Sunday, June 28, 2009


This is what Kamikaze looks like when I'm drunk *hic* he's drunk *hic* we're drunk. We're so drunk.

He can haz soju?

Hey, What's Up?

I'm not sure what was going on under this little tent.

But, I was very tempted to smush my way into the crowd saying in rapid-fire English, "Hey what's going on in here? What are you guys looking at? Is something for sale? Is it something good? Can I have some? What's the deal?"

I wonder how long it would have taken for them to scatter.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Scene Below My Balcony

I came home tonight and Kamikaze the Cat was waiting on the inside mat to lovingly greet me with meows and kitty-licks to lumber outside and roll in the corridor. Downstairs, I could hear some Korean men brawling? fighting? speaking at normal Korean late-night volume arguing. Yes. They were definitely arguing.

I peeked my head over the side to spy check it out. Below me there was a taxi driver and some guy. Taxi Guy held Some Guy by the sleeve of his shirt. I was thinking they were probably arguing about the fare. Maybe the guy hadn't paid. I watched awhile longer and realized that the passenger was drunkity-drunk-drunk. He didn't protest at the taxi driver's grip on his shirt, probably because that was the only thing preventing him from reeling to the pavement. I also realized that the argument wasn't about the fare, but rather that Drunk Guy had left Taxi Man a little present in the back seat - a nice pile of puke. Taxi Man was insisting that Drunk Guy should stumble to his apartment and fetch some cleaning supplies and get to work.

I smiled, knowing that the likelihood of that happening was zilch. I was betting that as soon as Taxi Man let go of Drunk Guys collar there would be some falling and shortly thereafter, some snoring. But Taxi Man was persistent, and Drunk Guy was denying he'd barfed in the cab. Their shouting match went like this:
"I din't puke smmsnallshiisekkshi"
"Wheeere shmmmshillla *hic!*"
"No. Opseyo. Thereesh nuthing."
"RIGHT THERE! LOOK! HERE!" and he tried to shove Drunk Guy's head into the cab.

Things continued like that until finally Drunk Guy got frustrated and pretty much fell into the back of the cab to investigate. He then lurched out of the cab upright with his hands cupping a pile of puke, which he placed on the top of the cab.

Taxi Man lost his mind, pretty much - but didn't want to come near Drunk Guy now that his hands here covered in vomit. He screamed bloody murder while he slammed all the doors, inserted himself into the driver's seat, and screeched backwards out of the parking lot.

Drunk Guy wobbled curiously for just a few moments before he fell into the bushes.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I went to this restaurant the other night that offered burn-your-face-off chicken. It's called Hong-Cho Bool Dak, and it's a franchise. If you're in Korea you might want to check it out. The chicken comes out all hot and fiery on a skillet. We had two versions, and I thought the mozzarella on the one dish would cut down on the spiciness, but it actually seemed hotter. I'm not sure why, but I thought our frosty bottle of soju really paired wonderfully with the meal. I was either too busy wiping tears from my fire face or downing shots that I seem to have not taken any pictures of our meal.

The menu does have some other exciting things on offer, though.

Not a little bit of wellbeing. Nor a decent sized amount. These pumpkin wedges are a MASS of wellbeing!

These fishes' balls escaped from the red and blue oceans and they've got a story to tell. It's castrantastic.

Chewy! Like Gummy! Yummy Chewy Gummy Chicken Feet! Num Num Num!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We Will Rock You

My brother called me this morning. He sounded serious.

He started, "Lori" (his wife) "and I had very long debate this morning."

"Really?" I asked. I was sort of worried. My family has been going through some tough times lately. Hatfield and McCoy type shit, only we're the hyphenated version. Same-same.

"What were you talking about?" I asked, uneasy at his answer.

"We were arguing whether a city could actually be built on rock n' roll. Lori says no."

"Ummmmm. I think she's wrong!" I said.

" I KNOW!" He explained, "We could live in speakers. Cars can roll around on drums. There can be keyboard-boats. Xylophones and glockenspiels will be the roads and sidewalks."

"Xylophones and glockenspiels aren't very rock n' roll."

"Oh, whatever. They can rock."

"I suppose. I can see YES or Floyd employing them. Besides, the argument is moot, really. Starship already Built a City on Rock n' Roll. Doesn't Lori realize that?"

"I KNOW!!" he shouted. "That song rocks. They should play it on the radio. All the time. Only that song. Over and over."

