Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sloth or tadpole?

I've been listening to this Van Morrison song from Astral Weeks. The lyrics are so beautiful:

"We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again."

Walking and talking in gardens all misty and wet with rain is EXACTLY what I want to do pretty much all the time.

Also: "And I'll be satisfied not to read in between the lines." Man, that is an ideal and a half.

So it was Teacher's Day last week. Last year I was literally showered with gifts from my students. Some things I got included an expensive bottle of cologne, a large traditional scroll with a painting of a tiger and a dragon, a bouquet that was actually soap and every petal was a thin piece of soap, a bottle of wine, and a hundred-thousand won gift certificate for the Hyundae department store, among other things. However, I was teaching students with very rich parents in a very rich area in Seoul at the time. So I could tell the gifts probably came from the students' mothers for the most part, not that I wasn't VERY happy to receive them. This time around, I just got about 15 letters from my students, many of them with small folded paper origami flowers. In many ways, I actually appreciated these letters more than the lavish display of wealth thrown at me in Seoul, because they were actually from the students' hands, and their parents aren't paying heaploads of money for them to study English with me, and I could tell the students probably decided to write these letters on their own.

There's one letter in particular, though, that I feel really begs to be shared. It's potentially the best letter I've received from a student EVER. The girl who wrote it is probably the best English speaker in the entire school, although there's only 110 students where I teach. Regardless, her English ability is still extremely remarkable. Apparently she reads English newspaper articles and discusses them over the phone with someone from America.

Her vocabulary is crazy. Most of the other teachers took a crack at reading her letter and none of them, including Elvis who has extensively studied English for more than 20 years, could fully understand it. They all said the English was too difficult.

As a person this girl is so reserved and introverted though, and so it took forever for me to even find out that her English was this good. But here's the letter in full:

"Dear David.
I write you this letter to celerbrate teacher's day.
I feel sorry about day before yesterday. I wanted to greet you when we met by chance in front of our apartment. but I didn't want to use English because it was outdoor. I'm not as confidence as Hee-mang. So, let me use Korean when we meet at the outdoor.
David. Which animal do you like more? a tadpole or a sloth? I like tadpole more. I don't have any information regarding the life of a tadpole, but it is cute! There are many tadpoles near here because Taebaek is a rural area. In fact, tadpole is my nickname and sloth is my sister's nickname in my home, because I became potbelly when I eat much food, and my sister is such a lazy girl. I disliked my nickname at first, but I am acceptable it now.
Today is teacher's day in Korea. It is a day that is made to express thank to one's teacher. I want to express greatful to you, and I'm glad I am one of your pupils. I really enjoy talking with you and
Thank you very much David.
-from Ui-Joo (or Stephanie. this is my English name.)"

As for the question regarding my preference for the sloth or the tadpole (the most important part of the letter), I've put a little bit of thought into it before I write back to Ui-Joo with my answer. I immediately took the question as which animal would I want to be if I could permanently change form or begin again in a new life rather than which animal I just thought was more interesting. And I would definitely rather be a tadpole over a sloth.

When I was a young child my mom bought one of those books on 50 or 100 waterfalls around Los Angeles. She got it in her mind to take me to as many as she could. She even took me tadpole catching once. Rock hopping up all those creeks and streams I always thought it'd be so awesome if people were the size of tadpoles and we could live underwater like that. Some small dirty brown puddle in a rock crevice would be a palatial playground, a vast landscape for us to swim around in and explore while swinging our tails around.

Although lounging about in trees eating leaves day in and day out sounds like it would be pretty sweet as well. And it would be a sort of rude awakening to start losing your tail and then all of a sudden start uncontrollably start hopping around, making weird noises with your throat and flicking your tongue out at flies all the time. Perhaps the ideal situation is to be a tadpole that metamorphosizes into a sloth once adulthood is reached. That would be awesome.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, I was pleased to be mentioned in your blog. I am glad that taking you to waterfalls, and going tadpole catching could affect you 20 years later! Mom

Aaron said...

Tadpole to Sloth combo is definately the way to go on this one.