Thursday, December 17, 2009

How It's Been

Oh, hai! Iz on da innernets, updating mah blog. If I wrote this whole post in LOLcat speak, that would be annoying right? I'll spare you then.

In the last installment I was walking along crying, unsure of what was about to happen at my school. If you've been following along, bless you. I'm sorry I suck so thoroughly at updating regularly. Of you've been following along, you sort of know what happened on Monday but I'll fill in some details.

I didn't get to say an official goodbye to my boss on Monday. He had already come in and collected his things before I arrived at work. I was disappointed, but also relieved because I didn't want for the waterworks to start up again and I knew they would have if I'd have gotten to watch him walk away. As it was, I still had to hurry down the hall during a couple breaks to have a little boo-hoo in the washroom. I'm not a overly demonstrative person when it comes to sadness, really - but for a while there I was having trouble getting a grip. I know it was everything that was happening; I was sick and in pain, unhappy with my boyfriend, and just flattened by what was happening at school. My nerves were raw, both literally and figuratively - and yet I didn't really feel like talking about any of it. I just wanted to get back home and back in bed as quickly as possible. I'm taking an anti-depressant for the shingles complications, and I suppose it's working. I just cringe when I think of what a total bloody mess I'd have been left to my own devices.

So I didn't meet my boss that first day or the day after. It was mid-week before he appeared in the Teacher's Room and we had just enough time to greet each other before I had to go to my next class. I'd been told that he couldn't speak English well, and that's the truth and a half. My first grade students are able to speak better than him or his wife. That's fine. He's not teaching any English classes. Still, it's a bit odd to own an English school and have to struggle to recall the word for "goyani." (That'd be "cat.") But my new boss is a Math Man. He's owned three math schools and I believe he was far more interested in acquiring our fledgling, and frankly failing, math school.

He and his wife have since completely moved in. All their stuff and all their students have been incorporated into the fairly empty shell of a math academy my boss was running and now, like Frankenstein, "It LIVES!" Things are hopping over there, with each of the four classrooms now filled with students. They've brought over two more teachers as well, and our first hwe-shick, which happened a couple weeks ago was a good time. I spent most of that gathering in silence, as The Princess - who had been getting on my nerves - was seated at the opposite end of the table. My other co-worker sat beside me, but I've never had much to say to her. Otherwise I was surrounded by pleasant yet reserved people who don't speak English. And don't drink. It was a regular yawn-fest, and I fought hard just to stay awake. (Which is pretty much my standard M.O. these days anyways.)

There was some concern for a couple weeks after my former boss walked out the door. They hadn't changed bank account numbers quickly enough and tuition fees had been deposited into former boss's account. He was not answering his phone or responding to their messages. I'd sent him a couple messages that week as well, but didn't expect him to reply. All I had texted was, "I miss you." He called me on Friday night, drunk, to ask me if I wanted to take a drive across the country the following day to visit some pachinko parlour his friend was managing. I declined, telling him I was pretty sure he wouldn't want to see me cry all weekend. He then told me that if he had the power to, he would destroy the schools. I said I understood, and made him promise not to drink and drive. I didn't tell The Princess or my new boss I had spoken to him, but I hoped he hadn't gambled away all the money that had appeared in his account.

I had a conversation the following week with a very agitated Princess. The former boss was still ignoring them and the new boss was starting to consider staking out his apartment. They connected on Friday when the old boss finally called in. The Princess was irritated he wasn't returning the tuition fees pronto with a big red bow on them, but instead was requesting the cash ledger from the months before he'd sold the school. "Some parents were late with their fees in September and October," the Princess explained, "but he signed a contract that said he would get no more money after Novemeber 1st," she complained.
"But that's technically HIS money, those late payments - since they were covering periods when he owned the school," I pointed out.
"Yes, but he signed the contract that said,..."
"You know," I interrupted, "I hope you guys go easy on him, since he's had a hard time. How much money are we talking about anyhow?"
"Yes, but the contract says,..."
"Princess, I know about contracts here. My contract," I said, nodding my chin toward the book that houses it still says that I have medical insurance, and we both know that I don't. I know contracts here are bendable and breakable. I bet it wouldn't be worth the effort to take him to court over those fees, and the truth is that should be his money, since he owned the school during the time those fees are covering."

