Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mid Week

I have no pictures from the last day of special classes when we had a little restaurant action going on. I was way too busy and was trying not to start having a fit and insist people stop saying my name! I tell you, I'm glad that pretty much no one calls me "Jenny" in Canada, because I'm so sick of hearing it! Anyhow. The restaurant was good, and the food was very good! We did a test-omelet at the top of the hour, in which I showed the kids how to cook one, and then I did not have to go near the stove, except to warn Nancy the 6th grade chef to lower her heat a couple times. She really did an awesome job. I make a good omelet, and I dare say hers totally rivaled mine, but in a different way. Mine are thick and laden with filling. Hers were thin and sparse, but really delicious! I helped out with the sandwiches, and those were yummy as well. Our "customers" didn't really get the gist of the menu, though, and we were getting orders for a "ham and cheese with tomato and onion and tunafish grilled cheese with mayonnaise." I just rolled my eyes and omitted the tunafish grilled cheese bit. As it was, no one ate the tuna. Ah well.

The kids had a great time, both the customers (made up of kids from the 2 special grammar classes, and the 1st 2 phonics classes) and my own class. I guess that's what matters. But after the end of it I was stressed out and ticked off at the lack of support I got from Jane, who seemed to want to just bug me!
"You should go to the store and get some newspaper to put under the stove!"
"Because you're cooking with oil, it's going to make a big mess."
"We're not deep-frying the omelets. We're cooking with a little pat of butter, nothing's going to splatter."
"Still, it's going to me messy."
"Perhaps. But then we'll clean it."
"I don't want a mess."
"Yes, I gathered that."

And the moment I'd finished setting up the restaurant, laid out all the materials and the utensils and rearranged the tables and places the menus and condiments, she suggested we should switch classrooms.
"No!! Why?"
"I think it's better."
"Why? Because you like being a pain in the ass?"

I didn't say that. But I didn't change locations either.

At the end of the long day, I was disappointed after visiting the bank machine to find I hadn't been paid. Usually, I've been given a nice fat envelope of cash on the last day of these classes, but I was concerned that wasn't going to happen this time around, since my boss has been absent since last Friday. No worries, though. I got my envelope when I came to work today.

I don't know why my boss hasn't been around, but I find it surprising - since we're short staffed. She hasn't been in since Joy gave notice last Thursday. She's a very responsible woman, and has never missed a day really. I'm curious about what's up. Monday night, I had a dream she sold the school - and it was so vivid, I wonder if it was prophetic. She hasn't said anything about how she's feeling regarding the school these days, but I imagine she's tired of it. We'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, we had a woman come in for an interview today. Jane interrupted my last class to ask if I would come and interview her a little bit. That was the first time that's ever happened, but it was interesting. The woman can NOT speak English. She couldn't understand questions like, "Where do you live?" and "Where did you work before?" Even when I followed up with leading questions, she wasn't getting it. She echoed the words in my questions about half a second after they came out of my mouth. She claimed her English name is Jane, but I suspect she just mimicked our Jane saying "My name is Jane." If she does come to work with us (and I beseech all the divine powers in the universe as well as my boss's fair judgement to ensure that doesn't happen) I will rename her "Echo." I swear I will. (I swear I will.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


My winter classes are coming to an end, which makes me happy. I don't like getting up early. Usually, during the last class we have some kind of party which involves cooking. Last year we made crepes. This year we're opening a little restaurant! We're going to be making sandwiches (ham & cheese, tuna salad, veggie, or PB&J) and made-to-order omelets. If I'm not super busy super-vising, I'll try to take some pictures of my little students in action.

Meanwhile tonight I've been busy prepping sandwich fixins' and omelet ingredients.

This year was a lot more work than usual, because I didn't have a textbook for these classes. On the other hand, it was the most fun I've had teaching the special classes, because I got to be more creative. Today we finished up some posters using process language which described how to cook something. Then we did a quick run through of waiter-type dialogues for Tuesday's class.

One important thing I learned is that I should build the classes up, with activities becoming more and more exciting as the days go by. I made the mistake of having a "treasure hunt" throughout the building a couple weeks ago. The kids loved it, but since have hassled me every day to do it again! Otherwise they've been very good students, and so I bought them pizza today. I didn't eat any, though. Corn and pizza go hand in hand here, and I'm not a big fan. Of corn.

I've got some more vegetables to hack up and then I'm going to fill my apartment up with ZZZZZ's.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

WCB - Another Weekend

Lazy. Stretchy. Nappy.
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And still ready to zap your limbs off.

For more cat related goodness, why don't you go visit your nearest animal shelter and adopt your own? Then you too can have something warm and furry lying on your legs as you read books in bed. There ain't nothing wrong with that! Now hurry on - the cats are waiting for you.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Drew

A wolf.
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For you.

And I rhyme, too!


From the sign over a recently opened HOF in my neighbourhood:
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Square One

Yesterday was another Speech Contest day at school. I don't know how much it really helps the kids to be learning these short speeches every month, but I like it. I suppose it helps with reading, pronunciation and intonation, so it's not all bad. I'm especially pleased when I can get the students to not read like little robots as they're apt to do. Inflection! Hurrah!

By the time the last group of classes rolled around we were all tired. Jane said she didn't even want them to do speeches, but I protested, "We practiced them every class! It feels like a waste of time if they don't actually perform!"

The thing is, these two classes are painful for different reasons. One is made up of five middle school students, four girls and a boy. While I like them very much, their level is ridiculously low. Two of the girls can't actually read or understand much of anything. We're currently working on the same material I'm doing with my 1st graders: "This is a ______. These are _______s." The work is slow, and this snail's pace tests my patience. But I try to be encouraging and enthusiastic, even though I'm tired by the time their class rolls around.

The other class has five students as well, though they're all in the sixth grade. All of them have been my students since I started at the school - and I'm thinking the boys, especially, are as worn out of me as I am of them. Overall, I'd give the boys' attitudes a rating of "sucktastic." The girls are, as is usual, very nice and eager to please. I've written about one of the girls before, but I can't be bothered to flip through the archives. She's constantly being bullied by her classmates. I've spoken to the boss about this numerous times. A couple months ago I entered the classroom to find her crying and clutching her hand. One of the boys had kicked her before the bell rang, and she turned up the following day in a cast! He had broken her hand! The girl's mother had come in a few months before and actually sat down with the ringleader, a little pip-squeak named "Reed," who I've probably written about before as well. He's the younger brother of the girl who opened a Love Motel in my apartment while she was supposed to be cat-sitting. So I think there are behavioral issues with all the kids in that family.

An aside, the bullying drives me crazy and I do my best to stop it and stick up for the girl. But recently she said the dog biscuits the other girl had in her bag looked delicious. (They were chaped like little bones, but they were pink. I don't know why.) Before I knew it, the bag had been opened and Bullied Girl takes a big bite out of one. Sheeeeesh, girl! A little help?

Anyways, I've teaching the sixth graders three times a week since we're still down a K-Teacher. I call it my "soul-killer class." I just don't know what to do to get the boys engaged with anything other than talking to each other in Korean, writing notes and drawing pictures back and forth in their books, and bullying the girl. During the speech contest, Joy happened to pick up Reed's book and was disgusted with the amount of "graffiti" in it. After the final bell rang, she took him by the arm into a classroom to talk to him. I recalled how Judy, a few months ago, had thrown her stick at Reed, dragged him into the hallway outside, and shouted at him until he was tears. I wondered if this was going to be a repeat event.

Joy and Reed emerged from the classroom about ten minutes later, and indeed, there were tears! Thing is, it was JOY who was bawling! It took a couple minutes for her to compose herself, with Jane and I looking on. "What's wrong?"
Finally, she told us she was "heart-broken."
"Jeeze! What happened?"
She said she knew Reed's family went to church, and so she prayed for him with him sitting there and (I imagine) rolling his eyes very far back into his head. She prayed so passionately that she became overwhelmed and started weeping.
Bawling and praying.
This is one approach I have never tried with the students. I'm not sure about its effectiveness, but I'll look for signs of improvement in attitude in Monday's class. If there is any change, I plan to go all Southern Baptist in subsequent classes.

