Hello, boys and girls.

Today, I'm no Picasso is one tired bunny. It's been a hell of a week.

Started cello lessons, which are clear across town, an hour and a half, and start late. Went better than I expected it to, despite the fact that there's some other random guy attending the class who speaks to me in super polite Korean which does my head in. I get that that's good manners and all, and I hear foreigners complain about Koreans de-polite-izing their Korean because they think it's easier to understand. I'm not asking for 반말 here or anything, but laying off the 셔's and whatnot might help a bit. It's not that it completely puts me off my game -- it's just that it takes the ol' noggin a bit longer to catch up to what's being said. He's one of those all or nothing rationalizers, too. So one minute, when I understand something, that means he can speak rapidly and fluently, and I'll catch it all. The next, when I miss something, I'm back to obviously not speaking any Korean. But I think, given time, he'll get used to me. The teacher herself was great at foreignizing her Korean without dropping any polite endings and getting her points across. So that's the really necessary point.

But mostly, super polite Korean speaking adults make me nervous, because I don't really have the ability to reply on the same level. So I hate even saying anything at all.

The students got a big kick out of watching me trying to speak Korean on a more detailed level, and also watching the teacher guide me through my first time ever laying hands on the instrument. They're rough boys who don't tend to fawn over me as the foreign teacher -- I'm just a teacher, at this point. But they gathered around with great interest to watch the teacher guide me through the various motions of the basic four notes.

It's a lot of pressure. I don't need to be looking like a dumbass in front of my students. But thankfully, I did alright, and caught right up to them and their four extra weeks of experience.

Other things: I've stepped up the Korean studying this week, which is making me irritable. But needs to be done, and will ultimately be worth it. I've also put myself on a rather strict budget sort of just to see the state of things. I've got a lot of expenses coming up next month, and I realized it's going to tank my bank account down to a rather undesirable level for where I had intended it to be, so I need to figure out where some of this cash is going. I mean. I know where it's going. But I need to figure out, rather, how difficult it will be to stop it from going there.

I've got both the pressing issues of getting my hands on a decent electronic dictionary (which seem to come equipped with all other kinds of electronics under the sun in Korea, and therefore cost an arm and a leg) and possibly a student cello, if I decide to take this seriously, staring me dead in the face. I decided if I'm going to make these two rather expensive purchases, on top of what all I have coming up next month already, on top of starting to plan a European vacation with The Kid in the winter, I need to get a handle on things. I didn't come to Korea to rake in the cash or anything, but I also didn't come here to blow money without any concern for where it's going. There is a future looming out there, somewhere, and I'd like to give myself as many options as possible for when it finally arrives.

On top of all of this, I'm on a kind of temporary diet. Not so much for weight loss, as for sanity maintenance while my schedule picks up pace. Convenience store sandwiches and ramyeon are not acceptable sustenance for the kind of running around I've been doing. Neither are they particularly enjoyable to consume. So.

I guess I'm being kind of a hardass with myself suddenly. This is what I do when times get hard. I guess I just decide to make them even harder. Or, rather, I try to concentrate on goals and purposes to keep myself focused and out of all kinds of emotional mental health trouble that I would like to leave planted firmly in the past.

In other news, the teacher who's girls I teach every week offered to buy me an electronic dictionary today. Why? A going home present. I explained, baffled, that I was actually coming back to Korea. She said she knew, but she wanted to do something nice. I told her that allowing me to sit down to a lovely meal with her family every week and spend time with her fantastic daughters (the only time I get to teach girls ever) was more than enough. She insisted that because of the time she spent in New York not being able to speak English, she knew how hard things are for me. And that she sees me trying so hard to get better, and she just wants to help somehow.

I still feel like taking such an expensive gift can' t be helped but to be seen as a sort of payment for my "services", which given that such a thing is thoroughly illegal, I don't really feel comfortable with. Even if no one else in the world finds out about it. She's a pretty determined woman, though. We'll see whatever comes of it.

And now I have to go, because I've just received the strangest text ever from Smalltown:


Followed by:


My friends are really weird and I need a vacation.


Burndog said...

A gift is a gift comrade...it's not a payment. It's how the gears are greased in many things...or do you think that countries are awarded the World Cup and Olympics because they are 'worthy'?

I have had many a free chocolate brownie and cup of tea while I teach my ajumma...but it's just service...it's not a payment.

gwern said...

"Bobby Harris"?

Well. That's kind of odd. He a fan of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_in_Translation_(film) ?

I'm no Picasso said...

Burndog -- You're probably right. Anyway, the lady has gone and solved the issue for me by just handing over her old, pristine electronic dictionary from when she was in New York. It's all in Korean, so I'm having a hell of a time figuring out what in the samhill is going on, but I've got the basic, most important function down.

The thing is, it's just such an expensive gift. She always buys me dinner and coffee and drives me to school in the mornings when she can. I accept all of that readily. But fuck sake, these dictionaries are no joke. Taking one off her secondhand that she's not using anymore, though, that'll do fine.

Gwern -- Haha I don't think it was that involved. He explained to me, in great detail, the thought process that went into this on the phone last night, but I must admit I had a little trouble following it. Something about how he sometimes calls people Bobby randomly, and he had just stubbed his toe or something and come out with, "Bobby Harris!" instead of a curse, as he was in front of students? I don't know. He's obviously very odd. But that's why I keep him around.