Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mo Clicky Click

That last picture of the,..uh,...Longwang, was courtesy of this cool site. If you're at all interested in 'nature' and/or cute/scary/curious/freaky/funny animal pictures and commentaries, go have a look. The site is very heavy on photos, so could take some time to load, but it's definitely worth a visit. I remember thinking Gemini, the two-faced kitten I fell in love with was a real rarity, but the Welsh View Nature Site has a plethora of freaky multi-limbed and headed animals!

I had my first lesson with the boss and it went well. I picked up a textbook and workbook last night and she really liked my choice. The 1st chapter is on verb tenses, which is something I wanted to work on with her first off anyway. I think this is going to be fun, though it makes for a long day. Even though our lesson ended at about 9:20, (we ran over a few minutes) I didn't say bye-bye to her until almost 10:30 after we'd closed up the school and gone to eat some (so-so) dolsot bibimbap. I loaded her up with homework, and promised to beat her good with a stick if she didn't complete it.

Today I made sandwiches for my middle school girls. One of them celebrated their birthday on the weekend, and I promised I'd hook them up after they begged for sammies after seeing the staff eating them last Friday. (I had made roasted chicken, sauteed mushrooms, and tabasco-mayo dressing on baguettes last Friday, but my girls got fake crab salad with mayo and wasabi, sliced cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts and lettuce on multi-grain bread today.) It was declared yummilicious.

I'm all about the sandwiches these days because my fricking stove is broken. It worked fine Monday night, and hooked me up with some rice and fried egg with old stanky kimchi, but when I went to make some miso soup for breakfast Tuesday morning, it was kaput. You know on gas stoves how you push the dial in and turn and there's this click click click before the flame swooshed into action? I ain't got no clicky clicks. Not having fire really limits one's choices on what to eat. I can't even boil water for tea, which BITES.

So, tomorrow some joker is going to come have a look at my stove before work. I've been cleaning the apartment so he doesn't judge me. It's not really dirty, so much as it is dusty and grimey and soot caked. I'm joking. It's messy, is all. I have a habit of creating piles of crap on surfaces. Not actual "crap." I create piles of crap in my toilet. On the tables and chairs and counters, there's piles of stuff.

I am pretty sure he's going to judge me about what's under my stove (countertop burner, to be more precise) as I have NEVER cleaned under there, and will bet my ass the guy who lived here before me didn't either. How does one do that anyhow? Lift the stove with one arm and clean with the other? I'm not Superman, goddammit.

Anyhow, I'm very busy these days, teaching and eating and cleaning and crapping. Tomorrow night I'll be learning and creating. Balloon animals. For Friday's "Market Day." You can read a little bit about our last one here. I've decided to move from the restaurant back to the stationery store to display and sell my balloon creations. (ART!!) Then I have a 3-day weekend, as Monday is a holiday! Yeeee hah!

**Edit: The stove man has "some trouble" and isn't coming this morning. Karen's going to try to get him to come Saturday sometime (it had better not be at 8am) so until then, I can't cook anything. I was really getting spoiled with those hot meals, anyhow! Now I have to go gnaw on a carrot.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hor D'oeuvres

Speaking of weird food combinations, tonight's dinner was rice crackers spread with a little cream cheese and topped with a pile of kimchi. I love kimchi, and to me, the older and more sour, the better. I picked up some 6-month old kimchi at HomePlus last weekend. Deelish. My hor d'oeuvres are even better if topped further with a thin slice of fresh garlic.

Oh, and whipped cream. And potatoes, of course.

In other news, there's a baby typhoon somewhere out there, south of Okinawa.
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It's name is Longwang.

Heh, heh,...Longwang.

I sure hope we don't get hit by Longwang! Heh, heh, heh.

Say it with me,...Longwang!

And speaking of Longwang,
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Not much more to say after that, is there?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Speaking of Chow

There are some strange combinations in food here, especially when it's Koreans doing their version of a Western standard. I've can't understand potato sandwiches, or potatoes on pizza, for that matter. You can't get a pizza here that doesn't come with a side of sweet pickles. Why do they go together? The other day, when I took some kids to a buffet restaurant, they had a chocolate fondue there. Groovy! 2 of the 8 choices of things to skewer, though, were cherry tomatoes and cloves of roasted garlic. Odd.

I really don't understand, though, how every time I buy a French baguette from the neighbourhood bakery, I get a container of whipped cream. I've never been to France, but is this how things are being done there these days?

I've Got a New Student

And it's my BOSS! Ahhhhhh! I went into work today and the three of them were all talking in Korean, which is not at all unusual, but they kept saying "waygook saram, waygook saram, etc." Waygook saram is ME - it means "foreigner." It piques my interest when I hear that. Perhaps because it's one of the few words I can understand.

Turns out Karen has gotten really gung-ho about learning English, and wants to study with a foreigner once a week. When I heard that, I said, "Oh! That's a good idea!" and Elizabeth asked me "Jenny, will you teach Karen?"

I said "Ah - I can't. I'm busy."

They laughed, because they know I'm not busy and they knew I was joking. But I was really only half joking. I've had many requests to teach private lessons, and I just don't have much interest in it. It's good money, but illegal. I'm not overly concerned about the legality of it, but I'm quite lazy and feel like my teachers' dance card is filled with the amount of teaching I'm doing at school (and at home, with *&@^#% phone-teaching.)

During my first class, though, I thought about what a schmuck I am, and how lame it is for Karen to have to go seek out some other waygook saram to help her out, when she has a perfectly good waygook saram under her nose. So I told her during the first break that of course, I would study with her.

So we'll meet once a week after classes for an hour. I stayed after work and talked to her about it. We decided that I could just sort out lesson plans and homework and review material online, but having spent about 2 and a half hours tonight looking stuff up, and not coming up with too much that will be helpful, I'm thinking I'm going to ask her if it's cool I take a trip downtown tomorrow night and see if I can find a suitable text for us to work with. I asked her a couple times to think of things that she'd specifically like to work on, and she wrote down: _______ from ______, and _______ where ______. I'm not entirely sure what that means. Prepositions? I know we need to work on some vocabulary building, and I did find a couple of interesting ideas on the web, so with a little more photocopying I should be good to go for our first lesson on Wednesday.

Everytime my co-workers complain about how they want to learn English, but it's soooooo difficult, I tell them "practice." The 10 minute breaks we have throughout the day, and the time before and after work is a good time to practice their conversation skills with me (not to mention it makes me feel more included at work.) but they say their English is "so bad!" I really think it just takes more effort for them to try to speak English when they'd rather be relaxing a little bit before the next class. I dig. But still,...

When I first started here, actually, I was expected to come in almost 3 hours before the 1st class, have a sit down lesson with the other co-workers for an hour, then lunch together, and then planning for the classes. Lunch was great. One of the kid's moms, a really great cook, made us homestyle Korean lunches everyday. Deeelish. It was a big drag for me, however, that I sat in the middle of everyone and they almost never attempted to speak English. They chatted it up and laughed together in Korean, without even telling me what it was they were talking about. I would try to initiate conversations, but after a couple minutes, one of them would say something in Korean and then they were off and running again.

Those lessons were cancelled when the cook got a job which meant she didn't have time anymore to cook for us. Instead of making other arrangements, Karen just cancelled the whole thing, which was fine by me. The other teachers whined because then lunch was up to them, and it was like their wallets were taking a hit.

I've rambled.

This new deal is a better situation for me. Karen's told me I'll get extra pay, but I don't really care about that to be honest. It's good to be teaching an adult again. I used to love adult classes in Japan. It helped keep my grammar skills sharp. It'll be nice to have a weekly conversations with Karen, as well. She's a very nice woman. She's even suggested we go around the corner for a nice bowl of dolsot bibimbap after our lesson. Good call!
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*photo borrowed from grilled aubergine.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Field Trip

I had a "date" today. With 3 boys. Wheeeee!

