Sunday, September 28, 2008

Plays Nicely With Others

New girl has not made it easy to hang out with her. She's pretty much alienated the other teachers, but my obstinacy overpowered any sense of pride and I pleaded with her and her husband to let me treat them to galbi. I reminded her that there would be new people in the future, and that they would be able to take them out. (Taking people to dinner here is a lot like the movie Pay It Forward.)

Something that bothers me is how easily the girls gave up. She's a different kind of person is all, and they've all said no. I'm such a follower when it comes to them; I'm afraid of stepping out of bounds and losing the only foreign friends I have. On this point, though, I believe in the importance of understanding. It wasn't very long ago that I landed in Korea, and I recall the obscene jet lag, aversion to the heat, and feeling lucky that I had a week to adjust. The poor girl came and started work the very next day, after not having even seen her living arrangements! They didn't come with much money (thank you, dad, for ensuring this wasn't me), and were concerned about getting through the first month. That said, if I don't give it my best, and she becomes despondent, it would be equal blame for both parties.

In other, lighter news, Sue posted one of those 50+ questions things that are fun to fill out when sitting around in a crisp, cool apartment on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

1. What time did you get up this morning? "Morning" is a relative term. 12:36 p.m. :D
2. Diamonds or pearls? I identify with pearls more.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Children of Huang Shi. Kind of a funny story! It's in English, with Korean subtitles. Well, part of the movie is in Chinese and other parts in Japanese--no English subtitles. >.>
4. What is your favorite TV show? The Office
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Yogurt
6. What is your middle name? Elizabeth
7. What food do you dislike? Octopus, squid
8. What is your favorite CD at moment? Tie: Scrubs soundtrack, Tracy's cafe CD
9. What kind of car do you drive? Size 10 pink and white croc flip flops
10.Favorite sandwich? I miss those...
11.What characteristic do you despise? Know-it-alls
12.Favorite item of clothing? My size-smaller jeans that are now a bit baggy in the legs. :)
13.If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? There is no "if" people--go explore! That said, I'd go home.
14.Favorite brand of clothing? Target
15.Where would you retire to? New Orleans--preferably something in the French Quarter (translation: walking distance to Cafe du Monde)
16.What was your most recent memorable birthday? 24? I can't remember 25 for some reason.
17.Favorite sport to watch? Ice hockey!
18.Farthermost place you are sending this? You bet it made it, Sue! And it's going across the Pacific Ocean--anywhere after that is just extra credit.
19.Person you expect to send it back first? Probably Tamara if she had a blog
20.When is your birthday? April 27
21.Are you a morning person or a night person? Hehehe, is this a trick question?
22.What is your shoe size? 10/275 in Korean
23.Pets? 1 American hamster, 1 Korean hamster
24.Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? It's no longer 89 degrees!
25.What did you want to be when you were little? A surgeon
26.How are you today? I ate too much grease yesterday and have a food hangover
27.What is your favorite candy? I miss Skittles
28.What is your favorite flower? Orchids
29.What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? October 16--I'm going to Woobang Tower, it's an amusement park
30.What are you listening to right now? Shrieking children
31.What was the last thing you ate? Maltesers--Russian Whoppers
32.Do you wish on stars? No
33.If you were a crayon, what color would you be? One of those neat multi-color ones with a base of pink
34.How is the weather right now? Cloudy and wonderful
35.The first person you spoke to on the phone today? Olivia
36.Favorite soft drink? Coca-Cola
37.Favorite restaurant? Cheesecake Factory
38.Real hair color? A mousy brown color
39.What was your favorite toy as a child? I think the dress up box
40.Summer or winter? Winter
41.Hugs or kisses? hugs
42.Chocolate or Vanilla? vanilla
43.Coffee or tea? coffee, but it keeps me up. tea after 6 please. :)
44.Do you want your friends to email you back? Sure - blog friends play along!
45.When was the last time you cried? Last night. :( I couldn't meet up with my date because my phone didn't have any credit on it; he looked for me for an hour and a half and ended up calling me but didn't know how to find where I was. So it wasn't homesickness, I wasn't hurt, just a little disappointed.
46.What is under your bed? The previous tenant's shower shoes
47.What did you do last night? Watched the LATEST EPISODE OF THE OFFICE!!!!
48.What are you afraid of? Grabbing the bull by the balls
49.Salty or sweet? BOTH
50.How many keys on your key ring? Just one, but I have the key chain from Tosha and Tamara <3
51.How many years at your current job? :) 2 months, baby
52.Favorite day of the week? Friday. I like the anticipation of the weekend with the fun of my job
53.How many towns have you lived in? 10
54.Do you make friends easily? Yeah.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dancing Queen

I just got in after a delicious meal at Burger King with Mel and the Portuguese fellow we somehow collected along the way, and I have such a funny story that it cannot wait until I wake up.

A few weeks ago, I realized that because most people in Korea have the last name of Kim, Park, or Lee, and because most people here go by their family name, I could call most guys Kimmy and get some sort of a response.

