Sunday, July 31, 2005 

Well, I'm back from China. I've been back since the wee hours of Saturday morning, but wasn't in a blogging mood. I'm actually still not, but thought I'd just pop on really quick to say that I am back, I had a thoroughly delightful time, got to visit with Peter (a friend from BCF), go to the Great Wall, and do lots of relaxing. I'm dreading work tomorrow...though I'm almost to the point of wanting to go back at the same time. (Contradictory, I know.) I also got my hair cut today - actually my first hair cut in a foreign country. I hadn't cut my hair at all in a year and a half...and it was quite long (especially for me). Now it's very short, and silly as it sounds, I feel like myself again. So both my new haircut and China reminded me just how comfortable the familiar can be. Being in China, where I know none of the language or culture made me quite thankful for Korea. It's not perfect here, and I don't know a whole lot of the language, but I still can understand an awful lot and communicate decently. The thought of starting over in a different country is just not at all appealing to me at the moment. I'd toyed with the idea of teaching English in China or Japan when my contract here expires, but am much more tempted now to stay in Korea another year (at least). We'll see. Anyway, I'm going to go read while I have the time to do so. And tomorrow, back to real life. I have heaps of stories and pictures to share from my vacation, but no time right now. Later, I promise.

Friday, July 22, 2005 

Airport Security Nightmares

As the pre-vacation days have passed, I've become aware of something. I'm rather nervous about leaving - not about going to China, not about flying, but about the airport. Actually, about security, to be specific. I just checked my blog's archives to see if I gave details about the absolutely horrendous experience I had trying to get out of Israel, and surprisingly, I didn't. It was so many different kinds of terrible though. I actually missed one flight because I was detained in security for so long. At at Ben Gurion airport, before you can go to the flight counter and check in, you go through security check #1. They look at your passport, your tickets, x-ray all your bags, and go through them if necessary. I'm not sure why they target females traveling alone, but they do, and I was detained in security for long enough to make it impossible for me to catch my plane. Attempt #2 (attempting to leave the country, that is) was successful, but only just. I boarded my plane as they were giving the final boarding call after spending a whopping FOUR HOURS in security. And I don't mean going through various security checkpoints, I mean FOUR HOURS in the same security checkpoint #1. They had to have a security guard/agent/interrogator walk me through the rest of the security checks and immigration so I could make my plane in time, and even then I had to run to make it. They also broke lots of my stuff. It was a really really bad experience. At one point I was crying (it wasn't even 5 AM at this point) because I was just utterly frustrated. I thought I was going to miss my plane again, and they wouldn't let me leave the security checkpoint and walk the ten steps to go pay for Daive (the charge for her to go in the cabin with me). My luggage wasn't even there. They had gone through it all, x-rayed every single item/object, and sent the suitcases themselves off somewhere to be tested for....something. So then one particularly unpleasant man came up and demanded to know why I was crying. Having lost all dignity due to the tears, I just said, "I'm frustrated and I'm probably going to miss my plane when all I want is to get out of this country." His reply was, "Well, if you haven't done anything wrong, there's no reason to cry." Get a grip, man. Hardened terrorists probably don't cry during searches. I'm pretty sure they're trained to avoid that kind of thing. They probably also don't bring animals along with them. (Especially the kind of terrorists they're worried about - dogs are not a popular pet among the Muslims I met and associated with in Israel. They preferred birds and maybe fish.) Eccentric, I am. A terrorist, not so much. It was just horrible. They took me into a separate room and wanded me, then patted me down - nearly made me take off my bra to make sure it was just the underwires setting off the metal detector wand thingy. Then they made me hold Daive and walk through a metal detector. I'm suprised they didn't stick her through the x-ray machine.

I'm sorry for going on, but it was really a humiliating and wretched experience. And I know that, thankfully, Korean security is nothing like Israeli security. I've flown to Japan since then, I know security isn't that bad. I'm still a little anxious though.

Okay...just had to get that out. The graduation present Bethany gave me (a delightful collage and poem) hangs over my bed, glass still broken from the fools at Ben Gurion, and it's been this ever-present reminder of my airport security-related anxiety for the past few days. I'll be fine though, I swear.

