Intrepid Girl Reporter

Monday, 1/14: doctor, heal thyself
January 14, 2008, 8:29 am
Filed under: host fam, life on Jeju, students, teaching, travel

Sitting here waiting for Hallim to call me back – this is my fault for having waited so long to figure out the travel plans, for delaying things when it feels like I can’t deal with anything – to see if we’ll make it to Hong Kong for the Lunar New Year, which I can’t help but imagine would be anything but transcendent. Transcendence being something I could use a little of – I’m not sure why things have been hit-or-miss since I got back here, but I find myself more easily irritated and unsettled, more frustrated, more apathetic. The following exchange should illustrate both my triggers and my failings in this regard.

HB: Can you help me read?

IGR: I can. But I’m waiting for Hallim to call me back to talk about travel. I’ll help you as soon as I’m done.

(five minutes later, HB comes in IGR’s room)

HB: (stands there)

IGR: I’ll help you as soon as I can.

HB: Okay. (touches lamp) Why you leave on? So hot! (turns it off)

IGR: Because I need it to see. Can you turn it back on?

HB: But will explode!

IGR: But it has to be used sometime. I think it will explode if you leave it on for a really long time, but that’s all.

HB: Use this light. (motions towards switch)

IGR: …Okay. Can you turn it on?

(Slowly, HB goes to turn it on.)

(five minutes later, from the other room)

HB: Do you know “Make Me A Supermodel”?

IGR: Yes.

HB: It’s on TV!

IGR: Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.

HB: No.

IGR: But I want to watch it. I’m coming.

HB: No.

IGR: But –

HB: No.

So you see. It’s a bit ludicrous to be driven to distraction by a twelve-year-old, especially when you’re twenty-two (maybe twenty-three, Korean), but at the same time: he’s absolutely maddening. Nonetheless. He shouldn’t be bothering me this much – and he’s not the only one. At this point, I’m positively twitchy. And frustrated with myself for a multitude of reasons and –

I just had the following conversation with HB.

HB: We will read from this book.

IGR: What happened to Ender?

(HB starts reading from book)

IGR: I mean, we don’t have to read Ender, but tell me so I stop asking you. Do you not want to read it?

HB: No.

IGR: You don’t?

HB: (hyperventilating) NO! (gets up and puts book away)

IGR: Okay, we can read that book instead.

(HB turns on television)

IGR: Do you want me to help you?

HB: (watches television)

IGR: HB. You are hurting my feelings when you don’t talk to me.

(HB ignores IGR)

IGR: I want to help you read, but I can’t help you if you won’t even talk to me.

HB: I am sorry.

IGR: Okay. Let’s read, then.

(HB gets up and goes to room)

IGR: Do you still want me to help you?

(HB ignores IGR)

IGR: HB? Do you still want me to help you?

HB: Ago. You said you could not help. So I will work with my father.

IGR: I said I couldn’t help you because you wouldn’t talk to me.

HB: No. You said could not help. So.

IGR: If you change your mind, let me know.

Naturally, five minutes later he comes in and says he wants me to help him – but at this point I’m too frustrated, and I have to write this down so I don’t forget it and think my latent frustration is just craziness, and here we are. He also told me that he did, in fact, want to read Ender, but that the other story was his homework – I forgot that “no” in that context is the equivalent of the American “yes” (really), but he didn’t bother to explain, what with the standing over me and breathing like a rabid bull and all. I asked him why he does this and he didn’t answer. We just struck a deal where he will talk to me when I talk to him, even if it’s to say he doesn’t know or doesn’t want to answer, for a week. This deal was brought about in part because I threatened to have ACT talk to Oma.

So, despite the fact that I am not failing in any quantifiable sense, I feel like a failure in so many small ways sometimes. Winter camp is only okay; my kids are showing hardly any enthusiasm, even the kids I was really excited about having, even though ACT keeps telling me I’m doing fine. Actually, I take that back; they’re showing enthusiasm in their work, but not in their demeanor, which is to say that they’re putting a lot of effort into crafting their own superheroes, but not into answering questions, looking more than 25% awake, or coming to class anywhere NEAR on time. So I’m glad they at least like the content, but I can’t help but feel demoralized. We probably could have gone to Hong Kong if I’d bothered to try to break into Asiana’s website myself, instead of relying on a stupid travel agent; before, you couldn’t get in without being a registered user and I’d lost my user number, but now apparently you can, which I would have known had I checked. But now (update from earlier in this entry) we cannot, because Hallim can’t do the early flight and neither can I. And friends…I love my friends, I really do. But most of them aren’t around – it’s just Scooter and me on this side of the island right now, and Aewol sometimes. And I can’t shake this trigger-happy temperament, this tendency to have no patience for anything or anyone, least of all myself.

So I can feel myself tempted to do what I always do – push people away and make them ask me to come back, so I can know exactly how much they love me. Which is not only one of my worst tendencies but also one of my dumbest, that I can’t just trust anyone. I keep telling myself that it’s only because I’ve just gotten back, because I’m still spinning inside, looking for a place to settle, but I don’t know how much of it is true.


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