"I KNOW!" I agreed.

"They could play the original at the top of the hour and then follow it with every band covering it. Every single band."

"Exactly! And there could be various stations. A classical station with orchestral versions."

"Right? And a county western station with twangy hoe-down versions."

"Seriously, man. Someone should get on that."

"I'M GETTING ON IT" Jeff shouted. "Right after I start BUILDING ANOTHER CITY!"

Knick Knack Paddy Whack...


A couple weeks ago another dog showed up at my school. Well, really - dogs show up all the time. However, the one that showed up a couple weeks ago had obviously been someone's pet at some point. She's a shih-tzu, and although she was dirty and skinny, she had been groomed at some point. Her fur was in an overgrown "puppy-cut" style.

I scooped the dog up and brought her to the supermarket, where I'd been heading when I came downstairs and in addition to the ice cream I bought for a couple students, I grabbed some dog food. Upstairs in an empty classroom, the dog wolfed it all down and lapped up the cold water I'd brought her and then lay down for a rest. Meanwhile, my boss started calling around and eventually arranged to have someone from the pound pick her up. I was told she'd stay there ten days hoping they could re-unite her with her owner. I suppose I could have just left it at that, but I kept thinking about her little face and how relieved she'd seemed when I picked her up. At the supermarket she'd sighed in my arms, a deep shuddering sigh - before she nestled her chin against my arm.

I hate the idea that she was belonged to someone and either got lost, or was more likely abandoned. So when the shelter called to say she hadn't been claimed, I sort of insisted I get her back. The shelter guy warned against it, apparently "Bella" (the name I'd settled on in my head) was fussy and would only eat "meat." ("As opposed to what?" I wondered. A bowl of lint and pebbles?) She was fine eating dog food. I don't think it's right to euthanize her just because she doesn't want to eat rice and/or kimchi.

So Bella came back last Thursday, and my boss reluctantly agreed to foster her "only for ONE WEEK!" while I search for a new home. Early next week I'm taking her to my vet to get some tests done and vaccinations started to ensure she's healthy. She's so cute.


I've already had a couple people express some interest. There's an American family up in Seoul who say they've been looking for an adult dog. They've got a nice house with a backyard in a quiet neighbourhood and there's usually someone home throughout the day. They sound ideal, and so, fingers crossed I'll head up to Seoul next weekend so they can meet.


You know what's weird? My boss actually LOST his shih-tzu just three days before Bella showed up. His dog was named Dalki, and she got loose when his daughter brought the dog to his (almost ex) wife's house in aother city. He's really torn up about it and not ready to have another dog, but I think his heartache lended toward helping me save Bella.


This will be the second dog I've "rescued." Remember Wonder Dog? He's now living in Canada with a big family who dotes on him. Such a difference from when he first showed up.

Wonder Dog (now named Kaibee) enjoying a wonderful life:

Let's hope Bella is destined for a beautiful furture as well!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Rambly because Achoo

My co-worker told me at the start of a class last week that one of my students had thrown up three times earlier in the day, and she really wasn't feeling well so if she needed to go, I should let her head to the washroom. I stopped and said "Uhhh, ok. But, I really don't want to get sick."
My co-worker laughed at me.
"I'm serious, Cindy. The kid sits right beside me." and I nodded toward where the little girl sat with her hand clenched over her mouth. In the classroom I spend a lot of the time standing at the board or leaning at the bureau where the CD player lives, but I do sit when the kids are working on stuff or if I have to mark. I'm at the end of the table which is formed into a semi-circle. A small half circle - and I've usually got students on either side of me. They're as close to me as if we were sitting next to each other on a bus - but it's even worse because they're angled to exhale (or cough, sneeze or *gag* barf) directly into the airspace that I'm inhaling.

I feel like I'm turning into Jack Nicholson in "As Good as it Gets," (Hi, Mark?) but I really hate getting sick. I'm washing my hands all the time and using alcoholy sanitizer when I don't have time to hit the Ladies' between classes and still, I actually wish I was teaching from inside a plexi-glass box. Or an air-conditioned Hazmat suit.

