Monday, 29 September 2014

Quirks and Talents

Today I've been reflecting on my love/hate relationship with teaching children. They are so annoying but I would certainly miss them if I didn't work with them anymore. They mess around and fidget and fight. They tell the teacher on each other, "Teacher Cunning!" being their way of informing me that someone is cheating during a game. They pick their noses all the time. They don't listen, they argue and bicker and swing back on their chairs until they fall. 
Then there are the funny, quirky things. Like this morning, a boy took the stairs four at a time, stretching each leg out as far as it would possibly go, just for fun. Another boy "swam" across the floor to his team line. They laugh at my stupid jokes and are enthusiastic about games and stamps and winning. Boys and girls will scream and immediately stop arguing with each other if I ask if they are boy/girl friend (whilst making a heart shape with my hands).  They emphatically inform me they are bery bery bery hungry! or moan when another student cuts the lunch line Teacher, sejegae! (bad spelling).

But my favourite thing about kids, the thing I would miss the most, is how happy and in the moment they are.
The other day we had a talent show. Being someone who only plays the piano in a shadowy, deserted room, I'm always amazed and delighted by the willingness of Korean kids to showcase their talents. They love to dance to K pop (with its wonderful set dance moves- so regimented, so Korean). They love to sing. Sometimes they play instruments and other times they act. I've seen all sorts, and naturally the ability ranges from wonderful to painful, but in my eyes the students who suck are to be more admired. To be able to stand up on stage in front of your whole school and sing a shaky, way-out-of -your-vocal-range rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Le Mis is no easy task. Well done, I say! Seriously though, somewhere down the line I developed this idea that I would only do something if I was good at it, and even then sometimes I wouldn't want to. I love that these kids just go for it, whatever their ability.
This week's talent show was extra special because we had a surprise performance from the entire school, aka more than a hundred kids dancing in a regimented mass. It was amazing.

 How can I ever say my job is boring?

Last week Lee and I went to the Asian Games, to watch a women's semi-finals cricket match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It wasn't the most spectacular thing I've ever seen but nonetheless it was fun and I improved my (albeit almost non existent) cricket rule knowledge. The crowd was sparse to say the least, outnumbered by cameramen 2-1, meaning that we were filmed quite a lot and probably have now appeared on Bangladeshi prime time TV. It was a wonderfully sunny beer-filled day, so perfect that I even had a little snooze halfway through the game. Afterwards we walked around the stalls outside the main stadium, so Lee could play on the games and make new friends.

It was tense, I can tell you
Can you spot the boys in the crowd??
Lee's big win
In the moon
Lee's buddy

A grand day out!


Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Break from Beyond the World

I finished my masters! Phewf. 

In the interests of sanity at the end there, I had to put blogging on the back burner. I promised myself when I started this blog that it would never become a stress or chore, and for that reason, there came a point during my dissertation where I had to let myself leave it alone. 

So here I am, returned!

The month of August was hard. I chugged away at my story, going through fazes of loving it, loathing it and feeling like it would never in a million years be ready or good enough. I wrote the essay, then had a sleepy epiphany that its focus was all wrong. I started again. I finally made it presentable whilst affirming what I already know, which is that academia is not my strength.

Then last week I handed everything in. 

Everyone asked me if I felt relieved, if I felt free. But the truth is that I'm a writer, which means I'm never free, I'm never finished, I'm never 'off.' And this is certainly not the end of this particular writing expedition. I've only written the first third of Jack Beyond the World, so I have a lot to do. For starters, before I go on with the next chapter I want to go back and do the planning and world building that I didn't have time for during my masters.

But not right now, not in September.

September is a time for other things.  

For blogging and guiltless reading (I've finally started the Jack Reacher books). For jogging, cycling, watching films and hanging out drinking beer in the still-warm-enough evenings. For catching up with old friends and making new ones. For playing the piano and who knows, even picking up the ukulele again?

September is a time for being free.

Bring it on! 

Looking most cool with my new bike along the nearby river