Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007


A "toast-uh" is a Korean sandwich, often cooked up on the street in a little truck or from a cart. It's usually made of egg, a slice of ham or thin sausage patty kind of thing, maybe some cheese, and a pile of shredded cabbage doused with maybe Thousand Island dressing or ketchup and mayo on white bread that's been griddled grilled cheese-style. You can check out a picture on this Flickr page, or about 3/4 of the way down here on the fabulous Mary Eats site. It's not an entirely healthy snack, but it goes well during or after a night out of carousing. Or anytime.

Well recently a little shop called "Tomahto" opened up near my school, and I'd seen students walking around with a unique version of toast-uh. It was puffy and circular and reminded me of a Hot-Pocket, though I'm fairly sure I've never actually eaten a Hot-Pocket.

So as I was passing by the other day, I decided to stop in and treat my co-workers and myself to a sandwich. "Toast-uh, seyge juseyo," I requested. The lady rattled off a list of possible ingredients (?) and I chose "chamchi" - tuna. So as she went about assembling the first sandwich, my eyes widened. She piled a slice of white bread high with a myriad of stuff, and then plunked it onto a heated cast iron press that pinched off the corners and sealed the edges.

I've never seen anything like it.
This is Sunny's toast-uh.
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It's made of tuna salad loaded with corn, peas, macaroni, and mayo. There's also a slice of ham, a few sweet pickles, a pile of shredded cabbage, a glob of mashed potatoes, and a slathering of strawberry jam.

This is mine.
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It was the third one made, and I ixnayed the tuna, since I'm not a fan of the peas and corn. So mine's mostly potatoes, ham, cabbage, pickles and strawberry jam.
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It tasted,...well,....what do you think? It tasted gross. Like something a crazy pregnant woman with irrational cravings dreamed up. Ewwwwww. And I couldn't properly explain to my co-workers or students (who I fed most of my sandwich to) why it was so mental. To them it was seriously deelish. Ick!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hulk, Smash!

I went out the other night with a friend of mine. I needed to get a new pair of sandals. I had been wearing the ones I bought last summer, but realized after they'd gotten drenched last week and I pulled my leg up to let the doctor change my bandages, that they reeked and that my toes were disgustingly dirty. It was worse when they were re-soaked on the way to dinner and a movie on Saturday and I caught whiff of what smelled like a wet dog wafting up to my nose from under the table. How embarrassing!

Anyhow, I snagged a cheapie pair of men's sport sandals and left my dirty dog ones on top of a pile of trash on the side of the road. I got two shoes. I got new shoes.

With that taken care of, Ben and I looked around for a spot to have some dinner. "There's a nice gogi-jip up over there," I said, pointing over yonder. "Or, there's a slummier but good one that way," gesturing in the opposite direction.
"Let's slum it!" said Ben.
As we approached the restaurant, Ben nodded toward a place a couple doors down. "How about there?"
"Makkoli?" (Danger, danger!) "Really?"
"Yah!! Makkoli!"

So we went inside and ordered up a crooked kettle of milky tangy rice wine and some doobu kimchi, and sat talking. As is always the case, we drew attention and ended up chatting with a couple of nice fellows. On the other side of us, a table of four girls arrived and sat down. I sensed them staring at us, and noticed how they gestured toward my new sandal. I knew it wasn't the beauty of my functional man-sandal, but the bit of my tattoo poking out from between the straps that drew their attention. I pretended I wasn't aware they were talking about me. Ben soon had them nicknamed. There was "Pink Girl" (for her T-shirt,) "Japanese Girl," because Ben thought she looked Japanese, "Spitty Girl," because she seemed to enjoy dropping large gobs of bubbly hork into the ashtray, and "60's Girl" because she was dressed a little retro in a long paisley baby-doll top and white capris with a pouffy bouffantish doo and giant hoop earrings. These were tough girls. All but Pink Girl were smoking at the table (very unusual) and their speech was peppered with eighteens and dog babies.

A conversation was struck up because 60's Girl told us to "shut up" as Ben and I hummed the theme from Jeopardy. I think we were deliberating on another crooked kettle. "What?" I asked. "Shut up?"
"No, no, no!" smiles and hand waving abounded. "Where are you prom-uh?" Subject changed.

A few moments later I returned from the washroom to find that Ben had joined their table. So I sat down on a stool Japanese Girl was patting beside her. Two guys had arrived as well, so now we were a group of eight. It was alright, "cheers" all around for a little while. Their group settled up first and left, but they beckoned to us from across the street as we exited, where they were parked in plastic chairs outside a convenience store. They invited us to join them in the park across the street. Inside the Family Mart, I bought a round of beers for everyone. When 60's Girl realized it was 'on me', she scurried her two Hite tall-boys back to the cooler and opted for a couple Heinekens. Double the price. Whatever. I was already very aware that she was a Princess. She demonstrated an inflated sense of entitlement, spoke in Whine, and ladled out cruel comments toward everyone in her vicinity.