Dr. Cindy said, "You won't get sick. Maybe she just ate something not good."
"Orrrr," I countered, "Maybe she's got a wicked stomach flu. Seriously, can we move her for today?" (To, like, home?) So Cindy got the girl to move to the far end of the table just for the day, which was fine. It got me thinking back to my childhood when throwing up throughout the night, before school, or (all over your most favourite red plaid kilt and white tights in grade two) in school automatically earned you a stay-home-from-school-and-watch-cartoons card. No questions.

That's not often the case here, and I resent it. I think many of my students' parents are working and I know that Koreans drag their own sick bodies to work all the time when by all rights they should be staying home and getting better instead of infecting their co-workers. So it stands to reason they're probably not going to take time off to look after their sick children - and instead send them off to infect ME.

Look at these kids:
They're tiny. I can almost fit them in my pocket. Both of them. In one pocket.
They could live in my shoes. Both of them. In one shoe.

Anyways they're in grade one. They're six years old. Tiny little humans.
And THIS is the girl's bag!
Photobucket It's REALLY HEAVY and I'm surprised she can carry it without toppling over. This isn't her only bag, either - she's got another one with her Taekwondo uniform and a few more books, because apparently she can only fit EIGHTEEN books into the pink knapsack!

You know what I carried around in my knapsack when I was six years old? Nothing! Because I didn't have a knapsack. I had a Holly Hobby lunchbox with a sandwich in it. That was my homework. Eat the sandwich.

That little girl goes from school to an "all subject" hagwon, to our English school, to Taekwondo and then for a piano lesson. Her parents run a very busy sushi restaurant. They're very nice people, but I still feel bad when their little girl knocks her forehead against the desk because she's unable to keep her eyes open and stay awake. Today she was coughing and sniffling, looking miserable. And that made two of us. There's something going around. In the next class, both students on either side of me were sick. The one who kept coughing without covering his mouth got moved.

I had a very sore throat Sunday and Monday and I should have realized that tends to be the first symptom I get when I'm about to get sick - but I hadn't really thought about it. Sure enough, temperature is 102 right now and I've got fire face/lungs. Can't breathe. Still, my sneezes feel like sinus-orgasms.

When my eight o'clock class ended today I schlepped to the washroom and after, as I was washing my hands, I noticed something in the mirror. I brushed my hair off my forehead and panicked, "Oh man, I'm really sick! What the hell?" There were angry red circles about the size of the end of a cigarette from my right temple down to beside my eye. Typhoid? Ebola? Holy shit! I brought my fingers up to feel the spots.

They come off.

While marking my middle-school students' tests, I'd been tapping the side of my head with my thin red crayon.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Red Handed

I was out Saturday night with some friends and after dinner and such we took a stroll to the centre of town. There's a "park" which is really just a big oval with a bandshell at one end and a new spongy floored playground at the other. All around the perimeter of the park there are new exercise machines that have been installed so we were screwing around trying to determine their breaking-threshold strenuously working out. I'm joking - we were just trying them out, and most of them are quite cool. A free outdoor gym - nothing wrong with that,..but there's one that reminds me of Frankenstein's laboratory bed which completely flips you upside-down. Well actually you invert yourself, thereby controlling the speed at which your feet go airbourne and then you use the wheel-crank things on either side of the contraption to right yourself. This move targets your obliques, quadrophenias, and triceratops. (I have no bloody idea.) My friends didn't read the instructions, though, and thought it was Hee-Larry-Us to plunge me upside-downand refuse to let me back up. HATE!

Anyhow, about half-way around the park (and after me flipping out just a little bit) our party broke up and it was just the boyfriend and I still messing around. He'd already mentioned that I should go get my bag, which was sitting in the pavilion just over yonder in plain view. I told him not to worry about it, but a couple machines later he said he was going to get my bag because there was some guy milling around. We headed across the oval and when we were fairly close he broke away, running up to the guy who was now sitting near my bag - and he reached out and grabbed the guy's wrist.

Buddy had my wallet in one hand and all my money, that he'd removed and folded in half in the other!
My gentleman of a boyfriend said something that equated to "My dear sir, whatever are you doing? This is highly out of order!"
I was not so kind, and though I've never learned the Korean word for 'fucking thief,' I did call him tenbabydogs eighteen crazybadman assholes, and inquired if he wanted to die?

It's a good lesson for me. I've become really complacent when it comes to keeping things safe. People are always telling me to zip up my bag when I'm walking around and they're absolutely right. I've been trying to be more vigilant - and almost losing a couple hundred dollars has really got my attention. Korea's quite safe, but still,...I think I've gotten overly used to my surroundings and need to be far more alert.

