A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hell is other pupils

Although January itself now seems a blur, lately the days drag by like sandpaper on skin. Perhaps come March, the holy "half-way" mark, the daily sanding will have worked its way through my nerve endings and I'll have stopped caring. The days aren't so bad, but every class after 6 is painful. I'd rather fight to be heard among a crowd of overly energetic students, than feel every second cut a fine line through my flesh in a class of exhausted pre-teens.

Apologies if this sounds bleak, but these days I just feel done. The day to day goes by like a song-and-dance show in Purgatory— numbing, indefinite and with eyes cast up to heaven. That goes for both the kids and me. It's hard to explain to a child what they should think is important. How do you tell an 8-year-old that studying this baffling, buttery language for hours a day is more important than Harry Potter? Their parents sure try, but in a way that deadens the message even more, with rebellious attitudes to family creeping into the cultural consciousness. I sure wish I could go back and convince my 12-year-old self that my free public education in French wasn't lame OR a waste of the valuable time I could have spent playing Final Fantasy.

This is the paradox of childhood I suppose; play or plan? Leaning too hard on either one brings its own unique problems. I feel I'm getting self-helpy so I'll box the rhetoric.

I'm just tired is all.

A dear friend (who works entirely too hard) once told me that her favorite time of day was when she could finally take off her earrings. It was the crowning gesture that everything was officially over for the day.

I didn't get it (being both graduated and unemployed at the time), but now, when I take off the watch with the worn leather strap that my Dad gave me before I left, and toss it down on the pile of ever growing change on my night-table, I totally feel her relief.

For me, it's the time of day when I can finally stop counting the minutes.

Don't worry, friends in blog-land. Some days are better than today.


Anonymous said...

Cheer up Samwise. I know how you feel, though not exactly. I have more classes of ridiculous students, yet in shorter doses. So maybe it helps that the parade of bored/antsy/kimchi-fueled children are constantly changing.

Also, I need to correct you. The day of work ain't over til you take off your pants.

mandy said...

Hey Sam,

I've got a question, did you ever submit your pictures of the 'cock mint' gum to engrish.com? I was sifting through the webpage yesterday, and I think your cock mint would kick everybody elses ass.

oh and I have to agree with Shane; undoing the top button of my jeans is the penultimate end-of-day relaxation technique

love mandy

Anonymous said...

Yo Sam!

I just landed in Japan this week, I decided to teach English overseas, much like yourself. Japan is sweet from what I`ve seen so far. I`m living in Goi, which is about an hour from Tokyo. I`m dying without internet at my apartment, so I`m writing this from an internet cafe, but once I get online back at the pad I`ll get your msn contact and what not from jon or someone; we can share teaching horror stories boo-ya! Talk to you soon


Jake said...


Understood. The real world is a big, bad, poorly-conceived place. My advice is to do what the New Hampshirians do, that is to make the following choice:

Live Free



Anonymous said...

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Jake said...

Shoot, I forgot to put my name. Yeah, my name. Just click on my name.

Jono said...

You may have vivid memories regarding the degree of exultation that accompanied my kicking off those shiny, uncomfortable clogs I wore to EB day after day, which in turn may help you to appreciate just how deeply I empathize.

Of course, I had you to be irritated at, and in turn you (thankfully) chose me to be amusing at, so I was in slightly better straights.

There was, of course, one other gem that got me through that long winter.... perhaps some direction from Troad and the sultry company of Jessica might aleviate the pressure of real life? :P

PS- When you have kids of your own, remember this experience.