Bye bye 2007. Good riddance! Sadly, though - I'm going to miss my finger. Kamikaze done bit it off. Of course, I disapprove. But you should go see other kitty cats at the Tuxedo Gang Hideout. Can't type more. Finger gone.
I am Jelly. I was a Strawberry, but now I am a White Tiger. I disapprove of this pencil being stuck up my nose. My little student is just about to have his hand bitten off. In a disapproving sort of manner.
Forgive me blog, I haven't been feeling so great so I've been ignoring you. But today is Sunday and that's good. For my Christmas breakfast I was making fish to eat with some rice and kimchi and when I put the fish into the oil, some of the hot oil jumped out of the pan and onto my hand. Check out my "mool jip!" I love that word - mool jip, which is Korean for blister. It's so cute. Literally it means "water house," which is what a blister is, eh? Did you know that the Korean word for Jelly's head is "zola jip?" It means "nothing house." Duuuuuh.
Well,..not too much. Just to update you from my last post, I went into work on Monday all ticked off but determined not to freak out on anyone. I was surprised to see my boss there. She's usually only present on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Turns out, Jane's sick. (In the head?) No - that's mean. Apparently she had a "health check" on the previous Friday and the doctors decided she needed some surgery. From what I've been told, the docs won't tell her what the deal is until after the surgery. Then they'll say if it's bad or okay.
That happens a lot, eh? I know I'd feel comfortable having doctors operate on some mystery thing only to confide in me after the fact what they'd done. Like they'd walk into the room afterward and spin a wheel,..."Uh-oh, you've got CANCER!" or "Congratulations! You've got a tiny polyp!"
Who knows? So Jane is off for the week. I wouldn't be surprised to learn she's in Thailand on a beach.
Sunny came at me with a sing-song "I'm sorrrrryyyYYY!" and a "ha ha ha ha ha!" I wanted to grab her by the back of the head and force all her "ha's" back down her throat. "I'll HA you off the end of my foot."
I spent the rest of the day angry but calm. At the end of the last class I gave out my presents and vamoosed outta there.
I ended up early Christmas morn (like just after midnight) on the plastic chairs outside a convenience store feeding a couple homeless folks some ramen and oden and Jeju orange cakes. Excuse my fat lens smudging finger. The lady was all shy, refusing to eat. I kept encouraging her, "C'mon woman! It's GOOD!" I was happy that after her small cup of noodles she asked for more.
My outside dogs had just eaten a full 10 pack of giant sausage, and these homeless "cow" cats gulped up the remains of the oden (fish cakes) my human friends couldn't finish.
While my friends settled themselves outside in the chairs and I went into buy something warm and yummy for them, (and a couple of cold ones) the clerk asked who they were. I said, "They're my friends." He replied, "You've got some bad friends."
Saturday was the day of my work Christmas/year end get together. Usually when we go out we head to a local galbi jip close to the school after classes finish. I think that's fine, and I always love going out for a meal with people - so I don't care where we go or what we eat. Anything's good!
But this year it was decided we would meet on a Saturday at a nice shabu shabu/buffet restaurant. Cool! I was really looking forward to it, and frankly - as pathetic as it is - this was the only thing I had going on for Christmas.
So I woke up earlier than I normally do and showered and dressed. I even wore makeup because I was going out! With grownups! Yeee ha. I'd painted my nails all Christmassy the night before.
And I gathered the presents I'd bought for my coworkers and boss.
I headed downtown to the nice restaurant we were going to meet up at and I was totally on time. My coworkers weren't there yet. I checked through the restaurant to make sure they hadn't already gotten a table, much to the distress of the hostess who followed right behind me as I searched. So I sat down in the waiting area and, well, waited.
Christmas carols played overhead. I was so hungry, and the smells wafting near from the restaurant made me want to drool. I pulled out my book and read while I waited for my colleagues to show up. And I waited. And waited.
For two hours.
The more time went by, the more I felt like SUCH a complete loser. I was stood up for a party that they'd arranged. Awesome!
I had to get the employee at the supermarket to repeat himself three times because the first couple times he spoke to me I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying in Korean. I was too busy being fascinated by the ga-ga goo-goo voice he was using. It was like he had suddenly come across a baby and decided to sing a little lullaby. And he wasn't really looking at me either, even though he was standing right in before me - so I kind of wondered if he was sing-songing to the potatoes and hunks of ginger in front of us. "Meanhamneeda." (Sorry) "Mwuh?" (What?) And so he sang to me again, repeating what I thought he had said. He told me my son had been in the store trying to buy cigarettes and alcohol.
