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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

White Pi Day

Among nerds in the United States, today was Pi Day. Among the romantically involved in South Korea, however, it was White Day.

Traditionally (or at least since the confectionery and greeting card industries established a foothold here on the peninsula), women give men handmade chocolates on Valentine's Day. The men give women chocolate one month later, on March 14, White Day. Why it is called White Day I do not know (and I don't feel like looking up on Wikipedia at the moment). Certainly, it is a name that wouldn't fly in the US and Canada. But this is a different world.

I teased several of my young students about not giving me any candy when they mentioned the occasion. They all claimed to be penniless. A likely story, given the fact that they have smart phones in third grade... One of my older adult students gave me a packet of peanut butter sandwich cookies. I think she was trying to cheer me up, as I was dismayed that the class numbers had shrunk (it now averages a faithful 17 on my teaching days, having begun with thirty odd) and I was moved to apologize to everyone for talking too rapidly, unclearly, and frequently for beginners.

Today has been one of those days where every small hiccup seems like an earth-shattering catastrophe. This afternoon I attempted to introduce my third-grade class to the book Frog and Toad are Friends, a longstanding favorite of mine. It turned out to be way beyond their comprehension. Within minutes, most of them started running around and talking, totally oblivious to me and to any of my efforts to reestablish control, and several resolutely announced they were leaving, and even donned their backpacks. I had to scramble for alternative material to fill the last 15 minutes of class and bring the students back into a semblance of order.

Yesterday, like today, the weather was clear and lovely and I was incongruously fretful. I embarked on retail therapy: I went up the street to do some overdue grocery buying, and on the way back I passed a bicycle shop. In the window there was a beautiful old fashioned green bicycle with high red-brown leather-wrapped handlebars, a wide leather seat, and a metal basket. I went in and bought it (and a handful of accoutrements) in ten minutes. And three minutes later I nearly got run over by a car that failed to observe the traffic signal as I wheeled my new toy via the crosswalk at a lighted intersection. The tiny sedan screeched to a stop less than 6 inches from my front white-walled tire. I was wearing my new helmet, so my brain might have survived unscathed, but the rest of my body would've been considerably worse off.

The weather is beautiful but it is damp. After several days of inactivity, both my dehumidifiers have been running nonstop for 48 hours. I may have to buy an air purifier, too--a thick blanket of grey dust coats everything daily. I hate dust almost as much as I hate mold--well, not quite, but it does make me sneeze, and a dust cloth only collects the stuff that has settled, while more is airborne. However, all these gadgets certainly have hefty price tags...

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