August 7

“Who is your hero?”

“My hero is my dad. He makes lots of money. He is number one in his company.”

I had to hold back the laughter so I just told this camp student that he did very well and great job.

After I hung up I turned to C and told her that I just heard the most Korean thing in the world.

Another camper uploaded her very beautiful superhero comic featuring Gamora with emphasis on her “beautiful body” and “attractive hair”. I told C to please tell the student in Korean it sounds a bit better to say cool or beautiful hair.

“Oh really? We use that in Korean all the time.” C remarked and I resisted another English weary sigh.

I wasn’t sure if she meant in Korean-English or simply in Korean. But either way it sounds very awkward in English and I explained that attractive often mean in a sexual or romantic context so it’s a bit odd to describe hair that way.

She was blown away once again.

“Wow, so many sexual meanings,” she said to herself, thinking of “perverse” from earlier in the week.

I of course thought again of what I mentioned yesterday of the Korean education system and the importance of not relying on a single dictionary for translation. Context is everything.

Today marks the last day of third and fourth grade camp and one of my lower performing students who struggles in live class finished her comic with all correct sentences. I was so proud!

Another student told me her hero was Warren Buffett because he makes a lot of donations which was quite surprising. I also realized that student looked very similar to one of our sixth grade students: same hair, glasses, voice. It turns out my hunch was right in the older girl is in fact her sister.

Since C had promised to come to the bank with me yesterday we left school around 12:40 after I had another fight with the printer. Of course, as you can guess, Asia Time.

I wanted to get a print out in my bank book of my most recent balance which was easy. While I was there I also asked to see if C could raise my transfer limit since I was blocked at $300. When I had to pay tuition to Busan, I had to pay it over the course of four days which was a little bit annoying.

Well well well.

It turns out I was asking for too much and I had angered the gods of Asia Time. The teller told us that I needed a document from school to prove that I was still working if I wanted to raise my limit. I cannot say why this was required since I was already at the bank with all of my documentation and had that bank account with monthly direct deposits for 11 months. I was annoyed but not surprised so C patiently guided us back to school to the last group of people I wanted to see. The office staff.

They were about as awkward as normal and the old guy, you may remember him from our drunken makgeolli night, avoided eye contact not once but twice. The young woman ignored me as usual and talked to C and the older woman had a long conversation with C in which she asked about final payments for the apartment utilities.

C told me later she was a caught off guard at first because she thought she would have to spin another lie about me leaving for America. It turns out they just wanted to secure money for the final utility payments. I told C that my utilities are not much, usually about a dollar for water and $8 to $16 for electricity. C scoffed and said “if that’s it I will just pay myself”.

After waiting for about 10 minutes the young woman was finally able to print out whatever this magical document was and I asked for copies just in case. We finally left the room which used not a single gust of air conditioning in the quest to prove that the office staff can work frugally and the teachers should too.

We headed back outside which was somehow cooler than the office room and made our way back to the bank where suddenly 20 people had appeared in line. Our waiting time was now 20 minutes and I could feel the sweat starting to run down my legs.

The same teller, whose saving grace was making extensive eye contact with me even though she was only talking to C, called us up. It took even longer, maybe 20 more minutes, to raise the transfer limit for online banking. I didn’t bother with the additional documents needed for raising the transfer limit at the ATM or Teller.

I feel that I can’t hold in my frustration at the bank because the process always seems unnecessarily complicated and tedious. I nearly cried the first time S and I went to set up the account and had to return two or three times then, too.

Like I said, Asia Time.

Somewhere at the crosswalk I asked C what she does after our half days.

“I meditate. Corona has been difficult for me. I was stressed and a little depressed. How did you feel?”

Girl.

“Yes, earlier in the year things were very difficult. Are you doing better now?” I asked, remembering that the book she was reading a few months ago was a guide for sensitive people living in an insensitive world.

“A little better now but sometimes a little depressed.”

The pandemic seems to have affected the world about the same mentally.

We left the bank for the last time and parted ways at the gym entrance.

“You didn’t eat lunch, will you be okay?” Asked C with concern.

My heart!

I told her I’d eaten a snack and would be okay. She went back to school to do a few more things.

After the bank trial and gym I fell into bed at 6pm and, deeming cooking too exhausting, ordered a whole roasted fish for dinner via delivery. There was the usual confusion with the delivery man but I finally returned to my bed to nom through a foot long mackerel and I had the time of my life.

I’m looking forward to and also hoping for good (and cheap!!) seafood in Busan. I would eat a roast fish every day if I could afford it.

Time is starting to lurch unevenly: weekdays are gone in a blink and Saturday mornings last about ten years.

I need to write thank you notes and finish selling off apartment wares but in the meantime I’m enjoying the little things and trying not to worry too much about the things I haven’t gotten to.

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