Of course, if I don't get my apartment cleaned in a very short amount of time I won't have to worry about security, because I couldn't possibly leave someone else to live in it in its current state. So on that note, off to clean. I have to go pick up my passport and tickets tomorrow, meet Jenny at the duty-free store so she can order what she wants (I'll be picking it up on my way back) and finish whatever cleaning is left. Too too much to do. Now I'm off though...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 

One more...

I've been in a nostalgic and sentimental mood as of late...and my sister sent me these pictures last week, so I thought I'd post them and share. The thing is, these pictures show me that, no matter how much I may not be able to see it, I'm making progress. If only as it relates to hair colors...I'm growing up and becoming a mature adult. And please take no note of the fact that my nephew is trying to get away from me, looks somewhat afraid, or very exasperated in all of these pictures. He really does like me...I promise. In both of our defenses, the hair color really was quite frightening. Eek. You should all be proud to know that my hair has been the same color for at least two years, and is down a little past my shoulders now. So there.


Harry Potter and take-out

I bought and read Harry Potter #6 Sunday afternoon. For those of you interested in a debate about Christians and Harry Potter, this is not the place for you. I feel strongly about it, and I could go there...but unless provoked, will not. I'm in the process of learning (attempting to learn?) to take myself less seriously...and part of that is not feeling the need to share my opinion at ALL times. Of course, it doesn't mean I won't...just that I'm trying to do it less. (I will, however, put in a plug for, my favorite online Christian bookstore - for not only selling intelligent Christian responses about Harry Potter, but for also selling the book itself - I knew I liked you for a reason!)I'm getting away from the point though (imagine that). After reading book #6, I wanted to read book #5. I can read very fast, and devour the HP books, and then promptly forget them all. I re-read books 1-4 two years ago (or more, I can't remember) before book 5 came out, but then read book 5 so fast that I don't remember anything. I wanted to buy the book - it would be nice reading material for my flight and airport time coming up, but haven't had time to get to the bookstore, so I downloaded the audio book, which is a whopping 26 hours! Insane! Now...all of the previous paragraph was said to say this simple fact: the phrase "indigo sky" was used in the book and I heard it, and decided to change the background to blue. Ha. I am entirely incapable of getting to the, ever.

On to more interesting (hopefully) matters. Do you still call it "take-out" if the restaurant delivers it to your place? I'm not sure. In any case, I had wonderful Jenny order some food for me before I left work, to be delivered to my apartment. It was Chinese food (not as I ever knew it in the States though, but still tasty). Here, they bring you food on actual plates. You eat, then stack all the dishes, put them in a plastic bag (like you would get from a store), then take them downstairs and leave them outside the door to the building. The delivery guys come back and pick up the dishes after a few hours.

Yesterday was a monumental day for me because (drumroll, please) I received the advance edition (it's the September issue) of my church's magazine, which is the one I'm writing for now, and the September issue would be the first one I wrote in. I don't think I ever mentioned on here how much of a larger-scale thing the magazine is than I thought it was. I thought it was just for the Onnuri Church - I go to a branch of Onnuri church - there are 4 campuses in Seoul, with services in over 10 languages and over 40,000 members. I'm quite bad at estimation, so I don't know how many people attend the English ministry I go to...but definitely multiple hundreds. In any case, the magazine goes out to about 10,000 people - and I seriously thought the pastor was playing a joke on me when he told me that after I had already turned in the assignments for the September issue. I'm a big fraidey cat, and so I think it was providential that I didn't know how many people get it...I probably wouldn't have started. The point though, is not the numbers at ALL...I can't even think about it or I freeze up and can't write a word. The point isn't that I wrote well...because I honestly don't think I did. The point is that this (writing for the magazine, not to mention the entirely significant fact of being published - even in just a magazine - for the first time ever) is a step in the right direction. I love to write, I don't know what, if anything more, will ever come out of my love for writing, but this is extremely gratifying and thoroughly enjoyable.

Besides that, I'm stressed out an awful lot because I have way too much to get done before Sunday when I leave for China. Providentially though, the time is going quickly. I'd rather be rushed and a little stressed than bored and counting down the minutes (though there is still some of that going on!). That's all. Gotta do some work before I go to bed. Night all!

