Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chamchi Canapés

Sometimes I make a little something for the co-workers and I to munch on in between classes. It's always super fancy, like these gorgeous chamchi canapés. Chamchi means tuna, and canapé means cracker. Mmmmm. Tuna on a cracker. Now that's class!

Actually, these were quite tasty. The tuna salad had some onion and dill pickle with a little mayo and grainy mustard. Ritz + cucumber + tuna salad + quail's egg = yummy! My co-workers tend to "ooooh" and "ahhhh" at just about everything I do, but I got extra praise because they thought these little snacks were cute.


There's a good chance my computer might be dying. Ths last couple nights I've had a hard time turning it on. Maybe it needs a little wine and some cuddling. Then again, maybe it needs to be tossed over the balcony.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Heads Up

This is for all you guys out there.
I'm single.
Eventually I'll find a boyfriend, and once we're a couple we will dress like this:

It makes you want to be my boyfriend pronto, doesn't it?
(I promise to always ROCK my side-ponytail!)
(And, I'll even let you carry BOTH our purses!)

I was so NOT inconspicuous snapping these pics. I was all, "La dee da, I'm just playing with my camera and following you two around wherever go." The guy turned and looked at me a couple times and I frowned harder at my camera. "Me? Taking your picture? Noooooo. This is a high-tech text camera. I'm sending messages. La dee da."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blinded Me With Science

I'm going to read this lecture about what Stephen Hawkin has to say about life on other planets. I saw some blurb on yahoo earlier this evening, where he says that primitive life may exist on other planets around our galaxy, but that there doesn't seem to be any signs of intelligent life. Throughout the universe, in fact, "intelligent life as we know it is exceedingly rare."

Ummmmm, duh! Intelligent life on earth is extremely rare.
Ba-dum-dum. (Cymbal crash.)

So I'm going to read the above mentioned lecture, but I can't do it tonight because I've worn out me eyeballs reading for the last few hours already. I'm trying to get through the first part of "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence" by Deepak Chopra. One reviewer on Amazon called this book "spirituality for the scientific mind," which is cool, except I've always had a problem with science. I love learning new things, but for some reason my brain doesn't grasp science-talk. Deepak's all about particle waves and wave packets and subatomic atoms and I'm thinking "huh?" He wrote something like "we all learned in high school that blah blah blah," and I think, "did I?" Did I learn that? Because if I did, I certainly didn't retain it.

Once, in the week that I took computer programing before I dropped it, we had to create a program to calculate pi (π) and everyone around me seemed to have no problem with what the professor was talking about. When he finally stopped speaking (using the same lexicon and tone as Charlie Brown's teacher always used) I raised my hand. When he came over I asked him "what's pi?" He looked kind of surprised and started to explain, and I stopped him. "No,...uh, like - what's the number of pi?" I know I had once known the difference between pi and, uh, pie - but that knowledge had seeped out of my brain quite a long while before.

It's understandable, though. I had to purge a lot of information I learned in my earlier years to make room for the latest Lilo Lohan news.

I watched "Contact" last weekend again. I find that movie to be genuinely comforting. The alien in the film, (who appears to Jodie Foster's character as her father) says of us humans, "You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other."

I hear that.

Talking about knowledge seeping out of my brain (most likely out my ear) made me think of when Khan put that insect animal thing into Spock's brain through his ear. How scary was that?!? I had nightmares for weeks after. And now I'm thinking about the alien in Sigourney Weaver. Maybe that's where the intelligent life forms are. Inside us, each cell represents and universe teeming with nano-aliens.

We sneeze, and galaxies are ripped apart.

Pee and poo.

I've got some gnarly painful sore on the side of my tongue right now that makes is hard to eat and even harder to talk. In fact, it makes me drool, and today in the classroom I goobered on my shirt.

It felt appropriate.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Time Keeps on Slipping

Damn, it does go by so fast, doesn't it? Each day passing brings me closer to the end of my work contract, which is toward the middle of June. I keep meaning to talk to my boss about it and I keep putting it off because I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. After four years here in this stinky little one horse town it's probably time to move on. And in the three years and ten months that I've been here you might think I've had ample time to sort out a game plan for the future.

You'd think.

Alas, I am still floating on clouds of indecision. I'm wafting on breezes of no plans. I am drifting without direction and sans a sense of purpose. Lately I've been very busy torturing myself about it all. My inner-voice chants a mantra that goes like, "whatareyoudoing?whatareyoudoing?whatareyoudoing?" as my inner-child throws a screaming tantrum in the corner and blames me for being a bad mother.