This evening I was out dancing and met three very nice brothers; while I was dancing with the middle child, we exchanged phone numbers and he inputted his name for me. I had thought he said his English name was Ken, but as I looked at the screen I literally laughed: Kimmy.

In case anyone was interested, today heralds my two-month celebration of being in Korea. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? My most serious wave of homesickness has passed, and as my boss noted, I'm already old hat with my job, ordering at restaurants, and navigating Daegu. Jin called me into her office to have a talk about the schedule; next month I will have yet another class, putting me well over the overtime level. In addition to my classes, I will have a group of beginner students with no previous English experience. There are plenty of negatives that accompany this situation, but I choose to focus on the positive: I get to name them all!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Banana Incident of '07

I had been working at Peliton for probably two weeks when I discovered Mary's aversion to bananas. All things banana-related caused Mary a wave of nausea, and she would have to leave the area. Instantly the wheels were turning: all I needed was a box of Runts, 15 minutes of her gone from her desk (with my prior knowledge preferred), and two accomplices--Tamara and Jon.

At first Operation George of the Jungle (I think?) was postponed due to a remarkable lack of Runts in the Denver Metro area. Two solid evenings were spent going through Targets, Wal*Marts, King Sooper's, and gas stations in an effort to find the seemingly evasive candies. At last, in the light of a scathingly brilliant idea, I asked a high school student working for minimum wage where to find them and procured a massive box. A side note, I went through the whole box and pulled out all of the bananas, placing them in a Ziploc baggie; distinct is my recollection of Tamara's disappointment at seeing the baggie, "Oh. I thought you were going to bring the whole box."

Step 2: Lure Mary away from her desk in order to proceed. With a spy in HR, all Jon and I had to do was wait for Tamara's call. Since patience is not one of my strong suits, I was practically pacing in my cubicle, full of excitement at my first totally awesome prank. (You know, I never did get around to messing with Jon's cubicle lighting.) Finally it came--the eagle had landed! Or rather, had left as the case may be. Stealthily Jon and I snuck over (translation: giggled obnoxiously the whole way) and proceeded to hide bananas everywhere--her pencil cup, in her drawers, all over her keyboard, on her chair--while Tamara changed her desktop picture to the perfect picture Jon found, and her new screen saver declared, "Mary, you drive us Bananas!" Taking a step back, I looked at the impish smiles on my new friends' (and cohorts) faces with a sense of accomplishment.

The last stage of any good prank is the anticipation of fulfillment. In this instance, I had no idea how long the meeting would last--and ended up having one myself. In the hopes that something had happened, I returned to my desk in the most out-of-the-way path possible to see everyone surrounding a very stunned woman.

Disbelief, shock, and slight disgust are probably the best way to describe the look on Mary's face. I felt a little guilty that we had invaded her space (even her files had received a little extra fake Potassium that afternoon), and we all removed as many bananas as we could find so the SNAFU could be returned to the controlled chaos that decorates most desks in HR.

Mary left Peliton six months after that incident, and it just now dawns on me that maybe the affection behind the banana-torture wasn't ever fully articulated. The legend did, however, live on, as Sue discovered another one while preparing the desk for the incoming.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hell's Kitchen

Thought this was interesting:

Where the winners of Hell's Kitchen ended up.

I <3 The Office.

Tamara sent me The Office Season 4. I got the Amazon box, and I was like, huh, I guess mom decided not just to spoil me but to spoil me rotten. ... I open it up and I see, "The Office Season 4" and grin stupidly. At this point in time, my class is definitely not doing their work, but they aren't talking either: they're all watching me as my eyes well up at the note inside. Not only have I been overwhelmed with presents, but by three people this week. Three!

Thank you!

Today was another long day that involved a lot of quick thinking. I knew I worked well under pressure, but who knew I worked even better under pressure when prepared. I don't think that side of the coin ever occurred to me before. Habitual procrastinators always say, "Oh, I work better under pressure." Better than what? Better than not under pressure? What if you were under pressure with resources? Holy crap!

Today was Korean lessons day 2, with Cindy. Mostly we talked in English, and she looked over my persistent attempts at writing Korean. She was actually impressed with my handwriting. Who knew I had nice handwriting and just needed to write in another alphabet, hehe. Here is what we practiced: English words using the Korean alphabet.


I can't figure out how to install the alphabet. Will have to try again later, I need to go study!

12:32 a.m. and too much coffee

Today has been a long day.

Once a month, we are required to fill out progress sheets for each of our darling children. I have 78. In an effort to be a proactive teacher, I went to bed early and got to work a half hour early with breakfast and lunch en tote so that I could concentrate on the task at hand. Truth be told, being prepared and getting things done proved to be less difficult than procrastinating. Who would have thought?

The reward for pulling all of this off, plus two amazing classes, and creating a trivia game for my older kids (the answers are easy, but the questions are not!), was a trip downtown with Yuria Teacher to pick up books for my Korean adventure. On the bus we talked about how her name is actually Yulia--like the German Julia--but that she did not want to be confused for a Catholic saint since she is Buddhist. Kind of interesting!

