was this a hardware store? or just some other random namebrand that wedged its way into my brain?
18.11.2009 75 °F
I think I have come to like eating tamarinds because of the seeds. The taste is lovely, sure, but I am oddly satisfied when I have cleaned the seed of its yummy pulp and have this smoothed pebble rolling around in my mouth. So today, when I felt like bursting in tears, I ate tamarinds instead, focusing on the seeds and putting them in my pockets, like Amélie and her skipping stones.
Plus, no tears since Saturday. I might not be the undefeated Saints, but damn it, I have a winning streak I'd like to maintain if I am to break even.
Wednesdays I have what has come to be my most frustrating class—a group of sixteen to eighteen year old boys studying electronics. To put it bluntly, they don't want to be there, which is probably why only 8 of the registered 40 showed up to class today. From what I gathered the others were either studying or playing football; they were a bit vague on this point. So I let them go an hour early. What can you teach 8 students that you won't have to reteach if the rest of them decide to show up next week? I even switched into Thai at the end of class to stress that the next week I wanted more students to come. I then moved to the hongpakruu, or the teachers waiting room to, well, wait for my next class. And eat tamarinds. I eavesdropped on James' very studious class that was being held in the awkward, boardless room. They were taking notes, asking questions, hanging out after class. As happy as I was for James, my frustration decided to hitch a ride with a little bit of jealousy as I sat preparing for my next class.
My second Wednesday class was actually the first class I had ever had. They trickled in slowly, their numbers moving from three to something in the twenties. Unfortunately, they kind of straddle lesson plans, as I had a half of a lesson with them once, which throws them into my guinea pig class territory, and while their level is one of the lower ones that I teach, their general enthusiasm more than makes up for it. Plus, I can pick on them. As we were reviewing numbers the first week in unison, one kid who was bored with the routine stood out with his proclamation of "ONE-ONE" instead of eleven. Taking my cues from the students' laughter, I made the bold move of singling this kid out as The One To Be Picked On. Therefore his name became Mr. One One. As his name is memorable and so far away from the impossibly long and utterly unpronounceable Thai names, he became my example for everything. "Mr. One One is taller than Lek. Mr. One One is more beautiful than Mary." It just makes for a more enjoyable teaching experience all around. Plus, it's kind of fun to go on a teacher power trip, line up all the boys, hand them a picture of a lady and have to girls arrange them from ugliest to most beautiful.
These pictures have all come from the many magazines I shipped in my diplomatic pouch with the overambitious hope that my students would be able to read the articles. Now, they are being cut up left and right to help with descriptions. Meaning that Judge Sotomayor receives such adjectives as "fat" "ugly" and "old" while James Dean is described as "young," "thin" (or slender by more ambitious students) and "young." Oh, the small pleasures of teaching.
High and Low. Everyday.
But I feel that I am starting to find my footing somewhere in a sense of routine. I eat lunch with the other teachers and have managed to ask about contributing to the general collection of food. I keep office hours. Every time I enter my bathroom I find where the ants are trying to establish themselves this time around and promptly spray them. There are a few holes in things, don't get me wrong. I still don't have a bike, I still end up looking blankly at people about 80% of the time, and still have not seen 2 of my classes. But students are calling out to me as I pass them. I consider their "Hello!" as an invitation to conversation and will go and try to illicit further sentences from them past the usual "I am fine, thank you."
On Monday, TUSEF sent a teacher to review my teaching. It was nice to have someone else share in the general concerns that occupy my life. My students were one hour late; sometimes my classrooms do not have boards; I can hardly communicate with my host teachers. It was also reassuring to here the critiques of my teaching, as they were generally good. Tuesday I was told to be at building 3 at 8:00 am. Maew called me at 9:20 to tell me my class is waiting for me and I tried to explain that I was to be welcoming a visitor and could not teach my class that morning. Because that's all I knew. At 9:30, we followed the Deputy Director's instructions, imitated what everyone else was doing, missed some class, watched a video and had our pictures taken. (really! I'm on the DTEC website now!) I have come to expect both the general disregard for time as well as the doing something without understanding in the slightest what is going on.
But I can understand a bit more of the old woman who sells me my daily iced coffee every time. As she speaks like every other person who is abundant in years and slightly lacking in teeth, rambling and mumbling in the same breath, the is a huge accomplishment. She put her hand in the air riding past me on her motorbike the other evening, in a gesture reminiscent of Kundera's Immortality (which I am still working on finishing…). I will probably never fully understand her, but we both understand that, so it's okay.
I stayed up late to try to see the meteor shower last night. Not too much in the way of meteors, but what a killer night sky I have here.