They are my students, and I might have just opened a whole 'nother can of worms by taking them out for the day. I've never done that before. What happened, briefly, was that they threw me a little birthday party in class the Friday before last, invited themselves along to my birthday lunch the following day, Elizabeth nixed that idea, so I promised we would go out another time. This week, they started talking about movies. "Teacha, let's movie going!" I said "Yah, sometime!" So they firmed up plans for today to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with me, even though I didn't really agree to it.

They showed up at my apartment around 2 o'clock today, yelling my name from the parking lot below. So off we went.

The movie was sold out, but they didn't seem to care at all. They really wanted me to take them on a shopping spree, but I nixed THAT idea, and instead took them to a game room and shoved fistfulls of 100 won coins into their happy hands. They sang in a mini karaoke room, controlled a robot car to pick up a mess of Chuppa Chup lollipops, raced each other with video hot rods and killed a lot of bad guys with guns. I kicked their asses in the driving games, but sucked at everything else.

They all bought meat on sticks on the way to the restaurant we went to. Same restaurant Elizabeth took me to for lunch last weekend. I mentioned it before, but it's a buffet. Yummilicious. The kids liked it, but ate like the restaurant was going to run out of food. They all talked with their mouths stuffed full off food, and 2/3 of them double fisted their utensils, with a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other. It was more like shovels. They made some interesting sundaes from the ice cream bar, and then mixed them all up and asked the waiter for straws so they could drink their "shakes." They absolutely out-ate me. Good, because I got a pleasant surprise, and their meals were about half the cost of mine, and I got a 10% discount because I am a foreigner. That's what the maitre'dee told me. Cool.

Then we went to the "Big Park," (its actual name) and I rented the boys bicycles and sat down to read a book. I actually rented a bike myself and was all gung-ho, until I got on and remembered it has been maybe 15 years since I've ridden anything but a stationary bike. I'm too cool to crash in front of my students - who were racing around with no hands.

A crazy older Korean man with "happy hands" sat beside me and tried, alternately, to encourage me to slide over and cuddle up, and touch me. He didn't speak English but communicated silently with hand gestures, which I didn't understand. He insisted on me writing down my phone number, even after I declared my phone "opseyo" (non-existent,) so I set him up with a fake number, and he gave me his, with his name written in Hangul.

If I couldn't understand his hand gestures in person, I doubt I'd have much luck over the phone, but whatever. As long as I can avoid crazy old men spitting on me in front of my students, who kept stopping by to eye the old guy suspiciously, it's all good. By the time we were ready to return the bikes, I had 3 older men hanging out with me. I was ready to get going with my 3 boys.

Two of the boys shared a cup of bondegi in the taxi on the way to the big park. They bought it themselves, right after we left the restaurant. I'm not buying a dixie cup fulla bugs for them.
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They shared the bug juice leftover once all the bugs were eaten up. The sensible boy and I agreed it made us want to puke.

They each ate 3 onigiris
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(triangle gimbap in Korea) an ice cream, a slushee, and drank a couple bottles of pocari sweat or cola. I was really amazed at the bottomless pit that is an eleven year old boy.

It was a fun day. I like hanging out with kids (and not in a Michael Jackson kind of way) outside of the classroom, where we can just joke around and have fun. They speak English because they have to in order for me to understand them, and they want me to understand them, because we're having a good time, instead of me flipping out because they're not opening their books to study. I think the boys liked hanging out with me. A lot of people commented to them about their pet foreigner. They asked if I was their teacher, "Yongoro songsengneem?" and the kids replied affirmitavely. I would then point to one of the boys and then to myself and say "Aniyo, O-MA" ("No, I'm his MOM!") The boys would laugh and protest, while I pointed to my face saying "MOMMY!"

The can of worms I may have opened is what's going to happen when the other students catch wind of today's activities which were, by and large, my treat. I swore the kids to secrecy - at least about it being my money that was spent, but kids, that age, aren't very good with keeping secrets. We'll see what happens next week.

The weather was gorgeous today, and the night is a bit chilly even! Perfect weather for sleeping. I think my air conditioner is officially off for the season, but I'm not willing to say that for sure just yet.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Spill My Guts

Lately, I've been considering posting a "spill my guts" kind of Sunday post. I'm wondering if it might be cathartic. I'm also wondering if it might be lame. I'm wondering if I might have the courage to lay it all out there, not worrying about who might read it and who might get hurt in the process. Myself included.

I guess it might be interesting and I guess I might do it, but I think it might be painful.

I guess I'm wondering what the real point of A blog, MY blog, is. I want us all to be entertained almost all of the time, but I wonder how brutal it might be to get down to heart of the matter once in awhile.

People, what do you think?

It's just a thought. And requires more thinking,...but right now, I'm thinking "why the hell not?"

**Edit - I've just read this post in the sober light of day, and decided after reading my "spill-my-guts" post on Sundays, you should all come over to my place for a hootenany! No, a group hug! No, no, no, a CUDDLE PARTY!! Yeah!

It seems I've gone mental on account a' the kimchi! How's that for a confession?

What I'm meaning to say is: Sunday Night Blog Therapy? - Not going to happen. It's been cancelled due to sobriety.

I Got 4 Shoes

I had two shoes. Now I have four shoes.

I went shopping tonight and bought some new shoes. I got new shoes. I scouted them out the other night when I went to buy tiger lilies. I stopped in at the Everlast store because in the window there were these funky big soled running shoes embellished with glitter and rhinestones. If I haven't said it before, I'm saying it now, I'm a fan of "shiny." I like "sparkly." I suspect, in my former life, I might have been a crow.

Anyhow, I saw these funky glittery running shoes in the window, and I went in to check them out, knowing full well what the answer to my "Can I have them?" question was going to be.

"No. No you cannot have them. Piss off."

So sad.

See, the trouble is I have North American sized feet in an Asian sized shopping mecca. Actually, I have large feet even on the North American sized scale of feet. (And yes, my penis is HUGE!) I'm size 10 in Canada, which makes me a 270 here in Korea. Actually I was just looking at an online shoe conversion site, which puts me at a size 260 in Korea, but that's bullshit. The sandals I'm wearing now are a 265, and they were snug when I bought them. My 270's I bought tonight had my big toe right snug up at the top. I could not have the pretty shiny girlie running shoes because they were just that: girlie. Here, women's' shoes stop at 255 (about a 7 and a half, eight from the show conversion chart.) I an S.O.L in Asia for shoes. I got2mensfeet in Asia.

So I got myself a pair of "unisex" shoes. They're Airwalks, and look very much these:
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only mine are black and grey with some burgundy piping. It doesn't bode well for them being called "Old Boy" in Korea. I think that might be Konglish for "original." I would also bet there are very few Korean women wearing these shoes. They're all happy with their shiny, sparkly, glittery shoes. Damn them and they're silly small feet.

The bag my new shoes came in was a good choice. Kamikaze the Kitty is sliding across the floor with his upper half in the bag and his bottom half propelling him. He used to crack me up in Japan doing the same thing when he was a kitten, with the cute blue canvas bags they would tuck my rented videos into. I also broke out his favourite toy, my red laser gun, tonight. He doesn't know it's a toy. I think he thinks it a bright red pulsating bug. Lately, though, he's gotten a bit smart, and will chase it for a couple minutes and then stare at my hand which controls the laser beam. I tell him "I'm not doing nothing," but he doesn't buy it, and his accusing eyes bore into my soul. I hate when that happens.