The two useful phrases I have come away with is, "Let's go" (ga ja), and "That is right" (maj oiy yo). Coolly enough, I was listening to the TV and understood some of it thanks to this evening's lesson! Assa! These lessons were learned over a satisfying meal of bulgogi rice (a sweet/garlic beef with sticky rice) and a cup of Starbucks goodness. (Thus the post at 12:32 a.m.) Once I had my books in hand, we headed back home.

My plans for getting into bed with a book were soon forgotten when Ashley called me to see if I had written my reports yet. :) With a desire (but apparently not the will power) to work on it, I readily agreed. My practice in a kindergarten book has actually helped, and the grown up books are clarifying questions I had.

That said, I would like to announce that I am loved. I didn't get a package yesterday--I got two.

Tracy in all her kindness made two! CDs for me--one for coffee shops, and one with country. COUNTRY! I practically ran to my computer and jammed it in, and as the first few notes of Rascal Flats came across the speakers, I closed my eyes and was transported to a land of a green Honda Element cruising around on a deserted I-25, sound turned up and a home-cooked meal waiting. It's kind of interesting how music can do that.

The second box came from my darling parents, who in their infinite wisdom chose not to give my kids Halloweeny sugar-induced comas. Instead, mom sent hundreds (literally!) of paper games, spider rings, and fake tattoos. I see a fun day in my near future. (October 31 to be more specific.) For Halloween, Yuria and I are going to get costumes next Tuesday for our language exchange day. Should be fun! I'm going as a character from my kids' book, The Grouchy Ladybug--as in, I will be The Grouchy Ladybug.

In addition to crap for the kids, there's stuff for HER kid: Twizzlers (thanks, Dad), mascara (thanks, mom and spell check), and the most beautiful purple loafers I've ever seen. I tried to find them at a few Targets before I left, and my mom cared enough to continue pursuing them, sending them to me at a time when they really made my day.

So, thank you for your gifts, you guys. My week has pretty much been made. And to everyone else who has kept me in your thoughts and prayers (even if it's just enough to stop by to see the new ramblings), thanks.

Be sure to stay tuned. Thursday I have another language lesson, and it's going to be over a tasty meal of pig's feet.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My dinner

So after being accosted by 5 14-year-olds bent on practicing their English, I almost ran home to escape into the English language. This hurriedness was only interrupted by a brightly colored sign catching my eye; I found a sandwich shop! The bread didn't look as enticing as a French hard roll or some fresh San Fran sour dough, but it was a SANDWICH SHOP!

I stepped up to the take away window and looked dumbly at the menu--have I mentioned my Korean lessons start Tuesday? After five failed attempts at procuring a picture menu, I pointed to something randomly in her shop, and she began assembling a $1.65 masterpiece.

This sandwich could not have been any more random. It was supposed to be ham and cheese, which is natural because everything here is pork or ham or bacon (think of how many times I eat galbi). I say supposed to, because like everything in this country, it was Koreanized. White bread? Check. Ham? Check. Processed cheese? Check. It all sounds normal, right? How about kiwi dressing? Sweet barbecue sauce? Cole slaw? A fried egg with corn and carrots in it?

Regardless, it was quite the feast for $1.65, and it was as bizarre as it sounds, but it was also delicious.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Taking drunk dialing to a new low/high

About 5 hours ago, I started developing a migraine. It was one of those excruciating headaches sensitive to light, sound, and breathing, so after work--despite a galbi invitation :(--I headed off to bed. After a 2 hour nap, it wasn't improved, so a bottle of soju later (and several episodes of The Office) I was feeling much better and kind of missed Jon.

So I called Peliton.

Cristy, Shelley, Jon, Diana, and Tamara later, and I feel much better. First, I'm always glad to hear from English speakers, and second, I just love these people. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the work... :) So even though probably only Tamara will see this, I do miss you guys and the fun we used to have. Remember the time we decorated Mary's cube with bananas? It seems like yesterday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

10 classes later...

Thanks to the wonders of lunch duty, I had 10 classes today. Honestly, they were fine. Actually, they were great. It just makes for a long day.

I just had the best idea I've had in like 12 hours. I SHOULD GET MCDONALD'S FOR DINNER! And just so things don't get boring, maybe I'll get something other than the Shanghai Spice Chicken Burger. ... So who else is laughing?

I got my beloved roommate Tracy's letter today. It was heart-warming, and I cried a little at the news about her dad. Any spare prayers for her and her family would be appreciated. The best part about the letter was, it was relatively simple to read; there were some inside things, but for the most part it was understandable English, so I let a student read it while the slower kids finished their homework.

She still has it. Oops.

Something awesome about getting a new haircut is people noticing (thanks Miss Chris!) Something awesome about getting a new haircut in South Korea is that EVERYONE notices. "Oh my God, there is approximately 6 inches of blonde hair missing from this office! WHERE DID IT GO?!" I exaggerate a little (me? never!), but the truth remains: I was stared at, in a good way, admired, and felt girly. It's really nice to feel pretty.

Did I mention fries are always hot in Korea?

