Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Glad I Didn't Prepare

You know, after eight semesters of college, I pretty much acquired a constant feeling of, "I wish I had prepared better" for that paper/exam/night of drinking. I felt pretty unprepared for a career in property management, and I definitely flat out wasn't prepared for a job in medical insurance.

Then today happened. I had a pretty busy day, actually. This morning I prepped both of my classes for the tests I administered after lunch. Then during my break, it took me forty of the sixty minutes to correct these tests, leaving me without a whole lot of time to prepare for my afternoon classes. Alex gave me the message that two of my three weren't coming to my last class, so I was pretty concerned about how I was going to entertain one child for forty minutes, but it got pushed to the back of my mind as I realized I had more tests and so forth.

With two of my afternoon classes finished, I hung around my classroom waiting for the one child. A quick ride down the elevator, and I found out my last class was canceled--no one was coming! And so, while this story is neither informative nor entertaining, I would like to make one of those statements that one rarely gets to make: I'm glad I didn't prepare. :)

Life Imitating Art

Well, maybe calling my teaching style "art" is a little exaggerated, but as I look around at my day-to-day life, I see myself beginning to take on certain traits, or develop certain traits further, that one may associate with a six-year-old. (On January 1, 2009, my beloved babies of Koala and Swan classes will turn eight years old, but western age they're still six since they were all born after 1/1/02.)

Most recently what I see is a tendency to play hard until I crash. Last night I went out to dinner with the guys (and Heather, hi, Heather!), and initially I went to the wrong one. I walked all the way there and back, then had to go to a place reeeally far away. I took a taxi there just so I could be on time to get some meat (mmmm galbi) and walked home very slowly, stretching out my calf muscle with each step. It was great, but a lot of movement. When I got home, though, I was on the high of having been out in the cold air and moving a lot, so there was a lot of bouncy and annoying chat about comic book characters (who is inherently good, Batman or Superman), and at exactly 12:47 a.m. crashed in a ball on my bed.

My poor Tuesday/Thursday kids are kind of the same way. They will come into my class after having been at kindergarten all day (Korean kinder), and after the initial excitement of coming in and getting ready for class passes, one or four of them all begin to do the nod, sometimes actually hitting their foreheads on the table. Poor little guys.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lovebug

I resisted the Jonas Brothers until I saw they had a hit song called Lovebug. What with being a Katibug, I had to give it a listen, and I liked it.



I'm also obsessed with this song, Chicken Fried. I love country music!! The other day, someone asked me if I'm patriotic. You better believe it. The part of the song that gets to me is singing about letting freedom ring.

Blah.

I don't really have anything to report other than I am drinking milk soda pop. It's bizarre, but yummy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Korean Plumber

So I finally get someone to come to my house, and he says the same thing Troy and Sunny said, "She doesn't know how to work it." Well I would like to go on the record as saying, "Sigh." At least he pushed more buttons and tried all of the sinks and stuff! He reduced the water pressure some, and all the while is talking to me in Korean. The only word I understood was water, so it was a very one-sided conversation.

This post won't be any longer because I am aching for a hot shower. Tschuess!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Walking

So there may be a few more of these posts that are just about celebrating walking, but I think it stands as testament to how much I formerly took for granted, but do so no longer!

Today I walked to the hospital, went through physical therapy (which passed much more quickly while playing solitaire on my purple Christmas present), checked in at ECC (thankfully Jin was there and I explained that while my water may be warm on the hand, it is cold to the naked body), did some shopping at a stationery store, and walked home.

I walked down the street singing full-force to the song Chicken Fried and received well-warranted odd looks. What a glorious evening. With friends pre-occupied with boyfriends and girlfriends, I haven't much to do, but whatever I do find will probably involve some walking.

Debbie's Night Out

Yesterday was a pretty great day. I woke up, called and harassed my family for a while, then went downtown for the first time since October. As my taxi driver wound along the now familiar path, I smiled at the places that held memories, glared at the driver (from behind sunglasses) for opening his window, and tapped my toes anxiously because of all the traffic. The traffic was much more like Christmas Eve day back home with everyone rushing around. There was no stillness, probably because everyone was either going to church or, well, shopping. Not much was closed.

I got to the Holy Grill just on time, actually, and had arrived on my own. The Holy Grill is located on the third floor, though, and the staircase is not one of our American staircases with even floors and perfectly spaced stairs; in my mind as I lay with my bones knitting, the stairs became more lopsided, uneven, and incredibly tall--I was almost so scared I didn't go. In the end, it wasn't until I distracted myself that I left without thinking. I think this is a tool I need to remember in the future, that when I'm scared I need to concentrate on something outside of myself to overcome that fear.

The dinner was pretty tasty. I don't know where they got turkey from, but it was delicious, as was the ham. The food was a little cold, but I was still really grateful. The stuffing definitely wasn't like mom's. I discovered something kind of fun about going out on Christmas Day: not only do you not have to do dishes, but you can order milkshakes with Kahlua. Yum!

After dinner, Heather and I went back home laughing about the useless stuff that 20-something-year-old girls laugh about when on vacation and without many cares in the world. Parting ways, I was left to my own devices and discovered the joys of high speed internet mixed with popular music. Merry Christmas to me~ Merry Christmas to me~ This was all happening while I waited for Mel to sleep off her turkey coma, so when she woke up we headed off in search of Yes Man. (Yes, that's right, I saw it again, and after recommending it so highly I do have one note: there is a scene that if seen by both parents and older children simultaneously, it will cause great awkwardness. Just a head's up!)

When we got there, it was a little before 10, and the movie started at 11. An hour. Well, it wasn't too long, so we both kind of convinced each other to stay. After buying our tickets, we sat with some hot cocoa, but for some reason our conversation lulled while we waited. As I looked up past Mel's head, I saw two motorcycles for a racing game. Eyes lit up, hopeful like a child on Christmas, I asked if she wanted to race with me. I got turned down, but the Wack-A-Mole game intrigued her: Mel is from New Zealand, and she had only seen them in movies. After wandering around the game room, we both got a case of the giggles, and I ended up going up to a man with about 30 dimes and gave my best pathetic "Help me" look, because I couldn't actually ask him to exchange the coins for the fifty-cent pieces we need to play the games. Mel and I ended up racing cars (read: slammed into the sides a lot while laughing), and then the Wack-A-Mole. I'm pretty sure we're the worst players ever, but I think since it brought us so much glee, the man brought us prizes anyway!

I got home just in time to call Tracy up and wake her to wish her a Merry Christmas, then shared some of my bouncy Christmas joy with Tamara. For some reason I was just incredibly excitable, so I called home and mom was less than awake. So I got passed to dad, who was sitting near his label maker. I had a great time helping him come up with uses for the label maker: I think somewhere along the line the pie got "marked." This probably would have been less funny had I been at home and thus had the pie off-limits!

Overall, the day was going to come when I would not be able to return home for Christmas for whatever reason. Despite the disappointment, though, I was able to keep in touch with my family very well. I love them dearly and plan to spend the next Christmas with them, but being on my own (sort of) in South Korea proved to be a growing experience. I've always wished that I would seize the day more, and that I would create my own nice circumstances. This has been a successful step in that direction.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

It has officially been Christmas for 10 minutes, now. I have officially had all of my presents unwrapped for probably 8 hours, though. Turns out I can't be trusted! Yesterday really turned out to be a fun day. I got to work and already everything was set up on the fourth floor for the day's festivities. When I got into class, I had the options of 1) teaching a lesson, or 2) screwing off. I chose the latter and had a word find prepared ("Kate, did you prepare for your classes this morning?" "Sure did!"). Fortunately, by the time my boss walked by the classroom the kids were very adorably lined up and singing their two Christmas carols for the competition after lunch.



We had Market Day, where we spent the "talent" money they had been saving for the last month. My kids have extra classes after normal kindergarten, so they had over 100 talents each--we definitely ran out of prizes, but I think they all got things that were halfway interesting to them. After lunch, we had singing, then Santa (Chris) came and gave out presents. He did a really good job, and the kids totally thought the white guy in the red suit was really Santa. Now that I've had a day to reflect, I smile with slight wistfulness at the fact that my peers are now playing Santa instead of believing in him.

Santa and his reindeer left, leaving me with 6 kids, 6 unopened presents, and 35 minutes left of class. So we all headed downstairs to our class, sneaked by Yuria Teacher, and opened our presents one-by-one. My favorite picture of 2008 is the one I took of Max opening his present. His parents used super evil tape and super evil metal/plastic wrapping paper that was impenetrable to tearing. It required Kate Teacher to arrive to the rescue with her magic scissors. (I love that being old enough to use real scissors qualifies me as a hero!) Everyone got some pretty cool stuff, except for Nick. He got a pair of sheep mittens. While they were absolutely adorable (aka "steal-able"), they did kind of compare to Kevin's remote-controlled car. I guess Santa really did know who was good and who was naughty.

