Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Taxi Talk

I don't what it is with the taxi drivers here, but their line of questioning usually starts with asking me where I'm from, am I an English teacher, and do I live alone. When they hear I've only got a cat for companionship, they ask me if I've got a boyfriend.

"No? Why not? You're very pretty!"

My responses vary from a curt, "Ah, thank you." to "No I'm not. I'm a scary monster."
Bolder cabbies will then offer to be my boyfriend, and so I ask them how many babies they have at home.

"None? Why not? You're very married!"

The ballsy cab driver who chauffeured me tonight was so busy making googly eyes at me in his rear-view mirror that he wasn't paying attention when we rounded a corner and I had to point ahead of us and say, "Whoa! Whoa! STOP!"

A pretty woman with a big bouquet of flowers in one hand and a cake box in the other very nearly ended up as a hood ornament. Seriously, she jumped back with a look of terror on her face, and if she hadn't leapt in time we would have absolutely hit her. That would have been a crappy birthday present.

I've got to learn how to say "I've got a big huge boyfriend who would happily rip your head off for even asking me if I was single so eyes on the road, pal" in Korean.

Monday, December 29, 2008

And So That Was Christmas

And what had I done?

Well, not too much really.
Usually Christmas is a fairly tumultuous time in my head. I miss my friends and family back home in a way that makes me ache. I mean, I miss them all the time - but it's not nearly as bad as it tends to get around the holiday season. And I felt that familiar pain at times this past Christmas; I did. But, it was so brief and fleeting that it barely registered. Overall I didn't give a rat's ass that it was Christmas. To me, it just felt like a Thursday. (Although really it felt like a Saturday which pleased me to no end because I kept remembering that Saturday was two days away.) I love holidays. Not "the holidays" as they're known back home - but I love not having to go to work.

We started off the "holidays" by having "Market Day" at school on Wednesday. When I first started, we held Market Day every three months. I always looked forward to it, and the kids LOVED it! Over the past couple years our Market Days have occurred with less and less frequency, and so this past Wednesday's was the first one we'd had since the beginning of MAY! It was so "meh." I showed up late because no one bothered to tell me to come in early and I didn't even think about it. I wasn't assigned a job, and so I basically pretended to be your average Korean employee and tried to make it look like I was busy.

That's a lie. I half-heartedly pretended. I couldn't muster enough care to give a shit, really. I know I complained about my co-workers laziness at the Halloween Party, but I've jumped wholly into that Pool of Laziness it seems. Oh. I rented the movies that we played on the big screen in the TV room. Not too many kids watched anything, but I thought Kung Fu Panda was pretty cute.

Anyhow, my former boss Karen came for the day and I enjoyed seeing her. I miss her. I do really like my new boss, though - so I'm not complaining. I was wary of the new guy when I first met him because, well, that's the nature of this beast. But I've grown to like him the most and I feel almost protective of him. I want him to do well so I ramp up my enthusiasm on most days. Except Market Day.

We finished early on Christmas Eve and headed out to my boss's favourite down-scale "gogi-jip" where we ate so-so pork and even more so-so baby squid stir-fry. However, their kimchi (hand made by the owner's mom) is delicious. There is no better kimchi than that made by someone's mother. In fact, my boss gave me a massive amount of his mother's kimchi today. She's got to be over 70 years old. I can smell it through the container and I know it's going to be goooood. It will probably last me all winter. Num.

Ee-cha (2nd stop) Xmas Eve was my boss's favourite "hoff" (bar) where he got us a cake. Wheeeee!
Those big red balls on the top are tomatoes!

Sam-cha was the noraebang.
Sa-cha was just my co-worker and I visiting a foreigner bar downtown. We met up with other people. It was fun. I've got a fledgling relationship happening. Maybe. Perhaps. It's been a slow three year build, but I'm still not all in. But these beginnings of maybes and perhaps can be sort of thrilling, can't they?

Most of Christmas Day was spent cocooned with the cat. I managed to call my brother's house just as they were all starting to open their presents. I missed them with that ache until I was told they were too busy to talk to me, and so I cocooned some more.

I showed up to a feast on Christmas night at my friend's restaurant. Join me now in remembering the deliciousness.
First course was a whole lotta beef.
Sorry for the ratty picture, but trust me - this is some yummy meat. It's like a seriously fine steak sliced up and grilled for just a couple minutes. you can dip it ever so slightly into the wee bowl of salt and pepper mix and pop it in your mouth, or create a bundle of meat, wasabi-onion, red bean paste, garlic, and kimchi wrapped in lettuce and sesame leaf and CHOMP.

Second course was fish.
Thems raw fishes.

Have a closer look.
Dip it in a spicy red sauce and eat it up! Or make a bundle. Whatever you like.

This came next.
I really don't remember what this was.
Did I mention there was a lot of free-flowing beer and soju? Yah. Lots of "gumbaes!" (Cheers!) Still, I remember asking what this was and I remember thinking "nooooo thanks" so I didn't taste it. Looking at the photo,....I don't know. Tongue? Penis? I'll ask my friend and update. **UPDATE** it was squid intestines. So my drunken "No WAY" was reasonable. And lookng at my photos in retrospect I was sure this was deep fried, but my friend swears it was just boiled. So, double ewww.

