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Friday, April 07, 2017

Out Of The Damp, Into Drama

I am thrilled with my dehumidifiers. The really steamy part of the year has yet to come, but they pull more than a liter of water from the air in my two room apartment every 12 hours. I empty the reservoirs twice a day. There is no obvious new mold growth on the wallpaper, and it is easy to breathe indoors. My new rug arrived and looks quite nice, and I needn't worry that the synthetic fibers will disintegrate in the damp. My countertop oven (it has a 40+ liter capacity and even has a rotisserie feature, so I hesitate to term it a simple toasting device) is waiting for me to mix up some bread dough. I got a large quantity of French yeast at the grocery store, and 5 kg of flour, so I really have no excuse for procrastinating. Next month, one of my seventh grade classes is reading a unit about bread, and I want them to learn to make their own. But before I have them do it I want to brush up on my own technique. It's been years.

This month is test preparation for the junior high school students, and I'm teaching two packed all-female cram classes instead of my usual assortment of inattentive boys and whispering girls. They are all pretty enthusiastic, and were delighted to find out that I had watched the Goblin serial (the adjummas in my adult class, which resumed this morning, have also enjoyed my elaborately swooning references to Gong Yoo). The theme song to Goblin is still playing on radio stations all over town. Right now, I'm watching Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Tunnel, The Liar and His Lover, and Mystery Queen. Tunnel is my favorite--it's good to have Choi Jin Hyuk back on TV, particularly playing a tough detective.

Oh. Speaking of Gong Yoo, all my fifth-graders and a good chunk of my fourth-graders have seen Train to Busan. I was really surprised that their parents would let them. I'm not sure I would have been able to handle a horror movie at that age. Another cultural difference was that a week ago when we discussed weddings (they were reading about parties and celebrations) in the fifth grade class, all four of the boys told me they wanted to get married – three because they wanted to have children, and one because he thought wedding food was delicious (he does like his vittles). They all said they wanted to marry between the ages of 24 and 31. The only girl in the class, however, said she did not want to get married at all. Perhaps marriage here is desirable for men – they have someone to cook for them and clean for them, among other benefits -- whereas for women it is much more a condition of drudgery? In any case, I don't think American preadolescents seriously think about marriage very much.

I have a growing collection of pencils, erasers, and umbrellas in my classroom. Children leave them behind, and I stack them in obvious places and they are never reclaimed. I end up lending out the pencils and erasers to students who forget theirs. I have yet to figure out what to do with the umbrellas. There are also several badminton rackets. Those are from before my time. Why there are badminton rackets on the fifth floor of a building that doesn't have a yard or a rooftop recreational area is a mystery.

I was in error several months ago when I mentioned that my classroom didn't have heat. It's a ceiling mounted unit, and it took me a while to figure out where it was and how to turn it on (there's a remote) but it worked beautifully for the chilly days. It is also apparently an air-conditioning system, or "Air-con" as they are known around here, but I don't know how to operate that aspect of it, and have temporarily settled for the low-tech option of opening the windows.

We have a rare five-day break at the beginning of May. It's Buddha's birthday. The city's central roundabout that was decorated with a lighted tree and crèche for Christmas now features an illuminated pagoda and a fence of colorful round lanterns. I have arranged to go to Seoul for the break to visit the DMZ (at last!) and to go shopping. Several of my shirts have developed holes. I do not like clothes shopping. In fact, I have yet to buy any of the socks that I so desperately need. If I had vast sums of money I would simply have all of my clothes and shoes made to fit by someone who knew trends and my tastes and I would not mess about with the misery of searching for the right styles and sizes.

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