Thursday, June 30, 2005

Two for Two

I returned that horrible video on my way to work today. I picked up 'Million Dollar Baby' to watch tonight. Turns out they don't have a couple copies of this multi Academy Award winning film, they have only one, but it's on two separate video tapes. I'm assuming that's because of the length of the movie. I had the same deal with 'King Arthur,' and with 'National Treasure,' that I watched a few weekends ago. The thing that bugs me is you get charged DOUBLE for renting two tapes. How fair is that? I mean, it's not my fault the movie is so long and has to be put on 2 tapes, and yet I have to pay more.

When I mentioned this to my co-workers, they felt it was perfectly understandable. You get 2 tapes, you pay for 2 tapes. I argued, "But if you go to the movie theatre, they don't charge you extra because you're seeing a long movie!" I don't know, but I think I'm being fleeced. MDB is only 2 hours, 17 minutes long, Surely that could fit on one tape, couldn't it? I can understand Braveheart, at almost 3 hours, or Schindler's List, which runs 3 hours, 17 minutes, needing 2 tapes. But King Arthur? It's only 2 hours and 6 minutes long! I don't know, but I really doubt the paying extra for movies released on 2 tapes thing would fly back home.

Anyhow. It's only an extra $1.80 Canadian. I suppose I shall survive. I'm thinking this movie will make up for last nights fiasco. (Oh yah, my sight and hearing came back this morning, thankfully - and I'm almost sane in my membrane again.) Usually movies that are totally crap don't win 4 Oscars, so it should be decent, eh?

I'll tell you later how it was!

Yah Canada

Perhaps more on this later, but just a quick note to say that I'm so proud of my country! Behind Belgium and The Netherlands, Canada has officially become the 3rd country to legally recognize same-sex marriages.

When I saw the news on the net at work, I said "allllright!" My co-workers asked me why I was happy, and I told them. They had looks on their faces like I'd just told them Canada had legalized the hunting of babies. Shock, mixed with hints of disgust! I squished up my face back at them, "what?"

Elizabeth laughed, and said "Jenny are you Res-bee-an?"

As the bell rang for class, I winked at her and blew a kiss bye.

Video Snafu

I'm finding it very hard to write this, because not only have I gone blind and deaf, I've also gone insane. Yep. I've gone insane on account of a movie.

I stopped by my local stupid video store tonight after work. I've been stopping by there almost every day because Finding Neverland was supposed to come in last week, but hasn't yet. So I bug the clerks, stopping in and smiling, saying "Neber-randoo joo-say-oh!!" They laugh and tell me stuff in Korean, which may be "Yah, it's not in yet." Or, "Stop bugging us, you freak!"

No, I didn't go mental because "Neverland" hasn't come in. I boogied by the new movies and was so happy to see that multi-award winning "Million Dollar Baby" came in today! Unfortunately, the 2 whole copies were both out. There was also another movie in, and I'd seen the preview for it a long time ago in Japan and thought it looked pretty cool (even though I later read reviews that it wasn't all that.) A harrowing tale of two people abandoned at sea and left to deal with the elements and scary sea-life like jellyfish and sharks. Scarrrrry.

Well, it was not Open Water that I rented, but rather Dark Waters! From Qwipster's Movie Reviews:

I could go into a list of all of the things that makes Dark Waters a bad film, but I don't have the time or patience to try to recount something of that magnitude. Suffice it to say, there's almost nothing redeeming about it. The casting is laughable, which is probably appropriate to the poorly developed characterizations that permeate the screenplay. Basically, Lamas walks around open-shirted, while MacKinnon wear the tightest, most low-cut apparel she can, in addition to finding a way to get wet in almost every scene.

Dark Waters is a truly inept, poorly conceived action thriller that cold only please those viewers who tune in to the Sci-Fi Channel as their main source for entertainment. It takes an already bad film, Deep Blue Sea, and makes it worse in almost every conceivable fashion. If there are any movie producers out there right now reading this, just remember, Really Smart Sharks = Really Dumb Idea

This reviewer was kinder than I would be. I'm pissed off. This movie was so horrible it made me lose 2 out of my 5 senses for chrissake! Plus I've gone insane!! I want compensation. In the morning, I'm hiring a lawyer and then going down to the video store to straighten them out. WHY oh WHY are their shelves stocked with this shite when I have yet to see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," or "Ray," or "Pinding Neberandoo??!?"

*@&^@% Straight-to-video *#&#^ Jean-Claude-Van-Dam #(#&#^@ Steven Segal.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hardy Har Har

I didn't actually go to a real hospital. If I had, I might not have been able to mention getting an ass-injection! I visited the local clinic and he felt my belly, which made me semi-scream, and then prescribed the usual ass-injection and buffet of pills, sealed per dosage in their own wax-paper envelopes. I felt very precarious today. The Fist of Steel made it's presence known throughout the day, but I only had to run to the bathroom a couple times.

Today, I was actually "bullied" by one of my students. Can you believe it? The kid picked a bad day to mess with me, too. We were playing a game; it was toward the end of class, and 2 teams were competing against one another in seated lines. Since we had only 7 out of 8 students, I sat in on one of the teams. After about 3 rounds of play, I accidentally dropped a marker on the floor in front of me, and when I lifted my ass off the chair to retrieve it, the boy behind me, my teammate, pulled my chair out from under me so I crashed to the floor when I went to sit back down. I scraped my back up on the stupid super-solid plastic chairs too. My gut wrenched and I had to sit there a couple moments trying not to perform a repeat of last night's pant-crapping festivities.

Right. Game over. Take out your books.

Shortly after, I just left the class and went to the washroom. We had only five minutes left, and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. Yes, yes, as I said in the previous post, I am a suck. I am. I'm hyper-sensitive when I'm not feeling well. Luckily, I usually get over it pretty quickly, but, whatever. The kid was really upset, and kept apologizing. He can get back to me tomorrow about it. If he understood what it felt like to expel fire water from his ass 63 times over the previous day and a half, only to smash said ass into the floor, he'd know why I was so pissed.

I know kids will be kids, and the whole pulling the chair out from under people seems very funny, ha ha hardy har, but I'm the bloody teacher. The kid made a stupid impulsive decision and he's lucky I didn't have go-go gadget arms with which to smack him one. Maybe next time, he'll think before he acts like a jackass. Maybe not.

Witnessing a kid break their skull open* on a marble table when I was in elementary school learned me the chair-yank thing is rarely worth the laugh that could ensue. Frankly, I think it's just plain mean.

*Okay, their skull didn't break open pinyata style, but she needed 6 stitches, and there was a hell of a lot of blood. And no laughing at all.

Ole' Poopy Pants

I am just out of the shower.

You can file this next bit under TMI, but just so you know...

I was starting to think I was feeling a bit better about half an hour ago. The Fist of Steel has eased up on my intestines slightly, and I hadn't visited the washroom in about 45 minutes. I stood up, and a sudden cough caught me unaware and I did, in fact, crap my pants.

There's a very good possibility I will be visiting a real hospital tomorrow and not my local ass-injection happy clinic. Hospital visits freak me out under regular circumstances, but even more so here or in Japan because I don't know what they're doing to me. It's days like this I really miss my mother. What a suck I am, but what do you expect? I need diapers.

I'm fucking charming. How are you?

Monday, June 27, 2005

More Awww Crap

If being sick weren't bad enough, I just found out Gemini, the little two faced kitten, died. Poor kitty kitty, kitty kitty.

Awwww Crap!