Awesome Ashley Adventures

This afternoon I was drifting off after a hectic day of Costco-ing (I got two types of cheese and almost peed my pants at the sight of real Parmesan) and felt my phone vibrate. Considering I'd rather hang out with my friends than do anything else in the world, I whipped that sucker open. "Do you want to go to (somekoreanplaceI'veneverheardofbefore)?" Ashley basically had me at "do you want to," so ten minutes later I was at her place, not exactly recovered from Costco but eagerly anticipating this new place to go.

The number 2 bus ride turned into a fantastic night-long adventure. As we approached downtown, Ashley looked at me and with a thoughtful look stated, "I think it's bang time." The bang idea is not a new concept; the discussion had been stewing for a month, to the point where like hangover soup, it was ready to boil over. A quick wandering to a salon called Cinderella (could you go wrong with a name like that?), I was shampooed, cut, styled, and ready to go only $15 later. One of the great things about Korea is round faces are pretty common, so they're already accustomed to doing hair to flatter round faces.

I was so pleased with the outcome that when I met up with Ashley, I kind of nudged her into the make up thing next. Who knew a Tuesday night in South Korea would be the perfect time and place to go through a whole evolution? (I had even put on earrings before leaving the house! GASP!) After trying on basically every lipstick there was, I settled on one that in theory plumps your lips; I'll be trying it another time, but what I have noticed is a deep burning sensation, thanks to peppermint. It's pretty awesome. I also came away with more shiny makeup than any 14-, 25-, or 89-year-old should ever have.

Insert grin.

I'm pleased with the results. Hair? Check. Make up? Check. Bus card? No check. I got my first bus card, so I no longer have to carry around a bag of change with me wherever I go--exciting! It's also good for the subway, so I was set for adventure #4: navigate subway to Woobang Tower Land. After a little head scratching, missing a train, and giggling at Sawol, we made it. Hot (me), sweaty (me), and ready to find the tower. (Adventure #5)

All along I'd had the premonition that climbing would be involved. To be honest, my confidence in Korean forethought to install elevators is a little lax, so when I saw the tower I was pleased to realize there's no way that anyone would have to climb 78 flights to see the beautiful view. What I failed to take in, though, was the fact that I would have to climb up to floor 1. Despite the 1-2 hours of walking I do every day, the hill just about forced me to throw up the chicken bake that had only partially digested at the time. Ashley's patience was rewarded, though, as I and my lunch did make it with minimal whining--seeing as how I was solely focused on gasping. Choosing to skip the observation deck (since we didn't technically pay admission), we headed to the 83rd floor for "coffee." The view really was amazing. The city is just so lit up and vibrant at all hours of the night, regardless of the day; it's not quite like Vegas, but it sure is constant fun.

I'm really glad I got to go.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, and I must face my beloved kindergartners once again. The next three days I am going to focus on what Jesus told his disciples, to let the little children come unto him. I have a lot of love to give, and I want them to know I love them--regardless of whether they can pronounce aquarium.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Seoul-diering through the Heat

Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early (well... noon is bright, at least), and after speaking with my parents for an hour, I summoned the energy to get dressed and packed and headed out for Seoul. Thanks to my wonderful boss, I arrived $5 later at the bus terminal and purchased a ticket to whisk me away from the Chuseok-celebrating, filled-to-the-brim Daegu. The bus was amazing! It only seated 30 people, and I got to sit in the way back. The seats were reclining, had foot rests, and had speakers in the headrests for the movies that played. 4 hours of luxury later, I arrived ready to take the town (21 million people probably qualifies it as a city?) by storm.

Unfortunately, the storm hit me first. I had forgotten it is still summer, which means it is still 8x degrees during the day and 8x% humidity. Regardless, I persevered, determined to find a hotel to lose my backpack. After an hour of wandering, a very kind Korean literally walked me to a hotel, and she fretted because it was $100 a night. Considering this is average back home, I decided to splurge, and I was not disappointed! The room turned out to be a business suite, complete with a kitchen area larger than my apartment, a loft, and the softest bed I've slept on in months. I think the best part was just the feeling of luxury. Somewhere between Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters, I fell asleep and remained as much for thirteen hours. Wow!

Sunday morning I set up camp at Starbucks to plan out the day with an English map. Seoul really is set up well for tourism with plenty of guides in Chinese, English, Japanese, and interpreters for German, French, and Spanish--free! One grande caramel macchiato and pumpkin apricot scone later, I was ready to embark on my first Asian palace.

I was not disappointed. Because the Koreans are celebrating their Thanksgiving ("Chuseok"), they had traditional games and music going throughout the day. It was very cool to watch the changing of the guard, and the traditional drums were exactly like you hear and see in movies! What I liked most was the scientific observation building. It is surrounded by a man-made lake and beautiful tropical trees; I felt at peace, despite the rocks in my socks and being drenched with sweat.