At the end of the day, I had a package to take home and a sudden urge to walk. Mel helped me home with a small surprise package from Sara (heart), and I kept pace pretty well. It was still a pretty long walk for someone who recently learned how to put on shoes again, so a few hours later we took a taxi to meet with the other foreigners at Fish and Grill.

Hilarity ensued (keeping pace with the soju, I reckon), and I do feel lucky to work with such great people.


Today had its equally up points. Like, seeing my family in front of the tree at night via webcam. It wasn't as wonderful as we had hoped it would be, but it was still great to see everyone together. My mom is currently taking care of my sister's guinea pig and my American hamster; I think dad got jealous, because he seems to be growing a rodent on his chin. My sister is rocking a darker hair color, now, and my mom's hair is all short and cute-uh. I even got to see my 10-year-old puppy.

That led to a small amount of homesickness. When I signed up for Korea, I had hoped that something would work out--my family might come here, I might get time off to go home--but in the end I spent Christmas Eve alone. To me, though, Christmas Eve IS Christmas. Christmas Day is a lot like a repeat of Thanksgiving, just with new pajamas and slippers at breakfast. Christmas Eve, though, has driving around to see how people decorated, and candle light service at church, and appetizers for dinner at home, followed by presents--equal excitement for giving as receiving.

Once I decided to pull myself out of the hole I created, I tied up my sneakers (yay!) and headed to Home Plus. I did some random shopping there, hoping that any electronic would jump out at me and provide some sort of entertainment, but to no avail. I did stand in the rice cooker aisle for about five minutes, faking out the clerk. It's impossible to shop without someone being more than five feet away for assistance (theft-prevention) purposes. I really need a picture of the entire aisle of rice cookers, though, it's unfathomable back home. After buying more crap to send home to my sister (when did I start shopping for my sister all the time?), I walked over to Outback. (You have no idea the joy I take in typing the words, I walked.) It was hard being seated alone in the midst of so many families, but after a few seconds I was good and enjoyed my pasta and Coke. I was even served by the manager! Tipping is verrrry uncustomary in Korea, but it's Christmas, so I left a full 25% and felt quite pleased.

After dinner, I paused and looked up where I knew the movie theater to be. I said to myself, Self, do you want to go home all depressed just to eat the rest of Sara's cookies? Or are you going to try something fun even though you're a little bummed out? I gave it a shot, and I got there with ten minutes to spare before Yes Man started to play. The movie was really good, and kind of reinforced my decision to be here in Korea.

Something kind of cute about the movie is, Jim Carrey's character decided to learn Korean, and everyone in the audience perked up the same way my family perks up when Montana is mentioned in a movie. They really liked part of the movie being in Korean (probably 90 seconds worth), and I liked that it was in English subtitles when necessary.

Afterward I walked all the way home. I stumbled once, and it didn't hurt! I cried out in fear that it would 1) hurt, or 2) break, but it did neither to my pleasant surprise. And when I got home, my mom was already up and ready to talk to her first born, which really brought the day to a soothing close.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sara is Wonderful

I had a busy day that was wonderful and took many awesome photos, but it's 3:22 a.m. and I need some sleep. Before I sleep, I need to inform the world of what a sweet girl Sara is. She sent me a care package of Christmas cookies. She has mastered the art of toaster ovening and sent me sugar cookies and a bunch of other stuff (but those are the ones that matter--and are already gone). I feel quite speechless over her thoughtfulness, and I don't really have a mountain from which I can thank her (not that I could climb it, even if I did) but I have this here blog that at least four people read regularly so... Thanks, Sara. You're a doll! (And the cookies were frosted very well, Mrs. F!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Two Shoes

For the last two months, I have worn one shoe, the right shoe, and it has taken its toll on my white sneaker. It's been the one to step through puddles and forced out into the cold each morning. Soon this should be remedied. Yesterday I went to the doctor's again, and after the usual X-rays, the doctor was pleased with how the break is healed. He looked at me quizzically, saying, "I'll take the splint today. Where is your shoe?" Haha, I knew if I had brought it he wouldn't take the splint, so I didn't bring it!

I got home to take off the splint and to put the shoe on, but considering my ankle was the size of my knee, I wasn't able to get my foot into my shoe. This was a little disappointing, but having the clearance to wear the shoe when it fits, that's exciting. After another cold shower (sigh), I got ready to go to a Christmas party at ECC. Unfortunately, finding a taxi on my street can be a challenge; 45 minutes after the party already started, the taxi I did find deposited me safely in the neighborhood. I was late, but I was there!

There was all sorts of fun to be had. Anne cooked chicken soup (it had rice and other delicious things) and bulgogi and prepared the stuff to make your own gimbap. I stuck to the chicken soup, which was wonderful, and sat on a chair like a princess while watching people try to learn a type of Korean poker.

This was thoroughly confusing, so we moved on to a game that involved throwing four sticks and counting points based on how they landed. This one was enjoyable--possibly because I was (fortun-ately) on the winning team both times. The second game involved getting your back beat in case you lost--which the boys did, and the beatings were pretty funny--I can't imagine a game ending back home with everyone getting slapped on the back.


All in all I had a great time, got home (Troy took me home; the irony was not lost), unwound, and have spent the day relaxing (a.k.a. trying to get my ankle's swelling to go down, I want to wear shoes!) Here's to lazy Saturdays spent with Mythbusters.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

I made an eCard for you.
You can pick it up at:
http://bunwaycards.com/L9lVFv1

Hope you like it! Merry Christmas!
Love,
She who updates her blog too often instead of going to bed

Huh.


Today I was going through pictures and organizing and uploading and blah blah blah. (By the way, I use "blah blah blah" so often in class that my kids now use it. Appropriately, too.) I found the first picture of me in Korea. I'm gross from being sweaty and hot and holding a stupid box of cookies ("Collon Cream" hahaha), and I couldn't believe how... big I was. Confused, I flipped back to a recent photo I took of myself in a mirror, and went back and forth a few times.

By George, I think I've dropped forty pounds!

To be honest, I don't know what to say. Broken leg sucked, but maybe that's what I get for pleading with God to help me lose weight. :) With this realization, another one follows: I weigh what my driver's license says! Haha. How many people out there can say that?

It's been an 18-month process, but all-in-all I'm down about sixty-five pounds. It's not the fast results I've always wanted, but a slow walk towards losing myself--and then finding myself. I feel quite optimistic about how things will go when I can walk again.

Bankrupt America?

Who Will Bail Out Uncle Sam?

By EXAMINER EDITORIAL HOT ZONE
- 12/16/08
The United States of America is bankrupt. Don’t believe it? Consider this: Federal obligations now exceed the collective net worth of all Americans, according to the New York-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Washington politicians and bureaucrats have essentially mortgaged everything We the People own so they can keep spending our tax dollars like there’s no tomorrow.

The foundation’s grim calculations are based on Sept. 30 consolidated federal statements, which showed that Americans’ total household net worth, diminished by falling stock prices and home equity, is $56.5 trillion. But rising costs for unfunded social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security increased to $56.4 trillion – and that was before the more recent stock market crash, $700 billion bank bailout, and monster federal deficits chalked up in October and November.

“Given more recent developments, it’s clear that America now owes more than its citizens are worth,” said Foundation president David M. Walker, the former Comptroller-General of the United States who has been trying to warn Americans of the coming financial tsunami for years, to no avail. So, after Uncle Sam bails out bankers, Wall Street gamblers, carmakers and over-their-head homeowners, who’ll bail out Uncle Sam?


I found this disturbing. To be honest, I don't really know what to say, other than to urge people to write their congressmen asking them to pull their heads out of their asses.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Zen

Just a quick note before I resume my previously-scheduled TV watching. (It's been six weeks--there are silly Korean game shows to be watched! And surely Mythbusters has a new episode out?)

1) I could get used to the applause every time I walk. :)
2) If my kids can applaud me walking, maybe I could throw them a bone whenever they scream, "FEENEESHED!" (Finished, for those who missed the post on Konglish.)
3) I am sitting in my house (haha, my house) with a technically still-broken leg, have to take a taxi everywhere ($5 a day just to get to and from work), can only stand about forty minutes of grocery shopping before needing to call it quits, and still I feel zen. I am mellow. I am happy. I am peaceful. It's amazing what a difference not hating your job makes in one's life. It's amazing what a difference loving your job makes in one's life.
4) My kindergartners are as sad to graduate and leave me as I am. Fortunately, they remembered they're going to enroll in afternoon classes, and we were all a lot happier at that discovery.
5) Today, my demon child was the one applauding me, and the one most upset about me not being his teacher anymore. I sit here quite touched.
6) Aidan, the little sneak, was counting in English during playtime.

Just when you have the world figured out.

Kate Teacher's Halloween

Last night I made a very important discovery: my ladybug hat. Four days before Halloween, I discovered this truly amazing and perfect hat at a costume shop. I had announced I was going as the Grouchy Ladybug (a character from a children's book), and low and behold--there was the perfect hat! I bought a red mask to go with it, and had my outfit prepared. In addition to the perfect hat, I had hundreds of little toys to give out to my kids (thanks, mom). And then, in case you are new, I broke my leg. What the heck!