I don't know what the outcome was. I haven't seen my former boss since. We keep making plans that haven't worked out for some reason or another. I answered my phone one cold rainy Sunday a couple weekends ago and it was him, telling me to go check outside. I opened the door to discover a giant bag filled with cabbage and radishes and a huge container of his mother's kimchi, which is the most delicious kimchi I've ever had. There was one more present tucked inside a cardboard cylinder. His father sent a long scroll of calligraphy on beautiful deep blue handmade paper. The characters are painted in gold. It's easily the most precious and gorgeous souvenir I'll take home with me. I'll have it framed back in Canada.

Speaking of Canada, it's on my mind. Last Friday I began counting down as I passed the sixth month mark until my last contract will finish. When my former boss sold the school I called my family back home and said they'd probably see me at Christmas. I was hasty and reacting on my jagged nerves and hurt feelings. With some perspective, I've reminded myself to quit taking things so personally. It seems I've lucked out once again, and my new boss appears to be a really good guy. My co-workers are in agreement, and they're far more able to make that call since they can communicate with him. I've really been given a lot of freedom lately. My boss spends almost the whole day down the hall at the math school and I see him at some point during the day when I say hello, and usually at the end of the day when I bow and wave goodbye.

Slowly but steadily the number of students at our school is increasing. Most are math students who are migrating down the hall to us. I think a new teacher is going to start tomorrow at my school. The Princess is leaving us next week. I sense that she didn't really want to go, but she told me she must - because of what happened with the old boss. His decision to give up was a reaction to her declaring she was quitting.

I've got just a few small things to write about before this particular drama is wrapped up neatly and can be filed under "O" for "OVER." I'll try to get that done tomorrow, and hopefully we can return to some lightheartedness 'round here, just in time for the holidays.

When my old keyboard quit working I went shopping for a new one and picked out a fairly cheap model. I think I paid about fifteen dollars for it. It's a piece of poorly-made shit, and the letters have been steadily disappearing from the keys. Now only the ones in the middle can be faintly made out. The most commonly used ones, where you would rest your right and left hands, are completely gone. I've discovered it's very very difficult for me to type without being able to see the letters. I wrote my mom an e-mail over the weekend and she told me she was convinced I was drunk before she read my explanation at the end about the keyboard. I've got an early start tomorrow morning, so I'm not going to proof this properly, and there will surely be a lot of things that spell check misses. Forgive me, and I'll try to clean it up tomorrow. Until then, I'll just bow and wave goodbye.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

How it Went

Can I just say that if there were such a thing as the Sleep Olympics, I'd be a strong contender for the gold medal. I'm a champ!

So in the previous episode I arrived a little late to what had turned out to be our last work dinner with my former boss. The Princess was alone at a table reading a newspaper. The new math teacher arrived shortly after. (You might recall the Math Teacher Saga.) "Sol" (his nickname) stepped in to cover for the run-away. He's a church friend of The Princess and a genuine good fellow. He ended up staying on. Good. Soon after, my boss arrived with a friend if his and dinner commenced.

It went alright, pretty much. I suppose. I ended up being fairly angry at myself. What I really felt like doing was throwing a fit: wiping clear the low table covered with dishes of banchan, bottles, cutlery and cups. I wanted to overturn the tables and kick everything around the restaurant, screaming that I was uppppset and I didn't want my boss to leave. What I really wanted to do was to throw an absolute tantrum. What I did instead was make nicey-nice small talk with The Princess and Sol.

