Friday, February 29, 2008

Year End

Today marked the end of a "year" at work. My boss has been going mental all week trying to organize classes and textbooks and whatnot for the new year, which is going to commence on Monday. Still no Jane, and today my boss said that Jane wants to take another month off still, so as of now she's not coming back. That still may change, but I imagine chances get slimmer and slimmer as the weeks keep going by. I'll be really surprised if Jane ever comes back at this point, but perhaps my boss is keeping her options open in case she's had it by the end of the month and wants to go back to working part time. I mean, I KNOW she'd rather only come in a couple days a week - but I'm not sure that's really financially responsible these days with our low enrollment.

We are getting a bunch of new students next week, though - and that's always fun. I'll be starting my day with a class of six young'uns - some of them know me already because their older siblings are already my students. New students are usually pretty quiet and well behaved to start out. They've got to make sure I'm not going to eat them before they start acting up.

Meanwhile, I've all but demanded a wayshik - which is an after-work meal with drinks for the employees. The last time we went out together was at the end of October. We didn't do anything for Christmas (remember?) nor the Solar or Lunar New Years. So now that it's the School New Year I think we're due some afterhours fun. Sunny - my co-worker agrees. Perhaps it'll happen next week. I'm going to keep bugging my boss until it happens!

I don't smell good.
The week before last I had finally had enough of the disgusting sink in the bathroom at work after I again walked in to find three bars of soap had been hidden in the gross mouldy water. I grabbed some gloves and a couple screwdrivers and and plunged my hands into the mess and pried the stopper open. The water drained out - ha - onto the floor! So I swept that all up into the drain and then worked on clearing the hoses and the hole in the floor where they empty into. So we had two working sinks. Two out of four. The large silver industrial sinks were still plugged and filled with grossness.

Yesterday one of the cleared basins re-clogged, so I bought four bottles of the Korean version of Drain-o and a plunger. I emptied all the bottles into the sinks and then spent all my breaks today plunging the big sinks. I would plunge one and the water from the other sink would drain out, but I was only sucking that crap into the sink I was plunging! I did encounter some splashage - which I why I smell so chemical now - that stuff really sticks to you! By the end of the night most of the standing water had gone away, so I threw another container of Drain-o down there to let soak for the weekend and I'll see if I can finally get the job finished on Monday. It's only been a couple months of getting annoyed everytime I went to the washroom, afterall.

After I solve the sink problems on Monday I'll have to start on fixing our computer and fax machine which are both broken.

You may have noticed I didn't write anything yesterday. At least, not on here I didn't. I did, however, write a seven page letter to my grandmother, who's still in the hospital after two weeks now. Today four little girl students wrote sweet messages on the last page, telling my grandma to get better soon. All of them included the message "Jenny's Grandma FIGHTING!" Too cute!

This is only my thirteenth post for the month of February, and we can stick a fork in Feb., since it be done! I'll try to be more regular in March. Oh, and I'll try to post more, too. HA!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can't Type, Sleeping!

I should write something, but then I come home from work and decide to crawl into bed for a little nap - maybe an hour or so,...and I wake up five hours later. Then it's so late/early and I'm so fuzzy I just drink some water and go back to sleep. The extra "Z's" have been helping to ease up my cold (and the medicine and ass injection I got Tuesday isn't hurting, either.) So today I'll spend time thinking about something to write about.

I had a dream this morning that there was this huge animal hanging out in the parking lot downstairs. I said "Whoooaaa! What's THAT?" as I reached for my camera in my bag, before remembering I'd left it charging upstairs. Damn!
"It's a Yakama." Some guy hanging off his balcony above explained, "A cross between a yak and a llama." The Yakama blinked at me with long lashy Snuffaluppagus eyes.

"Hey!" I said to the guy above me. "You speak English well!"
"I'm a Yakuza," he explained. I nodded. Apparently it makes sense in my dreams that Japanese gangsters speak fluent English.

The Yakama leaned in and started to nibble at my earring.
I woke up with Kamikaze breathing on my neck.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Great news,...Wonder Dog has a new home! On Saturday I picked him up from Kamikaze's vet and he was all freshly washed and smelling good! I paid his bill and put him in Kamikaze's old carrier and we set off for Seoul. Poor doggy had to stay in the carrier for the better part of six hours, but he was pretty well behaved. When we stopped at a rest area about halfway into the journey I smelled something not too pleasant and realized Wonder had had an accident somewhere along the way. So I cleaned out the carrier and did my best to clean his butt off. He did a pretty good job of not getting crap all over him, so it wasn't too bad.