Well. Today, there was much ladybug hat wearing. I put it on before I left the house, and I didn't take it off until I was back home--much to Heather and Mel's amusement. My kindergarten kids went bananas when they saw it! "Kate teacher, Kate teacher, LADYBUG!!" It's like I was Santa Claus... well, except not.

A pretty cool part of my day was walking into my first class, and having the nine kids applaud me as I walked in. These kids are just great, and it breaks my heart to know they'll grow into teenagers who won't love me anymore, haha. The whole afternoon was great, passing out the Halloween toys (spider rings, fake tattoos, and puzzle books), and learning our lessons for the day. (Christmas is ON December 25th, bacon bagel hash brown potatoes muffin oatmeal omelet scrambled eggs yogurt, there AREN'T ANY geese in the barn.)

I got applauded for walking. Haha.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Removal of Cast May Have Unintended Side Effects

At first when the cast came off, I had crashing disappointment that I wasn't miraculously cured of broken leg. Today, I experienced the other side. As I sat in the back of the taxi, I watched the blue sign with the octopus come into focus, and get brighter and clearer as we got closer, and my heart began to beat a little faster. It wasn't another panic attack, I wasn't light-headed from not having eaten, and praise God I wasn't sick again.

I was going home.

"Yeogiyo," I said as the corner came up. I paid my fare and hurried out of the next passenger's way, hobbling into my building's entryway. Checking for mail (read: bills) incredibly briefly (there might actually be something in my box), my feet continued up the stairs. It wasn't until I was halfway up that I realized I was using the stairs like a normal person, alternating feet instead of putting both feet on one stair before taking the next. With a genuine smile, I stood in front of my door, keys jingling as my hand shook with anticipation, sliding the oddly-shaped piece of metal into the lock, twisting it one way before remembering it's supposed to go the other.

As I swung the door open and saw all of my possessions in my small apartment, the relief washed over me, and yes, for the 47th consecutive day my eyes welled up. It wasn't out of pain, or an intense desire that my mom was with me, or an intense desire to flee Korea altogether, or out of heartache to leave my house... It was the knowledge that I was out of the woods that streamed down my cheeks. We made it, dear reader! We made it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hi, Mom!

For those who are wondering, I'm the white one and my very patient mother is the darker one...

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Galbijjim

Those who have been following my blog for a while (aka since before I broke my leg and could go out to eat) know the joys of galbi. Tonight I ventured out into the world and embraced the galbijjim, a stew made from the same meat and using the same flavors as galbi.

Can you say heaven? Just look at that perfectly stolen image. (Thanks Wikipedia!) In addition to the meat, they have the rice cakes (sticky fat noodle-like things), slices of sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms (promptly set aside), and some red and green pepper slices. The broth makes for some excellent rice-dipping. There were probably twelve side dishes, but I'm just not used to eating the side dishes with my meal, unless it's kimchi. Yum. It's one of the more expensive dishes (the giant bowl plus six sodas thoroughly fed three of us for $44), but it's something that reminds us all of home and really sticks to your ribs. (Get it? They use rib meat in the stew. Oh nevermind.)

More exciting was afterward! The guys got me to a corner close to my (borrowed) apartment, and I walked from there. I definitely had my crutches with me to keep me from falling over, but I didn't need to use them. I walked slowly, took in the sights, paused to make sure I was okay--and I was. I walked! Hallelujah.

Kate's Night Out


Heather and Kate
Originally uploaded by oneglassslipper
Heather and I headed out to Fish and Grill for dinner last night. A RESTAURANT! YUMM!!!!!!! We ate spicy cashew chicken before meeting up with the rest of the crew at the Braeu Haus. There really isn't much to report other than the fact that I left the house, and it was good.

Mom joked that she was the little piggie who had to go to market. Gleefully I shot back, I am no longer the little piggie who stayed home!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Castmas!

Today has been the long-awaited day. Five weeks and five days ago, I sat at my desk for the first time with my broken leg and I wrote a 6 on today's date, marking the exact forty-second day when the green machine could be removed. I am relieved. While it came four hours later than I had hoped (okay--two weeks and four hours), that only added to the pleasure of being summoned to the back room, having the saw prepared again, and the doctor making faces as he tries to speak English.

My leg has healed very well, and after a week or two in a splint while the muscles grow re-accustomed to walking I won't need the crutches anymore. In about six weeks, I can expect the muscles to have repaired themselves and the bone will be 80% reconstructed bone. I anticipate this six weeks will go more quickly than the last six, and probably with fewer death-like experiences.

I find it mildly amusing that I was able to walk around my apartment better when I had the cast on compared to now, but that will change.

Over the last six weeks, as readers know, I have learned many things.
-My mantra lately has been, take life one day at a time.
-Also recommended is staying up late or getting up early, whatever it takes, to stay in contact with friends and family, regardless of how far away they are--even if they just live upstairs.
-Always walk conscientiously. You never know where there will be a misstep.
-It's okay to use the kindness of strangers--and friends--from time to time.
-Skittles are a really good placebo.
-One should never order the same pizza five times in a week. That's just sick and wrong.
-Even when I am desperately bored, I would rather surf Facebook for the tenth time that day than study Korean, start my novel, or look into learning anything about medicine.

I'm not sure what to make of the last one exactly, but I think it says something about what motivates me. I love people, and I love the idea of being one of those noteworthy minds--but I don't what it takes to follow through right now. Fortunately, that's far off into the future. Tonight, I have a taxi to find and a steak to consume. God bless.

Five Minutes of Self-Pity

Starting two minutes and thirteen seconds ago, I gave myself five minutes of self pity. I got my cast off, and they put me right back into a splint. Apparently when you don't use an important joint like an ankle and the muscles around it for six weeks, it's not just ready for you to use it again. No, it's wobbly and incapable of supporting your body weight, no matter how much you've lost thanks to the "I have a broken leg and can't grocery shop" diet.

So I'm disappointed that I didn't get to wear the shoe that I had been looking forward to bringing with me to this fated medical appointment. And I'm disappointed that I may or may not actually have the muscle to make it up two flights of stairs to the Christmas dinner. And I'm disappointed that I'm still on crutches. And I'm disappointed that my boss is tired of taking care of me, and I have to make my own arrangements now.

And now my five minutes are up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Final Countdown

27 hours to go. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Leg Teacher

After my last class, I coerce some students I don't even know to carry my stuff down to the fourth floor for me. Today, two new guys carried the baskets, and upon arriving at the teacher's lounge, they explained, "Leg Teacher, Leg Teacher!" while patting their lower left leg.

I think that it is important to note that even if one cannot say something perfectly in another language, you get credit for trying, being creative, and having people understand what you're trying to say.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown



"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord.

'And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.'

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

GRUMPY!

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I have an ITCH on my left ANKLE and the CAST doesn't come OFF until FRIDAY.

"Kate, for the love of God, stop whining!"

But... but... okay.

But I am missing the Thursday field trip to see what a traditional Korean green tea ceremony is like. There are positives to missing a trip like that the day after the cast comes off (e.g. chasing kids = bad, big step into bus = bad, probability of floor sitting = high), but I wanted to see something Koreany.

Grumping concluded.

In other news, my sister's started a sort of "finding herself" blog, having recently ended a long-term relationship. For those interested, she can be found here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Gingerbread Haka

Earlier I posted a video about gingerbread men doing the Haka. Now, I didn't know that the Haka is something that is relatively common knowledge, so imagine my surprise when Sara floods my Facebook chat with links and consequently gets booted for spamming (haha). I know what you're thinking, "Kate! Don't derail! Go back to what the haka is!" And I shall.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I have learned, "A haka is a traditional dance form of the Māori of New Zealand. It is a posture dance with shouted accompaniment, performed by a group." The rugby team (All Blacks) has taken this and formed a ritual of screaming a chant and dancing in a most intimidating way before their opponents, who are basically lined up American Revolution style (in a line, easy to maul/maim/kill). Here is a video of the real thing. Sara and I have spent an hour pouring over videos, and we both agree this is the best, er, specimen. :)



So, now the gingerbread men are cute and make sense! The more you know~ Here is a Wikipedia article if you're interested in further reading.

Today's blond moment: Troy was wheeling me to school, and I was shocked to see a Kia. Then I remembered I was in Korea. (In my defense, the model looked like a Subaru, and I thought, weird, there's a Subaru here!)

I like kimchi.

It only took four and a half months, but I can say it loud and proud: I like kimchi. I love it when it is homemade in small batches and the bites are small enough so that I can maneuver it into my mouth with chopsticks without getting the red stuff on my face. For those who are unaware, kimchi is cabbage fermented with spices--spicy spices. I've had kimchi so hot that I was left gasping. It was a way the Koreans preserved cabbage so that they had a vitamin-C source all winter long.

In general it is served cold as one of many side dishes. You can also have kimchi soup (kimchi jiggae) which is spicy and delicious. It really clears up any head cold or chest cold or wild hair you may be suffering from.