After wandering around Gyeongbukdong Palace for an hour (yeah, I spelled that without looking it up), I headed to the (air conditioned) museum to pick up a souvenir and to snoop around. There I found someone willing to allow me to take her photo in the traditional hanbok (mild jealousy, may have to hope someone has a little girl soon so I can send them one), and in the back I got a snapshot of one of the royal antique cars. The first floor of the museum was dedicated to what life was like for Emperors during their formative years, and it's hard to see those cutesy outfits and acknowledge that they would grow into the supreme warrior of the nation. I rested on a bench, staring at some cement playground-looking thing while basking in the air conditioning and resting my feet. Once I got up to see what it was, I laughed: I was staring at a place to store the placenta that carried the king for 10 minutes. Awesome.

After, I made my way back to the subway and managed to navigate a line change to get myself to Itaewon, a section of Seoul dedicated to foreigners. There I managed to conquer a Quizno's sandwich and purchase a new pair of Croc sandals, and the day looked up from there, with some help from the hilarious menu I saw boasting new Korean delicacies to avoid.

Once the shopping came to a conclusion, I was able to get a hold of someone who got stuck with a bar tab a few weeks ago. We had an awesome dinner that was served in a shovel and raw--we had to cook chicken with chopsticks! At first I was worried that I accidentally gave myself food poisoning, but after a panicked phone call home, we decided it was probably more closely related to stress and a need to get back to Daegu and relax.

My trip concluded with the adventure of going through the Seoul train terminal, where I went shopping and enjoyed one last cheese-laden sandwich (chicken panini) before returning to Daegu. I am glad for the opportunity to go to Seoul, but I look forward to going back when it is cooler. Another plus, I have another day off to enjoy my currently very clean apartment. Assa!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Apparently my goal is to post as many short and not necessarily useful posts as possible in as little time as possible, but as I woke up just now I was drifting between dreams and facing reality when a thought occurred to me.

For years, now, I have said that my weight has been a deep-rooted protection against being thought pretty so I would not be raped or molested. In Korea, I am regularly called pretty 6 days out of 7, and on the 7th God tells me I'm pretty. That kind of undermines the whole argument, and now I am left with one last pillar blocking my road to health: comfort eating.


P. S. All of season 4 downloaded while I slept. Awesome!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Discussion with Kip

My dear friend Kip from my online game gave me this input when discussing my Australian coworkers:

"dude lmao i've seen enough Americas Funniest Home Videos to learn Kangaroos and Wallabees are dicks"

You may return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Small Victories

1) I wanted to eat the ice cream, but I didn't.

2) I figured out how to watch all these .avi files I've accidentally downloaded.

Stuffed to the Gills

It seems like just yesterday I was starving, eating a measly peanut butter and jelly just to get through the day. And here I am, stuffed on galbi for the second night in a row. :) Deeeeelicious.

More about galbi.

First off, it involves a massive pit of red-hot coals that fit into the center of the table. Oh, did I mention you're SITTING ON THE FLOOR WITH YOUR BARE LEGS NO MORE THAN 12 INCHES AWAY?! (That's right, inches, none of this centimeter crap.) So anyway, over the coals goes a mesh piece that looks like a splatter guard except the metal is further apart so that the fat (mmmm delicious fat) can drip through and flare up the flames. It comes in strips about 3 1/2 inches wide and a foot long, and the minimum order is 3 or 4 depending on the restaurant. At this particular place, if you bought 4 you got one free, which is an advantage when you plan on ordering 7 for a table of 4 people.

In addition to this marinated pork, they bring out an array of side dishes that typically depend on the restaurant. What all galbi I've had has in common is this spring onion salad (seasoned with kimchi spices, yum), kimchi (duh), onions marinating in the same sauce as the meat, leaves of lettuce (yes, like the samgyeopsal), cloves of garlic cut in half, and a red bean paste that I can't even compare to anything back home. In addition, tonight we had this weird scrambled egg that is kind of watery like soup but I got in trouble for calling it soupy, a soup that comes out BOILING it's so hot, and green beans, corn, shrimp (with heads on, ick), and something else whose name I can't remember.

So the huge strips are put over the fire pit of doom, in addition to oh let's say, a whole head of garlic. It is cooked in these long strips, then you are in charge of manipulating tongs and scissors to get it cut into manageable bites that you ensnare with the metal chopsticks of doom and drop into the onion & sauce mix to cool. While it cools, you assemble red bean paste, deeeelicious garlic, onions, and whatever you want on the leaf of lettuce (it's more like something from a baby field green bag than iceberg), and like with the samgyeopsal, shove the whole thing in your mouth. It's sweet. It's pungent. And I wake up smelling like galbi and smoke.

This morning I seriously lay in bed just smelling myself.

The entire experience really is amazing, and with beer, soju, sodas, and etc., my tab has never been above $9. (Unfortunately, I'm the only one capable of dividing by numbers other than 10, so often times we don't actually know how much we owe, just that we had a fantastic time.)

As I walked the 3 blocks home, I smiled because I feel so satisfied with my last two nights. I went out with friends, laughed and drank, and it didn't have to be a special occasion. It was more like, hey, we have to order at least 3 strips, you want to come make a deal out of it? What churns through my head, now, is I wonder how I was able to go home after work every single day and just play a computer game all night, just to get up to face work again, and come home and play a computer game all night. The tediousness let alone the loneliness (when I lived by myself) makes me pause, but the sadness forces me to actually take a close look.

I must have been practically bleeding internally with emotional pain, and I praise the Lord for the progress that has been made. I thank Him and my parents that I was able to take a year leaving under a safe roof, recovering, and becoming a vibrant, interesting person again.

Tomorrow night I'll be going out with the Korean teachers dancing, and I leave way early Saturday morning for Seoul so this might be it for a while. My camera, though, is ready to go to make news of my trip interesting and colorful!

Calling Me

I just discovered how to call me from anywhere in the world. I think it's pretty cool. It's also very long.

First, pick up the phone.
Second, dial 011-82-53-010-6875-7848.
Third, talk!

If that doesn't work, then try 011-82-053-010-6875-7848.

Or just get Skype ( There it's free if we're both talking over the internet. I bought some time through Skype, and I can call a land line in the US for 2.4 cents a minute, which I think is pretty cool.

This message brought to you by a severe case of lunchtime boredom.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Office, Season 4

I am currently downloading all of The Office, Season 4, at the rate of 3 kb/s--FROM NINE HOSTS. At this rate, it will take oh wait now it's at 0 kb/s, and it is going to take 393 days, 23 hours, 21 minutes, and 40 seconds to download the whole thing.

Appreciate the Targety-goodness of the States.

In other news, I made over a million dollars last month. Oh wait, no, over a million won. Haha, I keep getting that confused! ... Regardless, I took home $300 more than I expected, so I'm pleased.

I know you're all wondering, Kate, how much did you pay in taxes? Well, let me tell you. I paid exactly $31 dollars in taxes. I may make less than at Peliton, but I sure as hell take home a lot more. AND when I leave, I get the $90 each month for pension BACK, and it actually doubles because my employer is kicking in $90, too!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

As posted over piping hot ramen noodles

Seriously, I don't know why college campuses don't offer this ramen brand. It's AMAZING. I seriously chose ramen over (the best) fried chicken. Mmmmm. Lip-burning goodness.

Tuesday and Thursdays are definitely my favorite days. I have a lighter class load (6), and it's all little kids. Usually I'm just tickled pink, but today I realized in my classes that I really haven't ... taught them anything. One of my classes is comprised of kindergartners who go to Korean kinder, then come for English lessons after. After 2 weeks, now, they still don't understand the concept behind "fill in the blank," and they don't understand enough English for me to explain it, I guess. So the 40 minutes ended, and we were equally frustrated with each other by the end of the session. I'm going to have to work on something for Thursday--this can't continue.

The last class is the same situation as the one I just described, except they're even younger and in an even lower class. I'm pretty sure they don't ever look at their books except for when they're in class, which really makes remembering vocabulary difficult. The parents don't want the kinder guys to have any homework, so I'm not really sure what to do.

Other than eat ramen and clean my apartment. Simultaneously delicious and scary! The chuseok (chusok, lots of spellings) cookies han bak (that's my interpretation of what it was called, anyway) are deeeelicious.

Something interesting about Korea that I wanted to point out, I sent 2 packages home and included my cell phone number on the return label. They actually TEXT you when international packages arrive at Seoul, so you know where things are going to be! Love it.

I started re-reading Captivating, and it's enriching my nights as I search for God's opinion of me, and I wrote down a preliminary list of things I like about me. I got 20 new pens, so I kind of had to use some imagination so I could use each of them. Bwuaha.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Not so Korean

Today was not one of my better days, which means I have something to write about! Haha!

Today it felt like everyone I encountered was out of control. The kids. The teachers. Me, just a little. The morning classes, I got to the point where I made them put their heads on their desk for a little quiet time. As soon as the bell rang, I bolted out to lunch.

Ramen and rice = delicious.

Once fed and thus ready to face the afternoon, I went to mail my packages home, and I guess I didn't choose the correct service because it cost about 2x as much as I had cash on me. Fortunately, I'm not in the United States of America. I'm in South Korea, where I'm basically the only person who looks like me and they are incredibly trusting of people. I walked home, drank some soda, picked up more money and strolled back where they helped me right away. I'm a little concerned, though, because my receipt doesn't reflect payment for my letters and envelopes. So Mom, dad, Molly, Gammy--sorry if nothing shows up in the next week. I was hot and flustered!

Speaking of hot, the highs are still upper 80s here. (Lately, though, I define anything above 83 as "upper" 80s; upper is a relative term.) So I still look fantastic with my hair jammed into a ponytail and sweat trickling. It's so hot here, my mascara still runs--which really is more of a detail than a complaint.

Afternoon classes weren't very good. I had a 12-year-old giving me attitude because she "knows everything." Well, she's in her 4th month of English lessons, so I'm going to go with, "My English is better, and I'm the teacher, so shut up and start learning!" My last class, I ended up just throwing out the problem child, but he was like a boomerang. Just kept popping his head in. "Teachaaa, I sorry! I English only!" His English after 3 years of English lessons is worse than my 6-year-old's.