We settled down in a wooden gazebo, cracked our cans of beer and cheers-ed each other. The night was warm, but there was a nice breeze. Everyone was in a fine mood, but it was getting a bit late. So Pink girl and her boyfriend headed out, followed by Ben, who had to work at six in the morning, and then Spitty Girl. I'd finished my beer and was thinking about heading across the road for one more before I called it a night, when the guy 60's Girl was snuggling up to offered me his Heineken, which was 3/4 full.

60's Girl protested, whining at length while smacking her new fella on the arm. She kept this up for a couple minutes, and also started gesturing at me with a classic Korean angry-face. Koreans can do angry-face like nobody I've ever seen. It's a wide eyed, knitted-eyebrow snarl. They'll cuss you quickly between bared clenched teeth, while they jut their chins out repeatedly to punctuate their curses. I usually find it pretty funny, actually. But coming from this twenty one year old,...too much.

I started out with a growled, "Look, I didn't ask for his beer but even if I'd wanted to, see this? See all these beers? I paid for them,....they're all mine!"
She continued to curse at me.
And I raised my voice.
And she flashed her teeth and gestured threateningly toward me.

And I LOST it.
Seriously, I cannot remember the last time I so completely blew my lid. I stood up and scuh-REAMED at her. I suggested she think about removing her snarl from her face, or I was going to remove her face from her face. She remained belligerent for awhile, until she realized that I might kill her. I think maybe it was my foaming at the mouth and tearing my hair out to throw at her.
I'm kidding.
But I was just livid.
And truly, it wasn't all about her by any means. I've felt so frustrated and strange and messed up over the past couple weeks - I know I was a volcano that was only barely still dormant. She was the straw for my camel-back, but oh, what a straw!
Soon enough she ended up in a ball in the middle of the gazebo, squished in tight to her man who was urging her to apologize, which she did, in a sing-song-la-dee-dah-not-sorry-at-all manner. "Sorry? My ASS, you're sorry!"

So I bellowed some more and whipped the can of Heineken at her head. (Truly, I wasn't aiming at her head. It whizzed by about a foot away from her right ear.) But it got her to start apologizing in earnest.
And suddenly my storm passed. "Go home." I pointed at them. "You. All of you. Go home, now."
I backed away so they could get themselves together and scramble off.

I watched as my skin faded from the deep olive green it had turned and the Hulk rage subsided. I was David Banner again. Easy going scientist teacher. Mild mannered me. Sort of.

I found an episode of The West Wing I watched last night to be interesting. One of the characters, Donna, had been in a horrible accident. When she was saying she wasn't ready to "talk to someone" about what had happened, she noted that she was experiencing classic symptoms, "quick to anger, and apt to cry over nothing." Check, check.

The body is quite the machine. Mine's healing well. But, it's my psyche that's messed up. As I sat solitary in the aftermath of my tornado, I realized every time I'm faced with trauma to my spirit, it's like I'm picking at the barely healed scabs that cover my heart. They're old wounds, and they're terribly slow to heal. When they're re-opened I can almost feel the poison leaking through myself.

I mentioned "faking it 'til you make it" before, but maybe even as I'm "making it" with my usually optimistic sunshiney attitude, I'm actually just faking it. Deep in my heart lies a Hulk.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


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I've Got to Admit

I'm getting better. A little better all the time.

I went to the hospital today and had my stitches taken out. I've got a bit of an infection. I guess it's okay for now because the doctor didn't amputate it or anything. Actually, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that there's glass inside my leg. When I was changing the bandage on my head the other day, I pulled out four little pieces of glass, and that area had been cleaned and re-dressed numerous times by three different doctors since the accident! I've also had to have more dug out from the bottom of my foot over the last couple weeks. My knee is still swollen and purple, but numb. I could jab a pencil in it and wouldn't feel it. Doc says it may be another month or so before feeling comes back, but maybe not. I'm still numb on the other half of my forehead where I fell about a year ago. Who knows? I still have a headache everyday, and my neck and shoulders are all screwed up. But really, I am getting better.

A few days after the accident I bought myself the fifth season of The Sopranos, and I was bummed that I finished it this past Saturday night. I don't know if the sixth season pt.1 has been released here. I haven't come across it. I lucked out tonight though, and found seasons six and seven of The West Wing! Yuh-huh, I've got 44 episodes on deck.

