Monday, July 30, 2007

Happy News!

Congratulations and best wishes are being sent out from me, via this here blog, to my friend Laura who just told me Saturday that she's getting MARRIED! In less than TWO WEEKS! In AMERICA! She lives in Japan now with her man up near Tokyo. We worked together in Kyushu a few years ago.
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It's been exciting chatting with her online about dresses and rings and stuff. They just picked out their rings today, and are having them engraved. Nice, eh?
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(I've been assured it's NOT a "Shotgun Wedding," but'cha never know! Stay tuned for baby announcements!)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ants on a Log

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Only instead of a log, it's a banana flavoured cheesie poof. Without the cheese.
It's an ant-covered banana poof.
I doubt it's delicious.
Since I took this photo, I've had two separate nightmares on two different nights about these ants on this banana poof. Just so you know.
Sweet dreams, you.

Hot and Lost and Found

Blech! It's HOT! Maybe you should go away and check back in with me sometime in October, which is around the time I'm going to stop bitching about the weather. I've had my air conditioning on full-blast for two days, and it's still 30 degrees inside my apartment. I anticipate a huge electricity bill, but I don't care. I'm on vacation now. So instead of going anywhere or doing anything fun, I'm going to vegetate beneath my crappy little air air conditioner.

I did get a wave of relief last night at around two in the morning, when I finally found my favourite ring I'd been looking for for three days. As a result, all the dust bunnies under all the furniture have been cleaned up. I even went through a big bag of garbage (gross) worrying that it might have gotten swept up, or wound up being thrown out accidentally. I finally shouted "Shut UP!" when I found it at the bottom of a plastic bag filled with pills I'd actually moved around about a hundred times already while cleaning. Kamikaze was the culprit. I'm sure he knocked the ring off the table and it just happened to land in the bag!

As punishment, I confiscated all Kamikaze's cocktail weenies and gave them to Buddy: The Good Boy.
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I'm joking. Actually, Kamikaze only eats fish.
But to congratulate myself for a successful search and clean, I went online and bought myself a new ring:
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Because, like, it's high time I told myself that I'd marry myself all over again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Today's Beast

I bet you were wondering what kind of beast I'd run into today, weren't you?

Well, I was on my way to the doctor's,...I can't seem to shake the remnants of whatever bug I picked up a couple weeks ago. I spent the night almost completely failing to sleep - with a wet barking cough that erupted every couple minutes. It's so humid here. Like being in a bowl of soup. I feel silly walking around snuffling and sneezing and coughing.

So I'd just taken a few steps out of the building and had to turn around to go fetch my camera. Speaking of barking,...
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This little guy was tethered to a couple of tightly permed and colourful grandmas who sat on the street curb smoking thin cigarettes. Honestly, who does this to a little puppy? (No, I didn't colour the guy on the computer, that's actually how he looked!)

"Oh, this puppy is cute, but wouldn't he so much MORE so if he were pink?"

Then I noticed the old woman holding the leash had a tattoo running up the inside of her arm from her wrist almost to her elbow. There's another thing you don't see everyday! I wanted to, but wasn't brave enough to ask if I could take her picture. And dye her hair. Pink.

Puppy was excited about the attention he was getting from me, and let me scratch his head and comment on his waggy tail, before he remembered how bloody hot it is and resumed an appropriate stance.
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You know it's definitely summertime in Korea once the green apples have shown up!
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Funky Beetle Deux

I was headed down the stairs on my way to work today, when I felt my hand, which was sliding along the railing, come into contact with something. I shrieked when I saw it was a big bug. I've posted about this beast before. Bad beetle! But what surprised me the most was that this beast suddenly took flight - and headed right toward my nose! AGGHHHHH! I didn't know it could do that!

It settled down so I could take it's photo. You can still see his wings not quite tucked in properly.
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Then it turned and glared at me, and threatened to try and fly up my nose again.
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Uhhh, no thanks, buddy.

I showed a few of my students the picture today, and they recognized the beast immediately. Do you know what it's called here. (Remember, it's known as the Asian Longhorned Beetle in English.) In Korean it's called a SKY-COW! That's awesome!

I have to ask again tomorrow how to say it. I can't remember the word for "sky." This rivals my other favourite Korean word - "mool-jip" - which means blister, and translates as "water-house." Too precious!

Here's what was waiting on the railing when I came home.
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It's a "samagee," also known as "kamakiri," which is Kamikaze's namesake in Japanese. I didn't touch this little guy, but he was ready to fight. He'd raise his little scary arms up when I put my finger near him.

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I wonder what sort of beast I'll run into tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannolis

Back home in Canadanadingdong, today is the baptism of my beautiful new neice Farah.
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Some of my family will gather together at some Catholic Church for the baptising of the baby and then head out somewhere for the eating of the food. This blog's title has something to do with the high probability of the presence of cannolis at the baptism post-feed. My sister-in-law and her family are all spirited Italians. I love hanging out with them. I love cannolis.

But moreso than that, the title is in reference to what I coulda been. I woulda been. Had I been in Canada for the baptism, I woulda been da Godfather. My sister-in-law's sister, Antonella is going to be da Godmother, and my brother told me a few weeks ago he wanted me to be da Godfather. (Really, Godmother part deux, but I like the idea of being a raspy-voiced marshmallow-filled-mouth Godfather better.) (Though - if I had gone the way of Godmother pt. 2, I'd slap a "Fairy" in front of the title.)

Regardless, I'm neither G-Father or G-Mother, as I'm half way round the world, and they just won't do these things by video phone. And they can't yet teletransport leftover cannolis to me either, so the whole thing is a wash as far as I'm concerned.

But, to all my family back home who never bother to read this blog, I hope you have a peaceful gathering and bask in the fellowship, love, and joy of family togetherne....


I couldn't keep a straight face.

I hope you reign in your passive aggressive grudgeholding and try to have a good time despite the tension that's going to feel like you're all wearing 10 neckties done up wayyyy too tight. At least enjoy the cannolis, eh?
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

WCB - 111 BookCat

I always make sure to have a couple of new books to read. Kamikaze likes to pre-read them and highlight parts that he thinks I'll really enjoy. When I brought my latest purchases home, he pounced right on one of the books. He's been looking forward to reading it!
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He lies on his back on the bed and holds the book up in the air while reading. We're often in the exact same pose. We both have a good laugh when we lick our fingers at the same time to turn the page.
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Kamikaze has to really focus on what he's reading. His English has gotten a lot better since he first came to live with me, but still, Japanese is his mother-tongue. Look how hard he's concentrating.
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This was, apparently, an especially riveting part of the book.
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What's that Kami? You finished the book? Already?!? It was good? Right on! High five!
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My turn now!

So while I start on The Kite Runner, Kamikaze's going to pre-read Barrel Fever. I know he's going to enjoy it. We love David Sedaris.

So, why don't you pick up a good book and have yourself a read? I've heard something about some new book about some wizard-kid has just come out. I should look into that.

But before you bury your nose in a book, what say you head on over to this weekend's round-up of fantastic felines over at Paulchen's Food Blog! Thanks to them for hosting this time around!


This place creeps me out. I don't know why, really.
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It's some kind of little storage shed with nothing in it. A couple weeks ago I noticed it was "open," and I screwed up my courage to step up and peer inside. I was fairly sure there was going to be an angry troll in there just waiting for a face to appear in his window so he could spring forward and bite said face off.
There was not a troll, though, and my face thankfully remains intact. It was a close call.
This is Jelly, reporting on mundane events that happen while walking around. Stay tuned next time, when Jelly finds a leaf that kind of looks like Kim Jong Il's head.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Last to Know

Communication has always been sort of an issue at work. Usually I end up finding out about the things I need to to know because I ASK someone about it. "Hey! Where's Billy? He's been absent my last two classes."
Then I find out he and his family packed up and moved to China.
I tend to find out I have a new student in class (whose family probably just moved here from China) when I walk in and see a face I don't recognize. Then I get to scramble to rearrange plans a bit, or make a couple more of the handouts I've prepared.
But it's not just student issues.