To recover from this new found love of kimchi, Heather and I split a pizza. Huzzah!

A note: I was not just eating kimchi. I was eating kimchi, ramen, and rice. I took a bite of rice, dipped it in the broth, ate the bite, used my chopsticks to get noodles onto the spoon, take the bite, eat a little kimchi. The lunch lady said some stuff to Megan, and it involved my name, so I asked what, and she said that I eat very prettily. Makin' my dad proud, even on the other side of the ocean.

The most bizarre 47 seconds of your day

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My dad writes German warning labels?

As my adventures in boredomland continue, a friend directed me to thefunniest.info, a website dedicated to finding the funniest picture on the internet. Below is one of the candidates. It reminds me of my father's attempts at German. Miss you, pops.

Christmas Shopping

I have spent the whole day on Target.com, amused by basically every item I pull up. I am left with one quick question: why does "book light" scream "best Christmas gift ever?" I just paged through probably 20 of them. Twenty different and unique book light gift ideas.

Christmas Feast!

19 days until Christmas! WOOO HOOO! With the approximate... millimeter of snow we got yesterday, Daegu looked a lot more festive. Actually, there's this building on the way to work that kind of reminds me of downtown Billings, so that probably helps, too.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to use my cousin Pam's careful Christmas trip research: two weeks isn't enough time to build up muscle, and I guess holiday travel would probably be a pain in the butt anyway. As a result, I am going to be joining my coworkers and probably a few other foreigners at a popular place called Holy Grill. It's run and owned by three Canadian men who have dedicated the menu to the Western palate--this is where the mystical chimichanga can be obtained. I just discovered what's on the menu, and aside from the mushrooms, looks good!

Starter...
Hickory maple bacon & wild mushroom pumpkin soup

Main course...
Slow roasted turkey
Apple glazed pork tenderloin
Rosemary & garlic mashed potatoes
Buttered carrots with cheese sauce
Traditional stuffing
Cranberry sauce
Mushroom gravy

Dessert...
Caramel pumpkin pie
Coffee & Bailey's

So it's no company potatoes, but there's also no guilt over not doing the dishes. (Hi, mom!)

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Light Standing" Clearance

Chief Getter of the Shoe has been too busy for me to go to PT, so today I kind of ... snuck there. Or rather, while he was out being someone else's errand boy, I told the front desk I was going to go to PT, and I'd call when I was done.

So I go, and I'm quite proud of myself for almost making it on my own. (Swinging doors are still tricky!) I get settled in, go through the knee spa, and just as I'm nodding off Dr. Stoic pops his head in. I've been found! "You, x-ray after here. First floor." Damnit. And then in case I was deaf, Dr. Tickles pops his head in. "You, x-ray after here on the first floor." Well, at least he used another preposition.

Hobble hobble hobble, slight wondering over radiation exposure and poison limits, new x-ray tech who HITS MY LEG WITH THE X-RAY (good thing it's healed, eh), more hobbling, waiting, toddler staring, and it's my turn to be seen. The x-ray has officially looked the same to me for two weeks (really emphasizing to me that my career choice in coloring over med school was probably appropriate), but apparently there's new bone growth.

The real bummer part was, I had thought, "Well there's technically five days left but MAYBE he'll take it off," which snowballed into all sorts of plans of packing and moving back to my apartment and getting to go out this weekend to celebrate Heather's birthday and getting a real dinner and so forth. ... WRONG! But after further x-rays on Wednesday (total: 60+ x-rays in Korea, only been here four months!), he'll take the cast off. And if he doesn't, he's going to be admitting a crazy person back to the third floor, because I agreed to 4 to 6 weeks. (Actually, in my heart, I agreed to four weeks, and that's kind of been shot to hell. And let's face it, I thought I was the mob boss of New Jersey--I really am starting to lose my marbles.)

Apparently after I get the cast off I'm going to have to exercise a lot. Considering one of my favorite daydreams is about using the cross trainer at the gym, I just don't see that as being a problem. What? Walking a distance further than one hundred feet? Well duh, I have a dinner ticket for Christmas and two flights of stairs to get up! Gotta start getting in shape!

Just as I was leaving the office, he told me I could stand a little on my leg. Which is good, considering I have been anyway. I think I'm seeing why it may have taken six weeks instead of four.

In other news, I am no longer dying of tonsillitis, and I ate real food today. (Real food = ramen. It's like college 2.0!) One quick observation, and I'm off for a rough evening of "bumming." I've never been one for great excitement before an event; getting this cast off, though, has instilled in me greater hope, excitement, and anticipation than I can recall, and while those feelings exist because of something negative, in and of themselves they are really good things to feel.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nerd Alert

I was catching up on Hollywood gossip, and I found this about a possible X-men prequel: Get ready for 'X-Men,' 'Gossip Girl'-style. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 'Gossip Girl' and 'O.C.' creator Josh Schwartz has been tapped to pen the screenplay for 'X-Men: First Class,' a prequel to the popular 'X-Men' trilogy that would likely follow mutants such as Iceman, Kitty Pride and Cyclops in their teens.

Maybe the author should watch the original 3 X-men. Where Iceman and Kitty Pryde (that's spelled correctly, by the way), are already teenagers.

Announcement

A kid was fidgeting in my class today. A lot. He asked to get a drink of water, and I said he could go after we finished with the lesson. It was only five minutes, and he was asking for a drink of water. I figured it was no big deal.

Two minutes later, he asked if he could go to the bathroom. I let him go, confused because of his previous request. He came back and was still fidgeting. By this point in time I was tiring of his interrupting class and told him to go talk to Yuria, because he wasn't telling me what was wrong.

As he got up, he moved around and I saw the telltale dark markings on his backside: the poor guy wet his pants. Sigh.

So today he's running around in lime green golf-style pants, and I'm really kind of amused (bad Kate Teacher!). Note to the public: don't ask to get a drink of water if you're going to pee your pants.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

IV Dinner

Today I went back to the doctor for the third day to get more antibiotics for the tonsillitis. Instead of the shot in the butt, there's a more potent and direct option: IV! Yesterday they hooked me up, and 15 minutes later sent me home with already less-painful tonsils.

Less painful did not necessarily mean less gaggy.

So, today I go back having not eaten anything for 48 hours, and the doctor basically looks at me like I'm retarded. "That will slow healing." So, with my antibiotic cocktail, they added some nutritional supplement in a bag.

It was $12!

I realize that's nothing to complain over. But in the land where lunch usually costs me $3, and a doctor's visit on its own is about $3, why would a bag of nutrients be $12? (I really am amused by it, not complaining.)

This morning I was being hard on myself for giving into the frustration and losing my sunny disposition. As I came home today, though, I realized I made it through a day of no sleep and no food, great illness and a (still) broken leg. It'll all be okay if I'd just let it, eh.

I always wanted to be in the mob.

When I was eleven or so, my grandmother brought over this movie, Oscar. It had some big names in it (i.e. Sylvester Stallone), but for as far as I can tell is a lesser-known gangster movie set in the 1920s. For whatever reason, Sylvester Stallone decides to go "legit," and the movie is about the day he tries to do so. It involves tangled webs of Italian suit makers, an accountant (sweet but stupid), a speech therapist (to sound less mob-like), a domineering well-kept housewife, and your usual thugs and police and media characters. (Sometimes the media being the thugs, but that is neither here nor there.)

The movie drew me in. First off, the 1920s are probably the coolest ten years in the history of America. (One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby for a similar reason.) Everything from the foreign aspect (Italia, romantico!), the intrigue, comedy, and general bad-assness that comes with being in the mob amused me the full hundred minutes each time I watched it.

Now, I wasn't a dummy. I know that Germans don't really participate in the mob, nor do women, but I figured that if I continued on my career path (guided by Nancy Drew) to become an attorney, I could be an attorney (consigliere) for the mob! With my newly-focused career path, I began to research the Saint Valentine's Day massacre as though it actually had anything to do with anything, and my interest in Al Capone was a little stupid for a pre-teen girl.

I tell this long story partly to assuage my guilt over my love of The Sopranos, an HBO hit show about a man and his family's lives as he heads the New Jersey mob. I also tell it to segue into a ridiculous night.

For the last few days I have had tonsillitis in a very bad way. The details are disgusting, so let me finish by saying the doctor specifically told me to go home and rest--in a country that celebrates working 70 hours a week. So yesterday I do the resting thing, which really just involves staring at the ceiling moaning over how miserable it is. After 5 weeks of bed rest for my leg, I really don't care what the internet has to offer, and all of the things I've downloaded are stale. I still give it the college try, watching a few episodes of the Sopranos and really getting into the plot lines, but what with being sick and all, I decided it would be best to turn everything off and try to sleep.

At that exact moment in time, the fever actually settles in. I'm sweating, fanning myself with blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, anything. And somehow I was magically transformed into Tony Soprano, writhing on my bed, trying to figure out why none of my crew is bringing me Talking Rain sparkling water! DAMNIT! I needed the pink one ASAP! Yesterday! Sure I'd take lime, but NO ONE IS BRINGING ME THE WATER.