For the 2nd time in over 2 and a half years, I have called in sick. I hate doing it. It stresses out the other teachers, who have to cover my classes, and I feel guilty. To be honest, my work ethic has changed greatly since coming overseas. I used to justify taking days off for even minor illnesses. I called in when my boyfriend and I broke up. It was a mental health thing because I just could not get my act together and stop crying.

When I worked in AIDS organizations, I couldn't go to work sick, as my bad cold or flu could compromise the health of the clients. I thought that made pretty good sense.

I also counted on getting sick, working with kids who have perpetually running noses and coughs. I have been coughed on, sneezed at, and I'm sure, been exposed to a multitude of viruses I never built up antibodies to fight against while I was living on another continent. However, I have gone to work with cold, fevers, the flu, laryngitis about 3 times, (which is just silly) a pulled back muscle, after having my big toenail ripped out, and doped up on painkillers with 6 stitches in my toe. I've only been NOT able to work twice. Today being one of those times.

My stomach started feeling bad last night, just as I was cooking dinner. I had to keep running to the bathroom to expel fire water out of my ass. Unbelievable. I have been back and forth to the bathroom, I shit you not (pun intended) about 28 times in the last 16 hours. If that wasn't bad enough, I've got these outrageous stomach cramps to go with it. Feels like an internal fist of steel of clenching my gut.

A few days before Christmas 2001 I had something similar going on, accompanied by vomiting as well (I only puked a couple times this time around) and after getting a gravol injection (in my arm, not my ass) at the local walk-in clinic, I convinced my mother to drive me to the hospital. She didn't want to, it was a Sunday and she said "Jenn, they're not going to do anything for you, you already went to the clinic, blah blah blah,.." I said, "Please drive me or I'm calling a taxi." I spent a couple hours with her in the waiting room, getting up to walk doubled over to the washroom to puke or crap water. I started to cry when I barfed on my shoes while sitting on the toilet. Otherwise I lay moaning unashamedly across three vinyl waiting room chairs.

When the docs finally saw me, he hooked me up to an IV because I was so dehydrated and shot me up with some kind of "stop puking" medication, which didn't really work, and an hour later I was still writhing. The doctor came back and "tsk tsk'ed" and then sent a nurse who pulled the metal bars up on the hospital bed, explaining to my mother, "We're going to give her a narcotic."

Demerol. Mmmmmmmmmmm, demerol.

My mom tells me I kept nodding off, then waking up, smiling and saying "Oh! I nodded off!" And then repeating that about 10 times every 5 minutes. Demerol is goooood. I felt right as rain as we left the hospital. Once it wore off, I had a dull ache in my stomach which lasted for a few days. Still.

So, after a whole night of getting up to visit the washroom, I called my boss this morning to tell her. She suggested I go to the doctor, but I told her I couldn't even do that. So she went for me, and got a prescription and walked up here with medicine and a couple 1.5 litre bottles of Pocari Sweat. (Gross name, but it's an "ION supply" drink.) I had a shower after she left, thinking that might make me feel better but I had to interrupt the shower to, well, you know,...twice! At least I'm showering over my toilet here. If I were in Japan I'd have had to slosh down the hall to get to the commode. Everytime I release the fire water in my bowels, there's some mad gurgling replacing the purged fire water with more. If farts are gambles, I would have lost every one. With only a couple hours of interrupted sleep, and my need to be right beside the bathroom and to moan in pain every 10 minutes or so, well, today is a write-off. No school for me. I've been to the bathroom 3 times writing this. I have to scramble to get there if I even have to sneeze, otherwise I'll be all, "Ooops, I crapped my pants."

I dedicate this crap-filled post to the Big Hominid and The Maven. May your shits bring you relief, and your underpants remain unfilled.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Real Goldie,

who will go to Egypt.
Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy very best wishes.

ass injection

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Under Abreast

It's hot here. Hot hot. Luckily, today there was a wind. If it's hot with some wind, I can handle it. It's those stagnant days where it feels like you're walking through a pot of chicken soup I can't handle.

In an earlier post, I noted the rainy season had started. The Japanese media had reported it, and a couple friends warned me earlier in the week the rainy season was approaching on Friday. Sure enough, it rained constantly all day - and I thought "here we go!!" Alas, we have barely had a drop of rain since. I mentioned in another post it rained last weekend. Turns out, my air conditioner floods my balcony, so after I turned the air con on and had a nap, only to see afterwards my balcony was soaked, I just assumed it had rained. The cooler night temperatures hinted at it, as did the damp forest smell wafting in the breeze.

I was probably mistaken.

After a week of plus thirty weather, it seems we might get a break either tomorrow or Monday. The rain will come. And then it will come and come and come.

Tonight I thought about marketing nice big flesh coloured umbrellas with plump rosy nipples on top.


I think they'll be a big hit, particularly with men, who will find comfort in being sheltered and kept safe and dry beneath big boobs.

"Jenn, I forgot my umbreastella at home and it's raining hard!!"

"That's ok," smushing them close, "I got'cha."

Saturday, June 25, 2005


I like to nap in the early evenings on the weekends. I'd like to nap in the early evenings every day, but my boss would surely frown on my zzzzz'ing in the classroom. Today I watched a movie with Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter ~ "Theory of Flight." Was so-so. Then I fell asleep.

I had this crazy dream that I was playing some very fun board game in my apartment with my friend Chantelle from university, whom I haven't spoken with in about 5 years, and my friend Jacinta from high school, whom I haven't heard from in about 20 years. The game was so fun! It was glittery and lit up with lights and every time a game would end, we would all argue about who was going to play next.

I left the game, though, to go buy tofu. At the bottom of my hill I saw a giant shakily constructed scaffold and heard the sweetest music. I looked up to see a monk perched high up, in a yoga pose, with his arms stretched up and his chest puffed out. He was singing this song that was as beautiful as it was sad. I stopped to listen and then realized I was topless. I only spent a few seconds wondering why I left my apartment without a shirt, but them just made me a hand-bra and leaned against the wall to see the monk had been replaced with a chubby little boy in a purple loincloth and an orange turban in a pretzel pose teetering on the edge of a thin plank. Still, he sang like an angel. Three Korean women passed in lace dresses, the first 2 in white and the last in black. The tsk tsk'ed my hand bra, and pointed and laughed at the singing child, commenting on his pudginess and the strength of the plank supporting him. I could understand Korean in my dream.

I followed the ladies down the road. They were going to the tofu shop too. The tofu shop was small, with one Korean man with a rubber apron, gloves, and boots and silver teeth. There were red plastic tubs of bubbly water throughout the shop, but he only had one bit of tofu for sale, which he displayed in his gloved hand. The 3 ladies and I bartered and argued for the tofu, them in Korean and I in English and we all understood each other. The ladies said they had a boiling pot of den'jen jigghae at home waiting for the tofu. I said Chantelle would hog the fun game if I came back empty handed.

Just then, as I noticed a perfect glittery yellow and purple huge butterfly flapping its wings on tofu man's head, we all stopped speaking because there was this beautiful song coming from somewhere. Nearby, apparently, a choir of angels was harmonizing. I wandered off to see where it was coming from.

Not even a block away, there was a HUGE tower. It had a broad base and a pointy spire, and there were people sitting on it, crowding each level. About half was covered in a see through plastic, but I could still see the blurry people inside. Once a level was covered up, they were silent, but everyone would otherwise sing. Every 5 minutes or so, the plastic would raise another level. Finally there were 2 people atop who sang, a man and a woman Well,...I can't even describe it. Some strange beautiful spiraling harmonious thing. It left me shaking. When it finished, the plastic raised from the bottom up, and everyone exited. Most were monks, but some where families with lace parasols. I turned to the Korean ladies and smiled. They smiled back at me and showed me their tofu, but I didn't care. My alarm woke me up. (I set it for 9:30 to wake up and watch The Apprentice, Season 2)

My description doesn't even do the dream justice. What sort of crazy subconscious do I have to produce such detailed dreams for my entertainment? Dream interpreters,...please. What do you think?

