Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Zen and the art of Z

[Quick note before I begin: I just farted into the thin cushion I'm sitting on, and it sounded exactly like a note from a didgeridoo. It's depressing to know that my ass is more musically talented than the rest of me.]

Z showed up for Tuesday's drama class a few minutes late, consistent with a larger Smoo student tradition of shameless tardiness (did I tell you about the one student who came to class three minutes before the end?). While I'm not exactly the most punctual guy in my personal life, I do start every class on time, as any professional should. Smoo's paying me; it's the least I owe the school.

Thursday will be our final class. I don't think Z has improved a bit. While the other students have gotten used to me speaking nearly full-speed to them (definite improvement in listening skills), Z remains mostly clueless.

I told the class that our "final exam" would be to run through four different versions of "The Emotion Skit," which we've beaten to death by now (Z still hasn't memorized her three short lines). We decided not to invite anyone to our little performance; this is simply a final run-through, followed by the jjong-p'ah-t'i, a Konglish word usually referring to little end-of-term parties. Our party will apparently involve mounds of Chinese delivery. Mmmm.

Z hung back a bit after the other students left, obviously intent on asking me something. Finally she managed, "There's going to be a test?" It was the end of class, so I broke down and spoke at length to her in Korean, explaining that this wasn't really a test in the ordinary sense because the course wasn't for credit and there was no grade. I also took the opportunity to berate her for not coming to class last Thursday-- the day she came all the way to campus, then turned around and left just before class started. She offered no reasons for running away that day.

I bowed her out of the class, finished putting the tables back, then went out into the hall. Z was meandering there. I asked her if she was headed home; she vaguely said yes. I headed upstairs to do some work. About two hours later, while walking off campus to grab a quick meal, I saw Z with two of her friends (it's reassuring to know she has friends), looking at some trinkets being sold by streetside vendors. I tugged her backpack to get her attention, then jokingly noted that she hadn't gone home yet. Z didn't say anything; she simply smiled and repeated the final word of every sentence I spoke to her.

"You're not going home?"


"Ah... I guess you'll be going home later."


Maybe I embarrassed her in front of her friends, since she was once again left pretty much speechless (and let the record show that she is the only woman I've ever rendered speechless... kinda sad). I left her to her shopping, got my meal, then went back to the office.

I saw Z again about an hour after that: she had decided to drop by our department's main office for some reason. At a guess, her visit had something to do with my class, and I can't imagine that she was there to sing my praises after I'd just berated her for acting like a freak last Thursday. Z has already proven herself capable of sneaky, scurrying behavior, and that journal entry she wrote a couple weeks ago demonstrated that her written English is far better than her spoken English, and that she has a rich, emotional inner life. Will be curious to see what sort of evaluation I get from her.

Maybe Z finally went home. She lives far away, so she couldn't have stayed on campus too long.

Could she?

Good Lord, what a student.


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