"JAY-SUS! HEP' dis boy see the AIR-UHR of his WAYS! Bless him oh JAY-SUS, and fill him with the Spirit of Enthooooosiasm about all thing English!" And yes, I will weep - if that's what it takes.

None of this really matters, though. Joy informed us on Tuesday that she's been accepted to university to study Education. (Another four years, even though she has a degree in Chemical Engineering!) She had failed the entrance exam before she came to work with us, but was invited to an interview the week before last because they had low enrollment. So, she'll finish with us at the end of February, and unless we can find a replacement in the next month, we'll be down 2 teachers, with the boss and manager having to teach.

Please Jay-sus! Send us a new TEA-CHA!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I Have Doodled

A chipmunk.
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For you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Can't Find My Way Home

Well actually, I could find my way home, but it seemed I couldn't get there.

Tonight was a strange night. I found myself across from a drunk guy who knew I couldn't understand what he was saying. I was agreeable enough, and kept smiling and listening to him as he slurred Hangul-mal at me, but when he kept pressing me for an answer to what he was saying, I got nervous. "Yes," might mean I was going to head to a Love Motel with him. "No," might mean I didn't mind joining him in a killing spree. "Maybe," might mean we should perhaps leave together to go eat blood sausage and dog stew in a few minutes. I was way more comfortable with the non-committal "Hmmmms."

But Mr. Drunky got more agitated the less I understood him. He frustratedly said "Bbaja sshi myyeon shi shi shammy mammy moo sha ba la la la," (I have no idea what he said) and held up his baby finger and thumb for a "yakiso," (promise). I replied, "I'm really sorry," (jinga meanhamneeda) "But I don't understand what you're saying. What say I take you to my place, tie you up, and beat the living crap out of you?"

He said that he didn't understand.
So I smiled and said, "Exactly!" And then I calmly repeated my question, more slowly than I had the first time, only I said it with a big smile and ended it off with an, "Okay?"
I got a big thumbs up and an "Oh-KAY!"

Alright then.

I was finally able to leave him and head back home on my own. I stopped at the bottom of my hill on a comfortable rock to enjoy the stars and the air. And a cigarette. And the music coming out of my headphones.

I was startled by some movement coming at me. It was a man in a nice coat. He asked if I was okay, and I said I was. He asked what I was doing and I said "nothing." I pointed up the hill when he asked where I lived. "Oh! Me too!" he said. "I escort you."

"No, I'm alright. Thank you, but I'm waiting."

I finally convinced him to leave, and he went away, but returned 5 minutes later. Again, I kindly told him I was fine, but he seemed insistent it was time for me to go home. Him asking if I lived alone and if I had a boyfriend were making me nervous (though, in fact, these are very common questions here). He left when I asked him to, but re-appeared before me once again after a few minutes. I said, "Look buddy, you're kind of scaring me. Please, go home! I'm waiting for someone." Now there was no chance that I was going to walk up the hill with him and have him escort me to my apartment. I'm usually not paranoid, and I almost always feel safe here, but for some reason I kept imagining my head getting smashed in with a rock. (Probably the movie I watched on the weekend - Taking Lives, with Angelina Jolie.) When the guy left again, only to head behind some trees to keep watching me, I stood up and started walking fast - past him - and headed right back to school where I took an extremely short taxi drive to the door of my apartment.

It was probably nothing, but better safe than sorry!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Nihongo Daisuke: Wrap-Up

I'm going to finish up writing about being in Japan over the New Year, even though there's not much more to tell. Last off, I was a little lost but kind of found in a bar on New Years. I was separated from my friends, but I was not alone in a place jam packed with revellers. I was finally able to borrow a cellphone and get in touch with Herb who had somehow wandered home, empty bottle of Jagermeister in hand.