I did, however, love it, when he brought his toys up onto my bed on Wednesday when I returned to work. I could be wrong, but it seemed like he missed me and my playing with his and brushing him. He hasn't done the dragging the toys around (as much so as I would notice) for a long time.

Last night, as I hung out my laundry, I noticed a cicada on my balcony. I moved him out of the puddle he was stuck in (it's been raining lightly a lot here) so he could dry out. By the time I was up, the cicada was dried out and making a sound like a baseball card on bicycle spokes. Kamikaze was all set to eat him, but I picked him up and he flew out of my hands, off into the forest. He was so big, I could see him a long way off.

Go on, little bugger. Let your freak flag fly.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ward and June Style

Commercials on TV here are kind of strange. Mostly, they all come in a large heap between programs. That's kind of cool, as shows aren't interrupted as nearly as often as they are back home. Unfortunately, at least on OnStyle and DongAh, which are the stations I watch the most, they just don't have a large variety of commercials, and therefore play the same ones (in pretty much the same order) most every break. There are a couple of "local" commercials, which double in volume than any of the others (I'm talking audio, not mass) so I'm always running for the remote so my neighbours won't think I'm an ass at 3 in the morning. The local commercials are currently for a restaurant, a hagwon, and a hanbok shop.

The music for many of the national commercials is a bit bothersome.

Recently a new commercial started running, not sure what it's for because I'm hardly ever looking at the screen, but it features A Bushel and A Peck. Only click that link if you want to be hit by a large schmutz stick. "I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, a hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap,..." *Gag*

Two others which play very often are a commercial for Korean airlines, with some jive hipster sixties style music and a woman repeating the spoken line "I am,...a very stylish girl, a very stylish girl, a very stylish girl," and a super-annoying one featuring Drew Barrymore for Baskin Robbins (which isn't terribly retro, but is definitely annoying) with some la-tra-lah-dee-dah girl singing the maddening lyrics, "they say your middle name's 'trouble,' but I know it's 'karaoke',.."

Another one features "Teacher's Pet" by Doris Day. I'm expecting the theme from "Leave it to Beaver" to be busted out fairly soon. Is this reverting to 1950's style muzak some sort of new hip trend?
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I don't like it. It's lame, and goofy, and bloody catchy and it sticks in my head and replays all day long. Again, *gag.*

Thursday, September 22, 2005

An Update

I forgot to mention how I went shopping last Friday. It was a madhouse, I tell you. A maaaaadhouse. Everyone was out getting their ingredients so they could spend Saturday preparing for the big day. I suppose it's a bit like Christmas and Thanksgiving COMBINED, because not only is there a big meal shared by family, (though, I suppose that usually happens at Christmas back home as well, but maybe not so much) but also people give each other presents. NOT ME! They don't give ME presents, but they give each other presents. Lotte Magnet was so very crowded, they had to have on of their employees stand at the bottom of the moving walkway going from the 1st floor (food court and clothes and the like) to the basement (grocery store, music, toys and housewares)and he HAULED the people off, by way of their shopping carts. I stood in the liquor section at the bottom of the walkway watching in awe for a few minutes. If buddy hadn't been there to encourage people to move it along, they would have ended up in a massive heap running from the bottom of the walkway all the way up. People were just stopping as they rolled off the moving people conveyer and standing there, looking at all the rest of the people. Has that happened to you? Being behind someone on a escalator, and they just stop at the top once they stop being propelled, and you knock into them like a bowling ball? What's up with that?

I mentioned the lack of Chuseok gift in the previous paragraph, but in truth I've decided to get over myself. I thought about the fact that Karen doesn't get the Korean teachers birthday presents at all. She gets me one. So, whatever. Not worth stressing out about by any means. This morning when in went in, Kevin, Karen's son, rushed up to me with a present. It was a funny yellow pen with a duck on top. Everytime you write with it, the duck lights up. Cute. Karen gave me a very nice pair of brushed silver hoop earrings and a heavy brushed silver heart pendant. I love silver.

I went downtown and bought myself some flowers, tiger lilies and pretty little yellow daisy type things. I hope their heartier than the roses and mums I bought last Friday - as they were pretty well dead by Monday - and pretty much entirely rank when I threw them out tonight.

I'm going to go write some e-mails and see if I can conjure up some interest in my life from my friends and family back home. Sometimes, I ask them if I should wrap up my contract and head back home. They always say "Of course! Jellybean, please come back home!" It makes me feel all warm and wanted and missed. But, what else are they supposed to say? "Shit Jenn, I don't care! Never come back, if that's what you want!"

They're all far too polite for that!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Smiley Face

I decided to go out last night. I went downtown to my favourite club and it was abandoned. It was open, but dark, and everything inside was gone. I was really bummed and sat outside on the street looking at it. Then it started to rain, so I came home.

There's an excellent chance that I officially give up about getting out there and meeting people and developing a social life here. It's just too difficult. There is a Writers Group I just read about that meets twice a month at a bar. I'm not sure if that information is up to date, but maybe if I get up enough nerve I'll look into it.

I still have to decide if I'll agree to staying on longer at work. I expect I'm going to be asked to make my decision very soon. If I don't agree to extend, I have only 11 and a half weeks left here. It's not very long, time is just a' flyin.

The last 4 days off flew by. Tomorrow I'm back to work. It's good it's a short week, I'll just have time to ease back into it and then it'll be the weekend again and I can not go out and not meet anyone.



I guess just a few pounds make a difference in the wardrobe. I brought to Korea a pair of blue jeans - kinda bell- bottomy with copper buttons on the outer leg from knee to ankle. Hip. Cool.

I stopped wearing them in Korea, though, because they were tight and not broken in.

I restarted wearing them in Japan because they were loose. When my coworkers and students told me they thought I was losing weight they weren't kidding.

I retired them this past spring, because they're made of a heavier denim.

I'm wearing them now. I had to do the "lie down on bed and put them on." They're way too tight.


Monday, September 19, 2005

Chuseok Nazi'd

Hey, Chuseok (aka The Moon Harvest Festival, aka Korean Thanksgiving) is a time for gifts. See what kinds of gifts people give each other on Swiss James' site. Last year I got HAM. Lots and lots of ham. ("Goddamn ham," as J-bro likes to call it)
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I don't know about you, but to me, nothing says "Good job, I am thankful for the hard work you do, and the care you display toward our students," than a suitcase full of cured and smoked meat. Mmmmmm. (Actually, I still have one fat loin in my freezer.)

Fast forward to this year's Chuseok (aka my birthday, in case you forgot,) and guess what I got? Nothing! Nada. Zilch. El Bupkus.

Q'est que c'est? Oui, rien. Pour quoi? Parce que je ne sais pas. (Perhaps because you pepper your blog with bad French?)

I put in for the traditional boss gift. In fact, I reminded the Korean teachers Thursday afternoon that we hadn't yet talked about or put in for Karen's gift, a big box of pears and a big box of apples, which doesn't sound like much to the Western reader, but is altogether very close to $70.00 Cdn. Dems Fancy Fruit.

I got nothing though. (Well, I got two shoes, but other than that,....)

The Korean teachers got a gift though, a gift certificate to any of the major department store (see:money.) This bothered me, but Elizabeth explained that Karen told her that she planned to get me a nicer-than-she-would-have-birthday-gift. Karen showed me last Thursday, before I left work, what she had bought for me. It was a silver necklace with three hearts entwined (representing, I'm sure, myself, Karen, and the love of loves, Korea) but she said she was worried it was too small. She was right. It put the "choke" in "choker." So in lieu of a Chuseok gift, she is going to splash out on a longer chain. The Korean teachers' Chuseok gift was 100,000won. I expect my necklace should dangle down to my pelvis.