I wish I was sleeping better, but since I'm not I'm finding that I want to keep myself distracted at all times. If I give myself too much time to be alone with my thoughts, I tend to head down deep and dark tubes. My heart flips around in my chest and I feel panicked. I haven't felt like talking much. Everything bugs me lately. This post bugs me.

I have realized that I should become an actress. I'm doling out daily Oscar worthy performances in the classroom. I'm channeling Robin Williams in Dead Poets. So, there's that.

You know, fake it 'til you make it sort of thing.
How you guys doing?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

WCB 107 - Prison Heat

Kamikaze found himself imprisoned in his carrot when I rescued my clothes horse full of laundry from the rain that was starting to pour outside. I plunked the drying rack right overtop of him, his carrot, and his fancy leg warmers.
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Why for you jail me?
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Downstairs there was a racket. Holy YOWLINESS! What's up with all the noise? Can you spot the culprits?
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I've heard other parts of Korea have had their share of hot muggy weather, but down here I can't complain too much. We've has a couple short spells of hot, but generally it's been very nice - sunny days and nice breezes. The night temperatures have been cooperating and dropped down to provide pleasant sleeping weather. This past week was the first real taste of summer we got, and the air conditioner was finally turned on at work. Now we get to have the battle of the temperature setting, though. My co-workers seem to like a setting of 25 which makes the machine constantly cycle off. It only takes a couple minutes in the classroom to realize there's no air, and within ten minutes I'm breaking a sweat. So I sneak out and set the air conditioner to 22. Ah, that's better. Constant coolness. Then one of my co-workers notices the revised setting and bumps it back up. We'll continue this battle for the next three months or so.

But, speaking of a taste of summer, what's better than ice cream?
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Nothing. Nothing's better than ice cream, I tell ya!

Kamikaze agrees. When he spies something that resembles an ice bream bar or cone he manoeuvres himself to be right beside me and then looks expectantly from me to the ice cream to me to the ice cream.
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Mmmmmm! Pistaschioliciousness!!

Ice cream bars and cones are anywhere from fifty to eighty cents here. T'ain't nothing wrong with that, eh?

Now I order you to go see other kitties at this weekend's hosting spot Check out Scamperdude, the rock star super-hero!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Swear Jar

My brother pointed this Budweiser commercial out to me.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not Much to Report

Headache. Taxi. Neurologist. Orthopedic Doc. X-Rays. Physiotherapy. Injection Room. Pharmacy. Pills. Taxi.
The weather is gorgeous.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Riddle Me This

How does one walk with crutches while holding an umbrella? It's raining. I'm thinking maybe I can fasten an umbrella to my head with duct tape. I can't sleep these days, so I have time to come up with a plan.

A Little Mercy

The doctor isn't liking the way my leg's looking. He definitely wasn't too happy to see I'd taken the splint off. I think if his English was better he would have really scolded me. He'd like me to not walk on it at all. He wrote down his telephone number and asked me to have my Wonjangnim (boss) call him when I got to work. So Jane spoke with him and then she scolded me - kind of sort of. My not walking is contrary to being at work, which isn't in the school's best interest.

But I guess the doctor was pretty serious, and I'll bet he used the Korean word for "bed-rest," because he told me twice in English that's what I should be doing. He mentioned ligaments to Jane, and that we'll probably need more X-rays and such on Saturday. He wouldn't take the crutches back, so I've been making an effort to use them. It takes a long time to get anywhere on them, and I feel kind of silly knowing I can just tuck them under my arm and walk much faster. I know I have a tendency to do things because I can, regardless of if I should. I find it really difficult to try and stay seated in the classroom.

So when I had a break at 4 o'clock, Jane spent about 20 minutes rubbing ice on my giant purple leg before deciding that I could go home. I actually misted up with gratefulness. She told me they should have given me some time to rest, but that she really appreciates me coming in. Tomorrow I'm going to visit my usual doctor to have the dressing on my forehead changed before work. The hospital visits are costing about fifty bucks a day, compared to the four dollars I pay at Dr. Demento Dolphin-Head's office.

In other news, I just got my very first dirty phone call in Korea. (Isn't there a term for a wanking heavy breather on the phone? It seems to me there used to be a word for it, before the invention of called ID.) After I said, "Hello?" the guy whispered "Wait-uh," and then there was some heavy breathing before he said "Pone-uh sex-uh hagushipseyo." I listened to him breathe and groan a bit before he said "Hello? Huuhhhh huuuuhhh" and then I laughed and said "Bye-bye!" I heard him protesting as I hung up, but he didn't call back.