Friday, June 24, 2005

I want one of these too.
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Here kitty kitty kitty kitty.
What's up with Double Face Kitten holder's fingernails?

By the Way

I want some of these!
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What a great Canadian patriotic gift for my candy-loving students!
(Canada Day is July 1st, by the way. Hoist a Molson Canadian for me, eh? (Ya Hosers)
Photo courtesy of my favourite accordion guy.

Market Day

Tom and Katie, Katie and Tom, blah blah blah, who cares? Well I guess a lot of people do, but I don't really. I just watched Oprah with the 2 of them on, and Tom Cruise acted batty. Oprah kept describing him as "gone," which was, I guess, her polite way of calling him bloody cuckoo. Last night on Oprah, it was a follow up from the Oscars. Oprah's guests were Hillary Swank, Jaime Foxx, and Chris Rock. I didn't see, I don't think, any of the movies that won awards. I did, however, get up early to watch the live broadcast here on a Monday morning.

I was excited about seeing it, as I used to like watching the awards. Good Sunday night activity, and when I was living in Canada I had usually seen most of the nominated movies, and was usually rooting for my favourites. This years Oscars seemed to me to be boring, perhaps because I had no favourites as I didn't see any of 'em, but also because I thought it was, well, just BORING!

I e-mailed that to my brother and he responded by saying that he wouldn't watch the Oscars if it was the only thing on a TV that had been bolted to his face. Ok, then. I gather he doesn't give a shit about Tom and Katie either.

Today was Market Day at my school, which happens four times a year and gives the kids an opportunity to spend their stickers that they've accumulated by completing their homework or being well behaved or what-not. I can't give the kids stickers. Only the Korean teachers can. The first teacher my school ever had favoured the little girls and all the boys complained, so sticker-giving by the foreign teacher was abolished. He ruined it for me. Thanks, buddy. (Actually, really, thanks! Otherwise I'd have the kids following me around yanking on my shirt begging for candy AND stickers.)

I asked to be moved from the Stationary Store at school to the more popular restaurant. I'd done the Stationary thing 4 times already and thought it might be neat for a change. Our restaurant menu included steamed mandu (dumplings) and 'duk bokki' - which is cylindrical logs of rice cake, triangular shards of fish cake, onions, and carrots in a spicy sweet red sauce. Elizabeth took care of those. I was serving "sushi" - seasoned rice stuffed into triangular envelopes made of tofu (I think it's tofu) as well as sandwiches made of potatoes mashed up with small cubes of ham and vegetables, hard boiled eggs, little containers of jja-jjam instant ramen, and a variety of sugary sodas. Can you imagine if kids in North America were treated to these choices? Ha-ha! But our kids ate it up.

I don't think I made a wise choice in asking to be moved, the room quickly heated up with the two portable burners cooking Elizabeth's fare, and by the end of the day I was a sweaty mess. I was told my station has never been so popular. Usually we have a lot of leftovers we just give away at the end of the day to the stragglers, but I ran out of just about everything. Early.

The whole day I had on average at least 5 kids right in front of me, either calling my name, or "Teacher, Teacher, Teacher, Teacher,..." or repeating their well rehearsed orders " a cup of orange soda, a cup of orange soda, a cup of,...") It's as if they thought they might turn invisible and therefore I wouldn't see them to serve them unless they kept shouting at me. Jay-sus!

Ah well. It was a long day, but I like it because the kids like it and it gives me a chance to spend time with the kids in a casual setting. Not that my classes aren't casual,...but...

In other news, my air conditioner is a blessing, but it's not working as effectively as I'd like. I have it cranked and it's never able to bring the temperature down in my apartment lower than 27 degrees. I brought the remote control in today to see if I was (probably) using it wrong, and explained what was happening. My co-worker called the company and explained the problem, and they called back and spoke first with my co-worker, and then with my boss. Karen told Elizabeth she'd talk to her husband and then discuss it with me. I don't know what the problem is, but if I were to guess, I'd say they bought me an air-conditioner designed to cool an apartment with the dimensions of a shoe-box. When I walked in tonight, it was 33 degrees in here and I've had the air-con on max ever since, and am still sitting in front of the fan.

My boss tonight told me she doesn't have an air-conditioner, and doesn't even use the fan at her place. How does she manage it?? I really wonder if it's conditioning. I know I am a mess in hot humid weather, and I remember how really uncomfortable and miserable my Peruvian friend Manny is back home with even -10 degree weather. Maybe a little research is in order.

It's all just ass-injections, I say.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


My friend, who visited me here in Korea last month, just sent me an e-mail from Tokyo to tell me he has accepted a new job as a Phys Ed teacher at The American School of Alexandria in Egypt. Way to go, Goldie!

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I'm sure the Muslim's will LOVE you!
Actually, this was his Halloween costume. His button reads "Jesus for President," and he told me he changed the messages on it all night, they were funny, but I forget what they were.

I told him I want to visit him there and I realllllllly do. I was thinking on my walk home tonight of some of the places I'd like to go, Egypt being one I've always dreamed of, since high school history classes. Just spending time thinking of the possibilities is a pleasant pastime for me. Then I'm always jolted back to the reality of having a big fat cat to care for.

Last Chusok (September) I tool a trip back to Japan to visit my friends and while I was gone, arranged to have one of my middle school students, Brittney, come over once a day, feed kitty, clean his litter box, and change his water. I thought she seemed like a nice responsible kid, so I felt alright about leaving him. He's a big suck, and as I've mentioned before, is very very uneasy around anyone but me. Actually he warmed up to Goldie while he was here for almost 2 weeks, but I think that was because Goldie was eating tuna every couple hours or so.

Anyhow, off I went to Japan and had a great time. When I returned on Sunday evening and was headed toward the building management office where we agreed she would leave my key, I was surprised to look up toward my apartment and find the lights on. Just before I was about to open the office's door I heard my name and "Brittney" was running toward me. She ran up and gave me a hug and then said "my friend, your house." I was all, "ahhhh, ok, no problem," envisioning her and her little girlfriend hard at work studying. She's Korean, afterall.

Turns out, what she meant by "my friend' your house," I quickly discovered, was that she had let 3 high school boys come and spend the weekend. And eat my food, drink my beer, and make a mess of my apartment.

Kamikaze was freaked out and holed up in the wardrobe, cut off from his litter box and his water. He visited both constantly for the first 3 hours I was home, meowing unhappily the whole time. He had peed in his favourite sitting spot under a chair, surely from fright, and the lads had helpfully just thrown my bath towel over top of it.

I was not pleased. I was even more ticked off to see one of these idiot boys had used up half a stick of my coveted Secret deodorant/anti-persperant on his head, thinking it was hair wax.

I was livid when I told my boss about the whole thing the next day. She didn't seem to fazed and didn't even call the kids mom. I saved the 50,000 won I was going to pay her, and made her expand her vocabulary, looking up words like "irresponsible" and "unreliable" and explaining to me how these words pertained to her actions.

The boss finally did tell Brittney's mom, but only when the mom called to say she was concerned with the kids behaviour. She'd been staying out late and skipping her other hogwon to meet up with the guys with deodorant-hair. When Brittney's mom heard about how she turned my apartment into a yogwon, (motel) she hit Brittney in the head with a broomstick.

So this is what happens over a 4 day visit to Japan. I figure after 2 weeks in Egypt I might come home to a noreabang/love motel-apartment. I do dig this cat, though. When I found him in Japan I had no intention of keeping him, just took him in until I could take him to a shelter or find him another home. I forgot where I was. What shelter? After a short time, I fell in love.
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How could I help it?

But still, I'd really recommend NOT getting a pet overseas. Everything, from getting food, to vet-visits, to traveling, is a pain in the ass. Maybe it's easier having a dog, as they're used to being out and about, I dunno. Best bet is to wait until you feel rooted. For you, and your future pet.

I have to get up early to go prepare for Market Day at my school. G'night!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Speaking of the Devil

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What's UP????

Nice mug there, little buddy.

I saw one of these on my way to work, and stopped to admire it. It's feelers are almost as long as its body and it was a shiny black with white spots. When I asked my students about it, they told me it was called a "sky-cow" in Korean, which I thought was perfect. Big black and white flying thing, sky cow. Excellent. Turns out, they might have thought I was talking about another bug, my co-worker tells me a sky-cow is like a grasshopper. Still,....

Trying to find out what kind of bug it was revealed that .they're hated pests in North America.

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the Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Devil's in my Class, and She's Eight.

Now that I've been at my school for more than a year, the kids are quite used to me, which is good in some ways, and very very bad in others. They know what to expect from me pretty much, and seem to have a sense of how far they can push me until I'll react. On the other hand, they've learned HOW to make me react, so if they're ticked off at me they are likely to do the things that make me go all crazy.


Some of the kids are very friendly with me. Too friendly. Like, they treat me as one of their own. If I tease them a little or make a joke, sometimes they will try to beat me up. They're small, but some of them are quite strong! While I enjoy the level of comfort they display around me, I dislike having little handprints bruised into me. Likewise, I'm not keen on being felt-up, which doesn't happen TOO often actually, and it's usually the same couple of students who will reach up to squeeze my merchandise. Thankfully, they're little 8 year old girls, and not my male middle students. The fact that I can't speak Korean, and the kids know it, makes for a different relationship between me and the kids, than my Korean co-workers experience. I'm quite aware that the kids will try to get away with a lot more with me than they'd ever dare to with the stick-wielding Korean teachers.

I have one little student, Willa, and I worry that she might be the devil. I should have named her Damiena or Lucy, short for Lucifer, but we already have a Lucy who fits the profile, though not as appropriately as Willa. This kid looks quite angelic, she's pretty and quite bright. Her language skills are above average in her class. But, she also looks somewhat disinterested. Disengaged. (Disenchanted?) She's affectionate, and will often greet me with a big hug, or she'll hang off me when I'm at the water cooler or talking to another student. She has also hauled off and smacked me one - HARD, when she sees me. I've scolded her and yelped in surprise when she catches me unaware. One day she slapped me hard while I was standing talking to the boss, causing me to screech right into Karen's face, only to turn around to find Willa grinning at me. I asked Karen to tell her in Korean to cut it out, but she hasn't really complied.

I think the worst is when she uses her little fingernails on her thumb and pointer to try to remove a small piece of skin from my arm. That shit HURTS! She's had the students seated next to her moved by the Korean teacher, because she has abused them as well. Elizabeth, came to me a few days after Willa joined her class (she transferred from another class) and said, "Jenny, Willa is MEAN!" I said, "I KNOW!"

One of the little boys brought a pile of those little monster-space-alien-demon-dragon-whatever collector cards to class and was giving away some of his doubles today when I entered the classroom. All the other students were pleading with him, a la, "gimme gimme gimme" and when he gave Willa two of them, she smiled, accepted them, and then calmly tore them into little bits. What's that about? The little boy, who is admittedly very sensitive, broke into a screaming tearful tantrum.

Psychologists and sociologists have proposed that children aren't born evil, they're conditioned to be so. You think? Willa concerns me.

One day in class, though, the kids were drawing pictures of their families. Willa's included her mom and dad, her and her little sister, and one boy in a big yellow circle with wings. "Who's this?" I asked Willa, and she explained through gestures and drawings that it was her brother, who died after he'd been hit by a car when Willa was just a baby.

I've wondered if the grief that must have occurred after that has culminated in the Willa we have today. And so, I try to go a little easy on her and make sure she knows I'm not angry at her, but at her behaviour. Then I lay some positive reinforcement on her, telling her she's smart, or giving her shoulder a squeeze or her back a pat. Maybe she's not the devil. Maybe she's just sad.

Monday, June 20, 2005


My blog heard me!


I don't know how it happened, but my blog has changed my links to a different colour, like I wished for a couple posts ago. Can my blog understand me? Can it transform itself? Is it conscious? Are we going to have a problem like in Space Odyssey?

Yo Blog...create another link list. I tried to mess around with your template, but don't know what the hell I'm doing and the non-Korean blogs are going to feel left out. Please.

Another Sunday has come and gone, and with it's passing also passes my weekend. I did not go exploring as I thought I might. Well I guess I did, if you count me exploring my apartment. It wasn't extensive exploration, though. Mostly I explored my bed and the television. I also explored this site for a couple hours tonight. If you want to see some unique visions of Japan, while enjoying Masa's funny writing (and funny English) pay a visit!

It was overcast today and somewhat muggy. At least it was in my apartment. I have to crack my front door to get a cross breeze, but today there was none. It makes me a little nervous to have my door open all the time, but it's so uncomfortable in here otherwise. I spent all last summer with it open a few inches when I was home, even if I was sleeping. I only ever had one person walk in, and that was accidental I think, as he made a hasty retreat after I said "HEY!"

I spent the day re-positioning the fan to be aimed at me wherever I was in the apartment, but after cooking dinner, it was 32 degrees Celsius in here, so I finally turned on my brand-spanking-new air-conditioner. It's nice. A wall unit installed right over my bed. Not as cold as I'd like, but I'm not sure I'm using the remote properly. Within an hour or so it managed to bring the temperature down to 27. Meanwhile, the sky finally opened up outside and rained for a short while.

Air conditioner's off, balcony door is opened again. Outside, it smells of rain, even though the pavement's already dry.

My co-worker sometimes asks me if I get homesick, and I tell her "of course!" She has told me a few times how she asked the fellow who was teaching here before me that same question, and he answered her the same as I do, but added that for him, Sunday's are the worst.

I hear that. Sundays remind me of newspapers and coffee, and lunch with my grandmother after she came back from church. Sundays are afternoons in backyards and in gardens, or near the water. And hearty dinners, with friends and family. Evenings spent relaxing and gearing up for the work week ahead. Laughter at the weekends activities. Curling up to watch TV and talk.

Other than a few words spoken to my cat, I have spent the weekend with my silence. It's been productive though. I contemplated this:

The Buddha illustrated this point one day when he was giving a lecture and a Brahmin got up and began insulting him. He raved for while and when he had finished the Buddha said, "If somebody laid out a banquet in front of me, to whom would it belong?

"Obviously it would belong to the person who put it there," replied the Brahmin.

"And if the person offered it to me," continued the Buddha, "and I declined to accept it, whose would it be?"
"Well obviously it would remain the property of the person who put it there."
"Just so," declared the Buddha. "just so."

In our external relationships if people insult us and want to fight with us then that's their banquet, It becomes ours only if we choose to accept and engage it. It is exactly the same with all our thoughts and feelings. They are arising and passing but are problematic only because we pick them up. We make them ours, thus bringing a sense of egocentric possession to a situation that could have remained neutral. Only when the decision is made to appropriate the thought to ego-territory does grasping arise. When we don't do that then the mind relaxes, it is no longer caught up with all the thoughts and feelings and we understand what is meant by freedom. Freedom from thought.

Enough thinking and not-thinking....I'm ready for napping and for sleeping. [;)Jeff]

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Fear Factor

Another show I can (and do sometimes) watch is Fear Factor. In this American show, contestants are pitted against one another to perform scary tasks. The one who does these tasks the best and/or fastest is the winner and gets 50,000$. Whoo-hoo!

Tasks range from tests of physical ability, like climbing up a rope ladder into a helicopter as you swing through the air, to "stunts" like driving a car through the wall of a house, and there's always a challenge to eat and/or drink things that are,...well,...disgusting.

Watching these things can be upsetting to the viewer. I know I got serious willies seeing people stick their head up into a plexi-glass cube and get their noggins covered in millipedes and scorpions. Dat's scary shit. Or being covered in snakes. The insects and slithery things always get me. Agggghhh.

Some fool actually wanted compensation from NBC for the damage he suffered while watching people eat rats. Ha ha. The poor little lamb became disoriented, threw up, and then ran into a doorway, causing "suffering, injury, and great pain." He wanted a 2.5 million dollar band-aid from NBC. A judge threw the case out.

I should sue the show "Who Wants to Marry My Dad," because watching it's over-dramatic sappiness and bad-acting caused my eyes to bleed and for me to finally go insane.


I was watching Fear Factor this past week and was giddy to see the contestants, when shown what they'd be dining on for their disgusting chow-down, be given a big bowl of bondeggi!! The host called it "silk worm cereal" (it was a breakfast theme) but in the Land of the Morning Calm, those babies are BONDEGGI!!!

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To be honest, the participants also had to drink big glasses of pureed cow liver, and eat balut, a fertilized duck-egg with a dead baby duck inside. I would have been out as soon as I saw the silkworms. I've eaten some strange things in my travels, but I can't even touch a bondeggi.

I was just about to start class a couple weeks ago and realized I had a few extra little students. I smelled them before I saw them. "Alright, who has bondeggi?" One little girl smiled at me and produced a dixie-cup of the bugs she had hid on the empty seat beside her. "Uh-uh, no way, bye bye bondeggi," I said, opening the door for her to go put them somewhere, anywhere, else.

I don't think she realizes, as she eats her bugs with a toothpick, that if she were in America she could be that much closer to 50,000$ on a reality game show! Life here is sometimes like an episode of fear factor. You can take a taxi ride, eat silkworm larvae, puppies, and drink snake soju, and then wrestle a bunch of adjummas at a visor-sale.

I love Korea, but life here, sometimes, is not for the faint-of-heart. Koreans would make outstanding competitors on Fear Factor. They're determined and tough. I wonder what sort of stunts there would be on a Korean version of the show. Hmmmmm.

Dokdo and Snoopy

Ahhhhh rocky magnificent bastard. If you want some background information, please visit here or Flying Yangban's site has some info here or the Marmot here.

Dokdo is a tiny rocky island in the middle of the Japanese Sea,....or as Korea refers to it, The East Sea. If you care to read the links (and I cant seem to figure out how to make my links appear in another colour, so I apologize) you can find out a lot of historical and political perspective on this hunk of rock, known in Korea as Dokdo, and in Japan as Takeshima. When I mentioned Takeshima to my friends and former colleagues in Japan, no one knew what the hell I was talking about. I GUARANTEE you, though, you mention Dokdo to ANY Korean and they know EXACTLY what you're referring to~ unless you are mentioning it to your Korean buddy who lives on a mountain under a rock.

I only want to tell you about the fabulous little t-shirt I bought for my niece tonight at Lotte Mart. (Lotte Mart's a big supermarket/department store/complex which also houses TGIFridays in downtown Ulsan.) My beautiful niece just turned 3 at the end of May...

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Here she is escaping from the car and her boyfriend Ryan, my friend Andrew's son. Jeepers creepers, where DID she get her peepers? Aren't those some gorgeous eyes?

Anyhow, I like to shop for her here. Korean little girl clothes are adorable! A little too pink for my liking (hello? sex-role stereotyping?) but cute cute cute. Well, today I picked up 4 items, a cute white and purple shirt with ribbons and a princess waist, a pair of super cute purple "skorts," and 2 shirts from the Peanuts line of clothes. One is yellow with a Snoopy-by-numbers cartoon and Woodstock on the back. The other,....well,'s funny.

It's a Dokdo shirt!

On the front is "proffesor snoopy" pointing at a map on a pull-down screen. On the screen is a map. Korea is noted. The much smaller, scaled-down, and sans-Shimonoseki (the island south of Honshu and east of Kyushu) Japan, is not labeled.

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Dokdo is referenced by a dot in the labeled East Sea. Snoopy is pointing to it and thinking, in a thought bubble "DOKDO IS LAND OF KOREA" and below Snoopy it says "world famous proffesor snoopy say,"

Well shit, forget all the historical fighting. If professor snoopy say,'s gotta be true!

Above the whole cartoon is the caption "DOKDO IS OUR LAND." (And in a box in the bottom corner of the map, it says "MAP OF THE WORLD") Ha ha. That's it folks, South Korea, North Korea, a small chunk of China, Japan's tiny Kyushu and half-of-Honshu and a speck of Dokdo. C'est tout la mode.

On the back of the shirt, up near the collar, is a simple blue cartoon of Snoopy sitting on a rock with a banjo, a couple clouds, a couple music notes, and a South Korean flag. Underneath says 'singing in Dokdo.' Go Snoopy! Sing it!~

I like that my pretty 3 year old niece will be making a political statement in Canada, where no-one will have a clue what her t-shirt means.

I see my kids wearing Dokdo t-shirts, and had been happy, in previous weeks, when the students would use their English skills to try to tell me about Dokdo. Once I figured out what they were saying, I would go up to the board and draw a big hunk of Dokdo looking rock on the board. Pointing to it, I'd say "Dokdo?" and the kids would get all happy, knowing I understood what they said, "Yes! Yes!~"

I'd turn back to the board and draw a little Zola-Jenny (stick Jenny, with curly spirals sprouting out my head and a smiley face,) planting a flag with a curly hair smiley face head on it. Turning back to the students, "Dokdo? Nooooooo. Jenny-do!!"

My students laughed and went politically mental at the same time. I wonder if they went home and told their parents I'd claimed Jenny-do right out from under Korea and Japan.

Professor Snoopy say Jenny-do is Land of Jelly!~

Friday, June 17, 2005

Ass Injection Pt. Deux

I've had two visitors searching ass injections!!! Seriously, people?!??!

I am #1 if you search "ass injections" in Yahoo's search engine. I ROCK! Who's yer mama!?!?!?

Icy Vampires

I am so lazy. This morning I actually spent time resenting my ice cube trays for not being able to fill themselves.

Last evening I stood at the bottom of the big-ass hill I have to climb up to get to my apartment every day (followed by 2 stories of stairs, 2 smaller hills, and 4 more stories of stairs) and contemplated buying a skateboard and hitching a ride on the bumper of one of the vehicles chugging up the hill.

Last summer, I actually requested the school's bus drive me up the hills after classes in August. I have "special classes" in August and January which means 8 hours of back to back classes. I do get out earlier than usual those months (the last kids' classes come in the afternoon because they aren't attending school) but after a week of slogging it up that hill while the sun was still out and arriving in my un-airconditioned super-hot apartment drenched and near fainting, I thought "screw this!" Now I have air-conditioning, though, so I'm going to try to hike it in the hellish humidity that's just around the corner. I'll probably walk in the door, crank the air-con, and proceed directly to a cold shower with my clothes on.

I'm a true-blue Canadian, and would take a -35 degree blizzard over a 35 degree jungle any day. Last summer we took the kids to Ooo-Bang Lang, an amusement park in Daegu, on what must have been the hottest day I have ever experienced. Just standing still, I was leaking sweat. How come kids are unaffected? They were all running around from ride to ride, yanking on my hands to try to get me to move faster. Riiiight.

I just now spent another lazy moment wishing these mosquitoes in my apartment were self-killing. Argh. I've gotta go kill vampires and re-fill ice cube trays.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ass Injections

Almost no one has read my BLOG, but I got a visit from someone searching for "ass injections!!" That's precious!

Speaking of, I went to the doctor again and had me another ass-injection and 3 more days of 19 and a half pills per day. I am feeling a lot better, but still tired with a hacky cough and sore throat. I think I should be feeling 100% by the end of the week so I can enjoy the weekend. I think this weekend I'm going to get off my ass (injection) and go see something interesting. I don't know what. I do wish I had someone to wander around with and talk to. Maybe I'll just set out and see where the day takes me.

*Ahem* ass injection ass injection ass injection.


On my television as I type this, is the "reality" show 'Who Wants to Marry My Dad?' What a load of crap it is! My ear are bleeding just listening to the sappy "blah blah-ing" of the participants:

(Over melodious strings) "My heart may be broken tonight, but I have the hope that it will once again be whole."


I appreciate being able to watch TV, don't get me wrong. In Japan I had 5 channels with very very very few English programs on. I spent a lot of time watching crazy Japanese game shows I couldn't really understand, but got a kick out of. I was jonesing for some good old English programming though. Here, I have about 78 channels, and a lot of choices for TV-watching. OCN, Hallmark, and Super Action play a lot of English movies. OnStyle (which is on now) is almost all English shows, including The OC, Oprah, Ally MacBeal, Gilmore Girls, Sex is the City, and a slew of "reality." On channel 69 (the all-Friends all-the-time channel) they occasionally interrupt Friends to show a few episodes of "Extreme Makeover, That 70's Show, and 3rd Rock." My mom also, bless her, sends me tapes of 3rd Watch and ER, which we used to watch together in Canada, and Six Feet Under, which started after I left, and I love!! Once I get back to Canada I'm going to catch up on a lot of TV I've missed..."West Wing" being the one I've missed, maybe the most.

This post is boring. I know.

Ass injection ass injection ass injection.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Happy Anniversary

So - it's been a year since I have been in Korea (pt. deux) and oh what a year it's been.

I had a nice day at school. I got pulled out of my last class with my students to share a cake the boss bought for me with a lone candle on the top. Everyone sang happy birthday to me. So I am one year old!

Then I went shopping with both of my co-workers and out to dinner that was their treat. We went to a cheap-o all-u-can-eat bbq restaurant. I liked it - LOVED the kimchi there - it was old-ish and sour, just like ah likes it.

Elizabeth was her usual zany self. She told a couple of jokes that weren't really jokes so much as cute Jesus-isms. One was about a priest who upon returning home to America after a life of serving in Africa, was disappointed in the turn-out of people to greet him. He admitted his sadness about not being welcomed home, until Jesus spoke to him and told him "you are not yet home."


I'm not convinced yet that my other co-worker understands anything that I say. I certainly have a very hard time understanding what she's saying to me.

I learned, while in Scotland, not to say people had a "thick" accent, because there, "thick" means stupid, whereas in Canada it just means heavy. Judy's accent is heavy. (And thick, hee hee hee!)

Ah well, 12 months gone and another 6 months ahead. Maybe more. Maybe not. It's nice that my boss would like me to stay 3 years, as they've told me, but I can't commit to it now. Six more months was all I could say for sure I'd be able to stay. We'll have to see how I feel about things as we get further along.

The rainy season has started.

And so has my weekend.


Thursday, June 09, 2005


I got up earlier than usual this morning to visit the bank and the post office which are both too far out of my way for my liking. The weekend before last I bought a couple new pairs of sandals since my old ones are smelly and falling apart. My new sandals are men's sandals because my feet are too big for pretty ladies sandals. This is a fact that makes me so sad, and resentful of all the Korean ladies with their oh-so-small feet and their pretty shoes. Damn them.

One of the fairly ugly pair of sandals have a cushy sole, which is fine by me. If I had my way, I would walk around with my feet embedded in huge marshmallows. These sandals are almost closed toed though, which I know is going to feel too hot for my feet once summer really takes hold here. After wearing them a couple times I realized the part that bends on the top of the shoe when you push off with your toes, hurts the top of my foot, pretty much where the big toe joins to the foot. So I've been avoiding them the last few days and wearing my cheap-o pair of Berkenstock wanna-be's. They cost me less than ten bucks. Bar-goon!!

Thing is, I didn't realize that after a few good walks in them, the bottom part, the part my feet make contact with, actually transforms to a coarse sandpaper and rubs the bottom of my feet right off. I've got blisters and walking makes me go "ouch."

Cheap pieces of CRAP!

I've been battling a cold all this past weekend and decided after a fitful Monday night of not being able to breathe, to visit the doctor on Tuesday afternoon. I also told him I have a sore lower back, which is probably just PMS related, but still -- while I was there why not mention it? He gave me a shot in my ass, which I always get. Korean docs seem to really love ass-injections. He also gave me a prescription for 22 and a half pills per day for the next two days. I took my first batch of 7 and a half pills last night before I went to sleep. I slept fairly well, except for the bad dreams. I dreamt my Uncle Mike shot me in the face. Freaky.

So I got up a little earlier, got my feet sanded off on the way to the bank and post office, and I took another 7 and a half pills once I got to work. I do not know what these pills are, but holy crap, I could barely keep my eyes open. Seriously, I must have looked a little strange to the kids, as I couldn't focus very well and my eyes kept involuntarily rolling into the back of my head.

I'm zonked. Knackered. Shattered.

I came home, crawled into bed and napped for 2 hours and still woke up feeling wobbly. I would have maybe slept right through, but I had to get up to watch the final episode of Sex in the City, which I have patiently waited for for over a year now. They finally aired it here, at midnight on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and today was the last one. I loved loved loved it. I cried a lot. Now I'm puffy-eyed and doped up (took my 3rd 7 and a half pills after I ate.)

I wonder what these pills are??!

In other news, my friend tells me the rainy season is supposed to start on Friday so I'll dust my umbrellas off.

I was coming home last week, Wednesday, I think - in the rain. I stopped outside my apartment on the back steps to watch a cat slinking around the dumpster. Following the cat was a small creature walking along slowly. In the dim light I couldn't make out what it was -- a kitten, perhaps? The little thing walked behind the dumpster and just as a car pulled into the back lot, illuminating the lot, the little creature stuck its head out from behind the other side of the dumpster and stayed peeking out from there until the occupants of the car had exited their vehicle and passed by me on the stairs. Then the thing continued walking slowly toward the garden. I walked out into the rain to get a better look at it -- and it was a frog! A very big mutant frog. A walking frog! I think I was witnessing some Darwinian action in my back parking lot!

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Seriously, the thing was as big as the mutant rat who waits outside my apartment door to scare the shit out of me as I leave.

I'm off to dream of pretty shoes and big-ass frogs. 'Night.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Speaking of Marriage...
What's Love Got to Do With It? Everything.
In a new book, a marriage historian says romance wrecked family stability.