I was later than I wanted to be arriving in Seoul, but I borrowed the nice Grandma's phone who was sitting beside me on the bus, and arranged for the girl interested in adopting Wonder to meet me in Itaewon. The grandma beside me on the bus was a Christian and told me three times God loves me. Cool.

Standing in the cold in Itaewon for about 30 minutes, I swear I saw more foreigners pass by than I have in the last three and a half years I've been here. And to think I've never even spent any amount of time in Seoul. What a dummy I am. It was Saturday night, but still - there were so many people around and so many things to see. I was just so happy to be there! Before Wonder's prospective mama showed up, I met up with my friend John. I've known him for a long time - but only through the internets. So I was a bit nervous about meeting in person - but I needn't have been. He is a great guy - and was a wonderful host. (I was more nervous he'd think I was a goof.)

Wonder's new mom showed up. I had hoped we could have spent more time together, but as it was she had to make a quick decision about Wonder. Luckily she had pretty much made up her mind on Wonder. We had talked a lot the week before and I knew she was a good match and is going to be a responsible pet owner. I understand how it was easy to decide to take Wonder home. He really is a cute little muppet, and he got so much attention from people who saw him. He's got a new name, too: Kaibee (the Wonder Dog!) So Kaibee went to his new home, and John and I went to his (gorgeous) apartment so he could change out of his snazzy suit and into jeans and I could drop my bag off. Then we hit the town.

I hope I get the chance to go back to Seoul soon - because I had so much fun. We went to have some BBQ at a little restaurant and then we bar hopped! I got to see some of John's haunts and I asked a million questions about Itaewon and living in Seoul and army guys - that were all around until their curfew at 1:00am. We had some dollar shots at a country bar, and some beers at a loud dancey gay-friendly bar, and some late night singing at a Pinoy palace. Okay - it wasn't a palace - more of a bar,...and what I did with the microphone in hand could barely be called singing. I'd caught a cold the night before and sounded like I was gargling sand. Brutal. It was a great night though - and I loved meeting some of John's friends. Fine, fine people, them.

Sunday was as Sundays are supposed to be. John fixed a wonderful breakfast, (biscuits!! hello!!) and we watched Team America: World Police which was too funny! Later, John showed me around Yongsan where he works - and I found that fascinating. I've never been on an army base before. In case you don't know, it's much more like a decent sized town, complete with hospital, hotel, library and schools. I was picturing M*A*S*H. We had some tasty burgers at a cool restaurant and then I set off for home.

Now I'm bummed the weekend is over, but I'm happy Wonder Kaibee has a warm home and I'm so glad I got to hang out with John. (Thank you again, John - it was a great visit.) I hope I'm invited up again sometime - and you're sure welcome here - but you know this one horse town is jinja chaimie opseyo.

Meanwhile back on the ranch, my cold has exploded and I'm a sneezy congested hacking ball of fatigue. It didn't help that my co-worker didn't turn up today - her mom's in the hospital - so there was just the boss and I covering all the classes again. Mayhem.

I'm going to konk myself in the head with a mallet now and knock myself unconscious. That, or drink a cup of neo-citran and crawl into bed. How was your weekend?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lost when Translating

Sometimes my boss asks me to do little favours other than teaching the wee children. I never really mind. I dig co-operation. For the past couple days she's been struggling to translate some academic outline her sister - a Professor in Japan, had asked for help with. My boss was really struggling with the Korean content of the outline, so she decided to use some sort of translation program and then pass it on to me to try and sort out. Let's see if you can make sense of this:

"The case 21th century international order dog and Korea Peninsula are reunited, that intend national interests of Japan as relation with surrounding power, culture general situation of globalization open inside there is subject that knowledge necessary to understand fishery agreement and Tokto Island, pressing issue between Korea and Japan such as Yaseukunisinse worship and politics of Japan that is the residing in Japan South Korea is filled."

Mmmm'kay, then!
I think I read that about ten times just to make sure it didn't make any sense. Here's another passage:

"Current question comprehensive faculty of text contents of teaching material that study during estimation one term by attendance results scorebook and current question comprehensive faculty of text contents that learn sentence creation ability test seven weeks and sentence creation ability test given concreteness of assignment contents and logical description ability assessment."

It's painful, isn't it?

My boss wasn't very helpful either. In order to help me out, she stood over me and dragged her finger along the nonsensical run-on sentences while reading them aloud for me.

"You're not helping me, Karen. I actually CAN read, you know!"
I finally asked her to try to explain to me what was written in Korean line by line and I worked out something that I hope sounded sort of academic and somewhat coherent. I don't think it's going to matter much. Karen explained that the Japanese faculty that the outline is going to be presented to isn't going to be able to understand the English portion, and there's no possible way that my boss's sister would be able to fake that she had written it either.