Do I sound bitter? I am, a little bit. I don't need ham. I don't need anything, really, but 115 bucks Cdn. (100,000won) is $115. There are many things I could do with that. Maybe I could buy Kamikaze a third carrot bed and keep him in "vittels" for a couple days. Whatever. It's not the gift that matters, it's the thought. But when there's no gift, what exactly is the thought? I feel alienated enough everyday at work at not being included in conversations and never really being told, even, what the hell is going on with anything. When I'm not even given a gift during a period where it's tradition to give gifts, it just makes me sad and further reminds me of what a waygook saram I am, an outsider, as if I could forget it for just a moment.

It's not tradition for Koreans to give Christmas presents to one another, but it's MY tradition. So, I busted out some joy in the form of brightly wrapped holiday gifts last season. I'll probably do the same this year, because I'm not much of an "eye for an eye" (or no-eye for no-eye) kind of person.

Still. What would you think? Would you be a little insulted?

Oh, and in my search for "ham," I saw this, a 7-11 product:
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looks yummy, eh? They do not have this product at any 7-11 I've seen in Korea. Talk about alienation, GIMME MY BREAKFAST SANDWICH!!! I've been jonesing for an English muffin for so long. Though this sammy looks more like a biscuit than a muffin. Still, *Sigh*

Ode to J-Bro

So, my brother. He ROCKS. I love him more than anyone on earth. What more can I say?

Well, I'll tell you one interesting thing. When I was 14 I looked across the foyer of my all-girls high school and saw a girl with very long hair. It was almost down to her bum, and gorgeous! I walked up to her and told her she had such pretty hair. She thanked me, and I asked "can I have it?" I have a tendency to ask people for things they have that I like. 99% of the time they say "uhhhhh, no!" Lori of the Long Hair said no, too. But this was the start of our friendship.

I used to sometimes go to her house after school. We'd hang out and talk about stuff and watch TV. I ate my first eggplant there. I was a little nervous about not liking it, and having to push my food around my plate, which is rude when you're a dinner guest, but it was AWESOME! So was Lori. She was so awesome I used to suggest that she marry my brother, and I marry hers, (Lino of the Very Blue Eyes.) I had it all planned out, she would be a dental hygenist and I would be a talented writer and we would meet in the afternoons to pick strawberries from the strawberry patch that separated our houses by the lake. We'd have tea. It would be fun.

Then Lino went and wrecked my plans and married Donna of the Calvin Klein. Ah well.

When our high school prom rolled around 5 years later, and Lori didn't have a date, I said "take my brother!" Why not? We were all friends, and I loved hanging out with him. She hemmed and hawed, but finally agreed. She looked beautiful in a peach princess waisted flower of a dress. Her mother was a bridal designer and made it for her. Around the bottom hemline of the puffy layers of crenoline were petals, maybe 6 layers deep, attached to the dress with hand-sewn pearls. I got drunk and tried to pluck her everytime she came near me. I am lovely.

As for romance between Jeff and Lori, nothing happened. I could feel my future vision of strawberries and tea falling apart, especially since Lori was headed off for am Art History/Psychology degree at York University, and wasn't studying anything at all related to the maintenance of teeth.

Sometime after prom, my brother started dating another of my friends, the lovely Kim. We all moved in together and had a great time until I headed off for my own degree at a university up north. Meanwhile, Jeff and Kim carried on living together until they're relationship started to fall apart. This was not the first of my friends my brother dated, and why not? I had some pretty kick-ass beautiful friends! Unfortunately, when things ended, they tended to end very badly, in that my brother would end his relationship, which would effectively end my friendship. Kim was no different, and their end-of-days was made even more traumatic than any previous one, because they had years worth of living together to divide, and Kim had her brother and father come on over to the apartment to stomp and smash my brothers things. Hmmmm. Water under the bridge, (yo Kim, I don't talk to you, but I ain't mad at'cha.)

So when Jeff and Lori let me know in the summer of 93, I think, that they had hooked up I wasn't very happy. I didn't want to lose another friend.

I didn't have to worry though. A mere six years later, they were married in the Bahamas. Dress designed by Lori's mom, gorgeous, and even though I got drunk then too, I never once tried to "pluck" her. I wish I had a picture to post here, because the wedding was beautiful. Picture blue skies, blue sea, sand, flowers, and a gorgeous and happy bride and groom.

And it all comes back to me, and my power to manifest destiny. Impressive.

Actually, it all comes back to my brother, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, in time with mine for about 11 hours. It was great growing up with him, an ally, a confidant, a co-conspirator. He is one very funny guy, and hands down, my best friend. My very best memories of life all have him involved in one way or another, and I can't believe I've been away from him for so long.

Jeff and Lori have a wonderful little girl I've only met once, even though she's almost 3 and a half now. They have a house I've never seen, and a business I've never been to. (Mmmmmmm toasted submarine sandwiches!) I miss them, and think of them all daily, many times. In this case, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and not fungus, like the Barenaked Ladies would have you believe.

Anyhow, Happy Birthday J-Bro. I love you.

And by the way, Lori, when she became a senior in high school and chopped off all her hair to one very dramatic short length, did give me a braid of it. It's still packed away with the rest of my life in some box in my mothers garage. Perhaps the morale of this story is, you can eventually get what you ask for, so ask away!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Still My Birthday

This is my big black pussy Kevin (the BIG HO) keeps splitting in half with his silly light saber.
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Kamikaze Kamakiri Kitty is not impressed. He thinks Kevin is a bit of a douchebag. I tell him Kevin's okay, just misguided, but,....

Regardless,'s MY birthday, so let's focus on that. They'll be belated, but if you require my address to send me gifts, let me know.

I bought myself a couple gifts, a bouquet of flowers and some way too expensive eyeshadow. I mentioned the eyeshadow already. The flowers, though, are kinda pretty.

I stopped by a flower shop, showed them some money, pointed at the flower cooler with many varieties, and said "yebudda juseyo" (pretty, please.) The lady yanked out a bunch of yellow and a bunch of peach roses. I pointed to another bunch of flowers, (mums?) and threw them in too. They are peach and yellow too. So she had all the flowers out, and then she bloody well raped them; cut their stems, stripped their leaves, and plucked all the outer petals of the roses. They ended up in a sunshiney mess on the floor. I'm no florist, but is this good for the flowers? Now they're all tucked into a vase I bought for them, but they're not looking so great. The roses' petals have curled under and turned into pointed triangles. The mums just look like they're about to die.

Soon, I'll put the vase on the ground and Kamikaze can eat 'em.

My brother called at about 12:05 to wish me a happy birthday. He noted I used to be only 5 minutes older than him, but now I'm 13 hours and 5 minutes older (and wiser!)

By the way, I'm a twin!

Tomorrow (while it will still be my birthday) I'll tell you about my brother.


It's Official

It's my birthday. Happy Birthday to ME! Here's a cake I DIDN'T eat:
Image hosted by Photobucket.combut it's cute, eh?

So yes, I'm thirty bloody six. Hard to believe, really. Seems like just yesterday I was walking the halls of high school in my Catholic girls' school uniform. Crazy.

So I was going to go out tonight. On the town. Party it up. I napped too long, though, and then thought it was dicey, it being Chusoek and all (chu-sok in former spellings.) It might be hopping, it might not. I decided not to chance it, and am going to stay in. I may or may not go out tomorrow night. I might wait til next weekend. I may never go out at all. Going out alone can be interesting, or it can be pathetic. It's all a crap shoot.