A Muslim fellow I know called tonight and invited me out on the weekend. His Korean friend just got a new car and wants to go for a long drive. I declined. I think I'll not leave my apartment this weekend besides the hospital visit on Saturday. There's a good chance I'll feel lonely and blue. If anyone wants to chat, let me know, eh?

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I went and got my splint and crutches today. Have you ever seen these splint thingies? I was thinking I'd maybe have yardsticks affixed to either side of my leg with masking tape or something. Turns out they lay you down on a gurney and then prop your leg up at the knee on what looks like one of those table-top ironing boards. Then they apply what feels like something made out of that evil morphy guy in the Terminator movie to the back of your leg. It's hot and wet and moulds to the shape of your bent leg. Your leg is then wrapped mummy style in tensor bandages and once everything had cooled and hardened you get to put your jeans back on and they get soaked. I was bound from mid-thigh to ankle.

"Here, have some crutches, SUCKER!" the nurse said to me in Korean. I think.

Then I was led to the fourth floor, otherwise known as the FIFTH floor for some physical therapy on my neck and shoulders. Like thirteen back home, four is the bad luck number here and it's eliminated in hospitals because of superstitions. I was instructed to lie down on a gurney beside a window. Again, a wonderful breeze made me feel content, and my head and shoulders were cushioned by this heated plushy pillow. I could have stayed there all day. Then I was flipped over and had twenty minutes worth of electrical pulse therapy. It felt weird at first, but then got to be quite nice. I think I'll get me some more of that tomorrow.

When I was in high school, my brother broke his leg playing hockey. For days after he got his cast on, I'd come home after school and find him in his room with things stuck down inside - pencils, rulers, a long barbecue fork - trying to reach the itchy parts. It was driving him nuts. On about the fifth day, I came home to find him with a hack saw stuck down in his cast. He couldn't reach the itch at the bottom of his foot, and he was angrily cutting himself free.

Well, turns out he lasted a hell of a lot longer than I did. Getting into a taxi made me realize how cumbersome having an unbending leg for a week was going to be. The splint dug painfully into my heel when I sat down, and gaped stupidly at the back of my thigh when I stood up. It was hot and itchy and unpleasant. Right after my first class finished, I went into an empty classroom, took my jeans off and de-splinted. I could not get the hang of walking on the crutches, anyhow. My mind would instruct my body, "two crutches and left leg together, okay - right leg, two crutches and left leg, right leg,..." but my body was spastically scuttling around like I suddenly had four legs that all needed to move at different times. I ended up walking stiff legged and carrying the crutches in my hand.

So I might as well have just gone to the hospital and handed them a hundred bucks to not do anything and jumped back in a cab to go to work. It kind of seemed they were insisting on demobilizing my leg just to BUG me anyhow. It kind of seems like everyone is existing these days just to bug me. I think they wake up in the morning and think, "Hmmmm. How can I bug Jenn if I happen to cross her path today?"

Maybe tomorrow they'll find someone else to annoy (and I'll be in a brighter mood). Bear with me, folks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Hey. How you doing?

Me? Not so great.

I haven't been sleeping well at all, and I feel pretty exhausted. I'm also having a hard time reigning in my emotions. I took a cab to the hospital today, and he drove quickly - as cabbies tend to do here - down the hill from my apartment. We came to a screechy sudden stop at the bottom where there's a blind turn, and narrowly missed hitting a car that was coming through the intersection. I screamed, "FUCK!!!" and then started to cry. Granted, I wasn't wailing like a baby who needs a diaper change - my pants were still dry, in fact. But yet, there was a steady flow of tears that I just couldn't staunch. I arrived at the hospital to find that all the doctors were having lunch, and it was going to be a fifty minute wait. So I parked myself on a bench in an empty waiting area outside of the neurosurgery and (I don't know the name of the doctor who handles giant swollen bruised legs) offices. A fantastic breeze was blowing through the corridor and I just sat there and cried. I wasn't even terribly self conscious about it. A hospital's a great place to go and have a good cry. People are crying in there all the time I'm sure. Thing is, I can't be at the hospital all day long. But all day long is the duration that I feel like crying.

I feel panicked most of the time.

On Monday I went to the hospital for more X-rays and bandage changing, and I met up with my friend the car-crasher. We had to go downtown together to fill out a police report. We had Jane meet us to make sure I knew what was going on. It was pretty uneventful. My report read, "I was a passenger in my friend's car early Saturday morning. Suddenly, we crashed. I was surprised."

I don't remember what I was doing before the accident. I remember being surprised. I didn't know what was happening as I was smashing into the windshield. It wasn't until the car had settled on its side and felt water seeping in and blood dripping down my face that I figured out we weren't on the road anymore. I don't even know how long I was trapped in there. It was dark when we crashed, and it was daylight when I was in the ambulance.

