acceptance and rejection

Right now my co-teacher and other teachers are giggling over some video at her desk.  No one bothers to share with me.  It’s okay, I probably wouldn’t find it funny anyway…

At lunch I’ve caused a minor scandal the past two days, simply because I’ve not taken any rice in the lunch line.  It’s really really surprisingly conspicuous for a Korean to not be eating rice, and I must admit my lunch tray looks strangely bare.  But I just. don’t. like. rice.  I’ve tried.  For years.  I’ve tried the past 1 and 3/4 years I’ve been in Korea.

The stuff is just over-rated!  And it’s not the skill of the rice cooking, as I’ve cooked rice for Koreans and they were surprised because it came out better than the rice they’d cooked for me.  It’s just dull stuff.  It’s pointless.  And I do NOT need a filler.  I’m 4′-10″ for God’s sake, I sit on my arse all day, my stomach is tiny;  so are my food needs.

It just got to the point where it was stupid to put it on my plate.  I’d take half as much as everyone else, and then only end up eating half that, and then only if there was some thin kimchi or seaweed to make it more interesting.  I figured, why continue to take and then waste any more of this food?  And SO MUCH FOOD GETS WASTED at these cafeterias every day.  It’s astounding.

I’m sure everyone thinks I am the pickiest eater on the planet – a princess or something.  I also won’t eat SPAM or any mystery meat.  Or octopus, simply because it’s over-cooked until it’s like rubber.  Or ddeok boki.  It, too, is totally pointless.  I don’t mix my bi bim bap.  I tend to eat proteins first, then vegetables, and soup last – this because proteins are the hardest to digest so your body can process them better if you eat them before your digestive fluids have been watered down.

“No bap.  WHY????”  Why? Why?  I don’t know.  Why do you like it so damned much?

To not eat rice.  It’s like anarchy here.

Speaking of anarchy – I often find myself messing with the social order here.  It wasn’t done on purpose, but then I realized it was kind of fun, and now I get some perverse satisfaction out of it.   For example, teachers get to skip ahead of students in the lunch line and take cuts.  Well, most days I have no reason to play my teacher card like that and one time I just elected to wait in line with the kids.  Big deal – and the kids probably need to eat right away, what with all the horsing around and activity they do.  I’m sure they need nourishment much more than us teachers.  Another couple of times doing this, and one teacher was passing by and then rather rudely taking her expected cuts and a student stopped her and then motioned in my direction.  Clearly, the students had noted that if the waygook doesn’t need to take cuts, then why did she?

Another time I explained on the morning broadcast to the whole school that everyone, no matter their age, gets the benefit of the doubt as far as respect  goes in America.  But that everyone of all ages can lose that.  Respect, I told them, has to be earned.

Today my co-teacher wanted to go over my lesson plan for the open classroom.  “I watched the videos of last year’s open classrooms,” she said. “One of the teachers was like an actor,” she said as she looked up expectantly at me.  I told her there were all types of people taking jobs as native English teachers, and all with different teaching styles.  I told her some were like actors,  (and usually do better with the younger students)  and some were like the teacher I replaced, who preferred worksheets and lists, and that I was someplace in the middle.  This is what you got, babe.  I can’t/won’t be a drama major for a day, just so you stand in a more entertaining light.

This is how this dance goes.  I reject.  They reject.  Acceptance is grudging.  I give of myself — way more than is required — but there are some things I won’t compromise.  They give me money.  Each night we go to our separate shoe-boxes and dream of warmer places.

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