All the students now know when our luxurious three-day-long summer vacation is. They know, because notices were handed out yesterday. I now know, on the other hand, because I asked one of the kids what it said on the paper. So, I've been given about eleven days advance notice to make plans. (Or not.) But, none of the other staff have bothered to fill me in, still!

And today a man showed up.

I've seen him a couple times before. He stopped in last week and went to talk with the boss in a closed classroom, and he popped in again this past Monday. I assumed he was one of the kid's fathers. However, he showed up again today and didn't leave! And then, there he was suddenly teaching! HUH?

So. From what I could make out from Sunny, the boss doesn't want to come in anymore at all. (She's only in two days a week now as it is.) And the manager doesn't want to teach. So maybe this guy is going to be our new teacher. I'm not sure if they hired him. I spoke to him very briefly today (He asked me the standard, "Where are you from, how old are you, are you married, do you live alone?" questions.) I replied too quickly, and he interrupted, "Slow. I only leetle Englishee." Awesome!

He's a big tall guy with some gold teeth and heavy framed glasses. He doesn't smile when I look at him, but stares at me when I'm not looking at him. We had the first of what will surely be many more awkward moments when we both tried going through the Teacher's Room door at the same time, and I accidentally smushed my head into his chest. And I smelled, for the first time in over three years, a very strange scent in the Staffroom. Man-scent. Man-breath.

The students yanked on my sleeves all day and cornered me. "Who's he?" they asked with big curious eyes. "I'm not sure." I answered honestly.

To add to what had already been a trying day, just before my last class, I had the 675th meeting in our ongoing series of meetings trying to resolve tax and pension. I truly thought we had settled it a month ago, until the figure my boss showed me last week, which she was about to start paying out in installments, didn't come close to matching what we had agreed upon.

So we finally got the chance to sit down and argue about it, and now I'm going to say it flat out, but she's a liar. She's twisted everything we had negotiated and is once again doing "but the tax and pension offices told me this!" And I got angrier and angrier. "No. No. No. NO!"

We're back to square one. She told me to make calls to confirm (AGAIN!) my information. I told her I'd make the calls, and I was going to go after EVERYTHING. I turned all Tyra Banks, "Understand. Me. I mean. Ev. Ree. Thing." And then I told her I had to go to class. (So kiss my ass!)

My sole middle school student asked me if I was alright when I came into the classroom. I wasn't, so much. I looked at myself in my little hand mirror and I was absolutely scarlet! The most crimson part of my face was the left side of my forehead that had smashed into the windshield over a month ago. It seems like I may have developed a Telletubbie-style mood window in my noggin. Fantastic! Now if only I could hone my laser-eye skills. Maybe my cat can give me some lessons.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I'm just about done being sick. I'm feeling much better, and I'm helped along by the fact that today's a holiday. YAH!!! I hate how I've been (not) sleeping these past few weeks. I go to bed WAY too late, and wake up an hour or two before my alarm and just lay there with my mind rolling all over the place. My eyes are perma bloodshot. The next time I'm able to sleep through eight hours, I'm having a party. You're all invited!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


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Oh Baby!

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Here's a cute little baby stuck to his mom's back.

I've reverted to being a baby. Mostly, when I haven't been working, I've been curled in a fetal position. I caught some bug last Wednesday that started with a cough but evolved into some beast with brutal stomach pains, a flood of "nose water," fire-lungs, fever, and,....well,...everything. Ebola. Black Plague. Something like that. I'm sleeping in shifts. I get a couple fitful hours in before Angry Black Death-Virus wakes me and starts batting me around.

