Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Dream Job

Today I had my first full two hour lesson with my new batch of intermediate reading and writing students. I had them do some diagnostics and one of them was to write a paragraph about their favorite person, their favorite vacation, or their dream job. Here's one girl's response, which nicely summarizes a common theme that I've noticed here:

"When I was a child, I read a lot of book. My favourite hobbie is read a book and write a something, so my dream job is literature teacher, but my department is tourism management. I want to be literature teacher, but my father didn't want. This department is his dream and I will be boss in hotel. Maybe I won't happy, but my father will be happy and this is very important for me. I like literature a lot of and I will always research writer, I will always read a book, I will always write a something, because this is my dream."

When I was a child, I loved maps and Indiana Jones. My favorite hobby was to find a remote location on a map and read about it and look at pictures of it and dream about going there, so my dream job was to be a geographer, a world traveler, an international teacher, but...my parents wanted me to be happy. Their dream was for me to be successful, and successful to them was defined as being happy, so here I am, in my own dream. All I've ever done is what I've wanted to do, all I've ever pursued is my own dream, keeping in the back of my mind what would make my loved ones proud.

For some of us, our parents raise us with the hopes of making ourselves happy, for others, they raise us with the hopes of making them happy. I don't know which is necessarily better, but it's good to be reminded that I'm so very lucky to be here, to be whatever I want.


Friday, April 11, 2014

The Pendulum, It Swings

Going through my old blog, I found this entry from July 2007:

"i am way more than ok with taking this week off from work. i'm ecstatic. thrilled. downright jittery. which is unfortunate. something i do for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is turning into something i rather dislike, something that brings me down and makes me feel shitty. it's a waste of time, a poor excuse of a job, a filler, nothing more than a facade. maybe once a week i feel like i'm doing something worth while. the rest of the time i'm arranging appointments or balancing a fricking credit card. i want a job that gets me out and makes me live, forces me to interact in a more meaningful way. i always thought i'd prefer a job that's tucked away in a corner and has little contact with the outside world, but the older i get, the more i realize that that type of job could be dangerous for me. i'm quite reclusive as it is, so i need something to push and shove me out, otherwise my whole life will become a dark little corner that rarely emerges, secluded and alone. and i don't want that. i'll create it easily, but i don't want it. i'm very good at convincing myself that life is easier and less scary with as little outside contact as possible, but lately i've been battling in my head with the little part of me that knows the gravity of what i'm missing. and that part is growing every day. isn't your personality supposed to be fully developed by the time you're 20? it feels like a metamorphosis of sorts is trying to take place and a different, slightly intimidating side is struggling to take control and kick the whimpering, lonely side out. i've got to change the way i live or i'm going to be 60 and looking back on all the great stuff i missed or never tried because i was scared to do it alone."

I did it. I succeeded completely and entirely in changing everything about my life, and I did it on my own. I shoved myself onto a plane and plunged into a foreign world and just kept going with it, and now here I am. Congratulations? My life is different from how it was in 2007, but I am not. Not really. It's amusing and maybe a bit sad how very little about me has changed since the night I sat in my downtown apartment, which I still sometimes miss, and typed the above entry. Deep, dark, empty holes still feel so safe to crawl into and hide, silent and calm. Today, I thought about the things that keep me company when I am alone. The wind, the sun, my piano, my favorite coffee mug, the sounds of my apartment, the pictures I have taken, the words I have written, letters and trinkets from my family and friends. Companionship is probably defined as something between two living beings, but I question that. I easily feel accompanied by memories and thoughts, sounds and light. I am, actually, rarely alone. Perhaps the biggest difference between the 2007 me and the 2014 me is that the drive to push myself into unfamiliar territory, to change myself, is wearing thin, as most things do over time. I am a person who feels safer alone in a corner. Need I fight that? Should I feel ashamed by that just because most people have somehow toughened up over time and I haven't, for reasons unknown? The little devil in me that kicked and screamed for something new and thrilling 7 years ago is all tuckered out, and the desire to be in one place, around people who know and love me, doing a job suited for the reclusive, being myself, free of guilt, and doing so for a long, long while, has finally found me. And despite all these words, I've also come to realize that I don't think I'll ever really feel settled or content. I'll never want to truly be hidden. I'll always feel torn, ducking into the dark corner today, wanting to jump out into the crowds tomorrow. Such is this beast.            