"So, uh, this is really just a frustrating waste of time, isn't it?" I asked Karen.
She laughed and told me I was exactly right, and then pushed my pencil-holding hand down toward the paper, "But do it!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Title Schmitle

Time is just ticking away and I haven't got too much to say.

I've got a bit of a cold which isn't too bad at all, but I've been waking up with the craziest looking eyes every morning. They're so puffy and wrinkled. I don't know what's up with that.

Still no Jane at work. Tomorrow it will be two months since she went MIA. I expect that my boss is going to announce what's happening one way or another very soon. Yesterday Jane called my co-worker to say that she's still deciding whether or not to come back, but I don't really buy that. That implies the ball is very much in her court, but I'm fairly sure that's not the case. I asked last week what's going on, and my boss said Jane is getting better. I asked if she was coming back, and my boss said "I'm thinking about it still." I'm thinking (as I have all along) that Jane won't be coming back. With our student numbers as low as they are, I imagine it's nice to not have to pay Jane's salary. We'll see, though.

Meanwhile I doodled a picture and when one of my students came across it she exclaimed, "Oh! Jane!"
Ha ha ha!

It actually doesn't look like Jane.
(The teeth are spot on!)
Jane is a very pretty lady, and when we were getting along, we got along well. Sometimes I miss her, but I also really like seeing my boss every day. I love Karen.

This past week I've had a couple of "private lessons" with elementary school kids. It just so happened they were the only one to turn up for class - and it was painful for me. Sometimes I feel more like an English Dentist, because getting these shy kids to talk while they're one on one with me is like yanking teeth. I'd rather a class full of screaming kids than one (moody pre-pubescent) little boy or girl.

My grandmother is in the hospital in Canada. Something's not right with her stomach. Whatever it is came on suddenly, and my grandmother's friends had to call an ambulance while they were out eating lunch last Thursday. While the doctors are trying to figure out what's wrong, she's all doped up on demerol. Have you ever had demerol? That's some good shit. Sometimes I wish it would be socially acceptable for me to walk around with an IV of that stuff dripping into my arm.

I hope my grandmother gets better soon.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Snack Time

My little lambs, Buddy and Circle-Gay follow me to school everyday and I have a hard time untying the double knots in my shoe laces as they squirm around between my shoes and my hands looking to get some scratches. As soon as I get my hands on them they roll over and show me their bellies like "here to be scratching, please." I go inside to get them something to eat and they wait patiently outside the door until I re-appear and they start to dance. Buddy prances and Circle-Gay circles wildly. It makes me laugh every single day! Then it's snack time.
Such great dogs.


It looks like I may have found a home for Wonder the dog. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's going to work out. I'm not sure why the Vet seems to be dragging his feet a bit about completing the tests I asked to have done (heartworm and liver/kidney thing that was recommended by some folks at Animal Rescue Korea) but hopefully I'll hear tomorrow that he's all clear and good to go! I think I'm going to swing by on Saturday and take him for a walk if they'll let me. If it works out with the potential adopter, Wonder's going to live with a nice family up in Anyang!

The washroom at work continues to piss me off. I kept getting annoyed that someone keeps stealing the soap I buy. That in itself (the washing of the hands) is a very unpleasant experience because the water is ice cold and it's actually painful to clean your hands. I've replaced two bars of soap that have gone missing is as many weeks - but today I peered into the black mouldy murky disgusting sink and realized where the bars of soap had disappeared to. Gross. During the next break I came back with plastic gimbap-rolling gloves and recovered the bars that are now soft and slimy. Their texture, coupled with having my hand in that filth, made me almost hurl. On the way back to school I ran into the cute Taekwondo master and pointed to a pile of fluorescent lights leaning in a corner of the hallway. "Are they broken?" I asked. (I knew the answer would be yes.) And so I complained about the lights being broken in the bathroom and how it's scary and the Bathroom-Ghost is going to get me.

You know what? The lights were finally on again within the hour. I'd been complaining to my boss about having to piss in the dark for two months, when all I needed to do was bat my eyelashes a bit. Sweet! I thanked him very much which made him smile. He may not be so smiley tomorrow when I drag him by the hand into the Ladies' and offer him a sink-drink!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

I posted this picture last year. It was one of my student's bags. I'm posting it again because it's as fresh and true as ever. Screw red, can colour me green like Oscar. Or mold. As The J. Geils Band once sang, "I've had the blues, the reds and the pinks. One think for sure- 'Love Stinks!'"
Yeah, Yeah.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let's Eat a Sandwich!