I swear, I just don't know what to do.

I remember when I finished high school and should have been getting all ready to head on to university. And I would have gotten ready, except I hadn't applied to any universities, so I wasn't going anywhere. It just seemed to me at the time to be kind of pointless to start uni when I had no idea where my education was going to lead me, future-wise. When I finally decided to go, I signed up and was accepted into the Social Work program. That seemed to make sense to me, study social work, be a Social Worker. (Study philosophy, be a Philosopher? Bbbbwaaa ha ha!) A couple months in I knew social work wasn't for me but by that time I'd already jumped in the river, so to speak, so I just changed streams and got my degree in English rhetoric. Now I can debate you. (Lucky I didn't get my "masters" in that, eh? Otherwise I'd be master-debating you!)

I'm at another crossroad, so again I find myself on the riverbank hopping from one foot to the other whining "IdunnoIdunnoIdunno!" My inner child points and screams at me to, "Do SOMETHING, dammit!"

I'm probably done at my current job, but like the last three contract endings they're not going to want to let me go. And, I have a rubber arm. Staying put and hidden and complacent is easier than plunging into the new and unknown. If I leave here, am I done with Korea? Am I done with overseas? Am I ready to transition back into the comfortable Canadian world I knew? What am I going to do there?

Meanwhile, my co-worker Sunny totally budded in the bad-news line on Friday and gave her notice! She intends on finishing in a month. She says she's planning on getting a certificate in something-or-other, but, "in Korea we don't say. After I get, I can say."

(I say she's full of crap, but I'm Canadian and in Canada we do say.)
She's freaking out about being thirty and not married and I'm quite sure she's going to embark on losing thirty-five pounds, meeting up with a matchmaker in the fall and endeavour to get herself hitched before the New Year. She plans on getting herself a marriage certificate! Mark my say-so words.

So me telling my boss that I'm going to finish a few short weeks after Sunny is going to quit will be a one-two punch that I don't think is going to go over well.

We shall see.
And by the way, what? You don't like my new header?
I don't know what I'm doing with my life, but I got two shoes.

WCB - 150 Playtime

Kamikaze is lying in his Big Bed beside his Scratchy Thing and he is preparing to play.

He's going to play now. Are you ready to see him play? Here he goes!

Aaaannnd DONE!

That game was called "Touch the Mouse," and clearly, he won.
Atta boy, Kami!

So why don't you scurry on over and check out the other playful kitty cats at Mind of Mog for this weekend's WCB. I've got to run. Kamikaze and I are going to play "Big Eye Staring Contest" now.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wild Iris

On the way to work.

Spring in a Bowl

I had these green things when I was out to dinner last week and I just loved how fresh and "springlike" they tasted. I asked what they were called and was told "don na-mool" - which is like "money vegetables."
You're SO money, baby!

I was able to find them in the supermarket and I've been eating a bowlful with every meal since then. You can only get these in spring, so I'm taking advantage while I can - if you're in Korea give them a try!

I drizzled them with a mix of gochujang (in the red container) thinned with a little water and a dash of sesame oil. Nummers.

Here's a perfect meal. Soon doobu jjigae, rice, and money-veggie! I've been making my soon doobu with loads of eggplant lately instead of zucchini. So yummy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


As I was coming home last night I stopped on the third floor because there was a big fat grasshopper looking at me. It got me wondering where he'd come from. I wouldn't be too surprised to see a baby grasshopper, but this guy was already pretty big. Still, he must have just recently crawled out of the ground. By the fall, he's going to be a monster.

So last night I picked him up and snapped a couple of pictures of him and set him back down so he could go on his merry way. Then I continues up the stairs to my apartment on the next floor.

Today I was leaving for work and as I opened the door to head out, my buddy the grasshopper jumped right into my apartment. I gave a little shriek because I didn't know what it was at first, but I saw Hoppy take another leap and land in the middle of the living room. Kamikaze was already getting up, all big eyed, to inspect and eat- so I chased after Hoppy to spare him.

I caught him after a little chase and set him down outside once I'd closed the door. I had a chance to look at him, and for sure - that was the same guy as last night. How weird is it that he was waiting at my door this afternoon? One floor up, and of the fifteen or so doors on this level he happened to be right outside of mine at the same moment I was opening my door to leave. Strange.

And coincidentally when I got to work I had a package from What the Book with Deepak Chopra's "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence" - a book about coincidences!

