Friday, February 24, 2006

I Do Not Have Yellow Fever – Part I

Warning – the following post was written in short spurts between increasing rare periods of work downtime. As such, it tends to ramble. Go somewhere else if you’re looking for coherent thoughts.

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Asian women were apparently put on this planet (Earth) to torture me. Visits to my dentist and my Japanese language instructor have the same overall effect on me: I see them because I like seeing them and the things they do to me are ultimately for my benefit, but they’re expensive and leave me feeling diminished and yet still looking forward to the next meeting. I had a routine cleaning on Thursday, which I especially hate because it’s with a wonderful dental technician instead of my beloved Ninja Bunny Dentist. I looked everywhere for her and strained my ears for the sound of her delicate footfalls (yes, I have memorized the sound of her walking) (no, that’s not at all creepy) but I failed to catch even a glimpse of my cherubic pain technician. The tooth cleaner told me the Bunny would take a look at me next time, unaware that she was toying with my emotions.

Last week I felt a little overwhelmed by the pace of my Japanese language class, so I called the institute and scheduled an hour of private lessons. Sensei is an excellent teacher (my slow learning is not her fault) and I didn’t want to risk getting an instructor with a different dialect, so I made sure I got her for the lesson. She didn’t think I needed the extra instruction, but she didn’t know how much it bothered me to be at the bottom of the class, even though all the other students have had some experience or exposure to the language. I didn’t tell her that – I just said I wanted more practice.

In addition to being a great teacher, when you pay for an hour of instruction with her, you get an hour of instruction. I was afraid it would be similar to one of my high school language classes where an hour-long class meant 12 minutes of prep time, 17 minutes of roll call, 14 minutes passing out materials, 3 minutes recalling the same materials once the teacher realized she passed out geometry equations instead of vocabulary sheets, 7 minutes of getting ready to get ready for break time, break time comprised of 3 minutes of shuffling out of the room, 12 minutes of the teacher deciding whether or not she wants whole or skim milk from the vending machine, 1 minute remembering she’s lactose-intolerant, 4 minutes remembering the vending machines haven’t carried milk since the Korean War, 18 minutes reassembling the class, 5 minutes passing out graded tests, 3 minutes recalling the tests since they were for the geometry class, 12 minutes wrapping up, and 1 minute of apologies for working us through lunch and explaining that, as a language teacher, she’s not good with numbers.

Another observation – I was pleased to note that my nihongo lessons have a cheaper hourly rate than I do. It’s the first time in my life that I’m worth more than the people around me. At my first job as a busboy (working for minimum wage), if I wanted to eat lunch where I worked I had to work at least two hours to be able to afford the meal. I was so happy that I had finally reached the point where I am a valued professional and the college educated bilingual kawaii Japanese sensei would have to work an hour and a half to pay me to administer her databases whereas I don’t even have to work a full hour to pay her to teach me Japanese. At least, that was for the group rate. The private rate is nearly three times as much, so I have to work about two hours to sit with her for one on Friday. Easy come, easy go. At least I can afford a better lunch these days.

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