"Why that little juvenile delinquent!" I thought. "When I get home I'm going to take away his GameBoy and he is SO grounded and I'm going to,...." Uh, wait a minute. I don't have a son!" *Whew!*
I knew right away who the Lullaby Guy was singing to me about, though. There is one white kid in my town. I think he's a 1st year student in middle school now and his name is Sasha. I've seen him riding his bike around my school. He towers over his classmates because he's about sixteen years old compared to them, who are twelve. Some of my students who went to school with him in the sixth grade have told me he's a badass, so I'm not so surprised that he's smoking and drinking.
I explain to Lullaby Man that I don't have a son. "I'm Canadian," I say, "And that kid and his mother are Russian." "Ohhhhhh ha ha ha - chesohamneeda!" (So sorry!) sings the supermarket guy.
I always thought that I wanted kids. I was surprised when I realized not very long ago that I, in fact, do not. I mean I really don't want kids, and I was surprised at how surprised I was to figure this out about myself because it goes to show I don't really know who the hell I am. Certain characteristics that I possess fooled me into thinking that I should be a great mom. Not would or could be - but should be, and I think that's just something that I learned when I was growing up and never really questioned. "When girls get older they get married and have babies. They cook meatloaf and stand waiting at the door with a fresh martini for when the daddy comes home. But before daddy can come in the house our pet dinosaur crashes through the door and knocks daddy down, licking his face."
Oh, wait. That's the Flintstones. Whatever.
Anyhow, I had this idea in my mind of how things were supposed to be and I think my subconscious started gnawing at me a bit a few years back when life wasn't working out according to my own inner sex-role stereotype. I'm sure it's far worse for Korean women over 30 here. The pressure to get married, settle down, and start a family is immense, and that even boils over and lands on me from time to time. People get really anxious when they find out I'm single. "How old are you? And you're not married? Way-oh?!?" (Why?!?)
("I don't know, man,...because I suck?")
But on the motherhood thing,...I think I actually would suck. They say it's different when it's your own child. Maybe the feelings that make me want to put some children into a box, seal the box with packing tape, and send them off to a factory in Cambodia wouldn't be prevalent. No, no, no. It wouldn't be like that. My child would cry and whine and throw tantrums on the floor and go to the supermarket and buy smokes and booze and I would love it regardless. Right? Yes, yes, yes. I wouldn't even have to deal with those scenarios because my child would be quite perfect. A little angel. Quiet and thoughtful and polite. "Mummy?" it will tug on my hem, "May I perhaps possibly trouble you for some milk? Please mummy! I want some more!" Apparently my child is British. And Oliver Twist.
I'm fun and creative and kind, and I am able to deal with most children and not bring them to the post office to be shipped out. But, I'm also fairly sure that if I were to be responsible for one child for, like, ever - I would certainly ruin it. I'm a total pushover. "Mom, can I have coke and ice cream on my cocoa puffs for breakfast?" "No! You cannot!" "Why?" "Because that's not a healthy way to start your morning!" "Moooooommmmm - Pleeeeaaassseee? Pretty please?" "Oh, alright then."
"Mom, can I play in traffic?" "No! That's dangerous!" "Pleaaaaaasssseee? All my friends are doing it!" "Well, alright then. But wear these," and I'd toss the child some goggles and mittens.
And that Russian kid? My delinquent son? I can empathize with how it must be like for him here, being the only foreign kid as far as the eye can see. I'd probably be buying his vodka for him. "Vashé zdorov'ye, son. Can mommy bum a smoke? Let's go get a tattoo!"
No, I'm far better aunt material. There needs to be an adult supervising who can intervene when I'm explaining how to pierce your navel at home or stop me before the boxes are sealed and addressed.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love presents. Love 'em! Who doesn't? Also, I love mail. I love presents in the mail. M'kay,...don't be jealous - I got a great package in the mail the other day. It's from my friend Eva in Belgium. She's currently travelling around Southeast Asia, lucky her! She's so generous, she sent this off to me before she left, lucky me! I got chocolates- brandy and pear liqueur filled ones that Jane snatched away and gobbled up, pretty much. Also, there was a bar of dark chocolate with red pepper, my favourite, and a little Dolfin bar I shared with my buddy the pharmacist. There were cookies and strawberry candies I shared - sooo yummy, and salami sticks and macaroni and cheese I did not share! I got books I can't wait to read, and lavender that I want to sew into a little velvet sachet to bury my nose into while I sleep. Awesome! Thank you so much, Eva.