Today was good though. I met Elizabeth for lunch at the buffet restaurant we went to back in July. It was alright, decent salad, excellent shrimp tempura, and I loved the smoked salmon (very smokey!) but Elizabeth was turned off by seeing the skin on the bottom. Before it was sans skin, but today - avec skin. I don't know why, and it doesn't matter - actually I thought it was tastier today than ever before. I got a nice present of lavender Body Shop body wash and lotion. Lovely.

We went shopping for a bit at Lotte Department store where I dropped sixty bucks worth at Body Shop. I bought myself a birthday gift of eyeshadow. It'll last for years. I rarely wear it. On the few days I do, the kids stare at me like I'm some new person, and want to yank on my eyelashes, thinking they're fake. Mascara, baby!

I came home, jumped in the shower, and crawled into bed. Had me a good nap, though some bug (not mosquito) bit my arm a bunch of times. I woke up scratching.

Last night, while I was sleeping with my big black pussy, he kept scrambling around. I realized what the problem was when I heard a large insect hitting the screen. I didn't know what it was, or whether it was inside or outside until this morning. It was inside, and it was a dragonfly. Kamikaze had eaten half of it, and lines of ants were congregating to finish off the rest of it. Damned ants. I squished them all, and even got one BIG ant which may have been the queen, or king. Definitely a bigwig. The remaining ants I didn't manage to kill wandered around confused, now that they didn't have to answer to their leader.

So I have four days off, (three now.) I was supposed to get only ONE extra day off (besides Saturday and Sunday) but my school decided Thursday to take this coming Tuesday off as well. One of the elementary schools has a holiday that day, so attendance will be low. The taekwondo academy, and music school all housed on the same floor as our school agreed. Nice. I like days off. However, I resent the lack of planning about this and how it takes away from MY 10 days off (besides national holidays.) The Korean teachers just get a bonus, but I get a strike against my precious holidays that I like to arrange in-a-row so I can DO something. The same thing happened last winter, when Karen informed me December 29th that the school would take a "winter vacation" on January 2nd and 3rd. I had no time to plan anything. It makes for my already fairly yawny life to be even more yawny. It's yawn-i-licious. I didn't get a Chuseok present either. The K-teachers got 40,000won gift certificates for Lotte stores. I got jack. I'm alienated.

I'll spend my extra day off at the dentist. Yeeeee haw!

But wheeee, it's my barfday. Happy Barfday to ME!

*EDIT:* By the way, if you come here and don't leave me a birthday hello, you suck!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Day in the Life

Hey, sorry about that last post, I just had a bad day is all. Manners are manners are manners, and were I living back home in Canada, I'm sure I could post something daily about lack of manners. I was just really shocked at the bus-blocking-badass who actually made an aggressive lurching motion toward the bus driver on the way back to his car yesterday. It reminded me of being in Karen's car a couple weeks ago and actually hitting a guy who bolted out into the road. We were going slow, though. The guy stood there screaming at us for a couple minutes before running off.

I don't have the best manners either. Sometimes I have to fart in class, so I get up, let 'er rip, and then walk fairly rapidly around the class in circles so it'll be hard to pinpoint where the smell comes from, if it is a smelly one. I told Elizabeth this before, and she laughed and laughed, because it turns out she does the same thing! Ha ha ha.

Actually, a couple weeks ago I was out shopping with her. We were walking along at Lotte Mart when she suddenly lost step with me, so I turned around to see what happened.

She was standing behind me with a big smile on her face, and then she made this funny pose: leaned to one side, stuck her hip out the other direction and brought both her hands, as if folded in prayer, up to the side of her face. I laughed, and asked her what she was doing. She caught up with me again and confided, "I parted."


She made a raspberry sound and hand motioned air coming out of her ass. "Ohhhhh, Farted!" I laughed, and asked what was up with the strange pose. I told her in Canada, that pose usually means "I'm sleepy," and asked if farting makes her sleepy. She laughed so hard, she almost cried.

Now, in the staff room, I can always make her laugh when I make that silly pose, and the others don't know why we're laughing.

Things were pretty good at work today. I like Thursdays. It's the one day of the week I get off an hour early because I'm not teaching the last class. Things ended last week on a real downer vibe. The Korean teachers were all tired and ticked off about the extra classes they picked up. While Liz ands I taught our last classes, Judy talked with Karen about how maybe Karen could take back one of the classes she gave up a week before. When I heard that I was really surprised. Ballsy! I wondered over the weekend what was going to happen come Monday. Turns out Karen ordered them to do as they're told. Yeeeeaaaah. I mean, she was nice about it, but she got the job done. Good for her! She really is a very kind woman - I like her very much, and think she is finding it a little difficult to completely assume the duties of Director, the title which her husband used to hold. Her husband is also a very kind man, but when he was here and involved with the school, all important decisions were deferred to him. Karen was more like a co-teacher and friend to the rest of us, and transitioning from pal to boss seems challenging, especially since it's her nature to be sweet. She still is, but now she's showing some backbone in matters which might make the employees grumble. Good for her!

Yes, yes, perhaps I should be more sympathetic to the K-Teachers, but they were given the option to pick up the extra classes, and are being compensated monetarily for their extra work. I felt bad hearing that they wanted to reneg on their agreement after only one week, saying they were so tired. At my old school in Masan, the Korean teachers had to clean the school, washrooms included, everyday. I'm just saying, they could have it a lot worse working for a mean old money grubbing kinda boss.

Anyhow, we're nearing the end of the week, and my desk is covered with birthday presents. So far, I've gotten Lucy's ceramic snow globe bear, another pre-loved ceramic bear, a big pre-loved heavy glass fish, a pre-loved ceramic cat holding a "roach clip" (which you're supposed to put a photo in) 2 "shaapuus" (mechanical pencils,) 2 little notebooks, 2 pencil cases: one box-style and one pink-Barbie-style, a package of 10 Christmas themed pencils, a ceramic blue box made to look like a present, and a big stuffed blue and white plush dog. I'm making out like a KING I tells ya. Awww - it's very nice of the kids. I've also got a Chu-sok present of a package of 2 Pierre Cardin hankies embroidered with flowers. My grandmother will enjoy them.

My middle school girls had a party for me today in class. It consisted of a bottle of Coke, about six bags of "snacks" tore open, and a "cake" made of these:
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mmmmm, yummers. It was very nice of them, actually. They also gave me the Barbie pencil case and X-mas pencils I mentioned. When Judy called last Saturday to arrange what time we were meeting for dinner, she asked if the middle school girls were at my apartment. I said no, what? Turns out, they were planning on coming over to have a surprise birthday party at my pad. I told Judy to hang on a minute, while I hurried to close my door which was open a little to get a breeze through here. My apartment was messy, and I was still in my pajamas. Company would just not do! (Last year, about 8 middle school girls showed up at my place on my birthday. I bought them pizza and they ended up cleaning my apartment!)

Karen told me she had called one of the students mom's to thank her for the Chu-sok handkerchiefs, and the mom told Karen how much the little girl loves me. This past summer, the family was trying to plan a trip, and the little girl didn't want to go because it meant missing my class. As if! Sweet.

In other news, my spaghetti tonight was outstanding. Perfectly timed and perfectly cooked, I had hot veggie laden meatball sauce over al dente "thin" spaghetti topped with real Parmesan with a side order of golden brown garlic bread made from a tasty baguette.

I've also turned my co-workers on to sandwiches, and today brought them sliced smoked chicken with lettuce, fresh sage, alfalfa sprouts, and a little pineapple dressing on sliced multi-grain bread. All in all, a great day.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Manner Rant

My school is on the corner of a bus route. It's not just public transportation, but also big-ass busses that transfer bus full of Korea people from somewhere to somewhere else. There are also shitloads of short busses, but they're hogwon busses and, being short, much easier to maneuver. The big "Greyhound" sized buses, not so much!

