Wednesday, June 02, 2004

your nipples are crunchier than usual this evening, my love

[NB: The last computer I was on at this PC-bahng decided to eat the post I'd been working on, so I've wasted a fucking hour for nothing.]

There needs to be a special episode of Sesame Street in which Oscar the Grouch pops out of his garbage can with an AK-47 and lays waste to all living creatures in his field of fire while screaming, "DIE, FUCKING DIIIIIIIIE!!"

But that has nothing to do with my laundry, which is currently flapping around like an empty scrotum atop the building I now call home. I had a ton of laundry to do, and little time in which to do it: my SWU classes ended at 4PM and my gig across town began at 8PM. I had from about 4:30 to 6:45 to take care of laundry and other matters.

While doing laundry, I saw a sign saying that the rooftop is accessible from 8AM to 10PM, which precludes any rooftop ch'am-seon at dawn. A shame. But it's a nice view from the roof; I can look across the street at the tops of buildings on Korea University's campus, then rotate a bit and stare at Nam-san in the distance. Pretty cool. I might end up spending a lot of time out on the roof, weather permitting.

I had my very first hasuk dinner this evening. Breakfast and dinner are part of the monthly rent. Dinner wasn't bad; both the adjumma and adjoshi worked the kitchen together. They were also kind enough to give me the building's mailing address; I'll need it for the DSL people. I called Dacom today and found out I have to give them my "customer number" (go-gaek beon-ho) which is on my contract... which is buried in a pile of paperwork somewhere inside some still-unpacked boxes. So this might take a few days longer than I anticipated. Did I mention I now live in a cramped place with barely enough room to flick my tongue?

Ah, yes-- I should mention that dinner marked my official introduction to the college students who've become-- not by their choice-- my hasuk-mates. They were either shy or frosty about having me in their midst. I swear to Jesus, if one of them decides to take a shit in the shower drain as an anti-American statement, I'll buy an axe and start carving my name into people's backs. I'm sure the shit thing won't happen, though; I had a cordial enough conversation with one student who's a Business Administration major at KU. That's my "in." The other students now know I'm not as alien as I look.

Wednesday is my last day of "real" class at SWU. Thursday's the final day, but we're going to have a series of mini-parties, so I don't plan on having a lesson prepared. Since I don't do any private tutoring on Wednesdays, I'll probably head over to the LG Telecom office and give them a change of address, get a badly-needed haircut at my favorite salon (they're only a few steps away now), and do the bulk of my unpacking. I'm also anxious to know how Min-sung's dad is doing, so I might give Min-sung's family a call on Wednesday afternoon.

My adult tutoree, Mrs. Oh (Jang-woong's older sister), has done very well on the multiple-choice portions of her latest TOEFL computer-based test. She's hoping to get at least a 3.5 on the essay portion. The TOEFL CBT posts your partial score immediately after you finish the test, but because the essay is graded by a human being, you're on tenterhooks until you can call a special number and get your results, usually about a week or so later. Mrs. Oh's written English is actually pretty good-- certainly better than a 3.5 (the maximum essay score is a 6). Mrs. Oh has been improving over the past few months; her written English "sounds" a bit more natural now. I'm a big hypocrite because I preach to her the antithesis of my blogging style: brevity and clarity. The refrain I give her is, "Keep it simple, keep it direct." She knows enough on her own to supply the rest.

I'm happy that Mrs. Oh actually seems to heed my suggestions, despite an almost reflexive desire to debate every goddamn point with me. She used to freak about how to answer an essay question, so I spent a few weeks basically inculcating a more Western mode of thought: outlines are A-B-C, 1-2-3. Intellectually, she knew this already: Koreans deal with outlines and other Western-style schemas all the time, especially nowadays, but Mrs. Oh freezes up in testing situations, so she needs gentle prodding. I feel proud because I've helped to wean her away from the compulsion to memorize essay responses in the vain hope that, somehow, the essay she encounters on the actual test will be one she's seen before. The process of weaning has taken a long time; it's basically been a drawn-out version of that proverb about the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him how to fish. Mrs. Oh is perfectly capable of original, rigorous thinking; it's just a matter of bringing this faculty to the fore.

Maybe I should have been a psychotherapist.

I see Mrs. Oh again on Friday. I expect she'll have done significantly better than a 3.5 on her essay: she's been taking the TOEFL once a month (since before I started tutoring her-- such is her level of dedication), and her scores have gone from a 3.5 to about 4.5. She even got a 5 once, which elated her, but her other scores were still below par on that test, especially in the listening comprehension sections (short conversation, long conversation, and lecture... and to be honest, I'd have trouble with the listening comp sections, which are hypnotically boring and promote a drooling forgetfulness).

Mrs. Oh has promised me dinner and a wild fuck if she passes the test-- no, wait... she only promised dinner. I'm not too worried for her; she is, overall, a good writer. I'm betting she gets a 4 or 4.5. Her doctoral program requires her to exceed a certain minimum score on the TOEFL before she can begin dissertation work. A 3.5 or better will push her over the minimum this time. I'm sure she passed with flying colors.


No comments: