Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pale Shelter

It occurred to me a few minutes ago that cigarettes are playing a part in my not writing. When I used to write stuff, you can bet that I was pausing between paragraphs to light a smoke and sit back and stare at the screen, changing a word here or a thought there. These days I spend a lot of time sitting at a table in the shaded cobblestone backyard of my brother's house. I'm reading a lot. (And smoking too much.) The inside of my brother's house is both lovely and non-smoking, as is pretty much everywhere I go these days. I was just trying to think of the last time I smoked indoors in Canada, and I really can't recall.

I went to see Tears For Fears the other weekend. While the band were very good, the Casino Rama audience was not. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the first few rows of tickets were given out as comps, and the people sitting in them had no idea who it was they were there to see. That's got to be a real drag for the band. (At a party the other night, someone told me that Toronto audiences are renown for their snobbishness and stoicism - so maybe it's just a trend.) Tears For Fears introduced the guy who had been singing along with them, a Canadian named Michael Wainwright, and announced he was about to do a duet which was no mean feat. As the notes to Woman in Chains began, I started to compose an e-mail to Roland that nice try with the guy singing, but I can do it better and I'm not busy and can come on tour with them. Then Michael Wainwright started singing and I just x'd out of the e-mail in my head. Holy crap. That link there is to the TFF show in Manila, which is how an audience should behave I think. Watch them do "Shout" in Manila. The crowd goes mental.

As for writing, I'll quote Tears For Fears,...."I find it hard to tell you 'coz I find it hard to take."

Isn't blogging strange? What's that quote? Something like "Never before have so many had so little to say." Or instead of "little" it's "meaningless?" I've shared parts of my life with all you lovelies and all you spam robots who stop by here, and now I feel obliged to update.

But how am I supposed to write about the things going on right now? How can I share here the shit I can't even bring myself to tell the people in my life because I'm sort of terrified? Like, I can't tell you I think my mom is insane and I'm pretty sure it's not a good idea for me to be seeing her. That wouldn't be nice. I shouldn't tell you that I'm not sure I want to be married. That I'm worried I made a mistake and that I can barely be responsible for my own life let alone a partner's. I shouldn't admit that here.

When people ask me how I am I always tell them I'm alright. If I responded truthfully now, though, I'd jump up and down and shout, "I don't know what to fucking DO!" How on Earth could I write about how I feel like I've got just about no family to speak of and how hopeless and useless I am at being able to do one single thing to reconcile that? I can't seem to bring myself to tell my brother and my friend (and sister-in-law) how much I love them and their two girls, and how grateful I am that they've welcomed me into their home since I've been here, but that me having to leave in a week and a half and not knowing where to go is really freaking me out. So if I can't seem to admit that to them, how can I tell you?

"When people run in circles it's a very, very mad world."

I certainly shouldn't tell you how overwhelmed I am. How I just can't look at the big pictures because I don't know what to make of this world. I would be too vulnerable if I told you I've spent many moments these past few weeks wishing myself into non-existence.

So. I'm alright.
Next time you're at a concert, get the fuck up and dance.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It Lives

I was just on another site that linked to my blog and noted it has been 38 days since I last updated. Forgive me. It's been 38 days since my last confession.

I really don't want to kill my blog. Tonight, after I've gotten some sleep, I'll tell you a story or something.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summery

I keep noticing the warning on my disgusting ten dollar pack of Canadian cigarettes: "Tobacco smoke hurts babies." Every time I glance at it, it annoys me. I keep on thinking "stupid babies shouldn't smoke, then." Then I get to thinking how silly it is they put the warning on the pack of smokes anyhow - it's not like these smoking babies can read yet, after all.

It reminds me that being able to understand just about everything people are saying for a change is both a blessing and a curse. People say a lot of stupid shit, eh?

There hasn't been a lot going on to report. After the hospital, I felt as completely and consistently awful as I've ever felt before in my life. I'm not all better, but it's getting better all the time. I'm starting to work on the deep brown tan of the unemployed, and often change from pajamas into my uniform of bathing suit, T-shirt, and shorts - and then I go to the pool or the beach. Tough life, huh? The weather's been sunny and mahvelous, though we've had a few hot ones. When you're living at the edge of a pool, though, it doesn't matter how hot it is, so whatever!

Oh, Canada. Oh, Toronto. Me loves.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

So, Here.

"Open your eyes." the voice commanded. So I did.

"No. Really look at me," the voice scolded. "Really open your eyes." I knew I hadn't done it right the first time. I'd opened my eyelids, but knew my pupils were still rolled far back, probably seeing the middle of the backside of my brain. I couldn't help it. "Aim forward and look into the flashlight he's beaming into your skull," I ordered my pupils. As I somehow figured out without ever having seen him, my doctor was extraordinary looking.

The problem had started in Korea. Listening to my husband, and following the listed rules on the American Airlines website, I loaded the maximum sized carry-on bag with the maximum amount of stuff. My friends, when they came to collect me to deliver me to the airport instantly ixnayed it as "way too big," and in a rare instance of common sense, I brought the smaller bag. We ended up having to re-pack that as carry-on, and shifted clothes and books from the other maximum two check-in bags.

Here. Did you come here having found this blog by googling "Korea" or something? Are you a visitor looking for some advice? Here's some advice,...are you thinking of going to Korea for more than five years?

Don't.

That's my advice. Moving back is a pain in the ass. I have entirely too much shit! I digress, though. I realized in the Smoking Lounge at the Tokyo Airport what I'd done. One pocket in the bigger carry-on. The side pocket. In my mind, I could see the contents. Couple books. Couple pairs of glasses in cases. Drugs.

I looked in my purse. Six. I had six pills left. That wasn't how that was supposed to work. I was supposed to wean in Canada, and yet six pills meant I was going to bottom out fast. So I took the last two pills in Canada Wednesday morning and then it was cold turkey.

Sunday evening. Time passed and the door opened. More questions. Me answering as best I could for about the twentieth time since early Saturday morning. Another flashlight, but this time a fingertip prying my eye open, "Look at me," another voice commanded again. He concurred and I was officially in withdrawl - something I'd been pretty sure about for quite some time. Ha! And they stuck me to a pole and sent morphine into my veins through a pump that pushed it into my arm every four hours. I shant complain about that.

Here's something you might not have known: the last many months I'd been high. When I flew out of Korea it was after three consecutive days of taking 280mgs per day. A whole tray of 14 pills - enough for more than 2 days at the prescribed dose. I'd been doing that for months. I always went back to the doctor twice as fast as I should have. That was one accommodating Korean doctor.

I realize that fessing this up will probably get some judgment, but I don't care. I really don't. I have been thinking over the last few days how every single person has got their story. No one is alright, not all the time. I feel defenseless. Maybe there's something about spending two days writhing and puking and contorting and, oh god - my poor family - I just scared the shit out of them. But I was honest. Almost all honest.

I forget in which movie it was that one of the main characters replies, "I'm pretty fucking far from okay right now." I was just recently there - but I'm getting better. Now seems to be a time for courage. Still, I feel out of my skin. Nothing even fits me anymore.

"She just got out of the hospital," I heard my brother say to someone. I looked up to see who he was speaking to. Costco employees commenting on my attire. Yah. I was wearing pajamas. Suck it, bitches. "Check it out," I said - lifting my sleeve to reveal my multi-coloured arm, bruised entirely from the crook across from my elbow to the knuckles and covered in tape-rash I was just happy to be out. Out, out, OUT. My brother has a Toyota MR2 and it's the sexiest little car. I could ride around in it all day long. My brother has been also been suddenly embracing me and saying "I really love you, man." He said even at my worst I was curled in a ball with my head lagging backwards declaring, "I love this car, man."

I've been left alone now for the next few days. Somewhere in this house is a package that arrived while I was in the hospital. It's the rest of the drugs. I started looking for it already in high up places on the 2nd floor, telling myself that I was only trying to see if I could find it. I've since abandoned the search and am trying not to think about it. I don't want to search this house when chances are the package is in his desk drawer at work. Who knows. I'm not drug-free, the doctor gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3s for the pain. We'd been getting the bottles of pills at Costco when I appeared on "What Not To Wear. To Costco. After Detox."

You know, I was discharged and landed back in Emergency exactly three months to the day after my father died, which also happened to be Father's Day. Coincidence? Maybe. Here's something you didn't know: I didn't go to his funeral. Sunday was the first day of the last three months of what I hope will be the conclusion of The Year of Absolute Sucktitude. There's a lot of crap I haven't discussed with anyone, let alone you - but now it feels like I've got shards to pick up to try to re-assemble a life. What has been my life has exploded.

Late Thursday night I passed two Jewish men in black guiding a stretcher through the first floor hallway. The guy at the end of the stretcher was a giant albino, commenting "It's 3-West." I thought I was in an episode of Twin Peaks. Soon after I was sitting on a rock smoking a cigarette and they brought out a body bag on the stretcher, loading it into the back of a silver van before driving off. The next day I peeked out at the third floor as the elevator stopped on it. Damn. It was Pediatrics. I had hoped the smallness of the bag meant it was a withered old granny. Somewhere in the city, a family was grieving for a child as a pump ticked down measures of time into my arm. Everyone has a story; go easy on us all.

I'm not all better, but I'm trying. I'm joining the fight, which is all I can do. Now's a time to be brave, yeah?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Please VOTE and PASS THIS ON!!!!

I've been a fan of Jef for a LONG time! His video, entitled "R.O.K." really is the best one in the contest. You don't have to watch it to vote, but you really should spare a few moments and take a look - especially if you are, like me, still IN the ROK! Then, you should encourage everyone you know to vote via your e-mail and your blog. I haven't asked you for a favour in a looooong time, but for this I'll even break out a "pretty please!"

VOTE HERE!!

Now I'm busting out a "thank you!"

Saturday, June 05, 2010

I Did.

I updated my Facebook status earlier this week. Did you see that? Are you my Facebook friend? No? Why not? You should be! Let's get on that, eh?

So if you are my FB friend, or if you've read my friend John's blog, then you already know the news. John scooped the story, which is fair enough considering I've had almost two weeks to write a bloody post already. But my desire to write has just slipped away pretty much. Many many things have happened since the last time I posted. I promise to elaborate soon, I really will. But here's the short version of the most notable things that have happened in the last couple weeks:

I got married! (Big smiley face!)
I got fired! (Big frowny face!)

I'll just leave those two bits of information for the time being, because I've got to go now and take care of my husband who's in a downtown hospital. He had surgery a couple days ago on his leg. He's doing alright and will be in there a few more days recovering. I just got a message that he's got a fever today. I hope he's not developing some sort of infection.

And even though I've gone through just about every major life-altering stress filled situation in the last few months, I'm doing alright. I suppose there's some truth to the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I certainly hope that's true, anyways.

We got married on May 23rd. Sunday will be our two week anniversary. So far, so very very good. More to come very very soon. I totally promise.

Photobucket

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Kamikaze - my beloved cat,...my baby, died tonight. My boyfriend called me panicked because Kami was choking on something and he wasn't moving. I think by the time he called me, Kami might have already died. I don't know. I'll never know if I could have saved him because I would have known enough to Heimlich him or stick my fingers down his throat.

I won't know now because he's dead. He was dead by the time I rushed home 5 minutes later. Now he's wrapped in a blanket and lying in his carrot Someone is going to find a lovely spot in the mountains and bury him when the sun rises. I can't imagine I'm going to go along, but I might because I don't trust anyone to do a proper job.

I'm only able to type because my friend Herb in Japan picked up the phone and talked me off a ledge. I'd been crying and hyperventilating for a couple hours. I just don't know what the hell is happening to my life. Why is it unravelling? What the fuck?

Chances are I'm going to raise my little white flag and just go the hell home already. After Kami died the first person I called was my brother, forgetting where he was. They're burying my father in a few hours. The ground was too frozen when he died. My brother cried with me and urged me to just get on a plane already. I might be able to do that providing I can get my severance pay. I think it's possible.

Meanwhile, I am terribly sad. I feel broken. Kami was my constant companion and I loved him more than anything else in Korea. Everything in my apartment is a reminder of him. I can't sort words out to explain how low-down rotten I feel.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just a Couple Things From the Inside of My Head.

I think to myself all the time, "tonight I will write something for my poor neglected blog." Then I think up things to write about, and I'm all "Oh! That's a good idea," and "Hey! I'm going to write about this!" (whatever it is that's happening at the time) and then I come home and realize I've forgotten what it was I was going to write about. Then I realize I'm tired and then I wake up and the grey light of dawn is creeping through the spaces in my broken blinds.

My blinds have been broken for about a year now. I don't feel like buying any because I don't feel like spending any money on this shithole apartment. I don't even feel like cleaning it anymore. I'd rather burn it to the ground and start all over. I've been thinking about the amount of money my boss is going to have to cough up in a few weeks. He's going to pay me a double salary as well as well as pay for my one-way plane ticket, and the new person's plane ticket, as well as other little things like a bye-bye dinner for me, and a lot of stuff to make this apartment presentable. When I arrived here the place had these totally fugly orange pleather chairs that were surely snagged from a noraebang gone out of business. Their fugliness has been super-fuglified by the fact that Kamikaze has been jumping up on them, employing his claws to do so and has shredded them quite nicely. All of them. My boss is a cheap little rat-bag, but I doubt he's going to use duct tape on them and pass them off as okay. Likewise with the broken blinds, whose pull stringey chain thing broke and now when I want to get some light in here, I tack them up manually with a couple of big laundry clamps. So ghetto-trailer parkish. The TV is near-dead. Everything on the screen is orange, and when the TV Fixer guy came to repair it months ago, he asked, "How old is it?" I told him I didn't know, at least eight years old. "I think maybe twenty years old" he guesstimated before declaring it un-fixable. It's watchable if you're watching something that's occurring in a well-lit studio or in the daylight. If the scene is at night, forget about it. The screen is black, so you can just listen to the dialogue and imagine what's happening. If there's no dialogue, tough luck. It's like the TV has been turned off.

I'm taking every single thing I've bought for the place when I leave, be it extra spoons and chopsticks or pots and pans. I'm still thinking that I'm going to do one more year in Korea starting in September. I'd like to have my last experience here be a positive one, and that's not really the case with the feelings I'm having as I leave this job. I'd also like to teach adults, and am going to be looking into teaching at a university. I'm not going to take a job that's not AWESOME, though. I'm looking for a LOT of vacation rather than a huge increase in salary, though it would be nice to get a lot of time off as well as buckets full of money every month. Anyhow, back to the glee I feel thinking about how much dough my cheap-ass boss is going to shell out in June when I leave. It pleases me. Makes me almost giddy.

Then again, I imagine it's going to cost me an arm and a leg just getting Kamikaze back to Canada. He's a big boy, and going to take up half the plane's cargo hold.

I noticed two dixie cups with cola remnants stuck in the recycling bag the other day. I knew it wouldn't have been any of the teachers that put them there, and furthermore knew that the only cola in the fridge was mine. So I wondered what the deal was. Two of my co-workers were in the office and said they hadn't drank any of my Coca-cola Light. The only other suspect was my nemesis Alice, who was teaching a class. I'd have to find out what happened the following day. So I came in and said hello and settled in and all that, and then asked her all casual-like, "Oh, hey. Did you drink my diet coke?"

No, she replied. She hadn't. And then she BLAMED IT ON THE STUDENTS!! This isn't the first time she's sacrificed the students, and the other times have been flat out lies as well. There's just NO WAY that a student would grab a cup, open up the fridge in the teacher's room and help himself to the contents. NO WAY. It's an absolute assuredness that Alice offered them the cola, no question. I just don't understand her thinking. She didn't buy the soda. Does she think it just magically appears in there? Where does she get off offering things that aren't hers to other people? (It's not the first time this has happened by any means. Whenever I go on a trip my candy supply, or ice cream I've bought has magically disappeared.) But then for Alice to blame the students when she gets called out,...it's disgraceful. Of course she didn't offer to replace the cola (and why should she, seeing as it was the evil students who drank it?) I should have called the boys in and asked them about it with Alice translating. It would have been fun to see their confusion,...though Alice would probably tell them in Korean "take the blame for this and I'll buy you a pizza."

So, there. I have written. I'll even do it again soon. I do have a bunch of pictures on my camera that I haven't uploaded that go along with posts that I haven't written. Honestly, I'll do my best to get 'er done in a very timely manner. If you've read this far and haven't fallen asleep I thank you. If you're still hanging in with me on this here blog, I really thank you. So, thanks!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sign Off

My father left his estate, like his life in general and his relationships with everyone, in quite a bit of a mess. He doesn't have a signed Will, so the government has to become involved. We should see everything wrapping up in about 2018 or so.

My uncle had been vying to be the Executor of said Estate, a move I wasn't entirely comfortable with because for reasons unknown but just very recently learned, he is no fan of mine. (This obviously also means he is insane and lacks sound judgement and good taste, reasons numbers two, three, and four why he shouldn't be the Executor.) Because he lives out of province, the lawyers have decided he's not the best choice for the job, so I got the following email from my brother:

From: Jeff Vxxxxxx (jvxxxx@knxxxxxxx.ca)
Sent: April 8, 2010 8:47:51 PM
To: Jelly Vxxxxxx (jelly@hotmail.com); Barbara Vxxxxxx (bvxxxxxx@coxxxxxx.com)
1 attachment
image003.jpg (3.2 KB)


Hey Bunn and Poopie-pants*,

It turns out that I may end up executor of the estate. The lawyer is asking if either of you would have any objections to this? If not, would you mind signing a document to that effect?

Let me know.

Tata.

Jeff


Well this news pleased me, but still - I thought it maybe wasn't a good idea to just go signing off on things willy nilly, so I sent back a carefully thought out and well crafted response. Just to make sure, you know, we were on the same page and all that.

RE: Would you mind?‏
From: Jelly Vxxxxxx (jelly@hotmail.com)
Sent: April 8, 2010 9:39:25 PM
To: Jeff Vxxxxxx (jvxxxx@knxxxxxxx.ca); Barbara Vxxxxxx (bvxxxxxx@coxxxxxx.com)
1 attachment
image003.jpg (3.2 KB)


Jeff?
You? The Executor? Of the Estate? YOU?!?? (Bunny,...is this e-mail from Jeff? Is he serious? He's going to Execute the Estate? For realz?)

Well, Jeff - before I agree to you being the Executor of Anything,...I have a few questions. I hope you won't mind answering them.

(A.) If you are the Executor, am I going to have to call you that? Like, when you call my house am I going to have to greet you as "Hello, Mister Executor!" before you will speak to me?

(B.) Are you planning on cutting me out - - no, no - - cutting everyone out and running away to Cuba with your bags of money?

(C.) If you say I don't have to call you "Mister Executor" are you going to turn around afterwards and make me call you something similar? Like "Zhine Exhecutoor" or "The Big Ex?"

(D.) Do you solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, the Executorship of My Dad's Estate, and will to the best of your ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States the Estate of My Dad and heretofor all said Things Having to Do With Said Estate forever and ever, Amen?

(E.) Can I have Dad's Big-Ass TV?

(F.) If there is some sort of course you should take in order to be the Best Executor You Can Be, will you attend said classes faithfully and do said homework diligently? (I don't know if there is such a class, but I'm going to ask Google after I e-mail this.)

(G.) Do I have to pay you to be The Executor?

(H.) Seriously,...that Big-Ass TV,...it's not like he's going to be watching it. Bro, can you hook me up?

(I.) Are you planning on exploiting the Estate of Our Father (who art in Heaven?) in any manner - such as appearing on some trash-reality show like "Pimp My Estate," or "The Biggest Loser (in Estate Executionism)?" or writing a tell-all memoir?

Okay,...for now that's all the questions I can think of, but if you answer these questions in the right way, (that would be "No, no, no, yes, yes, yes, no, for SURE YES, no") then OKAY! YOU CAN BE THE EXECUTOR and I shall sign a document to that effect! Congratulations!

Love, Your Just Making Sure Sis


So, I still haven't signed the document. Did I leave anything out, or have I covered all the bases well? Comments are a-oh-diddly-kay.

*This is not a common nickname of mine, so if you see me walking down the street and shout out "Hey, Poopie-Pants!" don't be surprised if I fail to turn around. I think my brother just addresses the e-mails he writes to me with whatever happens to pop into his head. I surveyed five random e-mails from him and they were addressed to "doiyoi, Dinger Donger, J-Poo, Homie, and Hey Favourite Sister of Mine."** "Bunn" and "Bunny" refer to my mother who would most definitely turn around if you shouted that name at her on the street. In fact, I think that's what her street gang nicknamed her when they jumped her in.

**That last one is most assuredly true, but I am also his Only Sister of His. I assume in that e-mail he wanted something. Maybe he needed me to sign off on his being "Master of the Universe" or "Space Cowboy of the Galaxy."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

In The Weeds

Life seems cartoonish.

I spent last week trying not to stew and stress, but I wasn't very successful. I didn't feel that bad overall, but nevertheless threw up Thursday night for no reason and then proceeded to throw up about fifty more times. Not, like, in rapid succession - but over the course of the next day and a half. Unlike the last time, I didn't wait around for half a day to see if I was going to get better on my own. I had gone to sleep after the first puke and woke up having to run to the washroom for the second. I barely made it. I recognized the wretched feeling - overwhelming nausea and muscle ache - which was the same as the last time, and I headed on into the ER. So, in less than two months I've been admitted twice. I was even in the same room on the sixth floor, albeit with different roommates this time around. They were still all in-my-face but I didn't care. For the first twelve hours or so I couldn't really speak. I slept, sort of, in between having to lean over the side of the bed to hurl. One of the worst things was how awfully thirsty I was. I knew I couldn't keep anything down, but that didn't stop me from greedily gulping a mug of wonderfully cold water that I should have been just rinsing my mouth out with in the ER. It was still cool when it came back up a few minutes later. On Friday evening, when I finally felt like I had enough ooomph to wobble down to the store a few hundred metres outside the hospital, I bought a small can of coke and a 500ml bottle of Pocari Sweat, which isn't sweat, but this ionized lightly carbonated beverage. Even though I knew what the outcome would be, I downed them both and just waited a few minutes before projectile vomiting them all over the pavement. It was worth it.

They unhooked me from the IV on Saturday morning, and I asked to go home that afternoon. They sent me down to the lab for a blood test and jabbed me in the arm with a hepatitis vaccination before agreeing to let me go. I had to ask to divide my bill in half as I didn't have enough money to pay it in full.

Between the couple trips to Japan and having to pay for Shingles/PHN medicine, my savings had been dwindling. Ponying up for the cost to go back to Canada and the money I spent while I was there has pretty much wiped me out. It's pathetic, and I'm not used to living paycheque to paycheque. I cut open the plastic gold pig I've been shoving coins in for about a year on Sunday evening and counted out ₩140,000 to give to the hospital Monday. I expect that my next paycheque (Friday) is going to be cut in half as well. My boss doesn't have to pay me for the time I was in Canada, but it would be a generous gesture. Then again, we're talking about the man who threatened to fire me if I didn't return from Canada after a week, so I'm not expecting any kindness from him. My first day back he gave me two envelopes: "condolence money" from him and the teachers. His was ₩100,000 and the teachers all put in a whopping 10,000 won each to total ₩60,000.

My boss tried to make good his threat about firing me, this time because of my having missed work on Friday. We had met last week to talk about my upcoming contract. He wanted me to sign on again for another year, and I stalled - telling him I needed to speak to my family before I made any decisions. Really, I have no intention of working there another year, but I was wrestling with the idea of being honest about that - and having to deal with whatever underhanded crap he might pull between finding out I was finishing and my actually finishing - or telling him that I intended to work for another year and then letting him know thirty days before my contract was finished that I had changed my mind. Revenge. Hopefully that would leave him scrambling to find a replacement. None of that matters now, as he attempted to axe me Monday evening. He likes me and the kids love me, he assured me - but my absences are causing problems and the parents have been complaining. Other than the two weeks I spent in Canada, I've missed two days this year, both times having been IN the hospital hooked up to a pole. He makes it sound like I've been taking time off to have a good 'ol party. "So," he told me through my translating thorn in my side bitch manager, "you will finish at the end of April."

"No, I won't." I argued. "My contract finishes in June. I'll finish then."
"He will pay you double salary at the end of April." the manager said.
"As well as severance pay?" I asked.
"Uhhh, no," she stammered. "It's a type of severance pay. Double sala-"
"No. I will finish in June."

I'm tempted to just get the hell out of here. I'm so tired of working at my school. I haven't written about it yet, but while I was in Canada the new teacher that just started a few weeks ago quit and they ended up hiring one of my former adult students. I was really pleased to hear that, as the new teacher was bonkers and I love my former student Anne. My adult class was halted a couple months ago when the students had dwindled down to just one. Anne had quit my class after Christmas because her mother-in-law was in the hospital with the same sort of brain tumor as Kevin's mom had. Anne's mom-in-law ended up passing away at the beginning of March. While I'm happy to see her everyday, Anne has told me she regrets having taken the job because "the atmosphere is not good." She ain't kidding about that. I cannot remember the last person that I loathed so thoroughly and completely before my manager, but I just absolutely hate her. Along with being the worst manager/co-worker I've ever had the misfortune to work with, she's a moody seemingly bi-polar miserable bitch with the worst listening skills that I have ever come across in a person. Today's exchange, two hours after I arrived to work and she still hadn't spoken to me was, "By the way, hello." from me, and "I'm okay, thanks." from her. I'm already stressed to a near breaking point - or at least to the point where I can't stop puking, and seeing her face every work day just makes me want to,...

I've been really hoping that no one gives me reason to snap and unleash the rage I feel hulking beneath my deceivingly calm exterior. I feel like I could just beat someone to a pulp.

Exhausted, broke, and stressed out I'm having to take it hour by hour and just hold it together well enough to get through a day. I just have to shake my head. Almost six years here at the same school and for what? Passed from boss to boss only to end up with this heartless little rat-bag of a director I feel like a grubby whore. Sorry to sound so ugly, but that's how I feel these days. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. My boss might try to re-fire me. I'm sure it doesn't go over very well with him (or his bitchy wife) that he tells me things are going to be one way and I insist that no, they're not. We shall see.

On a stupid note, though - one side effect of the sicknesses and the stresses has been that I've lost quite a bit of weight. The jeans I wore today didn't just slip down a little - they fell down to my ankles. Twice. Luckily the shirt I was wearing went down past my hips, providing me with enough underwear coverage. But, still. The vegetable-selling grannies out in front of my school had a good hearty laugh at pantsless me this afternoon. The second falling took place in an empty classroom, and I finally thought to use some string to tie my belt loops together, cinching the waist enough to stay up and let me use my hands for more than just holding my jeans up.

Now they're free to smack someone in the head.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Here

I'm back in Korea and going to head into work in a few hours. Sorry for the silence. It feels like the last couple weeks was just an awful dream. My father died on March 19th, just over a week ago. These days if I can eat something and sleep a little while then it is a triumph. Thank you for the kind comments on the previous post. I feel so strange these days, so for now - that's about it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thought I'd Something More to Say

That last post was from the airport in Incheon. I'd just gotten the news about having to be on a plane on Sunday or being fired. I was very upset and very tired. Not too much has changed in that regard. I wish it didn't bother me at all, what my boss has threatened - and the fact that now I know what type of person he is - but it does. I'm thinking about it all the time. What I really wanted to hear from him and my co-worker is "Go. Don't worry about us. Everything here will be okay" - and it will be! I went on an almost four week vacation to Canada in the summer of 2008. If I could get away with that, I'm sure students and parents would understand my going home to be with my family at a time like this. I don't want to be fired. After SIX YEARS at the same place - this is the thanks,...don't they say losing ones job can be as stressful as losing a loved one? Something like that. I don't want the double whamification, but I seriously don't think I'm going to be able to make that flight next Sunday.

I saw my father today. It took me a good hour or two to work up the courage to go inside his hospital room. When I finally did, I found him looking small under his blanket. He's so yellow, the effects of jaundice, and swollen - perhaps from the medication he's on. His breathing is slow and deep and I waited in between breaths, hoping there would be another one coming. I actually asked if he was on a ventilator because it's that kind of measured breathing. He has stomach and liver cancer, which are both secondary cancers. They still haven't figured out the primary source of the disease. At this point, the medical staff are just trying to make him comfortable. He's in a lot of pain. We all are.

I walked in the room and to the side of his bed. He looked right at me without changing the serious expression on his face. "Dad! Hi!" I said, and there it was - a big smile. He turned his head away and even laughed before turning it straight ahead facing the ceiling once more. "Just a minute" he whispered in a hoarse voice, and so I waited. Nothing happened. He didn't wake enough again to join in conversation, and he didn't acknowledge me once more. He opened his eyes from time to time, but didn't seem to be paying any attention to what was going on around him. On the wall at the end of the bed is a corkboard with a big white-faced clock in the middle of it. The second-hand moves around in a circle ticking off time as it creeps by. I wished he had something better to look at. My brother suggested a poster that kitten gripping onto a tree branch with the caption "Hang in there, Baby." "Yah, like that." I agreed. The clock blurred through the tears that filled my eyes. That bloody clock, ticking off time - which just reminds me of how little more of it we have with my dad. Just last week the doctors were predicting it could be "days, weeks, perhaps months," but they've updated that list and and have struck the last two options off. Days. I really don't think he's going to make it through the week. I can't believe a week ago I was in Korea, completely oblivious, and this week my world has uprooted itself and turned over on it's head.

I'm walking around feeling like I'm a hundred years old. I'm slow and twisted up, partially from the 26 hours of traveling yesterday and moreso due to stress. I had to stop in the ER with my brother today who was close to having a panic attack. He threw up loudly and violently in one of the examining room sinks before the doctor came and prescribed him some atavan. Tomorrow morning I should meet my grandparents at the hospital who have said they want to see their son one more time. My uncle cried when he hugged me hello, and then asked me "how do you say "this is a big pile of shit" in Korean.

That sums it up nicely.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ultimatume'd

I have a bad habit of saying too much. I'm honest, and that doesn't tend to get one ahead in Korea. I'm just calling it like I see it, and I have seen my fair share of liars and cheaters over here. What sealed the deal in me hating my manager was that she lied about my students, straight up - putting me in the position of either believing one of her or seven students who had no reason to lie. I instantly knew who was telling the truth.

When my brother called and said it was time to get on a plane I didn't even think to call my boss - the guy who doesn't speak English - to let him know I would be leaving. It didn't occur to me to ask permission, which I think is what he wanted. I'd already told him last week that there was a good possibility I'd need to go to Canada, but I was hoping that wouldn't be the case. He really pressured me to tell him when and for how long I'd be going - but I didn't know, and I wasn't going to pull an answer out of the air just to make him happy.

So after the tickets were booked, my friend called him to tell him what was up. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a return ticket for a week from today. I'm not sure I'll be coming back then. I have to see what's happening in Ottawa. I should have just shut up and left it at the return ticket's in a week idea, but nooooo,... I was honest.

Long story short, I've been delivered the news that if I don't get on the plane come next Sunday I will be fired. Swell guy, my boss. He musn't REALLY want me to re-sign for another year, even though he says he does. Does he think I'm going to forget his lack of compassion?

I've got a plane to catch, but let me say I can't believe he's making me choose. Hmmmm - work or family? Seems like a total no-brainer to me. I only wish I'd told him to go ahead - start looking for another teacher, then - and jam my job up your ass.

I am so tired.

Low Down, Going Home

I got a call from my brother Saturday afternoon. He'd been to visit my father and stayed for a couple days. He went back home to Toronto because my dad seemed to be getting better, but the following day my father took another turn for the worse.

He had a heart attack while he was in the ICU. He's also jaundiced and his liver is failing. The cancer is metastatic, but they don't know the primary source, yet. The results of the biopsy and a couple other tests haven't arrived yet, but my family has been told that when they do come back the news will not be good. They will show the caner is spreading into the lymph nodes. My father has been ill for quite awhile, but was misdiagnosed as having cardiac trouble - and was given medication to slow an erratic heartbeat, and blood thinners for god knows what. They missed the cancer. He will be accepted by the cancer treatment centre, but in his weakened state and with the pervasiveness of the cancer, treatment options are likely to be limited.

I was told if I want to see him, I really need to get on a plane as soon as possible. So, that's what I'm doing. I'm flying in about an hour and a half, and by the time I reach Ottawa I'll have been traveling about 26 hours. I have a return ticket for a week from today, but we'll see how that goes. There's a very good chance I'm going to push the return back by an additional week.

Meanwhile, things are probably going to be pretty quiet around here, but I'll update if I'm able. Thank you very very very much for the well wishes. This whole experience is an huge unexpected pile of horseshit, and life doesn't seem real anymore.

Take care.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting

In some respects I've been very lucky in the just over eight years that I've been overseas. (I added that "in some respects" because I don't think that I've personally been particularily lucky. If you've been around here awhile, you'll know what I mean.) Back at home my family has stayed relatively safe and sound. Sure, my mom got a robot arm last winter, but she's all better now. I'm sure that I share a common fear with a lot of expats here, though - and that's getting "the call."

It could come at any time of the day, but generally one would probably imagine it coming in the middle of the night. I've gotten over that fear, as most of my calls do come in the middle of the night. My family and friends know I'm a night owl, so they're not at all afraid to give me a shout at three in the morning. It's only one in the afternoon where they are, afterall - so that's reasonable. But the call that so many of us fear is the one with Bad News. It's a call that's going to change your life. Well - my luck, as it were, ran out yesterday - and I didn't even get "the call." I got an e-mail, simple enough - from my brother: "Hey Jenn, can you call my cell."

Turns out my brother had been trying to call me but I'd stupidly turned off the ringer instead of lowering it from the ear shattering volume my boyfriend had set it at. So I called my brother yesterday morning and we started off chitty chatty the way we always do. And then he said, "Listen. I got an e-mail and I've been on and off the phone all day with Uncle Mike. Our father's father is in the ICU in the hospital."

This was bad news, but it wasn't entirely surprising. My grandfather had had a stroke just about four weeks ago. (What happened afterwards was my brother gave them a call and my grandmother was lucid and my grandfather cheery as if nothing had happened. So I got word that things were okay. Apparently, though - they're weren't.) My brother went on to tell me some details but he kept saying "father." Why had he described our gradfather as "our father's father" anyway? That was weird. "Wait," I said. "Whose father? MY father?"
"Well, we have the same father."
"OUR father?!"
"Yes"
"Is in the hospital?"
"Yes."
"Dad. OUR dad?"
"Yes. What's wrong with you?"
"Sorry! I just couldn't understand who you were talking about. I thought you said father's father. I thought you were talking about grandpa."

No.
He wasn't.

I didn't know it, but my father has been sick for the last three or four months. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, and they were concentrating on testing his heart and lungs, which weren't revealing anything. But finally they found out what was wrong this week sometime. A tumor. On (in?) his liver.

I don't know much more than that. They'll do a biopsy on,... well I suppose they've done a biopsy by now. It happened Wedenday morning in Ottawa. My uncle was flying in from Vancouver as my brother and I spoke, and my brother was going to travel to Ottawa Wednesday morning as well. I'm waiting to hear what's going on, but I imagine I'm going to be getting on a plane fairly soon.

I've known for a long time that I don't have a proper support system in Korea. I went in to work yesterday with red ringed eyes above dark black circles and told them what was happening. They must have asked me ten times when I'm going and how long I'll be gone. I don't know, though. My boss seems to also be leaning toward me not coming back. My manager told him I wasn't renewing my contract, even though I haven't told them on way or the other yet. As a matter of fact, after I told her my father is gravely ill, she went to the boss and told him I'd be leaving as soon as possible. She came back to me to tell me they'd start looking for a new foreigm teacher right away, and I didn't understand what the hell SHE was talking about. I don't understand why, but she seems to be screwing with me. I walked out of the office thinking that I'm working for and with a bunch of heartless pricks.

Eveything is up in the air, and I'm still carrying around a solid headache that developed with ferocious intensity when I was talking to my brother. He said the same thing had happened to him while he was speaking with my uncle.

And in the meanwhile I'm waiting to see what happens.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Glass is Half Full

Ha! In my last post I vowed that I would try to do a post a night this week. Seeing as it's technically Thursday, I think I've pretty much sucked so far, hey? Well, I haven't been to bed yet so I'm counting this as Wednesday night's entry. So I'm going to try to keep half my promise, and will write something Thursday and Friday (technically Friday and Saturday surely. Whatevs.) I didn't post on Monday because I was still in Seoul. I was supposed to come back Monday afternoon but the weather was windy and rainy and pretty miserable, but more importantly I was really enjoying myself at John's place. He graciously allowed me to stay another night and we watched a fantastic movie that I hope to write about soon. I also snooped around his nice DVD collection and borrowed 5 seasons worth of "The Office!" Score! I've seen every episode of the British version numerous times, but have never even one full show of the American one, so I am verrrrryyy happy. I'm already halfway into the 2d season after watching for the past couple nights. Love it! Thank you very much, John. I intend to write a little more about my trip to Seoul as well, but for now my bed's a callin'.

In the meantime, here's another look at the rarely seen mole cricket. Another one showed up at my school awhile back. I first posted about these strange looking things at the end of last July. Time has passed, and they look as weird as ever don't'cha think?

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Oh, and I wonder what the hell is up with my subconscious D.J. I've been waking up with the grossest tunes running through my head. I don't know why my dreams are tuned into Q104.3 E-Z Rock for the Granny set, but I woke up Sunday with the Beach Boys' "Kokomo" running through my head, and yesterday morning it was Michael Bolton's "Said I Loved You, But I Lied." Why am I being punished? If I promise to blog more, you think it'll stop?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blog Bling

This post is late and I'm terribly backlogged. I'll really try to do a post a night next week. How's that for optimism?

I got an e-mail a few weeks ago from someone entitled "A Quick Idea to Run Past You." I read it, and the idea was that this person wanted to send me a piece of jewelry from their store, and in return I could blog my thoughts on it. Well that's an idea I like, as I am a fan of both the shiny things and the free things! So I had a look through LuShae, the online jewelry store where I could pick out any single thing I wanted. It took me a few nights to choose, but I finally decided upon what is arguably their most unique item. Check it out on my finger!

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Please ignore the wrinkles in need of some hand cream, and focus on the shiny!

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This ring is called the "CZ sculpture" and it's a big'un. Look at the height from the side!

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I did promise that I would blog my thoughts, and the woman who sent me the initial invitation and this lovely ring said that I could "post [my] honest thoughts (good, bad or ugly) on [my] blog." As well, you're all welcome to comment and tell me how ugly this ring is and how tacky my taste is. I don't care, because the shininess of my fancy new ring will blind me from your cruelty! I really enjoy this ring. It's very unique. I look at it and it gives me pleasure. It makes me happy. I think there is a good possibility that I was a magpie in a previous life, though - so I realize this piece might be a bit over the top for many people.

I'm a fan of silver, and don't own single piece of gold jewelry. I'll admit that I'm also a snob about "real" silver, and this new ring is my only piece of costume jewelry. This ring is fakeity-fake-fake, but I don't care. Here's from the website:
"White Gold Rhodium Bond is achieved using an electroplating process that coats the item with heavy layers of rhodium, a close cousin of platinum that costs three times as much, which gives our jewelry a platinum luster." So lah-dee-dah! I like the fact that I don't have to polish this ring like I do all my others. And it's so shiny. Did I mention that already?

There are a lot of different pieces to choose from, if you're interested in visiting LuShae Jewelry online. I very nearly ordered some pretty, pink, and far more conservative earrings. LuShae has lots of pretty earrings. Free shipping, too - which is always nice.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Man! What a sellout that Jelly is!" but I'm okay with that. Furthermore, if anyone else is interested in sending me things that are shiny and free, please do! If you feel like sending me a present, just let me know and I'll shoot you the address! Shiny free presents are goooooood, m'kay?

As for the bad, I'll just say that there are quite a number of two-toned (gold and silver combinations) items in the online shop, and I've never been a fan. Also in the bad department, I was seriously ready to buy another ring from them, one more conservative yet still shiny and green - but just before I placed the order I decided to google the ring's name and came up with quite a number of other sites that were offering the same ring at a considerable discount. I shall say no more, though. I am a fan of LuShae and still may very well place that order.

Finally, the ugly - which could fall into the good category as well. My ring came packed up nicely and securely in a cute little box within a well sealed envelope. I attacked the package with enthusiasm, excitement and a pair of not very sharp scissors. Even still,....

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a blade's a blade, and this cut was surprisingly deep. Notice the nice placement on the bendy part of my thumb which opened and re-opened and re-re-opened my wound. Nice work. Ummm, and so yah - that's the reason for the lack of posts: I had to wait for healing. It wasn't at all that I was too distracted by the pretty shiny ring on my finger every time I sat down to type. Not at all.

Now I'm off to Seoul to visit my good buddy John. I'll write again on Tuesday. Kisses.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hospital Stay

That last entry, while true - was written when I was very tired and really feeling blue. I hate the fact that probably half the posts I write these days seem to warrant "I hope you're feeling better" comments. Life isn't all a drag here, but I tend to just not write much at all. When you're caught up in a bit of a self loathing pity party, you might tend to think everything you produce sucks. Ah well. Suffer along! I think you might know the words!

Let me tell you about my weekend. Some expats really enjoy a good weekend temple stay. I'm sure there is a lot that can be gained from the bowing and meditation one does and I'll bet you can learn quite a bit about Buddhism. But I've never been a good early riser by any means, so I opted for the less popular and more necessary (in my case) hospital stay.

By the time the doctor asked me Sunday morning if it would be alright if he admitted me I was just about out of my mind with pain. I'd been barfing for more than 24 hours by then and was again dehydrated with a blinding headache and seizing muscles. He wanted my boyfriend's number (who had already taken off to go to work) to be clear about the cost, which was going to run 600,000 won (about 520$ US) per day!! Whaaaaaat?!?! But I quickly found out that this was for a private room, and alas, I don't require such luxury. Until very recently I didn't have any sort of health insurance, but I snapped after breaking a tooth on a stale baguette and complained to the manager who spoke to the boss who finally actually DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT and enrolled me in some private insurance scheme. So now hospital bills and doctors visits and medications are covered to about 90%. Hallelujah. I still have to pay and get reimbursed and it's still unclear if medications for shingles will be covered from when the policy became active. (My boss was initially very confident but I was dubious that any insurance firm would cover a pre-existing condition. Since having gone to the hospital last week to pick up the correct form my boss has become less sure - and has re-contacted the hospital to give him new forms with dates of visits listed only after the policy started. As it is, it's costing me about a hundred dollars a week, which is a drag. I've spent my entire year end "bonus" - a month's salary - on shingles. Bummer.)

Anyhow. I didn't need a single room. I could share. Administrator Man asked me if it would be okay to room with some "halmonies" (grandmothers) and I said sure. If he had asked if I would mind staying in a fish tank filled with barracudas, but they doctors would make me feel better I would have agreed. So I signed a few things and they walked me upstairs to the sixth floor and into a room with four grandmothers and a blaring television.

The first many hours are a blur. I noticed two of the grannies had IVs but they only had one smaller bag of yellow stuff, where I had two hefty bags of clear liquid. ("I win!!") But, I couldn't do much of anything but feel horrible and miserable. Conversations were out of the question and even though two of the grandmothers seemed to have plenty to say to me and about me, I just ignored them. What really got them riled up was how I ignored the lunch tray they'd delivered to the table at the end of my bed. They told me to eat about 47 times and I kept moaning no, my stomach hurt. Later, when a snack came and I ignored that, too, well - apparently that was some sort of crime. There was quite a commotion as the grandmothers complained to one another and then to an orderly that came by, and finally to people passing in the hall. At last a nurse came in and hung a sign from my IV pole that read "No Food" on one side and "Requires Deep Rest" on the other side. I wanted to hug that nurse, but the sign didn't really dissuade my new granny-fans.

One of them, curiously the youngest one who was sixty years old, was the clear Boss of the Room. She was the controller of the TV remote control and no one seemed to question her choice of shows. Most were dramas with a lot of people who cried and screamed and hit themselves and threw themselves upon the floor as they cried and screamed. I didn't even really care. I imagined they were feeling my pain, so I understood their antics. Finally, the nurse who had hung the sign came back with a syringe of something wonderful and shot it into my IV tube. (Then I wanted to make out with her!) Within a just a few short minutes my stomach eased up just enough that I fell asleep. For about forty five minutes. I woke up to find the Room Boss yanking my foot back onto the bed and tucking it under a blanket. She wasn't very delicate, and scolded me for not staying awake enough to make sure my feet didn't get cold. I thought that was funny, since the room temperature was conservatively just a few degrees less that the surface of the sun. It's a wonder I didn't lose some toes to frostbite! Thanks G-Ma! I sort of dozed on and off for a couple more hours until my boyfriend swung by with some things from home, like my pillow - which unlike the ones provided by the hospital, isn't made of lead and filled with rubber tires. The grannies had to pass my bed to go to the bathroom and there was no door on that, just a shower curtain which slid in front of the toilet. Earlier, I had noticed a very old feeble-looking woman in the next room hoisting herself onto a combination chair/toilet thing right beside her bed in a room with four other patients. She just had to get her business done right there in the openm, so I was thankful for the still-mobile grannies in my room and the flimsy shower curtain that provided at least a tiny bit of discretion. Speaking of bathrooms, neither the unisex one in the ER or the one in my room had any soap. There ere signs illustrating how to wash ones hands, but nothing to wash them with. Seriously?

I thought the idea of a hospital was to make a patient comfortable while they attempted to recover, and even take some burden off the patient's family as healthcare professionals tend to their care, but Korean hospitals seem to go out of their way to do the opposite. The bed would have been only slightly more uncomfortable if they had an angry crocodile living inside it. It was hard and lumpy with zero cushion or support. It probably doesn't matter to the average Korean, I know, who has spent a lifetime of sleeping on the floor, but man! It sure mattered to me! I just couldn't find any position comfortable enough to let me slumber for more than a few uninterrupted minutes at a time. Also, the nurses would come around and take your blood pressure and temperature pretty often. They change the IV bags. But that's about it. All of the rest of life is left up to the patient or the patient's family. When I finally came around enough to look at a mirror I had to laugh at the crazy hair I had going on, and by the 2nd day my skin was just crawling for a shower. I also know they've got an a vault of nice narcotics in that place, but why they gotta make a sister beg for it? My moans of pain and whimpers of "bey appayo, jinja yo." were attended to, but only in pitiful increments of aid. At first they brought me a hot water bottle, because that's worth five hundred dollars a day innit? Then they double checked to see that my IV drips were drippy enough. I saw that they employed a flicky-finger for this, so that's good. I finally sort of very loudly asked my boyfriend to just take me home already because nothing they were doing was making me feel better - and he went over to talk to the nurses. This was about eight hours after the first syringe of goodness had been produced, so I knew for sure they had something that worked better than a pat on my crazy hair. I sent the boyfriend back home because I'd forgotten to ask for a couple things and while he was gone they finally came over and stuck another needle in my IV and I woke up about forty minutes later with the imaginary gut-fist tightening its grip yet again.