Friday, July 15, 2005 

Valerie and I

This was at her wedding in November of 2001. She was beyond beautiful, and I borrowed (without asking, of course, cause that's what sisters do) her green dress to match the green streaks in my hair.


Happy (early) Sisters Day!

Many thanks to Kylie's sister (said sarcastically) for inspiring this rant/tirade. She mentioned a country song (by Reba) called "My Sister" (or My Sister, My Friend). Kylie mentioned that she wanted to download it, and I'm in a sappy, sentimental, and generally mushy mood, so I downloaded it. And then.... (who can guess???) cried. Oh yeah. So I'm homesick, right? It's not a "I'm going home right now!" kind of homesick, not even the "I need to talk to someone from home right now/everyday/as needed," kind. It's more of a persistent constant presence in my mind - especially regarding my two sisters and a handful of friends. But I'm talking here about my sisters.

Jen is my oldest sister. She's the one that's a member of this blog and fixes the template when I get ambitious with the template. She's six years older than me, and we were never all that close growing up. She took care of me a lot (I think...memories are fuzzy and few), then she stayed in Pensacola when we moved to Jacksonville. We're extremely different in a lot of ways, but it's never been an issue. Also, there's more than enough stuff in common to make for good conversation and an interesting time (love/obsession for Diet Coke, various "issues," and a great joke about gout). Anyway, she and I have actually gotten much closer since I've been out of the country. Before we had the "talk on occasion" kind of relationship which was fine - not bad at all, understand, just not that close. When we were together we laughed most of the time and had a thoroughly enjoyable time, but still not that close. Well now we talk online usually once a day. On the rare (but more frequent now that it's summer time and her schedule is different) occasions that we go a few days without talking, we have to email each other to catch up. It's nice. Now I can't imagine it being different. We still laugh....a lot (maybe even more)...still about gout, and about other jokes that only us with our slightly odd sense of humor laugh so hard about...she's one of the most important people in my life.

Val, my other sister (not to be confused with the other sister, the movie about the handicapped girl) was my hardcore fighting partner growing up (seriously, we beat the snot out of each other), the one who taught me how to drive at night in a parking lot before I got my license or permit, the one who comforted me after my first boyfriend broke up with me, the one I talked to an awful lot before I left the States, and the one I never get to talk to anymore. She's incredibly busy, and is doing a lot, so I understand - I'm not at all mad, but I'm sad. But even though we don't talk a lot, I think we're still really close. Just less informed. And since we talk less, I have less to quote from her, but since the three of us seem to share one slightly morbid and odd sense of humor, I find her remarkably funny and witty. I just don't get to hear the hilarious and witty things she says. (But just to settle the age-old debates, you did put the booger on my coat, and I did not ever bruise your kidneys. Thank you, and goodnight.)

I saw by random chance (if you believe such a thing exists, of course) on's website that Sisters Day is August 7. Consider this my early sister's day tribute to both my sisters. I hope you both listen to the Reba song and cry, because I cried when I heard it, I cried at times when I was typing this, and I'm crying right now thinking about how much I miss the two of you. So nah-nah-nah.


I've been getting really annoyed with my own indecision lately, especially as it relates to my vacation. This morning all the indecision was laid to rest - I booked and paid for my tickets to China! I'm going! I'm leaving July 24 and coming back the 30. I'm more excited than I could possibly put into words. I'm also tired - I ransacked my apartment last night trying to find the passport-sized photos from January I had taken for my alien card (you get eight or something ridiculous like that, I think) and, of course, couldn't find them. (I need one for the Chinese visa, BTW.) I literally looked in every possible place they could be...which means I'll probably find them in the most obvious and logical place tonight. There ended up being a small Kodak store about thirty seconds from the travel agency, and the travel agent even offered to pick up the pictures for me so I didn't have to wait around. This will be the first time Daive will actually have to be boarded somewhere...she might not make it. I'll definitely make sure I board her at a vet clinic so they can sedate her as necessary. I'm nervous about it, but in the spirit of all that is relaxing and good about vacations, I'm not going to think about it. I've got lots to do, so I'm finished here for now.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 

I just don't know

- I don't know why there is a life-sized rooster wearing a hooded velvet robe behind the counter at the palm-reading/fortune-telling booth in the subway stop near my house. (FYI, when I say "life-size," I mean the size of a man, not the size of a rooster.) The man-sized rooster arguably would be disturbing and weird enough. But something about the dark green hooded velvet robe it's wearing...just really freaks me out.