Also today I got a large package of clothes I'd ordered online. My original order was placed NINE weeks ago, and STILL hasn't arrived at my mother's house! After a lot of back and forth with the American company, they not only agreed to ship a second package out UPS last week, but also offered to credit my order back to me. Me: "You mean, like, the total cost?" Awesome Employee: "Yes. I'm so sorry it's taken as long as it has to get to you." Me: "You're awesome!" My order had totalled over 400 bucks, so you can imagine how happy I was!
So the clothes got to my mom's, she opened it and wrapped them all in giftwrap for the benefit of Korean customs, and shipped them off ExpressPost and they arrived four days later. Hello!! I like my new cozy warm reversible red plaid/black fleece jacket. Otherwise, everything is too big, but I'll get them tailored up. I just can't complain considering they're all fuh-ree!! Score!
I don't know why this phrase kept shouting itself through my mind as I watched political supporters in a wagon train round up at the centre of the city as they did their little dances in unison tonight. The candidates they were rooting for had their giant faces displayed on banners hanging from their trucks and buses that blasted LIGHTS! and COLOURS! and SOUNDS! So trippy! There's a statue in the middle of the main roundabout that joins about six intersections. All the presidential candidate's trucks faced outwards, as did the supporters who were dancing all bundled up to the music that was just blaring.
Here's some cute little Santa Clauses doing their little dance outside my school the other day. The picture's quite dark - sorry about that. I don't think those Santas are flashing the ubiquitous "V" sign,...they're actually telling you to vote for GUY NUMBER TWO! All the candidates have numbers. I'm not sure how many there are in total, but I saw a truck for GUY NUMBER TWELVE tonight. There are at least that many.
Here's the truck for GUY NUMBER ONE and his supporters. Give it up for their awesome loudness!
Perhaps he will win. My students tell me he has a "very good face." Apparently GUY NUMBER TWO has little eyes, which I guess is not so good. I guess Korea's lucky that kids aren't able to vote in the election. The guy with the biggest eyes and the best face would win, regardless of his political platforms and promises. If he could juggle, he'd be a shoo-in.
Tomorrow's zee time in Korea ven vee vote!
I LOVE election day here. It's not so much that I follow politics, obviously. I love election day because I get a day off work, which rocks. Even more so, these election trucks will finally get lost and we'll get back to only being bombarded with the loudspeakers from the fruit and vegetable trucks. And squid and fish trucks. And the trucks that collect recycling. And the guys that wander around selling rice cakes,...and,... Well. You get the idea. Korea sparkling. Bring earplugs.
I was having a beer on Friday night and the waitress brought over a plate of cut up persimmons. This is a persimmon in its wholeness.
Years ago, when I was teaching in Japan, I was finishing up with my last class on a Saturday afternoon. My students were a lovely Japanese couple, and I had just asked how they had spent their Friday night. They told me they'd gone to their friends house and had a nice visit. "We ate semen!" my woman-student told me. I tried not to register any reaction on my face, but I'm not sure I was successful. "What?" "Semen," the woman repeated, nodding at me. She turned to her husband, "Semen?" "Ummmm," the man thought. "I think so." "I'm not sure what you mean," I said. "What you ate,...what did it look like?" "It's a fruit," the woman explained. "An orange colour. It's looks like a tomato." "Ohhhhhh!" I said, relieved. "PerSIMMON!" I did not explain what it was she had mistakenly reported eating.
On Friday night my friend spit a persimmon seed into his hand and told me inside there was a spoon. "Oh, really?" "Yes. A spoon is in here!" He bit the little pit in half and whaddyaknow! A spoon!
Kamikaze's got some big mittens on him. I think he's a polydactyl cat, with thumbs. He's really good at gripping things, and will hold my finger in his big mitten when he wants to. He was uncooperative to get a good shot of his splayed mitten paws. I was interrupting his nap.
So cute, and he's all waggy tail and puppy teeth when I stop to pet him on the way to work. My outside dogs, Buddy and Circle gay are always hanging around puppy's yard and they follow me to school little lamb style. Puppy cries so much when we're walking away, though, that it makes we wish I could arrange to meet the outside dogs on an alternate route.
Today was made worse by the fact that I'd followed a link from Dooce and sat bawling before I left the house while I watched this video. Bring a tissue. Throughout the day, every time I thought of the line "but they were treasures to me," I felt my eyes go all weepy. Jane called me a faucet. I prefer the term "sappy mess."