It wasn't until I finally chewed up about 30mgs of oxycontin, the dandy painkiller I have for shingles - and what I sent my boyfriend home to get - that I was finally able to get ahead of the pain. I slept solid for a whole two and a half hours despite the blaring TV and the sweat dripping down my back. My friend came and visited me around 12am. Families are encouraged to care for their sick relatives around the clock, so there is no such thing as visiting hours. My friend scolded me for medicating myself, but I didn't care. I'd finally beaten the pain down enough that it seemed to be slowly going in reverse. I was just relieved to finally be able to have a conversation after a day of a half of non-verbaliciousity. After she left I was even able to focus enough to finish the last few chapters of a book. Three nurses watched the over-sized TV in the common area of the floor and I enjoyed the relative peace of a hospital at night. There was one exception, what I thought was a man but was told was a grandmother in pain - she screamed ALL NIGHT LONG. I wondered why on earth they couldn't make her comfortable. Surely that verbalized anguish couldn't be conducive to healing. It certainly wasn't making me feel any better. I wondered what was wrong with her and how come no one went to check on her as she screamed in some private room at the end of my hallway.

I finally slid into the room which had cooled slightly, making me so thankful, shortly after 3am and I got to sleep for a couple hours before nurses slammed in and snapped on the lights to slap on a blood pressure cuff and stick a thermometer under my armpit. It was just after 5:30 in the morning.

I was finally starting to feel more like myself, and I could drink small amounts of liquids. I sat quite contentedly in the common room with three different bottles of beverages in front of me. I even scored the remote control and turned to some show on Vincent Van Gough. My boss, his wife, and the manager I've grown to hate (a steady growing source of stress) stopped by before noon. We sat and talked quietly and I appreciated the sympathy my boss had. I told him I'd be back to work on Tuesday and he argued the doctor wanted me to stay until Wednesday. I told him not to worry about it. My boyfriend stopped by later with a change of pajamas (since I was already wearing some, they thankfully hadn't insisted I don their P-Jays, flannel white and pink for the ladies, and blue and white for the lads.) I spent the day in the common room pretty much, avoiding the TV and bossy grandmas in my room - both seemed far too overbearing now that I was lucid. Still, every time I stopped in the Room Boss had something to say to me. You shouldn't drink that. You should lie down. Aren't you going to eat? They should take that sign off you, you can eat already. She even shrieked at my manager who failed to take off her whoes when she walked in the room. I liked her for that.

In the common room I got too much attention as well. The nurses would stop by and pick up my book or a paper from in front of me. An elderly couple sat at the next table and wondered what was wrong with me, where I was from, was I American, had I eaten, did I like kimchi, but they didn't ask me directly - just spoke about me like I wasn't there. A woman being fed by the only intern I'd seen in the hospital turned and glared at me between bites. An old ugly man scowled at me all day long when he wasn't scowling at the television.

It was that old man who helped me leave early. As staff stated to set out trays of food for dinner a nurse had set a container of kimchi across the table from me. The old man barked at her and she moved the container to the table behind me, smiling apologetically. I didn't care. Suddenly, though - an arm appeared before me and the ugly old man swept the contents in front of me, a book, my phone, a pen and some paper - violently to the floor. Then he started to yell at me and puff up like an angry fish. "Eassssssssy cowboy!" I said, as nurses rushed in to pull him away. Apparently I was sitting in "his" chair where he liked to dine. There were lots of patients there, as well as many of the nurses, and I was pretty embarrassed. I gathered up my stuff and brought them to my room and then went back out to the desk where I saw my doctor and convinced him to let me go. I was feeling well enough and assured him I would rest better at home. My presence was causing too much commotion for the patients there, and their curiosity was getting on my nerves. I went back to my room to fetch my wallet and heard the doctor yelling at the old guy. "This is not your hospital and that is not your chair. People are here to get better just like you are and you should treat everyone here with kindness." The old man grunted.

I wasn't even angry at the old guy anyhow. I get his need to stake some ground. When just about everything seems out of your control I understand the desire to cling to these little things that make a day seem somewhat routine - that make a person feel somewhat normal. So he liked to eat in the same chair everyday, fair enough. I don't think even if he could have he would have asked politely, but that's his problem. Even if he'd asked me rudely, I would have moved. He was really scary looking.

220,000 won later and after a nurse pulled the IV out of the top of my hand I was free to leave. I saw the skies overhead, just like my head, were starting to clear though a thick fog still blanketed the close-by neighbouring town and surrounding mountains. The air was damp and cool but smelled like spring and not like sterility and sweat. It was just what I needed.

So my advice for you is to stay healthy. If you're going to get sick, try to not to have to stay in the hospital here. But if you do have to, then bring your own soap or something. But really, just stay healthy m'kay?

**A little note - because of the comments I've gotten (thank you for them and the wishes for better health) I really think that I cast the whole hospital experience in an unfairly negative tone, which wasn't really my intention. The experience was negative - but only really because I was in a lot of pain. The staff was very courteous and helpful and the other patients, except for Billy Goat Gruff, were very kind to me. When I was finally well enough to interact with them we smiled at each other a lot and I understood it was strange to have a stranger among them and as usual regarded their interest in me with a laugh. It's been my experience that one does have to generally "beg" for mercy with doctors - especially the "countryside" ones**, who expect you to just endure a certain amount of pain. (I prefer the "medicate me until I'm realllly fiiiine" approach, heh.) Commenter Todd is right, I sometimes mis-use "yo" and use it for emphasis like it might be used in Japanese (honto yo, ne?) but I guess it's better than using "YA!" Honest, the staff wasn't put off by me, they were lovely and even the Room Boss was a sweetie. The woman who scowled at me - I think her face was stuck like that unfortunately. By far and away, the pain was what coloured my perception - and if you have to go to the hospital don't be scared; it's the best place to be if you're really ill as I assurred my worried mom Sunday night.

**As a matter of fact, after I was admitted, the doctor in charge of my are was the same one I had problems with when he treated me for shingles. He told me "I think you express your pain much." which I understood to mean either I'm expressive or more likely I over-exaggerate. I marvelled at his ability to be able to mentally climb inside his patients brains and be able to determine how much pain they're feeling. He has no idea. I hope in the future us humans will develop the power to temporarily mind-meld with others and just for a moment allow another person to feel exactly the same as us. Wouldn't that be trippy? Then you'd truly be able to empathize. I really don't think I'm a wuss, so if I'm complaining about pain it's for realz. (Have you ever had a sort of pain where that's simply all there is? I mean - like there is nothing else going on in the world that matters except for that pain. All you can do is focus on breathing and pain. I think I can understand childbirth now.) I need to call my mom and say thanks.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Here's a Little Post I Wrote

Stress is a trendy little buzzword isn't it? Who isn't stressed out these days? Not enough time. Not enough money. Work. Need sleep. Everything moving so quickly, it feels sometimes like I can't breathe. I can't think. I can't figure out how to fix this crap that makes me unhappy. I don't know what to do, and it feels like no one is listening to me, and you know what? They're not.

This is my fault. I've surrounded myself with people who are unable to understand me because they lack the ability. I'm fueling the fire as well, because I've just stopped talking, pretty much - and thrown my hands up in the air in surrender because I can't sort out my feelings and simplify them enough to even get them half understood. It's difficult to get your needs taken care of when you're not sure what it is that you need, and you lack the energy to even try. I sometimes want to punch myself in the face because of how natural it is that I'd slice up every bit of me and serve it on little plates, giving everything away until there's nothing left at all. I'm so distracted lately and I feel so,...I can't even get the right word, but it's somewhere between unhappy, lost, disingenuous, fake, unsatisfied, owned, isolated and crowded. I feel like I can't write, and I hate that.

Stress. I feel it, and can admit how overwhelmed I feel, but I have never given stress the credit it deserves. We've been playing Hide and Seek it seems - but when it's my turn to hide I choose somewhere stupid. Like under a leaf. Or by closing my eyes and pretending that makes me invisible. Then it's my turn to seek and while I close my eyes and count stress just splatters itself all over everything so when I open them it's impossible for me not to find it. I feel ripped off because this isn't a game of Hide and Seek after all. It's a game of Find and Re-find.

I think maybe Stress gets angry when you treat it like a game anyhow. Maybe by capitalizing it I can appease for a bit?

I woke up Saturday feeling kind of weird. I thought it was just some leftover haze from the work party the night before, but I really hadn't drank that much. I was home and asleep just after midnight which is totally unusual for me. But I started doing things that needed to get done, tidying up and putting a load of laundry in. Sitting down in front of the computer it occurred to me that something felt strange. Was I going to be si,...and I barely had time to turn my head before I threw up all over the floor. I cleaned that up, rinsed out the towels and added them to the laundry I'd paused before it had even filled up half way. Then I walked back into the apartment and threw up all over the floor again. WTF?!?

