May 26

Things I accomplished today:

  • Another teaching course module
  • Video edits for my one year Korea anniversary video
  • English volunteer tutoring lesson for my refugee student
  • Pointed out to the pharmacist that he gave me KF80 masks for my national ration and yes I would like the KF94 masks instead, I’m allergic to pollution thanks
  • Two hours peppering my Hong Kong tutor with questions about the difference between “잘하다” and “잘 하다”. Your eyes do not deceive you, the only difference is a space which stacks up to a lot of meaning in the context heavy language of Korean.

Before leaving for her off site teaching course, C gave me the updates (remember, Asia Time, subject to and nearly expected to change) for our course schedule this month. I’ll be teaching approximately…. one to four hours a week. Yikes. But it is what it is, the students will only be at school for 6 half hour periods and under strict COVID modifications which means my unruly gang that usually came to chat with me during bathroom breaks will not be keeping me company anymore.

She also reminded me that school lunch will be provided starting tomorrow. Yay! I haven’t eaten in the cafeteria since January. Of course we too have to abide by COVID rules which means siting six feet apart like a maximum security prison which is just sad. Boo.

I’ve been living a Groundhog Day scenario and felt it acutely today. Korean class with my Busan tutor was scheduled at 9:30 PM and I wondered if I could mentally make it.

I should know by now that social interaction, as I’m an ENFP, always makes me feel better.

She asked about my Korean story which is long and winding as you know. I also told her the horror story of Busan Boy and that there were places I no longer feel comfortable going and if I come upon a look alike I feel startled.

“Because you have trauma.” She responded.

Huh. I do? I thought. But trauma is for people who had actual bad things happen to them.

The more I thought of it though, the more aligned it felt to call it trauma. There’s no minimum requirement on suffering and if it’s a feeling that leaves me, well, traumatized, then let’s call a spade a spade.

It was freeing for someone who is essentially a stranger to tell me that yes, the experience wasn’t good and I’m not overreacting if there are still things that give me fear.

Others in my life, other who have not experienced something like this, will probably say “suck it up” or “what’s there to be afraid of, you can take him!” without understanding the nature of these problems at all. I can’t punch away sociopaths. I can’t predict what a sociopath will do or how far he will go. It’s the unknown that leaves a gaping maw in my psyche. If someone I knew for just a few months threatened me over something as inconsequential as my busy schedule, what more could or would he do? Why, again, am I to blame for the feelings he caused?

Those (not so) fictional voices are right in that I don’t want to feel this way. I know that time heals all wounds. Or in Korean: 시간이 지나면 아무것도 아닌 일이다.

I told her, “That guy said his dad was a gangster.”

She actually laughed out loud and said, “he’s a liar,” which makes me wonder… what all could he have lied about? Was any part of him real? Besides his behavior at the end, of course. Can’t fake that.

We ran half an hour over time which felt like no time at all. At the end she gave me her personal number and said “if you have any problems please call. My aunts and uncles look really scary so if you run into that guy in Busan we’ll take care of it. I’m your 언니* after all.”

(언니 marks a change in intimacy of a relationship; it’s what a younger woman calls an older woman who is her close friend or acquaintance. Its literal meaning is “older sister” and is also used in a familial setting as its intended purpose.)

I was again reminded of found and made families and that help can be found if you look in the right place. And that my mafia-like Korean family continues to grow.

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