This does not have a lot to do with Korea, other than the fact that I rediscovered my love of Billy Collins while at school one day, but I really love the poem “On Turning Ten”
On Turning Ten
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.
Recently I’ve been feeling like an old grumpy teacher. Believe me, dear blog readers, I know for a fact that I am not old and I am in the prime of my life… it’s just a feeling, quite like Billy Collins’ narrator at 10. I feel that I’m not quite as relaxed and fun as last semester, and instead I’m channeling an old, grumpy tenured teacher. You know, the one who complains about “students and their baggy pants these days” and shakes her ruler at them as they gallop down the halls, except for me it’s their crazy perms and eye-tape (in Korea many girls put double-sided tape on their eyelids to create the appearance of double-eyelids… I don’t think it works particularly well as it just looks like their new double-eyelids are encased in cellphane. And yes when I say “perms” I’m talking about girls AND guys). Even though it’s only a half year later, these new students just seem so much younger!
There are days that are awesome and teaching just flows and the “teaching persona” (how I present myself as a teacher) I have works really well, but for the new classes I’m having issues finding a persona that works. If I’m too nice they sleep/take advantage of my niceness, but if I’m too hardball they don’t want to participate. This isn’t always an issue, just with certain classes and generally on Thursdays. So please forgive me just for today for being old in my mind, if not in my body.