It was a cat, my friend explained to the police. He'd swerved to avoid a cat. I hadn't even asked him what happened. I assumed it was the curvy wet roads and that he'd maybe taken a turn too fast. Back in the car after the police station, I turned to him and asked, "Was there really a cat?" He answered in a way that I totally believe him. Isn't it weird I pandified my face last June to avoid killing a cat as well?

Five minutes away from the station, there was a police officer in the middle of the road who waved us over. "What's wrong?" I asked. My friend pointed to the front of him where there was no seat belt. I had learned my lesson and was buckled in. Buddy got a ticket.

Tomorrow the doctor who deals with mangled legs wants to put me in a splint and on crutches. He would have done so today, but my jeans weren't loose enough to facilitate the splint. The doctor told me they'd give me hospital pants, but there's no bloody way I was going to work in those. The swelling and bruising is working its way down from my knee to my whole leg, and the doctor says if I keep doing things like walking and bending it's only going to get worse and more painful. I thought I was going to avoid a panda eye when I was still okay on Monday afternoon. I noticed some blackening in the corner after my last class, though, and woke up Tuesday morning after three hours of non-restful sleep with this:
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Down at the store before work today I noticed the strap of my bag that was crossing over my chest was stained with blood. I immediately wanted to go back to the bench in the hallway at the hospital and cry some more.

At school, we had four bodies to cover classes. Only two of the six periods that make up the day had each of the three classrooms full. At any given time, one of my co-workers wasn't teaching, and more often two of them were sitting in the staffroom chatting and snacking. Sunny only taught one and a half classes today. I worked all of them. Everytime I'd hobble in there I'd seethe. When Jane criticized me for leaving the class alone to go make copies for two new students, I just about grabbed my blood soaked bag to go hobble home. Heartless. Honestly, when I'm not feeling like I'm going to cry, I'm feeling like I want to punch someone in the head. I DO NOT want to have my leg splinted tomorrow. I DON'T want crutches, but the doctor's insisting. At least I'll have something to hit people with, I guess.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Happy Anniversary

Today marks the start of my 4th year in my silly little town. Wheeee!

I didn't realize yesterday that I was going to feel worse today, but Holy Helga with a Hula Hoop,...everything hurts. Actually, maybe I have a couple toes on each foot that are alright. But even with painkillers, my muscles are screwwwwwed. All of them. Whatever's happening under the bandage on my forehead isn't good. There's seepage. My name is Jenny Limps-A-Lot.

I want someone to wash my hair. I'm not supposed to get my forehead wet, though. And there's still glass in my hair. I wonder if when I finally shampoo if I'm going to end up grinding the shards into my skull. I want someone to chew some food and regurgitate it Mama-Bird style into my mouth. It hurts to move my jaw.

I've only been able to sleep an hour or so at a time. I've hardly slept at all. I'm really tired.

Thank you, to folks who've commented. I am very thankful that it wasn't worse than it was. But still, as far as things go, it was pretty messed up. It's my anniversary. Where's the cake and the party hats?

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I've had quite a number of "firsts" whilst I've been in Korea. There always seems to be something new around the corner. Some "firsts" are good. Some bad. A few hours ago was awful. I was involved in my first car crash.

I was a passenger in my friend's car as we drove back to my town from the just rained on and un-fun beach. He navigated the small windy unlit roads through the countryside and we drove along happy and chatty until suddenly my head was smashing into the windshield. I ended up twisted with my friend in the driver's side as the car careened and flipped down an embankment and landed on its side. He managed to slide out through a small space in the half rolled down window, and then climbed on top of the car and opened the passenger door, yelling at me to get up and climb out. But I couldn't. My leg felt mangled and I felt - well I guess I was in shock, hyperventilating and trying not to pass out. Everything kept going grey. He kept talking to me, and I stayed conscious. Reaching into the cold muddy water through the window beside me, I found things: pens that had fallen out of my bag, my new nerdy glasses, mangled. My sandal.

I stayed there bleeding, half in the drivers seat and half on the door, crying and quietly saying stupid things. "Oh! My glasses! I really liked these! Is there a frog here?"

Finally, people showed up. They covered me with some white blanket and a man reached down through the passenger door and held my shaking hand as a fireman took an axe to the sunroof beside me. It was sturdy glass and seemed to take a long time to break. Arms came in and hauled me out. More hands held me up as I limped toward a stone wall, and other hands pulled me up onto the road and led me to an ambulance. It was my first ambulance ride, too!

We drove to the hospital. Sadly, I don't recall sirens. (What's a ride in an ambulance or firetruck without sirens?!?) I bet there were swirly lights though, so that's something. The EMT held scissors up, saying she was going to cut my jeans open. I shrugged, but came to my senses just as she was going to shear me. These are my favourite (now blood-soaked) jeans. I sat up and hiked them up to my thigh.