I think it's pretty funny now that I have something to drink. I can't remember the last time I pretended I was a 45-year-old father of two heading the Jersey family, but I'm glad to know my imagination is still there.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Yum.

And on the third day of Castmas, God created the salmon dinner complete with mashed potatoes and corn with excessive amounts of a butter-like substance. As his two mortal daughters partook and sighed with happiness, he smiled and knew it was good.

Thanks, Mel, for feeding me.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Australian 12 Days Of Christmas

So my current Facebook status is 3 French Hens, continuing with my 12 days of Castmas theme. A friend posted the Australian version of the song since there's not much in our song that they have on their continent:

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me…
Twelve parrots prattling,
eleven numbats nagging,
ten lizards leaping,
nine wombats working,
eight possums playing,
seven koalas climbing,
six platypuses,
five kangaroos,
four kookaburras,
three jabirus,
two pink galahs,
and an emu up a gum tree.

The Twelve Days Of Castmas

So a few days ago, I was amusing myself and thought up that since I had 12 days left of having a cast, it was kind of like the 12 Days of Christmas--a.k.a. the world's longest song. I told Tracy about my idea, and well... her genius is too good not to pass on.

On the 6th day of Castmas my dumb cast made me need:
6 new blog posts,
5 calls to mom,
4 new x-rays,
3 toenails clipped,
2 grilled cheese sandwiches,
and a bottle full of advil.

I'm still giggling.

Friday, November 28, 2008

No standing?

Since yesterday a question has bothered me. "Why does he keep saying no standing?" I mean, it's not like I could stand exclusively on that leg anyway, with the ridiculous pose they have my foot in. Even when I do stand, it looks like I have a lil' Capn' in me. (Actually, it's not that bad; I can technically take small steps. And the pose is actually fourth position in ballet.)

"Well he has to know I take stairs," I reasoned, what with having told him and all. Most of the day I spend either sitting in my wheelchair or in a regular chair; the only time I use my crutches is for moving around maybe thirty total minutes a day? No standing, no standing...

Probably a full twenty-four hours later, it dawned on me. I'm a teacher. Teachers stand. Oh, I can go back to work, just no standing. So it's no road to Damascus, but I thought it was cool.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

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A quick story about my Thanksgiving. I woke up, went to work, ate oatmeal, ate more oatmeal, and grumped about eating oatmeal for Thanksgiving. And then someone brought me a slice of bread that tasted a lot like Samma's almond braid, and I couldn't help but smile. I had Thanksgiving brought to me, even 8,000 miles away.

Please note, this is not encouragement to send fruitcake.

So after work, I went to physical therapy. I was kind of concerned because I've heard people whine about it back home; it's painful, it's hard, blah blah blah. So I go in, pay my $2.50, and was instructed to lay back on a table while they put a hot compress on my knee. Twenty minutes later, the guy checked on me and hooked me up to an electrode machine for another ten minutes. Five minutes under a heating lamp and I was done. I don't know if I got what I paid for, but I was glad not to be in the agony I thought.

Dr. Ticklish (thus named because I giggled the whole ten minutes of the electrodes) gave me a quick lesson on what to do for my knee. Basically I contract the muscle for a count of five five times an hour every hour for the next eight weeks and my muscles magically heal themselves. This is one of those times where I am NOT too lazy to do the workout. If he says it'll work, I'll do it.

So he didn't know the word for "contract." So he looked at me all bug-eyed and grabbed my hand, putting it on his forearm so he could show me. If only the electrodes had still been on so I'd had a reason for giggling again.

Right now I am sitting awkwardly in my apartment while someone else cleans my dishes, laundry, and bathroom after 16 days of total neglect. Cleaning day is a lot more fun when it doesn't feel like your participation should be required. She wasn't big on my idea of throwing out the remaining brown bananas. But I don't like brown bananas. Fortunately, I've been too lazy to find clean clothes, so I only have five dirty shirts, so not feeling too badly on the clothes front. The dishes, though. Hehehe. This is where God pats my mom on the head and says, "Don't worry. She actually WANTS six kids just like her." (Six because "John and Kate Plus Eight" has already been done.)

So the kid I named sort of after Aaden from John and Kate is retarded. He has been in my class for 2 months, now, and still doesn't learn words in a 40-minute period. I point to my eye and ask, "What is it?" in English and Korean, and the blank gaze I get is so FRUSTRATING! So of course it's more rewarding to ask the other three, who are basically yelling the answer anyway, but he is my challenge. He is the one who can't count to ten, pronounce table ("chable?"), nor remember the difference between orange and apple. Okay maybe there was no point there, other than mindless whining, so let me end saying, I am thankful for the other three.

When life's got you down, it really is important to keep perspective. It turns out "keeping perspective" includes "looking at the 99.9999999% of the world that is WORSE off than you." And so, in honor of Thanksgiving, here is a little perspective.
1) I have a shorter cast. Could be stuck in the semi-truckesque green monster.
2) I still have my leg.
3) I will not actually die of a broken leg.
4) I am in another country. That isn't on the continent of Africa.
5) I am learning another language. (love!) (not the language of love, I just.. love languages)
6) I have a cleaning lady. (insert: neener neener neener) (appropriate mom retort: I have a cleaning husband, neener neener neener.)
*A quick glance up and my first thought at the sight of her cleaning the door jam, "oh, I never would have cleaned that."
7) My spell check now includes neener.
8) I do have the internet.
9) My friends here may not love me, but Sara Fladmo's only an hour away. And she still does.
10) People consistently return to my blog, making me a bit of that author I've always wanted to be.
11) I have more money in the bank than I ever thought I would (despite proclamations of being a millionaire by 30).
12) My cast has yet to itch. Everything I can remember since I was a teeny little girl (reading the Kid Babysitter series) about casts is that they itch. Well, mine doesn't. So take that, world.
13) At the end of the day, after all the freaking out I do, I still sleep the peaceful sleep of someone who knows everything WILL work out.

And now I leave this list, having completed item number thirteen, tempting fate. Happy Thanksgiving, mom, dad, Molly, Tracy & family, Gammy, Samma, BopBop, Wiggy, Angus, Rira, Pam, Rick, Ashley, Gharret (haha I still don't know, 4 years of college later), James, Amber, Tamara, Miss Chris, Sue, Dan, Mel, Ashleigh (thanks for the turkey!), Sara, and thanks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A truly disgusting discovery.

I reiterate, for those faint of heart or pre-breakfast, this is a truly disgusting discovery.

I am molting.

That gross grayness I talked about a few posts ago? That's a month of dead skin cells.

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I won't go into further details, but I thought that since NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THIS VERY DISGUSTING EVENT, I would post it for eternity so that someone else knows.

P.S.

There are all sorts of wonderful new things to go with the shorter cast. I can sit without needing 2 chairs, now. One for me, one for my leg. I can sit with the foot on the floor and it is just such a marvel.

Today I got into the van and I sat behind Troy because I could. I was like, hey, look at me, I don't have to take up the whole bench!

The cast is obviously lighter because it's 3/4 the size.

I just lay down on my side and can finally, after four weeks, curl up on my side in the proper fetal position. Ahhhh.

What a great day.

Today started off as any other day for the last four weeks. Get up, glare at the bathroom (because it is the source of the shower), hobble, cover up, soap up, rinse off, sigh, get up, hobble and drip dry until I'm just about to be late for Troy picking me up, throw on clothes that were once clean but really, I don't care how I look/smell anymore, find my one shoe and turn the lock in my door just in time to hear the *THUDTHUDTHUD* of his bass arriving down those five delightful stairs.

The trip nor the arrival were eventful; I breezed through the morning classes and half-dozed through lunch, returning for an afternoon of, well, bullshitting because I worked through the materials too quickly on accident. Oops.

I get downstairs around 2 o'clock and Troy's already there to wheel me to ECC. But it's so unlike him. On Monday, I didn't actually leave kindergarten until 2:47 (ironically, the time I broke my leg 4 weeks ago) because they were concerned the building was too cold for me. (Okay, maybe I have things a little easier than I've been telling myself.) He gestures off in the direction of Haiti and says, "Hospitur," which is of course Konglish for "hospital." Well, by my watch we still had another 48 hours, but okay, let's go to the hospitur.

There's a new X-ray guy, and he's handsome, but not handsome enough to break something.

Waiting waiting waiting... They gesture for me to go into the back room. At this my already elevated heartbeat speeds as I realize I'm getting a new cast! Woo hoo! I hobble on back, a small part of me hoping no cast at all, but as they pour the steaming bowl of hot water to wet the plaster, I see that dream is a bit far out. The ambulance driver pulls out the saw, and judging by their reactions, my face went white and my eyes got huge. As he started to drill holes into the cast, the doctor actually touched the moving saw with his bare hand. Dr. Stoic is a much cooler guy in my book, now. Once there was a cut up each side of everyone's careful artwork (there was much smirking/gasping/disbelief at Ashley's Korean proclamation of loving me), they pulled it off.