Deepak proposes that, "Not only are everyday coincidences meaningful, they actually provide us with glimpses of the field of infinite possibilities that lies at the heart of all things." Good news, that. I've got to figure out what the hell I'm doing with all my infinite possibilities.

In other ethereal news, I keep having dreams where I'm covered in shit. I've had about four of them in the last couple weeks. I always discover, in the dreams, that I've got poo on me and trying to wipe it off, it just gets all over me. I don't find these to be very happy dreams, but my co-workers told me today that they're actually very auspicious. That's good to hear.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Changes to Severance Pay Laws in Korea

The Korean government recently announced changes to its laws regarding severance pay. Amendments have been made to the Labour Standards Act, effective immediately. Article 28 previously stated: "An employer shall establish a system by which an average wage of not less than 30 days per year for each consecutive year employed shall be paid as retirement allowance to a retired employee. Provided, however, that this shall not apply in cases where the period of employment is less than one year."

What this meant for many English teachers working in Korea was that at the end of their one year contract, they would receive a 'bonus' equal to one month's salary. Many Canadian teachers would then return to their home country and direct deposit their severance pay at The Beer Store.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Kim Do-Oh was recently quoted at a press conference, explaining the changes to severance pay allotment, "Our ministry and the Korean government in general has been under pressure for a number of years from hagwons and public school trustees regarding severance pay and foreign teachers. We have received thousands of complaints that having to essentially pay two months' salary and airfare at the end of an employees contract, along with the costs of replacing the teacher was an unfair burden."

The Ministry has come up with a plan that will ease the financial strain on public schools and hagwons, while also benefiting the outgoing teacher.

"We are aware," Kim continued, "the foreign teachers return to their home countries and distribute their severance pay at local bars and clubs. The severance pay allowance was set up for Korean nationals to help at the time of retirement. Severance pay was never meant to be 'Beer Party pay.' The new laws will benefit our education system financially, and foreign teacher's health as well. All teachers returning to their home country after more than a year of ongoing employment will receive our thanks and best wishes, and in lieu of severance pay, milk."
"It's good for health."

Some Beasties

Beastie Number One
Looks dangerous!

Beastie Number Two
He's looking for a smoke.

Beastie Number Three
My, my, my,...what big beastie eyes!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Here's something you don't see,..well - EVER back home. It's a minnow truck! But these little guys aren't destined for the end of a fishing line. They're destined for your belly! On the back of a truck is a great big aquarium and there's a big blurry ball of shimmery silver inside.

The Minnow Man will scoop a bunch of them out for you, dump them into a bowlfull of batter and then transfer them into a wok of boiling hot oil.

Mmmm. That's some fresh fishies!
I've never eaten them, so can't tell you if they're awesome.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

At Least Tomorrow's Friday

I took a marker and blacked out a few phone numbers in my book. I suppose I'm not a very good friend if I share with the peoples on the internets that I think most of my friends suck. They do. It doesn't even really matter if I DO tell you they suck because they don't read this here blog. They're busy people, you know. Busy, busy. They've got jobs and families and things to do and people to see. Coffee to drink. Bills to pay. Zip zap go go go! Their fingers are broken. Can't type. Can't dial a phone.

I suppose me going to live half way around the world over six years ago didn't help with keeping us tight, but damn! I've got some friends who have called me never. I've got other friends who e-mail me twice a year. Maybe.

Should I still be considering these folks as my friends? Maybe not.

So I thought it was a good idea to remove their phone numbers so I don't have access to them at four in the morning after a few wobbly pops when I could let my drunk little fingers dial them up so I can slur at them about how much they suck. Oh, and by the way, could you gather up those Christmas presents I sent your kids, (Remember those? The ones you never called or e-mailed me to say thanks? But - oh - that's right. You done broke your fingers. I forgot!) and mail them back to me so I can re-mail them back to you with a card reading "Hey! Why don't you stick these up your ass?"

I'd like to say, "What-evah! I'm so over it!" but I'd be lying. The truth is I'm quite hurt by the way a lot of my friendships have panned out. They've gone into comas. They're on life support. They're failing to thrive. They're dying, and in some cases I think they're pretty much dead. So what to do? Stick a mental fork in them? Should I send a condolence card? Should I just move on? What does that even mean? I really don't know what to do, and it makes me believe that friends and family have filled up their lives in my absence, and there's no longer any room for me.

