10 May 2010

A Week in the Life of a Grammar Monkey: Monday (Part 1 of 7)

I've been bored recently, and since there's no excuse for boredom in this short short life, we're going to do a little experiment.  The experiment will be called "A Week in the Life of a Grammar Monkey," and will involve me posting a blog every day for a week, to give you guys a peek into the quotidia of my somewhat absurd existence.  With two months left on the clock, I can feel my psyche starting the wrap-down process of disengaging, but it's too early for that.  Two months is a long time.  Just think how many opportunities to misspeak, occasions on which to look foolish, places to get lost in, and gallons of sweat to sweat are contained in two months.  No, O Psyche Of Mine, it's too early for that!  So here's me pushing the big fat STOP button, and setting aside a week to take note of all the little things that make my (at times ridiculous) life worth writing -- and reading -- about.

Today I woke up, made coffee, read the New York Times online, and checked out the weird rash I've been sporting on my face and torso the last few days.  I've been feeling kind of sick to my stomach and headachey, but the strangest symptom is definitely the rash, which makes me look splotchy and flushed like I've been crying a lot -- I mean, like my entire face, chest and stomach have all been crying a lot.  Luna has diagnosed as an allergic reaction.  You can't really see it unless I'm under direct light, so I figure my students won't care.

Off to the gym.  Arrive sweaty and bedraggled as always.  Low-key work-out since I'm not feeling well, which is mostly just for show anyway since the real reason I came here was to shower with water pressure.  In my opinion, hot water is whatever when it's 95 degrees outside, but water pressure is truly a thing of luxury.  I take my time in the shower, then shmance myself up in my purple batik work shirt, give the blow-dryer a few passes through my hopeless yes-I'm-growing-my-hair-out shaggy 'do, and bike over to the office.  I have to print out the final project assignment sheet for my class at 1, which is a task that, three computers and two printers later, I manage to accomplish.  Good thing I gave myself an hour and a half lead time.  At noon, the power goes out.  Yay.

And whaddya know, it's the last meeting of my General English class.  Four of my seven kids show up, probably because it's pouring rain and no one likes to go out when it's raining.  We barrel through the activities I've organized to help them prepare for their final paper and presentation due next week, and finish the class with my favorite end-of-semester Write Fiona A Letter activity, in which I have my students write me a letter reflecting on what they did well this semester as a student, what they could have done better, what I did well this semester as a teacher, and what I could have done better.  To be honest, these letters weren't as good as the ones I got last semester -- but I'm probably just cranky because I didn't get any professions of undying love this time around.  Best excerpt: "Miss Fiona has teach me very well.  I'm very happy to learn English with Miss Fiona.  Miss Fiona is a good teacher.  I never bored if I came to her class.  I think you should continue what you love to do.  Your student will be fun in your class, because I feel it and I'm enjoy the class."  As fun as the class may be, it's hot and dark in the classroom so I let my students go early after they turn in their letters.  I spend the next 2 hours half-heartedly planning my class at 4 and waiting for the power to come back on -- which it does, at 3:30.  For ten whole minutes, and then goes off again.  We talk about multi-part verbs in my 4 o'clock class (to be into something means to be interested in that thing) but I let these kids go early too, because I'm really not that into teaching in the dark.  Also it's still hot.

Bike home, where I ditch the work clothes and sit in front of the fan taking my evening pass through the New York Times until dinner.  Luna comes over and we walk around the corner to try this new rumah makan called Cowmad, specializing in -- what else? -- beef.  We joke about getting mad cow disease and order ribs and a Mongolian beef hot plate.  "Ribs" actually turns out to be one enormous cow rib, roughly the length of a loaf of bread.  Everything is delicious, including Luna's ice tea which comes in a glass the size of a small bucket, complete with a baby lemongrass tree sticking out of it.  Compared with the usual tiny Indonesian portions, this is incredible.  We're going to have to come back to Cowmad.  

Next stop, Cafe Cokelat for our new weekly translation date.  We order hot chocolate, break out our Indonesian-English dictionaries, and painstakingly read 4 pages of Eclipse (the third installment in the Twilight series, which every teenage girl in Indonesia is obsessed with) in Indonesian, looking up pretty much every other word.  We figure this is a great way to build relevant vocabulary, since you never know when you're going to want to use the word "vampire" in casual conversation.  We decide to institute a new "words of the day" policy, where we assign ourselves a few newly-learned words to somehow work into conversation the next day.  Tomorrow's words of the day are: "belaka" (entirely, completely) and "keadaan" (situation).  The bonus word of the day is "membela" (to sacrifice in death).  That last one might be tough, but that's why it's the bonus word.

Home by 10.  This was actually a pretty full day for the grammar monkey -- with my new painfully light teaching schedule (I only teach one more class this week, on Wednesday), we'll see what I find to write about.  In the meanwhile, my mind keeps going back to what my student wrote in that letter today: I think you should continue what you love to do.  Sometimes I feel like I know what that is, and sometimes I'm not so sure.  That should provide some good material for the before-bed rumination.  

Off to keep plugging through Jared Diamond.  Less than 100 pages to go.  With a subtitle that reads, "A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years," this book's got its work cut out for it.  Do I feel smarter?  Maybe.  We'll see.

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