Thursday, September 11, 2008

Glass half full, glass half full...

Do you recognize this person eating at Pho 2000?


Remember a few posts ago I told you that the motorbikes outside my classroom window sound like a never-ending loud Scriber lawnmower? I long for that lawnmower. Construction on the building right next to my window started on Tuesday. The jackhammer goes all day long. All day long. Every day. The jackhammer operator must eat while he is jackhammering. I can't hear my students and they can only hear me if I yell. By the end of the day...well...

Today I started at 7am and ended at 6:30 pm and didn't get everything done. We have to enter lesson plans into a computer system every single day for every single class; even though I teach only two preps, I have to reenter information five times every day. I must turn in weekly plans to my principal with all copies of work attached (plus student work). Every time we enter a grade for a student we must save that individual grade. I can't read the Vietnamese names of the kids so it takes forever just to find who turned what in. We started clubs today (we are supposed to lead a club after school on Thursdays) and they weren't organized so I made up games for an hour and a half. It's been raining for five days straight. The picture of my toes in my hammock, well, that was the first and last time I have had to enjoy it. It's monsoon season. And the rice cake lady is still MIA. And the ants still crawl up my wall.


Just to set the record straight, not once have I second-guessed being here. I haven't wished to be home (OK, maybe just for two days and then come back). My students are angels. But those of you who know my work style, it's to leave work and have a life. I don't really like to work that much...I mean, I like teaching, but yes I would rather be exploring and eating and...I hope it will get better...it has to get better. I haven't even had time to research a gym yet, so it will be three weeks without exercise...there is nowhere to just walk, let alone run, in this city. Running does not coexist with the motorbikes.

In the words of my mom, "You can do anything for ten months." When I think of her saying that, I try to picture her crossing the street of motorbikes. On the way to school, just before we get there, we have to negotiate a roundabout. Sometimes it takes the taxi ten minutes alone just to get through it, so now I get out and cross it by foot. It saves time and money (the taxi ride doubles sometimes just getting through it) but it just may cost me my life. (That last sentence was not meant to get back at you, Mom.)

After all, I knew it would be chaos, starting this new school and trying to head toward International Baccalaureate and all. The thing is, I don't care about IB. I'm not so into it. And when I'm working so hard I think...what am I doing this for? I have enough good recommendations...

But then things get better and my attitude shifts. Like tonight. Katherine and I discover a new alley in the grid and it seems to be "The Alley of Dreams." Many many rich houses and little restaurants serving fresh seafood. K and I have a date with some scallops tomorrow night, then we are coming home and watching a pirated movie (you can get them for under a dollar). Can't wait. Everything is an effort--everything we want to buy takes a whole trip, and we must ask, "Where is the best place to find a lamp?" "Where is the best place to find a rug?" Then we take a taxi and they let us off at the entrance to the grid and we carry things the rest of the way. In the rain. Oh, the rain. Wow, Seattle.

So, anyway, we find another turmeric rice cake place, a restaurant. They are very good -- they were covered with a rice milk cream or something this time-- and I was very happy with them, only I miss HER. And SHE charges only 6 cents per cake; this guy tonight charges us $2.40 for 8. Those high restaurant prices!! After the cakes, we wander some more and find a fruit juice stand a bit different from the many shake stands and we both order an original combination--I get carrot, orange and apple and it costs only 70 cents.

There are so many things to discover in this city. I know things will get better. Now everything seems insurmountable. Working eleven and a half hours at something I find tedious and meaningless is a thousand times worse with a jackhammer in the background.
So, #1 Fan... (she sent me a personal email, which seems so strange...I don't really know how to talk to her outside of the blog), your perceptions were right on. I am struggling a bit. I guess you can tell when I don't post for two days. Tomorrow is Friday and I am so so so happy. Good night everyone. You wouldn't believe how hard it is raining!

4 comments:

AmyT said...

The glass half full of carrot orange & apple juice! If those long days are tedious, be sure and pour what you love into it: Some rhyme they always mispronounce which makes you giggle. (my favorite was when Hungarians would ask, "do you feel yourself well in Budapest?" ) Travel Fridays where you show photos of your travels and they ask you specific questions. I tell you, the best way to teach command form is to cook (sundaes work best!). I know IB is huge, but is clearly isn't your huge. Learn their hoops, then spin them Marjie style. That’s why we love you, read you and support you!

Brian Bowker said...

I agree with AmyT; Sometimes organizations can get so focused on a goal that they start to loose sight of their actual purpose. Your purpose is to teach those kids as best as you can. Do what you do best! Make it fun for YOU and the kids will come along!

The Norris Clan said...

Oh, my friend. Funny how not even an ocean can interfere with my keen Marjie senses... Isn't it amazing how communication varies between two people - through letters, phone conversations, emails, over coffee, and yes, over blogs. I feel you, my friend. I agree with Amy - get the hang of THEM, then let THEM get the hang of you... they don't even KNOW the gem they have in you. Yeah for Friday... relax in your hammock. I have a feeling your godmother will show her face tonight :-)

AM said...

Oh, Marjie--sympathy is flying over your way! As if the jackhammer by itself wouldn't be enough! The clerical stuff sounds ridiculous. I agree that your salvation will be making the lessons as much fun as you can. And you can imagine my special evaluator from my student teaching, dozing in the back of the room, if you need a laugh. :) Hang in there!