Friday, July 15, 2005

sweat, sweat, and more sweat

For a "nothing" Friday, it's been a busy day.

Got to Smoo around 10:15AM today to see about a free listening clinic being offered to interested students. Discovered I wasn't needed (the students were doing self-study), which was fine by me. The students apparently took care of everything themselves. So I sat down in the office and furiously cranked out lesson plans for 90 minutes, then went to the bank and transferred money to my American account. Sent only about $1200; will need to send more later, but need to keep some for my dental appointment on August 5 (thanks, Sperwer, for the help with that).

Ate a very nice lunch with my level 2 conversation students over at a Mongolian restaurant-- guksu-jeongol, a close cousin of shyabu-shyabu. Fresh-made pasta, paper-thin slices of meat, mushrooms, beef broth... followed by an eggy, mollusc-filled rice porridge that served as the second course. Quite good, if a bit pricey. The restaurant was in the underground arcade beneath the Seoul Financial Center, a building I'd never entered before. Quite a few nice-looking (and money-sucking) restaurants in there.

Left the restaurant and went with the students to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, a chain I've seen in Korea but never in the States, where it apparently originated. I assume it's a Starbucks knockoff. Had myself some sort of iced chocolate milk with a huge dollop of whipped cream; it basically morphed into a milkshake while I was sucking it down. My students seemed to enjoy our little outing; too bad they spoke to each other in Korean for much of the time, but I'd probably act the same way were I in their shoes. It wasn't really an English lesson, so I didn't stress about it. I spoke to them in English the whole time, they answered me in English, and that was fine with me.

Left the students around 2:30 and tooled around with my American buddy T for a few hours in the Chongno/Kwanghwamun area, then headed over to Itaewon, where we wolfed down Whoppers at the infamous Burger King and picked up my book (photographic evidence to follow; stay tuned). Have been taking dumps all day as well, largely a consequence of a binge at Outback Steakhouse last night. Plops dropped all over Seoul. Hats off to the Koreana Hotel for a nice, comfortable restroom.

Tonight: more lesson planning, then a sweaty hike up Namsan, then laundry. I'm seeing "War of the Worlds" on Sunday. Saturday will likely be spent reading through the entire Reduced Shakespeare Company script, then reducing the Reduced script even further, condensing the 97-minute running time to about 25-30 minutes.

A script for about 30 people. Hell, will we even have 30 people next week? This past Wednesday, I had only about 25, a huge drop-- more than I expected-- from the 40 who came the first lesson-- this despite glowing reports from the students to the main office about how much they'd enjoyed the class. What's infuriating about such unreliability is that the students make it difficult for me to figure out just what script I should be using. Before the semester, I'd planned for about 10-15 people-- a guess based on the previous semester's four students. A day before the semester started, I learned we were to have 35-40 people, which meant throwing out everything I'd put together. This in turn meant finding an appropriate script, which led to my desperate search for The Complete Works, a search concluded only today. If students drop out to the point where we've got only, say, 20 people, then that places a huge load on the remaining students' shoulders.

It's a challenge. I might have to get nasty with my students and tell them that, if they drop out, they shouldn't bother coming back. I confronted a few of my Wednesday absentees when I saw them on Thursday; they offered lame excuses about being too tired or having made plans with friends. As of this coming Wednesday, everyone who's planning on staying in the course will have to be there, no exceptions. Yeah, I'm simply gonna lay down the fuckin' law, pull a George Bush, say you're with me or you're agin' me, and go from there.


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