Facebook makes me feel like crap. It should be called "Another way for you to NOT keep in touch with your friends, Sucker!" Sometimes I look people up on Schmacebook. My cousin, who I haven't seen in over twenty years, has 164 friends. My other cousin has 289. She's twelve.

I've really bummed myself out tonight.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cherry Blossoms

It's that time again. It's cherry blossom season, which I think is the prettiest time in Korea. It certainly improves my town, which, for the other fifty weeks of the year, is pretty much a dump. But we've got a lot of cherry blossoms going on right now. If I was a kid I for sure would call these Jiffy Pop Trees.

Let's take a walk, you and I, and have a look at the Popcorn Trees.
Near my apartment

The little temple at the bottom of the hill.

The street near my school.

They're even pretty at night!


The view from my balcony. Isn't that a lovely line of blossoming trees over yonder rooftop?

I think tomorrow a picnic might be in order.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Happy Trails

It felt so strange after New Years not being able to visit The Nomad, who I can't even link to now, since his blog has gone all opseyo. He updated regularly and I tended to visit him at least a couple times a day. Then suddenly he said goodbye and the curtains fell on his site.

I won't lie, it plunged me into a spiral of sadness and grief that had me drinking every night and most mornings. And crying. Oi! The crying!

Well,...maybe it wasn't that bad,...but still. I miss him.

If that wasn't hard enough, now another friend of mine has put his blog to bed. Kevin, aka The Big Hominid (or Big Ho') is moving on to greener pastures. Greener ones and flat ones and hills and highways and roadkill and rainstorms and sunrises and rocks and trees and stars and passersby in luxury cars.

Kevin's setting off on a Walk Across America (can you even handle that? I can't) and he's leaving Korea in a very short while to start a new and wildly interesting and ambitious endeavour. He'll be keeping things treading over at his new site, Kevin's Walk which is fairly quiet right now.

I'm selfish, and I wish Kevin hadn't closed up shop so soon and so abruptly. I was so keen to hear how his last few days in Korea (for this time around anyhow) are going to go, and how it's going to be like packing up his multi year's worth of things and saying "so long" to his students, co-workers and friends. Maybe he'll let us know on Kevin's Walk. I hope so.

Still, it feels super weird now. Nomad and BigHo were my go-to blogs. Now what've I got? Nothing!

Nothing but this big bottle of gin and my salty tear stained cheeks.

Happy trails and all my best wishes, Kevin. I'm keeping my eye, flooded bloodshot eye,...on you. xo

Friday, April 04, 2008

Come on Feel the Noise

I've been teaching for almost six years now, and I've gathered a whole bag of tricks in the meantime. I've got activities to cover spare minutes at the end of a class. I've got games I can manifest to reward a my good little students. And, I've got an assortment of punishments for my naughty little boys and girls. The way I manage a class of kids varies from day to day and sometimes depends too heavily on my mood. If I'm sick, forget about it, my threshold for pain is minimal and I'm quick to whack my stick on the table and deliver a hearty "YA!" to get my students' attention. Kids who are paying attention can anticipate the slamming of the stick and cover their ears accordingly. See, that's the thing,'s all about who can be the noisiest sometimes.

I have some students who like to talk. More specifically, they LIKE TO TALK. INCESSANTLY. AND AT TOP VOLUME. You know when they like to stop talking? They don't. If they're not forming coherent Korean sentences, they like to shout random words in English, or parrot everything I say. And if they're not doing that, they're just emitting noise. Humming or singing or (one of my least favourite things) drumming their pencils on the desk. Some kids made some videos awhile back on how they're professional pencil drummers. I'd like to jam those pencils up their,...well. *Ahem.*

I'd like to think that the noisiest of my noisy students quiet the hell up when they're sleeping, but I have no evidence to remotely support that theory.

When I say to these shrieking bags of noise students, "Please repeat after me: 'Do you know where the library is?'" They shout, "DO YOU KNOW WHERE DA LIBRAAAAAAARRRRYYYY ISSSSSSSS?" Sometimes they get the cold stare of You're-Not-Funny-And-Do-Not-Impress-Me. Sometimes they get to stand with their hands up in the ay-er. (But they better not wave 'em like they just don't cay-er.) Sometimes the sound of the thwacking of the stick rings through the classroom. Yesterday I didn't feel like getting bent out of shape over the noise, so I would just stop speaking and gaze at the students until they managed to quiet themselves down. Usually it's those perceptive students who know to cover their ears who urge their classmates to shut up. But as I stare my students into silence, my mind wanders.