By Barbara Kantrowitz

June 6 issue - For the true commitment-phobe, living among the Na people in southwestern China would be paradise. The Na are the only known society that completely shuns marriage. Instead, says Stephanie Coontz in her new book, "Marriage, a History," brothers help sisters raise the children they conceive through casual sex with nonfamily members (incest is strictly taboo). Will we all be like the Na in the future? With divorce and illegitimacy rates still high, the institution of marriage seems headed for obsolescence in much of the world. Coontz, a family historian at Evergreen State College in Washington, doesn't proclaim the extinction of marriage, but she does argue that dramatic changes in family life over the past 30 years represent an unprecedented social revolution—and there's no turning back. The only hope is accepting these changes and figuring out how to work with them. The decline of marriage "doesn't have to spell catastrophe," Coontz says. "We can make marriages better and make nonmarriages work as well."

To understand how we got here, Coontz traces the evolution of marriage from Paleolithic times. Throughout human history, people married to arrange child rearing, pass on property and organize life. Until relatively recently, most of these alliances were not legally sanctioned but rather informal arrangements accepted by society at large. The choice of partner was rarely left to the couple; parents and other respected community elders made the match. "Marriage was a way of turning strangers into relatives, of making peace, of making permanent trading connections," Coontz says. "There are many different languages that call wives the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the word 'peace-weaver'."

In the Western world, that model held until about 200 years ago, Coontz says, when the idea of marrying for love emerged. Those who bemoan the current state of marriage should blame the Enlightenment emphasis on self-fulfillment and the pursuit of happiness. It took a while for the love revolution to have its full impact. Some other barriers had to be knocked down first: inequality between men's and women's roles, little social mobility, unreliable birth control and harsh penalties for illegitimacy.

By the 1970s, Coontz says, these obstacles were gone and marriage became a potentially much more satisfying personal relationship but a much weaker social institution and the subject of intense debate. In this country, it has become a lightning rod, Coontz says, "for our anxieties about our speeded-up, materialist, winner-take-all society. People think if only marriage were more committed, that would take care of all the other problems." But Coontz argues that it's pointless to try and roll back time. For better or worse, we're stuck with marrying for love and accepting the consequences of living happily ever after—until someone better comes along.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

I Can't Understand!

I went shopping tonight with my co-worker and friend Elizabeth. We had a couple of strange conversations. She has said to me a few times that "you (me) can't understand, because you (me) am a foreigner." Most times, she is referring to Korean culture and the Korean psyche. I always tell her how presumptuous I think this statement is, because,...although I am most definitely not Korean, I think I could understand just about anything if it was explained to me.

I started talking about how perhaps it might even be easier to understand Korean attitudes and ethics in general because Korea has been so self-contained for such a long time, and has a history you can read up on, and strong ties to, say Buddhism and Confucianism, which you can look into. Maybe studying these along with gathering information and opinions from actual Koreans could make it easy to understand a culture and its attitudes that differ from those a Westerner might have experienced.

On the other hand, because Canada is such a young country and has, currently, such a diverse group of inhabitants, each with their own cultures and beliefs, perhaps its harder to 'pin down' a Canadian mindset. Is there one? Maybe not.

Elizabeth's comfortable making blanket statements about how Koreans think. And when I question her about it, she says "Jenny, you are foreigner, you can't understand!" Well,....perhaps,...but maybe if you explained...

Perhaps she just doesn't feel comfortable in her English ability to try to explain things to me, but on the other hand - she believes mixed marriages between Koreans and foreigners to be virtually impossible. Like oil and water, they cannot mix. It is, in her opinion, absolutely beyond the realm of possibility that husband and wife could ever understand each others cultural differences.

Ever hear of emulsification baby??! Yah! Let's emulsify!!

She may be right, though. I might never be able to fully understand why it's ok to push past people in Korea, or jump the queue at the supermarket because you're an ajumma in a hurry and all you need to buy is 17 bottles of soju!

We passed by the lingerie department and Elizabeth pointed out the colourful bras and panties on the mannequins. She turned to me and said "Jenny I think it's important for a married woman to keep herself looking beautiful so she doesn't make her husband guitly!"

I asked, "Her husband feel guilty? What do you mean?"

"No," she said, "her husband be guilty!"

Turns out she meant if a woman's not dressing herself up with makeup and coiffed hair and fancy bras and panties, then her husband is going to seek out some prettier booty somewhere else.


"In Korea," said Elizabeth, "it's true."

Hmmmmm. "And that is ok?" I asked. "No, no, it's not okay, I don't think, but it's TRUE"

"What if the woman has cancer and her hair falls out with chemotherapy and she looks like crap?" I asked.

"Ah, well no, then it's understandable if she is sick."

"Ok," I said, "but otherwise, if a woman isn't making herself look pretty everyday, are you saying it's her fault if her husband cheats on her?"



"You're not a feminist, are you Liz?"


"Maybe," I proposed, "it's not the Korean mind I have a hard time understanding, maybe I just don't understand you!"

She told me that in Korea, love is like that. I asked her how many times she'd been in love.


I told her she should stop believing everything she sees on TV about love.

But then again, I'm a foreigner. What the hell do I know?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


HERE, ever since you went abroad,
If there be change no change I see:
I only walk our wonted road,
The road is only walk'd by me.

Yes; I forgot; a change there is--
Was it of that you bade me tell?
I catch at times, at times I miss
The sight, the tone, I know so well.

Only two months since you stood here?
Two shortest months? Then tell me why
Voices are harsher than they were,
And tears are longer ere they dry.

~Walter Savage Landor, 1775-1864


My long weekend is over, and now I don't have another holiday to look forward to until the end of July. *Sigh*

I spent the weekend relaxing, finishing novels, watching TV, cooking and cleaning a little bit. It was another weekend where I didn't leave the apartment except for a little walk on Saturday night. Easy on my wallet, but I'm acting like a bloody recluse. I'm going to give this some thought and maybe try to psyche myself up for a venture out next weekend during daylight hours.

Actually, Friday is my one-year anniversary of being in Korea this time around, and I'm thinking about buying myself a little "good job" present. I'm thinking either an i-pod or a digital camera. It might be a challenge to get an English one, with English instructions, but ah well, I like a challenge.

What do you think? Tunes or pics?

Meanwhile, fellow blogger I know, is leaving Korea for what seems like for good on Wednesday. If you like interesting and funny blogs, check his out.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tony Toni Tonee

Yo Tony, I got'cher number.

I have a kid in one of my classes. Guess his name.

Okay, I'll tell you, it's Tony.

He's a bright kid and he's very funny but he's distracting as hell. He comes to class late every day. He comes without his textbook or a pencil, which is a huge thing to me. Come, and come prepared I say. If that wasn't enough to tick me off, the kid then proceeds to talk or sing, in Korean, non-stop.

I check the kid (5 checks gets you a sticker removed.) Stickers are rewards the other teachers hand out. Kids can redeem them at our quarterly "Market Days" where they can shop for kitchy little goodies or food at our "restaurant." I don't get to hand stickers out. The first foreign teacher at my school favoured the little girls, which made the little boys complain, (I don't blame him, they're by and far better behaved students than their male counterparts) so foreign teacher's sticker-giving-out privledges were revoked.

I also yellow card the kid (3 of these will get you kicked out of class for 5 minutes) which isn't a great big deal. This was a practice I learned while teaching in Japan. There, yellow cards could be given for any infraction, speaking Japanese, not paying attention, bothering your classmates, or being rowdy. Here I use them for anything in class except for speaking Korean. When I first started at my school there was no disciplinary system in place. I was a bit horrified. My classes were more like zoos. Anyhow, my Japanese students were careful to avoid getting kicked out of class, as that meant a sit-down with the dragon-lady owner of the school who would go up one side of you and down the other. Unpleasant.

Here, getting kicked out means 5 minutes reading a Korean comic book in the TV room. I'd rather that the Korean teacher took a chunk out of them, but often they're often busy doing phone teaching, as I mentioned in an earlier post.

