Saturday, June 20, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I’m in the middle of getting ready for a good-bye party and the last thing I want to do is descend four flights of stairs to talk to Nam. But I do. He's really drunk. Minh looks really uncomfortable.
The thing is, I told Katherine when I got home that there would be a scene with Nam. “He wasn’t there to pick me up at five. There will be a scene.” I know this man.
So here we are. Nam is making the low growling/moaning sounds he made the last time he was drunk at the castle, sad about never seeing me again. At least he is not on the floor this time. He picks up a wicker fan and starts fanning close to my face. He tells Minh to tell me that he was there at 5:10. Why didn’t I wait for him?
“I had to come home to get ready,” I say, pushing the annoying fan away, knowing the conversation will go nowhere. Nam accuses me of lying when I say I waited ten minutes. He points his long finger at me and says, “No!” You know what? He's right. I didn't wait. He knows me, too.
Then he tells me I need to learn Vietnamese so I can communicate with him better. “You’re in Vietnam. Learn Vietnamese!” He makes a defiant gesture with his hand, pointing to the ground. (Later, K says “No, Nam, that’s the exact reason she doesn’t learn Vietnamese, because if she did, she wouldn’t like you at all!”)
“He’s really drunk,” I say to Minh. “You should take him home.” He's only had over an hour to drink since he was supposed to pick me up, so it must have been quick and heavy. As far as I know, he hasn't been drunk on a pick-up yet.
“I know. I’m sorry. My uncle…”
Then Nam starts accusing me of other things. Like that I’m late a lot. And that I am not consistent. That I need to tell him pick-up times more clearly. And that I need to wait for him if he is late. I’ve been taking taxis home for the past two weeks, so the first time I have asked for a ride in the evening in a long time, he blew it.
To summarize, I do everything wrong and he is there to point it out for me. Sound like any relationships you know? Yeah, and they're married, right?
I ask Minh again to lead him out of the house. I try to connect with Minh on something else- because he is so sweet- like the fact that Nam told me that his mother is walking a little bit. “I’m glad your grandmother is doing better,” I say. He thanks me and tries to push Nam out. It’s a difficult task.
This morning, Nam salutes me when I get out to the street. He doesn’t look sheepish or anything. In fact, when he sees my breakfast of glutinous rice cakes topped with custard, he just says, “No!” He really prefers to expedite my food; as you know, I usually hide my purchases in my bag. But I admit it... I leave it out today just to get a reaction - because I am into self-torture.
I’m tired of Nam. I’m tired of sweating all the time. Tired of ants and cockroaches and motorbikes. I’m so tired that I have no blog game for this Thursday. Wrapping things up at school is always exhausting.
But here’s something not-exhausting: I was voted “Middle School Teacher of the Year” by the student body. What an honor. I have to give a speech at the closing ceremonies - not my favorite thing - but at least most of the audience will not understand me anyway. I am very touched to get this recognition from the students I have enjoyed so much this year.
Another thing not-exhausting: Cecilie from Norway will arrive next Thursday for what will surely be a week of fine shopping as well as fine viewing: we are going to Hoi An, the clothes-making capital, and to Halong Bay - which I hear has the most beautiful scenery in Viet Nam. Actually, that does seem a little bit exhausting, but in a fun-exhausting way.
So, yes, I can endure the ants, cockroaches, motorbikes and heat for a few more weeks. As for Nam...well, I think I should at least stop talking to Katherine about him, because she definitely can't endure him. Could you?
Monday, June 01, 2009
This is Henry from 6D: last weekend he was not Henry, he was "The Great, the Wise, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." He started out pretty quiet in that role, but by closing night he had transformed into the Wizard - very Wonderful and Powerful and everything.
So today in Ancient we are about to read the very last paragraph of the text (that's right, we made it through six civilizations by the last week of the year...) and I say to the kids, "I want someone to read this with a really big voice. It's the last paragraph of our book. Who wants to try?"
About seven kids volunteer, so I have them read the first sentence as a try out - something about the "Fall of Rome." After five kids read rather flatly (and I say "no, no, no!") I say to Henry, "Henry, read this in the voice of The Wizard!"
And without any hesitation, he begins reading about the Fall of Rome, accessing the same voice he had on closing night. The class goes wild. At the last sentence, he stands up and uses hand gestures. Next, in his Wizardly Frenzy, he throws his Ancient World textbook on the floor and stomps on it amid the cheering of his peers.Now I know that books are sacred and everything, but the whole scene is funny, so I just say to him, "WIZARD! What would Scarecrow say? (or WWSS?)" And he actually gets a really funny, guilty look on his face.
Henry was also responsible for the best blooper of the night... for weeks, when he was supposed to say "University of Omaha" - he just couldn't get it right. He kept saying "University of Obama" - Obama being a much more familiar word to him. Both opening night and the next he said it correctly, but not without a little hesitation. Saturday night, though, he said "University of...of...Obama." The crowd loved it and he has heard about it all day from the kids. He was Tarn's favorite character.
Another: we had to fire Toto a week before the performance because he wasn't taking rehearsals seriously. On dress rehearsal Saturday he didn't show up at all. Ryan from my 6E class happened to be there just to hang out with his friends. A natural actor, I asked him if he would like to be Toto. "Let me think about it for five minutes," he said. Five minutes later, he was on stage. He mastered the tongue sticking out and panting and following Dorothy around very quickly, but the former Toto is the smallest kid in school. So Alice cut the dog body in half and Ryan just wore the bottoms and the head. What happened, then, was that every time he turned around, the audience would laugh at his pants that hardly fit and at his black and white checkered boxers. At one point on Saturday night, he lost his dog pants completely. Paula, who also helped with the play and who also has Ryan in class, and I were laughing ourselves silly over Ryan's every movement during every performance.
What I didn't mention in my other comments on the play: opening night was a sort of disaster. The main problem was the audience...TERRIBLE. I didn't know that Vietnamese audiences have such a bad reputation. They talked through the whole thing. They didn't clap at the right places until Fran and I led them to clap at the right places. The sound technicians missed many of their cues. The lights were off. The kids were great, but off. Everyone went home kind of mopey. Alice said she felt like she had given birth and had a miscarriage.
Friday night, though, was amazing, as was Saturday. The crowd was older and smarter. The kids were ON. Alice had a very healthy baby. In this picture with Alice is Gink: Gink is just one of Alice's healthy babies. Gink played the piano and did an amazing job. What a talent. OK, SeattlePam, there are your pictures...finally! (The extremely good ones were taken by Tarn, of course!)
(Mungo and Karyn, you must provide an acting blooper story...)
As for the shadow dancing, remember that it was juxtaposed against the colorful front world of Dorothy and the Munchkins and it showed the world of the King of Darkness and his slaves (slaves are equivalent to the monkeys in the movie)~ All of the choreography for the shadow was done by Alice, but Alice had one of her hip hop dancers, Adrian, choreograph the munchkins' dances. I will include one of my favorite parts.