What I saw was the most disgusting thing in the entire world.

My leg wasn't pleasantly pale like I was expecting, much like skin is after leaving a band aid on for too long. No, it was the gray of something sitting... in the morgue too long. Well, gray except for the bruises. Apparently a cast doesn't mean your leg is impervious to all beatings, and I really do need to be careful. :) I was completely shocked by how I was unable to hold my leg up for the new cast to be applied. First, I couldn't hold it up even if I had wanted to, and second, it could not stop shaking. I willed it to stop, but it actually kind of looked like it was shaking its head, "I don't wanna!" The new cast went on well, and they repositioned my foot so it's more in a "Kate's standing" position as opposed to "Kate should try to do ballet on tip toes" position.

The doctor was very pleased with the progress. He was so distracted by new bone growth that I had to remind him that I shouldn't be standing on that leg. :) Two weeks from today, the cast comes off all together, and I get to learn how to walk all over again. Because my knee has been immobilized for a month, I start physical therapy tomorrow. It was supposed to be today, but... I am sleepy.

Two notes I want to make, more for my future self since this is my blog about my life in Korea. First, while mom and I were talking last night, I realized that this woe-is-me, why-can't-things-be-perfect, I-need-to-control-and-fix-and-do-everything-myself attitude comes from Gertrude, and that Gertrude's negative points are a lot of what makes Sheldon Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. After seeing that, I'm definitely ready to bring Debbie back out.

Second, I tried really hard to keep perspective on my kids' positions in life today. On the one hand, it's really easy to say, "I'm in Asia and all teachers are hard on the kids." On the other hand, are they really learning from me by me screaming and wearing myself out and not having fun and just getting frustrated and writing bad sentences? First, in each class, I reminded myself of how old they are. Not how old they say they are, but how old they are by Western calendars. Most of the kids I teach after kinder are 9 or 10 years old. Then I considered where I was, what I was learning, and what I did to goof off when the teacher was talking when I was their age. That actually helped quite a bit, so while we didn't necessarily play games (okay, in one class they played Duck, Duck, Goose after a test), we talked, we spoke English, there was even some laughing. They're not little adults. They haven't even hit puberty yet. Why make life hard before it actually is?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Slinky Cat

When there's nothing interesting in life, there's always the internet!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Victory!

Today it rained. It was pretty much something I had hoped would not happen while I have a cast that's, you know, not supposed to get wet. But it did, and I wore pants, and it was all okay! I didn't even slip on the marble and break open my head. Yay me!

Every morning before school, I wake up and either a) wonder why my alarm hasn't gone off (usually because of a forgetting to set it and I have 20 minutes to get ready), or b) roll over, hit snooze, and stare at the ceiling until it wears off and hollers at me 5 minutes later. I spend those five minutes usually psyching myself up for the day, hoping that I make it through without any awful incidents. The first hurdle is always that first step into the van.

I know it's going to hurt. It's hurt all the other 15 times, why wouldn't it hurt today? Because the bone is healing! Today I took that big step and actually paused mid-step. "This doesn't hurt? I'm not cringing? Awesome!" And then Troy looked at me like, "wth," and I got on with my day.

It was a long and tiring day filled with reports and children, but at the end of it I had another step getting back into the van, and another acknowledgment that my leg is getting better. So, the cast may or may not come off on Friday, and all of those other worries may still exist. But by George, my leg is getting better.

As a little side note, I have a really cute kid in one of my classes whom I named George. The Korean teacher spells his name Gorge. I giggle every time.

Kids named after family members:
Molly (5 years old, terrified of me, dropped out--assume she spoke to real Molly--my sister)
Patty (6 years old, significantly less terrified of me, for grandmother Patricia)
Julie (6 years old, sits next to Patty, smart as heck, for my mommy)
George (8 years old, smarter than I am, for my great uncle George)

I want to name someone after my grandmother Lorraine Joy, but Joy is a guy's name, and Lorraine is hard to spell. Hmm...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I love Tracy.

My favorite college roommate, Tracy, and I spent three hours covering our four years of college together the other night. Mostly it involved a lot of food, alcohol, and toilet paper, but we forgot something very important.

This is for you, Six.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Countless Angels

This morning I woke up after 11 hours of somewhat solid sleep feeling immensely better, partly just because I was convinced that I wasn't going to die in South Korea. I ate real food (cereal's about as real as it gets!), took my medicine punctually, and let everything do its work. I had to fight the strong urge to call my mother at two in the morning her time to inform her that my heart rate had dropped to what it had been two days previously.

While I could sit up, I feared an afternoon of hobbling around might cause a repeat of Wednesday's events, so I took the day off and started downloads of stuff for the weekend. I even showered before going to the doctor's, and put away two big bags of groceries that Chief Getter of the Shoe brought me. I think it's kind of funny that I asked for 3 boxes of crackers and got the tiniest, healthiest-looking things I've ever seen, and asked for 6 bananas and got 15. I'm seriously not complaining; I think it's kind of cute/funny.

So we're off to the doctor's again, and I'm kind of scared because of how hard it was yesterday, even though I do feel better. While I'm getting out of the van, I get a small crowd of people, and one Korean man asked, "How can I help you?" To be honest, I was so distracted by his good English that it made the task at hand a lot easier. I hoisted myself up while complimenting him and eased into the wheelchair. Troy scooted me up to see the doctor, a man this time, who checked everything out.

I got a little more information from him. While my heart rate is back within normal limits (hallelujah), I am still on medicine for my "left veet," which I can only guess means left ventricle. I still don't know the reason, but to be honest I don't care. So long as it's fixed. Well unless it's something I'm doing, then I'd like to know so I can stop. Considering what little I do with my leg in its current condition, I doubt it's me. :)

After the appointment, I got more ginseng drinks handed to me at the pharmacy. -.- I am not a fan, but you have to be polite. Troy wheeled me basically around a block and it was the most exhilarating thing I've done in almost a month. This week it's a goal to make it to a galbi restaurant to meet Ash's friend Cait (Cait and Kate gets sticky fast), but I think this weekend I might just take a small stroll. The fresh air really was wonderful.

Coming home, Troy and I did our usual good byes (he gets me out of the van and drives off to a fabulous night of doing something fun while I play a familiar game of, "now how did I get up the stairs last time?"). While I was starting up the stairs, I heard someone, so I moved over since it takes me forever. Out of habit I greeted, "Hello." The dark-haired stranger replied, "Oh, I didn't know there were any other Miguks (Americans) living here." What's weird is he said Miguk when he just so obviously was not an American, but who cares. He was dreamy~ He offered assistance, but again it was just so nice to hear English I didn't even care.

That basically brings us to our current time and place. I am sitting on my throne of a bed, pleased as punch that I have a certain amount of energy, and eagerly awaiting the result of my x-rays.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sigh.

So, remember that optimistic post about looking forward to Friday's X-ray and letting the icky first part of the week fall away? Last night I had an "incident." I was hobbling back from the bathroom, sat down on my bed (okay, flopped), and passed out. I woke up a few minutes later convulsing and sweating. The shaking and sweating went away, but my heart rate stayed at well over 100 beats per minute. I called Jin and set up to go to the hospital today.

I didn't make it to school, and I felt so badly because people were already covering classes because another teacher is gone for a family emergency. Considering the struggle I went through just to get down the few stairs of my apartment, though, I definitely made the right choice. Just sitting up exhausted me!

The hobble into the doctor's office was the longest, most painful trip of my life. More than once my eyes welled up, and I didn't think I was going to make it, but Troy was as patient as he's ever been (translation: he's male, so he hasn't ever exhibited GREAT patience, but today at least tried) and my guardian angel somehow boosted me along the way. Thankfully they took me to the doctor that spoke English. Unfortunately, when I said I was scared, she answered that she was, too. Dr. Stoic would have at least mumbled it in Korean.

So, a chest x-ray later (for the coughing, difficulty breathing), and an EKG, we discovered that laying down my heart rate was 128 and sitting up 138, and my blood pressure was a whopping 106/63. I found this ironic since at my initial medical screening they took my blood pressure three times because it was too high.

After all is said and done, I've rested, and I've come to terms with my own limits. Jin will make Troy go grocery shopping for me, my friends are being extra attentive, and I am fully willing to take any help offered.

Bright spots of my day...
My babies missed me :)
Everyone did check up on me
I got to talk to my mom!
They washed my toes for me for the EKG! (They haven't been washed since my last EKG when I initially broke my leg)
8 days (hopefully) until the green machine comes off
Mel and I ate sweet and sour pork, Korean style!
I went to the bathroom, turned down the heat, and locked the door in 9 minutes, and I was tired after the trip, but no passing out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

Korea is in love with rock paper scissors (gawi bawi bo). As a matter of fact, for years I've played an online game from Korea, and I knew that the little symbols were rock, paper, scissors, I just didn't know that the commands for them were the direct Korean translation (thus how I knew how to spell it above). I find the irony delightful. In the most recent episode of my favorite show, then (that's right, Michael, Jim, Pam, and Dwight, you've been ousted) they explored the concept of RPS. If two people know each other well, Sheldon explains they will result in a tie 75-80% of the time. Here is his solution.