Third course. Yuuuuummmmm.
King crab, baby! There were three of these gigantic trays. Enough to fill all the spaces in your already quite full tummy.

Strangely, no one seemed to like the claws, saying they were "too much trouble." Puh-lease!" And just so you know, whereas most Westerners might stick to the legs and claws, my Korean pals ate everything, pretty much, of these crabs. Crack open the bodies and slurp everything out!

And to end off there was some cake. Cake bookends to this post.

I was supposed to work Friday, but I took the day as a holiday and spent the next three days in near hibernation. I liked it.

Meanwhile back home my mother bought my niece ice-skates for Christmas and they all went skating on Boxing Day. My mom fell down and broke her arm. It had been snowing in Toronto for days, and just after Christmas it warmed up and started raining. The ER doctors said they'd spent the whole day mending broken bones from people falling on the ice. It was the first time my mom has broken anything. Record over. I've never broken a bone either, despite having smashed myself up good numerous times. At least I survived Christmas intact.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I can't believe I've just recently tuned into "Brian in Jeollanam-do." Now THERE'S a good blog. Go now. Run away from here before something judges you. Oh whoops! Too late.
Big Fat Green Santa-Rabbit Thing Judges You!
You're slow. You could have been halfway through Brian's most recent post already.

Mostly though, Big Fat Green Santa-Rabbit Thing judges me because I haven't (nearly) finished my Christmas cards. Christmas is two days away and I have never cared less. Santa-Rabbit Thing judges me to be absolutely "bah-humbuggish." Just after I snapped Santa-Rabbit Thing's picture he screamed "YOU SUCK!" and gave me the finger. Hmph.

I told him his blue garbage bag belt sucks, but he did that "talk to my hand" thing, so I just went home to not finish my Christmas cards some more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Has anyone else noticed that The Iceberg and John's Long Time Gone have disappeared? I could link to them in this query, but it just takes you to an error page. (Links are on the sidebar if you think I'm lying.) Where oh where have they gone?

**Update - Okay! Happily, John seems to be back!
**Double Update - Alrighty! Ice Ice Baby's back, too! (And he and his wife are going to have a little baby icecube!) Congrats!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's THAT Time of Year, Too.

Oh yah. Time for the ills. I started feeling not so great on Sunday, and by 5 o'clock Tuesday I was sort of wishing that someone would come along with a mallet and pound me unconscious. So I took myself to see the doctor, and guess what he told me? (Guess what he told me?)

Well, he didn't tell me anything, really. He said, "medicine - three day and injection." Did you know that "ass injection" is by far the highest googled term that leads people to visit this site? That, and if you google images for "fear face." I'm so pretty. So I shouldn't encourage the whole ass injection searching, so I won't say anymore except to say I got an injection today.

In my ass.

Lemme tell you, I do not know what the six little pills in perforated plastic houses to be taken three times a day ARE, but I can tell you they rock. I certainly don't feel GOOD, but I'm not feeling like I'd rather be euthanized. I sort of feel like I'm wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of doziness. I keep nodding off. Sweet magic little fuzzy pills, I like 'em.

You know what I don't like? These big stupid machines:
They're busy wood-chipping the lovely forest outside my window. They start up at eight in the morning. They need some perforated doses of "SHUT UP!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

That Time of Year

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Well, it's not really, but the bakery that's kitty-corner to my school has a life sized Santa standing outside their place. St. Nick has a saxophone and every few minutes he starts to dance. Even at my age, it creeps me out. I'm fairly certain if I was a little kid it would traumatize me.

I'm sort of late, but I'm trying to get my Christmas cards out in the next couple days. Please, if you'd like a pretty card - send me your snail mail address!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


As noted in this Yahoo News article, the big bad full moon that happened last night here (or is just happening now if you're on the east coast of North America) was/will be the largest one of the year! The moon is currently 17,295 miles closer to us than its average distance! You can almost reach up and grab a handful of it to munch on!

See? It's just about the same size as the lamp attached to the bakery on the right hand side of my picture!
It was a good night to get werewolfy! Owwwwooooohhhhh!

Just After Sunset


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kevin's Pizza

My pal Kevin wrote up a little post the other day about a little pizza which got me thinking. For the first time ever in Korea, I actually had pita! My friend wanted to order some things to make Mexican food, and so I was browsing around the Internet with her. We settled on "Taco House" which offers a variety of food you won't find at your average supermarket here. The site's all in Korean, but have a look around if you're interested.

Kevin's pizza inspired me, and go figure - I had all of the ingredients on hand except for the feta cheese. So, pizza I did making. I don't have an oven, but I've got a little grilly cubbyhole thingie underneath my three burner gas stovetop. It cooks things fast, even with just the top element on its lowest setting, hence the too well-done "crust."
I only had small sized pita, and I forgot the olives, but it was delicious anyhow.
Thanks, Kevin!

