A Socratic Clown

English teachers in Korea often complain that they feel like “English clowns.”

I was a Socratic (method) Clown today in math and it was an amazing class.

Sometimes, being a teacher means being a clown.

And sometimes, I need to remind myself of how damn well the Socratic Method works.

Too Many Candles

Saturday, Good Man and I went up to Mark’s Lover’s house to meet Mark, his lover, and…Diana and Min Gi!

We went into Rockville and had a lovely dinner, where Mark was the annoying customer with too many questions. We then wandered around the town square, where we watched a building get evacuated due to some sort of fire. Or some sort of false fire alarm.

“Oh, it’s your cake, Amanda.”

Diana, Min Gi, Mark, and Lover seemed to get along well, which is always a fine thing.

Good Man and I stayed at Lover’s house, playing some grown-up version of Sorry!, which resulted in much cursing. In short: my husband is vindictive.

A nice weekend.

But dude, my cake didn’t start the fire. I wasn’t even there for cake.

Thirty, with One to Grow On

“I will go buy you ice cream cake,” Good Man said about my birthday. “I will go to Baskin-Robbins because you are Baskin-Robbins!” In Korea, when you are thirty-one, you are Baskin-Robbins.

“Quit calling me thirty-one.”

“Hmmm, but should I put thirty candles on cake like in America, or thirty-one since you are already thirty-one in Korea?”

“Actually, in America we put an extra candle on the cake, sometimes, ‘one to grow on.'”

At the grocery store, Good Man found a coffin candle. “Over the Hill: Too Old to Count” it said. “야! Put that back!”

“OK, I will get 3 and 1,” he said, picking up the two digits, “Ask for something outrageous and then you get what you want.”

“It’s your birthday?” a coworker asked.

“Yep, my thirtieth.”

“Are you married?”


“Oh, good, then you still have time to do something important in your life, like have kids.”

“I’ve already done something important in my life,” I said, “I’ve had over six hundred kids in my lifetime already.”

A student gave me a gift wrapped in paper he’d written on.


Inside each O, A, and E he’d drawn a cartoon picture of a girl. “Is that me?”

“Uh huh.”

“What’s ‘teacher’s hat?'”

“My mom made me change it to an ‘a.'”


Under on the Out is Hot, Right?

So, I’m not very good at sewing. I made a few things more than five years ago but I want to get into this. This weekend I planned to make some simple, hard-to-screw-up Thai fisherman pants.

Instead, in typical Amanda-fashion, I cut out a dress pattern.

It was going OK, until I got to the sleeve. I had been battling the sleeve cap (the round part that covers your upper arm and is sewn into the armhole) for a couple of days. The pattern’s sleeve cap appears to be too tall and the pattern told me to ease (squeeze) a heck of a lot of fabric into a small space. I was getting puckers, tucks, pleats.

After the sixth time of trying to follow the directions, I wanted to cry. I was tired of ripping my work out, the fabric was looking worn and it was just a mess. I considered adding an inverted box pleat to get rid of the excess fabric, but that looked weird. I considered leaving it sleeveless.

I researched options online and in my sewing books. After a lot of conflicting advice I finally eased the cap in last night. It looked beautiful, see? (That’s not ironed or pressed.)

Beautiful Sleeve

And then I stretched my arms to test the fit.


Southern Ocean

So apparently there are five oceans. Who knew? In any case, I’ve had to teach that there are five oceans for several years now. I found a lonely globe in the cafeteria and took it. Then I found someone sort of in charge.

“Do we have any globes with the Southern Ocean on it, since it’s been on maps since about 2000?”

Someone Sort of in Charge just laughed, “Probably not.”

“So, can I take a permanent marker and label this correctly?”


“OK, how about this? I’m going to take a permanent marker to this outdated thing, and if anyone asked, nobody gave me permission.”

Someone Sort of in Charge laughed and nodded, “Sounds good.”

I have worked in American schools for too long. It doesn’t even phase faze me that I have equipment and materials ten years of out date. That’s what markers and duct tape are for, right?

Disrespectful Ear

At school, while talking about how to behave in a literature circle group, the students came up with “Listen to other people.”

I wrote it on the chart paper and drew a picture of an ear.

“How else could we show respect while talking about books?”

One student muttered, “Well, we wouldn’t show respect by drawing their ear like that, that’s for sure.”

Hey, I’m not an art teacher.

Way Koreans Confuse Me #47

Way Koreans Confuse Me #47:
Koreans will go on about how their alphabet is scientific and so easy even idiots can read. In the next breath they’ll brag about how difficult learning to speak Korean is. (Grant both points.)

So why, after chatting away for seven minutes in Korean, joking around in Korean, getting offered a job in Korean, is said Korean shocked when White Girl can read said Korean’s name written in…Korean?

Call Me a Dork. I Can Take It.

Good Man and I went bowling last week. We did very poorly. But we went last night and did a lot better. Over four games, Good Man averaged 115 with a high of 135 and I averaged 104 with a high of 128. That’s ten pins higher than our normal averages.

And today? Today we really became dorks.

We bought entry-level bowling balls, bags, and shoes.

And the balls? They’re engraved with our names.

Oh yeah, baby, I own bowling shoes, and a ball with my name on it. Literally.

I have to hand it to the place in Minnesota. The manager said they’d replace the ball, and they did. So my ball was free.

I like the pro shop we went to (Sports Plus Carmen Don in Alexandria). It was recommended by the place we’ve been bowling at, and they didn’t try to upsell us anything. There was no pressure to get us into more expensive gear. We went there Saturday and they took a special order for my ball and waited for the manager in Minnesota to call with the credit card info to purchase the ball. And when they got it tonight, they called to let me know I could come in at any time to get the ball fitted.

They were really friendly and helpful. I think they think if we’re happy with the gear we get through them, we’ll come back when we want to upgrade to more serious gear.

I figure that since we’ve been going bowling weekly, it’s better to get entry-level balls now so we can used to the proper grip. If we keep using house balls with those big finger holes, we’re only going to continue to grip the ball. Or “hold it,” as my Grandfather says.

Still. We own bowling balls. I find this really funny for some reason.

Good Man also finds it funny. “Bowling is for people who can’t afford golf,” he said.

“We can’t afford golf,” I said.

“Exactly. But you wait forty years and I bet we’ll learn golf, too.”

One of My Finer Teaching Moments

So. I’m in a new school. In a new grade. With new kids, a new boss, new coworkers, new parents. So you know, I need to make a good impression.

Today I maneuvered my head around, searching for a power switch on the side of the SmartBoard. In doing so, I managed to get my hair all tangled up in the paperclips on the calendar.

I needed the help of four eight-year old students to free me.

Not one of my Finer Teaching Moments.

And to imagine, on day four! Day four!