Unexpected Side Effects


So, I broke my leg three weeks ago. I knew there would be certain results associated with the situation: crutches, atrophy, and a case of cabin fever. I did not anticipate that after 3 weeks of quasi-healthy eating (so ramen isn't exactly nutritious, but it's not fried), three slices of pizza would do me asunder. Heather and I got Domino's for lunch, and after two pieces I was already feeling it. Feeling macho, for some reason, I got into the third and have felt sick for the last eight hours.

At some point in time on Sunday, I decided this week was going to suck. And true enough to my prediction, it has. Today I was just nasty, and I don't like being that way. No one wants to hug a cactus. So I'm changing my tune, and I have decided to just look forward to Friday when the doctor will tell me my leg is 80% better. I don't even really care if he cuts off the top of my cast, particularly if it will help it be 100% come November 28. I believe that is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and so it will still technically be Thanksgiving back home, and I can think of well... only one thing that would be better right now.

Tracy's dad is back in the hospital. Any prayers would be appreciated. Thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ask and you shall receive

So today was a day that I spent being passive aggressive. "Kate, how was your weekend?" "Well, no internet, no TV, and a lot of staring at the ceiling." Made for interesting conversations, right?

Well, I told my boss basically that, and she asked, "Did you ask anyone to call the internet company?" "Well, no..." ashamed to admit the thought hadn't actually occurred to me. An eye roll and three hours later, I'm updating my blog from the safety of someone else's apartment with my leg propped up.

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned, but I have monsters to kill.

Hobble hobble hobble!

This morning I discovered that gobble typoed is hobble. And since there is no such thing as turkey in Korea, there will be no "real" Thanksgiving for me... so no gobble gobble gobble, but thanks to recent events there is much hobble hobble hobble. I'm such an ironic genius.

On Friday, instead of updating my blog, I was being wheeled to the doctor's for my 6th set of x-rays in 2 weeks. Now, at the dentist's office when they take a set of x-rays, they used to drape your body in a lead vest to protect you from excessive radiation exposure. (They have canceled this practice since discovering that the lead vest actually trapped it in your body longer.) If radiation is so bad, then, why I have I had 42 x-rays since coming to Korea a little less than 4 months ago?

I wasn't supposed to go in for x-rays until today, but my leg absolutely hurts if I hold my leg certain ways in my cast. It feels as though the cast is pressing in against the bone breaks. I voiced my concerns and, well, that pretty much brings us up to the previous part of the story. The meeting with the doctor basically went like this.

Doctor looks at me. "No standing on leg. 만어라먼래뱌개민아럼." The nurse and I giggle here because *we* know he's changed into Korean, but he apparently doesn't as he continues to talk to me instead of Troy--the Korean standing next to me, who has really been a trooper the last 2 weeks. (He is Chief Fetcher of the Shoes and Chief Chauffeur.) (And my apologies if the above is real Korean, and I insinuated that I was going to blow anything up--I was just hitting random keys.)

So, with the same parrot-like command to stop standing on my leg (so long as there are stairs there will be standing) I head off to school where the message is delivered to Jin who then translates for me. My leg on Friday was 50% better (so today 60%? let's hope), and the x-rays really did look good. The bones are all realigned and just need to finish knitting together.

Something I can't figure out is the reiteration of not needing surgery. "No standing on leg" and "no operation needed." I wonder if he's trying for the same overwhelming joy I felt the first time I heard it. By now I wonder, is he just amazed or... Regardless, I am grateful not to need surgery. Although then I'd at least have a good scar. But then I'd just have to shave around/over it, and given my inabilities to shave without drawing blood, it is probably best that there is no surgical scar.

Since I have limited internet (AIM and Limewire only for whatever reason) and no television, I have lots of time for thinking. Yesterday I actually broke down and practiced Korean. (저는 선생님아에요. I am a teacher!) I also pondered what my reaction would have been had I had to have surgery. I think by the time I would have actually required the surgery, I would have been okay. Thanks to all of this marvelous spare time on my hands, I've had time to spend with God and have grown to a deeper understanding of His love for me and His ability to carry me through whatever I may be enduring. If you think about it, He is all-knowing. He knew on October 28, 2008, at 2:47 p.m., I would be in Daegu, South Korea, and break my leg. He saw fit to arrange an employer who would be understanding and helpful, coworkers who would be loving and caretakers, and a bizarre internet system where I can still talk to my mom and download a few things to keep me entertained. (e.g. The Big Bang Theory)

I'm really grateful to have near-constant access to my mom. She's helped me see God's love, made me laugh, and filled me in on Colorado life.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a week's worth of Lolcats to catch up on.
funny pictures of cats with captions
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

I love lamp.

Yesterday I went home $20 lighter and 100% happier. As I opened the front door to my temporary apartment, I gasped, "I love my cleaning lady!" My bed was made (3rd time in Korea), wet laundry hanging, dishes clean, floor swept and mopped, Shaniquah's cage cleaned, and garbage removed.

Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How many kindergartners does it take...


Happy Pepero Day! I'm hopped up on Pocky! Woo hoo! (And caffeine.. forgot Coke had so much. Wheeeeeeee.)

So I'm sitting in class, watching my 5 7-year-old boys (who are actually 6) like a hawk to prevent loss of limb or eyeball on this fake holiday day (e.g. Valentine's Day-esque, get hopped up on candy but you don't get to miss school), and I see that someone is having troubles sharpening his pencil. This is not a rare occurrence because the pencil sharpeners here in Korea are actually quite intelligent. After instructing him to dump the shavings in the trash, I watch as he gets up and gingerly places the whole machine in the trash can and stares at it. The thought crossed my mind to help him, but I figured I'd wait and see what happened. The four other boys in the class swarmed him in true male fashion and yelled in Korean what to do, when English so obviously failed. (Fialed to all those geeks out there.)

I'm not really sure I can answer "How many kindergartners does it take to empty a pencil sharpener," though, because I'm sure that it depends on the number of kids in the classroom. In this instance it was five, but had there been nine thousand twelve, I am sure every single one of them would have been offering assistance.

Yesterday I went for my weekly x-rays (cost= $6, $1/x-ray), and I finally got to see them up close. I'm pretty glad I didn't see them at first, although I am glad to have all of the information now. It turns out I broke my leg in two places, and there was actually an inch-and-a-half of bone that wasn't attached to anything at all. (Mel's response, "That's probably why it hurt so much, aye.") By now the bottom part has pretty much realigned and knit well with the other part. The top has made improvements, too. It's pretty cool to see how much of a miracle not needing surgery really turned out to be. While I still hope it's only 13 more days, Realistic Kati (that voice given opportunity to speak once every three or four months) thinks 20 days is pretty reasonable. We'll see what my doctor says. To Jin, anyway, because he still avoids having to talk to me. (God forbid he use the English that his parents paid thousands of dollars for him to learn from people who went to Korea to teach and ended up breaking their legs... Irony~)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas

Christmas is canceled! Not really, but I'm supposed to go somewhere warm as opposed to cold, slippery Beijing.

-Hong Kong, China
-Taipei, Taiwan
-Naha, Japan
-Manila, Philippines

Anyone have an opinion?

A quiet weekend of going insane

For whatever reason, I only have local internet access at my temporary apartment, which means I can access the internet through programs such as AIM, Limewire, Skype, and so on. Inexplicably, I cannot access it through a browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox) or MSN. (I could use MSN for a day, and then something FUBARed.)

So... it leads to less posting, and a significant case of boredom. Yesterday I was so desperate I figured out how to do laundry, and then I was sort of amused by doing laundry. It involves balling up all my dirty clothes and sort of playing basketball with them. Then, 1 hour 21 minutes later, I throw them all into a plastic sack and balance precariously on my crutches while trying to hang the wet articles of clothing.

I am grateful to have a washing machine in my apartment.

Not quite desperate enough to study Korean, I practiced writing and said some of the words out loud. Mostly what saved me, though, is the fact that I can download movies, and my mom, Tracy, Kip and Dev have AIM to talk with. While Tracy was on vacation in Denver, we got to spend a lot of time talking, so when I was suddenly cut off in the hospital, I really started to miss her.

I am grateful for the extra time to talk to the people I love.

Speaking of talking to the people I love, my parents have discovered the key to calling me in Korea. So I got to talk to them a lot this weekend, and it was really nice. I wouldn't say I'm homesick, but I do miss my parents' antics. *Insert unintelligible English-accented jibberish.*

I am grateful to be stronger on crutches, for sure!

I am grateful that Obama won--because now my prayers for America have become more fervent.

I am grateful that my parents don't need to worry about the phone bill.