Exchange Woes

I mentioned before how much the exchange rate sucks. Blech.

You know what's really making me sad regarding the piss poor value of the won against the US dollar? The price of books. Just a few months ago I was enjoying buying books from my beloved What the Book? at pretty much an even dollar to won rate. Their prices are in US dollars and converted to Korean currency. I don't know where they're getting their numbers from, but the $16.00 book I decided I needed yesterday is now a full 4,000won more than it was listed at this morning. (The US price always remains the same.) I guess I'm just going to have to keep checking their site every few hours and jump on a book when the price seems lower.

That SUCKS!!!!
If anyone wants to get me a Christmas present,....


Sometimes I discover I've forgotten about a particular food from back home. Radishes, small and red and zingy. Num. They remind me of my grandfather, who used to pile a tiny hill of salt on the table and dip green onions and radishes in there throughout dinner. I hadn't given them a thought for years. My memory was stirred when I encountered western radishes for the first time the other day. I wanted them, but there's no way I was going to pay over a dollar each for these two little babies.

And there was no way I was going to pay anything for these bad boys, either.

Strawberry pogos!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Crocodile on my Head Judges You.

He still remembers when rock was young, but he says neither you nor Suzie are very much fun anymore.
In fact, he'd quite like to death-roll you. So you guys had better watch out.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Well, the opening of the "new" school was not as triumphant as I'd hoped. I was sort of lookng forward to grandiose bouquets of flowers and maybe some noisy dancing girls, but it wasn't like that. I offered to do a pom-pom dance outside on the street, but my co-workers just laughed at me.

I was actually excited to have the opportunity to be working with new texts and what I hoped was going to be a new teaching philosophy - or something, but it's not working out so well.

I still haven't figured out exactly what the big idea was, but we're only using FOUR different texts out of the, I don't know, FIFTY or so that are available within our new melange of books. These new textbooks are meant to be finished within a month, which is fine by me. With our old books, we'd take three months to get through which was fine as well. I've spent so much time using them I;ve got my lesson plans sorted, pretty much. I've got a couple middle school classes who are taking six months to complete their texts, (we're using Get Together 3) which is challenging for them. About halfway through the fifth month I'm so totally sick of it, and the students seem to feel the same way. So a new textbook every month is cool. Previously, we were using eleven different texts for thirteen classes. Now, other than the middle schoolers, we're using FOUR.

I've been told it's some kind of transitionary thing where they're hoping to combine classes so two of our four bodies don't actually have to teach any classes. It's not a terrible idea to try to streamline everything, but the reason we were using different books (my franchise's publication (total "Let's Go!" ripoff) and "English Time") was because our students varied in their level of English ability. Now we're using one book for the wee kindergarten class, and the next level up for the 1st graders, and the remaining students have been shoved into the remaining two text's categories, Low 1 and Beginner 2.

It almost seems like the Einstein who planned all this WANTS the mothers to call in and complain and then yank their children. On Monday we had a record breaking SIX students drop out. So much for glorious grand openings. I've got siblings in 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock classes who were previously nine months apart, textbook wise, and now they're studying the same book! I'm embarrassed about it, and feel like apologizing everytime I tell the kids to pull their books out. Whereas I've been consulted over the last many years when it comes to picking a new textbook, I had NO input in what's going on. It saddens me that there's no consideration for the progress my students have made, some of these kids have been with us for YEARS, and it seems we've stopped caring about them. If I were one of the kid's mothers, I would have pulled them out so fast,...so I'm not surprised we're approaching critical numbers. If we keep bleeding students, something's got to give - and I wonder if the axe might fall upon moi. Technically, my new franchise isn't even set up to have a foreign teacher. Most of the existing franchises don't. Perhaps I'll be the most expendable, which honestly wouldn't be horrible news - except it means I'll have to find another job and sign a new year's worth of contract. I was hoping to wrap Korea up in the summer and get back to Canada to enjoy my nieces growing up. Granted, everything's up in the air because the exchange rate is currently raping my savings.

Nothing's simple.

Meanwhile my boss has taken over the failed Music School next door and is remodelling it as a Math Academy. I met the new math teacher a couple days ago. She doesn't speak English and (forgive me) she looks like a witch. Not that she's not a pleasant enough person - have no idea. Literally, she looks like a witch. All that's missing is a cackle and a pointy hat. The Math School currently has five students starting next week. My boss is trying to go big,...but he might have a big BUST coming his way. One of the classrooms in the Math School is going to be styled for grown-ups and I'm going to have to start teaching adults the week after next. I haven't taught adults since I worked in Japan ages ago. They're going to be absolute beginners, so it's going to be a challenge. Truth be told, I'd rather not bother. It means me working late three nights a week. Blah.

Demolishing ensues on the music school.

Die, Music School,...DIE!

This apple is demolishing itself.
I walk to school while that apple gently weeps.

Speaking of weeping, that's all I wanted to do as I stepped into my last class of the week. I felt like a balloon that's had a slow leak and was finally just about deflated. Demoralized. Defeated. Deconstructed.

Luckily, I've got a weekend in front of me to decompress.