April 13

With the Costco surplus of candy my mom sent for my birthday, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, I once again made goodie bags so that I alone won’t be tempted to consume it all in one sitting.

In the morning I interrupted stern security guard watering the plants to give him the first hand out of the day.

“Thank you thank you,” he said in English. He added in Korean, “happy birthday!”.

The next bag went to C and the third to S. There was a woman with a bob typing away in 3-2 home room but when I knocked and she turned slightly, I realized it was not S at all and ducked under the door window. I found S in 3-3:

“Wow you’ve gotten prettier! Come see my classroom! Look at these letters cut out.”

Her classroom, even though in the same hallway, has an amazing view of the eastern mountains that my class, facing south, does not.

“Come by any time after school and look at the view!”

We giggled some more about the state of our lives and she huffed in exasperation, “I will get my husband to take care of my son! Then we can go out for your birthday.” So we may get to catch up at the end of this week, assuming her military husband is able to pick up her son from daycare.

I harbor no I’ll feelings towards her, I’m just happy to see her again. She asked me “Do you and C talk much?”

Uh.

“Yes.”

S asked again what my plan for renewal was and I updated her.

“No, you can’t leave Seoul!”

But with the new school schedule and the horrible confirmation that there will be a summer English camp that takes up the entirety of my two week summer vacation, I told her it’s not worth it.

“My grandparents are getting older and I need to visit them. If I renew with this school, I won’t be able to see my family until 2021…”

“Ah I understand. I’ll miss you!”

I dropped off candy to E who is somehow much shorter than I remember. She said happy birthday and “if your mom sent so much she must miss you”. She was not the first to say that; the prevailing sentiment this past year seems to have been large care package = being missed.

The last bag of the day went to the jolly security guard who helped me bumble through another Korean sentence. It turns out pronouncing “Costco” and “chocolate” in Korean is the hardest for me— I usually just Koreanize English words to a pronunciation I think they’d have, not that they actually do.

Costco. Me: 커스코 (kaw-suh-ko). Actual: 코스트코 (ko-suh-tuh-ko)

Chocolate. Me: 초클랫 (cho-kull-let). Actual: 초콜릿 (cho-kole-eet)

You would think all these English loan words would make Korean easier. Instead, it makes things much harder. I didn’t know I could mispronounce the words of my language but it has become an overarching theme. To be corrected about the improper Korean pronunciation of originally English words is definitely not a problem I expected to have!

In any case, jolly security guard helped me fill in the gaps when I couldn’t find the rest of the sentence I meant to say, and also wanted to send thanks to my mom. Seeing as much of the candy she’s sent over the past eleven months has been distributed to school staff, she is quite the well known and popular lady.

I efficiently completed my workout and then picked up vegetables at the stall by the subway station on the school side of town– I’d been hankering for Chinese stir fry all day, that delightful numbing and tingling spiciness, and so pushed and got pushed by ladies at the market in our haste to buy groceries. I now have lunch for the rest of the week!

Bonus: I have now built up immunity and a bowl full of this suffers me no ill effects. Winning!

Today was also clear, truly clear. Green for every pollution meter and it was the first time in months that I could see the trees on the mountains. I forgot they were that close; it seems the haze of pollution clouded my memory too!

It was a day of small nothings but I felt good. This weekend I now have plans with three different friends for my birthday. What a great way to spend it.

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