Underneath my school there is a grocery store. Throughout the day, people park, or double park there. Cube-vans make their delivery stops, moms and dads park their vehicles their to deposit kids at one of the many after school facilities, or people park their cars while running in to grab something at the supermarket or the drycleaners across the street.

Meanwhile the buses honk their horns. They honk. And they honk. And the hoooooooooonk. It bugs me, in the "shit, shuuuuuddup" vein. It happens everyday. I don't look out my window everyday. Sometimes I'm busy imparting knowledge on the youth of Korea (see: screaming "open your books" and "stop speaking Korean!") But sometimes I do look out. I swear, I have never seen any person, be it delivery man, or mom, or soju-buying man, EVER appear remotely apologetic for blocking off the route. By and large I've never seen anyone hurry back to move their vehicle either. Mostly it's a "devil may care" stroll back to their car, pretending they didn't (don't/can't) hear the blaring horn, and more often than that it's an affected macho strut complete with "death-glare" at the honking bus driver. Since I've been here I've witnessed about six actual fights on the street. Four were verbal. I don't like violence at all, but I can't say I don't understand. Fuck you, you fucking street-blocking grocery-buying self-absorbed confrontational asshole.

Likewise you cart-moving line-jumping grocery-shoppers. And you too, you elevator-waiting standing-in-front-of-door blockading-barricading dumbasses. Am I supposed to go THROUGH you to get out of the elevator? (Likewise, subway?)

How about not calling me "fat" to my face, or "deji" (pig) within earshot? How about not pointing me out "waygook-saraam," to your family or friends when I pass by? Can you imagine how popular I'd be with MY friends and family if I declared "Oh look! A fat black man!" everytime I saw one back home?

"Ohhhhh - this is Korea! That's how things are!"

Ok. Right. I don't buy it. Manners are manners, and yes,....they vary from culture to culture, but I'm not buying any of what I posted above. Anything that hurts another human being just doesn't wash with me, and I don't care if it's directly or indirectly, casual, or unintentional. Parking so as to block a busload of people speaks to the idea that "my time is more precious than yours." And, as for happily exclaiming your thoughts about the people around you, that a cultural thing? Still I don't buy it. I read another post here today, and it got me thinking. I've been lucky (or unlucky) because I've been in the same little place for so long, the locals have stopped commenting on how strange I seem, but I get a full frontal attack once I'm out and about downtown. Whatever. Bottom line, manners,...and it's not cool.

I'll employ my university learned rhetorical skill of pathos, and ask you how cool it would be for me to fly to New Orleans and walk around exclaiming "You're black! And you're poor! And homeless!"

Just to add fuel to my fire, a very nice woman, whose blog I really enjoy, referred to people who stole her nice friend Marcy's purse as "poopy-pants." Huh? Rachel gently peppers her blog with the verbotten word "fuck." Why not call a spade a spade, and say "purse thieving mother fuckers?" I'm just saying, rude is fucking rude.

Rant over.


I'm not eating spaghetti again tonight. I did get some sauce, but once I finally got home, just couldn't be bothered to put the ingredients together. Tomorrow night feels more like a spaghetti night. I actually went downtown to get me some sauce. I've been going downtown a couple times a week...I think because I'm so bored, and maybe I have an addiction to shopping.

Not really, I don't. It's just that I can't get what I want in my silly little neighbourhood. Downtown, I can get a delicious dense multigrain bread, or a nice sourdough loaf (expensive at 3,800won - about 4.40 Canadian) but yummy. The crap the bakery near my school produces doesn't even compare. Also I have a complaint I'll voice here. I'd voice it to the Korean bakers, but they wouldn't know what the hell I was talking about. On the occasion that I do give in and buy a "loaf" of their white bread, it's 10 slices - a half loaf, really, and costs 2,500 won - about 2.30 Canadian. We all know Wonder(Shit)Bread is 99 cents for a full loaf back home. Regardless. The thing is, after I've picked out my half loaf of crap white bread, which is stacked in two piles of 5 slices each, side by side in a bag, they load it up in a long vertical bag, so by the time I get it home, the bottom 5 slices are smushed to hell. Diagram:
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I'm blogging about bread. I'm lame.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What I'm Not Eating For Dinner

I decided I was going to make a nice dinner for myself tonight. Maybe I was inspired by The Big Ho's yummy looking dinner he made on the weekend. So I decided I was going to have some Eye-ta-lee-an food, and picked up some lovely ingredients: a couple tomatoes, a lovely red pepper and a lovely yellow one too. I got lotsa mushrooms and a little bag of onions, and got Butcher-Man to grind me up some pork. (I'd rather beef, but it's so expensive.) I even kept a watchful eye on nice Mister Butcher-Man to make sure he cuts out the little bits of cartilage in the meat he was about to grind. Koreans power through those bones they they eat pork, think sangyepsal, but it makes me nauseous to bite into it, and if Butcher-Man grinds them in with the meat, it assures crunchy little bits in every bite. Yeee-uck.

Just as I left the grocery store, the sky opened up and it started pouring. I took shelter beneath the stationery store canopy, and was talked inside by the nice owners. I decided to pick up some little stickers for my little niece, as I'm sending out a package tomorrow for my brother's birthday. The shop owner gave me about 20 glittery little bracelet stickers "service" (free!) Once I came back outside, the rain had died down so I set off, only to have it REALLY POUR about 5 minutes later. I got home soaked. Great.

Got home, chopped up an onion, and made me some tasty meatballs by mixing the ground pork with the onion, some basil and oregano, garlic powder, pepper, salt, garlic, a couple eggs and some bread crumbs. They was browning nicely while I chopped up the rest of the vegetables to sautee in another pan. Everything was timed well, the veggies were very al dente, and the meatballs nice and golden. Time to add some sauce.

I looked for the sauce.

Where's the sauce?

I unloaded all my cupboards. No sauce. So I guess the answer to "where's the sauce?" is: "at the store on the shelf." Shit! I usually have these preserved staple foods around, I just assumed I replaced the bottles I used the last time I made spaghetti (which was maybe last winter?) I actually found one small bottle of sauce, which would be enough for a couple meals, I guess, but if I bother dividing the meatballs and veggies to simmer in the mini-amount of sauce I have, I'm just going to have to repeat the whole bloody thing tomorrow with the remaining ingredients. Pain in the ass. I'm going to chuck everything in the fridge and deal with it tomorrow when I gets me some more sauce. I can't believe I'm so stupid. My apartment smells really good now, and I can't have any of it. I just Spaghetti-Nazi'd myself.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Balloon Artist*

*formerly known as Jelly

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good, but I feel, for some reason, like I've got tiny bugs crawling all over me. I've been scratching for the last couple days. On Friday and again on Saturday night some strange red rash appeared on my forearms. I thought maybe it was the body lotion I've been using, so I didn't put any on after showering yesterday. Still, the rash showed up over dinner, so I don't know what's going on.

The air conditioning's been off at work all week, and I think it's going to stay off for the rest of the year regardless of how humid it gets. I've had mine on since yesterday because it's muggy outside. It was the same deal in Japan, "Oh, it's September, summer is over!" despite what the actual weather is like. Patio's were taken down and air conditioners turned off. Too bad for you.