- I don't know why my cat farts whenever I startle him (or Daive startles him, or when he runs across the room - it doesn't take much). Even more confounding is what I must be feeding him for his body to produce such utterly noxious odors. It's quite disturbing.

- I don't know why Chili's (located far too conveniently near my home) had to change its menu and include ranch dressing. I won't admit how many times I've eaten there in the past two weeks with people from work because it's too embarrassing. But suffice it to say that it's becoming an addiction (for me and one of the Korean teachers). Ranch dressing just reminds me of home.

- I don't know why I can't just be happy for Donovan that his parents are here visiting. Actually, that statement isn't entirely true. I was happy until yesterday (when they arrived). Seeing how excited he and Kylie were made me think long and hard about how long it has been since I've seen my family and friends. Today they visited the school, toured it, etc. and it was all I could do to hold it together. I'm trying not to be too hard on myself - it has been almost a year, but a year isn't all that long at the same time. Nonetheless, I'm homesick.

- I don't really know how to operate the cell phone I'm using right now. It's a hand-me-down, originally belonging to one of the Korean teachers until he upgraded. Now he lends it out to native teachers so we don't have to buy our own phone. The menu is in Korean - but I've maneuvered my way around it okay today - changing the ring, and almost successfully sending a text message.

- I don't know what I'm going to do for vacation. I'm not going to be able to go to China, and my friend (for sure) can't come here. Jenny (Korean teacher at work) wants us to go to Pusan together and go to the beach. Pusan, I'm okay with that. But going to the beach here - not a chance. No way. As it is I feel like Enormo-Woman, a veritable King Kong storming about the city crushing buildings with my giganto-feet and eating whole children in the afternoons to tide me over between meals. Somehow I think going to the beach would make the whole image worse (if that is even possible, though I know it is). And before you accuse me of being dramatic, take a look at some of the old pictures with me and one of the Korean teachers - the difference in head size alone proves my point.

- I don't know why I automatically and necessarily slip into the "I'm a total dweeb" role whenever I feel uncomfortable. I did that today when I met Donovan's parents, because they (Donovan's parents, Kylie, Donovan, Ms. Lee, and Mr. Lee) in the consult room off from the teacher's room, and Mr. Lee came in and rounded us all up to go in and meet them. The consult room holds four people comfortably, and there was already six people in there. I have found Koreans (overall/in general, and definitely the ones I work with) to be at least a little shy, and so they all felt a little awkward, which made me feel awkward. They introduced Jenny, Sunny, June, Joan, and then me. As I was the last to stick my head in to be introduced, I started singing the "Which of these things is not like the other?" song from Sesame Street (at least I think that's what it's from). Of course none of the Korean staff got the joke...I'm not even sure if anyone besides Kylie did - as soon as I said it I got embarrassed and left (followed by the shy Korean staff, so at least leaving wasn't so conspicuous).

- And last, I don't know why I'm still awake. Must sleep. Night everyone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 

I'm surprised that it's been over a week since I last posted. For those of you interested in my life to be disappointed by this, I apologize.

Work has been busy, and not altogether good here lately. My vacation is coming up (the last week of July) which is quite exciting. I've had a disappointing change of plans. One of my dearest friends from Israel was supposed to come visit me, but it isn't going to work out, more than likely. So I'm in the middle of trying to figure out alternate plans. If at all possible, I'd really like to get out of the country - just for a breather, you know? I'm looking into the possibility of going to China. Since I wasn't planning on going anywhere, the trip would stretch my budget thin as is, but add in the cost of making sure my animals are taken care of while I'm gone, and it might demolish the budget all together. I'm checking into it though - because really, the flight from Seoul to Beijing is about an hour. And while it's expensive, it's not nearly as expensive as it would be if I were in the States. So I should take advantage of the opportunity, right? I'm trying, anyway. It's just stressful - because I have to arrange everything in just over a week. The good news is that it's not a long time to worry about it. I should know by tomorrow whether it will work out or not.