My co-worker showed up with her boyfriend almost an hour late and stayed for a whole 15 minutes. That really ticked me off and I wanted to ask her wtf was up with that. Instead, I tried to smooth the tension. The Princess's whole demeanor changed when my co-worker sat next to her. She stiffened and became non-verbal, not even once looking in the co-worker's direction to greet her or her boyfriend, who had taken over the grill duties for my boss and his friend. I spoke to alternately to the Princess and then to my co-worker, never involving them in the same conversation. I wanted to lunge across the table and snack the Princess for being so rude. But what I would have really liked to do was to somehow divide myself in two, leave my body, and punch me in the face for being so people-pleasy. I might as well have just added to the super awkwardness of the evening by sulking silently, or bawling quietly - which is what I probably would have done if my boss had spoken to me with The Princess's help, but he didn't. And, I was thankful for that because I would have lost my shit. Instead, The Princess visibly de-tensed when the co-worker left with her man. Just after, my boss got sloshed on soju and started speaking to the Princess who then re-tensed, staring down at the table only to occasionally nod to indicate she was listening. I stepped outside and then to the bathroom and then back outside to give them some privacy. My boss was confessing that he'd sold the school to spite her. It was all for revenge.

There was no "ee-cha." We would not drink beers together at a hof. There would be no singing at the karaoke. We all bowed and said our good-byes and it was barely eight o'clock. I walked a block up the street with The Princess and Sol, listening to her complain that she hated talking to anyone who was drunk. I wondered if that judgey attitude had prevented her from actually hearing what my boss had to say, but honestly I didn't really care. We said our goodbyes and I hoped they didn't notice that my voice cracked with emotion. I turned around to walk away just in time, as I finally broke down and cried. I was really going to miss my boss.

He wasn't very confident in his English ability with good reason. However, I could always understand him. We had jeong ( 정, hanja: 情.) Together, we'd saved Bella and her three puppies. (I'm sorry, I don't think I wrapped that story up properly, by the way. I will in the next couple days.) My boss had taken care of me. He introduced me to his family who spoiled me with the most delicious kimchi and wonderful fresh vegetables from the farm. And, I'd taken care of my boss, learning how to cook more Korean dishes and making sure he had a better dinner through the week than cups of instant ramen. I had wanted to work hard for him and to see him succeed. I'd signed on for another year here for him. I was so angry and hurt, I felt like he was abandoning me, and I was kind of jealous of how free he must have felt, not having to worry anymore about whether the school was going to do well or finally go belly up, and how he didn't have to deal with The Princess anymore.

So I walked up the street a lot farther than I had to, just letting myself cry. I didn't bother wiping the tears off my face and I didn't care what the people passing me must have thought. I tried to clear my head and stop worrying about what was going to happen Monday morning.

How it Was

So where were we? Man! It was over a month ago, yet only three measly blog posts since when I last wrote about the continuing saga of work. In case your scrolly finger is hurting, the brief re-cap is my boss suddenly sold the school on a Friday, the day before Halloween, and announced I'd have a new boss come Monday. I posted jut before I was about to walk to work and meet the new guy. My boss was going to be present one last day before I would officially bid him adieu.

That didn't go as planned. My boss was out the door before I even came to work. It turns out he was so disgusted with The Princess he refused to spend a moment longer there than was necessary. He had come in the morning, collected his things, and bailed. I didn't meet the new boss that day either, or the day after for that matter. He was busy with his other school and it wasn't until mid week that I finally met him and his wife. We spent about three minutes greeting each other. The Princess did most of the talking as I smiled and bowed.

For a couple of weeks I grieved. I couldn't walk into the building and pass the window where I used to smile and wave to my boss each day as he sat at his desk in his office at the math school. I'd hold it together fairly well in my classes and sneak off between them to cry a bit in the bathroom. I was a mess, pretty much. It all just had happened so fast and I felt so sad and angry, like I was some cow that had been sold with the farm.