I eventually made it back to Herb's in a cab and settled in for a sleep on the floor. Next morning was a nabe breakfast and a couple hours of talking. It's the first time I've been able to speak rapid-fire English face to face since Canada, pretty much. I took advantage of it, and Herb's a great guy to talk to. When I worked with him in Japan, he and another guy Jon and I would sometimes play a game where one person gives a subject, and the other must talk for two minutes on that subject. These guys knew everything about everything, and even if they don't, they're masters at making you believe that they do.

Herb and his girlfriend Mika were off that afternoon to the seaside to ask Mika's father for permission to marry. Congratulations, guys! (I'm happy for me, as well, as their impending nuptials means a return visit to Japan sometime soon!)

I rode the train back up to Fukuoka and made it back to my friend's house, where they'd been drinking all day! Ha! Later that night, we went for "yakkiniku" - which is Korean BBQ. It wasn't my choice, but it was good, albeit quite a bit more expensive than it is here in Korea.

A couple more days of relaxing and a bit of shopping and some meals. We went to the sushi-go-round. Loved it. We went to karaoke. Sang it. We went to Costco. Shopped it. And, *sniff* then it was time to get back on the hydrofoil home. We experienced a "high sea" that afternoon and people were puking into paper bags all around me. I'm lucky, though, and never get seasick. A few times we rode up the one side of a huge wave and came down HARD! I was jolted awake, and everyone let out a scream. I considered how much I love the term "rogue wave." I don't know why. Safe arrival though.

For those in Korea, I highly recommend a trip to Japan. It's amazing how to countries so close together seem worlds apart in a lot of ways. For you guys, the current Japanese fashion trend for the ladies is ultra mini-skirts and thigh-high hooker boots with stockings peeking just so out the top of them. There's a lot of leg to admire over there. Like I wrote recently to Kevin, though, if I was hired by the Japanese tourism board, I'd suggest a slogan like, "Japan: you'll come for the culture, but you'll stay for the chocolate!"

Mrs. Weekend

If it were possible, I think I would marry the weekend.

What a wonderful day I had drinking tea, finishing a book, watching a movie, taking a nap, snuggling a cat.


Sunday, January 21, 2007


It seems I've got a new fella.
It's new, and I like that aspect of it.
He's kind and so far considerate, and I dig that, too.
He speaks some English, and is pretty fluent in Japanese, so combined with Korean we're understanding each other so far.

On the other hand, I'm not so keen on him telling me what to do. I like my independence. I'm not easily "handled." So far, this has been a good natured volley, but I could see it getting unmanageable if he isn't able to let go of his (inherent) need to boss a woman around. I'm not like that.

In the meantime, it's making life more interesting, so that's something.
For future reference, let's call him "Jay."

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I was walking home.
I was walking up the giant hill leading up to my apartment.

From my school, it's about a seven minute walk leading up to the giant hill leading to the 33 steps headed toward the smaller steep hill which leads to the 78 steps to my apartment. I've walked up and down it hundreds of times, and yes, I've counted.

But I was walking home tonight and I wasn't even a quarter of the way up the big steep hill before I realized something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

My hands were filled with bags. I held two plastic bags, digging into my fingers and laden with some shopping I'd done and some stuff from work. My face was frozen. I longed to bring a mittened hand up to my nose and breathe out, but I couldn't; there were more pressing problems. (The first being I'd left my mittens at home.)

Something was wrong and I could feel my grip on things slipping. With every step, I could feel my reality shifting. The thing I hadn't even bothered to think about all day seemed to be unravelling.

Yet, still, I trudged up. I was almost to the top.
And my mind chanted a mantra: "Almost there. You're almost there. One more step, you're almost there." I tried to ignore what was happening. Things were slipping. Gravity weighed me down. I was becoming undone.
"One more step. Just one more step!"
And then it happened....

My pants fell down.
Crumpled to my ankles.

I dropped my bags, and reached down to hitch my jeans back up while looking all around to see if I was alone.
I was.
And I laughed a bit before I heard a sound.