Okay, so the spinah salad is long finished and it's time to eat again, but what to have,...what to have? Ah! A sandwich! That would really hit the spot. So let's grab one, shall we?
Mmmmmm, barbeque! And this sandwich is "Australian!" (see up near my thumb there?)
It all sounds good to me!

Wait a minute.

A Fork-Rip Burger? Uhhhhh,...
Well never mind. Let's see what we've got.
It doesn't look like a burger, unless it's a burger disguised as a hot dog.

What's inside?
It does not look like this "hamburger serves the freshest food possible." I don't think these are the "highest quality ingreddients." You can see the "original barbeque sauce" though. (See: "ketchup.")
Well, let's see how this fork-rip sandwich tastes! I bet it's deeeeeelicious!

I accidentally squished it.

Well I'm not eating it like that!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Let's Eat!

Happy New Year, Dreadlock Rastas. I told my co-workers the truth when thay asked "what do you call Korean New Year in Canada?"
"Chinese New Year!" (Yah, that's right - China made the moon! They've made every other damned thing.) This is a belated greeting because New Year was Thursday and it's now Friday technically - but there's still no moon to speak of in the sky (I can see twelve stars above my apartment instead of the normal two) so, yah. Happy Rat Year, homies.

By the way, the convergance of Venus, Jupiter, and the moon was not so whoop-dee-doo. It was a triangular mix of shiny, less shiny, and cresenty. Were they to sing - or dance - now that would have been a show. Ah well.

Despite all my talk of napping on holidays, I actually sleep less than I normally do. Way less. There's just no reason to get a good night's zzz's when I don't have to use my brain. I am a robot on these holidays. I eat less, too - once a day so far. Stands to reason - robots don't need so much fuel. We're efficient like that. Instead, I sit in front of the computer trying to champion Hidden Object Games. I'm obsessed, and today played a game called "Blood Ties" until my eyes bled. It was set in Toronto, which I thought was cool. Currently it's quite popular on game sites. Rock on, T.O. I also listened to Last.FM. Love love lovey love it. You type in an artist you like and Last.FM will just flow from there, playing musicians of a similar genre until forever pretty much. I totally forgot I don't like reggae. I LOVE it. (Dreadlock holiday!)

The meal I did manage to eat today rocked. Let me recommend this big salad to you rastas in Korea. It's do-able and yummilicious. Eat it while you watch a movie. Today's Spinah Salad Movie was "Two Days in Paris," which I really enjoyed. I've got a bit of a thing for Adam Goldberg.

So - let's make a spinach salad. Grab a great big bowl and create some dressing. I'm not very measurey - so forgive me, but I'll guesstimate. Mix a bunch of minced garlic, maybe a tablespoon or so, with a ratio of 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar. I absolutely recommend red wine vinegar or maybe balsamic, but alls I had was strong apple vinegar - and it was really too strong. Still, anything will do. Throw in a tablespoon or so of mustard - any sort, and maybe a teaspoon or two of sugar. I used a packet of Equal. A few dashes of Worchestire would be alright too, if you're feeling mental. I put in a little bouquet de provence because I'm crazy like that. Whisk everything together. It's a party. Mix it up.
Oh, this dressing was made even ultra yummier by my find of this:
Num num. Everything I eat now is peppered. I even bought this ready pepper mill for my boss who was intrigued by the simple salads I bring to work - greens and vegetables in a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, coarse salt and pepper. Mashisoyo.

Back to our salad here, slice a mass of button mushrooms about a quarter of an inch thick and throw them into the dressing. Give them a nice toss and leave them for awhile in the fridge. They'll suck most of the dressing and be all nice and juicy.

Now cook some bacon - a frying pan full. Less if it's "regular" bacon from back home. Bacon's new to Korea, and I managed to find some frozen version that's actually smokey - and not just ham disguised as bacon - but it's very thin. Check your freezer section at your big grocery store if you're in Korea.

Wash a bunch of spinach well.
I'd coddle a couple eggs if I were back home, but here I poached them. Crack them into a bowl and slip them into a bath of water with a bit of vinegar that's just above a simmer. Scoop them out when they're just lightly done and the yolks are still liquid. I toss them in a bowl and into the freezer for about five minutes to cool down.

I added some croutons for the hell of it. I had a baguette that was quite stale so I had made croutons the day before. Yummy. So throw the spinach, eggs, and croutons in with the marinated mushrooms and grab a fork. Eat it up, Rasta - and praise Jah for its deliciousness.
Praise Jah for my holidays.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Uh Huh

I've got five fat days off staring me in the face. Hello! I love holidays so much that I'm seriously considering marrying them and becoming Mrs. Holiday. This is Sollal - or Sohlnal. I don't know which way I should spell it, and most times my pronunciation of it is met with blank stares. Whatever.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to spend today in traffic jams on my way to my in-laws home where I'm going to spend three days cooking and cleaning and taking care of business while the menfolk sit around eating and drinking and making merry. Sucks to be me,...ohhhhh wait a minute! I'm not a Korean wife! Ah yes! I don't have to any of that!