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I bought a balloon animal kit on Friday. I've decided that my new hobby shall be creating balloon art! The kit came with an instructional booklet, with a lot of really cool projects inside. It's all in Korean, but there are diagrams I can follow. Unfortunately, many of the cooler balloon structures require a variety of different sized balloons which are NOT included in the kit, so the book is more like a "here are things you CAN'T do with this kit" kind of thing. I tested out the pump by blowing up a long red balloon. It was funny, Kamikaze Kitty seemed to expand along with the balloon until he was all puffed out like a blowfish. His tail was a bushy as a squirrel and he was visibly shaken by the sudden appearance of this long red thing. I kept pointing it at him and he'd raise his paw in Maneki Neco attack posturing.
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He's never seen a balloon before, so didn't know what to do with it. I tried not to get it too close to him, because if he swatted it and popped it with his claw, I thought he might have a heart attack. He's resilient, though, and last night wasn't too bothered when I made my first balloon art, a Picasso-ish structure made of one of every colour balloon all twisted up together. I set it free off my balcony when it was finished. I need to share my art with the world, or at least the people in the parking lot downstairs.

Last night I went out for dinner with Judy and the cute taekwondo instructor from the dojang across the hall from our school. We drove to a nearby town and drove through this big forest down a winding one-lane road, though cars were coming along in the other direction. We ended up at this great restaurant in the middle of the forest. There were lots of individual cottages for the guests, all gathered around low tables. There was a rickety trampoline kids were bouncing around on outside our little house. The inside of the cottage was covered in Korean writing and it made me feel a bit dizzy. We ate duck, which I haven't had in about 15 years since the first time I had it made me sick. It was spicy and mixed with a load of vegetables, all cooked at our table. There were some great side dishes, and it was eaten wrapped up in lettuce or sesame leaves with kimchi, gochujang, and green leafy veggies. Yummy! A lady came and created kimchi bokkum bap (kimchi fried rice) with the leftovers, and we all left full.

We drove down to Jinhae Beach and played a bit in the waves. There's a nice island off the beach which is usually all lighted and very beautiful, so Judy told me, but the recent typhoon knocked all the lights out. I could still make out the shape in the dark. I was home pretty early, but it was a nice evening! That taekwondo instructor is very nice, but unfortunately doesn't speak English. Still, we got by with Judy translating for us, and he even offered to teach me taekwondo for free if I want! That'd be a laugh! I'll think about it, though, and maybe start in the fall when it's cooler.

This weekend ended off with a nap today, a shower where I tried to scrub all my itchy skin off, but was unsuccessful, a nice dry curry rice-noodle and shrimp dinner, and relaxing with a movie, "Coach Carter," which looks to be the feel-good movie of this weekend.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Hey. How YOU doin'?

I got my first birthday present at school yesterday. It was from Lucy, one of my students who just came back from a month in the Philippines, studying English. She told me studied Monday to Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, and then had some kind of tutoring in the evenings as well. I can't understand how it happened, but I think her English is a bit worse than before she left. Is that possible?

I've been joking around with the kids. We're studying months in a lot of the classes: dates and ordinal numbers in some of the higher level classes, and months and birthdays with the younger kids. So the kids have been asking me when my birthday is. I tell them it's September 18th, which this year is not just a Sunday, but a big national holiday, Chusok (like Korean Thanksgiving.) Everyone gets 3 days off, but we all get boned this year, as the days off are Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

So I point out to the kids that since my birthday is on a Sunday, it's very very important that they bring in my presents on the FRIDAY before. Then I tell them what I want: a monkey, a car, a diamond necklace, a panda bear, a pizza, and money. Then I make specifications: not a big monkey, a small one. It should fit in my pocket. Not a red car, a silver one, and it should have gull-wing doors. Don't get me a gold diamond necklace, I like silver, and the panda bear should be a baby, because the adults are too heavy to carry home. Of course, the pizza should be table-sized, and the money should be lots of. Then I give them a little quiz and ask them what I want for my birthday. It's turned into a funny little listening exercise. At the end of it all, I tell them I am joking about the presents, please don't get me anything, just tell me "happy barfday," and I will be glad.

I guess Lucy was busy sneaking candy from her bag into her mouth, and wasn't paying attention to the conversation, but she showed up today with a nicely wrapped gift and wished me a happy birthday. It was a ceramic bear holding a snow globe, very pink and very cute, but definitely NOT on my list of crap I want. I've decided to keep my birthday on the DL and hope the kids will forget about it, or I'm going to end up with an apartment full of stuff that would never make it back to Canada with me.

The first place I worked in Masan in 2002 was in a fairly upscale neighbourhood, and the kids parents were all doctors and lawyers and such. When Teacher's Day rolled around in May I got some swanky stuff, including, Estee Lauder facial gift sets, The Body Shop soaps, beautiful hand made fans, a Swarovski crystal hand-phone doo-dad, and a couple of gorgeous bouquets of flowers. This past year I got a (pre-loved) ceramic baby in an iron crib, a necklace made of paper clips, wallpaper, and little shells, and a massive bright orange flower pin. It's not that I'm materialistic at all, just that I like expensive brand-name things bought at department stores!

I'm totally kidding with that last sentence, I just thought it was funny! I appreciate all the presents I get, except for "peppero day," November 11th, when I get 300 of these:
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I can do without those.

I actually really enjoy the little things the kids make for me. Many of them will be returning home with me. I really do hope the kids get me a monkey, though. Haven't you always wanted a monkey?
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Learn Something New

I just spent time learning about the forces of nature. Interesting stuff. If you feel like learning stuff, visit this National Geographic site. You can even build your own natural disaster!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Typhoon and Things

So it was very typhoony here today. I can't complain too much since I have tousled and teased typhoon tresses. They're looking hot, like a music video. I wasn't too happy, though, when I got to work SOAKED, even though I was carrying an umbrella. About four or five times, it turned completely inside out, and each time I laughed my ass off. Thank god I wasn't wearing a skirt, because it'd have been wrapped up around my forehead. As it was, my underwear was soaked. I was glad I had the foresight to wear my sandals I hate, as they're perhaps ruined. I don't know why leather hates rain, seeing as cows are out in it all the time.

I got a bit of a break today, because my 2nd class had only one student, so he joined another class. For some reason, our 7 o'clock classes were cancelled as well, which was (of course) fine by me. I made like it wasn't, saying "please Karen, don't cancel my class, I love to teach!" She liked that.

Things at school right now, are not so good. My boss gave up two of her classes and unloaded them on the Korean teachers. Which might be fine and dandy, except their previous breaks, used to do (^#%$%) phone teaching, are spent in-class. Yet they still have to make (as a guesstimate) 100 calls a month. Karen dropped another bomb on us today, requiring "daily reports" to be filled out, noting what we taught and who was present in class. I wonder where we're headed with this over-managerial push. It doesn't excite me. I hate working in a non-positive environment; I tend to quit those types of jobs. (Not that I'll be quitting this one, but I wonder what the other teachers are thinking.) So none of this conformity crap is good in my book.

Good news is that every typhoon I've been through tends to clear the weather out like a scrub brush, so chances are it'll be gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I'm Just Saying

I don't think I should have to go to work in a hurricane. Do you? What if I get all blowed away on the way there? Last night, me walking home with a couple bags (I finally brought home my cutting board and knives from "sandwich day" at school) and battling with my umbrella which was turning inside out every few minutes, must have looked like an episode of Mister Bean. The wind is much stronger this morning.

I highly recommend sleeping during a typhoon. Maybe if there were more things around me, it wouldn't sound so lullaby-ish, but as it is, the wind blowing trough the trees and the constant downpour sounds like a waterfall. I slept deep and well, but would rather have more of that than of loud Korean kids today. From the weather sites, it looks like it's going to get worse in the next few hours too. Someone call my boss and tell her I need to stay home. Thanks!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Rock Me Like a Hurricane

Here I am, rockin in a hurricane! It looks like Typhoon Nabi isn't going to get us directly, it decided to head over Japan-way and get some sushi instead of kimchi! We are, actually getting the effects over here as well, and it looks like it'll get worse through the night. It's wet and windy here. We're in the outer arm of the typhoon right now, and its huge eye is sitting below the southern Japanese Island of Kyushu. If you want to see, take a look at this I'm going to give my friend Herb a call a little later on and see how things are down in Kumamoto.

