Monday, January 28, 2013

two meetings (post)

My first meeting went well-- better than expected, in fact. I didn't learn anything new about the publishing opportunity, but I did, happily, come away with a better impression of the ajumma whose son I'm supposed to be contacting. Mrs. Z is nicer in person than she is on the phone, and she apparently came away "very impressed!" by me after our hour-long talk, which was mostly in Korean with a bit of English sprinkled in (I did far more listening than talking; she's quite verbose). We met close to YB Near, at the tiny food court of a nearby H-Mart (H-Mart is a very large, almost warehouse-style Korean grocery); I found out she's about to finish renovating the downstairs portion of her house, and she invited me to move into it for cheap rent (how cheap, I have no clue). I politely declined, having only just met the woman, but she told me to call her anytime-- "Just to talk"-- or to come over and visit, and she'd cook me something tasty.

I got the feeling that Mrs. Z warmed to me quickly, and also that, because she's an empty-nester who's lonely and in her seventies, she's just looking for company. She probably knows something of my personal story regarding Mom and her brain cancer, thanks to the constant scuttlebutting of the northern Virginia Korean-American wives' community, so she may, like many ajummas before her, be auditioning for the role of surrogate mom. Her attitude about the job opportunity turned out to be more along the lines of "Take it or leave it, but at least keep an open mind for now," which is about where I find myself, anyway. I'm supposed to send her, her son, and another contact my résumé; I promised to do so tonight.

The second meeting was unintentionally hilarious, and was a brutal reminder that I really need to improve my Korean skills. The woman I met today (one of the barbershop ajummas) was there with her friend, and they had brought along their kids... who turned out to be elementary schoolers. I had thought Mrs. Y had said, over the phone, that her son was a high-school senior (sa hak-nyeon, i.e., fourth-year), but she had meant that he was merely a fourth-grader. Disappointingly, she also wants me to teach for only one hour per week, which means that, if she purchases a ten-hour package from me, she'll be paying me only once per ten weeks. My next payment won't be until April. That sucks.

On the bright side, the kids seem well-behaved. They're going to be learning math with me, as it turns out (where in hell did I get the idea they'd be doing SAT work? my hearing must be shot). Even though their math grades are currently pretty good ("pretty good," to an Asian, means an "A" average), the mothers want their sons to progress more quickly in math so that they can be placed in more advanced middle schools. I've seen this happening at my regular job in YB: I teach several fourth- and fifth-graders pre-algebra because their parents want them out of regular public education and into accelerated programs.

So today's meetings weren't that bad, overall. As an introvert, I'm not usually comfortable meeting new folks, so I cooled down today by eating a last-hurrah meal at the Bonefish Grill, which isn't far from YB Near. I suppose, in the coming weeks, we'll see what comes of all this.


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