked up over things I can’t control, and choosing to be positive each day. Jon’s been making a real effort to do the same, too. And so far so good.
Until today. Actually, I’m doing so much better than I would have two weeks ago. Work continues to offer its struggles in two ways. One, I am not a fan of teaching. None of us expected me to be and I made the choice, so that is one I am trying to be cool about and remember that I can make it what it is. It doesn’t have to be bad. The other struggle is outside of my control, but I’m allowing it to wreak havoc on my emotions, which is no good. The school I work for (and I think all jobs/schools in Korea) change things on us constantly. And tell us nothing. They change classes, our schedules, our expected times of arrival – everything without so much as a day’s notice oftentimes. And certainly without explanation. Today I got a schedule for next week plopped on my desk, with totally new classes and class coding, without an explanation of ooohhhh what the classification (coding) might mean. Coding I had not yet seen and thus could not have been expected to just sort out on my own. All this, mind you, in the midst of coming up with the new curriculum they asked us to come up with, which starts next week and now we don’t know who will be where and what their levels will be and how many will be in each class and…AHHH! So there’s that. There’s also the smaller but tiring things like not telling us that today was picture day. All the Korean teachers knew. They looked nice, too. But we, the native teachers, did not get that particular memo. I’m just glad I wore mascara, even if I am on day three hair in a side pony that I figured passed as coiffed. It’s Tuesday, don’t judge me. Judge THEM. Or you know, don’t.
Jon, on the other hand, got asked to come into work at a different time today. And when he showed up (he swears that this is true) he was led to the auditorium…which was chalk full of Korean parents…and a loud speaker system was blaring Gangnam Style. All the while his Korean co-teacher politely explains to him that he will be judging 20 performances by children of the school. All in all, it was quite the production. Jon had to not only judge (solo), but also give reviews of each performance to his captive audience and help hand out many gifts in a “The Price is Right” style, with Koreans flinging themselves at the stage. Ok, that last part was moderately exaggerated. But ALL of this (I mean the children had elaborate costumes, and parts memorized, and the game show!), and yet they did not think to mention it to Jon even ONE day ahead of time…no “by the way, you are going to judge 20 performances in front of a room full of Korean parents…that’s cool, right?”. T’is the life of a Native English teacher in Korea.
The mental commentary that has been keeping me sane today, however, is perhaps a little known fact about me. It helps Harding from time to time too, and I think he thought I was a genius when I first told him to try it (ya, I’m totally putting words in his mouth). It’s this: I pretend everything around me is a sitcom. Like The Truman Show, only I’m in on it. Maybe more like Friends. Where everything is quirky and cute and you don’t risk anyone dying or getting shipped off to war or, I don’t know, divorced from any of the main characters. It’s light, is what I’m saying. And everyone is a character in my sitcom. I’m not the star – don’t think this is narcissistic – I just get the privilege of watching this particular sitcom live. As it happens. That boss who drives me nuts? Just a quirky character, necessary to add interest to the show. Shows NEED a little strife to keep them interesting. That weirdo coworker? Wry, comedic relief, necessary to any 20 minute time slot. Give it a try, my friends! It can make everything around you just a little bit more funny and a little less rage-y if you need it to.
Anyways, now that you’re all certain of my insanity, a few additional updates:
1. Jon got another job! And it’s a University job! Part time, still teaching English (conversational, in case you’re interested) but it’s such a good resume builder! Not to mention, you know, it’s additional money. I am very proud 😀 Props to our friend on the inside who helped him get said job! She’s Canadian and as we all know, that makes her inherently the best (I’m KIDDING you guys, geesh).
2. I was going through a Korean food love/acceptance phase recently but today the realization that I was eating crab-brewed stew, regardless of the fact that no actual crab was present, really upset me. I might be off the juice. Sigh.
3. We live by the water, y’all. (I was trying out the Southern slang. Doesn’t really suit me though, does it? Try picturing it with like a down-pointed finger gun of sorts. You *better* know what I’m getting at here. I don’t know how else to explain it). I mean, we LIVE by the WATER. So there’s that. And that is nothing to snub our noses at. Oh, where I was going with that is…it’s great, especially now that the weather is starting to shape up and Daisy and Jon and I go for a nice walk down by the water, with our coffees, almost every morning. And it is a damned fine start to the day.
4. I started a book club! I have exactly two (but a third pending!) group members, not including myself. And we have not met yet. But we will! And all agreed on copious amounts of wine! (Ok, so I added the ‘copious’) So you just KNOW it’s going to be awesome. Female friends plus wine plus books plus I LIVE BY THE WATER equals good times are going to ensue. It’s a mathematical probability.
5.I ride the bike now. I am still quite nervous. I trust Jon but I do NOT trust Korean drivers. Based on observation. Because they are simply not the most cautious. Remember how that cab we were IN ran over that guy on a BIKE?! I don’t think it’s overreacting to be a little on the scared side. That being said, it is nice for us to be able to scoot around a bit and I know it means a lot to Harding, so I’m sucking it up and determined not to be an old lady, or a big baby, or whatever I could be called for being a scaredy cat. I would say I enjoy it about 15% of the time and am nervous the rest. Here’s to hoping those numbers invert before long!
6. Jon and I have started pursuing our next steps in terms of location and career moves. We are determined to properly suss out any new situation before jumping on it. Criterion are not much…only perfect job opportunity for Jon, perfect internship opportunity for me, somewhere that will let Dais in, somewhere that doesn’t have winter, somewhere that we can live by the water, somewhere that caters to vegetarians…nah, that last one, at least, was a joke (sorta). So we’re being picky. But that’s why we are starting early! Plenty of time until my contract is up…no need to make a rash decision. Oh, but Jon will very probably have to leave me here all alone for a while as he moves on to greener pastures. Don’t stress, you guys. The greener pastures are only work and job related. I’ve got a ring on my finger that says his *behind* (edited for the older readers) is…mine…or…he’s stuck with my pasture…hmmm, I’m not sure this is heading down a path we can all be comfortable with…
On that note, I’m off to teach some kids some things! Hope you enjoyed the catch up. If I’ve forgotten something about Korea or our lives that any of you want to know/hear about at some point, be sure to let me know!