I am almost grateful that I broke my leg. I haven't had coffee (coppee?) since October 29, with only one exception. That's pretty big for me. I'm trying to avoid caffeine for faster healing, though.

This morning I actually got up early before work (early = 8:30, haha) and showered. There really isn't anything quite like a shower to get you ready for the day. It feels good not to have bedhead.

It's kind of a rambling post, and if I was Mr. Bonawitz I'd probably make me re-write it, but I'm not, and I'm not. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Open class

Today we had our first open class in Kindergarten, which means the kids' parents can all come to see how things are going. It was the quietest 40 minutes of my stay in Korea. It was so awkward, but I guess there's a lot of sympathy for me what with the green cast and wheelchair and bronchitis.

I still have the bronchitis. :( Last night I coughed so much I actually threw up. I told Jin this, and prescriptions magically appeared on my desk before I got done with lunch duty.

It's really hard to be positive with this and the presidential election results. Fortunately, me and my income are protected overseas. When the dark thoughts creep in, I remind myself of that blog post about actually being happy. This, too, shall pass.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Deemed a Hazard To Myself and Others

My crutches have been taken away and I have been given a wheelchair, now. It's totally awesome. :)

I also have a phone, so I'm connected to the world again and can vigorously text my fingers off while staring at the ceiling.

Next update will hopefully be from my borrowed apartment! Woo hoo!

Monday, November 3, 2008

So I Broke My Leg In South Korea

The title pretty much says it all. On Wednesday afternoon, at 2:47, I left the doctor's office with a prescription for bronchitis. I stepped wrong on a ramp and rolled my ankle, scraping one side, then breaking the leg on the other--the fibula, to be more exact. I heard the crunch as I went down, and my first thought was, "But today's test day!" (I had been hurrying so that I would not be late. Haste makes waste!!)

As I sat on the sidewalk sort of stunned, I looked up at a Korean man staring at me and asked for help. Unfortunately, I know how to say "give me" and other useful phrases, but not help. Because God is a good God, a familiar face from the cell phone store rode by on her bike. She rode back to get the ambulance from the other end of the block, and then went to ECC to tell them what had happened. While I waited, a group gathered around me. Someone actually told me, "Uljima." Heh heh.

While I was being loaded into an ambulance to go to the emergency room, the head teacher made the announcement, "Kate's sick, we have to cover her classes." Heather, however, overheard Jin talking on the main phone and came in a few minutes later, "Kate broke her leg!!" That's right, if I'm going to call in sick, it's going to be with good reason. (At this job anyway.) Jin hurried to meet me at the emergency room where they all stood around waiting for someone to translate before treating me. We did the x-ray thing (the tech was evil), and sure enough I was in agony with good reason. Not good enough reason to administer say, pain medication, though. It will be a long time before I complain about cramps again. I have been through this whole experience 6 days, now, and have only had one shot for pain.

I had the option to transfer to a hospital closer to the school, which I took because if I wasn't going to have my mom and dad with me, I needed my friends. They really pulled through for me. Heather brought me soap, and I have never been so happy for soap before. She also brought me endless food and stories of Halloween. Mel, Ashley, Min, and Jin came by a lot which helped. Even Ross looked up the phone number of the hospital to call and see how I was doing. When he came by he brought a cactus. ... A cactus.

I'm kind of losing my focus. So. Today I'm back at school, and will have the cast for approximately another 24 days. Not that I'm counting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hi, Molly!

cat
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Epiphany

I just had an epiphany! Did I get any on you?

A while ago, I was reading in one of Paulo Coelho's books, and it said something that stuck with me, something that helped emphasize the story of the Talents in the New Testament. We are given talents, but some of us are afraid to actually develop them or to take the talent past a point of comfort and into greatness.

I read that and I thought about the things I've wasted. I had wonderful intonation at the bassoon, and reading music came easily to me, but I was lazy. Math and science weren't necessarily weak points, but instead of applying myself, I skated (sorry mom, dad). When it came to languages, I kept it up for as long as it was fun.

I am talking with Tosha right now, and it dawns on me. This is a second (third, fourth, eightieth) opportunity. I am in Korea, the best possible circumstance to learning a foreign language! It's time to stop being lazy and to make time to apply myself and learn the language thoroughly. So, no more copying sentences down just because I like writing the characters. It's time to understand how to say the sentences and what they mean, too. Hooray!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blah.

Today was one of those hard days. I actually told a class that I hate teaching them. I turned into some sort of monster that now, with hindsight, I don't even recognize myself. It was so ugly. I made them all write 20 sentences using most, more, -er and -est comparisons. No one got more than 12 right. So I failed, they failed, we all failed. And then this one girl was cheating off of someone else's homework, so I erased both of their workbooks and made one of them cry.

I'm going to my favorite coffee shop with my Bible study and Korean books. With any luck, tomorrow will come swiftly.

One side note... it's been 3 months as of today. I'm glad to be here, I really am. This is also my 100th post in this blog. Kind of proud that I update it on an almost daily basis. I wish I could say the same for some other culprits. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I got stood up!

All week I've had mixed anticipation and anxiety for going to the amusement park today. So, deciding not to make an excuse to get out of it, I boarded the bus to make it downtown by 2 o'clock. At 2:03, I was outside of the bookstore, looking around. Waiting.

By the time 2:32 came, I was kind of disappointed. It turns out, though, the poor guy was beaned in the eye with a soccer ball and has been in bed all day. And he couldn't call, because my phone is MIA (again).

So. That's why there's no new pictures, no happy post about living through a roller coaster. But I am pleased to know that there was a real reason. :)

The Best Cab Ride Ever

So tonight I was helping celebrate someone's birthday, and I consumed more food and sugar than is ever required, and to some people I'm sure it would have been a lethal dose. Fortunately, I have super American blood that is accustomed to processing all sorts of toxins. :)

I still felt sick, though, so I called it an early night and grabbed a cab. I get in and ask, "Chilgok DongA Bickwijam?" and he didn't look at me like I was retarded, so I stayed and got comfy. He tried to talk to me and I was like, "I'm sorry. I speak English"--because it's true! But we're driving along and this dill hole BMW pulls up alongside of us and revs his engine and just acts like a tool. He kept screaming ahead of us to get to lights first, but still had to wait. By the 5th time he weaved in and out of traffic just to be sitting next to us, I gestured and said, "Ipabo!" (Foolish man.) This started the taxi driver on a full-blown tirade in the fastest Korean I've ever heard! It was totally awesome. I heard some words I knew, so I nodded and made the Korean version of "uh-huh" (it's something like "unh") until he started gesturing something reminiscent of Mussolini. I'm pretty sure I agreed that we should either make tighter laws for getting your license or to wiping out North Korea. I'm not really sure which.

So we turn off from BMW guy and drive along in quiet when this car randomly starts to back into our lane while we're speeding by at 110 km/h (68 mph)!! Fortunately my driver was seasoned and he swerved out of the way (and avoided the minivan next to us). I gasped, even though I was watching, and he tried to explain what was going on in an apologetic tone. That was kind of endearing, so I smiled and sat back in my seat--never even once considering putting on my seat belt, sorry mom--when we ran into our third loony! This guy was sitting on his bicycle in the middle of the 5th lane (out of 7)--the one we were driving in. Fortunately he was wearing white clothing, otherwise I'm not sure we would have seen him in time. This started the last tirade of the night, to which I agreed on every point.

I love this country.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A night out with the Koreans

"Kate Teacher," you may be wondering, "how have you lost weight even though you go out for lunch and dinner every day?" Well, dear reader, it's because I live in a country that is anti-cheese. Your cheese-stuffed, deep-fat fried Enchilada only exists in one restaurant in a city of 3.5 million people, and you literally have to be classified by the U. S. Government as not a threat in order to access the nearest Taco Bell.

Today I went to dinner with three of my favorite Korean teachers, Yuria (who is considering a new English name: Annabelle or Autumn), Alice (who is considering a new English name: Summer), and Alex (who likes her androgynous English name). They were fighting over where to go and asked my opinion, so I played dumb foreigner and went where they told me--down a set of stairs so narrow I had to turn to the side and jump down the last 3 feet. When I did, every single eye of 30 high school boys was on me. Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal. (This is me pretending to be a rock star, again.)

So we all sit down, they order, and we're so tired we basically just look at each other the five minutes it takes for our order to arrive: chumchee kimchi jiggae. It's a boiling hot, spicy soup that has chumchee (Tuna fish), kimchi (fermented cabbage), tofu, onion, green onion, peppers (spicy: red and green), and weird mushrooms that I still avoid. While we were waiting for our sticky rice (sticky rice = love), a waiter knocked over a stand that had probably 200 stainless steel cups, and they went scattering across the floor. The guy was obviously embarrassed, but the sound was probably the coolest thing I've heard. $13.50 later (for the four of us), we were all full but still went for coffee across the street.

Korea really is my speed. After talking about the "fun" of English, I speed walked back home the 1+ mile, with just enough time before bed to post in my blog about my wonderful dinner and to watch a Pirate movie. I love my life.