Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crap Now Available Night and Day

Recently Lotteria started staying open twenty four hours a day in my town. I was pretty surprised to see the sign and wondered how much business they were going to get "after hours." I passed by one night at about one in the morning and noted that they were indeed open, but really only "half-open." Enjoy a burger in the dark!


Last week I stopped in for something to eat, and had a discussion about why the 24 hour restaurant might be FAIL! Back home, revellers might leave a club or bar in the wee hours of the morning and head straight for a "street meat" vendor (hot dogs and sausages carts that set up outside in anticipation of hungry drunk-faces) or a McDees. Here, drunks tend to stumble home with full bellies as they've spent the proceeding hours downing shots of soju or beer whilst feeding on either a meal or plates of "anjou," which is mandatory food ordered with drinks. I don't know. Maybe Lotteria will see some business from truck drivers passing through here looking for a quick bite, but somehow I don't think so.

Lotteria sucks, anyways. I don't know why I ever stray from the "seo-burger" (shrimp burger) -the only thing on their menu I like, but last week I was tempted by the picture on the wall of the Hanwoo Steak Burger.


Bun, onion, burger, mushrooms, and a broccoli-cheese sauce. Looks pretty yummy!
In reality though,


not so much!

Inside there was a gristly meat patty topped with a glop of cold green vomit sauce.


Scrap that. So we went next door to the 24-hour 7-11 and picked up a sandwich. Thing.


Mmmm. Comprised of seaweed, rice, ham, cheese or egg?, limpttuce, condensation and presumably sand.


Dinner Fail.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Keep Working My Way Back to You, Babe.

I've opened the "new post" window several times over the last week and then sat here resenting the cursor that blinked out "" in a steady Morse code. The cursor lies. I got stuff. I just seem to lack the ability to covert all the stuff from my brain to the keyboard. That's not even true. I lack the desire? The motivation? Ummmm, maybe I lack the words, or rather - the right words.

I'm on the road to recovery from whatever nasty little bug I picked up a couple weeks ago. I lost my voice for two days this past week which rendered me pretty well useless in the classroom. I was really grateful to some of my classes that gave me a break and quieted down to focus on my whispered instruction. Some students really displayed a surprising amount of compassion and turned into little co-teachers, scolding their classmates for speaking Korean and not paying attention. Frickin angels. I rewarded them with candy.

I finally went to the big hospital and got a chest X-ray and some blood work. I'm not sure what the diagnosis was, but the instructions were "take these (eight pills three times a day) and much rest. NO TALKING." I relayed that to the manager who laughed at me, just like I knew she would. Still, I kept sound to a bare minimum that second day and was able to squeak out some noise in time for my adult classes, so I was pleased.

I'd type more now, but I'm venturing out for a "hwe-shick" (party) to celebrate my friend's birthday. It's late, and I'd much rather crawl into bed, but I promised I'd be there. The party begins once her restaurant closes, hence the owl-time start. She just called right this moment so I've got to go.

More soon. I promise.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I figured it as just a matter of time, and sure enough I started to feel it by Sunday afternoon. Last week so many of my students had looked feverish and miserable as they hacked their way through my classes mouths-open, germs-flying, child style.

So it was that I dragged my ass to work on Monday and then dragged my ass to the doctor for the one hundred and sixty seventh ass injection/spanking Ive had since Ive been in Korea. There's a new nurse at Dr. Dolphin's office and she seems very nice, but it unnerves me that she does not stop touching me pretty much from the time I enter the clinic to when I leave. I must have looked particularly pathetic on Monday because she came from behind the desk to sit beside me in the waiting area, petting my leg the whole time. In the doctor's office, I perch myself on the stool beside his desk so he can use the sonar in his forehead to diagnose me. That's not entirely fair. The nurse reaches into my shirt from behind me to yank my bra away from my chest while the doc places the stethoscope in four spots for exactly half a second per location. Then he says, "Nnnyyaagghh!" which means "open your mouth" in Lazy-speak, and he depresses my tongue for three seconds. When the nurse doesn't have her hands in my shirt, she's got them moving around on my back. It's distracting and I resist the temptation to turn and smack her hands off me.

The doc clicks some computer keys and holds up four fingers and says, "days" and then points toward his door and then to the left, which means I should head to the curtained area where the nurse is going to stick a needle in my ass and slap me bye-bye.