My computer crashed yesterday morning so I had a pretty quiet Sunday. Not that the computer makes things any less quiet, just a little more interesting. It was a bit of a blessing, though, not to be able to log on, as I would have been distracted and procrastinated on the reports I had to write, which I finished around midnight as it was. Mister Computer-Man came to my apartment tonight and got me hooked up. Kamikaze had shit all over the floor, a little diarrhea action, before I arrived home, so I had just enough time to get that cleaned up and spray some air-freshener around before Computer-Man arrived. Kamikaze was brave, and even snuck close enough to Computer-Man's ankle to steal a sniff.

I did watch a really good movie yesterday though. 'Millions,' is a British film, really creative and well done, I thought. It was definitely the feel-good movie of the afternoon.

Back at work today, everyone has more classes as a new semester has started and today Elizabeth got to teach my everyday schedule of six back to back classes. She did not enjoy it. I've got a new class of two absolute beginner 10 year old girls. I named them Allison and Callie. It's tough teaching a really small class of beginners, as it took a few minutes just to get them to understand what I wanted them to do. (Circle a picture if it started with the "s" sound.)

So that's about it. I have to watch Sex in the City. They've just started airing season 6 on OnStyle at 11 o'clock Monday through Thursday. If anyone cares, they've also started airing the 1st season of Desperate Housewives tonight on OCN at 11 o'clock, I think.

Hurricane Jelly out.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Funk Phenomenon

Hopefully, by tomorrow or so, I'll feel like posting something good. I realize I've been lame, but I'm melancholy. If you bashed me open like a pinyata, a whole bunch of funk would spill out onto the floor, and I'm not talking funk that makes you want to shake your ass. I'm talking more along the lines of funk that makes you want to slit your wrists. Don't go getting all alarmed, everything's cool*. I'd never slit my wrists. Who would take care of Kamikaze? It's good to have something to keep on living for, even if it's just a big black pussy.

*I actually am alright, I'm writing reports all weekend and feeling lonely. That's all.

*Edit* By the way, the zero comments aren't helping. Where's the love?

*Double Edit* And by comments, I don't mean spam, asswads.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Here She Comes

I was just commenting the other day how we've had no typhoons so far this year! In Korea, I mean. Well looks like I may have spoke too soon. Check it out:
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This is Super Typhoon Nabi, which means "butterfly" in Korean. One weather site notes: "In the western Pacific, Super Typhoon Nabi has top winds of 150 mph. This typhoon has passed the islands of Saipan and Tinian and is now fortunately in the open waters of the western Pacific. It is now expected to head toward the islands of southern Japan near Naha and then turn up toward the southern mainland of Japan and South Korea. All residents and business travelers/tourists visiting the region will need to monitor this very dangerous storm the next several days."

Looks scary.

*Edit* Seriously, it looks like it's coming right for us in Ulsan!
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For your reference:
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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Another Reason Today (Yesterday) Rocked

I got paid today for my overtime effort. No offence Kevin, but it was fair and it was in CASH! 272,000 won. Yum. I wondered if I was going to get boned, because summer classes stretched over 5 weeks, and 2 of those included holidays (August 1st and 2nd were our school's "summer vacation," and August 15th was a national holiday) so technically I didn't teach my maximum 30 classes a week either of those weeks. But no, my boss is fair, so she hooked me up. Ohhhh yah!

Save the Drama for your Mamma

So, yesterday was the end of August. Good riddance, I say. Between the extra classes and waking up early and the stupid hot weather, I have little use for August.

Today was a pretty fun day, though, that went by fast! This morning, my special classes finished up their textbooks and/or marked each others tests with me (that we took Monday) and then we spent the rest of the class making sandwiches! We had a little bye-bye party, eating our sammies and potato chips and soda. It was kind of fun. My older class was much more proficient in sandwhich preparation. The first class managed to knock over a full bottle of pineapple pop, drop a whole slab of ham on the floor, and draw blood with the cucumber peeler in the first 5 minutes. One of the little boys asked me first off, "teacha, do you like tomatoes?" To which I replied "yes, I do!" He then told me 4 more times how he disliked tomatoes, and then, once the tomatoes came out of the bag, I caught him repeatedly gauging one of them with two of his fingers.

"Oh. So, you like, HATE tomatoes, eh"

I took a picture with my new digital camera:
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My new camera is kind of magic, as it can actually capture thoughts as well. Very hi-tech, very expensive, and very rare is my camera. This picture was taken just after I caught the kid brutalizing my tomato and just before he snatched up a knife. Scary shit.

This kid used to be a regular at our school as well as his sister. Both joined summer classes this time around. He played the part of "psycho kid," and his sister acted brilliantly as a sullen middle school "I'd-rather-doodle-in-my-book-than-listen-to-you" snot. Perhaps psycho-tomato hater was just angry that his original teacher at our school gave him the English nickname "Cety," (pronounced "Seti.") I might be ticked off too.

There was some other drama at school today. I'm not privy to all the details, because my Korean is so crap, but apparently there is some misunderstanding about our dinner we had tonight. Originally it was planned for last Friday, but Judy backed out. The dinner was planned because we were having a conversation about cheap-o all-u-can-eat barbeque restaurants. One we've visited before downtown was fine by me, but it was dissed by the Korean teachers as "not delicious." Judy mentioned there was a good one near where she (and the boss) lives, in a neighbouring suburb. I said "well, LET'S GO!"

Elizabeth said "well, if we're going for dinner, let's go somewhere fancy, and Karen (the boss) will pay!" I was kind of horrified by this statement. Elizabeth's contention was that the neighbouring suburb was out of her way, and not worth going to for a 6,000 won meal. So she wasn't going to come. We changed to Wednesday, and I did tell Elizabeth about the change, but she expressed some annoyance that she wasn't included in the Wednesday plans. My thoughts, which I told her, was, "well, if you weren't going to come Friday, maybe they figured you weren't willing to come Wednesday either."

Today at school there was more drama. We were even willing to change locations to a restaurant near the school to suit Elizabeth, but she remembered she had to go to church. Still, she was unhappy at not being asked, or something. I'm not sure what the deal was, but I know she was unhappy.

During one of our 10 minute breaks, Karen called Elizabeth into another room, which almost never happens. I didn't know what they were talking about, but peeped into the window because I was a little curious. Ok, I'm nosy. What of it??!

Karen was speaking directly to Elizabeth with a smile on her face. She was sitting on Elizabeth's left. Elizabeth was staring straight ahead, not looking at Karen. I peeped in again a few moments later to confirm what I thought I'd witnessed. Yep. Elizabeth staring straight ahead, barely acknowledging Karen's presence, let alone words.

The next time I stole a look in, Elizabeth was hunched over in tears.

I still don't know what the deal is, but I do know Elizabeth is really super sensitive. I really felt bad for Karen, who is a very kind and generous person, which makes for a great boss.

I get pissed off at work sometimes. (Mostly when I'M feeling super sensitive, see: PMS) but I always am aware that it's nobody's INTENTION to piss me off. I'm lucky to work with such kind and fair women, even if their English is fairly crappy (keeping in mind they're TEACHERS.)

Anyhow, we went out for dinner, sans Elizabeth, who was busy at church NOT praying for me to have a truckload of cash. We had fun, and went afterwards to my boss's apartment for beer and conversation, but I think we all felt bad Elizabeth wasn't with us. We're just now writing quarterly reports, and Elizabeth doesn't do well with those either.

I wonder, can't we all just get along?