This was actually a few minutes after the nurses cleaned me up.
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I guess I'm unveiling my regular summer look. Seriously. Why does June hate me so much?

Then I had some bandages.
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And fifteen stitches up the side of my right leg. And a left knee that is hot and swollen and so purple and blue. Cuts and scratches everywhere. And X-rays on everything. And an MRI.

And no broken bones. And (apparently) no brain damage. And a $220 bill.

My friend had already vamoosed, headed toward the police station to fill out a report, and then to the airport to catch a flight to Seoul. When I called my manager to tell her what happened she shrieked that he should have paid my bill. Maybe. I don't know. It was, afterall, an accident. Right now I don't care. I feel shaken and stirred. I called my mother (who I wish was here) and my brother to tell them about the accident and that I love them. At least I'm alive.

I'm picking bits of glass and dried chunks of blood out of my hair, and kissing the individual packs of painkillers the hospital gave me. I'm still discovering new injuries. I just this moment noticed about six lines of scratches on my left ass cheek when I went to take a pee. It looks like a tiger swiped me.

But, I'm still here.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I watched Adaptation again tonight. I think I've seen it four or five times, and it's one of those movies that I like better every time I see it. I saw Dreamgirls. Meh. I might have enjoyed it more if I didn't have to snatch up the remote to lower the volume every time they started to sing (which was often) and volume back up during dialogue because it sounded like everyone was whispering.

I watched a movie called something like "Yobi: The Nine Tailed Fox," which was certainly an animated children's version of Gumiho, a 1994 Korean film. It made me cry. I'm such a big baby.

Last night I tried to watch Smokin' Aces, but realized about a third of the way in I had no idea what was going on. I was too busy yapping with my friend. So we switched to the movie he'd brought, Chung Hing sam lam, and the movie played in its entirety. When it finished I only barely knew what had happened. Chattiness does not make for a good movie experience.

I watched Lady in the Water which was weird. I really like Paul Giamatti, and he did a good job acting, despite the story being too strange. My manager watched the DVD on Wednesday and today at school she was all flustered because it was all a LIE. The story was most definitely NOT a Korean fable.
"But, it's not real, Jane."
"Yes, exactly! I NEVER heard that story as a child."
"I mean, it's not real."
"No! It's not real! I asked my mother if she ever heard that story...."
"No, I mean it's NOT real! The fable isn't a real fable. The writer/director/producer/actor actually made the story up for his children."
"Oh!" she said, letting it sink in. "Oh,'s not real!"
"No, it's just a story about a made up fable."

I watched Blood Diamond. 'Twas good. It ticked Jane off as well, though. "How are we supposed to know which is a blood diamond and which isn't?!?!"

The Korean movie Maundy Thursday was pretty good. A bit Dead Man Walking-ish. I watched another Korean movie last week that was so dreadful I fast forwarded through the last half of it, hoping all the characters would die. They didn't. I was trying to evoke the power I felt when I wished so hard that Meg Ryan, riding her bike- happy and in love- in City of Angels would get hit by a truck. And then SPLAT! Hello, truck! (Just after that happened I remember feeling a bit guilty. Ha!)

So there you have it. I'm no Ebert, huh? If you want my recommendation, for an enjoyable movie night, pick a Charlie Kaufman film.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


One of my six o'clock classes is a mix of 4th to 6th graders. They're really beginners, and while some of them are doing quite well, others are really struggling. I'm teaching them how to read. Right now we're attempting to master vowel sounds.

An aside. One thing that drives me crazy is the Korean teachers' insistence on correlating English phonics with hangul. It works out okay vowel wise, except when it comes to SHORT i. The symbol they use is,...well I can't type it on my English keyboard - but it equates to a LONG e. There simply is no Korean sound to equate to a SHORT i, (or p, or f, or th, or, get the idea.) After the K-teachers teach the LONG e for SHORT i thing, I get to try to re-teach them to say "ih." It's FISH instead of FEESH. (Or worse "peeshu.") I can't even teach them to swear properly. When I want them to say the bad-speak for "excrement," they end up talking about their bed linens.

But anyhow, with my class we were working on SHORT u today. The text had some good examples, -u- -ut- but, cut, hut. I'd go through with the whole class, "Everyone! Uh, Uht,..." and then call on an individual to try to make out the next three words. I always head to the brighter stars of the class so they can (hopefully) demonstrate how it's done.

But I ran out of text examples, so was winging it on the board. It doesn't really matter if the words make sense,...I'm not defining them for the students. It's all about the reading. But for my mind it's easier to put real words up if I can.

