this semester i teach english at an all boys school, grades 7-9. i also teach a bunch of dudes in grade twelve, who happen to be seminarians, but won’t end up priests [trust me]. then there’s two grade sevens in the co-ed english program. i teach them geography. i tutor a sixteen year old girl conversational english on tuesdays and today i will start teaching one new student every thursday. he’s a priest.
since living in thailand i’ve become a pretty frugal person. perhaps borderline ridiculous? i have been successful, for the most part, at keeping my neurotic behavior to myself. that is until today.
a sandwich bag is not ready to be thrown out until at least five uses and/or the entire inside is covered in peanut butter making it not worth the mess. i will wear the same running clothes for days until i can absolutely not stand myself in them any longer. mind you, i run long distance in a tropical climate. putting on the air conditioning in my apartment during the hot season, now, or ever is just not an option. the days it reached 110 degrees with 90% humidity were the days i formed a closer relationship with my fan. the amount of plastic bags i’ve accumulated for later use is just embarrassing, i’ve lost track of how many times i’ve saved used paper towel for a rainy day, and spending more than four dollars on a meal is uncommon. ten? splurge. fifteen? ludacris! i’ve got my reasons. i’m on a thai budget, not everything is as accessible here as it is in the states, and i live in a polluted wasteland. i’d rather not add to the mess.
typically this behavior only affects myself in my daily life [unless you sit next to me after a run, sorry!] but today there was a second party involved. after handing an envelope full of money to the bank teller, he emptied it and held it up. he was motioning and asking whether he should throw it out. my initial reaction was yes and so he threw it out in the garbage next to him. i then immediately changed my mind. what was i thinking? i use envelopes all the time! maybe not alllllll the time but enough that i can’t just throw away that perfectly good envelope. i only have, like, five at my apartment. i don’t want to have to buy more. after these thoughts ran through my mind i quickly told the bank teller i needed the envelope back. he was kind enough to reach in the garbage and return the envelope to me. he probably thinks i’m crazy, and maybe i am. just a little.
today was a good teaching day. it’s been two months as an all boys high school teacher and i already feel an attachment to my students growing. they’re insane and it’s not as if thai kids have the best behavior. in fact, it’s terrible. but there’s something about having a classroom full of boys. even on their worst day i can easily let go of my frustration with them. they’re fun and light hearted. they let things roll of their backs in a way most people should. they’re kind and genuine; at the end of the day, even if they don’t give a crap about english, they do about me. i loved some of my girls last year, but these boys, they’re endearing. my heart will break when i say goodbye, but until then i will enjoy my last eleven weeks as teacher dee dee with them. i couldn’t really imagine a better way.
a menial task in america is usually a production in thailand; often exhausting, sometimes back breaking, and always inconvenient. just last week i found myself on my apartment floor battling a hot plate and eggs. ”eggs! how easy? i should just make eggs for dinner. scrambled eggs and toast it is!” my famous last words before the hour long war began.
round one. eggs in a rice cooker. i thought i’d be crafty. it’s a metal pan…sorta? i failed. not long after i had a thick layer of egg burnt onto the bottom of the rice cooker. my bad.
round two. the hot plate. since it had been sitting in my room untouched for nine months i dragged it to my balcony, hosed it down, dragged it into my bathroom, and hosed it down with dishwashing detergent. mind you this is a large four piece set, but i was feeling ambitious. dry it off, set it up, turn it on, pour the eggs on the hot plate, and soon we will be cooking! i guess i didn’t notice the openings along the side that collect oil as you cook because seconds later my uncooked eggs were down them. they were gone. i wasn’t giving up yet, though.
round three. pour the eggs on the hot plate and frantically use the spatula to avoid losing the entire contents to the oil collecting cracks. there i was, sitting on my floor, desperately saving the eggs from the cracks. oil was flying in every direction. i was five eggs deep, dirtied about six utensils, two bowls, burnt a rice cooker, and the smell of fried egg was quickly permeating my small studio apartment. it was a pathetic sight.
i cooked the eggs as best i could. with effort i moved them from the hot plate to my plate with toast. what’s that black stuff? plastic from the spatula? burnt…something? don’t know, don’t care, i’m eating it. it was terrible.
then there was the hefty clean up. the four piece hot plate, the burnt rice cooker, all my utensils, the floor, the table. i had to use a kettle to make hot water for the real damage that had been done. then there was the clean up after the clean up; my bathroom [yes, i wash my dishes in my bathroom]. this was all done bending over, or on my hands and knees.
i collapsed on my bed after sweating….and nauseous. next time i’ll stick to hard boiled.
today i let my twelfth grade boys listen to music while doing their writing assignments. they work their butts off, they deserve it. if anything it helped. they were focused and bobbing along while happily writing about their families, dreams, and feelings. below is their playlist.