6:45 rolled around, though, and when I tried to collect the word searches (so the Korean teacher doesn't know... heh), the kids were deeply enthralled and quiet, so I just left them. Slipping down the stairs, I snuck out into the setting sun, thinking, "I am going to lock myself in my apartment and do nothing." I then paused and realized, I'm in another country and should do something adventurous. After ruling out fried chicken (not healthy and not very adventurous), I went to the Chinese restaurant near my house to see what it was like.

When they say "seafood" in Korea, they don't mean shrimp and crab. They mean squid and octopus. Staring into my steaming bowl of miscellaneous seafood and noodles, I counted the legs on some tiny creature, and while it didn't have the pointed head of a squid, it had 12 or so legs. Regardless, I just tried to bury it and eat the noodles--but I knew it was there. I'm still urping over it, but damnit... I had a culinary adventure. Maybe half a gallon of ice cream will get rid of this ... taste.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Korean Skittles

Using my amazing Korean-reading skills, I can determine that I am currently eating some sort of candy from Asia. I think it is Bitears, trying to translate letters to letters. My current judgment is, "Hm. I'm kind of glad that nothing in this country comes in individual packages, and thus I have 3 of these!"

So, hailing from the land of "if 1 is good, 12 are better," it is Korean Thanksgiving this coming weekend. From Saturday to Tuesday, I am free to ponder the meaning of Chusok (maybe look up the meaning?). Just like when the holidays hit the States, the gift packages are out but they're even more elaborate, huge, and bizarre. Everything in the first place comes in bulk, so when they say gift basket, it's more like gift pantry closet: I saw a Spam set that honestly had 18 tins of Spam. Eighteen tins of Spam! "Here, have enough Spam to get you through a nuclear winter; Happy Thanksgiving!"

I just got in from my corner market (thus the Bitears), where they joined the festive approach; you can get a complete 10-piece dental care system--and it doesn't even come with a toothbrush. It's all sorts of toothpastes, rinses, and other ... creams? If I was making a 10-piece set, I think I'd include toothbrushes. But I guess one of those baskets would last you until next Chusok.

I would like to point out the unfairness that The Office Season 4 does not come out in Korea. :(

So this weekend was as action-packed as one would expect. I said good-bye to Jamie, and I teared up. She was the first person I knew in Korea, and she took care of me that first day, teaching me to never, ever, ever under any circumstances jay walk (Ashley later taught me the joyful terror of jay walking), the pleasure of taking a taxi to McDonald's, and to stand up for myself when things aren't okay at work. I'm grateful to still have contact with two of her friends, one of whom shares my dedication to butter.

My posts seem to have less of a point lately, more just rambling. It feels like something is being processed and coming to the surface, though, so bear with me a few more days. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dennis the Menace ... left?

It's like Batman without the Joker--it feels like something's missing. My little demon child, affectionately (haha) known as Dennis the Menace has left my school in search of greener pastures. Literally. He is going to be attending a different school in the country where there are only 26 students total.

His last day was Wednesday, and the last two days have just been slightly off. There's about 25% less screaming--the kids at playtime, and me during class. On the one hand, it's almost a relief to be able to spend all that extra energy on my students and preparing for class; today's classes were probably the best ones I've ever had for morning and afternoon. I had great crossword puzzles, was in this odd Mary Sunshine mood, and actually got my quiet little guys to speak up.

Despite the negatives, he had his adorable moments. He is kind of like my parents' dog, Angus. (Who actually belongs to my sister, but what with her roommates being spazzy and dad no longer "working from home," he will remain at home.) Angus at times has bladder control problems, usually losing his cool when dad is making loud noises in the garage or there's thunder or fireworks. But when you want someone to play with, all you have to do is squeak something, or if you're feeling depressed after eating six doughnuts for whatever reason, all you have to do is jingle the mail keys and he'll literally come thundering and skidding down the hallway. Dennis could be counted on for being a clown, and his intuition was strong enough so he behaved during the really bad times.

Without a doubt, he was a difficult kid to try to teach, but now who will make things interesting?

Contact Information

I currently possess proof that 1) I can receive mail at work without it being opened and thus violated, and 2) the outside world still exists! Hoorah! (Gammy, fyi, spell check does not like Hoorah, Gammy, or fyi.) To the darlings who would take time out of their hectic schedule to send me a note, here is my info:

Kate Southern
c/o ECC Bukgu
877 dong chun dong
Daegu, South Korea 702-250

It looks like it takes a 94-cent stamp to send stuff to me. Haha. It only takes me 60 cents. But it looks more impressive because it's 600 won.

So last night I went out for amazingly wonderful delicious soup (name: unpronounceable, nor spellable) with Ashley, and admittedly it was my second dinner but it was delicious. (Apparently I am incapable of actually staying in at night, but I really wanted a toaster and delicious soup was near Home Plus.) This soup has part of a pig spine in it, and it's a spicy broth with sliced green onions and seaweed in it. You know, now that I re-read what I wrote, it doesn't sound terribly appetizing, but after a week of peanut butter and jelly, I'm willing to bet that anyone reading this would try anything that looked decent. Well, and with the name of "amazingly wonderful delicious soup," what's not to at least try?