I head back to work and see my boss for the first time that day. "Are you okay?" he asks.
"Not so much," I reply.
"Odi appayo?" (Where are you sick?)
"Kamgi?" (Do you have cold?)
"Anniyo. Malaria."
"Yellow gold bunsick?"

Props to Dr. Dolphin, though. I pop a handful of pills and a shot of cough syrup every eight hours and don't feel too rough. However, about five or six hours later the potion starts to wear off and I'm reminded that I actually feel like crap underneath it all. The thing that can't be covered up with the medicine, though, is the bone crushing fatigue. I've had trouble keeping my eyes focused this week. They keep involuntarily rolling toward the back of my head. Like they've done six or seven times since I started typing this. So I'm off to bed.

Bloody TGIF, huh?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

You Wanna Laugh?

Please head over and view Roboseyo's translation work. Outstanding. I peed my pants.


We're losing another teacher at the end of the week. So that's three teachers who have quit in two months. Unfortunately, the latest one to leave has grown to be one of my favourite co-workers ever. I pretty much knew I was going to like her once I found out her family has five dogs and a cat. Out at a hweshick a few weeks ago we got to talking about our cats and I actually convinced her to take her young girl-cat "Nabi" (Butterfly) in to get spayed. Her cat was driving her nuts with all the yowling and rubbing, but she hadn't realized it was because the cat was in heat. I totally sold her on the surgery when I warned her that if her cat did manage to escape the house she was going to come back pregnant. So score one for decreasing the unwanted pet population.

I'm bummed shes leaving to open up a "kalguksu" restaurant. My boss isn't pleased that she only stayed with us a couple months, and I think there's some worry about what the parents are going to think about us burning through so many teachers in such a short time.

My newest co-worker remains unimpressive. She doesn't speak often, but when she does it's in "baby ga-ga coos" in both English and Korean and she still does the jiggly dance thing all the time, which I had hoped was just a nervous habit she'd get over after a while. Apparently it's not. I asked her, when we were picking out an English nickname for her, if she'd ever been given an English name before. She replied that she had and then struggled to remember what it had been. I almost choked when she finally recalled it was "Morticia." I asked if it had been a guy who'd given her that name, and sure enough it was. "What a jerk," I thought, but now I sort of understand.

At her welcome party she sat hunched over looking downright miserable and saying nothing until she finally excused herself at 11:15, saying her mother was going to worry why she was out so late. Shes a wild one, that Morticia.

Speaking of wild, I've got this student who has been a constant thorn in my otherwise fairly lovely garden of good little students. I've been teaching him for about a year now and I inwardly groan when I've got to deal with him. I know I should love all the little children, but I actually sort of hate this child. I've got five other students in that class who are eager, enthusiastic, and well behaved. I resent that I have to spend so much time micro-managing this one boy and the two other boys he riles up every class. The kid has absolutely zero impulse control, and no, I'm not a clinician - but I'd venture to say he displays obvious signs of ADHD. I stressed him out yesterday by first confiscating his toys, and then denying him a sticker because he made several mistakes while whizzing through his work because he needs to be "!FIRST FIRST TEACHER I'M FINISHED I'M FIRST I'M DONE FIRRRRSSSTTT!" He sulked back to his chair and proceeded to, while he thought no one was watching, yank hair out of his head AND EAT IT! Ohhhh. ADHD/OCD. Great.

Tomorrow I'm going to change his name to Damien.

One of my adult students is a private tutor who helps kids with developmental and learning disabilities. She was telling me in class tonight how she'd had a bad day because one of her students threw a desk at her and then bit her shoulder. The kid drew blood. So I guess there's always someone who's having a worse day than you.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Big Wheel

Perhaps there's no better way to snag a panoramic view of the glorious city of Ulsan than to ride the giant fancy neon Ferris Wheel that sits atop a building adjoined to Lotte Department Store in Samsan-dong.


We approached the behemoth wheel and the fellow manning the booth gestured to my companion and said, "Who he?" I replied that he was my friend, and the Ferris Wheel man shook his head and nodded in the direction of a sign.