The last hoe-down hwe-shick (work party) we had was the day after my boss sold the school. I REALLY didn't want to attend, but my boss had called a couple hours before and convinced me I should go. There were things he'd wanted to say to me, but he needed the translating help of The Princess. My other co-worker had begged me the day before to go as well. She was going to officially debut her relationship with the Taekwondo instructor from the school next to ours. They've been dating since the spring, and everyone knows about it but no one but she and I actually speak about it. The Princess disapproves of the relationship for some reason, saying it would somehow be bad for our school if people knew. I don't get it. Anyhow, when my co-worker had said she wished her boyfriend could come with her to the party, "Bring him!" I'd encouraged. My boss had invited my boyfriend, who couldn't join us until "ee-cha" (the 2nd party locale) so I didn't she why she shouldn't be able to bring hers.

So it was that I turned up at the restaurant downtown, exhausted and with red-ringed eyes. Much the same as I am right now, though my eyes are more bleary than they are swollen from crying. I'm posting this with the promise of continuing the tale later today. I've got to go back to bed now because I'll be using this here keyboard as a pillow very shortly if I don't.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Like a Dream

I just wish there was a way that I could smash my head against the keyboard and it would somehow form intelligible sentences expressing what's up. I promised to update on what's been going on, but I did so assuming that I was going to be able to stay awake to finish off a single post. Jeeze Louise, my sleeping is all mental. The weekend before last, when I was at home with the flu, I decided on that cold grey Saturday afternoon that I would have a wee nap. So, I curled up under the blankets with Kami the cat at about 1:15 and drifted off. When I woke up, I squinted at the clock beside my head and it read 2:30 which was fair enough, but I was so very confused. Outside my window it was pitch black. I thought maybe there was a terrible, I don't know? Storm? And then I saw the moon. My cellphone rang just then and I had to ask my boyfriend calling what day it was. Technically it was Sunday, 2:30 in the morning, and I'd been asleep for over 12 hours.

I had a similar problem Monday morning when I woke up at 2:30 in the afternoon. I had slept right through TWO alarms. Since I got shingles I've been setting my normal alarm and my cellphone alarm for 5 minutes later. In over five years I had NEVER not heard my alarm ring, and suddenly within the first two weeks of getting sick I'd slept through it twice. Luckily I'd woken up just a few minutes late, each time with just enough minutes to stick something in my pie-hole, jump into the shower and then into clothes and rush out the door. I started setting the cell alarm for back-up.

So, a week ago Monday I'd finally managed to somehow not hear both of my alarms. I had to call work and tell The Princess I was going to be late because my first class of the day was starting in about 30 seconds. The Princess was understandably unimpressed. I'd already missed work the previous Thursday and Friday with the flu, and now I was screwing her over again - requiring her to cover my first thirty minute class. She gave me some attitude about it, and because I am an asshole I served her up a triple serving of attitude right back.

The thing is I absolutely HATE being late for work. It throws my whole day off, and I don't like arriving to work feeling frantic and unprepared. So, I was already pissed off at having to call in late that Monday. I understand The Princess being ticked off as well, but really, what's the point in that? I didn't purposefully not hear my alarms. I could not get in my time machine and wake up two hours earlier. I apologized in earnest - but when she started in on me I snapped right back. Charming.

A few minutes later the hospital called to tell me I didn't have H1N1. I had figured as much. Except for the fatigue, I had started feeling a lot better by Friday evening. The Princess and I spent most of monday pretending the other didn't exist. I finally broke the silent tension by asking her something about one of my classes. She left a post-it note on my desk before she left, thanking me for speaking first. she wrote that she didn't know how or what to say to me.

Sleep stalks me these days, and he's no gentleman. He doesn't gently tap me on the shoulder and inquire "Would Miss be interested in a little nap?" No. He pounces on me and smothers me with a dirty old rag soaked in whatever concoction they use in action movies to knock the good guy out just as he's solved the mystery. I wake up groggy and confused, often in some chair, with a stiff neck and drool running out from the side of my mouth. I'm all-round charming these days.

So here's another update that doesn't really update anything. BUT!! I'm going to continue typing after I hit publish on this sucker, and providing I don't slip into unconsciousness, there will be another post,