It was the sound of two beers and a bottle of soy sauce escaping their plastic bags and rolling all the way down (and then some) to the bottom of the hill.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Another day, another trip downtown to buy food to feed the beast that is Kamikaze. When I first came to this little corner of nowhere, I can tell you I was not impressed to learn I was going to have to make almost an hour and a half journey (round-trip) to get cat food and such. Turns out I don't mind it too much, though. I like the bus ride, which gives me time to listen to some tunes, or read a book, or grip the pole in terror as we go sailing through red lights. Once downtown, I can stop in at the teeny tiny bookstore with its teeny tiny selection of fiction. Every one in awhile there's something new in there that looks interesting.

I've been struggling to get through a book called Orange Laughter, which I bought in a Country Store for about 5 bucks while I was in Canada. It's written in the 1st person narrative of a crazy man, so it's a little hard to read.

But then again, perhaps so is this blog.

Anyhow, I spent too long wandering around the shopping place and missed the last bus back to Nowhere. So I hailed a taxi. As soon as I got in and told the guy where I was headed he announced "Ee man won."
"Huh?" I asked, not knowing what he was talking about.
He repeated himself ("Twenty bucks!") He motioned like he was going to shut off the meter he'd already turned on.
"AniYO!" I exclaimed! I've taken a cab many many times. He was about to charge me double what the ride normally costs. Smooooooth.

I guess as retaliation for not being able to swindle me, he decided to scare the crap out of me by pretending he was driving a racecar.

I've really got to learn how to say, "Yo, Andretti! Ease up on the gas there, eh?" in Korean.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I got a 2 pack of this in Japan:
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It's all gone now, and it satiated my cravings for the time being. I can't tell you how much I was jonesing for cottage cheese these last few months!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

WCB - 84 It's Oh So Quiet


It sure has been quiet around here this weekend, but you can understand why.
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Kamikaze needs his rest. Shhhh, don't wake him or he's libel to get angry and go all lasery on us. I'll just tiptoe around my apartme,....OUCH! OWWWWW! I stubbed my TOE! $#@**@&@&!!!!

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He's up.
I'm avoiding eye contact.
Does he look ticked off?

It's best you mosey along now. Ol' Laser Eyes might get zappy-happy.
Hey! Why don't you go visit Sher and the always fabulous and fluffy Upsie, who are enjoying some sashimi over at What Did You Eat? Thanks for hosting WCB this weekend, Sher!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

This was Thursday

This dog
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walks alongside me to work everyday. It pleases me. When he sees me coming, he bounds through the field he stays in and leaps so gracefully over the waist high fence surrounding the yard. Then he runs at me full force, but with that happy run dogs can do: where their front legs don't bend much. I talk to him as we walk along, and then lay some doggy treats or some ham on him to thank him for the company before I go inside.

Today was payday and I knew I'd have a conversation with my boss about the tax and pension issues that have been ongoing for months. The conversation was super brief. I've decided not to stress out about it all. I will get what's coming to me one way or another. I'm still hoping that it will be hassle-free and my boss will come through for me because it's the right thing to do. I'm trying to keep it clear in my head that I genuinely like the woman, and we're going to sort this out. This time around, she's asked me to write in detail what I want. It might be a (yet another) delaying tactic, but oh well. Next month she'll ask me for pie charts and bar graphs, and the month after she'll want me to commission a report on the state of affairs for all ESL teachers in Korea. Ha!

I snuck out at my 5 o'clock break to take a picture of what I've been seeing from the grimey bathroom window the last few days. (I went out on the street to take the picture, though.)
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I treated my next class (two spirited middle school boys) to some "fish bread." You can only get this street food in the winter, and it's delicious.
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I asked my students, "Why fish? Why not monkeys?"
They didn't know.
"Or maybe pigs? It's the Year of the Pig, afterall."
"How about a snake?" one of the boys suggested.
"Well, now you're talking all crazy," I told him.

Off with your head then, fishie.
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Mmmmm. Fishilicious.

Actually, they're not fishy at all. My one student likes the sweet red bean paste ones.
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Yuck. I hate beans.