Maybe you know what I'm talking about, but it's rough, being at work and realizing that you're just one spasmed cough or forceful sneeze away from crapping your pants.


Typhoons come through here like scrub brushes. I lay in bed yesterday watching the clouds whip by as sheets of misty rain coated the forest outside my window. The day afterwards is almost always gorgeous. Typhoons seem to be a giant sponge, sucking out the humidity. Bloody heaps of praise to Allah and little baby Jesus.

From my balcony this morn':
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If I feel up to it, I'll post something later on.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dear Google Searcher

"Mammy Two Shoes Ass?" Really?

Monday, July 09, 2007


I don't like Mondays.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


I woke up hungry. At 3 o'clock. Because I didn't go to sleep until after 9 a.m. Damned West Wing! But oh, it's such a good show. Rather, it was. And its kind of curious that I love it so much, because I actually don't care that much about politics. But I love the characters, and I love the actors that make the characters so awesome. Most of all, I love the writers that make the actors make their characters so quick, and sharp, and SMART! Outstanding! The writers from West Wing should have a reunion BBQ and roast the writers from the last couple seasons of Friends on great big spits. "Mmmmmmm," (Homer drool) "writers!"

Anyhow. I was hungry. What to eat? I spied a 3-day old baguette sitting on my counter and wondered if it was still viable. Hm. How about some bruschetta?


Switch on the broiler. (My little table-top contraption with three gas burners has a little broiler in the bottom. It's okay for a couple pieces of fish, which I do occasionally, but mostly I use it for bread that won't fit in the toaster.)

Chop some cherry tomatoes, lovely purple onions I was happy to come across the other day, and rip apart some green olives, separating them from their pits. I threw in some dried basil (I've never seen fresh here) and a tiny bit of diced garlic. I tossed that up with some chili and garlic olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.

I toasted the bread on both sides and rubbed it with a couple cloves of garlic sliced in half. Then I spooned on the tomato concoction, added a wee sprinkling of shredded mozzarella and another tiny drizzle of olive oil, and back under the broiler just to melt the cheese a bit.
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I found a recipe for white gazpacho online the other week, and I wished I had a batch of that to enjoy with the bread. I've got a container full of homemade chicken broth in the freezer. BUT I don't have a blender, and I'm not sure if plain unsweetened yogurt is available here. I'd have to sour the cream myself, but that's do-able. Maybe next time. I love cold soups in the summer, don't you?

WCB -109 Cat With a Hat

Kamikaze's fancy legwarmers also double as a pretty pretty hat. He loves wearing it, and is even urging me to attach a veil to the back of it so he can march slowly around pretending to be a pretty pretty bride.
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I'm not lying, you know.
Look how happy is is wearing his frilly little hat!
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You can see the joy bursting out of him!

Then a strange thing happened.
He ripped his frilly hat off and started to change.
He turned into a demon cat.
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Sheesh! Scary!
"Calm down, big boy! Here. Here's your frilly hat! Stop acting all crazy!"

So you best be moving along now or he's liable to gobble your legs up.
Go over to my friend Sher's site and check out all the WCB kitties Upsie's staying cool in the Cali heat. I hear ya, sister. It's pretty muggy here as well these days!

Maybe that's why Kamikaze's so very moody. Yes. That must be it. It's definitely not the frilly hat. He loves that hat, I tell ya.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Boo. Friggin'. Hoo.

Have you ever noticed. The way Tyra Banks. Talks. In. Short. Staccato. Sentences.?
Especially when she's. Trying to. Make. A. Point.
I can't watch her talk show, because it's laaaaaame. And the way she speaks. Really. Bugs. Me.

But occasionally I watch America's Next Top Model. Perhaps because she's not in any given episode all that much. And, you know, it's, like, "OhmyGod! Who's going to BE America's. Next. Top. Model?"