On that note, I have to be up and on the subway at around 8:30 in the morning...which is far too early. So I'm off to bed. Night all.

Monday, July 04, 2005 

Happy 4th of July!

I went to the Michael W. Smith concert last night and had a much more enjoyable time than I expected to have. The thought kept occurring to me throughout the concert, "It's weird that I'm here," being that I'm not such a hardcore fan and all (and pretty much everyone else there was). It gratified my need for familiarity and made me as sentimental as I expected it to be. Interesting thing though, before the concert began, a man came out and prayed. I have never heard such a political prayer in my life. He first prayed in Korean, then in English. I asked June if the prayers were the same and she said they were. He thanked God for George Bush (a sentiment I know many others do not share), thanked God for the American troops that came over during the Korean war, thanked God for the continuing presence of the American troops (a sentiment MOST Koreans seem to not share), prayed that God would protect the country from the evil spread of communism, and asked that God would continue to bless the country with a close relationship with their U.S. ally. This is horrible, but I started laughing during the prayer - I knew it was serious, but kept on thinking that it just couldn't be serious. There was little talk of the concert at hand, of Michael W. Smith, or the hopes for the evening - but lots of gratitude for the U.S. Interesting.

Incidentally, Kylie, Donovan, and I saw Batman Begins on Saturday night. When it comes to the Batman movies, not that I feel excessively strong on the matter, but my favorites are the first two, with Michael Keaton (right?) as Batman. I actually prefer the second (Batman Returns, right?) to the first, just because the Joker freaked me out. In any case, Batman Begins was thoroughly enjoyable. It made me want to break out my old copy of Newsies. Ahh...I loved that movie. In any case, Christian Bale is attractive - and he did a good job of copying Michael Keaton's voice when he was in the Batman character (not that that was necessarily his intent, but that's what it seemed like to me).

Church yesterday was exceptional, for a whole host of reasons. A great day - though it rained all day and I got soaked more than once. Today has been rough - I have this one student in one class that is extremely difficult to deal with, and today I just nearly lost it. And I can't lose it, because though this is education, it's also a service job, because there are so many hagwons in Seoul that parents change relatively easy. So not much happens to this particular kid - and it's been an issue for awhile, and just nothing is changing. I sometimes dread the class. And I just don't know what to do. Ah's not that big of a deal. It will work out, but now I'm still steaming due to frustration.

Happy 4th! I was thinking earlier of last 4th, living in my trailer, and the bottle-rocket war behind my trailer. The bottle rockets kept on hitting my trailer though, which was not so sturdy to begin with. I finally had to take Juliette outside (she was the only dog that would growl and bark at the fireworks) to tell them to stop. It ended up that the war was about ten to twelve white males of varying ages against one very young black child. Welcome to lower Alabama. (Horribly stereotypical statement, but it's true to an extent.) In any case, happy 4th!

Saturday, July 02, 2005 

Happy Canada Day!

I have every reason to expect that this post will be remarkably more cheerful than others lately. Here are some things supporting my happy mood:

1. It's Friday.
2. The new teacher is here and starts teaching on his own Monday, which means just two more days of an insane schedule before I return to a much more realistic schedule.
3. It's 2:00 AM and I spent the last two and a half hours playing card games with Kylie - first Uno, and then Speed. I lost 90% of the time, but I won the last game, and that has to count for something. In any case, what would have been an enjoyable time in the first place became even more delightful because we were both slaphappy and laughing excessively. A good time was had by all.
4. It's Canada Day (well, until two hours ago, it was). And I for one, think everyone should know at least one Canadian. I didn't know any until Kylie and Donovan, and they're really quite delightful. (Don't be too hard on me - I'm from Florida, and never met any of the snowbirds who could have potentially been from Canada. I also never met any Jewish people till I went to Israel - call me sheltered.) Sad to say, I'm not sure if it ever occurred to me that people actually lived in Canada....I always thought it was just too cold for that. Nonetheless, this holiday celebrates the British North America Act (July 1, 1867) which made Canada an independent domain of England. In honor of the holida

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