An American on mute.

Fuck sake. Wasn't I just carrying on about having adjusted to saving face? Sometimes the Universe likes to come around and just bitch slap you right in the gob. I have no idea why. It wasn't as if I was having delusions of having conquered the fucking world. I knew my fucking place. I knew there was still work to be done. Did it really all need to come careening down on me at once?

Two things went to hell in a hand basket real quick this week. Unfortunately, they are the only two things a woman's got in this world: my personal life and my work life.

Now. I'm not going to go into the details of the personal life bit, because if you rubber-neckers really feel the need to have a look, you can see it in all its gory neurosis over in the other blog. But basically, the S.O. and I hit a major roadblock. And it's an issue of personality. Which is to say, it is probably -- at least in part -- also an issue of culture. Basically, the shit hit the fan. I needed to "talk it out". He needed to fuck off to his own corner and let it blow over. I couldn't help but feel like part of him needing to fuck off to his own corner was because he fucking caused it. I couldn't separate culture from the personal. Because, in some ways, they are inseparable. He had (is still having?) trouble working out what in the fuck is so wrong with just high-tailing it the fuck out of Dodge the second the 기분 gets fucked. Even if he was the one to fuck it.

The other thing is, the work just keeps piling up. All of the shit that's getting dumped on me last minute at the moment would not be a fucking issue at all if it weren't for the fact that I knew this shit would be coming, in one form or another, and I specifically asked not to be handed more than two after school classes a week. Instead, I was handed four. With first graders who don't know me, don't know my routines and my methodology, don't speak any English and require a fuckton of scaffolding and prep work. If you've got older, higher level boys, you can kind of wing it on some days. You're going to be able to get through to at least one kid in the class what the fuck they're meant to be doing. If you've got babies who don't have that much focus to begin with, and who cannot understand a word of what you're saying, you best make sure your ass is prepared. You best be sure that you can walk into that room and, without a word being spoken, be able to convey the meaning of all the vocabulary, all the grammar, and all of the directions and activities. Quickly and effectively. That takes a lot of work. A lot more work than high level third graders require.

So now, every time Head Teacher leans over the dividing cubicle and comes out with one more request, interrupting my frantic prep work at my desk, I want to fucking throw it in her face. No. Writing ten exam questions wouldn't be a problem. If I didn't have to prepare for four after school classes. No. Reading over your exam questions and doing a practice run to make sure I can answer all the questions correctly would not be a problem. If I didn't have to prepare for four after school classes. No. The last minute evaluation you're telling me I'm going to have in two weeks and all of the paperwork involved wouldn't be a problem. No, the business trip next week wouldn't be a problem. No, sitting in the EOZ during my leftover lunch time wouldn't be a problem. No, proof reading your work for the district office wouldn't be a problem. No, editing the science teacher's grad school course paper wouldn't be a problem. If. If. If. I didn't have to prepare for four after school classes.

But I can't say any of that. Or at least, I don't know how to say any of that in the right way. I may have gotten used to bearing the brunt of saving face from the other side, but I still don't really know how to do it myself. I don't know how to speak up for myself in the right way. And I'm aware of that. So the end result is that I feel like I'm on mute. I can't unload everything that I'm thinking and feeling on the S.O., because he's not going to respond well to that, given how blunt and ugly and direct it looks in his culture. I can't directly point out how horrific my work life is quickly becoming thanks to the Head Teacher ignoring me (and I couldn't point out the fact that she ignored me in the first place), because I don't know how to go about it in a culturally appropriate manner. When I open my mouth to speak with emotion, American is still what comes out.

So, for a few days now, I've been in a little hidey hole of self-pity. I feel frustrated. I feel pent-up, bull-dozed and generally unheard. It's one thing when someone saves your face -- it's another thing entirely when you have to save someone else's.

But it's a give and take. And I trust that, eventually, I will work it out. At least with the S.O., he's on my side. I have some room for error there. And some room for compromise. And I don't think work will feel as bad as it does, once the other is fully resolved. But that's going to take some time.

At the moment, I'm trying to vent as much as I possibly can by calling up other Americans and letting loose in the most colorful language imaginable. And they're saving my ass. Especially the ones who are here and who know why it is I can't say these things in this way to the people I really want to say them to. And who can offer suggestions on how I can better approach those situations (in)directly.

See. I still have moments. I still have my fucking beef with this culture. But it's not the culture's fault. And the thing I really need to remember at the moment is that it's not really mine either. I'm doing the best that I can. And the only way to learn is through experience. Trial and error. Baptism by fire. All that good shit. So I'm hanging in there. Very, very quietly.


superA1 said...

Hate that messed-in-the-head helpless wanna-punch-everyone-I-see feeling.
힘내. :(

Mr. Spock said...

Is there any way in the world that you can simply tell her "My prep work is keeping me very busy. I don't have time to do these other things." ? I am lucky that my co-workers are all very respectful of my time. She sounds like she is too dense to realize that it's her fault, but she could understand that she can't throw extras at you and expect them in a timely fashion...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps when she asks you to do another task you can 'ask' which task has priority - that way she gets an idea (hopefully) that you have a lot to do and adding to current tasks is not wise. Thats all i can think of to help with face saving!

Jake said...

Go ahead and accept your co-teacher's additional requests, and throw her a mean mug while you're at it. It's my experience that the mean mug is universally understood.

Monica said...

"I can't unload everything that I'm thinking and feeling on the S.O., because he's not going to respond well to that, given how blunt and ugly and direct it looks in his culture."

I get that you can't straight-up tell your head teacher what you're feeling, but why can't you tell your boyfriend about the situation? It's not like those emotions don't exist in Koreans, certainly he could understand where you're coming from and maybe he could give you advice about how to approach the problem.

I'm no Picasso said...

SuperA1 -- Thanks. Haha.

Spock -- I'm sticking with that first part, but it's not really doing me any good. A lot of it is things I don't really have a choice about. I'm the only one who can do them. And I'd feel ugly saying no. It's just that it's too much on top of four extra lesson plans a week, on top of four fewer lesson planning hours a week.

Saharial -- Not a bad idea. Just to kind of get the point the across.

Jake -- The mug is what I'm trying to control in the first place. My mugs tend to be automatic.

Monica -- I think you misunderstood. I can't unload on the S.O. about the situation WITH the S.O. I can bitch to him all I want about work. He has a boatload to say about his own as well. It's just that in our personal situation, I have to be careful how I word and handle things, because my way of dealing with conflict is much, much more direct and blunt than his is.

Monica said...

Ah gotcha. Guess I should work on my reading comprehension. ^^