So anyhow, this week they're airing Season 7 here and the five remaining girls are in Barcelona. Tyra sits them down to have. A. Talk. She's been in the bidness fo' years, so you know she's full of sage advice for these young hopefulls. She tells them that the modelling industry is hard, so hard! It's probably one of "the toughest industries."

"If you're not a great actor, you can go to an acting coach and improve. If someone tells you you're sometimes singing off key, you can get voice lessons. But if a client says 'I just don't like her look,' what are you going to do? You're still YOU!"

Oh Tyra! How true! How very very very true! It is tough to be a model.

Orrrrr,...wait a minute! You could go to a gym. And for a massage. And then a plastic surgeon's office. Lipo, Botox, Lift, Fat-lips, Boob-job. Heal up at a spa. And then head to a beauty salon and have your colours done and a gorgeous haircut. And hire someone to do your makeup. And get a fan to blow your hair around luxuriously while a professional photographer snaps your pictures. Then they'll touch it up and airbrush the shit out of it.

But, yah. At the end of the day, you're still just you.
Poor little model!

You* and Me

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*YOU are the BEAR.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Funky Beetle

Here's a little guy I snapped on my way to work. Such interesting colours.
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But he's a bad mammajamma. From this site on the Asian Longhorned Beetle:

"A new and potentially serious threat to some of North America’s most beautiful and popular trees is the Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis). Native to parts of Asia, the beetle is believed to have arrived in North America in the wooden packing material used in cargo shipments from China. Isolated Asian Longhorned Beetle infestations have been discovered in Brooklyn and Amityville, New York, and in Chicago, Illinois. In all instances where Asian Longhorned Beetles have been found, authorities have reacted quickly to stop the infestation from spreading.

Trees favored by the Asian Longhorned Beetle are predominantly maples, but infestations have also been discovered in horsechestnuts, poplars, willows, elms, mulberries and black locusts. Currently, there is no known chemical or biological defense against the Asian Longhorned Beetle and, in North America, they have few natural predators. In all cases of infestation, the affected trees are cut down and the wood destroyed."

Bad beetle. BAD!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I entered the staffroom today and it was positively frosty. It wasn't because the air conditioner had been turned on the moment the first person arrived either. (Nooooo! "Zine air cohn vill be toorned on at sree o'clock!" proclaimed the gestapo last week. "Vee onlee haf two schtudents at too o'clock!" was the rationale. Nevermind I'm sweating like a chicken at KFC. Nevermind it takes over a good hour for the conditioning of the air to occur after the systems been turned on. What? Are you guys saving a whole ten bucks in that jungle hour? Nice work, air-con nazi.)

No it was frosty because I didn't "Yassum ma'am" and "Thank yah, ma'am" my manager for sticking me with another class. I guess. I don't know what the deal was, I can only assume, since I was not spoken to by said manager all day. Or looked at. And because I put the SUCK in "SUCKer" I ended up teacher the class anyways. One grade eight student.

It's not always super fun to be working with a bunch of women. I tend to have a lot of guy friends. I don't have a lot of patience for pissy women. Frankly, I don't have a lot of patience for me when I'm being pissy. But if I am being a pain in the ass, I'll tell you why. It turns out Sunny's having a mole removed. But, my boss explained, her mother is so strong, she insists Sunny have a week off back at the homestead to recuperate. Seriously?

My mother and I have an ongoing joke lately. If anyone's causing her some grief, I say "Let me talk to them. No seriously. Give me their number. I'll call them and tell them what the hell's what." My mother puts on her "mom" voice, "Now Jennifer, you nevermind. Don't go causing trouble."

Recently I've threatened to call her (ex?)boyfriend, my uncle, an abandoned restaurant/pub we used to enjoy visiting, her cat for not coming home when called, and some vegetables that were going bad in her fridge. ("SERIOUSLY! Give me the broccoli's number!")

But that's in jest. And I'm trying to remain calm and reasonable. (See: stuff my feelings deep deep inside so I can hash them out eventually with an Air Marshall in a spectacular burst of rage when I don't get my extra glass of ice quick enough in-flight.)