Yesterday I wished I could levitate them. I wanted to fix my eyes on the nosiest of the bunch and just lift him up into the air about three feet off the ground. I figured that would get his attention. Maybe floating above his chair would quiet him down. Than I figured that he'd probably think that was fun. All the students would want to be levitated, and they'd bombard me like they do with game requests, "Teacha, game? Onil game hay-o? Today game? Game, game, game?" Only it'd be "Teacha, levitate me? Onil levitate hay-o?"

So I didn't just want to levitate them. I wanted to nauseate them at the same time. I want to nausivitate them. Not so, like, they'd hurl while they were up in the air, but just enough of a bad feeling to turn them fairly green and make them wish they could return to their seats and stop floating around. I was daydreaming, imagining my students hovering around the classroom. Ten quiet green kids just afloat above their chairs. I didn't really notice the class had gone quiet.
I snapped back to reality. "What?"
"Game time?"

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Korean Tees on Friendship

Stand with friends outstretched!
Make sure your head's wet!

I love friends!
Especially my little blond friend. I love her so much, I put her on my T-shirt.

If I could scape and re?
I want to get way, WEAH!


Just remember, made ing boree, I love u!

If It Wasn't Broken Before, It Is Now

One of my neighbours just whipped their keyboard off their balcony and sent it crashing to the pavement below. It's in many smashed pieces now. That'll show it!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's

Hi! My name's April and I'm a fool! One of those things is not true. Guess which one.

We finally got a new computer at work last week and I was happy, after over a month of not having one, to see it. Today my three o'clock students hadn't shown up for class so I was hanging around in the Teacher's Room waiting for them. Two of my little kindergarten students came in to bug see me, and when the little girl asked for some juice I grabbed a can of orange out of the little fridge and gave it to her. I didn't notice that she took a drink and then set it on the narrow space in front of the monitor, but as I was playing with the little boy I heard a "clunk" and turned around to find the juice knocked over and pouring into the keyboard. Awesome! I cleaned it as best as I could, but still - now when you type a letter you get the added bonus of another letter! So typing in "Jelly is stupid" looks like "Jhewlflfyu iusa satruyphiuds." Seriously.

My boss? Not too impressed.

Actually, she was very cool about it and told me it'll probably be fine once it completely dries out. No bother. It's not like the time I dumped a whole hot jumbo Starbucks coffee into my very expensive company phone my first day on the job at an advertising agency. My boss then? About to blow a frickin gasket. Good times.

I'm still not sure what happened, but something REEKED at school today. It was during the middle school student's classes and it smelt like someone had crapped their pants. Really, it was more like a horse had crapped in someone's pants. My boss had the students move to another classroom, thinking that the smell was wafting in from downstairs, but then the smell followed the students to the new classroom. It really was awful, and when I asked Karen, "What is that smell?" she told me she'd tell me later. After the bell rang and the students left and the odor finally started to dissipate, Karen told me the new student, the shy quiet girl I named Emma, had crapped her pants.
"Impossible!" I argued. That's exactly what the students in my class had told me, and I wouldn't believe it then, either. The kids also said that their whole school smelled like shit all day, and what with it being April Fool's Day I doubt very much that one girl's alleged poopy pants could so completely fill a school with stink.

"Emma's not retarded, you know," I told my boss. "If I had an accident in my pants, I would go home, which I'm sure is what she would do if that's what happened."
"Yah," Karen agreed, "And she's wearing a skirt. She could just take off her panties and throw them away."
"Uhhh, yah." I said. (Not an idea I wanted to have in my head - commando middle school girls stuffing soiled undies into the garbage, but still.) "I'll bet someone wiped something on her, or on her school bag as a prank." I told my boss I wished I could have taken Emma aside and asked her what was up...and tried to find the source of the smell. Instead, Sunny just kept the windows and door open and tried to teach class pretending like it wasn't smelling like they were in an outhouse with the kids snickering at the thought of Emma needing a diaper.

In the middle of my class, I headed toward the Teacher's Room at one point. Emma turned and smiled and gave me a little wave. That's not something a girl with crapped pants would do. I worried about her afterwards. I don't what her to become known as "Poo Girl" at her school. I told my students about how when I was in elementary school way back when, I had been fighting with one of my friends. I arrived one morning and reached into my desk to find a big slobbery dog bone in there. I was just horrified. Luckily I didn't end up being known as Dog Girl, (I might have if I'd exclaimed "Mmmmm! Lunch!" and took the bone out to gnaw on) but kids can be so vicious.