I'd venture to say the world needs far more Lerts.

Meanwhile, I'm going to visit my bank and get a cash card, which is something I should have done a long time ago. I think it's been two or three years now since my CHB bank turned into Shinhan. However, I've still got a CHB card that is fraying and dented and on the verge of breaking. When I hit the ATM its like gambling, with me wondering if this is the time my card decides it's time to finally die. These days few people carry a lot of cash on them, so that thief must have thought he really hit the jackpot until he was foiled. Thievery FAIL -- lucky for me!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Oh, What a Perfect Day

I'm coming to the end of yet anther contract next week and I still had three days of vacation I didn't take during the past fifty-one weeks. I know I could roll them over, but I'm feeling like I NEED a vacation. Seriously. DAMN! So I ended up taking Wednesday off and just relaxed most of the day and then went out shopping and for dins. Just after I had gotten Wednesday approved, my friend e-mailed and invited me to a beach barbeque on Thursday. I considered switching days, but then decided to just take two days off. Why the hell not? (This made my co-workers VERY unhappy. Whereas they teach about three classes on days I'm there, they've got seven in a row when I'm not. HA!)

So we went to the beach. It had been cloudy since Tuesday night, but there hadn't been any rain. No problem. The temperature was perfect and there was a nice breeze coming in from the sea. I really had no idea what was going to happen. There aren't many hibachis here. I wondered if we were going to use those silly little gas powered grills. Nope. What'cha do is you dig a trench.

We were underneath a little grove of tall pine trees on the other side of the road from the beach.
That's my friend Jae-Hong's bum. He was the digger-of-the-trench, with his handy collapsable trowel.

While the trench was being dug, a dog showed up to see what was happening.


And then another dog.
Who rolled around on some astro-turf mat nearby.

Rolling around is cool.

Cute little doggies!

But, back to the barbeque.
Once the trench was dug, three piles of charcoal, pine cones and little branches were assembled. Then they were lit up with some blowtorch thingie!

That's my best friend Kyung-sook on the fire machine thingie.

Where there's fire, there's smoke.
That slab of styrofoam in the foreground was employed as a fan. My friends are awesome fire fanners.

Eventually grills were perched overtop the fires, placed on rocks positioned at the edges of the trench. And out came the meat.

First up was marinated beef.
That stuff is deeeeelish.

A few feet away, various vegetables - the usual suspects: lettuce, sesame leaf, garlic, kimchi, and hot peppers were being prepared along with dixie cups of gochujang (soybean paste.)
The woman in the background is so nice, but I couldn't understand why she wore high heels to the beach. Ah well.

That slab of styrofoam in the background was my seat. That dog in the foreground was my buddy.

And the meat cooked.

And the meat was done.
And the meat was tasty.

And I got yelled at for feeding the tasty meat to my dog buddy.
But seriously, how could I resist such a cute under-bite? The white (and apparently stupid) dog had wandered off to sniff trees or collect shells,...whatever it is beach-dogs do.

Who's a good dog?

When everyone wasn't busy yelling at me, they were happily chowing down.

When the beef just about disappeared, slabs of marinated pork appeared!

Which was eventually cut up into bite sized morsels.
With garlic. Lawd, I loves me some garlic.

Soju flowed, and everyone got happy and full and less attentive toward my dog-feeding ways. I made a friend who snuggled in and rested on my pillowy thigh.
I picked out all the twigs and stuff and even snagged the scissors to cut out the burrs burried in his fur.

After the chatting and laughing and cherry-tomato food-fight, we started to clean up and my new pal went for another roll on the astro-turf in the sunshine.

And (if Nomad reads this) we left our area pristine when we departed.

We headed to a noraebang up the road which was fun, but I snuck out on my own to enjoy the beach a bit more. The afternoon was too nice to be in a dark (albeit huge) basement singing room with Korean songs blaring. The clouds had dissapated and the sun was shining; it was just the most gorgeous of summer days. (The shit that's officially called summer - in July and August, I call swelter-hell.)

I watched this guy struggle for a long time. There just wasn't enough wind to get his sails up but he wasn't letting that stop him. He yanked violently on the bar, creating his own wind, about 985 times while I sat watching him.

Ahhhhh, such a perfect day.

This scene always makes me think of Gilligan.
I'm glad I shared it with you.