The other student prefers the spicy ones that I do.
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These are new this year. They're stuffed with a spicy paste made of vegetables, kimchi, and bits of glass noodles. These fishies are cooked in a cast iron mold, and are also available with a "choux creme" filling - and yes, that's what they call it here - "choux creme!"

Standing in line at the checkout after work, I heard a male voice from behind me.
"You like cock?"
I raised my eyebrows and turned around, "Huh?"
The older guy standing there smiled with his gold teeth and gestured toward the cash register where my couple bottles of Diet Coke (Coca-Cola Light here) were waiting to be paid for. "Cock!"
"Ahhhh, ha ha!" I laughed in relief. "Yes, I like coke."
I chatted with him for a bit, answering where I was from and how long I've been in Korea. The man wore a uniform of sorts, and I kept glancing from his laminated I.D. card clipped to the pocket on his chest - where he sported a gleaming bald head surrounded by a ring of fuzzy hair, to his actual head, where he sported a thick bunch of reddish brown hair. I'm absolutely not good at recognizing a rug, because I'd never have never guessed his hair was fake.

Outside the supermarket, a family stood together with their grocery cart filled with bags. The two young sons were playing on these heavy knee-high marble barriers that are meant to prevent the shopping carts from going further. One of the boys draped himself over the barrier, and when he slipped toward the ground head-first, I automatically put my hands out and took a step forward to catch him, even though I was a good 10 metres away. When the kid's head connected with the concrete he let out a giant scream, and started to wail. The mom dashed over and picked him up, checking him for injury. While the kid continued to howl, the mother alternately pulled him close to comfort him and then held him at arms length to examine his forehead. Finally, she straightened up and screamed at him, "Why did you do that?!" Then she pounded him good on the back before kicking him hard in the ass.

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Years

So, we left off with our super hero (me) on a southbound train down to Kumamoto to celebrate New Years Eve with her long-time friend Herbert.

I had no seat on the train, which bummed me out - as it was over an hour and a half long ride. I finally snagged a spot in a glass box with two stylish Japanese women. I closed my eyes and turned up the volume on my MP3 player. Damn, that song LoveStoned by Justin Timberlake is catchy!

Anyhow, I finally made it to Herb's apartment, where food was already set out on a low table. We caught up over fried chicken, spring rolls wrapped in rice paper, and a big pot of nabe/shabu-shabu. And beer. And shochu - which I didn't drink. We were going to ring in the New Year at the very beautiful castle - which I could sort of see through the trees off Herb's balcony. It's the highest point in the city, and it was bathed in lovely lights. There was supposed to be an awesome light show choreographed by some famous light-show-dude. Herb had made it sound like I probably would never witness something as awesome as this awesome light show. So we laughed and talked and listened to music that was too loud, and watched a great little kid run around and around - which angered the neighbour below, but it didn't matter - it was a party afterall!

And then as we started to bundle up for the walk to the castle, Herb pulled out a large bottle of Jagermeister.
Have you ever had this stuff? It's deceptive. While it tastes quite a bit like root beer, it's clearly made from gasoline, arsenic, and LSD. As we bounced down the street to the castle, Herb kept grabbing the back of my head and pressing the bottle to my lips, forcing gulps down my throat. Either that, or he offered the bottle and I stupidly drank it.

As we headed up the hill to the castle, we thought it was kind of strange that there were masses of people streaming in the opposite direction. Why were they leaving? Was it midnight? No one had a watch. Ah well, it doesn't matter. Look how weird my hand looks! Has it always looked this weird? It's funny, my hand, ha ha ha ha ha, look at it! So funnnn ha ha ha haaaaaa.

We must have missed the light show. Either that or it was the lamest light show put on by the lamest famous light-show-dude. There was music, which didn't seem to be playing when we arrived. It seemed like the show had just started, but then it was finished. Maybe I had spent the whole time looking at my hands and wondering why they weren't being illuminated enough, but damn, they're still so funnnnnnhahahahaha.