So I was all -u- -uck- luck, duck, muck. Yes, stay far away from the "F" sensei! And then it was -u- -unt- hunt,....uhhhh? Not being able to think of another word, I wrote a "c" and then uttered, "For God's sake, Jenn." and erased the whole thing. English is a mine zone.

"Let's move on class! Repeat after me! -u- -uh- duh, duuuuuh, duuuuuuuuuh."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Just tonight, the Nomad mentions that a month long crackdown has commenced in Seoul . Police are targeting motorists who don't stop behind the lines at intersections. Go, coppers!

Actually, just tonight I was getting all riled up on a public bus headed into the city. Out in the countryside here, nevermind the lines at intersections, red stoplights are considered mere suggestions. Like, "Maybe, if you feel like it, and if you're not too involved in your cellphone conversation, you might want to perhaps think about possibly stopping for this red light. At least slow down? No? Okay, then. Just whiz on through - you asshole." What's the worst is when bus drivers decide they don't have to stop for red lights. In that case, they're making the decision to risk my life. Yet, I've never ever heard another passenger say anything as we sail through what is hopefully a clear intersection. My bus driver tonight wasn't too bad, and only ran one red. At one red light where he actually came to a complete stop, a scooter trying to make a lefthand turn on his green light inched out into the intersection to (wisely) make sure the cars coming through on the other side of our bus were coming to a stop. Two of them sped through before the scooter was able to make his turn. If that scooter guy hadn't been cautious, he would have gotten creamed.

I sat and seethed and cursed the back windows of the cars that had ignored the traffic signal. I'm not a traffic nazi. I can understand coming to an intersection in the countryside, crawling to a slow and performing a courtesy momentary stop before carrying on, but only after you've established there's nothing coming in either direction. But these folks don't even slow down. I've been behind them many times, and brake lights don't come on at all. It's likely that they've driven these roads many many times and know the chances of a vehicle coming through in the opposite direction is very slim. But then there will be the one time they're wrong. And that, as they say, will be that.

So for the rest of the journey I designed machines in my mind that would do the cop's jobs for them.

First, a spike strip that launches as the light turns red. It doesn't have to launch every time. These guys seem to like Russian roulette. Maybe four out of five times they'll get through. But on the fifth, oi! You need four new tires, tough guy!

Then I designed a ramp that would lift up and careen the speeding car Dukes of Hazzard style into a waist deep swamp off the side of the road. Oi! Tow truck time!

My third booby trap was kind of similar, but instead of the swamp, the car would get ushered into a cage full of lions. Roll your windows up, Speedy McSpeedster! (Don't worry, the lions are full - they're not going to eat the carfull of people. I'm not heartless.) But the Speedster will have to wait for a trained animal technician to arrive to get them out of the cage. And to think Buddy was running red lights because he was in a hurry,...those animal technicians are like refrigerator deliverymen!

Then my inventions just got silly. Lasers zapped from outerspace. And webs jettisoned by Spider Men. And policemen hiding behind billboards doing their job. Crazy-talk.


I've had one middle school student for about seven months or so. In all that time, I never noticed that she has what looks like a little baby's finger growing out of her head beside her ear. I might never have noticed, except she came to class last Thursday with this:
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Four new earrings now, where the day before there were none. As soon as she walked through the door, I saw her new punky ear. I was quite surprised, actually. Korea is a pretty conservative place, and this girl has only just started grade eight!

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I called my boss into my class as she passed by and told her to have a look. She said, "If she were my daughter, I'd want to kill her." My student says her mother thinks it's pretty, and that her teachers don't care. I find these details surprising as well. I also found it interesting that she decided to decorate the ear with the baby-finger growing out of it, leaving the other finger-free one bare.

I can't figure this kid out, actually. She really marches to her own drummer. She's got huge owlish black rimmed round glasses, and her teeth are all serrated. It kind of looks like she went to a specialist to have them filed into three jagged little points each. She wears her pleated school uniform skirt almost down to her ankles, and likes to skip class a couple times a week. She's by far the lowest levelled student in the class, and likes to sneak in text messages on her phone when it seems like I'm not paying attention. She doesn't have a really bad attitude, but she also seems to really not care about studying, preferring to shrug her shoulders and whine she doesn't understand the task, despite it being explained in both English and Korean.

Today, one of her friends switched from the higher levelled 5 o'clock class and now it looks like my formerly enjoyable class is going to head down the tubes. With Punk's aversion to studying, and her friend's general pissy attitude, they're adopting a too-cool-for-school stance, and scaring the other two fantastic younger girls into silence. During a speaking exercise today, where I encouraged them to work with one another they wriggled around and sighed and finally just leaned over and copied each other's surveys. I was already exhasperated, and tossed my pencil down and sat there staring at them for the last five minutes.