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Student Feedback

"You are so ruler. In my opinion, it's sometimes good, sometimes bad. But, your heart is rich with like."

Reassurance that I'm doing an okay job.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Snapshot

Youtube is banned here now. Social media is bad media. It makes the country look bad. Indeed. I subbed a class today that partially depended on youtube working, so I did a last minute overhaul of the foreign lesson plan. It went fine until halfway through when the students started throwing tiny wads of paper at eachother and giggling. I ignored it. They just want to be treated like adults, students frequently tell me. Not like children. Right. These students will hopefully be voting in the local elections on Sunday. Every day lately, vans blaring uplifting music shadow me around the city, begging anyone within earshot to vote for the candidate plastered on the side of the van. Sometimes two competing vans will pass each other right in front of me and for 5 glorious seconds no other sound in the world can be heard. The prime minister has been campaigning, too. Apparently there's a video of him yelling about how awful social media is at a rally, but he had lost his voice so he sounds like a high pitched squeaky teenager. I'd like to watch that video, but I can't. Because social media makes the country look bad.      

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Turning over a new Eleaf

For one day last week, a student that I hadn't seen in over a month returned to class. She was here for the first two weeks, then just disappeared. For some reason, the main thing I remember about her is the way she held her coffee cup. Very few people here carry travel mugs around, so it stuck out to me. Something different, unique, akin to my own coffee habits. During class, she'd hold it with her left hand curled absentmindedly around it, as if she was so absorbed in whatever she was reading or writing that she forgot the mug was there, yet couldn't let it go. Like it was a part of her. Slowly savoring and draining its contents throughout class. For two weeks, she and her mug were a part of class that I liked. Then she and beloved mug disappeared. When she returned last week, I almost didn't recognize her. Her head was covered with a scarf. Her clothing was traditional and conservative. Her demeanor was obedient and small. She said hello to me and sat down at her old desk and took out her pen and paper. Her coffee mug was gone. I stammered out a hello and before the other students arrived, I carefully told her that she had failed because she had missed so much class. I know, she said. I just want to learn. To improve myself. Her hand twitched emptily on the desk and her smile stretched a little too far. This is not me, I could hear her thinking. This is what I've been told to be. This is what my father asked me to be, what my mother wants me to be, what the government thinks I should be. So just let me be.

I let her be. As the other students arrived, they gave her pitying glances and spoke to her in hushed tones. I tried to give her all of the handouts she had missed and tried, in 10 minutes, to teach her how to write a 5 paragraph essay, and explain how to do the book report so she could catch up. She tried, at first, but by the end of class was doodling pictures on the handouts. Her left hand still empty, still twitching. After class, she gathered up her things, smiled and said see you tomorrow, and never returned.

If only we could all just drink our coffee and have our dreams and never feel wrong about any of it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

the brain

is such a bizarre and fragile little thing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

the real and the memory

The thing is, you're only real if you're standing in front of someone, jumping up and down, or sending them letters, or giving them treats, or yelling at them. You only exist if you're telling them cool facts or asking them engaging questions or feeding their brain with words and images. They only know you're there if you keep them around, or invite them to stuff, or accept their invitations, or draw them purdy pictures, or write them a cute song, or entertain them with whatever charming tricks you've cultivated over the years. Otherwise, you're not real. No matter how many minutes you spend thinking about them, you're not real. You've got to do, not think. You've got to act, not imagine. Otherwise, you become a memory that grows more obscure every second.