Last year I made Christmas cards with the students and they were asking if we'd make them again. I don't do many arts and crafts with the kids, and so it should be, as they don't tend to pertain to the learning of English much,..but the kids do have to follow instructions and ask me for help, so it's not a complete waste of time. Besides, it's fun. I like fun.
Mostly the students would call my name five hundred times, show me what they were doing and ask, "Is it ok?" Most of the time it was totally ok! Sorry about the state of the walls. We totally need a new paint job. Or, like, maybe someone should bust out a rag and some soapy water or something. "Someone" meaning "not me," though.
Other than calling my name six thousand times, they kids were relatively quiet as they concentrated on cutting and taping. If I had things my way, we'd be doing arts and crafts in my classes every single day. English, schminglish.
Here's mine. That's a five cut double colour flip twist half caf mocha latte supreme snowflake. I rock the snowflakes, man!
The supermarket downtown has a whole area devoted to wee little travel sized goodies. It's sort of like an "Anti-Costco!"
I was tempted to buy this hair gel just for its cuteness alone. And the fact that it's "moving rubber." I need some moving rubber in my hair.
Speaking of cute, check ME out! I love my little purse and the heels of my boots.
The artist poses with her masterpiece.
You know what's NOT cute? My cat. He's sitting behind me meowing about how hungry he is. If you know of Kamikaze, you know that he's most definitely not hungry. He is a cat who looks like he may have just recently eaten another cat. It's time for bed,...not time for chow. For Christmas, I'm going to get him a big box of "Shuddup, Man!"
I'm trying to get my Christmas cards done and I want to send one to you. Yes, YOU! Please send me your snail mail address via e-mail. Come on,....you know you want to get something in the mail from moi!
As I arrived to work today, dogs in tow, kids who were early for their three o'clock class scrambled out into the hallway to greet me. Some of the brave ones pet the dogs but most of them, especially the girls, are scared of animals and would jump back and scream if the dogs even looked like they might come near them. I went inside the school to fetch a couple treats from the mini fridge in the Teacher's Room and returned to the hall to give them to the pups and then bid them "Naga, Good Boys!" (Go away!) As I turned back toward the school, I noticed two girls were play fighting, and I said "Hey! Cut it out!" As I came closer to them, though, it was apparent there wasn't anything playful about their fight - the two of them gripped each other's cheek with one hand as they clawed with their free hand. Both of them were near tears. I separated them, and one of them started to cry. I hustled them both back into the school and called for reinforcements. By the time Sunny came out to help, they were both bawling. I'm lucky because my students aren't very aggressive and it's been a LONG time since I've had to break up a fight. It's the first time I've seen a girl fight! They'd scratched each other up pretty good!
Work finished, I headed to the bus stop to venture downtown to contemplate a couple Christmas presents for my nieces. I have no idea what my brother's kids would want. I don't know what they have, either - so it makes it even more challenging. As I waited for the bus and read my book by street lamp, I noticed a stylin' Korean mama beside me. She was talking on her cell, and I wasn't paying too much attention. She hung up and then made a call, greeting what I gathered to be her kid all sweetly, "Hi! It's mommy! What are you doing? How was your day?" she sing-songed. "Did you go to your academy? You must be tired, did you study hard?" Then she went ballistic. "You LIAR!!! WHY ARE YOU LYING?"
I suddenly understood what must have happened. The previous phone call, where the mother had apologized quite profusely and even dipped her head each time she said she was sorry, must have been her kid's cram school calling to report her child's absence. So she called home and the kid got busted for lying as well as truancy. The mom shrieked into the phone for a solid ten minutes, promising to rip the kid's computer out of the wall and toss it over the balcony the moment she got home. Seriously, that mama was going mental. I thought she might hurl the cellphone to the pavement and start to rip her hair out at any moment. If I was her kid, I'd probably be packing my bags and kissing the dog goodbye.
Coming home from shopping, I still without presents for nieces. I think I'm going to send my mom some money and ask her to buy some things that light up and make crazy noises. That's what kids want, isn't it? Coming home, I looked up from my book when the bus driver blared the horn and swerved as we went through a tunnel. I saw something up ahead the lane we had been travelling in. As we passed, I recognized it was a man spread out star-fished in the road. "Shit!" I muttered, turning my head to try to see him as we sped by. I wanted the driver to stop and get the guy off the road, but we barely slowed. I hoped someone would either call the cops or stop to help him. Flat in the road in the middle of the tunnel isn't a great place to be, though I wonder if it might be preferable to that mama's wrath, huh?