Instead I've got a whole lot of nothing planned. I'm not complaining. My students asked me what I was doing for the holiday and I said I'd do a lot of this - and mimed watching TV zombie style, and some of this - and ate some air to demonstrate, and a lot of this- and performed some zzzzz's.

Tonight I strayed from the plan and ended up at a karaoke with a very nice Korean guy and a middle aged brother and sister who are parents of a couple of my students. I pretended that it didn't freak me out that they were dancing wayyyyy too intimately during the slow songs. And the fast songs, for that matter. I absolutely rocked out "Sister Christian" and am planning to hit that karaoke on my own over the holidays so I can hog the microphone.

After work Monday a very drunk man stood in the doorway of the supermarket underneath my school. The shocked look he displayed upon seeing me ticked me off, but he decided to try to befriend me as I came back toward the register with my stuff. He ignored me telling him a bunch of times to "let go!" while he crushed my hand in a way too long handshake and instead attempted to hug me into a headlock. I stomped on his foot to get him to release me, but was all smiles and oh sorries about it, so thankfully he didn't put his dukes up.

The nice guy tonight gave me a long hug when he said goodbye after we had sung together. I could have stayed in that embrace for about an hour. I'm way overdue for some affection.
That's how things are, and there's more - but it's going to have to wait until after some zzzzzzz's. Colour me ok.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Wonder Dog

So the little dog is now staying at Kamikaze's vet downtown. I really like the vet, and knew he was a good guy when he let me feed a litter of kittens with an eye-dropper last spring. He'd found the kittens under a car near his animal hospital. The local pet store where Wonder Dog had been staying is owned by a guy I'm not terribly fond of. He would have no problem putting little Wonder Dog back out on the street. He seemed so put out at having to board the dog in the first place. So, I'm very happy that my little friend is being well cared for at my friendly vet's animal hospital. I'm still looking for someone to adopt him permanently, and the nice lady Vet Assistant assured me that they'll be searching for a home for him as well.

Before I picked Wonder Dog up from the pet store I asked that they give him a wash and a groom. My boss and the pet store guy told me not to bother, it was expensive (20 bucks, which I don't think is too bad) but I figured he should look neat and clean for prospective parents. He smelled so good when they brought him out to me. I bought him a silly little outfit to keep him warm and a nice leash and took him out for an hour long walk around town before we took the bus downtown.

People who would have recoiled at Wonder Dog's appearance (and smell) when I found him all dirty and wet a few days ago were coming up to him and petting his lovely soft fur and exclaiming how pretty and cute he is. He's excellent on a leash and looked like a spunky little mop with his pouffy tail up in the air walking alongside me. If I went to pick him up suddenly he got quite startled and would leap out of the way, which makes me think that perhaps someone had been hitting him before. On the bus he curled up in my arms and watched the view through the window. Occassionally he'd turn his head around to check out the other people on the bus or to give me some kisses. He really seems to like little kids especially.

He's still a puppy, pretty much. The vet estimates he's not much more than a year old. He's not neutered yet, and the Vet Assistant leaned over and confided, "Did you know he only has one ball?" The other one's not descended, so he'll need a little operation to correct that. The vet is going to test him to make sure he's all healthy. The fact that he's young is going to bode well for finding him a nice home.
And it certainly doesn't hurt that he's cute cute cute.

I thought about calling him "One Ball" but decided instead to name him "Wonder."
Because he's Wonderful.

Thank you to Kevin for the shout-out, and to Nomad and Sher for the support. If you are in Korea and think you or anyone you know could include this lovely Wonder Dog in your lives, please do let me know.

I'd really love to have this dog myself.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I'm obsessing about the little dog, but hope there will be a happy ending. I'm going to move the dog from the pet store to Kamikaze's vet downtown hopefully tonight. I'm not impressed with Pet Store Guy's attitude and not convinced the guy even really likes animals. While boarding at the vet's I'm going to get the little dog a check-up and maybe some shots if he needs them. My former co-worker Joy says she's going to ask some of her family members if they're interested, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm also going to poster my town in the hopes that his previous owners are looking for him.

Oh, and thank you to Eva - my wonderful friend in Belgium, for her kind offer to help out with the cost - and to John - who's a really great guy to even consider becoming a foster dad.