See the bottom part? Hmm. The ""Wheel" is only to be enjoyed by family and lover. The man in the booth would not be moved. So my friend and I had to sneak into a bathroom stall to make a happy sex time. Luckily, his wallet bore the circular imprint of a long stored condom, as further posted rules were even more specific.


There were a whole bunch of rules:


just The Man trying to Bring You Down.
IMO the best way to enjoy the ride is to be drunken. Very very drunken.

So, anyways we reappeared and affirmed that we were now lovers and no, I hadn't been got the pregnant, and we were allowed on. I wanted to jump out the locked caged car almost immediately because our in-car music thingie didn't work and as we slothed our way further from the ground I had trouble hearing the "gee gee gee gee baby baby baby" that blasted from the speakers below.

The lights of Ulsan are pretty, but I'd recommend riding the Wheel of Yawn during daylight hours. Because hopefully that's more interesting than riding it at night. Which is what we did. Which was yawn inducing. And just so you know, standing in your overheated car (air-conditioned in the summer, yee-haw) and rocking it back and forth is heavily frowned upon. Your music-less speaker will somehow crackle to life and yell at you to sit the hell down.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


When I was young, I'd cross the bridge every day from my apartment building which yawned over one of the major highways in Toronto. For eight years, that bridge crossing would lead me most days toward school, but the weekends were different. I'd stop short just at the other side of the bridge and head to the arena.

Public skate was held in the afternoon and I was there most Saturdays and Sundays, sporting my furry brown skate-covers my mother had made on her sewing machine. I didn't care that they were different from the super popular baby blue store-bought versions, mine made me feel like a skating bear.

I had a crush on one of the guards. I think his first name was either Dave or Mike, but for sure his last name was MacKenzie, which was what all his other skate-guard buddies called him. That was the name I'd calligraphy onto my duo-tangs at school and surround with a heart. I was Mrs. McKenzie in my head, and we'd whirl around Olympic style during the couples skate portion of the afternoon. Of course, that never happened, which is well and good I suppose - as the Zamboni would have had to scrape my jellied splattered too-happy heart off the ice. No one wants that sort of mess.

Instead, what happened was that once they'd announced the start of couples skate over the intercom my friends and I would skate away, refusing to get off the ice. For sure it was some negative attention seeking, and would result in McKenzie and one of his buddies carrying me off the ice by the wrists and ankles. That used to thrill me, because I had absolutely no sense of grace or dignity. I was eleven, so I understand that I didn't know any better.

McKenzie used to compliment me on my ability to skate backwards and I'd glow. "Can you show me how you do that?" he'd ask, and I'd enthusiastically glide away from him.
Then he'd skate away in the opposite direction. I fell for it every single time.

As for the "couple's skate" I'm not sure how old I was when I suddenly did know better, but I remember struggling against McKenzie and whatever guard that week had drawn the short straw to round up the renegade losers off the ice. My gingham top rode up and my too tight Mac jeans were starting to slide down over my hips. I realized that not only was I being carried off the ice (for the umpteenth time) but I was going to be naked by the time we reached the penalty box. I stopped struggling, and grabbed McKenzie's arm after he deposited me to squeak out an "I'm sorry," before he skated off. After that I didn't need to be asked twice to stop skating when the time came.

So here I am, fast forward almost thirty years later.
I wrote this a week ago and I keep opening it to edit. There are a bunch of reasons why I'm going to type the next sentence, but I just can't share right now. Still, I often wish I had someone who would just drag me the fuck off the ice already, pants be damned.

Friday, April 03, 2009


I'm worried about Kami. One of his teeth fell out this morning - a bottom fang. I've got to take him to the vet and he HATES going to the vet. They'll have to put him under to clean his teeth, and that's risky.
Worry worry worry.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Happy April Fleurs Day!
Did you get punked yet?

It's a good thing I took some time to appreciate the blooming magnolia trees outside my apartment building, because those lovely flowers die so quickly. Here's a picture I took exactly one week later.


And from yesterday.


They're melllllting!

No matter, though. There are plenty of other pretty things springing to life these days. The cherry blossom trees still need another couple days or so, but in the meantime there's a bat-like thing hanging from the forsythia.


I wonder what's inside.

There are pink flowers.


And red cousins of the pink flowers.


Lots of cousins.


And perfect roses.


Pay no attention to the ubiquitous mounds of trash.


Focus on the pretty!