Published: July 22nd 2005
July 22nd 2005
Finally back on the blog, by popular demand, which can only be counted as popular demand if popular demand can be counted on one hand.
So I don't have much to write about, but here is a general update.
Terrorists Are Jerks
I used to be almost a sympathizer of the terrorists - hell, I don't agree with a lot of Western expansionist policies and practices, either (this coming admittedly from an English teacher in a foreign country - to defend myself I will say that I'd rather colonized people - including every citizen of the United States who owns a television (that's advertisers who have made you purchase a space for them in your living room) - I'd rather colonized people have access to the terms of colonization, which is in this case often the power of media, often in English.) But these new attacks just drive the point home - these guys are jerks. I never agreed with their methods, but I thought they maybe just had something to say, and felt trapped, as if this was the only way they could say it. Understanding their message a little more clearly now, their message sucks, and they're not going about spreading it in a way that is compassionate nor clear. As irritating as Krishnas can be, I'd much prefer that kind of harrassment at centers of transport. I think it's clear that "Muslims in general" and Islam as a whole are not to blame - just as "Catholics" and "Catholicism" are not to blame for child-molesting priests. But the terrorists (assuming this is not all just some conspiracy, which I don't think is beyond a realistic look, in which case the conspirators) are insane. They don't value human life - they are not acting as Muslims but as arms of Allah, which is dangerous and conceited. I like to think that for God, creator of everything, all creation is both priceless and worthless, but that I'm in no position to play God. Freedom as a value, I believe, is sort of a repetition of terms: one can only place value on anything because one is free to do so, as an inherent, inalienable right of birth. Everyone is free to do exactly what he or she wants, but I wish that people would learn to keep their hatreds to themselves. The terrorists are jerks.
There have been several events held at the school I work at over the past week and a half, open house things where parents come, see a mock lesson, eat rice cakes (for you Westerners, these are not the same thing as the health food snacks, these are gooey, delicious, filled cakes, almost like donuts), and be generally kowtowed to by the staff of the school. Much bowing and gladhanding.
It is gratifying to meet the parents of one's students, but a little nerve-wracking. I was under duress for these three Open House Days for a few reasons. 1) I had to wear a formal suit, which I had to pay for out of pocket. Not happy about that. 2) Formal suits make me uncomfortable. 3) The weather here has been like 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees F) with a humidity of like a bajillion-trifrillion. So my beautiful summer suit stuck to me like cheap Halloween makeup. 4) The mock lessons were scripted. If you know anything about Koreans, they like things to run smoothly as far as presentations go. I'm not an actor and, thanks to years of drug abuse and its after-effects, not much of a memorizer, either. 5) Goddamn it, it was HOT up in this piece.
Turns out, I hadn't much to worry about (though worry I did). Here's why: 1) At least I own a suit now; I am available for weddings, christenings, anniversaries, and bar mitzvahs. 2) As long as I stay inside (tough for a smoker), air conditioning will keep me from melting. 3) The parents were there to see their kids, not me. As long as I enabled their children to show off their English skills in a semi-entertaining manner, I could have sworn allegiance to Satan's Army and it wouldn't matter. Such is the love of parents. Also, as it turns out, as long as I have a general idea of what to say and in what order I ought to say it, public speaking isn't so difficult. 4) Formal suits make me look good. In all truth, I dress up pretty nice, which is probably why it makes me so uncomfortable. I don't get to write off my often slothful and selfish behavior so easily to my choice of attire. All in all, the open houses went fine.
After the last open house today I got to break boards at work. It was on lunch break, so it's not as if I got paid for it, but it was well worth the time and effort to feel like a total badass. The last open house had a kiddie Tae Kwon Do session - really cute to see all these little munchkins beating up on the punching pads, having to be coaxed into taking a swing at the instructor's open hand as if they're truly afraid they will cause damage. Anyway, the instructors left some instructional aids in the form of half-inch thick pine boards of proper shape and size for a little smashy-smashy.
To be fair, the boards were dry as the Sahara. They probably leeched moisture from the air every second, growing measurably heavier. And the first board was broken by a teacher named Ruby. (Attention, ladies, before you get pissed off: sorry. We are talking about a fairly petite Asian woman here, just not a woman I would expect to be able to break a board. Later her and I had a little kicking contest, where she clearly won, since she kicked above her own head...in heels. I bought her ice cream. Okay, so I bought everyone ice cream.) It was weird, she told me to hold this piece of wood in front of my face, then she said, I am not kidding, "smile." Then - BLAM! To tell you the truth it kind of turned me on. Ahem.
I went next. I don't know; I half-expected to mispunch and hit someone's face or to break my hand on this board; I'm a right-handed puncher and a left-handed writer, so I figured what the hell? I gave it a shot and - BLAM! - instant tinder. I hit the damn thing so hard that Ruby, who was holding the board, caught a flying piece of the board in her ear, the other piece narrowly missing Eric, who was sitting behind her. I felt truly awesome, then I said sorry to Ruby and told her she could box my ear if she wanted. She declined, although I'm not sure if she totally understood the last part, for which I may be lucky. After the ruckus caused by my display of masculine prowess, there was no holding us back. The other teachers all came in a took shots at boards - there were pieces of wood flying everywhere, a free-for-all of punching and congratulations. Some of the teachers opted for the karate-style chop, but the fist is where it's at for pure bad-assery. As the boards got smaller by halves, we didn't run out, we only multiplied our targets until they got too small to mean anything. Then I tried to break a board with my head.
I don't know what was running through my mind, but I figured my head is a lot harder than my fist. Maybe, but not as dense or as sharp; I can't quite get it moving fast enough to split a board. All those years of head-banging to Metallica come to naught. Remember kids, it's what's on the inside of the head that counts as a weapon. And I wasn't using that, drunken on adrenaline or testosterone or dopamine...Now I have a decent-sized reddish lump on my forehead that still smarts a little. Or should that be "dumbs" a little. Heh.
But, my display of manly idiocy prompted the other teachers to ask if I could break two boards at once. I didn't know. One board, yeah, cake, all day long, sure, but two? They got Eric to set up, holding two of the boards. I looked at them, brought my fist back, emptied my mind, and - BLAM! - hit Eric right in the finger. Aim, I forgot to aim, possibly due to my recently self-inflicted head injury. I apologized again and asked if he was okay. He said he was, and quickly set up for a second go. I think he maybe wanted to see me break my hand for hitting his finger, because I hit it pretty hard. Well, what do you think happened? Do you think I would be typing this much with a broken finger? Possibly; a broken tooth couldn't shut my mouth.
I put my fist on the board, steadying it and trying to feel the board's place in space; if I hit another finger, I might have had boards broken over my head; if I hit the same finger, I might have taken a groin shot. Everyone got quiet. I closed my eyes, took my best shot and - BLAM! - two boards became four. I now refer to my right hand as the Math Teacher because it will multiply the number of boards you have by two by dividing them equally, it will add lethality to any situation, and subtract the presence of unwanted, dried pine boards. Yeah, boyee. It was a great way to release some of the leftover stress of the open house process and I urge anyone to break some shit, because it is fun. Just don't use your head.
Oh, man, do I wish I had some pictures.