The best part is, it's a complete feast for $5. For $5, you get a BIG bowl of soup (pretty meaty, too, once you scrape it off of the bones), rice (mmmmbap [bap is Korean for rice]), peppers for dipping into red bean paste (thought to help reduce swelling, I read yesterday, so I'm going to try today), radishes (yuck), and kimchi (love it when I'm in the mood). I have noticed a craving for spicy foods, and I guess I'm getting nutrients here and adjusting to them to the point of actually needing them.

The week has flown by, and I can't believe it's Friday already. I remember thinking at the end of my first week, 1 down and 51 to go. The times that I enjoyed my jobs in the past, the days just blurred, too. Even when the kids are rotten, the time passes reasonably quickly for me. I doubt this would be the case if this experience came right fresh-faced from college; thanks to rotten tenants and worse health insurance companies, I do not balk in the face of 7-year-olds.

I do have a new class of 13-year-olds, though, and I'm pretty certain that I don't like them and they don't like me. One of the girls, I told her five times in as many minutes to stop talking to her friend and to start speaking in English. She wouldn't, so I picked her desk up and moved her away, which terrified the 11-year-old in the class. "Teacher.. Teacher strong!" Another kid came in incredibly late and made a big show of it, then also refused to speak in English, so I made him sit with the two remaining girls. The rest of the class went smoothly, but without any merriment. They're past the age of loving me regardless of what I do, so I hope we get the replacement foreign teacher soon so I can return to my 10 and under crowds.

Two weeks ago, I was reading in Experiencing God, and the point Blackaby (referencing the Bible) was making is that no one's opinion matters except God's. Since this was also a point of The Alchemist (a kind of blah book, but one with decent points), it has become a daily thing to think of what is best as a teacher, not whether the kids like me or not. I like when people like me, but I think it's time for it to be less of a driving force. Right now what matters more is having strong character and to be close enough to God so that I have the faith in Him to get me through whatever is going to happen the next... 75 years.

That said, I want to wish Ashleigh the best possible in her endeavors at present. Take care.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nothing too exciting, but I have my fans to update!

I guess the newness is wearing off, now. I haven't seen anything so out of place that I had to rush home and update my blog with whatever zany story. On Tuesday night, after I went to coffee with Yuria, we had Curtis's going away party, which was just dinner but I was grateful for the chance to say good bye. I thought I had fallen asleep for the get together the night before. He seemed like a good guy, and I was sorry to see anyone decent who spoke English leave.

Wednesday night, I went out with Yuria to record something in English for a class of middle schoolers she helps at the Buddhist place she attends. I felt pretty special being able to help in that way. She took me out for a dinner (Ramen!) and helped me buy a book to start writing/learning Korean.

When I showed her my progress, she laughed.

I guess my writing was kind of child-like, what with it being a different alphabet and all, but she seriously laughed each time she turned the page. I guess it's a little harder than I first treated it. I still got my stickers, though, when I finished the pages. (That's right, stickers.)

So, I guess my plan for Korean fluency is a little premature (what do you mean 4 months isn't enough?), and I am going to work on it tonight. It's felt like I haven't stayed home for a week (I think it's because I haven't), so I could use a rest. That and Alice Teacher is going to be checking my pronunciation tomorrow.

In my excitement over having a life, I haven't sent out any letters for a while, but I'll be sure to update people soon. Thank you for your letters, those who have sent them; I look forward to getting mail!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Floweries :)

So for the last few days I've had a song stuck in my head.

And I’m surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
Oh, let me go home
Oh, I miss you, you know

Until now I haven't really felt homesick, but I am starting to miss people from home. It's like I had had my daily fix of Jon for so long, and apparently a year's worth only lasts a month. I miss my mom and my dad and friends and sister, and today Yuria told me I looked a little depressed.

This all changed about 22 minutes ago. I went over to the other school to see if my sheets were in yet, and there were two packages for me. 1 bundle of lime green sheets (Jin asked if the color was okay, lol), and the bigggggest bouquet of flowers I've ever seen. It was from my dad, who has literally spoiled me to the point of my personal bar being set for guys so that only a few qualify. I walked down the street feeling like a princess.

I showed them to Yuria, and she said, "Your parents must love you very much. They sent you flowers to remind you of my beauty." Insert giggle. Thanks, mom and dad.

Back from the Police

Well, 3 hours later I got back from the police with my phone. And I felt too tired to update everything. I really thought it was funny, though, that I walked into the station and there were 8 officers, all of whose eyes popped wide open at the sight of me and they all started calling one guy, amid "Megu" phrases.

I'm a celebrity. I only talk to certain people.

You know, the ones who speak English. Haha.

In other news, Tere and Curtis are gone and it hasn't really sunk in yet. New girl Olivia seems nice enough. She and her husband are here so he can refine his love of martial arts while she works at kinder. She's from WV and knows where Denver is, and she has less experience with chopsticks than me, so I like her. ;)

Happy trails to you, until we meet again~

Monday, September 1, 2008

Quick thought.

I have to go to the police station to pick up my cell phone.

My stories have so improved upon moving to Korea.