I budget empty time into my schedule. I cannot go to a soccer game at 7 because there is class until 3 and then I must lift. I lift and then I must shower. After a shower, I must sit on my yo, only technically conscious: cleaning my ears, surfing the internet, listening to an audio book, watching the most recently downloaded episode of House. I must eat dinner, then return to my room and consider reading my book, knit a few rows of a sock, stare at the wall. And by then it is evening and we will sit in the living room and have fruit or, as the case may be, jjin bbang. The sweet beans in the center heat faster than the surrounding bread and are molten; when I swallow, I swallow pieces of my own mouth and in the morning after breakfast, I blot the roof with toilet paper. It bleeds.
The principle comes upstairs to my desk to tell me that good thinking makes good behavior, good behavior makes good habits, good habits make good personality and good personality makes good fate. He tells me in English and then writes it in hangeul on a post it note with causal arrows. I apply this to my computer monitor as a reminder. Then we must sit on the gyomoshil couches eating crackers that the “special” student’s father brought in the other day and make conversation through the Korean teacher who just enrolled in an online English course. He asks me how much my homestay costs, what do I do on the weekends and after dinner, and he tells me about fossils in Jeju’s scoria rocks.
The other teachers want the special student’s father to send her to a school for such special children, but he does not want to. Then the government will stop subsidizing her. He burst into the gyomoshil the other day with more energy than teeth in his mouth. Looked out of place, being very brown, a man either of the earth or the sea, constantly moving, like a small bird. His daughter sits in my class, squints earnestly at the board, and writes nonsense in her notebook.
My coteacher wanted to know if in America there is some punishment for parents who do not send their children to special schools.