I spent the rest of the day puking and by the time boyfriend came home from work in the late evening I was writhing, with my muscles all seizing and pausing only to retch into a puke filled bucket beside the bed. Welcome home, honey! It took an hour for me to get down into a taxi and in the ER the doctor said I had severe gastro-intestinal distress and my stomach was in spasms. I was really dehydrated. They shot me up full of whatever and hooked me up to IVs and sent me home three hours later. I fell into bed but slept fitfully and worsened again until dawn when I went back to the ER and they admitted me.

It's the first time I ever had to stay in a hospital, so I've been lucky. But I wouldn't recommend having to stay in a Korean hospital. The experience sucked, and I'll elaborate in a post later tonight, I promise. I've got to get ready for work, and I shouldn't be going. I campaigned for an early release yesterday evening, but the doctor wanted to keep me for another two days. If I don't go to work, though, I think my boss is going to really pressure me into not going to Japan on Friday, a trip I booked the day after I last returned from Japan at the beginning of January. But I really really really want to get the hell out of here for awhile, even though five days is far too short. I'll take what I can get.

While my boss, his wife, and the new manager were visiting me in the hospital yesterday morning they asked if I'd had stomach troubles like that before, and I answered yes. Just over eight years ago at Christmastime when I remember feeling similarly wholly dissatisfied and unhappy with my life I spent a day and a half retching and writhing and sweating and swearing and that culminated into a nice shot of demerol that finally smoothed me out. Just a few days after I applied for a job in Korea. I needed a dramatic change, and so I went for it. I had taken that illness as a sign that Stress isn't something to be toyed with, but I guess some lessons need re-learning.

So, okay. I get it.
Now all I have to do is figure out what's next and how to hang on until I can get free and get moving.

I woke up this morning to an e-mail from my brother who's waiting to hear I'm okay. He also wrote that my grandfather had a stroke on Saturday and is in the hospital. There's no word yet on how he's doing. I want to write and tell my brother I'm okay, but I'd be lying. I'm just trying to hang on until Friday in the hopes a little distance will give me a little clarity. (As if I'm not distant enough already, man.) But now I'm going to get in the shower in the hopes that a little soap will give me little clean.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Bit More on Baking

Thank you for the comments! I'm so pleased that even though I'm a bad blogger in need of a kick in the ass, you guys will still come around when I muster the oomph to get a post done. So I got some suggestions and questions in the comments and thought I'd just add a bit more in a new post.

Weve asked for some recipes, so here goes!
Martha Stewart's sugar cookies are scrum, and mine worked out very well even without the fancy schmancy stand mixer she employs, or the shot of fancy liqueur she gulps from a mug during commercial breaks adds to the recipe. For a little article on sugar cookies and icing, go here.

And for the video and recipe for sugar cookies, go here.

The seriously moist so very delicious and excellent chocolate cake recipe can be found here.

A version that looks a lot like my mom's candy cane cookie recipe can be found here. And there's a couple other candy cane cookie recipes that look interesting there as well. One is dipped in a mixture of sugar and crushed candy canes after the cookie is baked. That sounds yummy, eh?

Here's a recipe for the mini cream cheese crust pecan tart things:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 3oz. package of cream cheese*
1 cup all-purpose flour
filling

Beat the butter and cream cheese until thoroughly mixed and then add in the flour. Using 24 ungreased 1 and a quarter inch muffin cups, press a rounded teaspoon of the pastry int the bottom and up the sides of each cup. Fill each pastry lined muffin cup with one heaping tablespoon of filling. Bake in a 325 degree oven about 30 min or until pastry is golden and filling set and puffy.

Pecan Filling: Beat together 1 egg, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans**.

Lemon Coconut Filling:*** Divide 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes between the cups. In another bowl combine 2 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine, 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spoon mixture over coconut in each pastry cup.

*Where are there 3oz packages of cream cheese? That's not a very large amount. I had to convert ounces to grams and then try to divide the 250g container of cream cheese I had into appropriate portions to make up 3 oz. Seems to me it was about 2/3 of one half of the container. Math hurt head.

**I toasted the pecans, just a few short min in a dry pan over medium heat. Stay with them to supervise their roasting. If you turn your back for even a moment, or like, even glance at your watch - they'll burn.

***I didn't make these even though I had all the ingredients which are easy to get here. (Larger supermarkets will have coconut.) I haven't included the pumpkin or spiced fruit filling recipes because pumpkin sucks, and the other one required dried fruit which I can't remember seeing in Korea. Besides, isn't dried fruit what's in Christmas cake? Christmas cake sucks. No one likes dried fruit. Ick.

Weve, if you want, I'll send you an e-mail with the caramel brownie recipe and apple pie bars. Likewise, I can have a look around for the bread recipe (not pictured in the previous post) and I will do a soup post soon enough. I recently got one of those hand mixers, so I can liquefy things. Soup is so good isn't it?

I can't understand Mike's comment which I think has something to do with football? Or, he's dissing my post and cruising for a bruising sort of thing. (Anytime, pal!) Hee hee hee.

Mike asked if the Koreans liked the baked goodies (and also questioned whether they'd say so - which maybe means would they be honest about their opinion?) I can report that that Koreans who ate mah cookies LOVED them. Every single one of them made a point to search me out and tell me how delicious they were and I do believe they were sincere. I tasted everything, afterall - and can vouch for the goodness. At one point I was thinking I would bake an extra large bath of sugar cutout cookies and share them with the kids in my classes. Probably they would have loved them, but I remember way back when I made crepes with my winter classes and they didn't go over so well at all. As soon as one kid declared them inedible the rest of the students would "bahhhhh" in agreement and soon the garbage bin was filled with half eaten crepes. Those crepes were GOOD, man - so I didn't want to subject my fragile ego to the harsh and uninformed criticism of my students. If they had taken a bite of mah delicious cookies and made a face, I might have smacked 'em one good.

I brought a very large assortment of cookies to the very late dinner I went to on Christmas Day. (It was really Boxing Day, since the party didn't start until 2 am.) I thought for SURE I'd be bringing leftovers home considering the amount of food on offer at the dinner. Everyone gorged on pig intestines, thin slices of marinated beef, shrimp, and finally crab. After all that, the guests meandered over to where my cookies were laid out and tried them. I was so happy watching people's faces as their eyes got big and they agreed "Ohhhh! Mashita!" (Or mashinun?) And they'd come over and give me a thumbs up, "Jelly! Belly GUD!" Ha! And THEN they ran to the back of the restaurant and returned with a box of little plastic bags which they handed out and everyone stuffed as many cookies into their little bags as quickly as they could until everything was gone.

I hadn't even thought about that.
Damn, I hadn't even saved any cookies back at my house for me.

Having just returned from Japan, I now remember some differences between the two cultures. I'd forgotten about "hon'e" and "mie'e" - namely the way a Japanese person appears on the outside versus their true feelings on the inside. Had mah cookies totally sucked, I think it would be my Japanese friends who would graciously bow thankfully at me, for having made the cookies, and discreetly stow away the remains of the bit they hadn't eaten in their bag for later disposal. My Korean friend, upon tasting a bad cookie, would be more likely to fall over whilst pulling faces and making moans of agony, scraping their tongues off with their fingernails. Then they'd right themselves and throw the cookie to the ground, asking me why I was trying to kill them with my bad baking - as they jumped up and down on the offending cookie.

In my experience, Koreans are not shy at telling you what they think about anything, even if it might be rude. (Think, "You're fat! Why is your nose so big? Man, you're as hairy as a gorilla!")

So, yes. Long story short, mah cookies were a success. Baking - even bread is really relatively new to Koreans. It's catching on a LOT, as you might notice when you walk around and see Paris Baguette is as ubiquitous as Starbucks in the States. (Or Starbucks in Seoul? I don't know.) And occasionally they can make a very fine bread or bun here. (Seriously - I'll say it again: Cake? Not so much.) But they're also able to screw things up quite nicely as well.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baking!

One cool thing I did before Christmas was to bake! You may think, "Well, what's so exciting about that? Just about everyone bakes before Christmas!" And yes, this is true. One of my favourite things to do before Christmas was to get together with my mother and help to make her repertoire of Christmas cookies. We'd spend a day or two mixing and shaping and rolling and decorating, and during the holiday season she'd visit the stack of Tupperware containers in the garage (it was cold in there) and assemble platters of cookies and bars for different parties and get-togethers. Every Christmas since I've been gone she always tells me that baking isn't fun anymore and she really misses me. I miss her too, and I miss the baking.

So this year I got it in my head that I was going to bake up some stuff for my friends and co-workers in Korea. It's the first opportunity I've had to bake in eight years! My friend moved to a posh new apartment building just down the road from me and her kitchen came with an OVEN! She's the only person I know in Korea that has one. Scratch that. My buddy John up in Seoul has one. I just remembered the last time I was there he made a scrummy blueberry cobbler to end off a lush roast beast lunch.

So I visited the big supermarkets downtown a couple of times to get supplies. I had to choose recipes that were compatible with what's available here, which was only a slight challenge. I think more and more Koreans are getting interested in baking. I'm quite sure that 5 years ago there was no baking section at the supermarket, whereas now there's a teeny tiny one. Since Tesco took over HomePlus, they'e got a lot of nice Tesco brand home products, and so I got a couple baking trays, a heavy square pan, and a mini muffin tray. I probably spent about a hundred and fifty dollars easily on Operation Cookies in Korea, and wished on a few occasions that I just hadn't bothered. Still, I had fun at my friend's place over three days, mixing and sifting and chopping and all that. Here are some of the results:

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Sugar Cookies

I made a couple batches of these. One was a Martha Stewart recipe which turned out great, and another was a no-refrigerate recipe I snagged off the Internet.

