It is a nervewracking moment when your principle suddenly appears in the gyomoshil and asks “what are you doing?” when you’ve got open a news article on foreign affairs post-9/11. You smile, pretend that’s not what you were doing and say “Preparing to coach the speech contest after school.” Fortunately he’s not looking for you.
How to explain, I am taking a moment. I know I only have one class today, but I have been trying to demystify pen pal letters and am engaged in a battle of wills with another teacher not to become a walking phrasebook of American idioms and I have been whispering to myself and counting beats in lines of dialogue in this play for the past half hour, hoping that the same said teacher will allow me a few minutes to do some tangentially related speaking exercises to unflatten the students’ diction. Which I think is as important as correcting pronunciation. And my mother is in the hospital; though she’s doing well, I find it difficult to avoid guilt when I get to drink 30 year-aged whiskey with my host father and teach my students to sing “Perhaps.” I feel that a good daughter would be there for her. I feel tired.
I meant to write something yesterday, on the anniversary of 9/11, about being American. About being American in foreign countries. But in the morning when I usually read the news, it was still September 10 in the US and after lunch I forgot about it.