Anyways, back to Tony. He doesn't care how many stickers I take. In fact, the kid owes me stickers. I can't take what he hasn't got. I've tried everything with this kid, threatening him, stopping class to yell at him, sitting down and talking one on one to him, praising every tiny bit of good behaviour in order to encourage more. Nothing works. This kid seemed to have been winning the battles and the war.

I ran into him after school the other night at the nearby grocery store and the kid was as sweet as sugar. Polite and a little shy, we had a conversation where he told me how excited he was about his class's upcoming 3-day trip. He smiled so happily and said "bye bye Jenny!" and ran home with the stuff he'd just bought for his mum.

This was not the same little demon who ascended from the fiery depths 10 minutes late everyday to class.

I got to thinking on the way home, and thought about something I'd noticed about Tony shortly after I met him almost a year ago now. The kid has a tic. Not just a slight eye twitch either, this is a full on 'jerk your head back, roll your eyes back, and open your mouth as wide as it will go' kind of thing. Like a lion yawning. Only the lion is sleepy. Very very sleepy, and needs to yawn every couple minutes. And repeatedly, in rapid succession, if the lion is stressed out.

It dawned on me, and I'll bet my ass that it's true, that this clever little fellow has decided if he keeps his yap constantly flapping, it may not be as noticeable he's got this tic thing happening. His constant chatter and singing makes him out to be a funny little class clown instead of Nervous Tic Kid.

For his trying to conceal his vulnerability, I've got to give the kid an A for effort. I've seen kids here dealing with other kids who aren't "normal." They're merciless.

And so, I learned another lesson about not taking my students behaviour personally. Sometimes they're just exhibiting smaller versions of the same coping mechanisms we adults have adapted to protect our fragile egos.

That being said, Tony's still going to have to deal with massive yellow cards and checks. Yes Tony, I got yer number, and I got your stickers too.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Stick a Fork in Me

I'm done.

My reports.

In other news, I stubbed my baby toe so hard on a big glass door at work I wanted to lie down and have a nap right after I did it. It is very bruised, purple and blue and red. Poor thing.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I just took some medicine, and it was bitter.

I called my co-worker tonight after another stress-filled day in the staffroom. To be honest, I didn't start out as my usual ray-of-sunshine self. My brother called me about 20 minutes before I had to leave for work. While I love, love, love these rare and precious phone calls, they often serve only to remind me where I am, and, therefore, where I am not.

So when I got to work and Elizabeth pounced on me to correct her English and ask me a slew of questions about the textbooks, I think I was a little surly. Maybe not. I think sometimes my true feelings don't play out on my face, but to the empath, they're easy to read. Empaths, my co-workers, are not!

Anyhow, my mood improved quickly after my first couple classes mostly filled with cute cute little girls in cute cute pink outfits. I'm an absolute pushover for one named Shelly and another named Nelly.

Every time I entered the staffroom, though, I felt the tension and got a little tense. It reminded me how much I hate working in offices that lack cohesion or camaraderie. Even if you aren't having fun, fake it, goddammit.

So I called my co-worker tonight to ask her what was up and she told me what I already figured, she had the quarterly report blues. My school also does phone teaching, which is one of the only schools I know that does. I don't enjoy it at all. Once I come home from work I'd rather not call my students and endure the awkward silences, but whatever, I think it's actually good practice for the students and an opportunity for me to talk to them outside of class. For the rowdier ones, it's interesting to hear the difference in them, over the phone while their at home with mom and dad in earshot, compared to when they're clowning it up for their classmates.

I only call the upper level students, which amounts to about 30 calls a month. The Korean teachers have to call all their students 3 times a month. Let me do some head-math. For Elizabeth, that's 36 x 3, so that's 106 calls a month. UGH. On the other hand, she teaches less classes than me. When I'm teaching in her classroom, she is not. Today, for example, she taught only 2 and a half classes to my 6. And as for phone teaching, she has the advantage of being able to prompt the students in Korean.

I'm not trying to compare my workload and situation to hers. It's impossible to do. Apples. Oranges.

I asked her, having now been through 12 months of year end reports, 12 months of phone teaching, and 4 instances of quarterly reports, "Why now?" I wondered what had happened this time around to make her so bummed out?

She started to complain about the workload and the reports. "Yes, yes," I said, "I know about the responsibilities, but still, why now?" Her reasoning wasn't something she could articulate. Or maybe, she didn't know exactly why she was pissed off.

Recently one of my co-workers quit my school. She took a couple weeks off and then found a new job at another school where she doesn't have reports or phone teaching. She gets paid per class, and while Elizabeth doesn't know how many classes this former co-worker is teaching, she figures it's a better deal. I think Elizabeth's having some "grass is greener" kind of thinking going on. Fair enough. And I can certainly understand someone just getting plain 'ole sick and tired of the same old same old.

Thing is, it's all about choices, isn't it? I told Elizabeth I understood, but as I saw it she had three choices. Stay at our school and be unhappy, stay at our school and be happy, or go somewhere else and be happy. She pointed out she could also go somewhere else and be unhappy, but I said "Aw, don't do that! Why would you do that?"

She informed me that while she is so happy to be working with me, from now on her attitude at work will be different. She will be quiet and reserved. She will be unhappy. I asked "Why?" and she said because she has now realized that it is only work. It is not a coffee shop. I find it surprising that she only now realizes, after 3 years, that it's a job. I find it even more surprising to think that once she realized this, she decided it's best to be unhappy at said job. I think maybe she's pulling some passive agressive acting out in the hopes of getting fired and forcing her hand. Maybe. Maybe not.

I asked if she minded if I told her what I thought about the three choices I mentioned and she said "sure!" I told her staying and being unhappy was a drag, it was going to wear her out, and I hated seeing her like that. Most people spend a lot of time at work, and I think it's too much time to spend being unhappy - if you are unhappy. I told her that, while she doesn't have any confidence she can get another job at another school (she says she is too old and her English is too poor) I believe in her and have faith that she can find another job and be happy. I told her that while it's possible that circumstances could change at our school and phone-teaching and report-writing would disappear, I doubted very much that was going to happen.

I asked her, "Do you know what I do when I come across something that seems impossible to change and it pisses me off?"

I change my mind.

I flip the problem over and look at it from another angle, or another and another. And I change my mind. Everything and anything is possible, and sometimes the path of least resistance is right in your head.

You think?

Mosquito, or mosquitoes, have been biting my ankles while writing this. I shall now kill them.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005



3:46am Speaking of tension, there's a fight going on downstairs between 4 men and a woman. Mostly it's just between a young-ish guy (judging from the to of his baseball cap) and the woman. The three other dudes seem to have driven up in support of (or to rescue) the woman.

I wish I spoke Korean. All I can gather is something happened to the guy's antennae on the back of his car. Other words I can discern are "beer, stop, shut up, why?, no, and a lot of "shi-paal" (kinda like "fuck!)

3:57 After the argument intensified and the sleepy guy next door, who has to leave for work in just 2 hours stuck his sleepy head out the window to glare down, the woman and her three amigos took off. Unhelpful-Grumpy-Building-Manager-Man woke up and came out to investigate. I guess. Maybe he just came out to be unhelpful and grumpy. Baseball hat man with the broken antennae is still standing out there, making calls on his cellphone.

4:10 Cops are here.

4:20 Cops are gone.

4:25 Baseball Hat's gone too.

Last week, my neighbour one apartment over and one floor under decided to break everything he owned for about an hour, starting at about 2:45 am. I was surprised no one called the cops, you should have heard the racket.

Peace Out.