In the middle of the road, in the middle of the crowd, Herbert raised his index fingers to his forehead to look like horns. In Korea and Japan, this is a sign that denotes anger. In Herbert-speak, this means "I have become a bull." (I've seen this sign before, and it's never good - at least, the outcome isn't!) With a couple scuffs of on of his "hoof" he charged into us, throwing me into and over a temporary fence, and he knocked about 20 feet of the fence down as well. He landed on top of me. Ooooof!

"OLE -yo! Honto OLE!"

Kind Japanese people hurried over to help us up and help reset the fence. Herbert-el-Toro offered then a shot of Jagermeister which they cleverly declined. So he grabbed the back of my head "Driiiiiiiiiink it, senorita!" (Either that, or he held the bottle out to me and I took it.)

Then I had to pee. Luckily, there was a large public toilet just over the grassy way. I pointed in its direction and said I'd be right back. Whilst inside the loo, though, a crane came along and picked the whole building up and turned it around so the exits were pointed in different directions. Either that, or there were two exits and I went out the wrong one. Who knows? Not I.

I walked and walked and doubled back and went around the washroom and walked and walked and suddenly I was far far away from where I'd left my friends. I was on the other side of the castle. Far away. Lost. not even a magical, funny hand was going to help me out of this pickle. Lost and alone in a strange city in a foreign land, I didn't even have Herbert's address!

But because I'm a smart kid, when I saw a tent which looked like a Lost and Found Area, that's where I went. "Hi! I'm lost!"

The security guards and police were very helpful. I showed them my funny hand, but then it was down to business trying to get me found. Calls to my friends' cells were unanswered. I knew they had spoke of going to a Gaijin Bar (foreigner) and that the owners name was Jeff. Can you believe a helpful security lady found out where the place was that I was probably talking about, and walked me down the hill and through the streets right to the bar? So helpful!

Unfortunately my friends were not there. But there was an Australian guy who said he had waited all night to give me a New Years kiss. "Here," I said. "Kiss my funny hand!"

More tomorrow.
(Forgive me, I'm tired.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My Cup Runneth

Back to school a couple days ago, and I found 4 Christmas cards waiting for me! I love mail, yet I rarely get any. In fact, before Christmas all I got were 2 cards - one from my mother and another from my grandmother at the beginning of December - because they're organized like that. So I was very happy to have some mail a plenty!

I was even more pleased when a postman showed up with TWO packages for me that same afternoon! One was from The Mave, totally thoughtful and for no reason other than she ROCKS and she's kind like that!

Check it out!
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YEEEEE-HA! Once my co-workers figured out this one contained some food goodies they gathered around like vultures interested people. I got some Trader Joe's goods. I'm really interested to visit a Trader Joes. I'd never even heard of it before my 2nd to last awesome BBM partner Lindsey sent me such great loot!

So Maven sent me a bunch of sugar free drinks, Kool-aid, Crystal Light, Wyler's, and General Foods International Chai Latte (He-LLO!!!!!) I got some "tuna in red panang curry (yummers!) (from Trader Joe's) and some chocolate caramel tartlet cookies and dark chocolate from the same! There were some Tootsie Pop candy cane lollipops and some caramel corn candies I shared with some of the students. (Mave - did you make those candies? They're awesome!) There was some Zinger tea (I LOVE it) and a box of Nestle Toll House mint holiday gem chocolates. Unbelievable! Finally, I got these great "J" sticky notes, and a handmade crocheted soap carrier with some fabulous smelling Ayervedic soap.
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In the other package, I got a gift from my Secret Santa, which was organized by Maven! Look what I got!!!
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Exactly what I wanted!
Frankly, I didn't even know what the book was about, but I love David Sedaris - and I know of Amy from being a funny actress, so I thought I'd enjoy it. So far - I love it! Thank you CrankyProf for your fantastic gift!