It's too bad my worried mom didn't make a call after my car crash or my surgery to get me a week off! Anyhow, I blocked my manager's icy assault today with my own wall of bricks. Like I said, I suck!

I spoke with my boss about the possibility of vacation time in August, and was kind of surprised how smoothly it was agreed to. BUT, no more than 2 and a half weeks, and the flight's on my dime. Which isn't enough time, really, and isn't really fair about the cost of the flight either. (Just so you know, teachers here have their return airfare covered by their employers. Last year, I paid my own two thousand plus dollar airfare home for a similar vacation. I was about desperate to get the hell out of here for awhile, and was just happy to have been allowed the time off.) That's like spending about a hundred and fifty bucks per day to be home. Worth it? Mmmmmmaybe. But then there's all the money I spend there, plus the salary I'm NOT paid while I'm away. I wonder if I can broker a deal where I'm paid in full for the time I'm gone? Might be worth proposing. It's not like any of the other staff is paid extra for covering my classes. (Nor am I when I cover theirs.)

So I don't know. But that's not unusual, me not knowing. The alternative is just packing it in. I could collect some thousand, pass go, go home for four weeks or so, which is what I want, and roll the dice on a new gig in the fall. But it's not that simple either. There's cat concerns and stuff concerns. You wouldn't believe what I've managed to accumulate in over five years in Asia.

Pack up? Pack it in? Pakistan? Pachyderms? Pac-Man?
Pack me!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I arrived to work today to find us missing a teacher. Sunny's having some kind of surgery removing some sort of growth from inside or on her breast. I was told a few times "it's NOT cancer!" which is damned good news. "How do they know? Did they do a biopsy? Is it serious?" I asked. But, no one was able to let me know any details except to say that she's going to be absent for the whole week. I hope she's alright.

So my manager asked me to "do her a favour" and teach the last class tomorrow whereas I would normally catch a break and get out an hour earlier. I just looked at her plain-faced for awhile until she turned away and thanked me for agreeing to work. Only I hadn't agreed. "I have plans," I said.

A couple months ago I asked for a scheduling favour. I asked for my last-class break, which occurs on Tuesdays, to be switched with my 4 o'clock break that occurs on Thursdays. I'd been invited to attend an event in another city that Thursday night, and had told my friend I would probably be able to swing getting off early. If I taught the last class, I wasn't going to be able to go. Seeing as I very very rarely ask for any kind of amendment to my schedule I didn't think it was going to be a problem, but ohhhhhh, it was.

In the end it was "too bad, so sad" for me, and no one was even willing to articulate why I couldn't be granted this one change. My manager said we'd talk about it "later" (see: never) and that her visit to the doctor for a headache earlier in the day had messed up her mind so that she wasn't able to use her brain. Mmmm'kay.

So, while I'm not a great fan of "tit for tat," I was reminded of that happening a couple months ago when I was asked to lend a hand tonight. I've covered for absent teachers before. Many times, actually. And I've also been happy to be a team player in the past. I wavered as I headed to class tonight, letting guilt slip in and make me think I'd relent and agree to cover before I left for home. But then I noticed my manager sitting around eating ramen with a group of kids who were straggling from the previous class. Lady, if you're busy with managerial tasks and unable to teach, I understand. But, sheesh! Oh - and I noticed she'd parked students from her last class of the day (which she was covering) in front of a scrabble board, told two teams to pick about 15 tiles each and, there! Work it out! That's your English lesson today, kids!

I've got to talk to my boss tomorrow about the possibility of vacation time. In August. When I should be teaching "special classes" on top of my regular schedule. We've also for to talk about tax and pension monies, which it seems like I might be getting. Perhaps. (Cross your fingers.) And I've got to decide that if I'm not able to get back home for some time this summer, if it's time to just call it a day here. I'm hoping things are going to turn out well, but I'm not very sure at all.