Friday, 6 April 2012

The Long Good Friday

** Disclaimer: this post is fairly whiny, but hang in there, it has a happy ending.**

It all began at bedtime on Holy Thursday night. 
As a teacher who is in daily contact with 119 snot-nosed, germ riddled students - taking vitamins and supplements has assumed vital importance.  If I was forced to choose between brushing my teeth and taking vitamins, dental hygiene would win out..............eventually.

So on Thursday I committed the cardinal sin of forgetting my various pills that morning, and went to rectify my error by downing them before bed on Thursday night.  In a horrible moment of clarity, as I swallowed, I remembered that one of the pills came with the warning, do not take after lunchtime as it will disrupt your sleep. 
It was 11.30p.m.
I was screwed.

I fell into an uneasy, Tim Burtonesque dream haunted sleep sometime after 4am and rose again at 8 with the leaden stomach certainty that 'oh God, it's gonna be a looooong day.'

And not just any day.  Good Friday.  I was already feeling discombobulated by having to work today.  Thirty four years on this planet as an Irish Catholic has me irrevocably indoctrinated that Good Friday is for quiet contemplation, fasting and other worthy spiritual endeavours. It is not a day for work.
Understandably enough, I fell into the trap of comparing and 'what if'ing.  What would I be doing if I was at home? Who would I be with? What church activities would I be taking part in?
Just before lunchtime I was hit by a wave of my first real, sonofabitch bout of homesickness. 
I've been in Korea for over a year now. I've missed Christmas and endured three days of the stomach virus from hell, but neither of them made me long for home like this pathetic, non-Good Friday.

I battled back tears three times at work and, contrary creature that I am, I managed to be both proud of myself for hiding the tears and secretely miffed that no one noticed how quiet I was!
So I was already feeling homesick and weird as I headed upstairs for lunch.  Now, Good Friday is a fast day, which means abstaining from meat, but I hadn't given much thought to the school lunch because in good Korean style the meat is usually just one of the many side dishes and therefore easy to avoid and while still eating my fill.
Alas, today I sat down and gazed mournfully into a dish of rice and curry.
I turned to my Head Teacher, "What is this?"
Head Teacher: "Curry."
Me: (apologetic smile) "Yes. Does it have meat in it?"
Helpfully, Head Teacher used to be Catholic and quickly realised why I was asking.  It was indeed a meat curry, so I was left with a bowl of rice and a seaweed soup that was so salty I felt like I was swimming at Spanish Point! (beach on the west coast of Ireland)
So now I was feeling homesick, weird and flippin hungry!
Not the best recipe for a light heart.

Here's where teaching kindergarten comes in handy!
I learned today:
  •  that happiness is watching 11 five year olds attempt to draw a bumble bee.
  •  that  teaching six year olds the actions to a new song is a great cure for the blues.
  •  that seeing a childs whole being light up just because they see me is a great way to get me crying again!
  • that having a sister and friends that I can text whines to is priceless.

 Just what the doctor ordered!  These are from two of my eight year olds, Dana and Kristen.

On Fridays, the other NET (native english teacher) and I do phone teaching: we call our elementary school students for phone conversation.  This means I work late on Fridays, which sometimes I resent, but it also means I get to hear my kids improve week by week, which I love. 
As well as getting in some scary/valuable practice in speaking Korean with their mothers!

So by the time Lush and I met for dinner at 8.30 I was mindlessly ravenous.  I kept remembering one of my Dad's semi-blasephemous quotes: "I'm so hungry I could eat the Lamb of God..........and then make a drive for the ewe!"
The delicious Vietnamese food and Lush's sympathetic ear did much to restore my spirits and when we met Sister Dear after she finished work I was back on an even keel.  We only had a brief chat with Ms.Amused, as she had to be up at the truly ungodly hour of five am to go cheer friends running in a marathon.  (whole body shudder on several levels)

Lush and I repaired to a DVD Bang in search of a particular Korean rom-com called 'Spellbound'.
We had tried to watch it at a DVD Bang in Mugeodong last week, but they didn't have subtitles.
This time, our luck was in, the bang in Samsandong had subtitles. It was already being watched so we had to wait twenty minutes for it, but we were so intrigued by the plot and I know and love both main actors, so we decided it was worth the wait.
Thankfully, it was!


After two hours laughing, 'awww'ing and telling Lush, "It's ok, you can look now." (it's a rom-com with a horror twist!) I headed home, content that my long Good Friday had come to a happy ending.

God bless my lovelies, and Happy Easter wherever you are!