Thursday, March 29, 2007

Must not kill!

"You shouldn't eat Ramen."

Mind you, I'm translating, this was said to me in Korean by a Korean teacher who I am sure is really just trying to be helpful but who is starting make me a little nutty.

I stood there and smile while she said it opening up the Cup Ramen container I was holding to take out the small wad of dried Ramen that was in the bottom of the cup. I could have told her I don't eat Ramen but it was hard to explain. I figured if she watched she would see what I was going to say and would leave me alone.

The small dried wad of Ramen looks like hardly anything, perhaps a little dried up brain. I broke of a small chunk, less then a quarter of the actual little dehydrated clump of noodle. Without a lot of guilt I threw the rest of the Ramen away. I don't actually eat Ramen. I put a little bit of the noodle in the bullion. What I wanted was the tasty bullion soup that came with the cup Ramen. In Korea this is so spicy it will blow you away, but I like that. I just don't like all the noodles, but a couple, makes it feel homey, I suppose.

Teacher watched me do all this and grabbed my arm.

"You shouldn't eat Ramen. That's why you are fat. You eat Ramen. You need to eat rice. You need to exercise. Then you will not be fat. No Ramen." She starts to grab my hand and I finally extract it as gently as possible while on the edge of wanting to punch her.

I want to yell at her. I want to scream in her face. I want to be the rude, ugly foreigner, because she is making me feel like the rude ugly foreigner, but I smile and take my cup of warm bullion with some noodles floating it and go upstairs to my classroom to eat my lunch alone in solitude. My lunch, everyday my lunch, a vegetable sandwich, a cup of broth, and some sun-chips. Some days I have a piece of fruit or a cookie depending on my mood. I have a lot of coffee. It works for me. I eat alone because it is easier then eating with the teaching staff. When I try to eat with the teaching staff they would ask me to eat rice, and pork, and beef, and chicken, and squid, and korean pancake (egg and flour) and tofu, and white rice, and beans, and all other manner of things. They want me to eat large quantities of food because they eat massive, massive quantities of food for lunch. Lunches here are like course meals with no limit. People just pile it on. I can't eat like that, especially when I have classes to teach, I just don't want that much food on my stomach when I'm working.
I get bitched at for a few pieces of noodle floating around in my broth, fine.

This was yesterday.

Today I'm working, plugging along at my desk. I usually work in my classroom but I had no good reason to work in my classroom today and I know it upsets the teachers when I don't work in the office. Here there is a big group office where everyone works. It's loud, it's noisy, the students are allowed to come and go at will. The principal comes in and when he comes in you have to stop what you are doing to be deferential and polite to him. It is a mad chaos. It makes concentrating difficult so I avoid it if I can. However on occasion, if I have no classes, I will work in the office to show that I understand the teamwork; to pay my respects, to play the very intricate Korean office politics game. Today was one of those days.

Teacher who got me yesterday walks up to my desk at 11:30. She has a lunch ticket, and grabs my arm. "Come," she says "we go eat rice now, come." She grabs me. She doesn't speak any English and everything I want to say to her in Korea is very rude. She keeps grabbing me. Two of the other teachers join her in pawing at me. I keep shaking my head and smiling through gritted teeth and saying "Thank you, thank you sun-sang-nim, no, no. Thank you, sun-sang-nim, no." Over and over again. Finally they give up. She says to me in Korean. "You're too fat. You eat Ramen and you need exercise." She thinks I don't understand her and I grab my desktop to keep from launching at her, to keep from screaming at her, to keep from ranting that just because everyone in Korea eats for three and still manages to be less then a size 0 does not mean that I am fat. I want to scream I work out everyday for an hour, I work out three times a week for two, I walk a mile to work and then the same mile back home every freaking day, so kiss my fat foriegn ass! I want to rail. I just smile through my clenched teeth and turn back to my computer to be left alone.

She finally leaves me disgusted with me. I am pissed, I keep working. I keep working, I try not to think about it and how much it bothers me. I try not to think about the laughing. All the teachers who have watched this scene and who are now laughing because I, the stupid foriegn teacher, the silly fat waygook, do not understand what is going on around me and so it is funny. It makes me seethe with a violent rage that I cannot explain to anyone. I'd rather demonstrate by splitting their skulls with my computer and then playing in their brains, but I won't. I won't because I'm a professional. So I close my laptop and retreat to my classroom where I can work in peace.

I am having what I like to lovingly call an "I hate Korea day." It will pass by tomorrow. I know it will pass. I'll go to the gym and do my sets and go home and ride my bike, and then walk the mile and a quarter downtown tonight and drink till I'm pissed or someone hits on me, which ever happens last, and then I'll go home, and sleep and feel better. In the meantime I will chant my mantra over and over again for the rest of the afternoon..."Must not Kill! Must not Kill! Must not Kill!"


Mark Base said...

Brilliant blog. You write really well. But you know what? You should really lay off the Ramen.
*Ducks to avoid flying laptop*

Saradevil said...

Why I oughta!!!!