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I don't know which is which, but who cares?
These cookies are decorated with royal icing - a mixture of egg whites and icing sugar with a splash of lemon juice. I didn't tell the Koreans that I was possibly giving them salmonella for Christmas as well, but everything turned out fine.

This is a bad picture.

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I remembered to take a photo of the last container of assorted cookies before they got all eaten up. Man,...my co-workers and friends would descend on the goodies like, well I can't make up my mind if they were more like hyenas or vultures. I just tried to stay clear and avoid all the sharp elbows. Pictured up there are mini pecan tarts with a cream cheese crust, caramel brownies, apple pie bars, and my mother's famous candy cane cookies - which are like melt-in-your-mouth shortbread goodness. I couldn't get the almond extract the recipe called for, so I substituted with about a cup of almond flour. They weren't quite like my moms, but I'm pretty sure the Korean folks didn't notice that.

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Gingerbread and Cream Cheese Spirals

These were a refrigerated and roll out recipe. I couldn't make traditional gingerbread because I could not locate molasses in Korea. Oh well, I turned them into a spiced dough by adding cinnamon and cloves, and using a very dark brown sugar. I'm sure I could have gone a bit mental and added some gochu-garu (red pepper flakes) and it would have made them even more tasty and interesting. The recipe didn't call for the zig-zag of royal icing, but I thought the cookies could use just a little more sweetness. I think if I were to have a signature baking symbol, it might be the zig-zag. I imagine someday a posh woman bringing a box of treats as a housewarming gift, and the recipient - upon opening the box would gasp "Oh mah word! You have brought Treats by Jelly! I recognize that zig-zag anywhere! Why you have really outdone yourself, Lorna-Jean! You shouldn't have! It's too much!!!" My target demographic are rich Georgian socialites, I think. They talk in exclamations and would take their box of treats to munch on as they got sloshed on mint juleps.

Moving on.

I made a cake for The Princess (the manager,) whose final day at our school was on Christmas Eve. The day before, I secured a cake box from Paris Baguette. When I came into school with the box, The Princess spotted it and said "Oh! You bought a cake!"
"Nuh-uh!" I said, smacking her on the arm, " I MADE this cake for you!"

I kid you not,...she actually started to cry!

I think the whole baking idea came from my telling The Princess that I was going to try to make her a cake before she left our school. She had lived in Australia for almost a year, so she knew what Western cake is like. Moist and rich with some intensely sweet frosting, it is a beast that cannot be found on the peninsula. The Princess knows this because she has tried. At some point, Dunkin Donuts had a tiny overpriced cake that was kinda sorta almost but not quite really what she was looking for, but a few months ago they discontinued that cake. That's probably because Koreans weren't buying it because it wasn't like cake-uh should be, which is dry and airy and not overly sweet with a cuh-ream-uh topping. Use some sweet potatoes to make the cake-uh! Yah!! (They say "yah" but I say "BLAH!") So I went searching on the Internet for a recipe that I thought would produce a sinfully rich, moist, verrry chocolatey cake. I've just spent 15 minutes trying to recreate the magic combination of words I used to google my way to the recipe I ended up using. I think I have the website stored in a folder at work, so if anyone really wants it, leave a comment and I'll post it (or I'll just edit this and give the link tomorrow iffen I remember to.) I can recall the ingredients though: flour, sugar, cocoa, oil, baking powder and soda, vanilla*, sour cream, and hot coffee. The batter comes out very liquid-like and you might think it could never turn into a solid mass, but after about an hour in the oven it did!

Viola!

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The frosting recipe came from this thread and was pretty much cream, corn syrup, icing sugar, a pinch of salt, butter, and a bucketfull of chocolate. Rich, man. I didn't skimp, and along with a whole bag of Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips, I threw in a box of Lindt 70% cacao thin chocolate squares. And then, because it was insanely sweet and way too liquid, I threw in some flour. ("Flour?!?!" shouted my mother!) Yes, flour. Whatever. It wasn't much, but it helped to thicken up the frosting and ease up the punch-you-in-the-face chocolateyness <---totally a word. I still had to leave it out on the cold balcony for hours in the hopes that it would thicken up to a spreadable consistency. Score! It was perfect.

The Princess shared the cae with our co-workers and still had half of it to bring home. Before she boxed it up, I asked for a piece so I could bring it to my friend's restaurant to give them a taste. (They were the ones who loaned me the oven and their kitchen to work in. I also thanked them on the second night by baking them two loaves of sundried herbed bread and a massive pot of creamed roasted vegetable soup that I served up to them when they came home from work at 3 am.)

About a week after they tasted that cake I got a call from my friend. "You know how my husband loves chocolate? He can't stop talking about that cake you made. Ummm, could you come and make another one?" And so last week I re-visited their kitchen and made two more, one for them and another for my other co-worker and her Taekwomdo boyfriend. And, because that cake wasn't already just too much (in a very very good way, though) I added half a can of cherry filling to the middle of each cake. My god, it was goooood.

Let me just wrap up this far longer than I intended post by saying that I was really impressed with everything I made. I would have totally expected at least one dud, especially considering I haven't baked a thing in eight years, but no. Everything was fantastic. Actually, the top of the caramel brownies were just a little too done because my friend accidentally flipped the oven to "grill" but still, they looked a bit crispy but tasted great. I had a near-flop with the no-refrigeration sugar cookies when the dough turned out a crumbly un-rollable mess, but I googled how to rescue them with a little water and more kneading and they turned out fine. I had loads of chocolate frosting left over(my friend described that cake as "delicious cake with a chocolate bar on top) and decided to combine the best of everything into one pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance:

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Sugar Cookie Sandwiches with Chocolate Frosting Centres and Royal Icing Stripes.

*Oh, vanilla. I can't seem to find vanilla extract, but they probably have it somewhere up in Seoul. I did get some "vanilla sugar," which was more like a cross between flour and sugar. When a recipe called for vanilla - and really, they all did - I just threw in a couple teaspoons of that stuff. Improvithse people, *clap clap!* improvithse!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Legless

Santa has gotten into the scotch again. He's so loaded he can't even hold his sax. He just blows pitifully into it, and it sounds like an injured goose.

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There are lots of things to update, but being a better blogger wasn't on my list of New Years resolutions. Not making any resolutions was on my list of resolutions, so we're just going to have to see how it goes over here at I Got Shoes.

I came home last night to find my next door neighbour barely standing outside his door, much like poor 'ole Santa. It was a bitterly cold night and even though I was all bundled in layers and winter accoutrement, I hurried toward my door looking forward to turning on the ondol to toast my tootsies. I greeted my neighbour with a "hello" and he responded with "help-uh me." Turns out he was on his own - I guess his wife and 4th grade son have gone off to visit the grandparents while the kid is on winter vacation. Dad, still dressed in his factory uniform sans coat was so sloshed he was falling asleep whilst standing, and he had no keys. "Hmmm," I said, "You're in a real predicament, eh? She's a mighty cold tonight. What'cha gonna do?" Dad barely raised his head, having understood nothing I'd said, and slurred again "Help-uh me."

Inviting him in was out of the question. I could call a taxi and somehow coax him down the eight flights of stairs to it. I wondered if he had any money. I could pay for the cab. Tell the taxi driver to take him to a motel. I could pay for the motel. I could ring the neighbouring doorbells. It was barely midnight. We could all help-uh. Maybe there was a locksmith still open. Maybe one of them could shimmy over from my balcony to his. Maybe if I roused enough neighbours we could carry him down to the parking lot and fling him up to his 4th story balcony.

Or not.

"Don't freeze to death," I said as I slid into my now unlocked and open door. Inside I sighed as I felt the heat from the floor radiating into my tired feet. I had spent a long day at work, busy and very stressed out by the new manager who is quickly revealing herself as a moody bi-polar controlling bitch with an autocratic management style. I've been concentrating my efforts to leave the day's tension outside my door, and so I was relieved to be home again, solo, safe, and sober. The tension I'd left outside had now manifested into a cold, drunken adjosshi who was now alternately kicking my door and ringing the bell. Adding a simile to my alliterative status update, like a selfish shellfish I retreated into my head and popped in my MP3's earphones, refusing to let the problems on the other side of the door get a rise out of me. I checked a couple hours later, and my neighbour wasn't waiting for me in popsicle form, so I suppose he'd somehow managed to solve his own problems. Good news for both of us!

I think I mentioned it before, but one of the medications I'm (still) taking is called Enafon in Korea. It's amitriptyline, which is an anti-depressant - and I feel almost lucky that I've been prescribed it for the after-effects of shingles. Considering all the upheaval that's taken place in the last few months, it's really worked well; despite all the crap, I've been feeling alright. Something has to change at work, though. We can't carry on like we have been, so I've been trying to figure out how we can work together in peace. We shall see.

For a long time, my thoughts have been on my friend Kevin and his family. If you've been around the Korean blogoshpere for awhile, you'll surely remember Kevin from his Big Hominid blog. His mother passed away on Wednesday after a short battle with brain cancer. If you're so inclined, you could stop by and offer your condolences. I'm hoping his family can find strength in remembering Kevin's mom during happier periods of their lives as they go through these difficult days.

And for you,...yes YOU! I wish you a very belated Merry Christmas and a peacuful New Year.