It didn't help that we've got no new textbooks to start our new "semester." I knew this was going to happen. It always does. Even though we've been working toward finishing up the textbooks for the last three months and the supervisors know we're going to need new texts, they don't order them in time. Just about nothing is done in a timely manner here. Last week we were running around to get all the paperwork done for my new visa the day before it needed to be handed in, even though that deadline has been approaching for the last twelve months!

It's not a huge deal, though. Truly, I've gotten used to it and learned it's easier to just smile and shake my head a bit instead of throwing a tantrum. It's not like all the students won't benefit from a week's worth of review anyhow. One more day 'til a holiday!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I like one out of these three things. Can you guess which one?
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Here we have "moo-kimchi" - which is white radish that's strong smelling, crunchy, and spicy sweet. Beside that is ubiquitous "bondeggi" - silkworm larvae (see:bugs). And finally, there's makkoli, a fermented rice wine which is always served in crooked kettles at restaurants and drank out of bowls. It's a favourite drink on rainy days, and goes well with "pajeon," which is sometimes called as "Korean pizza" - though I think "Korean pancake" is a better description.

I enjoyed one of these three things the other Friday night when Joy - my former co-worker came back into town. I was surprised to see her face in the window of the 1st class I was teaching that day! We made arrangements to meet after work, so three of us (Sunny, my current co-worker came as well) met up for some makkoli. I really miss Joy!

I like Sunny well enough, but communicating with her is really challenging. She keeps asking me to do things with her, shopping or going out for dinner, but I'm wary and don't think I'd have the patience for it. But it's always fine when we go out with another person who can speak English well. Joy and I talked and talked, and I knew Sunny wasn't able to keep up with it, but Joy would translate the gist of the conversation.

Sunny has a gaspy laugh (he-he huuuuuu he-he huuuuuu) which gets more pronnounced when she drinks, and she can't drink very much at all. After a bowl of makkoli, she's bright red! Maybe she's allergic. As we walked to meet Joy that night, we chatted a little bit. She was trying to ask me what I thought was special about Korean culture, but it took a few minutes for her to put the words together so I could understand what she was getting at. I said, "I think your English is special!" Everytime we'd have to cross a street she'd link her arm through mine and clutch me to her, and I'd try to shake her off. "Oh, Jenny! Be careful!" I told her I'd managed to not get sucked under a passing car thus far in life, and I was pretty sure I could cross the street unassisted. She laughed breathily at me, not knowing what the hell I was talking about.

After Joy and I finished the lion's share of three kettles of makkoli, we headed off to the noraebang for some singing. Time flies so fast in those dark singing rooms, and it was a lot of fun. It was almost two in the morning when we finally emerged. Joy and I headed across the street to the park where she could sober up a bit before going home, and Sunny walked off in the direction of her brother's apartment where she's staying with his family.

I found out Monday that her brother had been waiting up for her when she got home. He shouted at her awhile and she ended up crying and apologizing for coming home after two a.m., sober and twenty nine years old, on a Friday night. I just can't relate to it.

It was so good to have a little Joy for some time. I wish she was still working with us. This past week, Sunny actually called in sick on Thursday. No one was feeling particularily fantastic this week. Jane's back is still acting up, Sunny has an awful cold, and I've been worrying about things back home. Next week, though, is a short week - broken up by a holiday on Wednesday. Good. My visa got renewed for another year, which isn't to say I'll be staying here another year,...but I wasn't going to be leaving last Thursday when my current visa expired. So there you have it.

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WCB 104 - Ballet

First off, let's have a look at this week's Laser Cats out and about in the neighbourhood. This cat waits for chicken to fall out from the chicken restaurant.

Do you have chicken?
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No? Then get lost!
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I don't know if these two are lovers or fighters, but they were making a HUGE racket. The lower one was chasing the higher one all over town last Tuesday. I actually left my dinner at a restaurant and walked outside to see what all the fuss was about.
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Back at home, Kamikaze is a tiny dancer.
I got a red rose the other night, and it was all fancy, wrapped in ribbons. Some of the ribbons I thought would be perfect accessories for Kamikaze as he practices his dance routine. He didn't really agree, turns out.
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I don't think he appreciated me laughing my head off at him either.
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This move is called "What the Hell?" Apparently, one cannot turn upright with these frilly legwarmers on. One can only wave ones paws wildly and curse the big laughing meanie who put them on.
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For more Weekend Catblogginess, head on over to and check out Luna and all the other kitties! Thanks for hosting, guys!