I laughed my ass off that my very Christian (read: missionary) co-worker grabbed the book out of my hands to check it out, and opened it to (shit you not) this page:
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I just about cried later, though, when that same co-worker knocked over the coffee on my desk while I was in class and destroyed the 4 Christmas cards I'd gotten (and worse, the letter from my aunt I hadn't read and the pictures and drawings included in my friend Joanie's letter.) I just happened into the Teacher's Room in time to snatch my lovely new hardcover book off the desk, but not before some coffee had seeped onto the edge of the pages. Still, it's alright.

But still, grrrrrr!

Thanks, though, ladies - for the outstanding gifts! My cup did runneth over!

WCB 83 - Jeepers Creepers

I always feel like somebody's watching me.
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An his name is Kamikaze.
And I got no privacy.

I think there may not be a host for this weekend. If I find out where WCB's being hosted, I'll let you know. But meanwhile, of you want to see some tiny gorgeous kitties, visit Anne's Food. Or go see Upsie of the Long Tongue over at What Did You Eat? Or you could check out Harmon of the Big Belly over at Kate in the Kitchen!

I hath return-ed

Hi there! I'm back - what'cha think about that? You missed me, didn't you? You did. I know you did. Say it. Say you missed me. Say it was hard to live without me. C'mon. You know you want to tell me!

Yes! So! Japan! Sugoi, desu - ne?

Every place that I've ever been on this big blue marble, I've enjoyed. It's true. I really do like Korea, for sure. I wouldn't have lived here for over three years now if I thought it sucked. I have to tell you though, me and Japan? Well, we've got a thing going on. It's love, I reckon. Each time I set my feet upon the Land of the Rising Sun I feel as if my heart might explode out of my chest, it grows that big with happiness.

So this time was no different, and you - you fine people that surely missed me, will have to forgive me. I was about 10 minutes away from my apartment in a cab on my way to Japan when I realized my camera was still sitting on the floor where I'd left it to charge up for the trip. So there are no photos of my trip.


(I was charging my camera up because the electrical outlets are different in Japan, and I wouldn't have been able to recharge it there.) I did manage to borrow my friend Miyuki's camera midway through the trip, but quickly discovered that it was broken - so again, I was foiled.

Anyhow, things were good. I was met by my Japanese friends at the port in Hakata (Fukuoka) and we went directly for lunch. Tonkotsu ramen, which is one of my favourites! It's stinky, but delicious. There's just no comparison between Korean ramen (which is INSTANT) and the Japanese version (which is an INSTITUTION!) I found it kind of funny that I found myself wishing I had a bowl of bekju kimchi to eat with my ramen! There was a bowl of seasoned beansprouts like you can get in Korea, so that was alright.

Back to my friends' house after lunch, and then they were off to work! My friends own an "Izakaya" which is a kind of restaurant that serves a wide variety of THINGS on STICKS. If I had my camera I'd show you a bunch of stick-food, but,.... I suppose one of the best known is "yakki-tori" - skewered grilled chicken on a stick. My friends' restaurant has a whole mess of other things as well, my favourites are "tebasaki" - chicken wings (they do them SO WELL) grilled beef, "buta-bura" - pork belly, or enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon. While my friends went off to work I lay down on their couch and enjoyed a 3 hour nap! I met up with them and my friend Toshi (who came with me to Canada for 2 weeks back in the spring of 2004) and had some "yakki-onigiri" - grilled rice balls, and some "nama beiru" - BEER! The next day was mellow, a bit of shopping, a bit of napping. Late Saturday night a group of people met up at the restaurant to clean and then sit down for a feast of food and drink to celebrate the New Year. The giant "nabe" pot (think jjigae in Korea) was at the other end of the table, so I didn't taste that, but I did chomp into meat on a stick I thought was beef, but turned out to be liver! Eck. (I made the same mistake the night before when I found myself with a mouthful of chicken heart.)

Sunday was New Year's Eve, and I was headed down to Kumamoto to meet up with my friend Herbert, who I used to work with in Japan.

This story will continue tomorrow - I promise. In the meantime, check out this cool glass of sake I got:
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But the coolest thing is what's inside!
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That's Toronto! My hometown! Japan must be the most technologically advanced country - it managed to shrink the largest city in Canada and fit it into a jar of sake! Awesome!